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Subject: Bower - 2019 2 Player Design Contest Submission rss

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Josh Huf
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Bower, submitted to the 2019 2 Player Design Contest.


Summary: Bower is a (strictly) 2 player game, revolving around a simple pickup-and-deliver mechanic. Engine building, push-your-luck private objectives and spatial strategy wrap it all together.

Players are Bowerbirds (specifically Great Bowerbirds, endemic to Australia), attempting to collect the most tokens from the forest floor to increase the visual appeal of their nest (bower). Boost your available actions each round by collecting Crests, which get increasingly more powerful (and potentially score increasingly more points) the later you collect them. However, delaying on collecting these Crests will give your opponent a chance to pick them up instead.

Game Setup:


Number of Players: 2
Game Time: 30 Minutes (allow +15 minutes for new players)
Ages: 12+

Current phase: All (draft stage) PNP assets uploaded, ready for playtesters. Adding finalised art assets. Play testing for balance issues in Crest sequencing, first player advantage, dominant strategy, etc.

Categories: I'd like the game to be strongly considered for:
- Best use of Theme
- Best Art/Graphic Design
- Best Mechanics
- Best Date Night Game
- Best Gateway Game

Assets:
Printer Friendly PNP Assets
Full Colour PNP Assets
Rule Book
Vertical Pedestal for Game Tiles


Credits:
Just me (ablehat/Josh Huf) so far! I appreciate your interest and feedback.

Edits:
Added Printer Friendly PNP assets
Added Pedestal PDF
Added new photo of the game in progress
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Nate K
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Cool theme!
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Josh Huf
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Thanks Nate! They're an interesting bird, it's easy to draw inspiration from them. In fact, I did a little (due diligence) research before posting and noticed a few other games using Bowerbirds in previous contests. At least they get a little love from time to time!
 
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Kai Bettzieche
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Pick up and deliver with birds.
Interesting..

Nonsensical fact:
In German, the Bower is called "Laubenvogel"
Laube = Bower
Vogel = Bird

Now, if I were to publish this game, I would call it "Unter der Laube" (under the bower) which is a wordplay on "Unter der Haube" (under the hood), a saying we use to describe someone who has gotten married or has found a mate.
Which is the whole point of the Bowers' activities in your game..

Ok, probably I'm not making any sense at all..


Kind regards,
Kai
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Josh Huf
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Not at all Kai, that makes perfect sense! What a brilliant turn of phrase.
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Arif Nezih Savi

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This game makes me wanna get more dice so that I can playtest it modest
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Josh Huf
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ibiliss wrote:
This game makes me wanna get more dice so that I can playtest it modest
Thanks for your interest Arif! The dice are only used for keeping score as you play - you can use pencil and paper instead if it's easier.

General note: Printer friendly assets have been posted (at least, more printer friendly than the full colour).
 
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Josh Huf
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A Note on Randomness

Like many of us here, I do not like being subject to random chance. Nor do I like subjecting my players. However, I like the idea - randomising certain elements of the game can create tension, happy surprises, and can facilitate a lot of replayability.
I am happy with game that shows its randomness and gives each player a chance to compensate, or overcome, the random outcome.

In the case of Bower, there are a lot of mechanics that use randomness. The Crests, being mixed and dealt into the grid at the start of the game. The Seed cards, shuffled. The Forest tiles, dealt onto the table. Even the random draw of the Plume Cards.

The Crests, I feel, sit in the “good” side of randomness. Both players are on an even field, they can see the distribution, and have the entire game to plan and strategise which order they collect the upgrades.

I fear the Seed Cards currently sit in the “bad” side of random. Each turn, the game decides where tokens spawn, and the players have no way to manipulate this (unless they have a Crest that allows them to move things around after they’ve spawned in the forest).

The Plume Cards sit somewhere in the middle. While the players have the entire game to try and fulfil the private objectives, they were left out of the decision. They weren’t given a choice.

Some of these issues have easy fixes, others may take some time to resolve. The Plume cards might be as easy as "each player draws 2, picks 1 to keep". As for the seed cards ... In an earlier version, at the end of their turn the player would flip the seed card and decide the orientation - so they could influence how the tokens spawned, but it was then their opponents turn. I might have to return to this idea, to give the players more agency. Thanks for reading!
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Kai Bettzieche
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A Note on Nature

Nature is random.
Nature is cruel.
If you are at the wrong time at the wrong place, nature can and will ruin your day without mercy.

In a game about nature, there is no "bad" side of random.

It's as simple as that.



Kind regards,
Kai
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Josh Huf
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schattentanz wrote:
A Note on Nature
In a game about nature, there is no "bad" side of random.
Thanks Kai, I appreciate the encouragement to embrace the chaos! I'll still attempt to minimise the mechanics of the game I'd consider unfair (I want my players to feel their skill is carrying them to victory or defeat, not random chance). But it's good to know how the theme of the game influences peoples expectations. Important things to consider.
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Arif Nezih Savi

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ablehat wrote:
ibiliss wrote:
This game makes me wanna get more dice so that I can playtest it modest
Thanks for your interest Arif! The dice are only used for keeping score as you play - you can use pencil and paper instead if it's easier.

General note: Printer friendly assets have been posted (at least, more printer friendly than the full colour).
I'll get on with it as soon as I print 'em out then! cool
 
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Arif Nezih Savi

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ibiliss wrote:


I'll get on with it as soon as I print 'em out then! cool


Just finished cutting out which was fun and relaxing, now ready to try it out!
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Arif Nezih Savi

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ibiliss wrote:
ibiliss wrote:


I'll get on with it as soon as I print 'em out then! cool


Just finished cutting out which was fun and relaxing, now ready to try it out!
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Josh Huf
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Hi Arif,

Good question! The tokens spawn in the centre of the tile, not connected to any specific path. So, taking any path that crosses through that tile will allow your bird to collect the token.

Thanks for trying it out, and sorry for the late reply! Were you able to play around this issue?
 
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Adam Singer
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Looks cool, I like the theme. Reminds me of the episode of Planet Earth! Will try to print this out soon!
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Arif Nezih Savi

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ablehat wrote:
Hi Arif,

Good question! The tokens spawn in the centre of the tile, not connected to any specific path. So, taking any path that crosses through that tile will allow your bird to collect the token.

Thanks for trying it out, and sorry for the late reply! Were you able to play around this issue?
I wanted to wait for your insight to have a full go at the game, didn't want to play wrong at the first time

But I can say, rotating the tiles is a little hard, I think if the middle map of the game had a gear wheelish design that players can rotate, it would be much more fun and complex, I think
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Marianne Waage
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For easier rotating, you could cut a notch out of the edge of each tile. The tiles look single sided from the files, so you could also just put a thick piece of round felt (or chipboard) in the middle of the tile, so when you press on the edge, the other side tips up. You'd want it to be fairly large underneath, so it doesn't unbalance when you put the pieces on top.
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Josh Huf
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ibiliss wrote:
rotating the tiles is a little hard
I know what you mean - I had considered cutting off two corners of each tile, for easier lifting and rotating. I considered a "Vindication" style hex layout, where the corners meet instead of the edges. This allowed uninterrupted tile rotation, but didn't make the play area as intuitive. The rotating gear idea is quite interesting, very mechanical and tactile.


yamaraus wrote:
you could also just put a thick piece of round felt (or chipboard) in the middle of the tile
Oh, that's an elegant solution. I tried it quickly, and I like how it feels to lift the tiles.
... Taking it to the next step, I could make a low stand for the 6 outer tiles, and a slightly higher stand for the 1 inner tile, and shape the playing area into a "mountain", that rises off the table. I might need to try this.

Thanks for the feedback everyone!
 
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Josh Huf
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ablehat wrote:
I could make a low stand for the 6 outer tiles, and a slightly higher stand for the 1 inner tile, and shape the playing area into a "mountain", that rises off the table.
Aaaand done. I kinda like the look!



Quick edit - I like this on a psychological level as well, even though it hasn't changed the gameplay, moving around the board feels more explorative and adventurous than when it was just a flat surface.
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Arif Nezih Savi

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ablehat wrote:
ablehat wrote:
I could make a low stand for the 6 outer tiles, and a slightly higher stand for the 1 inner tile, and shape the playing area into a "mountain", that rises off the table.
Aaaand done. I kinda like the look!



Quick edit - I like this on a psychological level as well, even though it hasn't changed the gameplay, moving around the board feels more explorative and adventurous than when it was just a flat surface.
Now we're talking!! Love it!!!
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Josh Huf
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ibiliss wrote:
Now we're talking!! Love it!!!
Ok, it took me a little while to figure out the best way to construct this, but I've put together a PDF for any play-testers to try out as well.

Game Tile Pedestal!

I highly recommend a reasonably heavy card stock, or glueing the template onto another piece of paper before cutting.
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Josh Huf
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Quick update, new artwork for the Crest Grid.
Visually, the game ends when one of the birds is fully revealed.

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Corry Damey
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Gorgeous! I love the artwork of this game.
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Arif Nezih Savi

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ablehat wrote:
Quick update, new artwork for the Crest Grid.
Visually, the game ends when one of the birds is fully revealed.

Although I'm loving the artwork I can't stop myself imagining frogs jumping from leaf to leaf since you made the pedestal and added dimension to it, which is great! I'm hoping to give this a full spin after the local catan tournament this weekend
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Adam Singer
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Just played this one and gotta say I really enjoyed it! Seems like the type of game anyone could play, a good gateway.

Great job on the print and play, you really inspired me. The "cut black lines" and "Players will need to Provide" was actually really helpful. I'll have to update my PnP to make it easier on you guys ^^

And now for some criticisms!
1 - (Just affects the PnP) The colors seem to matter, its difficult to play when the colors on the seed cards don't match the tokens. Instead of saying "distinct colors" I would just specify the color and leave it to the players to decide how to substitute if they do not have the right colors.
2 - It almost seems like the tiles may be placed randomly but I *think* they are not intended to be. It would be helpful to specify that "the Tiles are not to be placed randomly" somewhere just to clarify. Maybe there is some creative way you could indicate which goes where (a grid on the bottom with its location indicated?). It took me some time to match the image.
3 - Can you rotate a tile if a bird is on it? I think you can since the rules didn't specify this but it might be worth specifying.
4 - For intersecting paths, they seem to go over or under each other like a bridge which makes it look like you cannot go from one path to the other. We played it as if you could however, because I *think* that's what you intended. If I am correct you should really have the paths intersect rather than going over/under each other.
5 - The setup is actually pretty difficult to understand without reading the rest of the rulebook, for example in #7 it says "place tokens" however I had no idea it meant the 3 different tokens (2 player colored trinkets and the plume) until I read the other section. You might want to rethink the order, perhaps have the setup section after the bulk of the game overview


Not much else to complain about, would play again! The theme is spot on and really takes it to the next level. Thanks for the hard work of creating Bower!
Do you plan on publishing? I'd like to stay in the loop if you are
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