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Subject: [WIP] Growing Pains - a 9-card press-your-luck game rss

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Chris Backe
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Growing Pains
Submitted for the 9-card contest 2019: https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/2126346/2019-9-card-game-pr....

Status: CONTEST READY.

Summary
You're an evil scientist trying to grow monsters, which you call 'Pains' because that's what they'll unleash on the world! (If you're anything like my wife, you just groaned. Go on, get it out of your system.) Over the course of 8 rounds, you'll be planting monsters, adding water and compost to help grow them faster, then zapping them with electricity to bring them to life. Be careful, though - explosions and fires in the lab can destroy your specimens, and sometimes these little creatures can escape before they're ready to be evil! After 8 rounds, count up your score and see how well you did.

Basics
* 1 Player only
* 15-20 minutes
* 8 and up

Components
* 9 double-sided poker-sized cards
* 16 six-sided dice (ideally 3 each of red, yellow, green, blue, and purple, 1 black - it's OK if you don't have exact matches - just remember which color is which!)

Help! I don't have 16 dice!
Version 0.0.6 added an additional page of colored hexagons. Glue to cardboard or print on thick paper. Spin these instead of the dice during gameplay.

(To be clear, my official contest entry uses the dice and thus remains at exactly 9 cards - the hexagons are simply a workaround for the purposes of playtesting.)


Download
Rules: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1bOEKDPPv7jNeeQjEqVcQWR2M...
Cards (2 pages, low-ink version, color required): https://www.dropbox.com/s/6e92n9m7491aj8r/Growing%20Pains%20...

I'd like to be entered in the following categories:
Best Overall Game
Best Solitaire Game
Most Innovative Mechanic Category
Best Written Rules
Best Low Ink Game Category

Version information
v0.0.6 (15 February 2019) - added hexagonal spinners strictly for the purpose of playtesting.
v0.0.5 (11 February 2019) - slight re-balanced, ensured cards were unique
v0.0.4 (10 February 2019) - made the penalties for 'explosion' and 'fire' unique / distinct from 'escaped!'.
v0.0.3 (9 February 2019) - clarified instructions
v0.0.2 (8 February 2019) - first public release - fixed typos, added numbers.
v0.0.1 (6 February 2019) - initial version for personal playtesting.


All feedback and comments welcome!

I'd like my game to be assigned volunteers if needed.
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Chris Backe
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Re: [WIP] Growing Pains - a 9-card press-your-luck games
Reserved.
 
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Christopher Melenberg
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This looks fantastic!

Couple quick notes:

Assembly: it says cut out cards and sleeve them as desired but given this is a 9 card contest the backside I believe would have to be the same for all players. Same 9 cards for everyone. After the contest you could change to 18 cards or have players make their own unique cards.

3x3 grid. I thought the cards were going down in a 3x3 grid and dice on top. I think my brain did this because there r 9 cards. You may to be explicit about discarding cards and that the 3x3 is dice not cards. This may also just be from how I read it.

Enjoyed the pun. All smiles no groans here. My wife would have groaned as well.

Hope to try this soon
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Chris Backe
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From the contest rules:
Quote:
Exactly 9 Cards printed on A4/Letter paper. The preferred layout is a 3x3 grid - although other layouts are acceptable. The cards must be standard poker sized (approximately 2.5 inches x 3.5 inches / 63.5mm x 88.9mm) You may use both sides of the cards. The back side of the cards can be used for gaming purposes (i.e. both the front and back of the card are used in game play), a game logo, or be left blank (i.e. The games are not required to have card backs). The cards may serve any game purpose. For example, cards may be used as the game board, playing pieces, random events, etc.
Will clarify the rules - the 3x3 grid is about the dice, and you hold the cards in your hand as you're playing them.
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Christopher Melenberg
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The rules above don't contradict what you're doing but in other discussions I've seen this discussed and I think the idea is that everything can go on a single sheet of paper.

I like the idea of unique cards and setting up how u r describing but u may wish to ask in the main forum. I'd hate to see your game disqualified. It looks fun.

Hoping to give this a go this weekend.
 
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Ry Rice
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I think I may give it a go...open to feedback if I get a chance to play this weekend?
 
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Christopher Melenberg
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Gave the game a quick go. Was fun! Normally I don't like a lot of randomness in games, but this felt like a nice quick one, where you are making enough decisions around placement and when to cheat. Despite going through 9 cards 8 times I felt like it flew by. Probably took 12-15 minutes to play. Easy to follow rules.

I scored 50 points for monsters and 2 additional points for having a pip left on cheat. I suspect that was a fairly lucky playthrough.

Rules Question:
1. If there is an action that I can't take, do I need to cheat? I assumed not that would have felt crappy and would have happened 3-6 times in my playthrough.


Thoughts on potential improvement ideas:
1. You have "fire, explosion, and escaped", which going in I assumed would function differently. I discovered they are all functionally the same. I think there is an opportunity here to make them function differently:

Fire: all monsters in that row lose 1 pip. Leave the card up until the end of the round and that row continues to lose a pip at the end of each turn until you can water the row. Thematically makes more sense too. (This will also make players want to cheat to put out the fire asap)
Escaped: keep the same
Explosion: similar to fire, so you could change this to "Rot" and all dice in that row lose 3 pips immediately as you must prune away the rotted areas.

I was thinking mid game you are very much at the whim of what you are planting. I was surprised that I ended up getting 14 of 15 monsters zapped before the end of the game. I did wonder if having an option between 2 types of monsters would give a touch more control to players and allow them to make another choice in the game. Not sure its needed, just food for thought.

Again fantastic little game!
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Chris Backe
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Thanks so much for your feedback!

Quote:
1. If there is an action that I can't take, do I need to cheat? I assumed not that would have felt crappy and would have happened 3-6 times in my playthrough.
You can if you like - cheating is likely to guarantee you the ability to plant something. You never have to cheat, of course, though the temptation may come to you after a few cards you have to discard... In the story of the game, I picture our evil scientist as being maybe a bit incompetent... like they're getting lost in their own lab, or arrives and forgets what he's doing...

In the interest of having a balance between 'good cards' and 'bad cards' I opted to make the actions the same to start with. I like your suggestions, though, and will playtest them to figure out the best way to add them. Will also test out adding some 'plant' cards that let you add A OR B, along with A AND B...

Zapping: it's very much meant to be a risk-reward sort of decision - do you zap it now, knowing this is one less monster you can plant later on but locking in the points, or do you gamble you can grow it even further before a disaster sweeps it away?
 
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Christopher Melenberg
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entrogames wrote:
Thanks so much for your feedback!

Quote:
1. If there is an action that I can't take, do I need to cheat? I assumed not that would have felt crappy and would have happened 3-6 times in my playthrough.
You can if you like - cheating is likely to guarantee you the ability to plant something. You never have to cheat, of course, though the temptation may come to you after a few cards you have to discard... In the story of the game, I picture our evil scientist as being maybe a bit incompetent... like they're getting lost in their own lab, or arrives and forgets what he's doing...

In the interest of having a balance between 'good cards' and 'bad cards' I opted to make the actions the same to start with. I like your suggestions, though, and will playtest them to figure out the best way to add them. Will also test out adding some 'plant' cards that let you add A OR B, along with A AND B...

Zapping: it's very much meant to be a risk-reward sort of decision - do you zap it now, knowing this is one less monster you can plant later on but locking in the points, or do you gamble you can grow it even further before a disaster sweeps it away?
I just read that I can zap 2 monsters! That would have helped had I known that. Must read more thoroughly... Yes, I like how zapping works and the risk/reward. I found that doing some zaps throughout was necessary to keep the playingfield not too busy so as to lose a ton of monsters in a single go. But zapping a 3 or 2... while it still felt good to lock in the points, I definitely wanted more from my creations!
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Chris Backe
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Quote:
I think I may give it a go...open to feedback if I get a chance to play this weekend?
Absolutely! I just uploaded v0.0.4, which changed a number of cards. If you haven't printed it off yet, do download and enjoy the most recent version (as of this post).
 
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Chris Backe
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Quote:

I just read that I can zap 2 monsters! That would have helped had I known that. Must read more thoroughly...


Yeah, may need to rethink the design there. I assumed two lightning bolts would be clear you could zap two monsters... It's clearer in the rules (hopefully)...

Quote:
I found that doing some zaps throughout was necessary to keep the playingfield not too busy so as to lose a ton of monsters in a single go. But zapping a 3 or 2... while it still felt good to lock in the points, I definitely wanted more from my creations!
In my playtests I've tried to force myself to not zap anything until they reach 3 (in some games) or a 4 (in others). It's definitely been more interesting trying to get them all to 4's (or even 5's, in one game)!
 
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Ry Rice
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haha, I did download and print, but no worries, I printed the newest and tried it out today! Thank goodness for laser printers right? ;-) (It's monochrome so wrote color next to monsters)

I'll share my experience up to this point, but take it with a grain of salt. It became obvious to me that I was making the wrong connection somewhere with the gameplay and my understanding of the rules. I will have to reread the instructions and give it another try later.

I found the assembly to be helpful, reiterating the position using letters on the card. I also liked how the story set an expectation for gameplay (i.e. there are 8 rounds and a process to planting and nurturing your monsters).

I was instantly intrigued by the cheats concept but would have preferred more detail the moment it was introduced and mentioned.

I was unsure about the shuffling and which side of the card should be facing up to start (if relevant). I also assumed that "flip the deck around" did not mean turn over the card to face the opposite side, but rotate the card (180 degrees so C is on top).

After that, I doubted I truly understood the instructions and even the relationship between the components on the card, the positioning of the card, and scoring. I didn't feel confident I was playing the game correctly. The card design (though appealing) leads me to believe there’s a correlation between their position and the scoring.

I love the fun concept and I know that once I understand the instructions better, the real fun can begin! So, with all that being said (hopefully something of value to you) I would have liked to see more illustrations and examples how I play cards and what impact it would have on the gameplay and scoring. For me, I felt I may be assuming how the cards were influenced play and couldn’t accurately gauge how well I did.
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Chris Backe
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Quote:
I was instantly intrigued by the cheats concept but would have preferred more detail the moment it was introduced and mentioned.
I've clarified this slightly in the rules - since they're in Google Docs, give it a quick look to see if that helps.

Quote:
I was unsure about the shuffling and which side of the card should be facing up to start (if relevant).
The 'A' side should be face-up to start... but it doesn't matter *which* 'A' side it is. Once assembled, there is no 'front' or 'back'. This is intentional, mainly to add a bit more randomness.

Quote:
I also assumed that "flip the deck around" did not mean turn over the card to face the opposite side, but rotate the card (180 degrees so C is on top).
It's supposed to mean 'to face the opposite side' - whatever side you see when you shuffle, make that be the 'back' side that's not in play this round. The idea here is to avoid seeing what's coming (even accidentally) while shuffling.

Quote:
The card design (though appealing) leads me to believe there’s a correlation between their position and the scoring.
No correlation there - wherever they are in the garden, they'll score more points as the growth, but only if they're zapped to life! The main rule about position is that you can't place one monster adjacent to a monster of the same color.

I've added a short example to the rules - see if this helps you =)
 
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Ry Rice
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Helps tons and I can't wait to give it another go. There were so many times I said, okay, got it, then something happened to make me second guess lol. For example, I was sure you simply meant flip over deck...logically so the next card is a surprise so to speak (as you've stated), but then earlier in the instructions you used other terms to signal that action. You'll also have to forgive me, I'm an instructional designer lmbo, think I read to literally for starters :-)
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Charles Ward
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I'm printing this today. 16 dice... I need more dice.
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Christopher Melenberg
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Took a quick peak at the rules - I like that you've made Escaped, Fire, and Explosion all functionally different.

One question: Explosion says that all monsters lose 2 growth, but none are eliminated. Does that mean that if a monster at 1 or 2 would simply be reduced to 1 and stay?
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Chris Backe
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TopherMel wrote:
One question: Explosion says that all monsters lose 2 growth, but none are eliminated. Does that mean that if a monster at 1 or 2 would simply be reduced to 1 and stay?
That's correct - essentially, the Explosion has been nerfed a bit. All monsters stay in your grid, but they all take some damage unless they're already at 1.
 
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ex1st wrote:
I'm printing this today. 16 dice... I need more dice.
Have fun! The newest version of the print-and-play has hex spinners you can print and use instead of the dice (I know 16 dice in 6 different colors can be a problem!). Let me know if you use them =)
 
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Michelle Skevington-Carter
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Hi Chris,
I've printed the cards and matched them up, but it would've been easier for me if they were aligned for duplex printing.

I've also read the rules and think I get most of them. I needed the clarification in your reply above about flipping cards during shuffling meaning turning them over rather than rotating them. I presume the top action is the one in the 'north' section of the card and for the second round the cards will be in landscape orientation.
Also, does adjacency include the diagonals? So, whatever colour the centre monster is you can't grow another of that colour until you've zapped it to life? The rules imply this to be the case I think, but I'm not certain.
Look forward to playing - I even have enough dice (although need to use white instead of yellow!)
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cattarn wrote:
Hi Chris,
I've printed the cards and matched them up, but it would've been easier for me if they were aligned for duplex printing.
I'll see what I can do for the next version =)

cattarn wrote:
I've also read the rules and think I get most of them. I needed the clarification in your reply above about flipping cards during shuffling meaning turning them over rather than rotating them. I presume the top action is the one in the 'north' section of the card and for the second round the cards will be in landscape orientation.
That's correct - ideally, the cards are all oriented the same way at all times, but if it's round 1 or 5, you're always playing the 'A' sides unless you use a cheat. If it's round 2 or 6, you're always playing the 'B' sides unless you use a cheat, and so on.

cattarn wrote:
Also, does adjacency include the diagonals? So, whatever colour the centre monster is you can't grow another of that colour until you've zapped it to life? The rules imply this to be the case I think, but I'm not certain.
The same color may be played on the diagonals, and you may have all three of the same color in your garden at the same time. If you only have, say, a green monster in the center of your garden and you get a 'plant' card with another green monster on it, you'd have to pass or cheat.

cattarn wrote:
Look forward to playing - I even have enough dice (although need to use white instead of yellow!)
Great questions and all feedback appreciated!
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Christopher Melenberg
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entrogames wrote:
TopherMel wrote:
One question: Explosion says that all monsters lose 2 growth, but none are eliminated. Does that mean that if a monster at 1 or 2 would simply be reduced to 1 and stay?
That's correct - essentially, the Explosion has been nerfed a bit. All monsters stay in your grid, but they all take some damage unless they're already at 1.
In that case I'd recommend in the rules stating that monsters cannot be reduced below 1 for increased clarity.
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Chris Backe
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TopherMel wrote:
entrogames wrote:
TopherMel wrote:
One question: Explosion says that all monsters lose 2 growth, but none are eliminated. Does that mean that if a monster at 1 or 2 would simply be reduced to 1 and stay?
That's correct - essentially, the Explosion has been nerfed a bit. All monsters stay in your grid, but they all take some damage unless they're already at 1.
In that case I'd recommend in the rules stating that monsters cannot be reduced below 1 for increased clarity.
Good call.... and done =)
 
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Scott Allen Czysz
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Hi Chris,
I gave your game a few tries tonight. Fun little game.

I tried the first game without using any cheats. That wasn't a good idea.

A couple first impressions:
1) As others have mentioned, it would be nice if page 1 and page 2 cards were arranged so they could be duplex printed.

2) I'd add page numbers to the instructions.

3) The black borders on the cards are an ink suck. They don't add anything to the game play, so I'd get rid of them.

All 3 of these things are minor, but would just make it easier for playtesters.


I didn't have all the right color dice, so I had to improvise a bit.



Mid game:



End of game 1:


40 + 3 = 43

Second game was worse, 25.


I like:
> fun theme
> straightforward rules, everything was clear
> lots packed into 9 cards by using both sides and having 4 actions per card
> nice mechanism of playing through the deck, shuffling, rotating 90 degrees, repeat

Wasn't nuts about:
> punishing negative effects (can be avoided by using a cheat, but with lots of opportunities for bad stuff and only 6 cheats, it's tough).
> in the instructions, I'd put the "About the Cards" section ahead of the Example of Play".


Nice game, but either I need to get better at it, or I'd prefer if it was a bit less punishing.

It would be interesting to see what others are scoring.
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Chris Backe
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All great points - thanks so much for having a look!
 
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Michelle Skevington-Carter
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Hi, I've tried the game out today scoring 32 in my opening game; I used no cheats and then realised I'd forgotten all about the no planting monsters of the same colour adjacent to each other rule and did notice in my last few rounds that some of my cards had been turned when I flipped them so I had mixed letters at the top (this had probably occurred throughout the game and unbalanced it). So actually my play was totally wrong and the score is irrelevant! I know what to look out for in my next play.

A question about cheats: by 'another action' do you mean a second action in addition to the top one or a different action instead if the top one? I think from reading the comments in the thread you intend it as a way to avoid the top action, but that's not how I read 'another'.

I'll try again once I have clarification and hopefully will manage a valid game!
 
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