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Subject: From the beginning... rss

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Michael Jundi
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At the beginning of the KS campaign, people believed there was a game to be had from the following cards:

7 Life Stage Cards
7 Event cards
4 Special cards

Taking that into perspective, I can see how overburdened the original set of rules could become when you add Pets, Neighbors, etc. into the mix. What was a 5 min. 'filler' game became a 25 min. nightmare of a boring, non-interactive waste of time.

But there WAS something there from the get go, right? Enough people bought in for there to BE a bunch of stretch goals (even though that is what tanked the game?). So, starting with the base set of cards, the game SHOULD play out as expected from the original design, correct?

I'm going to test that & see if there is a scaleable version of the original rules that can meet expectations of the game once all those other "add-ons" are shuffled into the deck.

Here goes nothing...
I'll report back later today on results & see if there is some version of the rules that keeps the game going even after including all that other stuff!
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GrubTon Games
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Sounds great, thanks!
 
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Michael Jundi
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Results of gameplay as written originally for original set of cards:

x games

#1 2nd player was left almost completely out of the game (unable or unwilling to play cards). CP was set to negative life, 2nd player either had or kept drawing +cards. Game ended in both players unable to play & + net tokens to teen.

#2 CP set to positive life, initial draw saw both players unable to play a card, CP died as baby with no cards played.

#3 CP set to + life, player #1 (death in hand) played death set to +3 ended game turn #1. Win.

#4 CP set to - life, player #1 (death in hand AGAIN) played death set to -3 ended game on turn #1. Win.

#5 CP set to - life, player #1 decides to play payday (even though this strategically sets team back from - outcome), player 2 (spouse in hand) draws. Player 1 has to draw, cannot play (no cards in hand). Player 2 plays crime (net zero outcome at this point). Player 1 elects to draw (love in hand, draws another love). Player 2 again only has spouse in hand draws, CP dies (no one played a card). Net 0 result.

Observations:

No game took more than 2 mins. to decide. Play had almost no strategic value or optional decision making (deciding if to play a card or draw mainly based on having something TO play; and then deciding whether to put 'team' behind by playing a card that goes against goal of CP).

No real option or struggle that would define a 'game'- def. a form of play or sport, especially a competitive one played according to rules and decided by skill, strength, or luck. It's simply play or draw based on the luck of the initial hand dealt. Cards, like death, are extremely powerful and in this basic set of rules there is no reason to play this as a 2 player game (no conflict, no ability to even aid each other because of the limited options available to players).

EDIT-So, couldn't have even had results from games #3 or #4, since AS WRITTEN in reminder text, Death couldn't have been played on a Baby. So, we are seeing multiple games just not even BEGINNING because of the limited card pool AND limited cards in players hands at the beginning of the game.

Next attempt will still be with original rules, but also including Neighbors into draw deck (I'm hoping that with 7 more cards there will be at least non-disadvantageous plays to be made by players). Also will be upping initial hand size by +1.

Result of run through with originally proposed cards & rules--cannot see how everyone missed this fundamental flaw with even the basic game. A rework of foundation of play instructions are needed to move this from poor simulation/luck drawing engine into a minimally interactive 'game'.
 
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GrubTon Games
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Thanks for the report back. What a few people have thought is that if no one plays a card, the game ends. This isn't the case, actually. Rereading the rules, we see that it wasn't worded the best, but what we intended would be literally worded:

The game ends if no players can play a card AND if the draw deck has been depleted.

So we now see that instead of 'no player can play a card' it should read 'if no play can take an action' as this would allow players to continue to draw cards and the game continues. Badly worded, but that's what the rules were intended to mean in that situation.

GrubTon
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Michael Jundi
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Alright, moving on with that then. However, even with that clarification, it only prolongs the draw/go effect that is hurting the current configuration of the game. Just because the CP doesn't 'die' when nothing is played doesn't mean the real life players aren't 'dying' of boredom from simply drawing and passing the turn time and time again because of inability or unwillingness to play.

I think we're going to be driving towards using the goal cards as Will laid out in his initial re-write of the rules on here (BGG). There is fundamentally no conflict at this point in the game & nothing that is driving players to co-operate either (because most often they can't). With nothing taking the place of a classic conflict (a reason for the players to attempt the game), this falls into a category of a simulation (an almost automatic system that leads to an unknown result), but this simulation isn't even designed effectively; leading to multiple output errors because players many times can't do ANYTHING but draw/go.

Think of a software scripting error that needs de-bugged. You know you WANT some sort of result, but the compiler keeps error'ing out. That's what's going on with the game in its base format. I just can't believe so many of us completely missed the initial flaw of the basic game...
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Yes, the speed of the game is one of the biggest complaints. We're working to find the best system of:

1) Starting the game with more cards
2) Being able to draw AND play a card during your turn
3) Discarding for the ability to draw yet another card

Hopefully we'll find a good balance of those 3 that'll allow for a faster start and more dynamic turns.

As for a conflict, dealing the goals out to each player / team seems like a slam dunk. More testing is of course needed to find the right balance yet again, but progress nonetheless!

Thanks for all your help, we really appreciate it!

GrubTon
 
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Michael Jundi
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Are you attempting a re-build of the rules that includes all cards from the get go? No 'basic' game mode? Or are you looking at a baseline/introductory game, then adding the stretch goal components?
 
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We're planning on including as many of the cards as possible. We'll have to find a balance between cards used and best game play, but because the stretch goals were reached, we'd like to include as much as possible. But we of course understand there may be a few problem cards that'll simply have to go.
 
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Michael Jundi
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Continuing on, with everything~my rules re-write!
Okay,

After playing both alternate versions of the rules as posted on BGG and finding neither particularly eventful (or chaotic) I'm diving into design myself. Here's where I started:

1.) GurbTon stated he wanted to use as many of the cards in the game re-design as possible.

2.) Draw or play limitation is a known issue and is removed from concept of gameplay

3.) Starting handsize of 1 is a known issue and is removed from concept of gameplay

4.) Cannot/will not play is a known issue and is to be avoided.

5.) 'Death' of CP does not occur simply because all players cannot/will not play and has been eliminated from concept.

Here's how I am proceeding:

A.) Shuffle ALL CARDS except Baby into a draw deck (EVERYTHING including Life Goals!); Baby is our CP & whose life we're playing out.

B.) Each player draws a hand of 5 cards. Players may in turn mulligan by moving 1-5 of their cards into the discard pile and redrawing. This may be done 1 time by each player.

C.) ALL STIPULATIONS ON CARDS ARE IGNORED! (the reminder text in () on cards just below the picture as to when/if they can be played do not prevent cards from being played.

--->This means 'yes', you can have a spouse when you're a baby or child, the President sticks around waiting for Crime to be played, etc. simply play the card into the timeline if you really want to as part of your turn. This could throw off whomever has or will draw the card these other cards interact with; possibly affecting the bonuses for that card on a player's turn. There are some cards that will just stick around, but removing the stipulations and allowing each card to be played has increased their usefulness.

D.) ALL ORANGE/ITEM CARDS when played now provide an optional + or - counter to the player who plays them.

---> This makes the ITEM CARDS playable, period. They are a counter bonus & if played as a reaction nix someone else's (or I guess your own) play. Could be useful if you're looking to have the most of either + or - counters, or in just denying someone else from accumulating more counters.

E.) ALL ORANGE/ITEM CARDS still retain their "react" ability to counter/decrease effect of/negate a particular other card in the game. However, if a player used an ORANGE/ITEM card for its optional + or - 1 counter effect; it will have been removed from the game and doesn't affect the card it could have reacted with. On the positive side; if you get to react with one of your ITEM cards, you'll also receive a counter of your choice from the 'bank'!

F.) Neighbors are played to the CPs timeline; they accumulate in the timeline and each player who plays one gets the effect listed next to the number of neighbors in the timeline.

G.) Players are looking to accumulate counters; + or -; depending on their cards in hand, or potentially the Life Goal in their hand. The player with the MOST TOTAL COUNTERS at the end of the game is the winner. ***End game scoring at this point is provisional***

--> This creates the conflict for the game to be playable. Players are now individually attempting to drop cards into the CPs timeline or in front of them to race for the most overall counters. While this somewhat minimizes the race for specifically + or - counters, in increases play decisions, enhances interactions among players & facilitates trades to accumulate the right card combos to get the most effects to cash in on when playing an Age card. At the end of the game, how many of either + or - may come into play & I've stipulated an 'all lose' potential if you aren't pushing to have the most of one or the other counter type.

H.) If a player wishes; for a bonus effect; can play 1 LIFE-GOAL they have drawn (or had in their opening hand). These are optional & can be discarded/traded/etc. A player with a LIFE-GOAL keeps it in front of them and receives a +3 counter bonus (of their choice) at the end of the game if they are the player with the most of that type of counter at the end of the game.

---> Added emphasis for 'pushing' the CP into a more + or - life, at least where you (the player) are concerned.

A player's turn consists of, in any order, doing the following:

1.) Draw 1 card from either the top of the draw pile or the top card from the discard pile

2.) Play 1 card to the CP's timeline, resolving all text below the first horizontal line of the card; including payment stipulations &/or effects. This also includes the optional + or - counter bonus for any ORANGE card played.

---> If the card states in it's picture box that it is removed from the game after it is played, do so. Otherwise, it will remain in the CPs timeline until the text in its picture box can be resolved.

---> LIFE-GOAL cards are played in front of you. Any card that stipulates that it is played in front of you is still played in front of YOU. PET cards are still discarded if their particular affect happens.

3.) Offer trades or exchanges of cards &/or counters to other players. If an offer is rejected, you cannot continuing trading on your turn.

4.) discard down to 5 cards (5 card hand limit). Discarded cards are placed face up in any order on the discard pile. Remove cards that stipulate "Removed from the game" into a separate pile.

5.) Passing after drawing for the turn.

Play proceeds as normal with the CP progressing from Baby to Child to Teen to Adult to Senior, then death or through to the stage of progression where the Death card is played or the deck runs out.

The player with the most accumulated counters wins; if a tie the player with the most accumulated counters of either + or - wins. If still a tie; the CP didn't have any more of Chaotic Life than anyone else and all players lost!
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GrubTon Games
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Michael,

This is excellent work! Looks like you've got a solid system in place right now. Lots of great changes while still somewhat recognizable as the initial game - but with lots more to do on turns to keep it interesting.

We'll definitely be looking deep into this.

Thanks!

GrubTon
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Mike Doberenz
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Interesting rules, Michael, I'll give them a shot. It seems to me the whole reason so many of us backed the project without any rule sheet or reviews or print-and-play is because we all thought there was something charming about a little game that was effectively a competitive life simulator. We were going to get to poke a virtual person with a virtual stick and make them the happiest or saddest little bloke we could manage just to amuse our demented little minds for the low low price of $10.

What you are proposing is something less like a life simulator and more like a life story simulator. Hey, did I tell you about the time I got a presidential pardon? No? Well, it all starts with a time machine. And candy. And this guy named Dan. Or maybe it ends with that stuff? No, that can't be right, it ends with Death. Did I tell you about the time I found a Magical Unicorn Horn and didn't die...?

So, it seems to me, you should throw all your cards into a big pile, like you said, but even including the baby. Deal out a bunch of cards, say 20 or so to each player. You're not telling their whole life story, just the interesting bits. And you're telling it in whatever order you want. You play Travel, that's great, you get bonuses for every Age before it. You play Teen, that's great, you get bonuses for every Event before it. It's not a timeline as much as a storyline, and the happiness/sadness isn't the CP's, it's yours as you listen to the story.

Ignore all the constraints including must play immediately. You only tell the Volcano story if you want. You can talk about your baby bottle even if you just told the part of the story where you fall in Love with both of your spouses.

Everything gets played to the middle. If things get removed from the story line, then future stuff can't claim the bonuses for it. If you play pets take your happiness right away. If you play a Map and someone already played Travel, it's useless. If you play a Map and no one plays Travel, it's useless. If you play Map and then someone plays Travel, they get +1 happiness.

By default you're trying to get the most counters, because that means you heard the best story. But if the happy goal is played, only count happiness, sadness if the terrible life is played.

So yeah, 20 cards, and no drawing more. You can pass at any time. You can play even if you passed in a previous turn. You have to pass if you're out of cards. If everyone passes, the game is over. If someone plays Death and there's no Unicorn Horn in the story line, the game is over.

I like it. Sounds like fun, Michael, I think you might be on to something there.
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Michael Jundi
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You framed a neat idea there Mike! I guess the story telling aspect was a big draw for me too. However, Grubton seems to see the game as a linear progression for all the interesting/weird/chaotic stuff that happens in the CPs life. The flow of the game does change regardless of how and when you can play cards, and I do like your idea of the reminiscing flow for the game. I may try that version out too soon!

 
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Michael Jundi
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Observations on the above rules (having played 2 games; #1 lasting about 20 mins., #2 for about 40 mins.)

#1.) The Child card gets buried & delays the game from being able to get to the next stages in life. While this didn't necessarily affect gameplay (players were still able to play to the timeline, accumulate counters by playing the ITEM cards for their 'new' optional effect & more trading & decisions were being made), the first game ended after 1 Time Machine play that re-set the board & the Death card showing up and never progressing past Baby stage.

#2.) Much more enjoyable experience in 'telling the story'. Game #2 began with more aggressive discards/mulligans to start, which buried the Death card. We progressed twice through to the Teen stage, with multiple INTERACT & SPECIAL cards being used to disrupt/affect/alter player's hands & other card effects when played. Game #2 lasted twice as long as #1, but allowed for almost twice the amount of accumulated counters. Game #2 ended with no further viable plays & the deck running out of cards, but having progressed to Senior.

#3.) While a few trades & draws from the discard pile happened; neither option was even a close second to just playing the cards you've drawn or drawing directly from the top of the draw deck.

RESULTS:

Game #1-- Player #1~ 9 - counters & 10 + counters, no goals in play
Player #2~ 11 - counters & 12 + counters, (gained +3 counters from PETS in front of them) & achieved the 'In Love with Love' mini-goal Player #2 won: 19 to 26

Game #2-- Player #1~ 12 - counters & 11 + counters, both + and - LIFE GOAL cards in play.
Player #2~ 12 - counters & 22 + counters, 'In Love with Love'
completed (+3 bonus), Dog & Cat in front of player (+3
+ counter bonus) Player #2 won: 40 to 23

Both games were fun & felt like a communal storytelling experience, while both players worked to disrupt the flow of the life the other player was trying to lay out. However, two issues came up that we both felt could be tweaked:

#1.) Go back to Mike's idea of having two separate decks. But for this rules revision the draw deck consists of everything EXCEPT the Age progression cards (Child, Teen, Adult & Senior). Those are set aside and as part of a turn a player may either take their turn as normal, OR advance to & score the next Age card.

#2.) With so much going on in our early years, the game didn't have the ability to progress into teen, adult, etc. stages where meaningful cards could be played. It was suggested to allow for all EVENT cards to carry over into the subsequent ages as scoring options.

---> I felt that this suggestion hurt the usefulness of cards like Amnesia & Dream and altered the intent of a few other cards. I'd rather approach adjusting the cards into the 2-deck solution proposed earlier and try this version of the rules again allowing for that.

I'm confident that the removal of conditions on cards is an easier & less invasive 'fix', since it maintains the progression of gameplay as laid out originally & separating the Age cards out will decrease the amount of time during the game spent 'spinning your wheels' further by allowing players the option of playing the next Age & scoring.

Won't be able to spend this much time today or this weekend on all this as I have (work y'know!). But I'll try and stay in the loop as to progress in this variation and others as they develop!
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Michael Jundi
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Finally on this run through--

We both enjoyed coming up with short descriptions of the events affecting our CP. 'Remember when he/she met the President?', 'Oh, and then that's when he met his spouse in pre-school!', 'And the time he met (neighbor's name)?', which made the experience more fun than just shooting for scoring counters. It also brought the Neighbors in as a more strategic play.

I'm going to try this version (with adjustments: Age Deck & Draw Deck) with my daughters tonight and see how it goes!

 
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Michael,

We love to see all of this! You're really a huge help while we work on our end as well!

We've also officially added you (along with Mike for his work, and thanks for making the names confusing XD) to the "Free Copy of All Future Games" list, as a thank you for your great help with all of this! We really appreciate it!

So keep up the great work testing and playing and reporting back with your findings, and we'll be posting what we find soon! Can't wait to hear what your daughters think too!

Thanks again!

GrubTon
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Michael Jundi
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The Chaotic Life of two little sisters...

Last night's game was CHAOTIC! My girls (ages 9 & 6) played with mom and I for about 25 mins. Here's the rundown & stipulations of play we worked with:

A.) Two draw decks; everything except baby & age cards in Draw pile & Age cards in a separate pile.
B.) Players drew 5 cards each & could mulligan away 1-5 cards & re-draw to start the game. Discards went face up in the discard pile. Girls didn't discard anything, President and something else ended up in discard to start.
C.) Players could draw from Draw deck OR top card of discard, play a card OR advance the Age and end their turn. Players could simply draw & pass as well. Players could also trade.
D.) If a card required a cost you couldn't pay (no counters) that didn't prevent you from playing it. But if you could pay the cost, you had to.
E.) At end of turn, you discarded down to 5 cards.

The girls were told they were trying to gather the smiley face or sad face tokens & have more of them than anyone else at the end of the game. Game progressed slowly at first; but after explaining that the ITEM/ORANGE cards just gave you a token of your choice (you didn't have to wait to play them for their effect), we began to hear stories about the BABY getting hurt and needing a band-aid, or tearing up dad's map, or the neighbors they met, etc. My wife and I had faster & more strategic turns (or at least tried to), but the kids were enjoying the progression of the story more than anything.

Eventually my wife moved us to the next age (Child), and a larger payoff of counters got the girls attention. We had to explain how the ITEM/ORANGE cards worked again, along with the YELLOW/SPECIAL cards & how they could prevent some of those counters. They didn't really get all that & there were probably some plays where they hurt themselves playing a SPECIAL card when strategically they shouldn't have (either essentially worthless or could have potentially hurt their own gain of counters). Trading was talked about, but didn't really factor in much again.

Play continued & Teen was reached, as well as Adult (where the girls decided we were playing a girl). I think one of the girls had a time machine but didn't play it. Scoring kinda fell off as fewer cards were of use later (we did NOT score each AGE with all events played before it in a previous age, but looking back that might be a good idea [as my wife had already suggested previously]). My wife again got a LIFE GOAL & MINI-GOAL in play, she ended us with the DEATH card as an ADULT.

Final score:

Mom: 19 (+3 for MINI-GOAL bonus) counters= 22 total counters
Dad: 12 counters (+2 for CAT)
9yr old: 7 counters
6yr old: 2 counters (had mouse in hand, we gave her the bonus but it didn't matter)

Obviously + or - didn't end up mattering in this game. Didn't feel like that mattered though; the baby/child had a pretty weird/chaotic life. Adult, not so much (mostly a few Orange/Item card alternate effect plays & had a mouse in their pocket!)

We're close; wife and I both see a game here. definitely sped things up putting ages to the side, but did feel like there was something else not quite right with playing things to the timeline & scoring, but who was going to advance the age first?
 
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Mike Doberenz
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I played a few more times yesterday. I tried a game with my latest tweak to my rules, which I'll post in that thread, once with the version you have here and once with the story simulator rules. I should mention that I have 2 regular groups, one that plays "gamer" games and one that plays micros and fast card games. All of my play throughs so far have been with the later.

Both my rules and the rules above were considered far too slow. A half hour for a game where it feels like you're either doing nothing (most turns involve dumping all your cards or playing a likely-useless item in my rules) or getting rewarded for doing something wrong (most turns involve +1 token for playing something that doesn't feel like it should be played in Michael's rules) really isn't appealing to casual gamer. Also, telling someone that you're changing all the rules and they have to ignore a selectively chosen portion of the text on the card starts to wear on anyone's nerves. It's like playing candy land with a 5 year old, changing the rules for no reason (no offense intended to your daughters, Michael. I'm sure they're excellent candy landers).

The play through with the story simulator rules was very interesting. We dealt out a bunch of cards. When you played a card, you got to take advantage of every other card in the timeline. There were no restrictions on when you could play a card. So if you played President before Crime, Crime was worthless as far as counters go. If you played President after Crime then any Age cards were no longer Criminals.

There were still some things we weren't sure how to play. If you play Dog, when do you get the counter? If someone plays Death, can you retaliate with the Unicorn Horn or Bubble, or do those have to be in the timeline before hand?

The game ended with Death after a Happy life goal was put in play. The storyline was edited several times, Teen was removed with a Dream and several cards + Adult went away with the Time Machine. But ultimately we had Child -> Baby -> Senior -> Senior out with 4 of the events. We played several -1 counter cards, so the final score was 8 happiness to 7, with the win being decided by a Death + Bubble (I had 6 happiness right before I ended the game).

It was entertaining to play to the story line and talk about the story. Our guy got married twice, the second one was zapped by the Time Machine. But it still felt more chaotic than life. On the plus side, it played out in about 10 minutes, which is exactly the length of time I think this type of gameplay should last before it starts to overstay its welcome.

My last variant idea is this. Deal out all the cards and play it the right way. You can only play cards on your turn, and you can only affect the previous player's card play on the turn immediately following their play. With two, that'll be a lot of cards in hand, so I suggest using a two-handed Spades style draft. During the draft phase, take the top card from the deck. If you decide to keep it, it goes to your hand, then you look at the next card from the deck and discard it face down. If you decide you don't want to keep it, discard it face down and then you must take the next card from the deck. So you see half the cards in the deck, but only keep a quarter.

Most of the problem with the game stems from each of the cards having a very tiny window of usefulness. The easiest way to fix that is to increase their availability. I think this change might actually be really fun, as it was really fun to play with the storyline rules and having a ton of cards in hand. With the original rules, it might actually feel very strategic.

That said, my deck is now in the hands of someone who enjoys it more than I do, so I can't do any more rules testing. Best of luck to GrubTon and thanks for the enjoyable shared brainstorming, Michael.
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Michael Jundi
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I think your comments on the amount of time to play this are right on. We did have way, way too long invested in this 'micro' game for what it was supposed to be.

Just kept trying to get something to work, but if by working it means having so many cards in hand that you're having to invest foreknowledge of everything & the combinations, or spending way too much time reading through your entire hand to actually make proper plays, that's too much work.

Story telling, non-linear & 'Chaotic' is probably best to bring out the actual intent of the game as it was meant to be from the get go.

Thank you too for helping in this process Mike, it has been good to see how different people have approached the problem of the game play!

 
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Thanks again Mike!

We'll be continuing to use your results extensively as we create the new rule sheet. And you've helped out loads, so no problem at all passing the game on. We really appreciate all your work!

GrubTon
 
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Chay Me
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Okay disclaimer, I have not had time in my gaming group to try this game with my friends. After reading some of the reviews I have a small idea.

If the randomness aspect of the death card should stay in place (where it could theoretically be played as soon as the baby becomes a child), perhaps the rule that it automatically ends the game could be tweaked where everyone has one additional chance to play a card in response to the death card. The cards that come to mind are the Unicorn Horn, Dream, and Time Machine card. Maybe the character dreamed they were dying and woke up in a sweaty panic!

This of course is without me personally playing the game. (and I am definitely a fan of the idea that the death card is placed randomly at the bottom of the deck), I just like the idea of the counter-play possibilities. Death doesn't mean you're dead!
 
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Hey Chay Me,

Thanks for the input! We're definitely interested in counter-plays against the death card (which the unicorn horn already does) but perhaps you're right - more are needed!

GrubTon
 
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Hey everyone!

We want to make sure everyone here also sees the newest update for A Chaotic Life, so we're posting this message on all of threads here to link people back to the Kickstarter update page. The new rules have been released and everyone is encouraged to give them a try! Then we'll take one quick pass over them again after we send out surveys to everyone who tried them out, and then the rules will be finalized.

Thanks again for everyone's help over here!

So heave over here to see the update:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/grubtongames/a-chaotic-...

GrubTon Games
 
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