Recommend
2 
 Thumb up
 Hide
5 Posts

Shiv» Forums » General

Subject: Shiv - A Primer rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Charlie Theel
United States
St. Louis
Missouri
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Since this is an unpublished microgame in a competition of many this thread probably won't have an audience, however, I felt compelled to write.

Shiv is first and foremost an asymmetrical thematic card game. The asymmetry is at the heart of the design and in combination with some relatively deep strategic decisions can provide for an odd first game where players are a bit overwhelmed with options and still trying to figure out what to really do. Shiv is also a pretty unique design mechanically as I have a hard time comparing it to anything, which means players don't have a strong frame of reference when sitting down. This of course deepens the challenge of succeeding on that first play but I'm not prepared to soften the unique identity or the asymmetry for easier learning. The learning curve depth as well as the unique identity are, in my opinion, the best elements of the game and make it stand alone.

My intent here is to talk about strategy and spill some digital ink to solidify some thoughts I was having.

Gang Members
Each player takes a set of 7 cards belonging to their particular prison gang/faction. Cards are broken down into different ranks highlighting the members standing within the group.

Associates - These are the weakest members of the gang, often boasting low Strength and Discard values. They can make up for this with some pretty interesting and game altering abilities, allowing you to take such crazy actions as swapping the position of two Locations, sending other cards to The Hole, or retrieving a card from your Discard pile. They often take some precision and setup to reap the highest rewards. Associates also are worth the least amount of Influence (victory points) so they are often poor targets and somewhat safe to deploy and leave exposed.

Muscle - Muscle tend to have the highest Strength and Discard values making the key components of winning a Shiv. Their abilities range in power but often aren't too terribly strong.

Lieutenants (LT) - The Lieutenants typically form powerful characters in a gang usually having a solid Strength and Discard. They also typically have pretty interesting abilities and can be seen as a combination of Associate's and Muscle's key attributes. The downside is that they are worth a healthy amount of Influence so you must be careful about losing them to a crafty player.

Boss - Each gang has a single Boss who doesn't exactly fit any mold. Some Bosses are exceptional at combat while others excel with their special action they are able to perform. Learning when and how to effectively deploy your Boss is a subtle element of the game. Losing your Boss to a Shiv is disastrous as it awards the opposing gang 4 influence and presents a steep hill to climb out of.


Factions
Each player controls a unique prison gang with their own hand of 7 cards, each detailing a different gang member. Upon first play the options may be somewhat overwhelming as you're trying to learn the game and your specific faction. Upon repeated plays you will quickly get a handle for general capabilities and start plunging into the more subtle depth of positioning and determining what cards to deploy to the table.

PBB (Psychos Behind Bars) - The PBB is a dangerous faction with some interesting abilities. They favor a high overall Strength and are pretty dangerous, although they have the lowest Discard values available. They can be a fun faction to play but rely on utilizing their unique set of two LTs properly.

Vultures - The Vultures are interesting because they have the strongest Discard values in the game. This makes them dangerous because you are unable to decipher relative strength in a Shiv until they reveal their hidden discard, making them a bit shifty. Overall they have the lowest outright Strength to counteract this Discard advantage.

Carniceros Rojo (The Red Butchers) - This gang lies somewhere in between the other two in terms of raw stats, boasting a solid Strength and decent Discard options. Their Boss can be outright scary as he has a 5 strength if he's alone in a Shiv. This promotes some risky behavior and the Carniceros Rojo player must be wary of getting in over his head.


Early Game
One key observation on the design is that the first turn in particular is a bit quiet. Since the game affords two actions - one action listed on the location card where you have a gang member and one action from a gang member card itself - your options are limited on the first turn where you have a single card in play.

This is not a flaw but part of the rising tempo of the early/mid game. That first gang member placement is pretty important as you're staking out your territory and getting a feel for where you'll make your stand and likely attempt to overpower. If you put your first character down in the Boiler Room (a prime Shiv location) you may need to rely on special actions to pull an opponent into your Location. If you go into the Cafeteria you're likely deciding you will be adopting a strategy of reconnaissance. The Yard on the other hand allows flexibility as you can move out cards that are revealed (which is otherwise impossible, special actions notwithstanding).

Do not overlook the importance of early placement and the result it has on the pace of the game.


Increasing Momentum
The game has an interesting momentum build that can sneak up on you. It's imperative to always keep in mind that the round ends as soon as someone runs out of cards in their hand. In addition to every player placing a gang member each turn you will discard a single card for each Shiv you are involved in. This means in a turn full of heavy action you could possibly empty 3 or 4 cards depending on the number of Shiv actions declared. This puts the onus on building up and getting in an attack before the round ends. Missing your opportunity to successfully Shiv in a round can be your undoing when calculating score at the end of the game.

The Shiv
When you take a Shiv action you choose a target for your attack. The target can be an unrevealed (face-down) or revealed (face-up) card. While it may be tempting to choose an unrevealed card and hope for the best, you should keep in mind that several cards function as traps. The Vultures in particular have an Associate who automatically wins a Shiv if he's targeted while Unrevealed. This can be devastating if you think you have the win in the bag and then lose and your opponent turns the tables offing one of your key members.

So, what we really have is two distinct options of either pressing your luck and Shiving blind, or spending the actions and time to possibly recon your opponent's deployed cards and get a sense for what he is setting up. This can be costly in terms of actions and effort so that quick road is always tempting, especially if you outnumber the opponent 3 to 1. Just be prepared to lose your leg to a land mine and suck it up if you take the risk.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Derek H
South Africa
Pretoria
Gauteng
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Charlie - is there a design thread for this game? A set of playtest cards?
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Charlie Theel
United States
St. Louis
Missouri
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Hi Derek,

Appreciate your interest.

This is the only thread really discussing the game, I designed it over the past couple of months for the Geekway BGG microgame contest detailed here:
https://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/186510/2015-bgg-geekw...

It's been playtested quite a bit over the past month but not blind playtested at all. The rules are in the file section and may be woefully lacking, I'm not much of a technical writer.

I don't plan on putting the PnP files up on BGG because my aim is to get this game published (no matter its standing from the competition) but I'd be happy to send you PDF's of the 24 cards if you were interested. No other components needed.



 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Derek H
South Africa
Pretoria
Gauteng
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Charlie. Um, well, if you taking it commercial I am not sure there would be much point playtesting it. (I prefer to support public domain efforts.) I wish you well -looks like a very interesting design!
1 
 Thumb up
0.01
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Charlie Theel
United States
St. Louis
Missouri
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I understand, thanks Derek.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.