Gary Boyd
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This was my submission to the 24 hour contest this month and I liked it so much I decided I'm going to enter it into the Mint Tin Contest (because the components only need a few tweaks to fit as they are, and possibly the 18 card microgame contest because the game only requires 16 cards. I'm not sure if the scoring will be possible without the string or not given the rules. I'll have to find out but for now heres what I've got:

NOTE: Due to time constraints, health concerns, various other demands, and the human condition I've withdrawn this game from the Mint Tin Contest. Good luck to those still participating.


Lei Lines
by Gary Boyd
2 Players
5-10 minutes

In order to learn the Mula Hula download the component files here. Or simply grab a deck of cards or uno cards and get #s 1-4 for three suits and 4 cards to act as wild cards. Then cut 6 pieces of string in 2 colors about 9 inches long.

Running power lines between islands isn't easy, especially when each island has such awesome parties. Stop in, grab a hula skirt, lay some lines, and join in on the pig roast. Let's lay some line!

Overview
Lei Lines is a 2 player game of string and cards. Players will lay pieces of string between the cards to score Mula. The player with the most Mula does the Mula Hula and wins the game (Mula Hula required only if you've been drinking or have been leid).

There are only two actions players can take in Lei Lines. First, they can lay a power line across any three orthogonally adjacent Island cards (that's up and down side to side). Secondly, they can switch the power demands of any two Islands cards to score more points. But players don't just take turns in Lei Lines.

I mentioned the parties right? Well, in the Hula Oooka Islands the parties are epic. So epic in fact, that the first player can only perform one action before stopping in to have a drink. The second player performs two actions, then the first player takes a final round of three actions, and the second player takes a final round of two more actions. This scoring creates a uniquely thinky game that makes going first a completely different experience than going second.

Here is a picture of me playing the prototype against myself. I actually tied for the first time. Ties will go to the second player as of right now. That may change in the future.

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Gary Boyd
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So I've played about 16 games and the win rate between first and second player is about equal. I would need more data to help confirm something close to balance but I will start keeping statistics.

Anyone who wants to try the game out without printing any components, all you really need is a deck of cards. Make Jacks wild, then use three suits A-4 to make the deck. Cut 6 pieces of string in 2 colors about 9-10 inches long and you've got yourself a game.

At this point, it's a 5 minute, super thinky abstract.

The first player always moves first to score as high as they can, or second highest with some kind of defensive position.

I've been thinking about trying to add more game to it, but there's something about the purity of it that I like. 6 moves each, very elegant, but it's also very short.

The variable board keeps things interesting, but I'm wondering if there's something more I can do with it. Should I change the theme? The theme was to suit the needs of the 24 hour contest. I like the name and the Logo. It's a pretty unique theme.

I love string. I think it's completely under utilized in games. I was actually working on another game when this game came about.

I want to work on the look and hopefully get my daughter or wife (who are good artists) to draw me some better art and I need to do a better job on card design. I dropped Adobe CS awhile back and I'm really missing InDesign. I feel like I can't make decent looking cards without it and I'm debating getting it back. I want to save up for a whole year from my personal fund before I decide to do that though, so at least a few weeks before I can use InDesign. I've tried the free alternative and it sort of fell flat for me. InDesign is great at MailMerge including images and that helps a lot when designing cards.

Does anyone have any feedback on ways to add more meat without destroying the somewhat fragile elegance of the game?
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Ben Bateson
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I really like the look of this, and I agree that string is a much under-utilised game component.

Would it be possible to have a scoring example? My mind started to bubble when the rules went into Runs and Groups. I think I know what you mean, but a scoring example in the rules - and perhaps some sort of little player aid - would be better.
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I'd also suggest an example illustration of what you mean by parallel. As above, I'm sure I know what you mean, but it would be nice to be certain.
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Gary Boyd
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Thanks for the suggestions. I completely agree with both of these. I was trying to fit an example on the single sheet rules but I couldn't quite make it fit. For some reason it seems like the rules are super simple but take more space than I feel should be necessary to explain. Illustration is definitely the way to go here. I bet I could cut out almost all the words and show five or six illustrations and everyone would know how to play without a single word.

Any ideas on putting a little more meat on the bones?

I've given thought to a third action of rerouting (which wouldn't take away points but would allow players to move 1 end of a string to an adjacent card provided it is still a legal move) and having a second round of scoring that is the exact opposite. So the action counts would be

1st Player: 1,3,2,2 = 8
2nd Player: 2,2,3,1 = 8

This would allow for more movement and wouldn't require 3/4 of your actions to be placement or your first move as 1st player to be a placement. I'm going to test this out and see if it makes the game better/more strategic/more fun.

I could also have bonus routes on the side and players could draft those as an action. That would make the rerouting a little more vicious. I think connected wires wouldn't be able to be rerouted either. Well off to play.

Thanks again for the input!
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Ben Bateson
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OK, a little bit of a more wacky idea after a few playtests. Do the cards need to be in a 4x4 grid, or could the game be a bit more freestyle with the cards just slung anywhere on the table?

I realise this takes us close to String Railways territory, so could understand if you didn't want to pursue it. Perhaps different shape/size layouts could be pre-created? Perhaps hex-shaped cards would help?
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Gary Boyd
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Oh, I think that's a great idea, it could also help reduce the scoring complexity, because the scoring is really confusing, mostly because the game itself is so simple. I will play with this also. I've had other creative endeavors taking up a lot of my time but this makes me want to go back to playing with string, thanks!

The islands could be any shape/size (as you suggest). The bigger the island the more connections on the card you have to make the more string it takes but the more points, connections to other islands would still be the primary goal, but having different sizes of island would add something fun and thematic.

This leads to me another thought which is a storm/hurricane mechanic/object that moves based on a card driven prediction model that is measured physically by the card that predicts the most recent weather pattern movement.

There would be some random element like length/width indicated on the card that's flipped after removing the weather movement card, and some cards that will change the direction of the storm. Any time it falls off the table there could be something interesting going on.

Oh, that would lead to a lot more game!

Then, I'm not sure about my wacky scoring system—which I really loved by the way. I think it would be more of a turn based game and less of a need to stop to party, and more of a we need to actually supply power to these islands game.

Editing continues....

More thoughts:

- Small islands would now act as relays as you would not be allowed to end a string in the middle of the ocean.
- You might spend a turn "splicing" two pieces of string (I thought about knotting them but this would be a hassle so maybe not actually physically joining them but abutting them once you make lei the line.
- Would the players start their initial line from the edge of the table (as if they're coming from mainland)?
- Are certain scoring tiles of some kind selected at the beginning of the game to denote some kind of importance.
- Are there specific buildings that would be featured on said scoring tiles
- I'm not a big fan of hidden scoring (I like open information games) but there could be hidden bonus scoring.

I'm definitely going to play with this today and come back with some reports.

As a side note: The original game could become a game of circuits instead of islands. Circuitry lends itself to a more abstract game and this is a much more dynamic idea. I can call it breadboard and play with the idea of transistors and resistors and capacitors and oh the juices.

I could kiss you. Too bad you're on the other side of the pond, huh?
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Isn't it fiddly to slide cards around under the strings? How about a 4X4 board on which you place numbered tiles instead? You could move the tiles without disturbing the string. Could even use dice.
 
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Gary Boyd
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GreenTea532 wrote:
Isn't it fiddly to slide cards around under the strings? How about a 4X4 board on which you place numbered tiles instead? You could move the tiles without disturbing the string. Could even use dice.


No, I'm sorry, you don't move the cards ever. The islands are stationary. The original game is all about scoring the most points with the cards that are dealt.
 
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Gary Boyd
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I've gotten a chance to play a little bit with a free form version of the game that I think could end up being quite a bit of fun. The game at 2 players played at slow game testing pace at around 60 minutes, so I imagine a 30 minute game experience when all is said and done, which I think is perfect for this kind of game.

Here are some pictures:



This is a two player setup but I imagine it would still be possible to fit cards and string for up to four players in the tin. The area (2'x2') seemed a bit big for two players but any smaller seemed cramped. Also, My longest string was 24" which was a mistake. The longest string is now (1)18",(3)12",(5)6" and the game takes place over seven rounds.

Each turn the storm (represented here by this monster squishy toy is moved in a semi-predictable manner. Every turn a new card is flipped for the weather. Most cards show a predicted weather pattern, but some will allow players to move the storm to a paritcular island.

At the beginning of the game players take turns placing islands in the ocean. The first player sets up the ocean. The second player gets to choose which direction the storm comes in from.

Each player starts a line from the edge of the ocean and all subsequent lines must be layed from that one.

Here are the seven round scoring bonus cards. They seemed balanced enough, but some of the bonuses need to be adjust way down, as they could make for a bad game if someone makes a huge score. My first player made a 47 point score in the second round with the 24" string and I was pretty concerned. I think cutting it down to 18" and reducing bonus points will help with that.

I am also looking into alternate methods of scoring. The scoring seems a bit uninteresting. The game play itself is a lot of fun though, and finding ways to make the bonuses can be fun, but right now, not making the bonuses in many of the rounds means losing.

Also, there were only two of each type of islands: Isles(5 locations), Islets (3 locations), and Cays (1 location). There are currently three types of location: cities, towns, and ports. I'm not sure if I need more (I don't think so). I believe there need to be at least 3 of each type per player so that the lines don't overlap like they do. With the number of islands I played with there just wasn't enough real estate for each player to play the 7 rounds. 7 rounds feels right game length and scoring wise and it corresponds well with the string.

One of the actions you can take instead of laying in is to splice line. It does mean you can't score that round but you have a longer line to play later in the game. This is generally a once a game thing, but one of the bonus scoring cards will allows to a bonus splice so that you can potentially use all 8 of your 9 pieces of string for scoring. I guess I could remove one of the pieces of 6" string bringing it down to 8 or I could add a second possible bonus splice. This is a cool action to be able to take, but you definitely don't want to do it more than once per game with only 7 rounds to score.

That's it so far. I have only mocked up written cards so far. I'm going to make cards in InDesign, probably tomorrow. I'll post a link as soon as I have them made up.

Thanks to those who've provided feedback and taken a look so far. This game has changed quite drastically, but I think it's definitely for the better.

I can't wait to get this one done, because I think people will really enjoy it. There just aren't enough string games out there.
 
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Ben Bateson
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Wow - this has taken some leaps in unexpected directions.

Looking forward to trying out the next iteration.
 
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Gary Boyd
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My biggest problem with string as a component trying to connect multiple things on such a small scale is that it can be a bit fiddly. I have thought that having cut and fold lines on the islands to allow string to pass through would be the best solution. My only concern is that it becomes even more fiddly as you have to stop and feed the string through the little holes and then you risk moving the island even more.

Ahh string...
 
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debiant wrote:
My biggest problem with string as a component trying to connect multiple things on such a small scale is that it can be a bit fiddly. I have thought that having cut and fold lines on the islands to allow string to pass through would be the best solution. My only concern is that it becomes even more fiddly as you have to stop and feed the string through the little holes and then you risk moving the island even more.

Ahh string...


Have you tried chains of small colored paper clips? Might be a bit pricey, but may prove more functional? Could even have magnets at key points so that the chains can be fixed at key points.

Edit:
Or even something like this:
http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/711-53200-19255-0/1?type=4&cam...
or this:
https://www.etsystudio.com/listing/115490938/free-shippingac...
or this:
https://www.pinterest.com/ballchains/color-ball-chain/
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Gary Boyd
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bluesea wrote:
debiant wrote:
My biggest problem with string as a component trying to connect multiple things on such a small scale is that it can be a bit fiddly. I have thought that having cut and fold lines on the islands to allow string to pass through would be the best solution. My only concern is that it becomes even more fiddly as you have to stop and feed the string through the little holes and then you risk moving the island even more.

Ahh string...


Have you tried chains of small colored paper clips? Might be a bit pricey, but may prove more functional? Could even have magnets at key points so that the chains can be fixed at key points.

Edit:
Or even something like this:
http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/711-53200-19255-0/1?type=4&cam...
or this:
https://www.etsystudio.com/listing/115490938/free-shippingac...
or this:
https://www.pinterest.com/ballchains/color-ball-chain/


I love that idea as well. Probably not for this contest, because I want to make it as easy to put together as possible.

I would to build a "standard magnetic games kit" that would be used for contests (using things that people could easily get on amazon). That way we could have easily accessible for everyone with a lot of interesting new mechanics.
 
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Gary Boyd
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I've done some illustrations of islands for the game, but I think they might look too fantasy inspired.



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I'm now thinking that I'd much rather this be a game of hexes where islands and blank ocean spaces are laid out in a hexagonal grid. The serious look of the islands (and because I'm no illustrator by any means) lends itself more to that style of game.

I'd also like it to be a cooperative experience because that's where my energy is becoming more focused. I'm thinking the game becomes more about engaging with the elements (volcano, rock slides, storm, earthquake, tsunami, hurricane, etc). So we have 2 basic types of lines: power lines, and telecommunications lines. This lends itself to a multi-player experience (2-player in particular).

These are just the thoughts for the day.

Does anyone feel the use of the pun Lei in this context would be cultural misappropriation?
 
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