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Subject: Session Report: The Tale of the Homemade Monstrosity rss

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Yehuda Berlinger
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After lunch on Saturday I walked over to the Scrabble players. There were two occupied boards being played, which left me waiting.

Nearby on a couch, a friend was playing chess with his son while other children watched. I asked if anyone wanted to play a game while I was waiting.

My friend prompted one of his other sons to show me the "game that he had invented".

OK, let's be fair. It wasn't really a monstrosity, certainly not for a kid's game invented by a kid. It was ... well, I'll leave it up to you to decide.

The game was a Monopoly-style board. "I hate it when people say that it looks like Monopoly", says the designer. The board's track was 8 spaces on one side, and 6 on the other. Landing on or passing go gave you $5. Each player started with $10. The game spaces consisted of random orderings of "Buy rights", "Sell rights", "Pick card from stack 1", "Pick card from stack 2", "Pick card from stack 3", "Roll on the Challenge chart", "Roll on the Competition chart", or "Jail". In addition, there was a three space "doubles" track that led from the center of the board to the start space.

You're all drawing this down on paper as you read, right?

You roll for player order (not "to go first", but for player order).
You roll to move your piece.
If you land on a "Buy", you roll to see what number you "own", and then roll to see how much money you get whenever someone rolls it.
If you land on a "Sell", you pick a number that you own, and roll to see how much money you get from the bank for selling it.
If you land on jail, you roll to see how many turns that you lose.
If you pick a card, you roll to see which action on the card you need to perform. A typical card will say something like:

2 - Roll three times and move that many spaces.
3 - Roll ten times, and pay the number of sevens that you roll.
4 - Roll three times on the challenge chart.
5 - Roll two dice and collect that much money.
6 - Roll two dice and pay that much money.
7 - Roll to see how much money you collect if you roll three fives in ten rolls.
8 - Roll to see how much money you pay if you roll an eight in five rolls.
9 - Roll to see what number you have to roll, then roll to see how many rolls you have to make that number, then roll to try to make that number. If you make it, roll to see how much money you make. If you don't, roll to see how much you lose.
10 - Roll until you get 2. Pay the number of rolls to each player.
11 - Roll to see how much money you make. Roll ten times. If you get a three twice, collect 3 times that amount of money.
12 - Roll ten times. If you don't get three sevens, go to jail.

There were about a dozen cards in each of the three piles, and the "2" pile was more severe than the "1" pile, while the "3" pile in turn was more severe than the "2" pile.

The Challenge chart looked similar to this. The Competition chart went from 4 to 24. You had to roll four dice. Each line on this chart required all players to continuously roll until some event occurred (e.g. "first player to roll a 12"), at which point the winning player rolled to see how much money he won or lost. Or something like that.

If you rolled doubles during your normal turn, you entered the "doubles" track. On that track, you needed to pay $1 each turn to stay on the track. If you did, you got to roll, and a double would move you forward one space, wherein you could buy rights at half price, sell at double price, or I don't know what. If you didn't, you went back to the start and collected $5.

If you bankrupt, you are immediately eliminated. First player to reach $100 wins.

I sat down to play, and one player went bankrupt on the second turn, which allowed me to ask him to take my place on the fourth turn when I decided that I had played enough. At that point, I was winning $42 to $15 to $10 to $0, by the way.

Both he and the father wanted to know what I thought of it, me being such a game expert. I think my leaving during the middle of the game said something. I said that, as a kid's game, it seems like fun if you like rolling dice. However, there needs to be a coherent theme. Buying and selling "rights" to dice rolls doesn't really hold together well.
 
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Tuomas Korppi
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I kind of like the idea of selling "rights" to dice rolls. An abstract game with players buying and selling the game mechanics used could easily be used as a satire of draconian IP laws. Maybe the game should have a more varied set of mechanics to buy&sell, and have more stuff such as squares where you could patent a strategy, get copyrights to various parts of the rules, license them to other players with bizarre EULAs etc...
 
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Yehuda Berlinger
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Heh. Cute.

Yehuda
 
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