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Subject: To chit or not to chit... THAT is the question rss

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Eric Etkin
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Howdy!

We're in-process of redesigning and snazzifying the presentation of the TactDecks game, and in effort to make the look competitive with larger publishers, we're reviewing all feasible options (insofar as a small indie can).

TactDecks is a tactical fantasy game in card form that recalls influence from Heroscape, old school Dungeons and Dragons, and other tactical wargames that involve fast-resolving heroic party vs. party combat.

One of the main advantages of TactDecks is portability - the game is designed to fit in your pocket or a standard deck box. But because TactDecks utilizes a hitpoint system, tracking damage is necessary, and this is currently done via cardboard chits cut from an included template. They're small, inexpensive to include, and take up little space.

However, in playtesting and at cons, we've noticed many players forego the cardboard chits and use other options - dice to represent hits taken, beads, etc. Reviewer feedback has generally not addressed these at all, though one comment was that the chits were less than ideal - And though the chits are included as a player convenience, it's been suggested they're cheesy.

So - I guess this is my info-laden way of asking - In the redesigned TactDecks printing, should we still include a chit sheet as a courtesy, or assume it's not used and players supply their own preferred damage-recording method?
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Barry Goldstein
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IMHO, many players like to personalize their hit point tracking method.
Dice are nice...glass beads, etc.

Leave the chits out and pass on the savings...
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Eric Etkin
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Thanks, Barry. So you don't think there's any danger of unincluded chits being perceived as cheap? I almost feel like it's a damned if you do or don't situation.

Frankly, if no one cares, I'd much rather replace the chit card with an extra terrain obstacle or character.
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Derek
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While I agree that most players would probably want to, and will, personalize their own tracking method, I also feel that to be a complete game you should also include a hit tracker with the game.

And you said they don't cost much to include and have a small footprint, I really can't see it hurting anything. Whereas if you don't include it, someone might be turned away from buying it because they may not feel its a complete package.

just my 2
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Eric Etkin
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solace67 wrote:
And you said they don't cost much to include and have a small footprint, I really can't see it hurting anything. Whereas if you don't include it, someone might be turned away from buying it because they may not feel its a complete package.

just my 2



Prior to TactDecks' less-than-stellar Dice Tower review, I would have agreed with you, but we took lumps for including them (though I'm not sure what an acceptable alternative would have been...).

Regardless, I committed to investigating any criticism that basically centers around the ascetics of the game - so if it's something I can change that is clouding popular opinion of an otherwise great little game, I'm willing to at least consider it.

My confusion here is whether or not this quibble is worth digging further into...
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Tim Silver
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Would it possible to use some sort of card that had a rotating dial attached that reads through a pre-cut window? Not as fiddly as chits but retains that card shape you want. Or will this not work well (forgive me, I know nothing about your game. Now I'll go check it out )
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Eric Etkin
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cmdrsils wrote:
Would it possible to use some sort of card that had a rotating dial attached that reads through a pre-cut window? Not as fiddly as chits but retains that card shape you want. Or will this not work well (forgive me, I know nothing about your game. Now I'll go check it out )


Honestly, it's an interesting idea, but it's not practical from a cost perspective... The prototyping and mold costs alone would probably pay for a full print run of just normal cards. It's an idea best left to the Hasbros of the world...
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David Etherton
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Plenty of other card games require a separate way to track points.

Personally, I'm loathe to physically cut up a card even if that was its intended use. Plus, if the whole thing goes back into a tuck box you run the risk of the smaller pieces getting jammed in there or even slipping out of the closed box.

Maybe make the tuckbox (assuming the game comes in one) a little taller and including either a suitable die (not familiar with your game, would d6 be good enough) or a few markers (generic euro cubes) and have two cards have numeric tracks on them? (Although a track that small, on a card, may well be ungainly and too easy to bump)

My two cents,

-Dave
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Eric Etkin
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Thanks, everyone!

Just to clarify, a typical game would probably use somewhere between 10-20 chits between both players, so as attractive as dimensional cubes or similar markers go, I think it'd be a much bigger hassle to include those in the box. That's a lot of rattling around as you're walking...
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Eric Etkin
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Anyone else?

Right now we're at 3 for leaving it out and 1 against. I'd love to get a larger input base before we commit to a decision...

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Eric Etkin
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Crickets....


Not an exciting subject, I know, but anyone else have input? I'd like to get this item checked off my list...

We're definitely leaning toward nixing the chits and including an extra character piece instead.
 
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Chris Fee
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Not having played your game (it is on my to get list), I have to say that I would not cut up a card (punching out something that is die-cut is fine but I feel weird cutting something up). Would a die cut counters (something a bit thicker than standard card) work? Might be more durable and not seem so "cheap" (as others have apparently said).

For me, I'd probably just use glass gaming stones (I have a ton of them for various gaming stuff) or some d6s (depending on game play).


You speak of redesigning. Will the new design be compatible with the older booster sets (without requiring solid backed sleeves)?
 
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Eric Etkin
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Thanks, Chris.

Yep, the new design is completely compatible with the old. None of the information is changing, just the way it's laid out on the cards and presented in the rules. Everything will still have the same dimensions. If we do end up offering alternate Spell, Event or Reserve cards in the future, we'll include the originals with the new design, or offer a free upgrade path for owners of the original printing.

Basically, it's a "makeover" more than a "re-design." The overwhelming feedback we've gotten so far on the system has been positive, with the majority of negative comments stemming from appearence or information blocking...

...So I brought a graphic designer on board to go through the game bit by bit and bring it up to snuff. The inital results are very encouraging. The cards look professional, but you'll definitely be able to pick out a TactDecks card from a Thunderstone, LOTR, Warhammer, or Dominion card. The game will have a very iconic look.

The analogy I've used elsewhere is that TactDecks is like the geeky, brainer girl (or guy) no one wanted to date in highschool because they were distracted with the "conventional" beauties. Well, this girl has a heart of gold and is a hell of a lot of fun... So we're upgrading her outside to match her inside.

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David Zumwalt
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It sounds to me like you should take another look at your hit point system and see if it can be tweaked. Perhaps turning the card indicates an injury, upside down means almost dead. Or perhaps pulling the card back from the battle line indicates an injury, or more hit and the creature is dead. Or perhaps there are injury cards that attach to the other cards, indicating various levels of injury (for example you could lay a Serious Wound card down so that it partially covers the injured creature card, perhaps covering up and eliminating one of the creature's abilities until it is healed). My two cents. Good luck with your project!
 
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Eric Etkin
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Thanks, David - Hitpoints are needed in this system, however. In the current game and expansions (which will eventually be consolidated into one master set), there's a HP variance ranging from 2 to 4 hits, depending on either the Character or Obstacle (terrain structures) in question. Planned expansion sets may push that variance up another couple hits, giving a range from 2-6 (possibly also a 1).

Since most of the pieces are actually on the "board," like chess, there's no real way to track them that I'm aware of that doesn't get in the way of set-up. Adding additional condition cards or reorienting the pieces won't work, since that clutters the board further or would confuse things for the players.

The only options I can think of are chits/markers/etc. or keeping a seperate damage record (which pushes the game too far into "simulation" territory for a quickly-resolving tactical game, IMO).

In prototyping, we tried using a transluscent overlay indicating the wound levels, but this was even more cumbersome, as players were stuck constantly swapping out one overlay for another based on accrued or healed wounds.
 
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David Zumwalt
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Maybe the cards need boxes that you can tick off, indicating damage. You'd have to actually write on the cards, perhaps with a wet erase marker or pencil.
 
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Chris Fee
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If you are looking at an upper limit of 6, would a small d6 in a HP box work? I know you were worried about rattling, but could the box be built to accommodate a stack of dice along one side (with a divider in the box so they wouldn't bounce against the cards)?
 
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Eric Etkin
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manyslayer wrote:
If you are looking at an upper limit of 6, would a small d6 in a HP box work? I know you were worried about rattling, but could the box be built to accommodate a stack of dice along one side (with a divider in the box so they wouldn't bounce against the cards)?


That's a thought - A couple of issues I see arising from this (neither of which are deal breakers);

1) Adding dice would add to the cost of goods. How much? I don't know. Since each revised "master set' would have upwards of about 20-24 character pieces (plus terrain pieces)... that's a lot of dice. Granted, not all pieces would be fielded, and not all fielded pieces will sustain hits... but taking the average, we're looking at about 8-10 dice.

2) Call it my obsessive-compulsive issues, but for some reason, if I include dice, I now start thinking that I need dice that are special customized for the game with the same corresponding HP icons.
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