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Subject: HUNT - Design Diary #4 “Difficulty” rss

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Greg Mahler
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One of the things that I learned from launching Tournament Fishing is that difficulty is a hard thing to balance in order to keep the game challenging but at the same time not feel like you don't have a chance or that it is unfair.

Being that the AI scoring in TF is entirely random except for the couple Fish that you get to choose for it (provided you knew where small ones were), you almost have to let the AI cheat because it has no agency. But to make it interesting is the key. I think the Realistic AI variant was interesting even if I do not personally use it. So I added this into the rules for HUNT from the start as an option to lower the difficulty.

Another thing that I saw and learned is that some people don't want to play with the Memory Element. While I think this is the one big thing that makes the game different and challenging, I keep "fighting" for players to keep it in even though I understand the desire not to.

As such, this time around, I have put in a lot of stuff in the cards that sort of let you do this, without having to make a variant. For example:




Not only that, there are a lot more cards that provide Scanning capabilities and the overall strength of cards is higher.

Another thing though is that in HUNT, the colors are not random like they are in TF. As you play the game more, you will begin to see that Purple only needs a power of 1-3 (Same with black). Yellow can only range from 4-6. Green from 5-8, and Red from 8+.

So you don't need near as much memory in the game. Instead you can focus more on generating the power you need for the bullets you have in your hand as well as holding back cards to counter the Evasion cards.

You also have more power and control over getting the correct colors than you did in TF. This is because of the Spent Ammo Pile (like the Bait Bucket in TF). You may buy the right color you need to insure you have it in your next hand.

Since your starting deck comes with 5 Ammo cards, making a strategy to thin your deck works very well too and you can create an engine that gobbles up points (and is fun!).

As such, the difficulty of HUNT is lower than TF. In my playtesting, I am around 60%. I'd like to get it closer to 50%, which I think is the sweetspot and so I am adjusting things here and there to make up for it.

One of the things I did recently was restructure the points for the animals from 1-10 and even out the distribution of the Terrain types. This will make it harder to memorize what animals are where (formerly I was able to predict what would be places with decent accuracy, based on what was gone from that Terrain deck) and also give AI Gary a more consistent score.

There are a lot of variables that go into a game's difficulty. Thankfully this time around, I am only having to worry about one player instead of differing player counts and I also have the experience of TF in my backpack.



Still, it is challenging to get it right but I am bound and determined!
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Really interesting stuff. It's not easy designing a game.

I enjoy the default difficulty of Tournament Fishing and I always use the memory element. Last game I played I was going to try your new "AI goes last" variant but instead just played "normal" and enjoyed it as always.

Keep up the great work! TF:TDG is one of my very favorite solo games.
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James
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I like that you are adding in elements to help with the memory mitigation. Maybe I will try it in Hunt with memory enabled, but I always play with the memory variant in TF. I generally despise memory elements in games because it completely takes me OUT of the game in a way that I do not enjoy. I would rather focus on playing the game, building my deck, using strategy, than constantly worrying about if I am going to forget what the card is that I already saw (which is a near 100% thing for me). I don't have good memory. If I see a game that uses memory mechanics too much, I pass on it and don't even give it another look most of the time. If I can adjust the game without breaking it to NOT use memory, I will. Every time. It is nothing against your game or implementation of it, I just feel this way for ALL games. I do the exact same thing in Wizard's Academy. I love that game, but I NEVER use memory. It's too punishing for me personally.
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Greg Mahler
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Xabbusan wrote:
I like that you are adding in elements to help with the memory mitigation. Maybe I will try it in Hunt with memory enabled, but I always play with the memory variant in TF. I generally despise memory elements in games because it completely takes me OUT of the game in a way that I do not enjoy. I would rather focus on playing the game, building my deck, using strategy, than constantly worrying about if I am going to forget what the card is that I already saw (which is a near 100% thing for me). I don't have good memory. If I see a game that uses memory mechanics too much, I pass on it and don't even give it another look most of the time. If I can adjust the game without breaking it to NOT use memory, I will. Every time. It is nothing against your game or implementation of it, I just feel this way for ALL games. I do the exact same thing in Wizard's Academy. I love that game, but I NEVER use memory. It's too punishing for me personally.


I agree on Wizard's Academy. I love memory games, but that mechanism bothered me in that game because I don't remember names/words very well. Colors and numbers (or pictures, yes). I totally understand in some cases.

I will leave it open as to if one wants to use it on HUNT, but I don't believe it will be as crucial compared to TF.
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I think the memory mechanism works fantastically with TF because you can't actually see into the water...you can you fish finders, maybe on really clear days you might see a fish or two swimming, but by and large you don't really know what you'll pull up though you might have an idea. My 2 cents.

And for sure my memory is not the best. I'm a metal head from the 80s and I put my braincase through the ringer. haha
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James
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zanti_misfit wrote:
I think the memory mechanism works fantastically with TF because you can't actually see into the water...you can you fish finders, maybe on really clear days you might see a fish or two swimming, but by and large you don't really know what you'll pull up though you might have an idea. My 2 cents.

And for sure my memory is not the best. I'm a metal head from the 80s and I put my braincase through the ringer. haha


Oh I totally and completely agree that it is thematic to the game. But I still don't like it yuk lol. It just makes it too arbitrarily hard for me personally. I think I would literally never win once if I used memory mechanics. I'm that bad. My friends yell at me all the time for forgetting things lol I don't need my games to make me feel bad about it too.
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Xabbusan wrote:
zanti_misfit wrote:
I think the memory mechanism works fantastically with TF because you can't actually see into the water...you can you fish finders, maybe on really clear days you might see a fish or two swimming, but by and large you don't really know what you'll pull up though you might have an idea. My 2 cents.

And for sure my memory is not the best. I'm a metal head from the 80s and I put my braincase through the ringer. haha


Oh I totally and completely agree that it is thematic to the game. But I still don't like it yuk lol. It just makes it too arbitrarily hard for me personally. I think I would literally never win once if I used memory mechanics. I'm that bad. My friends yell at me all the time for forgetting things lol I don't need my games to make me feel bad about it too.


I hear ya. And there is certainly no shame in using the non memory variant, I feel your pain. Personally I'm hoping the memory aspects of this game will help work out my brain a bit, sorta kickstart those ol' memory circuits back into action. meeple
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Greg Mahler
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zanti_misfit wrote:
Really interesting stuff. It's not easy designing a game.

I enjoy the default difficulty of Tournament Fishing and I always use the memory element. Last game I played I was going to try your new "AI goes last" variant but instead just played "normal" and enjoyed it as always.

Keep up the great work! TF:TDG is one of my very favorite solo games.


Thank you!

Yeah the AI going second is optional and in some ways lowers the tension slightly. In HUNT, I have been test with the variant and I like it. However I will test the other way too before determining a final decision on which to put in the game.

I do like how that you skip one clock/daily effect each game and how you get to go last as sort of a final “hu-rah”.

But management-wise and flow-wise I like the AI going second so far.

We’ll see.
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Greg Mahler
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HUNT: The Deckbuilding Game now has a BGG page!

I ended up going with AI Gary going first for 2 reasons.

1.) I like how one random Daily Effect is not used each game, which slightly adds to the replay-ability of the game.

2.) Having Gary go first, for some reason that I cannot quite explain, makes the game feel more "tense". Maybe it's a psychological thing where you see Gary getting points and that makes you feel behind and more urgent? I am not sure, but I like how this feels more than having Gary go last where it felt more like a "procedure" than an opponent (again for reasons that I cannot quite explain).

I just ordered 2 copies of the game as well as the first 18 card expansion... It adds 8 more Terrain cards to the game, 2 of each type and 10 more unique Hunt Shop cards bringing the total to 39 (which is exactly how many unique Baitshop cards that Tournament Fishing has with all the expansions).
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Jimmy Pattaya
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I agree 100% with letting AI Gary go first. I'm happy you didn't change it.

The expansion sounds fantastic and will save on shipping charges if we are able to bundle everything together. The shipping cost to Canada is already quite expensive.
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Will TF: Solo Edition be available earlier or at the same time as HUNT?
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Greg Mahler
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Nathan1974 wrote:
Will TF: Solo Edition be available earlier or at the same time as HUNT?


Probably earlier because I plan to wait for HUNT to be reviewed and then do a crowd sale like I did for TF. But I also want to keep testing and polishing HUNT before I am fully committed to releasing it as well. There may be a few unforeseen things come up that I need to address in the rulebook or text on the cards that I need to alter to make better sense.

Here is a link to the fairly-final rules, with Jimmy's suggestions added in as well as all the cards.

Let me know what you think.
 
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On page 7 with the AI Gary example where it says “take into”, should it be “take and put into”?

Rules and PnP looks great so far.
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What is TF: Solo Edition?
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Greg Mahler
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zanti_misfit wrote:
What is TF: Solo Edition?


Tournament Fishing: Solo Only Edition is where I announced it.
 
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Rereading the rules a second time, page 7 is fine with me.
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Jimmy Pattaya
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I just finished re-reading everything word-for-word that you submitted today.

The rules now are very smooth and there are no awkward sentence constructions or spelling errors. A few of the verbs are singular whereas the corresponding nouns are plural (or vice versa) but I'm okay with that because of your conversational approach. And the hyphenations do not bother me also.

I notice that you ignored my comments concerning "AI Gary's Turn" on page 7 --- although you did add the portion about Event cards having a value of 0 for Gary. Either you didn't have the space in order to rework the text or you felt everything was already clearly presented and/or easy to understand in that particular section. No problem. I accept your decision to do what you think is best for your game.

You still have not answered the question I asked yesterday. I want to know if Gary takes his terrain card FACE-DOWN after a successful hunt (without looking at what he has bagged) until it is time for final scoring. I hope this is true because it would add another dimension of suspense to the game.

I like the way you have modified the values on many of the animals (both up and down) to bring them into a range of 1-10. They all seem very realistic and thematic. What I don't like (only a very minor quibble) is that there are 34 unique animals and 2 duplicates. I understand your reluctance to add rare or endangered species but what about the mink, otter, opossum or porcupine?

All in all, you've done a fantastic job, Greg, and I'm more than ready to purchase my 4 copies of this new design (as soon as it hits The Game Crafter shelves).

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Esto wrote:
I just finished re-reading everything word-for-word that you submitted today.

The rules now are very smooth and there are no awkward sentence constructions or spelling errors. A few of the verbs are singular whereas the corresponding nouns are plural (or vice versa) but I'm okay with that because of your conversational approach. And the hyphenations do not bother me also.

I notice that you ignored my comments concerning "AI Gary's Turn" on page 7 --- although you did add the portion about Event cards having a value of 0 for Gary. Either you didn't have the space in order to rework the text or you felt everything was already clearly presented and/or easy to understand in that particular section. No problem. I accept your decision to do what you think is best for your game.


I tried to reword this part dozens of times but I could not make it fit haha! What is meant by that part is that you start from the far left or right (depending on the arrow) Hunt Spot and then take the first Terrain card that matches the first terrain type on the AI card and put it into AI Gary's score pile. If there are no terrain of the first type, do the same process with the second terrain type on the AI card. If there are neither of those 2 types in play, Gary hunted the wrong spots and found nothing!

Quote:
You still have not answered the question I asked yesterday. I want to know if Gary takes his terrain card FACE-DOWN after a successful hunt (without looking at what he has bagged) until it is time for final scoring. I hope this is true because it would add another dimension of suspense to the game.


I left this open to interpretation/choice actually. When I play, I look at them because it helps me remember where the other cards that I knew about were. For example, if I see that AI Gary took a 6 green, that makes me recall that the other one I knew about was a 5 yellow and it is in the first position. If I didn't look at them, I think recalling this would be more challenging. I will try it next time I play to see.

I do love the idea of not fully knowing (you may know it sometimes if you had looked there before he gets it) what AI Gary gets until the end of the game though. That way you can focus on doing your very best regardless of how it turns out. And you may think you did really well only to see Gary get 56 like I did the other day lol. My highest score has been 50 so far, but I average about 34 and about a 50% win rate.

Quote:
I like the way you have modified the values on many of the animals (both up and down) to bring them into a range of 1-10. They all seem very realistic and thematic. What I don't like (only a very minor quibble) is that there are 34 unique animals and 2 duplicates. I understand your reluctance to add rare or endangered species but what about the mink, otter, opossum or porcupine?


What I tried to do with the expansions (you may have missed seeing it because it is at the end of the file) is even out the numbers. Now each Terrain has 2 Events, and animals from 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10. I could not have done this if I added smaller animals like the opossum (which would be a 1 power / Purple varmint).

The duplicates are:

White Tail
Muledeer
Black Bear
Grizzly Bear
Caribou
Elk

They each have unique images though and are in different terrain.

Quote:
All in all, you've done a fantastic job, Greg, and I'm more than ready to purchase my 4 copies of this new design (as soon as it hits The Game Crafter shelves).


Thank you Jimmy!
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Thanks so much for your detailed response to my last message --- allowing me further insight into and appreciation of the overall design process. I understand that there are many, many factors to take into account as well as balance properly.

I am really excited to play against Gary --- and not know everything that he is catching in whatever terrain he is hunting in. I love surprises and not knowing if my final total is high enough to win. I will definitely play this way. As you indicated, you might remember some of the animals he has successfully hunted through your own scans (if that is the right terminology). I still inter-mix some of the language with TF because they have many similarities.

In your last message to me, everything you mentioned in your first paragraph was already crystal-clear to me in your preliminary draft of the rules --- pertaining to the method of identifying Gary's Hunt Spot. That was never an issue for me. My problem (which required me reading that section 3 times before I understood it correctly) was the disconnect between the red X visible on the illustration in the HUNT SHOP section and the different red X written in the corresponding text which referred to the LOCATION section (but not visible in your single illustration). I had suggested a way of clarifying this apparent disconnect (whilst still using only your single illustration).

Anyway, I don't wish to browbeat you further with my own recommendations or personal peeves. I only wrote this last paragraph now because you seemed to misunderstand my original concerns in this section of the rules. Whatever you do or don't do is fine and I won't write about it again. Overall, I'm very thrilled with this entire project.
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Greg Mahler
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Esto wrote:
Thanks so much for your detailed response to my last message --- allowing me further insight into and appreciation of the overall design process. I understand that there are many, many factors to take into account as well as balance properly.

I am really excited to play against Gary --- and not know everything that he is catching in whatever terrain he is hunting in. I love surprises and not knowing if my final total is high enough to win. I will definitely play this way. As you indicated, you might remember some of the animals he has successfully hunted through your own scans (if that is the right terminology). I still inter-mix some of the language with TF because they have many similarities.

In your last message to me, everything you mentioned in your first paragraph was already crystal-clear to me in your preliminary draft of the rules --- pertaining to the method of identifying Gary's Hunt Spot. That was never an issue for me. My problem (which required me reading that section 3 times before I understood it correctly) was the disconnect between the red X visible on the illustration in the HUNT SHOP section and the different red X written in the corresponding text which referred to the LOCATION section (but not visible in your single illustration). I had suggested a way of clarifying this apparent disconnect (whilst still using only your single illustration).

Anyway, I don't wish to browbeat you further with my own recommendations or personal peeves. I only wrote this last paragraph now because you seemed to misunderstand my original concerns in this section of the rules. Whatever you do or don't do is fine and I won't write about it again. Overall, I'm very thrilled with this entire project.


I get it now! I did not understand what you meant about the red X the first time. Here is a card example:



I think it should be fairly clear that you remove the 3rd card in the buy row and the top card of the second Hunt Spot position.

I struggled with writing that section for AI Gary but I think overall, it gives you a succinct process that will be clear as you see the card come up. I only had room for 1 card on there unlike in the TF Version.

I tried to be less "wordy" in the HUNT rulebook and instead add examples, which I did not do in TF.

Thanks for the enthusiasm! It helps me as well to already have people like you interested in what I am creating and offering feedback!
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This is not the same illustration you used on page 7 where there was a green check mark in the Location section instead of a red X.

Part of the original misunderstanding was my own confusion as to how the printed card would look. I mistakenly thought that the red X would appear in the CIRCULAR box on the bottom left (instead of the green check mark) on some of the cards. Clearly, the red X would only appear in one of the SQUARE boxes if a total of 5 terrain types are illustrated in the Location section --- as you have shown me in your last message. I should have known better --- because it would make no sense to have a red X in the circular box with only 2 terrain types illustrated and the red X separated from anything else.

Just to clarify how this works in your example you have just given. If the red X appears in the 2nd box (in the Location section) where there is a forest or woods shown, I would remove that card from the game. I think everyone would understand how this would work. If the 2nd card is any other terrain type, then what happens? This could cause confusion (if not explained). Or maybe you just prefer to answer these questions later if anyone asks what you are supposed to do in this instance.

It is true that I'm very enthusiastic about this new hunting game.
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Greg Mahler
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Esto wrote:
This is not the same illustration you used on page 7 where there was a green check mark in the Location section instead of a red X.

Part of the original misunderstanding was my own confusion as to how the printed card would look. I mistakenly thought that the red X would appear in the CIRCULAR box on the bottom left (instead of the green check mark) on some of the cards. Clearly, the red X would only appear in one of the SQUARE boxes if a total of 5 terrain types are illustrated in the Location section --- as you have shown me in your last message. I should have known better --- because it would make no sense to have a red X in the circular box with only 2 terrain types illustrated and the red X separated from anything else.

Just to clarify how this works in your example you have just given. If the red X appears in the 2nd box (in the Location section) where there is a forest or woods shown, I would remove that card from the game. I think everyone would understand how this would work. If the 2nd card is any other terrain type, then what happens? This could cause confusion (if not explained). Or maybe you just prefer to answer these questions later if anyone asks what you are supposed to do in this instance.

It is true that I'm very enthusiastic about this new hunting game.


Just like in the Hunt Shop, the Terrain type shown does not matter, only the "position" for the bottom portion when there is an "X".

Terrain does matter on the "green Check" though, but I think the distinction should be easy to recognize.
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