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Subject: Design Dilemma rss

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Nicholas Markgraf
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I am working with a friend of mine to refine an older game design of mine. So far it has come together really well, but now we are clashing over a few design decisions. I'd like to post a little about the game and see what this community of game developers and gamers have to say about the game.

The game is a secret identity deduction game. One player is dealt a spy identity and the remaining players are non-spy. The goal of the spy is to simply survive, or manipulate the destruction of at least half the non-spy players.

During a player turn, all OTHER players will play a card from their hand face up on the table. The cards will either deal damage to the turn player, or protect the turn player from damage. If their are more damage cards than defense cards, the player is wounded (or eliminated) otherwise the game progresses to the next players turn. That is basics of the game.

We have implemented special effect cards that can be played at any time to aid with information gathering and deduction as well as impact certain areas of the game (combat mostly). Several of the special effect card create a "clock" on the game that gives the edge to the spy as once a certain amount has been played, the spy wins! We have also implemented mission cards to help with the gathering of information.

When a mission card is drawn from the deck, the player who draws the mission selects one player that won't be participating in the mission. Then all players that are participating are given a PASS card and a FAIL card. Players will vote for the success or failure of the mission. If the mission succeeds then nothing happens. If the mission fails, one of the "clock" special cards are drawn from the deck and placed into play.

Can I please get some feedback on the overall design of the game. Does anything seem like it doesn't fit?

Thanks
 
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Koen Hendrix
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markgrafn wrote:
The game is a secret identity deduction game. One player is dealt a spy identity and the remaining players are non-spy. The goal of the spy is to simply survive, or manipulate the destruction of at least half the non-spy players.

During a player turn, all OTHER players will play a card from their hand face up on the table. The cards will either deal damage to the turn player, or protect the turn player from damage. If their are more damage cards than defense cards, the player is wounded (or eliminated) otherwise the game progresses to the next players turn. That is basics of the game.

If i'm reading this right, the basics don't provide any information at all on who might be a spy (apart from the odd baseless allegation). Why would anyone harm anyone? How would the spy ever get a majority a players to harm another?

markgrafn wrote:
Several of the special effect card create a "clock" on the game that gives the edge to the spy as once a certain amount has been played, the spy wins! We have also implemented mission cards to help with the gathering of information.

When a mission card is drawn from the deck, the player who draws the mission selects one player that won't be participating in the mission. Then all players that are participating are given a PASS card and a FAIL card. Players will vote for the success or failure of the mission. If the mission succeeds then nothing happens. If the mission fails, one of the "clock" special cards are drawn from the deck and placed into play.

Why would any non-spy ever vote Fail? In any game with 4+ players, every mission has a majority of non-spies and so it seems all missions are bound to succeed, causing a whole lot of nothing at all regardless of what the spy does.

markgrafn wrote:
We have implemented special effect cards that can be played at any time to aid with information gathering and deduction as well as impact certain areas of the game (combat mostly).

These special effect cards sound promising - what you need is a gradual build-up of snippets of information that players can base their deductions on. However, the spy is the one with the hidden identity so any additional info will most likely help the non-spies, making the spy's job even harder. Unless all the cards are meant to help the spy, like forcing others to lie or vote Fail, that could be a way to start balancing things out.

It seems like you're trying to combine the best of Battlestar Galactica and The Resistance, but I can't really see this working in its current state. Have you playtested it yet? What's the player count you have in mind?
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Nicholas Markgraf
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Similar to resistance, only one FAIL will lead to an unsuccessful mission. And similar to resistance non-spy can't FAIL.

The special abilities mostly benefit all players as they affect longevity and "combat". A few help determine player identity.

Player cout is set at 4-6. There has been quite a bit of playtesting to get to this point.
 
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Daniel Newman
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Why would someone play this game instead of The Resistance or Avalon? What makes it stand out from the other social deduction games already out there?
 
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Nicholas Markgraf
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That's a good point. I guess maybe the unique "combat" system in conjunction with the special ability cards are the main points that differentiate the game from other popular games. How could the game be morphed to move it in a direction away from those games?
 
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Jack Poon
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markgrafn wrote:
That's a good point. I guess maybe the unique "combat" system in conjunction with the special ability cards are the main points that differentiate the game from other popular games. How could the game be morphed to move it in a direction away from those games?


Well that's ultimately a question you have to answer yourself as a designer. You can look at what Resistance, Avalon, Werewolf to see what they do and see if you notice any gaps. You can check out what people are saying about those games and see if there's any pattern or common complaint or desire that a lot of players are saying.

In my opinion, having played a lot of resistance, a combat system doesn't seem like the way to go. The core of these role deduction games is figuring out who is the enemy. A combat system I think would very quickly out the spy/traitor. I think the most interesting addition would be giving skills on top of roles. You may need additional spies to balance this out though. When I say skills, is that each player is given a role and on top of that a unique character card that has a special skill. You could have a skilled veteran as a character and it'll take 2 spies to fail the mission. So everybody will usually want to take him with them on the mission. But he could very well be a spy himself so that would make people hesitate. Then you could have a spy master (this card might be overpowered actually) where on any mission you take him, he'll be able to tell you how many spies have gone on that mission but not who they are. You probably need a game master or "god" role in order to make this work.

In my opinion, skills on top of roles would make the most interesting addition to these role deduction games because in resistance, once you were figured out to be spy, you pretty much were out of the game. Skills would be interesting because it would add an additional aspect to the choice of who you take with you.
 
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Daniel Newman
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i'm pretty sure the expansions to The Resistance and Avalon already introduced skill/additional role cards.
 
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Jack Poon
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petrix wrote:
i'm pretty sure the expansions to The Resistance and Avalon already introduced skill/additional role cards.


I'll have to check those out then! Thanks!
 
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Nicholas Markgraf
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petrix wrote:
i'm pretty sure the expansions to The Resistance and Avalon already introduced skill/additional role cards.


So really then the only difference is the combat system?
 
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Daniel Newman
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you should play the expanded version of avalon or the resistance to be sure, but it doesn't sound like yours hugely different. i could be wrong, though, i haven't played yours either.
 
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Teyla Martin
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This game feels too close to Avalon, Bang!, One Night Ultimate Werewolf or Blood Bound's inquisitor roles in my opinion.

But the good news is that these 4 games have different and same aspects about them, but they are still stand alone games. So you can make it work, or there's some hope in that regard.

At this point, can the spy die before it gets to his turn or on his first turn? If so for either scenario, I would say that it is a game breaker. But I do feel you might need 1 more spy or another 3rd party associated role in play.

Like in Blood Bound, there's a harlequin role that deceives at least 1 person from knowing their actual alignment at the start of the game.

Or in Battlestar Galattica, you can start off as a Cylon (basically the enemy alien race of the game) or later in mid game become a Cylon.

But then again if it is a different 3rd party role than the spy, you then probably would need to change how the PASS and FAIL aspects would work in order new 3rd party role achieve some alternate wincon.
 
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