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Board Game Smugglers
A game by BlueChicken for the 2018 54-Card Game Design Contest

Game summary
Board games are forbidden in the city of Nufon. However, real collectors can’t be stopped: They smuggle board games into the city every night. In this quick 2-4 player game of risk management and bluff, players try to get the most impressive board game collection in the city of Nufon.

Components
Standard deck of 54 playing cards

Playing time
10-30 minutes

Competing in categories
Best Overall Game
Best New Designer
Best Game Using a Standard 54-Card Deck

Image of a three player game


Rules
https://drive.google.com/open?id=1hHCKiMvxddi0Cp35Tf_E7oBv5g...

Contest results
2nd (tied) Best Game Using a Standard Playing Card Deck
9th (tied) Best Overall
Honorable mention by the jury

Change log
Feb 27: Minor textual changes and contest ready
Feb 05: Changed 2-player rules, restructured rules and added hints
Jan 29: Fixed some grammar errors and made some clarifications in the rules
Jan 22: Concept rules posted
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J de K
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Re: [WIP] Board Game Smugglers (2018 54-Card Game Design Contest)
It is quite a simple game, but you have to start somewhere, right?

My main reason for submitting this game to the contest is to gain some experience in translating an idea into an actual game. I always have many ideas, but I never created a full game.

One concern I have is that it is a bit too luck based and the bluf component is quite minor. So if anyone has an idea to increase the influence of bluffing or to decrease the influence of luck, I am happy to hear your thoughts!

English is not my first language, so in case you find any (grammar) mistakes, let me know!
Any other comments are of course also welcome!
 
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Jason Meyers
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Re: [WIP] Board Game Smugglers (2018 54-Card Game Design Contest)
Congrats on your first game!
This looks like a nice little challenge. I haven't tried it out yet, but read through it. At first it seemed a bit overly simple, but then I started thinking about the complexities in it and it started to grow on me.
There are a few minor grammatical errors (bluf -> bluff, partols -> patrols, each players -> each player), but the rules are pretty clear. Since the patrol deck has 5 cards, at least one of the suits has to be doubled (hence cleared), so maybe you could start that section a little differently ("In the case that..." implies that its a rare event, but it should happen for at least one suit each hand!). For the two player game, it would seem that having three hidden cards increases the randomness to a higher degree since a lot depends on those three cards. It might be more strategic for 2 players having only one card down and giving each player 3 (or 4) cards to pick two patrol members.
I would also make sure to clarify that at the end of revealing the patrols, you start a new round.
The theme is a little flimsy, but doesn't necessarily distract from the game (perhaps the suits could be crime families rather than districts?).
I'll try to give this a play soon! Once again, congrats on putting your first game onto paper!
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Garry Hoddinott
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Re: [WIP] Board Game Smugglers (2018 54-Card Game Design Contest)
Congrats on your first sharing of one of your designs. I reformatted your rules to fit on 4 card size panels in concertina style strip. Fits fine at 10.5 point. Anyway in reformatting I must read the rules carefully. Your English is fine. The different patrol types and terms used make it a bit of work but reading carefully I did understand. Unfortunately I can't test the game as yet.
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Re: [WIP] Board Game Smugglers (2018 54-Card Game Design Contest)
boristhebad wrote:
Congrats on your first game!
This looks like a nice little challenge. I haven't tried it out yet, but read through it. At first it seemed a bit overly simple, but then I started thinking about the complexities in it and it started to grow on me.
There are a few minor grammatical errors (bluf -> bluff, partols -> patrols, each players -> each player), but the rules are pretty clear. Since the patrol deck has 5 cards, at least one of the suits has to be doubled (hence cleared), so maybe you could start that section a little differently ("In the case that..." implies that its a rare event, but it should happen for at least one suit each hand!). For the two player game, it would seem that having three hidden cards increases the randomness to a higher degree since a lot depends on those three cards. It might be more strategic for 2 players having only one card down and giving each player 3 (or 4) cards to pick two patrol members.
I would also make sure to clarify that at the end of revealing the patrols, you start a new round.
The theme is a little flimsy, but doesn't necessarily distract from the game (perhaps the suits could be crime families rather than districts?).
I'll try to give this a play soon! Once again, congrats on putting your first game onto paper!
Thank you very much for having a look, I appreciate your comments and suggestions a lot! It is indeed a simple game, but it is not meant to be overly simple. I hope it will continue to grow on you when you will have a chance to play it

Thank you for finding those grammar errors! I will fix them as soon as possible. A suit is cleared when two normal patrols (2-10) of the that suit appear. That is indeed not a rare event, so I will rephrase that.

I like your idea for the two player game. I will certainly playtest that! And it might indeed be good idea to explain what happens after a round

The theme is indeed quite thin. To be honest I changed the theme before. The original idea was that the players were on a heist and an alarm was tripped. So the police was incoming and everyone tried to escape with some stolen valuables. Somehow the mechanics didn't feel right for that story. I like the idea of the smugglers being in crime families. However I am not sure if this makes sense for the police patrols? Do you think it will be more thematic if I use more thematic terms instead of game terms (like cards, Joker, etc.) in the rules? Or will this only make it more confusing?


GarryHoddinott wrote:
Congrats on your first sharing of one of your designs. I reformatted your rules to fit on 4 card size panels in concertina style strip. Fits fine at 10.5 point. Anyway in reformatting I must read the rules carefully. Your English is fine. The different patrol types and terms used make it a bit of work but reading carefully I did understand. Unfortunately I can't test the game as yet.
Thank you very much for having a look! Much appreciated! Cool that you took the time to reformat the rules and that they fitted on four cards. That is a very nice idea, since you can keep the rules easily with the cards in the box that way.

I am glad you understood the rules eventually. Do you think the terminology is confusing or used inconsistently?
 
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Garry Hoddinott
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Re: [WIP] Board Game Smugglers (2018 54-Card Game Design Contest)
Quote:
Do you think the terminology is confusing or used inconsistently?

Nope, its the structure o the game that initially presents as a bit messy. There are the appointed Patrol cards (5-(#players) and then from the players 2 patrol cards they select 1 (influence) then those patrols are not all the same - 3 kinds of patrols .... just a bit messy, but it is your structure.

Most of the PNP crowd read a lot of rules. It is a definite skill. Its advanced written comprehension in an age when we are schooled only in the simplest forms and more and more are using the simplest clichéd forms through texting, twitter etc so anything that requires keeping a few ideas in our heads while reading the rest of the rules is a challenge. I/We am/are dumb! The game designer has to be doubly smart to both come up with the ideas and then present them such that they are comprehended.

A word of explanation as to why you would make certain choices would be helpful. I wish other designers would do this also. A grey box could be used to explain the WHY of each choice. Note that I don't mean explain what connection there is to a theme "Example Patrol Influence: Selecting a card whose suit you have plenty of will be an advantage"(that is not necessarily true because I simply don't know yet what makes a good choice.

About themes: Personally I don't care too much for themes with standard deck games, I just want to play the game, and most themes add little. Well some are great, I really enjoyed scandalous Jack in The Shooting Party - that theme iced the game! Perhaps I will feel the same way about BGSmugglers when I can get to play it.
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Re: [WIP] Board Game Smugglers (2018 54-Card Game Design Contest)
GarryHoddinott wrote:
Quote:
Do you think the terminology is confusing or used inconsistently?

Nope, its the structure o the game that initially presents as a bit messy. There are the appointed Patrol cards (5-(#players) and then from the players 2 patrol cards they select 1 (influence) then those patrols are not all the same - 3 kinds of patrols .... just a bit messy, but it is your structure.

Most of the PNP crowd read a lot of rules. It is a definite skill. Its advanced written comprehension in an age when we are schooled only in the simplest forms and more and more are using the simplest clichéd forms through texting, twitter etc so anything that requires keeping a few ideas in our heads while reading the rest of the rules is a challenge. I/We am/are dumb! The game designer has to be doubly smart to both come up with the ideas and then present them such that they are comprehended.

A word of explanation as to why you would make certain choices would be helpful. I wish other designers would do this also. A grey box could be used to explain the WHY of each choice. Note that I don't mean explain what connection there is to a theme "Example Patrol Influence: Selecting a card whose suit you have plenty of will be an advantage"(that is not necessarily true because I simply don't know yet what makes a good choice.

About themes: Personally I don't care too much for themes with standard deck games, I just want to play the game, and most themes add little. Well some are great, I really enjoyed scandalous Jack in The Shooting Party - that theme iced the game! Perhaps I will feel the same way about BGSmugglers when I can get to play it.

Thank you for your quick and extensive reply! I kind of knew it, but now I am experiencing that coming up with a game and writing down the rules are two different things and that writing down all rules and creating rules that are easy to understand are also two different things.

If I understand your comments correctly there are at least two issues with the rules: The information about the patrol cards is spread out over too many places and when the actions are explained the reader absolutely has no idea what is a good action. I am trying to address these issues. You can see my progress at: https://docs.google.com/document/d/15hWlDIUdSuoITbum3KvoYI17...
 
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Re: [WIP] Board Game Smugglers (2018 54-Card Game Design Contest)
I playtested the two player game with choosing two police patrol cards out of three instead of one out of two. I liked it, because it is indeed more strategic. So, I changed the rules for the two player game.

Furthermore, I think the rules are indeed more clear with the new structure and some hints.
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Aaron Lambert
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I played this game with two of my kids (ages 11 and 13). We all thought it was a fun game.

It does seem pretty random, which I think impacts the game importantly in one specific way - the undercover smugglers are almost never used. Because there are two "random" police cards, those are likely (statistically) to be normal police cards (2-10), which means the undercover smugglers are very likely to be caught.

I do think that the bluffing mechanism works pretty well though, even though the information that each player has is pretty minimal. We certainly watched closely what the other players played for their smugglers and where they put their games.

Which leads me to one question - are the games placed one at a time with each player taking turns? Or does each player place all their games on their turn? That was I think the only rule we didn't know for sure how to interpret.

In terms of improving the game, I wonder if more choices might be more useful. For example, with two police cards to choose from it was likely that one card was clearly better, but it was equally likely that both cards were not very good. Also when choosing smugglers your choices were generally pretty obvious (10, K, 9, Q, etc were the best). So you would use those regardless of their suit. And then placing your weaker cards on the smugglers was influenced by what suits your opponents played.

But what if you were just dealt 8 cards and you used those for your police, smugglers, and board games? Then if you have a good card you have to decide if you want to use it as a smuggler or a police patrol.

Anyway, it was fun! I just wanted to pass on my thoughts.
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Styro wrote:
I played this game with two of my kids (ages 11 and 13). We all thought it was a fun game.
Thank you very much for trying the game and sharing your thoughts! I am happy you had fun and enjoyed the bluffing element. Your thoughts will help me to further improve the game (after the contest finished).

Styro wrote:

It does seem pretty random, which I think impacts the game importantly in one specific way - the undercover smugglers are almost never used. Because there are two "random" police cards, those are likely (statistically) to be normal police cards (2-10), which means the undercover smugglers are very likely to be caught.
The undercover smugglers are indeed very weak. I think these cards are better used as board games. However, there is a benefit of getting such a card: If you have one of those in your board game collection, it is more safe to play K,Q,J in later rounds. Maybe it is an idea to let undercover smugglers succeed if there are two or more normal police cards of that suit.

Styro wrote:

Which leads me to one question - are the games placed one at a time with each player taking turns? Or does each player place all their games on their turn? That was I think the only rule we didn't know for sure how to interpret.
Supposedly, you place all games in one turn. Thank you for commenting on this, I will see if I can formulate it a bit more clearly. Initially I tested a version in which you play the games one by one, but this didn't seem to add much, while it did take extra time. So, I changed to all at once.

Styro wrote:

In terms of improving the game, I wonder if more choices might be more useful. For example, with two police cards to choose from it was likely that one card was clearly better, but it was equally likely that both cards were not very good. Also when choosing smugglers your choices were generally pretty obvious (10, K, 9, Q, etc were the best). So you would use those regardless of their suit. And then placing your weaker cards on the smugglers was influenced by what suits your opponents played.

But what if you were just dealt 8 cards and you used those for your police, smugglers, and board games? Then if you have a good card you have to decide if you want to use it as a smuggler or a police patrol.
In a very early stage I had an idea like this. But I discarded it because I thought the optimal strategy would be to play your best cards as smugglers and this would make the police pretty weak. However, now I am doubting this thought and thanks to your post I see some nice benefits from this idea. Currently getting an Ace or a Joker in your hand of six is kind of weak, however in a hand of 8 it would be pretty nice, since you can use it as police card. Also, getting a hand of 8 is more elegant than getting one hand of 2 and one hand of 6. Also a hand of 7 might be enough, which decreases the chance of running out of cards. I will try to playtest this idea!
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