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Subject: [WIP] Black Sonata (solitaire deduction and hidden movement, Shakespeare theme) rss

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Black Sonata



Designed for the 2017 Solitaire Print and Play Contest

BGG database entry: Black Sonata

Interview: Interview with John Kean about Black Sonata (Solitaire Print and play Contest)

Synopsis:

The identity of William Shakespeare's "Dark Lady" has eluded scholars for over four centuries. But the discovery of new evidence means that you may finally be able to unmask her. Follow the trail of clues and deductions to reveal her before she slips away forever.


Players: 1
Aged: 12+
Duration: 20-30 minutes



Background:

William Shakespeare's 154 sonnets were first published in 1609, probably against his will. The first 126 sonnets are outpourings of homosexual love and admiration to a "Fair Youth", probably one of Shakespeare's patrons: Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton, or William Herbert, 3rd Earl of Pembroke. The subsequent 28 sonnets, however, document a stormy relationship with a "Dark Lady" who seduces the poet and holds him in an agonised thrall. In a bizarre twist, sonnets 144 and 145 reveal that the Dark Lady has also seduced the Fair Youth and the subsequent love triangle sees the poet spiral into a self-deluding madness of fire and gonorrhea.

For more than four centuries scholars have argued over the identity of the mysterious Dark Lady. At least eight plausible candidates have been suggested, plus a plethora of less convincing ones.

In Black Sonata you will find yourself in Shakespeare's London, circa 1600, in pursuit of the shadowy Lady. As you trace her hidden movements from place to place you must collect clues to deduce her identity before time runs out and she slips away forever.

Can you finally solve English literature's greatest mystery? Or will the Dark Lady elude you, melting from your grasp like a curl of smoke and promises?




Components:
• 1 game board
• 11 poker sized Dark Lady cards
• 54 mini sized cards:
- 32 stealth cards
- 10 fog cards (marked with "?")
- 11 location keys
- 1 countdown card
• 7 deduction tokens
• 1 player pawn/meeple
• 4 Dark Lady tracker tokens (optional)
• 1 double-sided rule sheet
• 1 booklet of background information (optional)


Contest results:
1st place: Best Game by a Returning Designer
1st place: Best Game Designed in Contest Timeframe
1st place: Best Graphic Design
1st place: Most Innovative Mechanic
1st place: Best Rule Book
1st place: Best Advanced PnP Build
1st place: Best Puzzle/Abstract Game
1st place: Best Overall Game
2nd place: Best Game as Selected by the Contest Volunteers


Download from the game page
or you can get the contest-ready low-ink files here: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BxNaCLoDOWBRaXA4c0dhNV9Sck...

The components require printing 4 pages single sided and 3 pages double sided (or 6 pages single sided if you want to glue fronts to backs).
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JK
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Re: [WIP] Solo deduction game
THE CHALLENGE

Recently I have been enjoying a range of solitaire PnP games, but noticed that there are very few replayable solitaire deduction games. I love deduction games and it seemed to me there is a gap here. A few weeks ago I posted a thread on this:

Replayable solitaire deduction game - is it possible?

The response was very interesting. At first the consensus was "nope, not possible". Then it morphed to "OK, maybe possible with the use of a game app". Then finally a couple of suggestions came out about how it might be approached, using edge-notched cards for instance. Overall, the consensus seems to be that it *might* be possible, maybe.

Well, that's enough for me - challenge accepted!

I have enjoyed designing games for recent BGG contests, and in this year's 9 Card Contest, just finishing up now, I set myself an extra challenge as a seed for creativity. In that case it was to design a solitaire deck-builder in just 9 cards, and I'm not sure that the resulting game (Blorg in the Midwest) quite achieved that, but it was a lot of fun exploring the idea with suggestions and input from this community.

So my personal design challenge for this contest is to design a replayable solitaire deduction game (not based on elimination), without the need for an accompanying app. I have been mulling this over in my head for a few weeks now, and I think I have an approach that may work. But more about that soon...
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Mark Perry
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Re: [WIP] Solo deduction game
So you don't think of Hero of Weehawken as a solo deduction game? There really isn't eliminAtion, just conditions: If I don't have cards A, B, and maybe C, then this is what is going to happen...
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Eric Miller
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Re: [WIP] Solo deduction game
JK-
Doing what you did with Blorg, I'm pretty sure something's out there... Without the limits of the 9-card contest, you can have parts of different shapes and sizes. Just to throw something out there (I didn't check the thread you referenced) consider Origami- folding parts to cover/uncover other parts or images.

(Or totally ignore that...!!!)
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Re: [WIP] Solo deduction game
MarkP1981 wrote:
So you don't think of Hero of Weehawken as a solo deduction game? There really isn't eliminAtion, just conditions: If I don't have cards A, B, and maybe C, then this is what is going to happen...


Yes, this was suggested in the previous thread too, but I confess I haven't played it and only know it by reputation. It does sound like it has some nifty mechanisms and I'd love to try it out sometime.

I'm thinking of there being a predefined "solution" which you must deduce from "clues" provided during the game. But to be properly replayable there must be a large number of combinations of solution plus clues. If Hero of Weehawken does that, then I *really* want to try it out!

Thanks!
JK
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Re: [WIP] Solo deduction game
govmiller wrote:
Just to throw something out there (I didn't check the thread you referenced) consider Origami- folding parts to cover/uncover other parts or images.


Hey, that's a cool idea! I did experiment for a bit with using flexagons (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flexagon) which I think has some potential too.

Cheers,
JK
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Jan Schröder

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Re: [WIP] Solo deduction game
wow!
really looking forward to what you can come up with!
(one idea that goes through my head from time to time is a game about understanding how a strange civilization works in which you somehow ended up being a part of (or guest more like). - so far i didn´t have any idea about how to store that unknown information in the game, how to get a reaction out of a system without placing it inside first)
so good luck with advancing the boundaries of the genre!
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JK
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Re: [WIP] Solo deduction game
schroederjan wrote:
(one idea that goes through my head from time to time is a game about understanding how a strange civilization works in which you somehow ended up being a part of (or guest more like). - so far i didn´t have any idea about how to store that unknown information in the game, how to get a reaction out of a system without placing it inside first)


A lot of Interactive Fiction games (http://ifdb.tads.org/) work like this. I wrote one many years ago based on a similar idea (look up YAGWAD). Would be much harder to implement in cardboard than in silicon!

Cheers,
JK
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Jan Schröder

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Re: [WIP] Solo deduction game
oh - wow
whole new world to explore there...
having it as a preconcieved adventure i can (sort of) imagine that its doable (cannot imagine the amount of work, though..)

i was thinking more about randomly generated society rules for example - the player has to find out how they work by taking actions (random at first and more and more informed during the game) - but how to get the results without knowing the rules in advance...?
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Mark Perry
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Re: [WIP] Solo deduction game
JohnKean wrote:


I'm thinking of there being a predefined "solution" which you must deduce from "clues" provided during the game. But to be properly replayable there must be a large number of combinations of solution plus clues. If Hero of Weehawken does that, then I *really* want to try it!


HoW has a lot of mechanics embedded to make each game unique. The deduction mechanic is only one part of the game: It's central to the developing story in the game, but it's not the whole game. The game is pretty much a deck of 50 cards, of which you remove 3 of 9 conspirator cards. Those three together yield one of 9 different possible plots which you must deduce. However, the other 6 are shuffled into the deck, so deducing which plot requires deduction based on the clues you have acquired. But at the same time, the other 41 cards in the deck either give you APs (action points) which are the main currency of the game, remove APs, or start the timer for the end of the game: The Burr expedition. If the Burr expedition launches before you figure out what is going on, and you don't arrest him, you can lose the game. Randomness also plays a role in the game, so a die roll on a card could end your game early, but I don't really mind since it makes for interesting stories. Other mechanics involve politicking and furthering your agenda, which are dice rolls, but which acheived allow for more collateral later in the game, and more advantages during the trial, and resource collection, which also is important during the endgame.

That's HoW in a nutshell. It's not for everyone, but for those who like it, it's awesome! There are a few great run-throughs of the game by N/A on YouTube. You won't get all the mechanics, but you will certainly get the gist of gameplay.
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Re: [WIP] Solo deduction game
A POSSIBLE MECHANIC?

A few days ago a friend introduced me to Dobble, and like every newbie my first reaction was - how the heck do they do that?! The mechanism of every card having one (and only one) symbol in common with every other card seems somehow miraculous. I had to figure out how it works, and once I did I started to wonder if it might be a way to attack the solo deduction problem I had been thinking about...

Of course, you smart people will have figured out by now that it won't work. Removing one card from the Dobble deck, you can't possibly deduce what is on it from the remaining cards without comparing every single one of those cards with every single other one. Which would not be fun. And if there is more than one card that you don't know then there is no way to deduce which of them is the target card.

But what about if you simplified the number of symbols and added a second loop? Well I've been playing around with that on paper and I think I have come up with something that is sort of half Dobble and half Mastermind.

It would use 11 cards, and each card would have three mystery symbols. You'd shuffle the cards and set one aside unseen. Your task is to deduce the three symbols on the set aside card from a subset of the remaining ones. There would need to be another game mechanic for how you earn a clue card, but each time you do you'd get more information on the target card, because each clue would say how many of that card's symbols are present on the target card.

I think it works on paper. Next step is to try it out with some old business cards...

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Re: [WIP] Solo deduction game
Aargh! It doesn't work. Back to the drawing board...
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Jonas Lidström Isegrim
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Re: [WIP] Solo deduction game
What about tiles/cards i two or more layers, whith holes ... :thinking:
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Deyan Vachkov
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Re: [WIP] Solo deduction game
I want to help you with another point of view on this challenge from another perspective. I think this solo deduction game can be accomplish.

Do you know the inductive card game Eleusis ? Eleusis is a multi-genre card game where one player chooses a secret rule to determine which cards can be played on top of others, and the other players attempt to determine the rule using inductive logic.

What if we use the roots of Eleusis but instead of human's choosing the secret rule, the game handle this ? We can generate random some rules which the player don't know what are they until he guess the right rule ?

Check the game, think about it, and let me know what you think.

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Re: [WIP] Solo deduction game
JohnKean wrote:
Aargh! It doesn't work. Back to the drawing board...


Wait - I had the wrong symbols on two of the cards. I think it does work!

I'll draw up some cards and make a pdf for you guys to try. I'm excited!
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Re: [WIP] Solo deduction game
Thanks Jonas and Deyan. More ideas is good because it would be cool to build in multiple layers of deduction.

I like the suggestion of secret rules, but can't really think how you'd implement it. I guess you could have some sort of pattern written as a sequence on a card which gradually gets revealed until you can start to predict it. It might govern the movement of a suspect or something and you wouldn't be able to question them for a clue until you successfully predicted where they would be at a certain time. Maybe a code wheel type device...

Lots of great ideas to think about... Keep 'em coming.
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Re: [WIP] Solo deduction game
i could imagine that there might be a certain potential in different card backs that carry parts of the information of what´s on the other side ?
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Re: [WIP] Solo deduction game
ANOTHER POTENTIAL MECHANIC?

It's 2am and I'm awake thinking about one of the suggestions posted above...

Say you had ten locations labelled 0 to 9. There are two pawns - one representing you and the other a spy with whom you need to rendezvous. You have a "code wheel" with two circles of card, slightly different sizes, pinned at the centre so that you can rotate them relative to each other. Each circle has the numbers 0 to 9 spaced evenly around the outside, and the top (smaller) circle has a small window cut into it.

Each turn you must place your pawn where you think the spy will go next. Then align the number corresponding to your pawn's previous location (outside wheel) with that of the spy pawn (inside circle). Now a number is visible through the window, and determines the next location of the spy pawn. If you got it right, you and the spy will be in the same location and a clue is exchanged.

So your challenge is to deduce the pattern underlying the wheel. I'm guessing it will somehow involve modular arithmetic but will need to check that out... (not now - it's 2am). The game could include several different wheels of each size and you'd choose some combination at random at the start of the game. Maybe there could be more than one window. Maybe the locations would be named rather than numbered, to make it harder.

This could work, I think, as long as the underlying maths is sound. I have no idea if it is yet, but will investigate further...
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Re: [WIP] Solo deduction game
Would you have several inner wheels that would be randomized at the beginning of the game?
 
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Re: [WIP] Solo deduction game
I feel that Schrödinger"s cat is involved somehow.
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Re: [WIP] Solo deduction game
Well, it is now morning and like most wee-small-hours ideas it turns out that the code wheel idea won't work the way I'd hoped.

The issue is that when you line 1 on the outer circle up with 1 on the inner, then 2 is also lined up with 2, 3 with 3 etc. So you can't just use one window to show the answer unless you have the same answer for all. That is too restrictive.

One solution would be for the numbers on one dial to not be in order. So, say the hidden rule was "x + y" (as a trivial example) then you'd set it up so the answer 8 would correspond to the pairs 7 1, 6 2, 5 3 etc. But then you are limited to addition and subtraction which would be trivial to crack, especially since the answer would be more or less spelled out around the edge of the dial.

The second solution is to have multiple different windows, so the wheel essentially becomes a lookup table. Again, more than one answer is given away, unless you had a third wheel on top of the other two to mask all but one window. It's do-able, but not very elegant. And I'm not sure it would be much fun to use...
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Re: [WIP] Solo deduction game
Forbidden Desert keeps coming to mind with a coordinate system that has the coordinates moving.
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Re: [WIP] Solo deduction game
Speaking of wheels, have you looked at Wheels of Time? It uses four wheels. So if you had maybe double-sided wheels, and/or wheels with an additional window (and maybe covering up some of the adjacent information) you could structure it so one or more wheels turn maybe on a set basis, some turn on a random basis, and the player can control some, but not all, of the movement- including moving the windows...

And then maybe just a change of a single wheel will allow for variety.
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Re: [WIP] Solo deduction game
JohnKean wrote:
Removing one card from the Dobble deck, you can't possibly deduce what is on it from the remaining cards without comparing every single one of those cards with every single other one.[...]

But what about if you simplified the number of symbols and added a second loop? Well I've been playing around with that on paper and I think I have come up with something that is sort of half Dobble and half Mastermind.

It would use 11 cards, and each card would have three mystery symbols. You'd shuffle the cards and set one aside unseen. Your task is to deduce the three symbols on the set aside card from a subset of the remaining ones.


I think your idea more or less amounts to this : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fano_plane

Each line (or circle) goes through 3 points, and every point is located at the intersection of three lines. If you assign a symbol to each point, and build a card for each line, you get a simplified Dobble.

I've seen once mathematicians play a magic trick where they added a duplicate of one card, and were able to guess which one it was. To do so, they split the deck among themselves and only needed a really short dialogue. The trick relied on finding 3 of their 4 cards that shared a common symbol, and focusing on the fourth. So maybe there is something to be done, but turning this into a single-player process is a wholly different matter...
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Re: [WIP] Solo deduction game
Quinarbre wrote:
I think your idea more or less amounts to this : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fano_plane


Thanks for the link Benjamin! Yes that seems to be exactly how Dobble works. The idea of ADDING a card is not one that I would have thought of and definitely has some promise.
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