Recommend
3 
 Thumb up
 Hide
4 Posts

Songbirds» Forums » General

Subject: Q&A Session with Yuo, designer of Songbirds / Birdie Fight rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Jerry Chiang
msg tools
badge
Avatar
As part of the Kickstarter campaign, I reached out to Yuo, the designer to shed some insight on his own game. For the most part, I've taken his written words in English and edited (with his permission) to help improve flow and readability. Enjoy!



1) Why did you pick the bird theme for this game? Do the four colors represent any specific bird types?
I picked the theme initially because my illustrator Kotori Neiko excels at drawing birds. However, after picking the theme, I realized that it can be a pun for a trick-taking game, because the word for "bird" in Japanese is pronounced "tori", while a "trick" is pronounced "torikku" (トリック) in Japanese. Finally, birds are quite cute.

The four birds are actual bird species. Their names are as follows:
・Red: コマドリ(Japanese robin)
・Green: メジロ(Japanese White-eye)
・Blue: ルリビタキ(Red-flanked bluetail)
・White: シマエナガ(Long-tailed Tit)


2) Can you describe how you came to the key elements of this design? What was the process and what were the inspirations?
As mentioned, I decided to start with a trick-taking game due to wordplay given the bird theme. For inspiration, I looked to unusual trick-taking games - in particular, I referenced the Origin of Failing Water, where cards are played to a tableau, scoring for each trick is randomly set, and winning is quite tricky since tricks are played backward while trumps determined forward. Also, in Origin of Failing Water, "tricks" are not scored by round but judged after using all the cards. Cards are shown in tableau so it is easy to remember what cards have been played.

I also decided not to give players set hands since it is troublesome to sort cards - it is easier to shuffle together and distribute cards randomly and quickly. Also, rather than have the player order section on top, I revamped that to be a scoring area to place point tokens. I thought it would also be more interesting to make the board two dimensional so that a card can influence point tokens in two directions, vertically and horizontally.

With regards to the unfriendly ties for leading colors, I took inspiration from Las Vegas, which is one of my favorite games. This mechanism where a third party profits at the expense of two others is very suitable for multiplayer board games.

Finally, I developed the mechanism of keeping the last card as the scoring card because in most trick-taking games, the last card is very mechanical and uninteresting, since all the other cards have already been played and shown. I do not like this very much - the last card might as well not be used. So I asked myself, "What role is appropriate for the last card that a player keeps?" And the answer came to me: "It's their favorite card!" In this way, I decided to use it as the source for determining a player's score.


3) How or why did you pick this point token distribution in the game? (15, 12, 12, ... etc)
I decided this during playtesting. I wanted to raise the points of each berry token because the standard end game scoring counts the value of the last card. If the points on the board were relatively low, then too much emphasis is given to the cards, and the player who holds high cards such as the "7" is dealt a very strong hand. Therefore, I thought that the expected value of each berry token (~9 points) can reasonably be a little more than double that of the expected value of the each card (~4 points).

However, a straight distribution of berry tokens that just increased by one point each (5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14) was too bland. So I decided to make the game more exciting by having jumps in the values (5, 6, 7, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 12, 15).


4) What do you think about the scoring variation that allows for early commits as proposed in https://boardgamegeek.com/article/28625948?
As a matter of fact, I had playtested the idea of allowing players to commit early during the prototype. At that time, the first player to commit gets 3 points, the next receives 2 points, then 1 point, and then 0 points. Players then score just the color of their scoring card plus the points they get from commitment. The card number only acts as a tiebreaker between tied players. However, I scrapped the rule because it increases the complexity of the rules as well as the number of components.

However, in the current rule, if players hoard high numbered cards and only play low value cards, it is a good idea to mitigate the importance of the value of the last card. This way, players can feel free to play any of the cards and still have a viable strategy to win that way.

I like the variant proposed in the link as well, and both could work well as an implementation of the early commit variant.


5) In your early commit variant, why did you pick the 3, 2, 1, 0 as the point distribution?
That's a good point, and in fact, there is room for considering what are the proper point values to set. If we set them too high, we make it too attractive for players to commit too early, which may not be great for a strategic game. So it is better to have lower point values - perhaps 5 points or less, which is less than the points on any of the berry tokens.

However, if we use a linear progression (3, 2, 1, 0), that may be a bit boring, because it is so straightforward. While the first player to commit should get a bonus for his foresight / courage, we can consider giving the players who committed 2nd and 3rd the same point value, which means if they happen to commit to the same color, they have to consider the number of the scoring card as the tiebreaker. This may make the play for players considering to commit 2nd or 3rd much more interesting.


6) Thanks for your time, Yuo! Is there anything else you want to share with potential backers of Songbirds during the Kickstarter campaign?

Songbirds represents the beautiful and harsh world of birds.
It teaches the importance of looking from a different perspective.
Please wisely select your favorite birds with love and care! :-)
8 
 Thumb up
0.25
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Krisztian Posch
United Kingdom
London
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmb
Fascinating interview, thank you for taking the time to ask and answer these questions! meeple

What do you think, is there a chance that the early commit variant will be playtested further, before the game goes to print? I see the appeal of giving the first player more points (e.g., 4) the second and third players the same amount of points (e.g., 2) and so on. I would be curious whether this made the game more balanced.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jerry Chiang
msg tools
badge
Avatar
Thanks for your interest!

I'll continue to playtest and have people playtest it to offer more feedback to the publisher. In the end, it will be up to them to figure out what the final version (or versions) they want to add to the official rules, but I can try to provide more qualitative and quantitative data for them as input into the decision.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Krisztian Posch
United Kingdom
London
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmb
JerryKChiang wrote:
Thanks for your interest!

I'll continue to playtest and have people playtest it to offer more feedback to the publisher. In the end, it will be up to them to figure out what the final version (or versions) they want to add to the official rules, but I can try to provide more qualitative and quantitative data for them as input into the decision.


Sounds great! Thank you for your input and hard work, much appreciated!
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.