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Subject: Looking for an endgame condition rss

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Steven Metzger
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I'm designing a deck-building game called Pidgin that can be best described as "Scrabble meets Dominion." Early builds of the game basically took Dominion, and turned the treasure cards into vowels (5 instead of 3 treasure) and the kingdom cards into consonants (8 consonants instead of 10 kingdom cards), so only half of the alphabet is available in any game. This doesn't quite have the legs that Dominion does, but it's garnered a lot of interest from a few people and I've done four playtests so far.

Every letter has a value and a cost. On your turn, instead of playing treasure to buy cards, you make words to do so. Each word spelled provides a single +buy of $X or less, where X is the sum of the values of the cards that make up the word, and you discard the word in order to buy with it. Currently, the game also has some victory point cards, which require you to trash the word instead of discarding it - the VP cards are also zero-value wild cards, so they don't bog down your hand quite like Dominion's VP cards do, but still provide no direct economical advantage. Currently I have VP cards either as a set of 1-3-6-10 or 1-3-7, but I am open to ideas.

NOTE: I have done a few things to open up the game, like 7-card hands, no dead cards, and free reign over discarding (you can keep some cards in your hand) - these simplify the game and provide players with more options, since it's hard enough to figure out what you want to spell with a smaller number of cards.

I don't have a particularly viable endgame mechanic or condition in place. Here are some potential options, but this is why I'm asking for help:

Option 1) Copycatting Dominion, where piles get exhausted or the major VP pile is exhausted to bring an end (I'm also considering randomized piles of all types).

Option 2) In the 1-3-7 VP build, a player who reveals a hand with 25 VP instantly wins (I was going to use this with a game I'm creating called "The Dominion of Catan," which is basically Catan-themed deck building). This might force a ban on card-retention from turn to turn, as a player with 25 points in 7 cards could simply run out the clock without such a ban - of course, on the other hand, luck plays a larger factor in who wins in this fashion (although the more streamlined, finished deck will have a better chance).

Option 3) VP cards no longer have set values and instead have two or three variables, where set collection is the mechanism for scoring. 60 cards in 4 randomized piles, and the game ends when one pile is exhausted.

Option 4) Post an idea to help me out!

I'm kinda mad at myself for not considering the endgame mechanic sooner - the last two are my favorites because they are inherently different than Dominion, although the set-collection idea really changes some of the game's scope.

Open for suggestions.
Also, is this (without a doubt) more than one game?
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Samuel Hinz
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sounds pretty awesome to me,

but in my game design (unreleased) the end game condition come late in development, in overall terms.
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Stephen Tavener
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Who'd have thought that the best of Dominion's offspring might be a word game

Have you considered adding powers to the more difficult letters, triggered when you use them in a word?
X = power to explore - look at the top 3 cards in your deck - put any number back on top, and the rest on the bottom.
Z = power of the zebra. Score double points if in a word that alternates consonat-vowel-consonant,

Etc

As for the end condition, I have no idea. Sorry.
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Steven Metzger
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mrraow wrote:
Who'd have thought that the best of Dominion's offspring might be a word game
Dominion meets Pitchcar?

mrraow wrote:
Have you considered adding powers to the more difficult letters, triggered when you use them in a word?
X = power to explore - look at the top 3 cards in your deck - put any number back on top, and the rest on the bottom.
Z = power of the zebra. Score double points if in a word that alternates consonant-vowel-consonant,

Etc
Actually, I have considered it, only I haven't mocked it up quite yet. I figure I need to work on the "base game" and make sure that everything is hunki-dori there. After all, it's like Dominion without the action cards, but WITH a whole new economic engine...the thing has to stand up on it's own (even if it's bland). As with almost everything, the simpler the better - this game started off with some companion cards that just sucked (they were actions).

I want to be very careful with the concept...there's enough analysis paralysis in most word games already. I want to give every player a complete-and-full cycle of turns to work with their letters, so a + card action should probably be something like "draw one extra card at the end of your turn." Attacks similar to the witch (useless cards going into the discard pile) would be fine too...but yes, I like the concept, it just adds a big wrinkle in the concept.
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Joe Mucchiello
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I think card depletion is the most elegant game ender you are going to find. You seem to be against only because it increases the amount borrowed from Dominion. If that's the case, decrease your similarities elsewhere. Are you really going to have stacks of B and stacks of L? Can that be different?
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Rebekah B
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How far into the game would it be likely that a player could build a word with all 7 cards in his hand? Would that work as an endpoint? It seems like it would fit the game, but would probably require some secondary endpoint to ensure that a game doesn't continue on too long if the players aren't very good at building longer words.

I also like options 2 and 3 (or variants thereof).

Edit: Fun idea, BTW!
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Jacob Jonsson
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Just a random brain-storm with comments here. Sounds like a fun game so I wish I could be more helpful! Whatever you end up with I hope it lets the players focus on building words and not get bogged down with some weird mechanic that has nothing to do with that.

To have a fairly predictable game length I think something like using up a pile of vowels or point cards is a working idea.

Limiting it with a max deck size. Seems clunky to keep track of.

Introduce a sudden death condition in scoring a bingo (all 7 cards in your hand are used) would make the game have one more exception, but it would add excitement. So it is a 1-1 pro-con situation in my eyes.


For scoring it is great to have fixed values on the vowels to force you to chose between having a balanced deck or high values. I just say this because my mind started to wander on poker or rummy combinations of
 
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Stephen Tavener
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metzgerism wrote:
mrraow wrote:
Who'd have thought that the best of Dominion's offspring might be a word game
Dominion meets Pitchcar?

Pidgin meets pitchcar, I can do (ish). Players take turns to flip letter cards across the table. If a card ends touching another card or cards, the player gets points equal to the value of the stack IF and only if they know a word that can be made with those letters. Dead stacks (no words known by any player) are discarded; other stacks remain in play.
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Steven Metzger
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jmucchiello wrote:
I think card depletion is the most elegant game ender you are going to find. You seem to be against only because it increases the amount borrowed from Dominion. If that's the case, decrease your similarities elsewhere. Are you really going to have stacks of B and stacks of L? Can that be different?
Yes, however part of the reason that I took this concept was because with fewer cards available, making words would be a simpler endeavor.

I've been working the last few days under the concept of using 2-3 shuffled piles of vowels (instead of 5 ordered piles) and 4-5 shuffled piles of consonants (instead of 8 ordered), where the piles contain all the cards available in the game (approximately 120 vowels and 120 consonants?) in some proper frequencies.

Part of this option could be to make the piles separate by value, where low-value, high-frequency cards like T, N, and S get put in pile one, and high-value low-frequency cards like V, K, J, X, Q, and Z get put in the last pile. Vowels *could* be this way as well.

Thinking about this a little more, Stephen's suggestion that actions be tied into some letters might be the best way to support the original eight separate piles concept, and if that doesn't happen then the fewer piles of shuffled cards would be a better idea.

EDIT: Unfortunately this does not get me much closer to my goal of finding a suitable endgame condition
 
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David Gregg
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Two ideas:

1) Use Stephen Tavener's idea with powers so that there is a mechanic to be able to draw more cards. Then you could let the winning condition be to create a word of a certain length, perhaps even requiring some of the VP cards included in the word.

2) Assuming your using hands of 5 cards per Dominion, you could require a player to use all 5 cards to form a word and at least 2 or 3 of the cards need to be VP cards. You could use difficult consonants for the VP cards to avoid quick wins.

Whatever you come up with please please let me play test! I have two kids (8 and 9) who simply love Dominion and this would be great to further their vocabulary! Learning in disguise

Edit: Just noticed you said a hand size of 7 cards... So idea #1 becomes no need in draw power, just have a quick win scenario if you manage a 7 letter word. Idea #2 still works, though instead of using the entire hand you could just say you must make a word using a set number of VP cards.
 
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Filip W.
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Why don't you go with a dual mechanism for the money? When buying a player gets the choice to either buy cards or add the money to their score (or a combination of both). That way you have a choice, either get a better deck able to get more money later or try to build up your score with a crap deck.

You could add a second duality - when playing words players chose if they want to take money or draw more card. That way you get the whole "more actions/buys/draws" dynamic from Dominion.

Of course, you'll have to start with a bad deck, either a next to impossible set deck or let everyone build a crap deck - then pass the deck to the player on their left. The new owner of the deck then gets to ad X cards or cards worth X money to their deck (to balance it out so it's not totally impossible, you can also use this as a handicap mechanism - the more cards or money the easier a game).

Hope it helps.
 
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Steven Metzger
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filwi wrote:
Why don't you go with a dual mechanism for the money? When buying a player gets the choice to either buy cards or add the money to their score (or a combination of both). That way you have a choice, either get a better deck able to get more money later or try to build up your score with a crap deck.
I'm not sure exactly what you're saying, but I think that I already have this:

On your turn, you may spell a word. With this word you may:
1. Discard it, gaining a card whose cost is the sum of the values of the letters in the word (or less), OR
2. Trash it, gaining a victory card whose cost is the sum of the values of the letters in the word.

So you have the option of taking letters to bolster your deck's engine, or taking points to add to your score (and potentially pare down the deck). Victory cards also act as $0 wild cards, so they don't bog down your deck AND they can be recycled into other, higher value victory cards.

Basically this is the whole game - the only other things you can do on your turn are:
3. Discard cards that you don't want anymore,
4. Draw up to 7 cards at the end of your turn, or
5. Use Actions on cards, which I haven't decided on yet.
6. (Also you must flip new cards on piles that you purchased cards from this turn, and shuffle your discard pile into a deck if necessary)

filwi wrote:
You could add a second duality - when playing words players chose if they want to take money or draw more card. That way you get the whole "more actions/buys/draws" dynamic from Dominion.
So it's like embedding the cellar into the game - I like the concept but I tried something similar (bank 3x cards to draw an EXTRA x cards at the end of your turn) and it was just too clunky and meddlesome.

filwi wrote:
Of course, you'll have to start with a bad deck, either a next to impossible set deck or let everyone build a crap deck - then pass the deck to the player on their left. The new owner of the deck then gets to ad X cards or cards worth X money to their deck (to balance it out so it's not totally impossible, you can also use this as a handicap mechanism - the more cards or money the easier a game).

Hope it helps.
The following is speculative based on the game's current build and this passage is as much for myself as it is for others.

I'm having the starting decks be nine vowels and five consonants. All vowels have $1 value. You get two $2 consonants, one $3, one $4, and one $5-7. I was considering giving players binary decisions on their consonants at the beginning of the game, but making things random might be better - adding actions to weaker letter cards might make them well-balanced (I already believe that all the $5+ cards and the U will have some actions attached).

Your starting deck's purchasing power is $23-25. That's approximately $12 per hand, if maximized, and the highest value hand (not even talking about the words here) you can get in your first two turns is $18. For reference, "Syzygy" and "Quizzed" are $24 in value and probably as practically high as word combos will go, without adding actions. It takes at least three turns to get the letters required for those, and it requires a great amount of luck.

A hand of "Whining" ($16) is possible in your first turn, but if you turn that into points quickly (I'm thinking that the highest-VP card will cost between $10-15), your deck will be stifled and have a value of $7, with only one wild card to oil the vowels that you have left over. The victory point boost will be nice but you don't have the engine to make it really work.

Wow I'm really analyzing this a lot.

---

I re-evaluated the consonants and got a letter-frequency chart prepped and was pleasantly surprised at how LOW the values were. I'm going to try playtesting the game with single pile exhaustion as the endgame mechanic.

Each pile is 15 cards.
There are 3 vowel piles, 5 consonant piles, and 3 victory card piles.
You cannot buy more than one card from a pile on your turn (but you may buy the top card off of multiple piles - only the top card is showing and the rest are face-down).

It might prove to be unworkable, but we'll see - 15 cards can be a lot to shave off, especially when you're working alone
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Steven Metzger
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Sorry about that rant...
 
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David Gregg
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Thanks for the update, it does indeed seem that pile exhaustion is your best bet for the endgame mechanic so far. Please keep us posted as you test it out!

And no prob on the rant arrrh
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Steven Metzger
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s3rvant wrote:
Thanks for the update, it does indeed seem that pile exhaustion is your best bet for the endgame mechanic so far. Please keep us posted as you test it out!

And no prob on the rant arrrh
I'm print ready for my second design, but I'd like to get a set collection mechanism prepared. There would be 45 cards that actually contribute to endgame scoring, and right now I'm considering a simple five-suit, nine-rank rummy sort of thing.

I hope to have a pretty solid game here shortly.
 
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David Gregg
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How's the game coming along?

Haven't heard any news in a while cry
 
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Maybe when one to three vowel piles are out.

Were it not for the endless counting, a victory condition of "game ends when someone builds a deck with X cards in it" could work.

If you give the game a seven letter name, the game could end when someone plays that word (presuming all letters are available...), but then, that could make the game drag on and on.

As far as option 2 goes (25 vp in hand to win), you could use that with a partial ban: Can keep up to 2-3 cards in hand at the end of your turn. That way, they could hold on to those VPs, but they couldn't luck out and need only one VP card to win it.
 
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Stephen Tavener
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Hmmm... a few more thoughts.

Have a marker on a track which moves accrding to some game condition. When it reaches the end of the track, the game ends.

Some possible end game conditions:
(a) 1 space for a 6-letter word, 2 spaces for a 7-letter word
(b) 1 space every time someone fails to make a word
(c) 1 space every time someone uses a wild card
(d) 1 space every time someone uses a Z, Q, J, or X in a word

You could, of course, implement this as another stack of cards, and burn the top N cards instead of moving the marker N spaces. If you go the card route, you could have a different condition on each of these cards, so the game ends after a number of checkpoints. if each checkpoint tells you to discard the top 1,2 or 3 cards, then you can have a varied playing experience because not al checkpoints will come up each game.
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Stephen Tavener
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mrraow wrote:
If you go the card route, you could have a different conditions on each of these cards, so the game ends after a number of checkpoints. If each checkpoint tells you to discard the top 1,2 or 3 cards, then you can have a varied playing experience because not al checkpoints will come up each game.

... in fact, these could also be worth victory points at the end of the game
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Steven Metzger
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Heh
Glad to see interest here!

After my last few playtests, here's what I found:

- Set Collection isn't a great idea for VP allocation.
- The most fun part is making bigger and bigger words that are worth a lot of points.
- Skill-tree development and hand optimization actually could work well.

So the points and the endgame condition are likely going to mirror the "big words" concept.
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David Gregg
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Glad to see the game is fun to play! Looking forward to trying it out.
 
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Samuel Hinz
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perhaps a set number of words, like the first person to 10 words, but the bigger the words the more VP,
so that when someone hits their tenth words, that round ends, and it's scoring time, whoever then has the most vp wins.

perhaps even a sliding word/vp scale like ticket to ride.

so 3 letters 1vp.
4 letters 2vp
5 letters 5vp
6 letters 8vp

etc

t would likely require then that you can't use a word you've created before though, to stop someone using there favourite 8 letter word 6 times in a row.
 
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Steven Metzger
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abodi wrote:
perhaps a set number of words, like the first person to 10 words, but the bigger the words the more VP,
so that when someone hits their tenth words, that round ends, and it's scoring time, whoever then has the most vp wins.

perhaps even a sliding word/vp scale like ticket to ride.

so 3 letters 1vp.
4 letters 2vp
5 letters 5vp
6 letters 8vp

etc

t would likely require then that you can't use a word you've created before though, to stop someone using there favourite 8 letter word 6 times in a row.
That's not too bad, actually, although I already have values assigned to the letters themselves (similar to Scrabble), so the number of letters probably is not going to be as big of a deal. I really like the idea of a 'first to x words, but not first to x points' system, as that also has a potentially built-in tiebreaker.
 
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RanDomino Nickelmaster
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Don't make this too complicated. Word Game meets Magic Realm would appeal to exactly 0 people and 4 robots. Look at Scrabble. The rules boil down to 1) Make words on board 2) Score points 3) Get new letters, end game when out of letters and words, most points win.
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Stephen Tavener
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RanDomino wrote:
Word Game meets Magic Realm would appeal to exactly 0 people and 4 robots.

+1 people
 
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