David Sals
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Hi everyone!

This is my first post ever on BoardGameGeek, and my first submission to a board game contest. I'm looking forward to participating in the community and hopefully getting some great feedback on my game.

This submission is to the 2017 Two-Player PnP Contest, to be considered for:
- Best New Mechanic
- Best New Designer
- Best Game with Language Independent Components
- Best Use of Theme
- Best Game



Horde Valley is a 2 player abstract game where monster hordes clash in a narrow valley with steep slopes. The sliding mechanism makes for a dynamic and very tactical game.

Components
- One 4x8 board (printable in 2 pieces that you can tape together)
- 19 Standard and 3 Advanced Monster tiles for each side (44 in all)

Links to Files
Components Download - Color
https://www.dropbox.com/s/bm8tj6ul5y3sfio/Horde_Valley_PnP_C...
Components Download - Monochrome
https://www.dropbox.com/s/spyf2dk2xqct4az/Horde_Valley_PnP_M...
Horde Valley Rules
https://www.dropbox.com/s/bik4izfmiwokkvr/Horde_Valley_Ruleb...

Approximate Playing Time
Starting out - or when you have two really well-matched players - the game can take about 40 minutes to play. Most games I play now take about 20 minutes.

Credits
The game is designed by me (David Sals) with lots of great feedback and support from my friends, especially Dune Thomas and Julien Adler. The artwork is by me, with a lot of help from royalty-free image sites.

Thanks for playing! I look forward to your feedback.
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JK
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Hi David! Welcome to the contest. It is great to see newcomers bringing new ideas.
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Olivier Cipiere
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It sounds and looks fun and promising !!

Subscribed
 
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David Sals
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Thank you! I've just been doing things on my own for a while and only recently learned that this community existed. I'm excited about getting involved.
 
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David Sals
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Thanks, Oliver! I hope you enjoy playing. meeple
 
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David Sals
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Some photos of the game:



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Mike Holyoak
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I got a chance to check this game out at SaltCon's prototype alley.
There's a lot more going on in this game than you'd think from first glance. The sliding mechanic is really give the game a unique feel and play style. I'm anxious to print it out and play it some more!
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David Sals
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anubis9 wrote:
I got a chance to check this game out at SaltCon's prototype alley.
There's a lot more going on in this game than you'd think from first glance. The sliding mechanic is really give the game a unique feel and play style. I'm anxious to print it out and play it some more!


Thanks, Mike! Let me know what you think of the changes I made since Saltcon. I haven't had a chance to really play-test them yet, but hopefully they add some interesting dynamics.
 
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JK
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PLAYTESTER SPOT PRIZES

This game is eligible for a playtester spot prize for the next week!

See this post for more details.
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Robbie A.
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This game looks so cute! And I love the theme and flavor text all throughout the rulebook. I've printed out the components, so I'm going to try to playtest it tonight, or over the weekend at the latest!
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Reed Ambrose
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Hi!

I got a chance to play this over the weekend. I really enjoyed it! I've grown up loving chess so the movements were easy enough, especially with the movement icons on the cards. The Shove and sliding intrigued me most.

I don't really have much concerning the actual gameplay, more really just on how rules could be worded or added to help clarify.

I'm wondering if a small lexicon might help. Mainly defining the word thump and threat of thump, but any key words really.

My main thought with the rules is the idea of thump. I love the rules, I laughed multiple times. However, when it comes to monsters thumping other monsters, the wording is inconsistent. For example, under the Blobs' paragraph, it doesn't even say they can attack other monsters (I assumed they did, just not other blobs). Under the Stomps' paragraph it says "turn into a most satisfying puddle" but never thump. For Pounce's paragraph, it reads "to land on the space or monster beyond." For Shoves, you said if they are on the same line they "both explode", that is get thumped. Please hear me though, I think you can still keep your style and humorous tone throughout the rules but just add lines and words that make it consistent like saying thump for each character. Just add a line after or put it in parentheses.

Along the thump line, I assumed Shoves did not thump even if an enemy monster was in front them. I assumed they always pushed anything and everything in front of them, never thumping by moving but only by pushing off the board. Maybe just clearly stating that they don't thump an enemy monster right in front of them.

Sliding - My only thought with this was to clarify that even if your monster is on enemy territory that they still slide to the river (backwards in a sense) if they have a gap. You could just add: even when your monsters are on enemy territory they slide back down to the river.

My last and only thought about gameplay is about placing the Dop on the bottom of your draw pile. For the first part of the game, I didn't understand exactly what I was trying to do. I'm no experienced HordeMaster so maybe I don't understand but it felt like the game became a lot more interesting once the Dops arrived. I'm not even sure what you could do about this and you may have it placed best but it felt like no one was going to win by way of getting a blob to a portal so then we were just throwing down monsters for a while.

Note: I did not play with the advanced monsters but hope to soon. Be sure to keep their text the same by using the word thump as well.

Enjoyed it!
 
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David Sals
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era13 wrote:
Hi!


Hi Reed! Thanks for all of the great feedback. Notes below.

era13 wrote:
I got a chance to play this over the weekend. I really enjoyed it! I've grown up loving chess so the movements were easy enough, especially with the movement icons on the cards. The Shove and sliding intrigued me most.

I don't really have much concerning the actual gameplay, more really just on how rules could be worded or added to help clarify.

I'm wondering if a small lexicon might help. Mainly defining the word thump and threat of thump, but any key words really.

My main thought with the rules is the idea of thump. I love the rules, I laughed multiple times. However, when it comes to monsters thumping other monsters, the wording is inconsistent. For example, under the Blobs' paragraph, it doesn't even say they can attack other monsters (I assumed they did, just not other blobs). Under the Stomps' paragraph it says "turn into a most satisfying puddle" but never thump. For Pounce's paragraph, it reads "to land on the space or monster beyond." For Shoves, you said if they are on the same line they "both explode", that is get thumped. Please hear me though, I think you can still keep your style and humorous tone throughout the rules but just add lines and words that make it consistent like saying thump for each character. Just add a line after or put it in parentheses.


Got it. That makes sense. Puddles and landing on monsters, etc. all mean Thump in my brain, but much better to remove any chance of confusion. I like the idea of the lexicon too.

era13 wrote:
Along the thump line, I assumed Shoves did not thump even if an enemy monster was in front them. I assumed they always pushed anything and everything in front of them, never thumping by moving but only by pushing off the board. Maybe just clearly stating that they don't thump an enemy monster right in front of them.


You assumed correctly. Shoves just push monsters, they don't Thump directly. But any monster unfortunate enough to get shoved off the board does get Thumped as a by-product of the push.

era13 wrote:
Sliding - My only thought with this was to clarify that even if your monster is on enemy territory that they still slide to the river (backwards in a sense) if they have a gap. You could just add: even when your monsters are on enemy territory they slide back down to the river.


Okay I'll take a look at that.

era13 wrote:
My last and only thought about gameplay is about placing the Dop on the bottom of your draw pile. For the first part of the game, I didn't understand exactly what I was trying to do. I'm no experienced HordeMaster so maybe I don't understand but it felt like the game became a lot more interesting once the Dops arrived. I'm not even sure what you could do about this and you may have it placed best but it felt like no one was going to win by way of getting a blob to a portal so then we were just throwing down monsters for a while.


Orignally I just shuffled the Dop in with the other pieces and discovered that 1) Dops often came out before players had time to prep, and 2) the game could be unbalanced if one Dop came out far ahead of the other. Putting the Dops at the bottom of the draw piles creates an interesting first- and second-half split where, in the first half, there's no fear of permanently losing monsters so the focus is mostly on having an advantageous board position when the Dops come out. The second half is of course more about Thumping monsters and pinning the Dop.

If you have a chance to play again (I hope you do), I would be curious to hear whether that fist-half/second-half dynamic works for you. It may just be a matter of setting expectations in the rules, but I'm also open to trying out other approaches.

era13 wrote:
Note: I did not play with the advanced monsters but hope to soon. Be sure to keep their text the same by using the word thump as well.


Will do. And yes, do try the advanced monsters. They definitely kick the gameplay up a notch.

Thank you again for the feedback! I'll see what I can do to get a revised rule book online soon.

- David

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Reed Ambrose
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dsals wrote:
Orignally I just shuffled the Dop in with the other pieces and discovered that 1) Dops often came out before players had time to prep, and 2) the game could be unbalanced if one Dop came out far ahead of the other. Putting the Dops at the bottom of the draw piles creates an interesting first- and second-half split where, in the first half, there's no fear of permanently losing monsters so the focus is mostly on having an advantageous board position when the Dops come out. The second half is of course more about Thumping monsters and pinning the Dop.

If you have a chance to play again (I hope you do), I would be curious to hear whether that fist-half/second-half dynamic works for you. It may just be a matter of setting expectations in the rules, but I'm also open to trying out other approaches.


This makes good sense. I will try again and soon, keeping this in mind. Great job again! Keep up the good work.
 
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Marty Lund
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GL!
 
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April W
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My husband and I tried your game out last night and I can see there's a lot going on here!

For my next play I will definitely do some things differently- such as think more about my setup when my Dop comes out and focus less on thumping monsters prior to that.

The game has some neat dynamics- I like the various functions of the monsters, and I like the "sliding" which creates an ever shifting battle and makes you think ahead. It was always fun when we forgot about the slide only to have things move into a position that resulted in some monster thumps!

Normally I shy away from abstracts, but there was enough theme here to draw me in. I love the flavor text in the rules- it made me giggle. And speaking of the rules I wanted to point out a couple small issues- there is a typo on the definition of the Blobs (which maybe you've already noticed), it says "solder" where I assume you meant "soldier". Also when it's mentioned that Shoves explode when two are in the same column/row, you may want to specify that that means they both get thumped. While, again, I like the flavor text "explode" made me wonder for a second if they took out other monsters around them or something, but since the rules didn't specify we just removed both of them. It's nothing too confusing and I am sure people can figure it out, but I thought I'd just put that out there.

Overall I can tell this game has had a lot of thought put into it and there is a surprising amount of depth here. Good luck and may your horde prosper!
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David Sals
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Soleia wrote:
My husband and I tried your game out last night and I can see there's a lot going on here!



Hi April, thank you for giving the game a try, and for your feedback! I'm on my phone right now and will wait until I'm on my computer to reply more, but I just wanted to say I appreciated what you shared and I'm glad you had a goood experience. Thank you for the typo catch too - I'll be sure to correct that in the next draft of the rules.

David
 
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David Sals
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Soleia wrote:
era13 wrote:



Hi April and Reed, I've updated the rules to hopefully make the thumping and other dynamics more clear. Thanks again for your feedback!

- David
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JK
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Hi David

I have built myself a copy of Horde Valley in glorious Technicolor but at half size. I put the tiles on 2mm card, so they sit well and are easy to manipulate. The whole set looks great!

I sat down with my 9 year old for a play. We read through the rules together and our laughter attracted my 10 year old to come over and get involved. Yes, the rules are wonderful! Big kudos on that. After enjoying the rules so much, the two boys decided to play against each other. I was called away to avert some crisis with baby #3 and didn't get back till the end. Mr 9 was beaten by his bigger brother and was taking it badly, as he sometimes does. (One of the reasons I got into board games was to teach the kids about how to handle losing.)

So, no real feedback yet because I didn't even see the game, except that it looks Oh So Cute and the rules are clear and very well written. I will play against my 10 year old (who now thrashes me at chess) at next opportunity. I suspect Mr 9 was misled by the art style into thinking it would be a silly romp of a game, rather than the chess-like think-fest that I suspect it is. Nothing wrong with that! Don't change the art - it is awesome!

Hopefully I'll have more useful feedback soon...

Cheers,
JK
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David Sals
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JohnKean wrote:
So, no real feedback yet because I didn't even see the game...


Hi John,

Your feedback was awesome already. Thanks so much for trying out the game, and I'm glad you enjoyed the rules - I had fun writing them.

I hope Mr. 9 recovers and gives it another go. And I look forward to hearing about your experience.

Cheers,
David

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Hiya David,

I just had my first game against Mr 10, who trounced me by "checkmating" my captain. Not too worried because I was still learning the rules. I forgot to take a picture, sorry.

Great game! Very deep, and obviously reminiscent of chess, but with a twist or two.

I don't have much in the way of feedback for you, because it seems pretty polished. As a general comment, the lighthearted art and manual don't sit completely comfortably together with the deep strategy and "take that" gameplay. Just an opinion of course. It is a serious game, but might not get taken seriously because of the art style. But don't change the art - I love it so much!

Well done. I am very happy to add this to my permanent game collection.

Cheers,
JK
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David Sals
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JohnKean wrote:
As a general comment, the lighthearted art and manual don't sit completely comfortably together with the deep strategy and "take that" gameplay. Just an opinion of course. It is a serious game, but might not get taken seriously because of the art style. But don't change the art - I love it so much!


Hi John,

I'm glad you're enjoying the art. I like it too and definitely wanted it and the rules to have a playful tone. But I've also wondered about what you mentioned - whether it's creating a false impression? -- this game does have a lot more depth than the art suggests. Strategically speaking, it's not as nearly deep as a game like chess, but tactically there's more to track and more dynamics to work with.

Part of why I went for a light style though was because chess is in some ways too serious a game for me personally. I don't have as much fun with it. I wanted this game to be deep but still light-hearted if possible. At the same time, I don't want to create false expectations?
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Reed Ambrose
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John and David,

The issue of the theme vs. weight of the game is interesting. I've wondered the same about mine. Sometimes I think it's a catch-22 since themes are shiny and alluring. I may be in a rare class with David but I like abstracts and also themes. They are a bit of an oxymoronic couple, and they typically (always room for exceptions) attract two different types of people or wants for sure; therefore, the possibility for deception is accidentally but most likely there. Apologies for all the adverbs.

I've noticed that more abstract games with themes seem to contain eastern or oriental themes (I'm not trying to be racist or stereotype. Again, plenty of exceptions.), but games like Onitama and Tao Long come to mind. I think that certain themes like those games reflect a mental or thinky feel. I'm fairly new to board games so I could be completely wrong but I think that it has some merit when trying to attach a theme to an abstracty game.

Thoughts?
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David Sals
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era13 wrote:
John and David,

The issue of the theme vs. weight of the game is interesting. I've wondered the same about mine. Sometimes I think it's a catch-22 since themes are shiny and alluring. I may be in a rare class with David but I like abstracts and also themes. They are a bit of an oxymoronic couple, and they typically (always room for exceptions) attract two different types of people or wants for sure; therefore, the possibility for deception is accidentally but most likely there. Apologies for all the adverbs.

I've noticed that more abstract games with themes seem to contain eastern or oriental themes (I'm not trying to be racist or stereotype. Again, plenty of exceptions.), but games like Onitama and Tao Long come to mind. I think that certain themes like those games reflect a mental or thinky feel. I'm fairly new to board games so I could be completely wrong but I think that it has some merit when trying to attach a theme to an abstracty game.

Thoughts?


Hi Reed,

As you said, I think we're in the same boat. I'm trying to think of the last game I played with no theme whatsoever. Maybe Abalone? Even chess has a war theme - I believe it started out as a way to teach young military minds how to think strategically. Then there are themed abstracts like Hive and Santorini - with the exact same game play but without the themes, those games wouldn't be nearly as interesting to me.

In the case of Horde Valley, I think it's less the theme than the tone that I'm wondering about. Do the light-hearted graphics and rules imply a light fluffy game? It's anything but -- and yet part of what makes the theme interesting to me is that the pieces really do practically throw themselves at each other like monsters. There are a lot of exchanges where pieces just thump each other back and forth until one side decides to take a breather and regroup. It's definitely not the slow thoughtful game that chess is, but there's a definite ramping of skill and strategy development over time -- I never lose anymore against anyone who hasn't also played many, many times.

So I'm not sure the graphics communicate that this is a game with some depth. If someone were looking for a game to play and picked this up, would they be frustrated or excited by what they discovered? I guess maybe that depends on the person, but probably there is some conventional wisdom around this question?
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Sindre Finnøy
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So I have read the rules and comments, and I must say that this looks like a really fun game.
I may want to play it even after the contest.

Could we have some art of Emperor Thrag?
Maybe a doppelganger, with an area effect affecting both players?
Or maybe just a royal painting or something, just give us something to worship.

Are Clods, Squeee and Sneaks not dangerous then, seeing how you should fear the ones with teeth?

Maybe don't encourage infant tossing, just in case the game reaches a large audience at some point.
Someone would actually do it.

Maybe the rules should say "implode" instead of "explode", that way people won't think other monsters get hurt.

Regarding the art fitting the gameplay: I don't really think it is that unfitting seeing as a 10 year old (even if he did sound rather smart) had no ploblem with getting into both art and gameplay.
But if you do think it is a problem, I have an idea.
Adult and child versions!
Child Version could have this art and have the advanced monsters removed for simplicity.
Adult Version could have advanced monsters (maybe even more) and a sort of DnD Monster Manual sort of art, and maybe a bigger board even.

Maybe you could also have a sequel or expansion with The Horde vs The Doom Weevils, with asymmetrical gameplay.
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JK
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Sindrelf wrote:
Maybe don't encourage infant tossing, just in case the game reaches a large audience at some point. Someone would actually do it.


Yes, I must admit that when we came to that part of the rules both my son and I immediately looked over at his 18 month old sister who was chewing a book to a fine paste nearby. We looked up and our eyes met for a moment - two minds with but a single thought. Then my wife came in and we carried on with the rules.
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