Scott Allen
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Just for fun, I'm designing a solitaire game using just a deck of standard playing cards, two cubes, and 1 printed out game board.

The game is played in 2 phases:
- phase 1: collect resources
- phase 2: use the resources to escape a prison

Phase 1 is "push your luck" where the player draws cards from one deck that contains 2 different resources, plus a couple bonus/wild cards, and a few penalty cards. So, not a lot of skill required, but at least a decision to make: when to stop drawing cards.

Phase 2 uses the two quantities of collected resources to make a journey. This is where it turns into an all out luck-fest: draw 1 card from another deck that affects your journey, using your collected resources as needed to negate any bad effects along the way.

So, if you are lucky in the push your luck first phase and have lots of resources, you'll most likely win, regardless of how bad the cards drawn in phase 2 are. And, if you had bad luck in phase 1, no matter how kind the phase 2 cards are, you'll probably lose.

So, I know I am being vague in the game description here, but is that enough to give me any advice to add more skill into the game, especially phase 2?

Thanks.
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Casey Hill
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Hey Scott. Here are some thoughts.

In phase 1, it seems like their in a very high variance in what players receive and it is purely luck based. I might suggest keeping the two resources and wild/bonus cards but removing penalties. In this situation players would draw a finite amount of cards. If you are set on penalty cards being included I think you need some other mechanism to mitigate a player losing in phase 1 through just luck, not player error. Chance is fun but players want to feel like their decisions matter.

In phase 2, it seems to me that you need to implement a dynamic wherein players can creatively utilize the cards gained in phase 1. Sure, they can draw a event or situation card that has some affect on their journey, but make the cards from phase 1 have the capacity to be played interactively or in different ways based on player choice. When player's feel they are able to use skill to better their position, even when there are aspects of luck (as there are with nearly all card games) they generally are more engaged with a game and more likely to replay it. Perhaps reworking some of your cards so that they are more different then straight good or bad will reduce the problems with luck dominating the outcomes and make the game more enjoyable to play.
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Scott Allen
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Thanks for your thoughts.

Here are the details of the game, just so we can talk specifics. The game is about Icarus and Daedalus from Greek mythology.

Here are the cards that are used:

Spades = Feathers
Clubs = Wax
Diamonds = fly towards the sun
Hearts = fly towards the sea

Phase 1 Deck:
Bundles of Feathers: A - 9 of Spades (card values don't matter)
Cakes of Wax: A - 9 of Clubs (card values don't matter)
Jailers: J of Spades and Clubs
Maidens: Q of Spades and Clubs
Wildcards: K of Hearts and Diamonds (Keep away from sea or sun)

Phase 2 Deck (flight modifiers):
Flight cards: A - 9 of Hearts and Diamonds (card values don't matter)


Phase 1:
Shuffle phase 1 deck
Draw one card, and repeat as often as you’d like
If you draw a Jack, the “Jailer” sees your Feathers or Wax (depending on the suit of the Jack) and you lose all of those cards, but can continue drawing cards.
If you draw a Queen, the “maiden” gets suspicious about what you are collecting, so you have to Quit collecting and phase 2 begins.
If you draw any Kings, keep them for wild cards for phase 2.

So, there’s some fun tension trying to collect as many Feathers and Wax as possible.


To prepare for phase 2, create “Sections” of wings (not the best term, but stick with me). You create as many sections as there are Feathers or Wax, whichever is smaller. So, if you have 5 Club cards and 3 Spade cards, you can make 3 sections of wings. Decide who gets how many sections of wings. Let’s say Icarus gets 2 sections, Daedalus gets 1 section. Place 2 spade card face down for Icarus, 1 spade card face down for Daedalus. Think of these cards as sort of their “health”.

If the player has the King of Hearts of Diamonds, “give” each to one character. The King of Hearts enables the character to Keep away from the water, by moving UP 2 spaces. The King of Diamonds enables the character to Keep away from the sun, by moving DOWN 2 spaces.

Here’s a very rough sketch of the board:



Every time a Heart is drawn, the character (Icarus or Daedalus) moves 1 space to the right AND 1 space DOWN.

Every time a Diamond is drawn, the character (Icarus or Daedalus) moves 1 space to the right AND 1 space UP.

After a card draw and the character moves as indicated, a character may “spend” one of their sections of wings to move up or down 1 space (to stay away from the sun or sea).



Phase 2:
Icarus leaves the tower first.
Draw one card from phase 2 deck. Move Icarus to the right and up or down 1 space based on the card.
Daedalus goes next.
Draw one card from phase 2 deck. Move Daedalus to the right and up or down 1 space based on the card.

If a character moves into the sea or the sun, that character dies.

Win the game by getting both characters to the safety of the island.

Make sense?


It’s a quick game, maybe 5 minutes. My issue is that phase 2 is too mechanical and the choices are few and too obvious: if you get too close to the sun or sea, take an action. Otherwise, just glide to safety. I’d like to make this more engaging.

So, I'd like to make phase 2 more skill based and less luck based somehow. If I can't do that, I'd like to make phase 1 longer, more of a challenge, etc.

Thanks!
 
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Sturv Tafvherd
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Narrow Gate Games wrote:
Just for fun, I'm designing a solitaire game using just a deck of standard playing cards, two cubes, and 1 printed out game board.

The game is played in 2 phases:
- phase 1: collect resources
- phase 2: use the resources to escape a prison

Phase 1 is "push your luck" where the player draws cards from one deck that contains 2 different resources, plus a couple bonus/wild cards, and a few penalty cards. So, not a lot of skill required, but at least a decision to make: when to stop drawing cards.

Phase 2 uses the two quantities of collected resources to make a journey. This is where it turns into an all out luck-fest: draw 1 card from another deck that affects your journey, using your collected resources as needed to negate any bad effects along the way.

So, if you are lucky in the push your luck first phase and have lots of resources, you'll most likely win, regardless of how bad the cards drawn in phase 2 are. And, if you had bad luck in phase 1, no matter how kind the phase 2 cards are, you'll probably lose.

So, I know I am being vague in the game description here, but is that enough to give me any advice to add more skill into the game, especially phase 2?

Thanks.


I'm going to turn things around, and if I'm right, the new perspective might help you re-think the game.

The random card draws in Phase 2 are already "pre-determined" before you even get to Phase 1. They are just face down. So the push your luck stuff you're doing in Phase 1 is really just blind (mostly random) guesswork about what's already "pre-determined" but unknown.


So....

If you want to put some skill into this, here's what I'd suggest: reduce the unknowns of the "Phase 2 cards". Reveal some of it.

I'd deal out the Phase 2 deck into 4 piles, face up. Make the player choose one; shuffle that pile up, and use just that deck for the Phase 2 journey. Having seen and chosen the deck, the player has some info on what to do for Phase 1.


If this was a D&D game, It's like sitting at a tavern and gathering rumors on what's going on around town. And you pick one lead to investigate, and prepare for your adventure, having some idea of what the challenges may be.
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Scott Allen
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Stormtower wrote:

I'm going to turn things around, and if I'm right, the new perspective might help you re-think the game.

The random card draws in Phase 2 are already "pre-determined" before you even get to Phase 1. They are just face down. So the push your luck stuff you're doing in Phase 1 is really just blind (mostly random) guesswork about what's already "pre-determined" but unknown.


Just to clarify, for phase 1, "more is better" - the more resources a player can gather, the better. So, do you want to stop at 4, or try to get 5 or 6 or 7? So, phase 1 is about getting as much as possible. So, you're not trying to guess about phase 2, just trying to gather as many resources as possible as a safety net against the variation of phase 2.


Stormtower wrote:
So....

If you want to put some skill into this, here's what I'd suggest: reduce the unknowns of the "Phase 2 cards". Reveal some of it.

I'd deal out the Phase 2 deck into 4 piles, face up. Make the player choose one; shuffle that pile up, and use just that deck for the Phase 2 journey. Having seen and chosen the deck, the player has some info on what to do for Phase 1.


If this was a D&D game, It's like sitting at a tavern and gathering rumors on what's going on around town. And you pick one lead to investigate, and prepare for your adventure, having some idea of what the challenges may be.


One thing I was thinking was maybe choosing where to launch from on the tower (how high). This might have a similar effectg to what you are suggesting. Adding a little more decision making into the game.

Thanks.
 
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Edward Gilhead
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Hi Scott,

Sounds like an interesting idea.

I know this would require some extra resources, but how about getting the player to use the cards they draw in Phase 1 to 'purchase' (barter/steal/swap) the wax and feathers.

Say the feathers cost an even card or an even total of a combination and wax is odds. There is only a fixed number of each and you can only make a certain number of transactions (2 possibly). Once purchased the Jack can't steal the resources. But he does still take your unspent cards. The Queen still starts Phase 2.

For phase 2 I like the idea of viewing the certain cards before you go. Maybe only the top 4 or 5. To simulate being able to tell what it is like near by but only guessing at the weather further out. The idea of different piles is nice as you can then decide what 'day' you jump!

Ed
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Casey Hill
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Hey Scott,

So again, part of the problem I see is that in phase one, what mechanism is there to stop a player from drawing the queen on first turn by chance and just losing? This is why I think you need a recourse (be that mulligan or something else) to mitigate that problem.

You could obviously add obstacles or other aspects that made phase 2 more skill based due to decisions that would affect their position.

I am going to refer you to an article by Mark Rosewater (lead designer of Magic the Gathering) for some great tips on game design. I hope you find them as helpful as I did.

http://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/making-magic/te...
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TunzaG wrote:
Hi Scott,

Sounds like an interesting idea.

I know this would require some extra resources, but how about getting the player to use the cards they draw in Phase 1 to 'purchase' (barter/steal/swap) the wax and feathers.

Say the feathers cost an even card or an even total of a combination and wax is odds. There is only a fixed number of each and you can only make a certain number of transactions (2 possibly). Once purchased the Jack can't steal the resources. But he does still take your unspent cards. The Queen still starts Phase 2.


Thanks for the thoughts, Ed. I'd like to stick to the story of the myth as much as I can, so I'm not nuts about purchasing resources (feathers and wax). But one version of the story is that Daedalus was banished to a labyrinth (that he designed). So, my latest thought is that phase 1 is Daedalus moving around the labyrinth to collect the Feathers and Wax. I have an idea about how this would work by using the phase 2 movement cards (A-9 of Hearts and Diamonds). The diamond cards would allow orthogonal movement (in any direction that the diamonds point - clever, right?), and the curvy hearts would allow movement in any direction, turning as many times as desired. So, if I draw a 6 of Diamonds, I can move in a straight line up to 6 spaces and any time I pass over or land on a hive or nest, I draw one beeswax or feather card. If a Jack or Queen is drawn they would act the same as before: the Jailer takes away all of the Feathers or Wax, the maiden gets suspicious and you are forced to Quit collecting that resource.


TunzaG wrote:
For phase 2 I like the idea of viewing the certain cards before you go. Maybe only the top 4 or 5. To simulate being able to tell what it is like near by but only guessing at the weather further out. The idea of different piles is nice as you can then decide what 'day' you jump!

Ed


This idea works, but with basically only two types of cards (move up or move down), I think it would make phase 2 too simple:: just play one Up card, then one Down card, and keep repeating to stay away from teh sun and the sea.

Thanks!
 
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RedeemedRevenant wrote:
Hey Scott,

So again, part of the problem I see is that in phase one, what mechanism is there to stop a player from drawing the queen on first turn by chance and just losing? This is why I think you need a recourse (be that mulligan or something else) to mitigate that problem.



Thanks Casey.

For the Queen, I am writing the rule thematically something like:
"If you draw either maiden card (Q of Clubs or Spades), and you have collected more than two Wax (Clubs) or Feather (Spade) cards, respectively, the maiden gets suspicious and you are forced to stop collecting that resource."

In other words, if you draw a Queen and have 2 or less of that suit of resources, the maiden doesn't get suspicious. So, there is no action or penalty if you draw a Queen early in phase 1. That rules prevents what you mention, and thematically, I think it fits OK.

RedeemedRevenant wrote:
You could obviously add obstacles or other aspects that made phase 2 more skill based due to decisions that would affect their position.


I think if I make phase 1 more interesting (see my previous post about adding the labyrinth), I'm Ok with a straightforward phase 2.



RedeemedRevenant wrote:
I am going to refer you to an article by Mark Rosewater (lead designer of Magic the Gathering) for some great tips on game design. I hope you find them as helpful as I did.

http://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/making-magic/te...


Thanks. I have read that article before, but it is a nice reminder.

I think right now, I have about 8 out of the 10 things mentioned in the article. I'm not certain I have "strategy" and "fun" nailed yet, and that is exactly the reason for this thread in the first place. I think adding the labyrinth to phase 1 will help with both of those. So, next, I need to make that improvement idea a reality.

Thanks!
 
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I just sketched a quick labyrinth with Nests (sources of Feathers) and Hives (sources of beeswax). I think it will work. It makes phase 1 much more interesting, rather than just flippin' cards. I'll have to tweak it. Right now, using about 12 movement cards seems to work. The rules will say that you need to enter the labyrinth, collect the resources AND then get out of the labyrinth using those 12 cards, so getting out in time adds some tension too.

Thanks for all the help and ideas so far.

My challenge to myself for this game is:

1) To only use a deck of standard playing cards, and make the cards somewhat icon based: J means Jailer, Q means Quit, K means Keep (as in keep away from the sun or the sea), diamonds mean orthogonal or sun, etc.

2) To keep to the theme/story of Icarus and Daedalus.

3) To keep to 1 page gameboard. With the addition of the labyrinth, it is shaping up to be a 2 sided 1 page game board, and that's OK.

Thanks.
 
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Isaiah Esters
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If you're going for skill here, why is the second phase about simple reacting to random elements? Maybe a better focus here is to gather materials for yourself and an NPC (Icarus). The choice in phase two would be whether to use a movement card on yourself or your NPC (With trade-off consequences of course). The skill here would be to manage multiple people (you and Icarus) in flight, based on the materials gathered in phase 1. Understandably, this is the same as your idea times two, but think about it like managing multiple dynamic elements at once. Multitasking is a great skill-creator.
 
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Yesha wrote:
If you're going for skill here, why is the second phase about simple reacting to random elements?


The phases follow the story: gather the feathers and wax, then fly away to (hopefully) safety. I guess the way I see it is that flying from the tower to a far away island is dependent on random elements mostly (the wind). I suppose maybe I could add multiple safe destinations with varying victory points: a close island to survive but be captured again, a medium island to survive and struggle, or a far island to make it to civilization? Then the player would need to decide if they want to survive or thrive? Hmmm.


Yesha wrote:
Maybe a better focus here is to gather materials for yourself and an NPC (Icarus). The choice in phase two would be whether to use a movement card on yourself or your NPC (With trade-off consequences of course). The skill here would be to manage multiple people (you and Icarus) in flight, based on the materials gathered in phase 1. Understandably, this is the same as your idea times two, but think about it like managing multiple dynamic elements at once. Multitasking is a great skill-creator.


I think what you are saying is what I am planning on doing. Perhaps I didn't explain it clearly enough though.

So, as I have the design (in my head) currently, there will be some decisions to make (small strategy decisions), and some tension, I'm just not sure if that is enough for a game. Should it have more skill needed to win. By skill, I mean, can a player get better over time, or will it always be a luck-fest?

The decisions in the game right now will be:
Phase 1:
1) Where to move in the labyrinth given the movement cards that are drawn, to maximize the amount of feathers and wax collected.
2) When to attempt to exit the labyrinth (push your luck - start heading for the exit with 2 movement cards left to draw, or 3, or 4,...).

Phase 2:
3) How to divide up the wing sections between Daedalus and Icarus.
4) How to divide up the "wild cards" (if any were drawn) between Daedalus and Icarus.

Phase 3:
5) When to play wild cards or resource cards (wing sections to move character's position away from the sea or away from the sun). This isn't quite as simple as it sounds, because there will also be a rule that states that the 2 characters cannot not ever occupy the same square of airspace.

Decisions 1-4 are all just with the "main" character, Daedalus. Decision 5 is multiplied by 2 since those decisions need to be made for both characters.

Thanks.

 
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