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Subject: Really want to like it but... rss

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Andrew Rowse
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The game looks like a really solid piece of work in many respects, but there are some warning signs that are making me think twice about pledging.

There isn't much in the way of detail about the gameplay, as far as I can tell. Most seems concerned with the core mechanic of playing characters and using basic tactic cards. That mechanic looks solid.

However, in the video on kickstarter, there is an image of an Event card called Cosmic Shift. Events are played as soon as they are drawn, and are mandatory, and this event selects the players with the most and the fewest cards in their trophy piles, and forces them to swap. The players swap the points totals!

There is also a custom die as a stretch goal that is intended for a variant, where the attacker gains a random boon based on the die roll. The effects listed seem wildly powerful, and random power is a real turn-off for me in games.

That sort of appeal to randomness feels like a sign that the author has a design philosophy that goes against what I look for in a game. I like dice, and I like games where you take risks. But I don't like games where the game itself will arbitrarily wipe out all of the effort you've put into getting yourself into a good position.

I'd really like to see a bit more of the meat of the game, and get an indication of how regular and game-changing effects like Cosmic Shift (which, right now, looks like a really annoying card) are.
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Erik Dahlman
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So I've had a few people tell me about this post today and I figured I would reply.

First, I would like to say thank you for the compliments regarding looking solid in many respects.

As for the randomness, I can only say that that was the way in which the game was designed. This isn't a competitive game for that reason, it is however, a fun game. The fun comes partly from how the game can change at any moment because of an epic battle or a random event.

There are nuances in the game like how many and which ability cards you play in battle. There will be new game mechanics and strategies added through expansions. But at the end of the day, if you are looking for a game that is deterministic, this isn't it.

As for the custom die, it's not set in stone yet and the way I see it it's just a bonus that you can choose to play with if you want to. If one of the faces said you automatically won the game, it really wouldn't matter because it's a variant and you can do whatever you want with it. The cool thing about extra game components is that you can come up with your own house rules or change what you don't like.

As for Cosmic Shift, I completely agree how you could see this as annoying if you are a truly competitive player trying to win. I'm one of the most competitive people I know which is partly why Genegrafter is designed the way that it is: I needed a game that I could play with my girlfriend. A game that is fun and that anyone can make a comeback so they don't quit halfway through thinking there isn't any hope of recovery.

And in fact, Cosmic Shift was pretty annoying when there was only one copy. We added a second and that made all the difference. After one hits you can still hope for another swing to get them back, but now you have to decide if you really want to take out those genetic markers in your opponent's gene pool since you might end up trading for that pile again. This card is even more erratic when you have four players and the players that switched the first time might not be the same two to switch when the second Cosmic Shift comes up. Event cards will statistically come up about 10% of the time.

As I look at this it sounds a bit defensive or argumentative but I hope you don't take it that way. I would say that if you absolutely loathe randomness and feel the need to be able to control all aspects of a game in a deterministic environment then this is not the game for you. However, for something that is quick, fun, and easy to teach others it does what it was designed to do.

The beauty about designing my own game is that I can make it the way that I want it to be. I have to assume that if I make something I like then there are others that will like it as well. I couldn't find a game that filled the need that I had, so I made one. And I'd like to think that it's come out pretty well. And if you don't agree, that's okay too, I understand that not every game will appeal to every person.






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Andrew Rowse
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Thanks for the reply, and the clarification!

It sounds like Genegrafter is definitely not a game for me. I like to play games the way the designer intends them, not have to tweak the rules in order to make it play in a way I enjoy. I also like to make meaningful decisions, and swings of pure luck like Cosmic Shift are anathema to meaningful decisions.

I'm disappointed, because I liked the art style (it had a charm that big games often lack), and this line from the KS page seemed to promise the sort of game I enjoy:
But don't be fooled, there are deeper strategies that will need to be found before you can truly master it.

It's great that the campaign has gone so well, but I think it was for the best that I didn't back it. If a two player game uses around half the deck, 50% of two player games will result in exactly one exchange of points piles, and I don't see how that can ever be compatible with deeper strategies

Good luck with the future expansions!
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Erik Dahlman
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Thanks, and if it's any consolation, I normally enjoy the kind of games that you like as well. It will only be a matter of time before you see a game design from me that is more inline with that and I hope it can retain that same charm that you found in Genegrafter.
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Loren Cadelinia
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dataspire wrote:
So I've had a few people tell me about this post today and I figured I would reply.

First, I would like to say thank you for the compliments regarding looking solid in many respects.

As for the randomness, I can only say that that was the way in which the game was designed. This isn't a competitive game for that reason, it is however, a fun game. The fun comes partly from how the game can change at any moment because of an epic battle or a random event.

There are nuances in the game like how many and which ability cards you play in battle. There will be new game mechanics and strategies added through expansions. But at the end of the day, if you are looking for a game that is deterministic, this isn't it.

As for the custom die, it's not set in stone yet and the way I see it it's just a bonus that you can choose to play with if you want to. If one of the faces said you automatically won the game, it really wouldn't matter because it's a variant and you can do whatever you want with it. The cool thing about extra game components is that you can come up with your own house rules or change what you don't like.

As for Cosmic Shift, I completely agree how you could see this as annoying if you are a truly competitive player trying to win. I'm one of the most competitive people I know which is partly why Genegrafter is designed the way that it is: I needed a game that I could play with my girlfriend. A game that is fun and that anyone can make a comeback so they don't quit halfway through thinking there isn't any hope of recovery.

And in fact, Cosmic Shift was pretty annoying when there was only one copy. We added a second and that made all the difference. After one hits you can still hope for another swing to get them back, but now you have to decide if you really want to take out those genetic markers in your opponent's gene pool since you might end up trading for that pile again. This card is even more erratic when you have four players and the players that switched the first time might not be the same two to switch when the second Cosmic Shift comes up. Event cards will statistically come up about 10% of the time.

As I look at this it sounds a bit defensive or argumentative but I hope you don't take it that way. I would say that if you absolutely loathe randomness and feel the need to be able to control all aspects of a game in a deterministic environment then this is not the game for you. However, for something that is quick, fun, and easy to teach others it does what it was designed to do.

The beauty about designing my own game is that I can make it the way that I want it to be. I have to assume that if I make something I like then there are others that will like it as well. I couldn't find a game that filled the need that I had, so I made one. And I'd like to think that it's come out pretty well. And if you don't agree, that's okay too, I understand that not every game will appeal to every person.


Was there a secondary driving force to include a card like Cosmic Shift besides adding a bit of randomness? Perhaps to counter a run-away-leader? I'm excited to play the game as intended, but the reason I ask, is that if I ever wanted to house-rule and remove the Cosmic Shift cards from the deck, will the losing player have a significantly lower chance of coming back? Thanks in advance.
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Erik Dahlman
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Sorry I completely missed this when it was asked. Better late than never I guess.

Cosmic Shift was added for no other reason than because of the complete randomness it can create (mostly at the end). My most memorable games (and not just with GG) have been those in which you think you are about to win/lose and that one card comes up that can save your bacon. Everybody says AH! and you scoop up the cards one last time to redeem yourself or take back a victory. Since an experienced group only needs about ten minutes, it's not like you've been planning a victory for an hour only to have it stolen by some random card.

It's quick and fun and serves its purpose. Play a few games before everyone gets into the room to play Rex. Or teach someone a quick game of Genegrafter before you get them hooked on Dominion or Thunderstone or Alien Frontiers.

The side effect of creating the card (to get back to the last poster's question), did create a kind of self-inflicted balance. Instead of just throwing out every card you had to win or destroying the other player's gene pool, you always had to be wary of having those roles reversed. So in the end, it created its own statis among players to try and stay even until the end.
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