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Subject: [Contest Ready] Above the Horizon {2017 Mint Tin Design Contest} rss

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Caroline Berg
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Above the Horizon
A solo fantastical adventure through the mountains known as the Roof of the World.
By: Caroline Berg

Flying over the fabled mountain range the Roof of the World, your plane suddenly went down. Luckily, you were on your way to have an expedition in the mountains and your supplies were not ruined in the crash. Unfortunately, you have no idea where you are, or how far it is to civilization. Your expedition has started earlier than expected!

Number of Players: 1
Playtime: 30 minutes to 1 hour (aiming for this...)

Categories:
• Best Overall Design
• Best Theme
• Best Artwork & Graphic Design
• Best Written Rules

Components:
• 30 Mountain cards
• 18 Mountain tokens
• 6 Item cards
• 6 Goal cards
• 4 Rule cards
• 1 player token
• 1 Fatigue tracker card

• 2 six-sided dice (not included)
• Mint tin (not included)


Files are here.

This is for the 2017 Mint Tin Design Contest
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Caroline Berg
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Re: [WIP] Above the Horizon {2017 Mint Tin Design Contest}
Inspirations:

Ideas bubble up from the most interesting mix of things.

Recently, I have finished reading Lost Horizon for one of my book clubs. The picture it painted was amazingly lyrical (if you ignore the bits filled with the casual racism of the 1930s.)

I have originally had an idea to rework Pounce and Stalk with better art and more complex enemy movement... a game which also takes place in the Himalayas. But... something about that just didn't feel like I was doing enough.

Earlier this year, both Snowbirds and First Snow caught my eye for their graphic design, themes of travel/survival and winter, and their simple (yet hard to master) dice mechanics.

Then I came across [WIP] Bear Went Over the Mountain - 2017 Children's PnP Contest Entry, a game which uses what I consider a side-scrolling card mechanic to build a path through the mountains - only those aren't snow covered.

And so we come to this. A game which uses side-scrolling cards to build the fabled mountains, and on the way, you can make dice rolls to explore fantastical places such as Shangri-La, The Copper Mountain, The Valley of Diamonds, and other mythical places as you progress.
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Caroline Berg
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Re: [WIP] Above the Horizon {2017 Mint Tin Design Contest}
Hoping to get some example prototype cards up so you can see what I'm going for.

My idea is that the mountain cards have two sides.

The mountain path is on one side, which you use to build you way through the Roof of the World. That side will also include any special or common locations plus the rolls needed to explore them, hazards - which affect rolls negatively, and lucky breaks - which affect rolls positively.

The back side of the cards will have the text for what happens when exploring the special or common locations.

Hazards can affect just that Hazard card, or the Hazard card plus the cards on either side of it. Lucky Breaks behave the same way. If a Hazard and Lucky Break effect the same card, they cancel each other out.

I still have to decide if I want some sort of item cards to be collected - special items for the special locations, starting gear to help get though the mountains, things like that. I'm leaning towards yes, and having them be double-sided with different items on each side, so that if you have one, you can't have the other. I'll need to play around with this.

Overall, I'm thinking shaded grayscale art, to go with the theme.
 
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Caroline Berg
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Re: [WIP] Above the Horizon {2017 Mint Tin Design Contest}
Thought about it, definitely going to have items. I'm having fun brainstorming up what they are and what they do.

Common starting items:

Compass: Flip one die to the opposite face.

And on the reverse of the Compass, Map: Ignore a Hazard when on the same card as a Hazard card. (This does not ignore Hazards which affect cards to either side of their card).

Telescope: Reroll one die.

And on the reverse side of Telescope, Rope: Add +1 to one of the die you rolled.
 
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C. L.
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Re: [WIP] Above the Horizon {2017 Mint Tin Design Contest}
Will you have an obligatory yeti?
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Caroline Berg
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Re: [WIP] Above the Horizon {2017 Mint Tin Design Contest}
GreenTea532 wrote:
Will you have an obligatory yeti?

There will be footprints and a possibly lived in cave which can be explored.
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Caroline Berg
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Re: [WIP] Above the Horizon {2017 Mint Tin Design Contest}
List of mythical mountains: (which might appear in the game)

• Kunlun Shan - "Hollow" mountain, has jeweled plants, elixir of immortality, paradise
• Mount Meru - Sun and Moon and planets revolve around it
• Mount Buzhou - could gain peaches restore fatigue, protected by two guardians
• Copper Mountain - chance to meet the Malachite Maid, could gain the Malachite Casket
• Jade Mountain - chance to meet the Golden Mother of the Mother-of-Pearl Lake, could gain peaches which restore fatigue
• Glass Mountain - impossible to climb without proper gear

Mythical places in the mountains:

• Shangri-La - could gain mangos which restore fatigue, easy to enter but very hard to leave, paradise
• Yeti cave - could meet a yeti

Mythical valleys:

• Valley of Diamonds - could gain diamonds, dangerous rocs fky about
• Valley of the Blue Moon - could gain mangos which restore fatigue, could gain gold
 
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Caroline Berg
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Re: [WIP] Above the Horizon {2017 Mint Tin Design Contest}
Let's discuss goals! (Or the lack thereof...)

Clearly, the goal is to explore, have interesting encounters, and not to succumb to fatigue, but what more? I need an end goal.

Perhaps there should be goal cards for each of the special locations which can be found. The player draws a goal at the start of the game and hopes to discover it during play.

I'm not overly fond of beat your high score solo games, but would something like that work here? Try to see how far into the mountains you get before you succumb to fatigue? As an alternative to goals, or along with the goals?

I don't really want to add some kind of "end" card that players could reach - these are seemingly endless mountains, and not something to be easily crossed in a game.

However, I could see the player trying to get to a mythical location that could take them out of the wilds of the mountains. Mount Meru, and how it touches the stars, could potentially lead them back. And there is always the possibility of an item which could take them back - a crashed plane that wasn't totally destroyed from the crash.
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Caroline Berg
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Re: [WIP] Above the Horizon {2017 Mint Tin Design Contest}
Mechanics:

The player has a fatigue tracker. If they lose too many points of fatigue, they give up the expedition. Mangoes and peaches seem to be the mythical fruit of choice in the mountains, and should they find them, fatigue will be restored. Need to figure out how much fatigue to start with - 6? 10? Need to play around with this.

The front of the card will have the name of the place across the top Shangri-La, for example, whether is has a lucky break or hazard below that text, bonus +1, and at the bottom of the card it will have one or two dice.

Let's say it has the die: 4

The player rolls two dice and tries to get any of following combinations:
two 2s, 1 and 3, or a 4. Those all count as successes. Double 4s does not trigger anything special, only one success is needed.

If it has the dice 12 then 1 or 2 are successes. This time, getting a 1 and a 2 does trigger a better encounter, versus just getting a single success or a 1 or a 2. So getting two 1s would only get one success (either using only 1 for the 1, or using both for the 2).

Does that make sense?

I'll try to get a sample of what the cards will look like done.
 
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Brian Garthwaite
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Re: [WIP] Above the Horizon {2017 Mint Tin Design Contest}
For a game end, you might consider multiple goals, each with its own prerequisite actions/events/items to succeed. Mount Meru reaches to the stars; repairing the airplane flies you home; Shangri-La offers you sanctuary; a long and difficult quest (hard mode?) sets you on the path to enlightenment. Perhaps moving closer to success at any one closes doors on the other opportunities?

Quality of success (points) could depend on which kind of game end you achieve - as some are likely harder and/or more desirable - and how much exploration you managed in the process.
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Caroline Berg
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Re: [WIP] Above the Horizon {2017 Mint Tin Design Contest}
bgarthwaite wrote:
For a game end, you might consider multiple goals, each with its own prerequisite actions/events/items to succeed. Mount Meru reaches to the stars; repairing the airplane flies you home; Shangri-La offers you sanctuary; a long and difficult quest (hard mode?) sets you on the path to enlightenment. Perhaps moving closer to success at any one closes doors on the other opportunities?

Quality of success (points) could depend on which kind of game end you achieve - as some are likely harder and/or more desirable - and how much exploration you managed in the process.

Multiple goals where the player has the option of all/any based on how things pan out in game? Or multiple goals where the player picks one at the start and tries to aim towards that?

I'm not sure how to make a connected list of goals where if one is a success, another automatically fails. I'd need to think on how to set that up.

For me, personally, in solo games points feel so... impersonal. They just don't motivate me. I'd much rather have an item, or a location goal. Hmm... still need to think more about it.

I am creating the artwork for the cards now! I should have a sample set ready to go later today (or tonight, more realistically).
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Re: [WIP] Above the Horizon {2017 Mint Tin Design Contest}
I was thinking more the former - options based on how the game pans out - though it depends on how the game's parts fit together. The general idea being that a tree of options (say, achieving Goal A requires you to find Locations B and C, and be successful at C) could offload info to a reference sheet and gain more tin space for exploration cards. Assuming you have sufficient mobility to go back and "fix" any problems at a cost of fatigue or otherwise. I suspect the idea might seem silly once I've seen some sample cards.

Yeah, points are dull. But you could create them implicitly through the size of a generated landscape. Having explored more territory means more revealed on the table, and that should feel better, even if you're not instructed to put a number value to it. Or, if you're flipping cards as they're explored, creating a tableau of more interesting images on the explored side, versus a plainer, unrevealed side.
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Caroline Berg
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Re: [WIP] Above the Horizon {2017 Mint Tin Design Contest}
Alright, so far I'm thinking of a deck that is comprised of this:

10 Special Location cards
10 Hazard cards
10 Lucky Break cards

With 6 the Hazards and 6 of the Lucky Breaks applying to the cards on either side of them.

Special Location:
• Copper Mountain
• Glass Mountain
• Jade Mountain
• Kunlun Shan
• Mount Buzhou
• Mount Meru
• Shangri-La
• Valley of Diamonds
• Valley of the Blue Moon
• Yeti Cave

Hazards:
• Avalanche Risk
• Biting Cold
• Blinding Snow
• Deep Chasm
• Narrow Ledge
• Slippery Path
• Steep Cliff
• Strong Winds
• Unstable Snow
• Winding Path

Lucky Breaks:
• Abandoned Plane
• Clear View
• Gradual Ascent
• Pleasant Weather
• Rope Bridge
• Spare Equipment
• Sheltered Cave
• Supply Cache
• Warm Breeze
• Well-Marked Path
 
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Caroline Berg
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Re: [WIP] Above the Horizon {2017 Mint Tin Design Contest}
bgarthwaite wrote:
I was thinking more the former - options based on how the game pans out - though it depends on how the game's parts fit together. The general idea being that a tree of options (say, achieving Goal A requires you to find Locations B and C, and be successful at C) could offload info to a reference sheet and gain more tin space for exploration cards. Assuming you have sufficient mobility to go back and "fix" any problems at a cost of fatigue or otherwise. I suspect the idea might seem silly once I've seen some sample cards.

Yeah, points are dull. But you could create them implicitly through the size of a generated landscape. Having explored more territory means more revealed on the table, and that should feel better, even if you're not instructed to put a number value to it. Or, if you're flipping cards as they're explored, creating a tableau of more interesting images on the explored side, versus a plainer, unrevealed side.

No, that kind of mobility is possible. I... admit I didn't think about going back and forth - but if you haven't lost fatigue, there is no reason you can't!

Hmmm... that opens up some design possibilities!

I'm almost done with some of the cards. I just realized I need item cards too... will have to work on those. The mountain cards I'm rather happy with - they look just like how I imagined.
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Caroline Berg
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Re: [WIP] Above the Horizon {2017 Mint Tin Design Contest}
Example of one side of the mountain cards. I'll make the other side tomorrow (which will have more text on them).

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Caroline Berg
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Re: [WIP] Above the Horizon {2017 Mint Tin Design Contest}
Example of a card back and front.

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Caroline Berg
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Re: [WIP] Above the Horizon {2017 Mint Tin Design Contest}
As of right now the cards are at standard poker sizes, but I'll resize them to be bridge cards once they are done.

List of what needs to be done:

30 Mountain cards - complete!
6 Item cards - complete!
6 Goal cards - complete!
1 Fatigue tracker card - complete!
1 character token - complete!
18 mountain tokens - complete!

• Rulebook - find a good template and make this! (Right now making the rules cards)
 
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Caroline Berg
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Re: [WIP] Above the Horizon {2017 Mint Tin Design Contest}
Items:

Compass: Flip one die to the opposite face.
Reverse: • Map: Ignore a Hazard when on a card labeled as a Hazard. This does not include Hazards which say "Cannot use items."

Telescope: Reroll one die.
Reverse: • Rope: Add +1 or -1 to one die.

Malachite Casket: Bypass a Hazard card by skipping to the next card past it. Only works if there is already a card past the Hazard.
Reverse: • Pitons: Change one roll to a success. Cannot use any other items this turn, this includes the Harness.

Spare Fuel: Ignore any -1 to dice rolls.
Reverse: • Delicate Tea Set: Restore one Fatigue this turn. Cannot use any other items this turn, this includes the Harness.

Thermos: Ignore any -2 to dice rolls.
Reverse: • Bandolier: Ignore Hazards which say "Cannot use items."

Mattock: Add +2 or -2 to one die.
Reverse: • Harness Use two items instead of one. This item does not count towards those two.

The Malachite Casket and the Pitons are needed for the goals in the Copper Mountain and Glass Mountain respectively. Likewise the Spare Fuel and the Delicate Tea Set are also needed for goals, involving the Abandoned Plane and Shangri-La respectively.
 
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Mark Tuck
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Re: [WIP] Above the Horizon {2017 Mint Tin Design Contest}
I like the look of those cards.

I hope to have some time to give the game a go when it's ready.
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Caroline Berg
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Re: [WIP] Above the Horizon {2017 Mint Tin Design Contest}
tucky60 wrote:
I like the look of those cards.

I hope to have some time to give the game a go when it's ready.

Thanks! I'll be racing through writing up the successes on the backs of the cards this week... and I'll need to finalize the goals and such...

I'm really hoping that next week everything will be done so I can start playtesting!
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Nigel Kennington
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Re: [WIP] Above the Horizon {2017 Mint Tin Design Contest}
This sounds interesting!

I love the idea of this stretching panorama of mountains appearing as the game progresses - a visual record of your journey that is almost a reward in itself!

I also agree that point gathering is not the most exciting goal in a single player game, I think actual goals would be more interesting.

My concern from what I have read is that it seems very reactive at the moment. You might have already got a solution to this, because all we have is the discussion here, but it seems like the game might be just "reveal a card - roll some dice".

Will there be any mechanics for planning and resource management beyond the items? I feel like something like seeing the next 3 cards and then "making camp" to generate a pool of dice before setting out as potential for interesting risk-reward decisions. Especially if you've got to balance supplies and fatigue as two resources - "my fatigue is getting high, so I need to rest, but supplies are very low, do I risk a long rest and using up the last of my supplies to get a good dice pool to go mango foraging in that enticing looking valley over there or do I take a short rest and reserve some supplies in case I get trapped in the yeti cave between here and the valley?"

Sorry if I've misunderstood or not noticed stuff meaning these suggestions are irrelevant!
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Caroline Berg
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Re: [WIP] Above the Horizon {2017 Mint Tin Design Contest}
When I get the rules up, hopefully that will answer your questions.

There is some item management in this game, but most of the mechanics revolve around using different items to manipulate the two dice you roll once you have placed the next mountain card. There are no resources other than items or fatigue. There is no way to make camp, and while some cards allow you to place several cards, most allow you to only see the next one.

I focus on games that mostly tell a story - so make of that what you will.

I am going to flat-out say that I like a lot of randomness in my games, because without that level of randomness, games are just too easy for me to predict, and thus not fun. I don't like games where I can plan out far into the future for that very reason. If you are looking for a more Euro-type game, I'm not the designer for you!
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Caroline Berg
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Re: [WIP] Above the Horizon {2017 Mint Tin Design Contest}
I spent a good bit of time on a train on Friday and Saturday, and while traveling I was able to get the Hazard and Lucky Break cards done. Now I just need to finish the Special Location cards and the Goal cards.

I've decided to make the Goal cards similar in size to the Item cards, and for there to be 12 Goals, each one tied to various items or tasks in the game.

For an easy game, select 2 Goal cards randomly, for an average game select 3 Goal cards randomly, and for a harder game select 4 Goal cards randomly.

While the initial selection is random, you get to choose which Goal on the card to use, as there is a goal on each side of the card. I'm doing it this way so it isn't possible to get a Goal that requires both the Malachite Casket or the Pitons, since those are on opposite sides of one item card, and thus would be hard (but not impossible) to complete both Goals in a single game.
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Re: [WIP] Above the Horizon {2017 Mint Tin Design Contest}
Goals:

Cartographer: Visit five Special Locations.
Reverse: • Prepared: Obtain the items: Compass or Map, Rope or Telescope, and Mattock or Harness.

Lucky: Have three 2 success Encounters.
Reverse: • Unlucky: Have three 0 success Encounters

Gifted: Bring the Malachite Casket to the Copper Mountain and have a 2 success Encounter.
Reverse: • Ascendant: Use the Pitons to climb the Glass Mountain and have a 1 or 2 success Encounter.

Pilot: Bring the Spare Fuel to the Abandoned Plane and have a 1 success Encounter.
Reverse: • Tea Ceremony: Gain the Delicate Tea Set from Shangri-La then visit the Valley of the Blue Moon.

Botanist: Eat fruit from three of these locations: Mount Buzhou, the Glass Mountain, the Jade Mountain, or Shangri-La.
Reverse: • Cryptozoologist: Have a 2 success Encounter in the Yeti Cave, have a 1 success Encounter to see the Roc in the Valley of Diamonds, and have a 1 success Encounter to meet with the two guardians of Mount Buzhou.

Jewel Thief: Obtain the Malachite Casket. Visit the Valley of Diamonds and have a 1 success Encounter at Kunlun Shan. It does not matter if you obtain the casket before or after you visit the locations.
Reverse: • Astronomer: Have a 2 success Encounter at Kunlun Shan and a 2 success Ecounter at Mount Meru.
 
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Nigel Kennington
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Re: [WIP] Above the Horizon {2017 Mint Tin Design Contest}
adularia25 wrote:
I am going to flat-out say that I like a lot of randomness in my games, because without that level of randomness, games are just too easy for me to predict, and thus not fun. I don't like games where I can plan out far into the future for that very reason. If you are looking for a more Euro-type game, I'm not the designer for you!

Fair enough! Good luck with your game!
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