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Drew Bowling
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My first entry to the 2018 Solitaire Print and Play Contest

In POTION APPRENTICE, your goal is to carefully use Tinctures and Potions to keep up with the demands of Master Alchemicus's customers. To do so, you must balance using cards for their Powers or for their Ingredients, being careful not to exhaust the deck too quickly. To win the game, make it through the Potions deck without letting three or more Potion Orders go unfulfilled at the end of any turn.

Image to come!

Components:
45 Tincture cards
27 Potion cards
1 D6 (provided by the player)
Coins or scratch paper to keep track of Gold

Link to Files: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1HpY9_CpNlTuhLDksVRA2...

Note: The game is playable in its present form! But... I still have some more playtesting to do before I call it Components Ready.

Play Time: 30-40 minutes

Categories:
Main Contest Categories
d10-0d10-1 Best Overall Game - Award for the overall contest
d10-0d10-4 Most Innovative Mechanic - Games in this category should have an original mechanic or combination of mechanics
d10-0d10-6 Best Rule Book - Best written rules. Also includes rule clarity, layout, and organization
d10-0d10-7 Best Easy to Build Game - Games that can be built by the average PNP builder in 15 minutes or less
d10-1d10-1 Volunteer Prize - Best game as voted for by the contest volunteer playtesters. Only those who participated in the volunteer program will be eligible to vote in this category.

I will accept volunteers!


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Drew Bowling
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Re: [WIP] Potion Apprentice [2018 Solitaire PnP Contest, Idea Phase]
I think I'll leave this first post as my space to talk about current issues and updates about the game.

So first off, let me say this. I'm a card person, and one of my favorite things is to interweave different crazy card effects to get some result. However, my games up until this point have been anything but "crazy." This game is a big step for me; I'm putting behind my more minimalist approaches and going with something, big, unwieldy, and hopefully fun!

Let me also talk about some of the game's problems. This game is LONG. Most of my plays have taken about an hour. Or at least, that was the case until I started taking measures to fix that. As interesting as the decisions in this game are, an hour long of gameplay was consistently overstayng its welcome. The reason I have it in Idea Phase right now is because I am working on shrinking the game length to something that fits better with the type of game I'm trying to make. However, the balance was VERY tight at one hour. By making the game shorter, I am struggling to keep the same level of difficulty and tension.

I also think the game needs more variety. The decisions in the game are always interesting, but the overall scope of the game seems the same every time, and that satisfying story arc that helps so much in making a game great just isn't there. Every turn sorta seems like the last...

And that's not even to speak about the joys of balancing 48 different card abilities!

So yes, this game has its challenges. If I were to have this version as the final version, it wouldn't be great.

But that's why we have a community to help each other out, right?

By the way, the components are playable, if anyone wants to give it a shot. Still needs some editing...
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Martin Gonzalvez
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Re: [WIP] Potion Apprentice [2018 Solitaire PnP Contest, Idea Phase]
Hi Drew, I’m very intrigued by your game idea. I like your theme as well. I’ve subbed to this thread and will endeavor to print and try the game ASAP to provide feedback. Good luck!
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Drew Bowling
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Re: [WIP] Potion Apprentice [2018 Solitaire PnP Contest, Idea Phase]
Thanks, Martin!

Let me throw out another design problem I'm working with: Recurring Powers.

The game has 5 recurring powers, each of which are located on Cost 5 Potions. These Potions can also be added to a Cauldron for 2 Gold instead of 5. So, when choosing to buy a Recurring Power, you have to choose between:

A cheap way of getting lots of ingredients
A Potion Order that can get you lots of Gold
An expensive Recurring Power

What this ends up meaning is that in order to get the most Gold possible, you probably need to forgo Recurring Powers mostly. In other words, the best way to make money is to be boring.

Now, originally I had the Recurring Powers on the Cost 2 Potions, but then I would end up ALWAYS placing the Cost 2 Potions in the Store, and it was almost a given to just buy any Recurring Power that came up. On the one hand, Recurring Powers were encouraged, but on the other hand, it decreased the decisions in the game.

Another option to toy with is to put the Recurring Powers on Tinctures instead of Potions. Maybe cost 4 Potions with 2 of one Ingredient and 2 ?s. These would be more efficient to add to the Cauldron than any other Tinctures, but you'd be playing it at the cost of getting a sweet power for the rest of the game.

So, the options are:

d10-1 Have the Recurring Powers on an expensive Potion
d10-2 Have the Recurring Powers on cheap Potions
d10-3 Have the Recurring Powers on really good and cheap Tinctures
d10-4 Have the Recurring Powers on really good and fairly priced Tinctures (I mean, maybe I should throw that out)

Any thoughts?
 
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Caroline Berg
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Re: [WIP] Potion Apprentice [2018 Solitaire PnP Contest, Idea Phase]
Mmm... potions. All too often games with awesome potions are multiplayer only, so I approve of this as a solo theme!

I like the "slightly tedious reminder" text, though I'm guessing that will be gone in the final version of the rules...

So, what's the main difference between Tinctures and Potions other than Tinctures require skill to make, and potions give/take gold? Or is that the only difference?

It isn't quite clear - are Tinctures needed to produce Potions? You say both can be added to the Cauldron, so I guess I'm a little unclear as to why you need two terms for what seems like something so similar in game...
 
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Re: [WIP] Potion Apprentice [2018 Solitaire PnP Contest, Idea Phase]
Miller4h9 wrote:
So, the options are:

d10-1 Have the Recurring Powers on an expensive Potion
d10-2 Have the Recurring Powers on cheap Potions
d10-3 Have the Recurring Powers on really good and cheap Tinctures
d10-4 Have the Recurring Powers on really good and fairly priced Tinctures (I mean, maybe I should throw that out)

Any thoughts?

You might want to try playtesting how one of these feels - go with the most extreme one first (Recurring Powers on really good and cheap Tinctures?) and see how that works in the game.

If you find you have swung too far and now Recurring Powers are ridiculous, dial it back and try it on Expensive Potions or on Fair Priced Tinctures.
 
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Re: [WIP] Potion Apprentice [2018 Solitaire PnP Contest, Idea Phase]
adularia25 wrote:
Mmm... potions. All too often games with awesome potions are multiplayer only, so I approve of this as a solo theme!

I like the "slightly tedious reminder" text, though I'm guessing that will be gone in the final version of the rules...

So, what's the main difference between Tinctures and Potions other than Tinctures require skill to make, and potions give/take gold? Or is that the only difference?

It isn't quite clear - are Tinctures needed to produce Potions? You say both can be added to the Cauldron, so I guess I'm a little unclear as to why you need two terms for what seems like something so similar in game...


Tinctures and Potions come in different decks. Tincture cards are in your hand, and they take a skill check to add to a Cauldron (no check for the Power). They can be hard to add, and sometimes you’ll have to discard extra cards. Now, Potions have their own deck, and they’re never in your hand. Each turn, you start by drawing Potions, placing one in the Potion Orders so that you can complete it for Gold, and placing one in the Potion Store so that you have the option to buy it to add to a Cauldron (to help complete a Potion in your Potion Orders) OR use its power. Either way, you have to spend Gold. Since Gold is your points, this is a pretty big penalty. However, they are much more powerful.

Does that make sense?

Edit: I've streamlined the rules for Valued Customers enough that I might consider using that space for flavor text. We'll see...
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Re: [WIP] Potion Apprentice [2018 Solitaire PnP Contest, Idea Phase]
Looks interesting!

I did find the font on the "valued customers" cards was harder to read than the other fonts used. Just an insight.

Good luck!
 
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Re: [WIP] Potion Apprentice [2018 Solitaire PnP Contest, Idea Phase]
Miller4h9 wrote:
adularia25 wrote:
Mmm... potions. All too often games with awesome potions are multiplayer only, so I approve of this as a solo theme!

I like the "slightly tedious reminder" text, though I'm guessing that will be gone in the final version of the rules...

So, what's the main difference between Tinctures and Potions other than Tinctures require skill to make, and potions give/take gold? Or is that the only difference?

It isn't quite clear - are Tinctures needed to produce Potions? You say both can be added to the Cauldron, so I guess I'm a little unclear as to why you need two terms for what seems like something so similar in game...


Tinctures and Potions come in different decks. Tincture cards are in your hand, and they take a skill check to add to a Cauldron (no check for the Power). They can be hard to add, and sometimes you’ll have to discard extra cards. Now, Potions have their own deck, and they’re never in your hand. Each turn, you start by drawing Potions, placing one in the Potion Orders so that you can complete it for Gold, and placing one in the Potion Store so that you have the option to buy it to add to a Cauldron (to help complete a Potion in your Potion Orders) OR use its power. Either way, you have to spend Gold. Since Gold is your points, this is a pretty big penalty. However, they are much more powerful.

Does that make sense?

Edit: I've streamlined the rules for Valued Customers enough that I might consider using that space for flavor text. We'll see...

Yes, that makes sense.

Tinctures are drawn into your hand, take skill checks to use, and can only be added to the Cauldron. Potions are placed on Orders and cost mad amounts of gold no matter how they are used.
 
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Re: [WIP] Potion Apprentice [2018 Solitaire PnP Contest, Idea Phase]
Miller4h9 wrote:
Thanks, Martin!

Let me throw out another design problem I'm working with: Recurring Powers.

The game has 5 recurring powers, each of which are located on Cost 5 Potions. These Potions can also be added to a Cauldron for 2 Gold instead of 5. So, when choosing to buy a Recurring Power, you have to choose between:

A cheap way of getting lots of ingredients
A Potion Order that can get you lots of Gold
An expensive Recurring Power

What this ends up meaning is that in order to get the most Gold possible, you probably need to forgo Recurring Powers mostly. In other words, the best way to make money is to be boring.

Now, originally I had the Recurring Powers on the Cost 2 Potions, but then I would end up ALWAYS placing the Cost 2 Potions in the Store, and it was almost a given to just buy any Recurring Power that came up. On the one hand, Recurring Powers were encouraged, but on the other hand, it decreased the decisions in the game.

Another option to toy with is to put the Recurring Powers on Tinctures instead of Potions. Maybe cost 4 Potions with 2 of one Ingredient and 2 ?s. These would be more efficient to add to the Cauldron than any other Tinctures, but you'd be playing it at the cost of getting a sweet power for the rest of the game.

So, the options are:

d10-1 Have the Recurring Powers on an expensive Potion
d10-2 Have the Recurring Powers on cheap Potions
d10-3 Have the Recurring Powers on really good and cheap Tinctures
d10-4 Have the Recurring Powers on really good and fairly priced Tinctures (I mean, maybe I should throw that out)

Any thoughts?


Sorry. I have gone cross-eyed. My brain cannot accept this abstract data.

I would need to construct and play your game to wrap my head around these concepts, to be able to have some useful feedback. I will try to do so tonight!
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Re: [WIP] Potion Apprentice [2018 Solitaire PnP Contest, Idea Phase]
DrHenryArmitage wrote:
Miller4h9 wrote:
Thanks, Martin!

Let me throw out another design problem I'm working with: Recurring Powers.

The game has 5 recurring powers, each of which are located on Cost 5 Potions. These Potions can also be added to a Cauldron for 2 Gold instead of 5. So, when choosing to buy a Recurring Power, you have to choose between:

A cheap way of getting lots of ingredients
A Potion Order that can get you lots of Gold
An expensive Recurring Power

What this ends up meaning is that in order to get the most Gold possible, you probably need to forgo Recurring Powers mostly. In other words, the best way to make money is to be boring.

Now, originally I had the Recurring Powers on the Cost 2 Potions, but then I would end up ALWAYS placing the Cost 2 Potions in the Store, and it was almost a given to just buy any Recurring Power that came up. On the one hand, Recurring Powers were encouraged, but on the other hand, it decreased the decisions in the game.

Another option to toy with is to put the Recurring Powers on Tinctures instead of Potions. Maybe cost 4 Potions with 2 of one Ingredient and 2 ?s. These would be more efficient to add to the Cauldron than any other Tinctures, but you'd be playing it at the cost of getting a sweet power for the rest of the game.

So, the options are:

d10-1 Have the Recurring Powers on an expensive Potion
d10-2 Have the Recurring Powers on cheap Potions
d10-3 Have the Recurring Powers on really good and cheap Tinctures
d10-4 Have the Recurring Powers on really good and fairly priced Tinctures (I mean, maybe I should throw that out)

Any thoughts?


Sorry. I have gone cross-eyed. My brain cannot accept this abstract data.

I would need to construct and play your game to wrap my head around these concepts, to be able to have some useful feedback. I will try to do so tonight!


That would be cool! Just note, I’m currently implementing idea 3, and the cards are at the very end.

Also, I’m away from home for the next 4 days, so I won’t be able to make modifications or test it myself for a little while.
 
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Re: [WIP] Potion Apprentice [2018 Solitaire PnP Contest, Idea Phase]
adularia25 wrote:
Miller4h9 wrote:
adularia25 wrote:
Mmm... potions. All too often games with awesome potions are multiplayer only, so I approve of this as a solo theme!

I like the "slightly tedious reminder" text, though I'm guessing that will be gone in the final version of the rules...

So, what's the main difference between Tinctures and Potions other than Tinctures require skill to make, and potions give/take gold? Or is that the only difference?

It isn't quite clear - are Tinctures needed to produce Potions? You say both can be added to the Cauldron, so I guess I'm a little unclear as to why you need two terms for what seems like something so similar in game...


Tinctures and Potions come in different decks. Tincture cards are in your hand, and they take a skill check to add to a Cauldron (no check for the Power). They can be hard to add, and sometimes you’ll have to discard extra cards. Now, Potions have their own deck, and they’re never in your hand. Each turn, you start by drawing Potions, placing one in the Potion Orders so that you can complete it for Gold, and placing one in the Potion Store so that you have the option to buy it to add to a Cauldron (to help complete a Potion in your Potion Orders) OR use its power. Either way, you have to spend Gold. Since Gold is your points, this is a pretty big penalty. However, they are much more powerful.

Does that make sense?

Edit: I've streamlined the rules for Valued Customers enough that I might consider using that space for flavor text. We'll see...

Yes, that makes sense.

Tinctures are drawn into your hand, take skill checks to use, and can only be added to the Cauldron. Potions are placed on Orders and cost mad amounts of gold no matter how they are used.


It's funny how an idea that makes perfect sense in your head is really hard to explain! A few clarifications:

d10-1 "Adding to the Cauldron" (notably A Cauldron- you can have any number of Cauldrons at any time) is how you complete Orders; therefore, you will be placing some Potions into Cauldrons.

d10-2 Each Tincture has a power that it can be used for as well (without a Skill check).

d10-3 I think this is the part that should make more sense when playing, but Potion cards will take 2 very distinct roles throughout the game. Some of the Potions will be placed IN your Potion Orders, meaning that you will be trying to put cards into Cauldrons in order to meet the requirements listed in the ingredients of the Potion to gain Gold. The other Potions will be placed in the Potion Store, which you can kind of think of as an extension of your hand. By paying Gold, you can either add it to a Cauldron (which is good, since they generally have a lot of Ingredients on them) or use a cool power (which I generally tried to make powerful enough to be worth the price of admission).

On other words, some Potions will be like "Objectives" for you to complete, while some of them will be used to help you complete those Objectives. And you get to choose which are which!
 
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Re: [WIP] Potion Apprentice [2018 Solitaire PnP Contest, Idea Phase]
Miller4h9 wrote:
adularia25 wrote:
Yes, that makes sense.

Tinctures are drawn into your hand, take skill checks to use, and can only be added to the Cauldron. Potions are placed on Orders and cost mad amounts of gold no matter how they are used.


It's funny how an idea that makes perfect sense in your head is really hard to explain! A few clarifications:

d10-1 "Adding to the Cauldron" (notably A Cauldron- you can have any number of Cauldrons at any time) is how you complete Orders; therefore, you will be placing some Potions into Cauldrons.

d10-2 Each Tincture has a power that it can be used for as well (without a Skill check).

d10-3 I think this is the part that should make more sense when playing, but Potion cards will take 2 very distinct roles throughout the game. Some of the Potions will be placed IN your Potion Orders, meaning that you will be trying to put cards into Cauldrons in order to meet the requirements listed in the ingredients of the Potion to gain Gold. The other Potions will be placed in the Potion Store, which you can kind of think of as an extension of your hand. By paying Gold, you can either add it to a Cauldron (which is good, since they generally have a lot of Ingredients on them) or use a cool power (which I generally tried to make powerful enough to be worth the price of admission).

On other words, some Potions will be like "Objectives" for you to complete, while some of them will be used to help you complete those Objectives. And you get to choose which are which!

Just so you know, I was only noting the major differences in my summary - not the minutia of your rules.

So I didn't mention that Potions can go in cauldrons because they don't ONLY go into a cauldron, unlike Tinctures.

What I'm trying to do is distilling down the core of what makes the two cards different. So I don't need to know everything that they CAN do. I just need to know what is unique to each card type versus the other card.
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Re: [WIP] Potion Apprentice [2018 Solitaire PnP Contest, Idea Phase]
adularia25 wrote:
Miller4h9 wrote:
adularia25 wrote:
Yes, that makes sense.

Tinctures are drawn into your hand, take skill checks to use, and can only be added to the Cauldron. Potions are placed on Orders and cost mad amounts of gold no matter how they are used.


It's funny how an idea that makes perfect sense in your head is really hard to explain! A few clarifications:

d10-1 "Adding to the Cauldron" (notably A Cauldron- you can have any number of Cauldrons at any time) is how you complete Orders; therefore, you will be placing some Potions into Cauldrons.

d10-2 Each Tincture has a power that it can be used for as well (without a Skill check).

d10-3 I think this is the part that should make more sense when playing, but Potion cards will take 2 very distinct roles throughout the game. Some of the Potions will be placed IN your Potion Orders, meaning that you will be trying to put cards into Cauldrons in order to meet the requirements listed in the ingredients of the Potion to gain Gold. The other Potions will be placed in the Potion Store, which you can kind of think of as an extension of your hand. By paying Gold, you can either add it to a Cauldron (which is good, since they generally have a lot of Ingredients on them) or use a cool power (which I generally tried to make powerful enough to be worth the price of admission).

On other words, some Potions will be like "Objectives" for you to complete, while some of them will be used to help you complete those Objectives. And you get to choose which are which!

Just so you know, I was only noting the major differences in my summary - not the minutia of your rules.

So I didn't mention that Potions can go in cauldrons because they don't ONLY go into a cauldron, unlike Tinctures.

What I'm trying to do is distilling down the core of what makes the two cards different. So I don't need to know everything that they CAN do. I just need to know what is unique to each card type versus the other card.


I think I get what you're saying. What scared me was when you mentioned placing Potions "on" Orders as opposed to "in" orders. But it seems like you probably get what the rules are saying.
 
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Re: [WIP] Potion Apprentice [2018 Solitaire PnP Contest, Idea Phase]
That's fair.
 
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Re: [WIP] Potion Apprentice [2018 Solitaire PnP Contest, Idea Phase]
Ugh. I'm having a difficult time motivating myself to develop this game. I think it needs at least one fundamental change to make it exciting for me again. Either that, or I may focus my efforts elsewhere...
 
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Re: [WIP] Potion Apprentice [2018 Solitaire PnP Contest, Idea Phase]
Miller4h9 wrote:
Ugh. I'm having a difficult time motivating myself to develop this game. I think it needs at least one fundamental change to make it exciting for me again. Either that, or I may focus my efforts elsewhere...

Do you know what you don't like or what's keeping it from being exciting to you?
 
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Re: [WIP] Potion Apprentice [2018 Solitaire PnP Contest, Idea Phase]
lovemyfire wrote:
Miller4h9 wrote:
Ugh. I'm having a difficult time motivating myself to develop this game. I think it needs at least one fundamental change to make it exciting for me again. Either that, or I may focus my efforts elsewhere...

Do you know what you don't like or what's keeping it from being exciting to you?


I'd say variety, length, and the arc of the game just aren't where they need to be.

Variety- Every game is "different," but you're always seeing the same cards every game (just different order). Even the cards that are different still seem generally the same.

Length- The game started at 60 minutes, which is too long. But when I tried to shorten it, it threw of the balance and made the game feel incomplete.

Arc- You don't get strictly more powerful as the game goes on. There has been some more "tension" at the end, but that's mostly due to depleting cards in the deck.

There are all sorts of interesting choices, but I think the structure around these choices would need more development. Which is where it needs something "big."
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Re: [WIP] Potion Apprentice [2018 Solitaire PnP Contest, Idea Phase]
Miller4h9 wrote:
I'd say variety, length, and the arc of the game just aren't where they need to be.

Variety- Every game is "different," but you're always seeing the same cards every game (just different order). Even the cards that are different still seem generally the same.

Length- The game started at 60 minutes, which is too long. But when I tried to shorten it, it threw of the balance and made the game feel incomplete.

Arc- You don't get strictly more powerful as the game goes on. There has been some more "tension" at the end, but that's mostly due to depleting cards in the deck.

There are all sorts of interesting choices, but I think the structure around these choices would need more development. Which is where it needs something "big."

Sounds interesting, but I have no idea how to help with any of that other than to give encouragement to keep working on it if you can and if not, move on to something else that motivates you.
 
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Alright, I'm officially withdrawing Potion Apprentice from the contest. I thought that the prospect of the contest would encourage me to finish the game, but I think it has more to fix than I initially realized.

For those who showed interest, thank you, and I apologize that I won't be finishing this design.

I have another design brewing, and a couple initial playtests are promising. However, I don't want to withdraw an entry, hastily replace it with a new idea, and then end up withdrawing that one as well. So stay tuned

In the meantime, why not check out [WIP] VerboCity- a roll and write Word Game (2018 Solitaire PnP Contest, Contest Ready)? (Aside from the fact that it's a 40-60 minute roll and write word game...) Or go ahead and give some other designs some love. [WIP] Write Bros. [2018 Solitaire Design Contest - Contest Ready] is VerboCity's slightly older and faster evil twin, while The Thrifty Collector [WIP - 2018 Solitaire PnP Contest - CONTEST READY] is a really cool solitaire trading game.
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Sad to see it go, but I totally understand. Good luck with your other ideas!

Oh and thanks for the shout-out!
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