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Subject: A variety of gameplay ideas? rss

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Patrick O'Neill
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Our current game is very close to completion. It's a lot like a mix of Terra Mystica and Lords of Waterdeep, with unique mechanics.

One part of the game is giving us trouble. We have about 4-5 ways it could be played. Each version is unique in its own way and arguably as good as its rivals. This aspect of the game doesn't drastically change any other component.

My question is, what do you think about a game that gives a variety of playing options? We're considering including all of the options in the KS and letting the players decide which they want to use for each play.


Thanks.
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Josh Buel
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This seems like a better question to ask your playtesters before launching Kickstarter. You don't want to confuse your backers with different ways to play, especially if that blocks you from showcasing the game effectively with learn to play videos or other graphics.

For me personally, multiple ways to play shows that the designers didn't fully flesh out the game, or that the design is lazy (even though that may not be the case). I think board games should have the least amount of fluidity as possible. Tom Vasel actually talks about this a little in the review below.




The Game idea sounds awesome though, i'm sure you're not being lazy, i'm just explaining my thoughts as a potential backer with no prior context to your project . Good luck!
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F Scott
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I agree with the person above. Multiple versions of a game just feels like House Rules to me. It makes me feel frustrated because I could meet someone who has learned and played one version of the game, while I preferred and played a different version. It also feels like there isn't confidence put into the game, because the designer couldn't commit to one vision. (Also if none of these changes affect the following gameplay, how essential is this particular mechanic?)

I would extensively playtest each scenario with the same group, if possible, and see how they feel about the difference. Maybe post the different versions here so it's easier to chime in about? I can only give my opinion off of speculation from what you said, but specifics may make me reconsider, because it's some scenario I didn't consider.
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Dewi Hargreaves
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If it was me, I'd approach it by deciding which of the ways to play 'feels' like it fits the theme the most - but then, I tend to design with theme in mind and then work out the mechanics, not vice versa.

Obviously I don't know anything about your process or your game, but could you then use one of the other ways to play as the scaffolding for your next game? Just an idea!
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Patrick O'Neill
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Thanks for the feedback.

I'll try to elaborate more.

First, the game has been playtested 100's of times. Probably upwards of 500.
We play everyday on Tabletop simulator. So it's not a matter of being lazy.

Ultimate, we have multiple buildings you can visit to perform actions. One building relates to a way of getting points and revealing information (who killed the King - or who is innocent). Think something similar to the cults in Terra Mystica.

We have multiple ways this can be accomplished:


#1 Tournament Style
#2 Race to secure the most points
#3 Building up "rumors"
Etc.

Each of these versions of the building work very smoothly and very well. They don't impact the other areas of the game, but just add different flavour. Does this sound like a good idea? (Each version is being tested and blind tested.)


Similarly, we have 9 "variable" buildings and 6 "constant" buildings. 9 Buildings are always used. The variable buildings are divided into 3 groups and each group performs very similar actions, but with different costs. This allows each play to be slightly different and prevents anyone from always useing the same system or strategy. We are definitely including these variable buildings in the final version of the game.
 
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F Scott
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Kaladin Stormblessed wrote:
Thanks for the feedback.

I'll try to elaborate more.

First, the game has been playtested 100's of times. Probably upwards of 500.
We play everyday on Tabletop simulator. So it's not a matter of being lazy.

Ultimate, we have multiple buildings you can visit to perform actions. One building relates to a way of getting points and revealing information (who killed the King - or who is innocent). Think something similar to the cults in Terra Mystica.

We have multiple ways this can be accomplished:


#1 Tournament Style
#2 Race to secure the most points
#3 Building up "rumors"
Etc.

Each of these versions of the building work very smoothly and very well. They don't impact the other areas of the game, but just add different flavour. Does this sound like a good idea? (Each version is being tested and blind tested.)


Similarly, we have 9 "variable" buildings and 6 "constant" buildings. 9 Buildings are always used. The variable buildings are divided into 3 groups and each group performs very similar actions, but with different costs. This allows each play to be slightly different and prevents anyone from always useing the same system or strategy. We are definitely including these variable buildings in the final version of the game.


The variable buildings wouldn't bother me at all. I think the changes of gameplay would bother me however. From what I can see, while each style of getting points can be smoothly incorporated, each style changes your game's objective and who it appeals to.

A race to points would appeal to some, but a collection of victory points would appeal to another. It becomes a different game, to me. Not everyone feels that way of course, but I would be turned off by it. I like my games to be consistent, so that if I play with someone else, we will both be thinking of the exact same game. While it's not lazy to do this option, I feel it's a cop out, like when directors offer an alternate ending to a movie than the original one shown.
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Jeremy Lennert
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I think it's OK if a game includes optional rules, but there should be one definitive "normal" version.

I also think it's OK if the "normal" version is "shuffle these buildings and choose 3 at random to use for the current game".

I'm not totally sure if that logic is internally-consistent. I'll have to give it some thought. But those are my instincts.
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Daniel Donche
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I agree with the above posters, I think you should just decide on the core rule set and make that the game, then after people are playing it you can add maybe separate documents they can download perhaps, that have alternatives. The game that comes immediately to mind for me is MtG vs. Commander. Same game, separate styles of play. They're not both included in the core game, however (and I honestly think WOTC messed up when they made Commander an official thing, but that's another subject entirely).
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JT Schiavo
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It reminds me of the different endings in Talisman. Some people choose an ending before the game, some people shuffle randomly, some people only play the "classic" version.

It can be used for further variability in setup or saved for future expansions, but I would also recommend giving a "default" building for a first play.
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John Breckenridge
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Pick one to be the official way to play, and then include the others as variant rules in an appendix to the rulebook, to be included as a stretch goal.
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Florian Woo
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If you want to keep all three methods in the final game, include something which randomizes "how to play that aspect" at the beginning of the game and defines it for the whole game. E.g. three rule cards or whatever.
You have to question yourself if this mechanism makes sense from a thematic point of view.

Optional rule in the manual could be: players choose one of the methods at the beginning instead of randomizing it.
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Benj Davis
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I like the idea of randomising which will be in play this game.
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Patrick O'Neill
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Thanks for the feedback.

I think what we will end up doing is having a “default” version but for more gameplay variety offer the variable ideas and an option of choice or randomness.

On another note, if any of you are interested in playtesting a heavy euro-style game with elements of Lords of Waterdeep and Terra Mystica (as dubbed by several big name publishers at GenCon 2017), let me know.

We have it on Tabletop Simulator. If you do playtest we would appreciate detailed feedback.

Thanks

Pat
 
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