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Entry thread for:
I Know An Old Woman

A game of unhealthy eating
and out-thinking your opponent



by Rob Harper.




Game Summary
In this game, based on the children's song about the old woman who swallowed a fly, players choose from a selection of creatures, each trying to catch the one selected by the other player. Whoever catches the most of the opponent's creatures, or plays the most that don't get caught, will be the winner.

The game is played with two mini-decks of nine cards, one for each player, and each deck contains cards representing creatures from the song: the horse, cow, goat, dog, cat, bird, spider, fly, and the old woman herself.

Number of players: 2
Components: 18 cards (2 sets of 9)
Playing time: ~5 minutes

Prospective categories

Elementary school
Best card game
Best new game
Children's choice


Download Links

Rules PDF on Dropbox
PnP Cards PDF on Dropbox
PnP Card backs PDF on Dropbox (optional)
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Rob Harper
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Re: [WIP] I Know An Old Woman - 2015 Children's Print and Play Game Design Contest - Idea Phase
This is a game that developed unexpectedly on our summer holidays, and is my second entry into the contest. We've been through a few iterations of possible rules based on components that have barely changed from the initial concept, which was nine cards, now grown into two identical sets of nine.

The idea is that one player leads with a creature -- either the old woman or one of the things she swallowed -- and the other player has to follow with the creature that she swallows to catch that creature. I'm currently twiddling the rules a bit and preparing PnP components, so this will probably be component ready very soon.

If you want to read a bit more about the development so far, I have written about it on my blog.
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Re: [WIP] I Know An Old Woman - 2015 Children's Print and Play Game Design Contest - Idea Phase
I still have to do some more thinking and writing-up for the rules, but I have at least created vaguely presentable cards...

v0.1 Cards on DropBox

There are 18 cards made up of two identical sets, marked by either a red triangle or a blue square in the corner.

My original hand-made cards had a number on each one to help show what their rank is (old woman is 0, fly 1, up to horse 8), but this version has text to show what catches what, with just the special case of the old woman and the fly.

I'm wondering if I should include the numbers still, but I am wary of having more on the cards than there is (or even as much as there is) as the game is aimed at elementary school kids. We'll see how things go.

Rules will follow soonish, though I may post parts of the rules to this thread as I go, before I make up the "real" document.
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Re: [WIP] I Know An Old Woman - 2015 Children's Print and Play Game Design Contest - Idea Phase
I am interested in the game so will help with the rules once you have them.

Instead of numbers and colored shapes you could show a hierarchy and just make the current cards icon "highlighted" with the players color.


Player 1 (blue) plays the old woman, player 2 (red) plays the fly, and player 1 (blue) responds with the spider.
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Re: [WIP] I Know An Old Woman - 2015 Children's Print and Play Game Design Contest - Idea Phase
Hi Greg, thanks so much for contributing. I love the pictures on your versions of the cards there. Are they your work?

Looks like you have inferred the basics of the rules (or read the blog!).

I've been working on basic tricks where if blue leads, say, a fly, and red can follow with a spider, then red wins the trick, otherwise blue wins. The players each have a hand of three cards (may be changed after more testing) so there is some uncertainty from that. As the game progresses, each player learns what the other has left. There is a lot of luck in the game, but I think that suits the target audience.

The colours/shapes I am using are just an easy way to split the cards into two decks (card backs would be better, I think), and I was using both colour and shapes to avoid just relying on colour.

I do like your hierarchy track idea though. It looks really neat, especially with that artwork.

One of the problems I am dealing with at the moment is what to do with the horse: probably a horse lead could be beaten by the old woman "she's dead of course!".
 
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Re: [WIP] I Know An Old Woman - 2015 Children's Print and Play Game Design Contest - Idea Phase
polyobsessive wrote:
Hi Greg, thanks so much for contributing. I love the pictures on your versions of the cards there. Are they your work?

Nah, I just pulled them from thenounproject.com

Looks like you have inferred the basics of the rules (or read the blog!).

I've been working on basic tricks where if blue leads, say, a fly, and red can follow with a spider, then red wins the trick, otherwise blue wins. The players each have a hand of three cards (may be changed after more testing) so there is some uncertainty from that. As the game progresses, each player learns what the other has left. There is a lot of luck in the game, but I think that suits the target audience.

The colours/shapes I am using are just an easy way to split the cards into two decks (card backs would be better, I think), and I was using both colour and shapes to avoid just relying on colour.

Gotcha.

I do like your hierarchy track idea though. It looks really neat, especially with that artwork.

One of the problems I am dealing with at the moment is what to do with the horse: probably a horse lead could be beaten by the old woman "she's dead of course!".

Yeah that would probably work, I see how that is a tough choice on how it will work.
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Re: [WIP] I Know An Old Woman - 2015 Children's Print and Play Game Design Contest - Idea Phase
JewellGames wrote:
Nah, I just pulled them from thenounproject.com


Ah, a source of much awesome. If time allows (recognising that surfing the Noun Project can be a very deep rabbit hole) I might go over there and see if I can find a full set of appropriate pics so there can be some alternative art.

I'll add at this point that all the pics I have used are, to the best of my knowledge, public domain, sourced via pixabay and wikimedia.
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If given the option, I would prefer to play with the green pieces, please.
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Re: [WIP] I Know An Old Woman - 2015 Children's Print and Play Game Design Contest - Idea Phase
Welcome to the contest! This looks fun!
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Re: [WIP] I Know An Old Woman - 2015 Children's Print and Play Game Design Contest - Idea Phase
chansen2794 wrote:
Welcome to the contest! This looks fun!


Thanks Chris. Fingers crossed.
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Working on the rules...
I've not had much time to work on the game this week, though we have been able to play it a couple of times. I have, however, managed to scrape together something approximating a first draft of the rules, which I'll just paste in here for the time being while I continue to work on the real document...

Set Up
Each player takes one of the decks of nine cards.

With your deck, shuffle it, then turn it face up so you can see the faces of the cards but your opponent cannot. For your first game, whoever most recently swallowed a fly goes first (or find your own way of deciding), then if you play again, take it in turns to go first.

Playing the Game
If you are the first player, you must choose one of the top three cards in your deck and announce what it is by reading the text at the top, for example, "I know an old woman who swallowed a bird."

The other player now chooses a card from the three cards at the top of her deck.

If she is able to choose the animal that the old woman swallowed to catch the creature lead by you, she announced this by reading the text at the bottom of the card, for example, "She swallowed a cat to catch the bird." You must now hand over the card you chose, and your opponent puts these, facing backwards, at the back of her deck.

If your opponent does not have the correct animal, she must hand over her card; you put this, along with your own chosen card, facing backwards at the back of your deck.

Cards at the back of your decks count as the points you have scored during the game.

There are a couple of special cases:

If you lead with the old woman, you announce, "I know an old woman," and if your opponent has the fly, they can win with, "...who swallowed a fly. I don't know why she swallowed a fly."

The horse cannot be beaten, so if you lead with the horse, your opponent must choose a card to give you.

After you have each chosen a card and one of you has claimed the cards as a prize, play another round, with your opponent choosing first. Continue to take it in turns playing rounds until both of you have played all your cards and only have cards facing backwards.

(Add here alternative rules for small hands, playing on a table and having a hand of 3 cards and a separate score pile.)

Game End and Scoring
When all the cards have been played, count up the cards you have scored. Whoever has the most cards is the winner.

If you want to keep playing, you can write down the number of points you score each time and add the totals up after an agreed number of games to see who is the overall winner.
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A rules tweak
After a bit of playtesting with my daughter using the rules above, we discussed the Old Woman card. Frankly, it is a little bit boring. If you lead the card, you might be lucky enough to win, but you can never win with her as a response. So we came up with a special rule for the old woman...

If you lead with the Old Woman and win (your opponent cannot play a Fly), then you may chose one of your "prize" cards at the back of your deck and bring it, face up, to the front of your deck. Thus you lose a point that you had scored, but you gain a new option.

This does mean that it is possible that one player runs out of cards while the other still has one, but I think we just need to reframe the game as ending when at least one player runs out of cards.

Come to think of it, the card left in hand could count as a score as well, so the point would not have been lost. I guess this is one of those fine-tuning elements that can be decided through playtest.

In general I'm not too keen on adding special case rules, but I think here that this one makes some sense in that it isn't a heavy load but it should add a little decision-making depth.
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Re: [WIP] I Know An Old Woman - 2015 Children's Print and Play Game Design Contest - Components Ready
Right, I have finally written up my first pass at the rules, so here are the links to rules and cards (and I have also put them in the main post)...

Rules v0.1 on Dropbox
PnP Cards v0.1 on Dropbox

So I guess that means I'm now officially components ready!
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Re: [WIP] I Know An Old Woman - 2015 Children's Print and Play Game Design Contest - Components Ready
So I just spent a while fumbling around on The GIMP, trying to figure out how to make passable card backs for the game. This really isn't me, I'm a terrible graphic designer/artist, and I never worry about card backs. But here I am...

Anyway, I want to have two different (but very similar) card backs to distinguish the two decks, so have come up with a very basic design. The plan is to replace the grey background with a different textured colour for each deck -- and I plan to make the texture different for each to aid in accessibility.



I'm trying to keep it simple though.
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Re: [WIP] I Know An Old Woman - 2015 Children's Print and Play Game Design Contest - Components Ready
OK, I can stop obsessing about this now and get back to actually working on the game. A pair of card backs that I think will do unless I find I have a lot of time towards the end of the contest period...

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Re: [WIP] I Know An Old Woman - 2015 Children's Print and Play Game Design Contest - Components Ready
Would you be opposed to a lower ink neutral cardback with a stitching border as the color? You could make the stitches different patterns too for accessibility.

Example:
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Re: [WIP] I Know An Old Woman - 2015 Children's Print and Play Game Design Contest - Components Ready
That's an excellent idea, Gregg, thanks for the suggestion.

On reflection, I was actually thinking that the accessibility aspect here isn't as much of a thing as I first thought. The only reason to have differentiated decks is to make it a little easier to sort out one of each type of card for each player. With 2x9 cards in the set I don't think this is really a problem, which is why I ended up with textured on my cards that aren't actually that different. #

The stitching is excellent though, so I may well go with that idea.
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Re: [WIP] I Know An Old Woman - 2015 Children's Print and Play Game Design Contest - Components Ready
I'm trying to figure out whether to put text on the old woman card to indicate the bonus if you win a trick with her. The rule seems a worthwhile one, but I can't currently think of a way to write it on a card without needing lots of words and small text (absolutely not in keeping with the target audience), so if I keep it, it may have to just be one of those things to explain and remember.
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Revised cards
A few more playtests here and the rules seem to have stabilized pretty much as per the v0.1 rules I shared previously. If anyone can offer any feedback it would be hugely appreciated. I guess that now it looks like there probably won't be major changes, I should start thinking about doing a better job of writing those rules and presenting them better.

The cards seem to have stayed stable too. I have decided (pending further experience/feedback) to leave the card texts as they are and not add anything to the Old Woman card. I'm also sticking to the plain B&W art and text, though I have decided to add a little colour to the card faces by giving a different coloured border/frame for each of the decks.

As I discussed earlier, I've come to the conclusion that I don't really need to worry about colour blindness issues before as the colours have no effect on play other than being a convenient way to distinguish starting decks, red-blue isn't the most common problem, and card backs can have other clues too (texture, or stitching as Gregg suggested).

So I made a new set of card faces, with these colour frames plus a different typeface -- I'm limited on the typefaces available but wanted to use one with a kiddie-friendly 'a' character and this was the best I was able to rustle up for the moment, though to my eyes it looks like a crime against kerning. Better other than that.

New cards are here...
PnP Cards v0.2 on Dropbox

I'm actually wanting to get to having some reasonable cards sorta-finalised in the next few days as I have a really good promo code for ArtsCow and ordering some cards now would get me them within a few weeks for playing with and giving away. The "official" contest version may change but I should end up with something reasonable for myself...

Edit: tidying up a bit.
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Feedback request
A quick request for if you are able to test the game; could you please report back the scores and whether anyone managed to claim the "Old Woman bonus" (for winning a trick by leading with the Old Woman)?

So, what I would really like is:
* The 1st player's score
* Did the 1st player win the Old Woman bonus?
* The 2nd player's score
* Did the 2nd player win the Old Woman bonus?

I only have three plays worth of statistics in this form so far, but of those, the 2nd player has always won, the 1st player has never gained the OW bonus, and the 2nd player has had the bonus twice. In some of the earlier games (pre-OWBonus) the 1st player has won. This isn't enough to draw any conclusions yet, but we'll keep playing and trying to gain more stats to see if any tuning is required.
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Nicely (ish) printed cards - excitement!
I got home from work today to get a really nice surprise: a package from ArtsCow containing enough cards for 6 sets of I Know An Old Woman. This is the first time I have got one of my own games printed up like this, so this is really exciting.

OK, so the cards *may* change for the contest version, but it's the rules that I really need to work on now. Plus some more testing.

To review the product overall, I'm really happy with them. The down-side is that the backs of the cards are unevenly coloured, so there is some variation between them, which wouldn't be acceptable in a commercial game, but for a prototype it is just a minor flaw which I can put up with.
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Re: [WIP] I Know An Old Woman - 2015 Children's Print and Play Game Design Contest - Components Ready
That's a good feeling : )
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Re: [WIP] I Know An Old Woman - 2015 Children's Print and Play Game Design Contest - Components Ready
So, energised by having some presentable cards, I've been trying to learn how to do some desktop publishing (I have Scribus available, so that's what I'm using) and layout a rules sheet for the game. The rule text could, I think, do with some more polishing, and it's clear I'm not a professional at this, but more progress has been made.

The idea is that if I can fit all the rules and blurb onto a double-sided A5 sheet (yes, A5) then it can be folded twice to form a leaflet just a little larger than the cards, so the cards can be tucked inside and the whole lot can be stuffed into an appropriately sized baggie, creating one neat package.

Feedback would be greatly appreciated, both for the rules text and for the layout.

Here's the latest draft rulebook on Dropbox
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Re: [WIP] I Know An Old Woman - 2015 Children's Print and Play Game Design Contest - Components Ready
Of course, having just uploaded this I have already found something I think is fairly seriously wrong with the layout. Ah well...
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Re: [WIP] I Know An Old Woman - 2015 Children's Print and Play Game Design Contest - Components Ready
polyobsessive wrote:
Of course, having just uploaded this I have already found something I think is fairly seriously wrong with the layout. Ah well...


Hahaha. It happens ALL the time.
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Re: [WIP] I Know An Old Woman - 2015 Children's Print and Play Game Design Contest - Components Ready
I guess I just have to put stuff out there and know that my early passes will just be wrong, but it's better than not having done it at all, right?
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