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Subject: WIP -- Dargon Attacks! -- 2012 Solitaire PnP Contest Entry (Contest Ready) rss

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Entry for the 2012 Solitaire Print and Play Contest.

Long and long has Dargon slumbered beneath the polar ice. As the water warmed and the ice melted, Dargon slept, still, but restless. Then the humans came, swarming and noisome. They drank deep of the earth's black blood; the pain of the earth shook Dargon from slumber. Now, Dargon wakes; Dargon rises; Dargon attacks!

Dargon Attacks! is a solitaire game. You are helping Dargon to destroy six oil platforms in the Arctic Ocean while avoiding the swarms of human ships which attack Dargon.

Dargon's and the humans' available actions are drawn from separate decks of cards. Each turn Dargon must choose one action card to place in the human discard pile, partly determining their activities. However, this also reduces Dargon's available actions; if Dargon's deck runs out of cards or if Dargon is reduced to zero health, the player loses.

A game should take around an hour to play, maybe less.




You will need to print:
- 54 cards
-- 9 initial human cards (for the starting human action deck)
-- 27 dual Dargon/human cards (for the starting Dargon action deck)
-- 18 special power cards
- 1 playmat with charts, etc.
- 4 tile sheets including:
-- 8 10-hex triangular tiles (2-sided) (or 16 tiles if 1-sided)
-- 1 single-hex tile representing Dargon's cave

- 1 counter sheet including:
-- 12 destroyers
-- 6 cruisers
-- 1 Dargon marker.
-- 12 islands
-- 6 fleet homes
-- 6 oil rigs
-- 6 burning oil rigs
-- 12 setup counters
- 1 map (4 pages) including charts, etc.
You will need to provide:
- 1 (or more) six-sided dice (3d6 is probably enough)
- 12 miscellaneous markers (cubes) for use on the playmat.

You may wish to provide better/different markers for Dargon and the ships. Most playtesting thus far has used cubes for ships.

So I am trying to move to a map in the hopes it makes the game easier to build/play.

There is a separate file for tile images I am hoping will line up on the backs of the other tiles; I don't have 2-sided printing so I don't know how well this lines up; you might want to print them as 8 1-sided sheets instead -- or just print the fronts and ignore the backs. You only really need 6 1-sided tiles to play. The rest are there for a little variety.

Links:
- Rules
- Cards ( and optionally card backs)
- Power cards
- Counter sheet
- Map (with tracks/help)

- New set of cards (DRAFT!)

- Vassal module


(Hopefully vestigial:
- Counters/Tiles (and tile backs)
- Mat (or Low-ink Mat))

This is possibly the most complex game I have tried to design to date, and I am not sure if I have the balance right yet, or if there are inherently better tactics. Any and all help with proofreading and/or playtesting is welcome.
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Re: WIP -- Dargon Attacks! -- 2012 Solitaire PnP Contest Entry (Components Ready)
I should mention a debt of inspiration to The Creature from Outer Space, which got me thinking about how I'd design a monster game.
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Re: WIP -- Dargon Attacks! -- 2012 Solitaire PnP Contest Entry (Components Ready)
Neat!
 
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Re: WIP -- Dargon Attacks! -- 2012 Solitaire PnP Contest Entry (Components Ready)
I love the mood of the components - like the Godzilla movies (not the Matthew Broderick one) it's got that don't take me seriously but just enjoy the ride feel.
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Re: WIP -- Dargon Attacks! -- 2012 Solitaire PnP Contest Entry (Components Ready)

Current worklist, in no particular order:

1) Smaller combined deck. Currently, I only go through the deck 1-2 times in a game, which means the deconstruction side of deck-building is limited in importance.

2) More aggressive initial human actions. The game is a little too static in the early rounds, making it too easy to rampage without consequence. Of course, then the puny humans start going on their own rampage later, so perhaps it balances. Replace/remove 1-2 cards in the initial human deck and maybe start with more ships on the board.

3) Renumber the Defense track. Currently, the initial jump is too large, so it doesn't feel worth taking. A smaller deck may help here some too as it will cycle evolve cards more quickly.

4) Experiment with lowering the cost of water surface transitions to encourage more maneuver.
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Re: WIP -- Dargon Attacks! -- 2012 Solitaire PnP Contest Entry (Components Ready)
Krikkit wrote:

Current worklist, in no particular order:

1) Smaller combined deck. Currently, I only go through the deck 1-2 times in a game, which means the deconstruction side of deck-building is limited in importance.

2) More aggressive initial human actions. The game is a little too static in the early rounds, making it too easy to rampage without consequence. Of course, then the puny humans start going on their own rampage later, so perhaps it balances. Replace/remove 1-2 cards in the initial human deck and maybe start with more ships on the board.

3) Renumber the Defense track. Currently, the initial jump is too large, so it doesn't feel worth taking. A smaller deck may help here some too as it will cycle evolve cards more quickly.

4) Experiment with lowering the cost of water surface transitions to encourage more maneuver.


Files have been updated with most of these changes. There are now 27/9 cards instead of 36/9. The initial human plan involves more air strikes and fewer random patrols. Movement costs were generally reduced, and both the Defense and Movement skill tracks were renumbered. The game feels more fluid now, although it is still possible to get stuck at times without valid moves. (Movement cards are your friends!)

Reducing the deck size succeeds in tightening up the game, but does remove some of the flavor, as what remains are mostly the meat-and-potatoes actions---moving and attacking. I had the idea today of trying to add back some of these (and more) by mixing in a separate deck of special power cards, which could include unique actions, permanent effects, or even afflictions to add to the puny humans' deck. Current thinking is it would be an alternative to the normal evolution power. I am worried, though, that this may not be balanced with normal evolution and also about adding more exceptions to an already complex game.

So I'll see what I can come up with. Some ideas:

Use once:
- Do not give a card to the humans this turn.
- Choose a sector you would otherwise randomly roll.

General effects:
- Ablative scales: When resolving air strikes, roll twice and take the lower result
- Spiked tail: Attacks using your tail do an extra damage.
- Whirlpool: When moving from the surface to under the water, destroy one ship (if any) from Dargon's hex.

Added to the human deck:
- Greenpeace: stop drawing further human cards this turn.
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Re: WIP -- Dargon Attacks! -- 2012 Solitaire PnP Contest Entry (refining phase)

So some of the proposed changes made it in; others didn't work once I normalized special power card procedures. Overall the game feels better balanced now. The rules, cards and special power cards have changed; the rest is the same.

I'm switching this to refining phase, which has no in-contest effect that I'm aware of, because most further changes will be driven by feedback from playtesting. Please try it and let me know.
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Re: WIP -- Dargon Attacks! -- 2012 Solitaire PnP Contest Entry (refining phase)
Just finished playing my first two rounds of Dargon Attacks! This game is a lot of fun! I'm a big fan of Godzilla and other giant monster movies, and there is a severe lack of games in this genre. I found myself making roaring noises when I pulled over a particularly spectacular attack!

Play report:
I lost the first game. I had destroyed three platforms before letting myself get cocky and ended a turn above water. I got air striked twice. =/ I also was forgetting a bunch of things this game like rising/diving using MP for the first half of the game and not applying my defense to ships shooting me.

Second game I eked out a victory! I got Hindbrain early on, which helped quite a bit. I made sure end almost every turn under water. I also got some defense a bit earlier in the game to help my survivability. Here's a picture of my game when I thought things were getting bad. (They got a lot worse after the picture though =p)

LOOK OUT DARGON!

Here is my feedback:
- The human deck-building / Dargon deck-destroying mechanics are inspired. It is quite clever and was the cause of many strategic decisions to be made. Rampage too hard early on and you will find the humans going crazy. I accidentally gave those puny jerks the '+3 cards' card because I thought I was close to winning, and they then started drawing 75% of their deck every turn. Ouch!
- Character building is great too. While the attribute tracks go way beyond what I think I would use, it was still enjoyable to be able to create a monster and try different strategies. I prefer movement and attack, but next I want to try a super defensive monster.
- The rules are very detailed. Great job on that front! There were A LOT of them though, and my first game I was having trouble remembering everything. I actually thought I needed a Dargon Rises card to get out of the water and forgot about being able to spend movement points. Needless to say, I got stuck with a bunch of above water attack cards I had to give to the puny humans. Oops!
- To help the rules/remembering situation, a Turn order cheat sheet would go A LONG WAY to helping the player (or at least me). I don't know if there is room for it somewhere on the play mat, but that would awesome.
- The Manifest says I should have 8 10-hex map pieces if they are 2-sided and 16 if 1-sided. I only had 8 1-sided tiles. Did I miss something?
- How is Dargon's cave treated after the starting turn? Regular water tile? Can puny humans move through my cave?
- Is it possible to move from one land hex to another land hex? I didn't see it mentioned in the moves.
- Typo: On Page 6 of the rules it says "Reduce on skill of your choice by one space"
- Also on page 6, right below that it lists two abilities: Dargon Dives and Dargon Rises. These cards were not in my set, so I assume they are relic rules from a time when I couldn't spend movement points to get in/out of the water?
- I must move if I use a move card. Can I spend two movement points to move off a square then back onto it?
- I must use a card if I play it. I can use a charge card to attack and not move. Can I use it to move and not attack?
- Can I use an attack card with a negative modifier if it will make my attack zero (or less)? I wasn't sure if that broke the same rule as "There must be a unit to attack in order to use an attack card"
- Typo: Page 7 under the Depth Charge ability it says Coun instead of count
- If the puny humans learn and need to remove the lowest numbered card, I assume I choose in case of ties?
- I never moved onto land in my game, and they seemed pretty inconsequential to me. I never saw a reason to get up on top of them. It would take three MP to move around one and four MP to move through one.
- Lightning breath seemed really expensive HP-wise to me. I never used it (which is a shame. I love giant monster breath attacks!), because I never wanted to sacrifice enough HP to make it useful.
- Typo: On the Earthquake card you are missing a space between the words "oil platform"
- I'm going to sound like an elitist dick here, but I cannot stand Comic Sans. I'm that guy that won't buy a professional game like Defenders of the Realm because they used Comic Sans on their cards. I obviously don't expect you to change this aspect of the game now, but I feel obligated to at least mention how much I hate this font every time I see it.
- You should totally add fire tokens to place on destroyed oil rigs. It would help remember where not to go as well as be fun.


So to sum up, this is a pretty great game, and I enjoyed being able to play test it. One thing I didn't mention above is that this game is by far the most difficult to assemble game I have played from this competition. Most of the games involve a bunch of squares I can cut using my paper trimmer, while this one made me get out my exacto knife and glue. It was definitely worth it, but I think it may be why you haven't gotten as many people posting feedback here. There isn't much you can do about it, but there are a couple people making VASSAL mods pro bono for the competition. If you can convince one of them to make you a mod for this, I imagine you can get some more people to give it a try.
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Re: WIP -- Dargon Attacks! -- 2012 Solitaire PnP Contest Entry (refining phase)
cznrhubarb wrote:
Just finished playing my first two rounds of Dargon Attacks! This game is a lot of fun! I'm a big fan of Godzilla and other giant monster movies, and there is a severe lack of games in this genre. I found myself making roaring noises when I pulled over a particularly spectacular attack!

Play report:
I lost the first game. I had destroyed three platforms before letting myself get cocky and ended a turn above water. I got air striked twice. =/ I also was forgetting a bunch of things this game like rising/diving using MP for the first half of the game and not applying my defense to ships shooting me.

Second game I eked out a victory! I got Hindbrain early on, which helped quite a bit. I made sure end almost every turn under water. I also got some defense a bit earlier in the game to help my survivability. Here's a picture of my game when I thought things were getting bad. (They got a lot worse after the picture though =p)

LOOK OUT DARGON!



Thank you for trying the game, and I'm glad you are enjoying it.

The humans will gang up on you pretty quickly sometimes, and hiding under water is your friend.

Quote:

Here is my feedback:
- The human deck-building / Dargon deck-destroying mechanics are inspired. It is quite clever and was the cause of many strategic decisions to be made. Rampage too hard early on and you will find the humans going crazy. I accidentally gave those puny jerks the '+3 cards' card because I thought I was close to winning, and they then started drawing 75% of their deck every turn. Ouch!


Yeah, the game mechanics largely grew around the deck construction/deconstruction system. The aim was to set up trade-offs between your needs for the current turn and deck-building strategy, and it sound like its working.

Quote:

- Character building is great too. While the attribute tracks go way beyond what I think I would use, it was still enjoyable to be able to create a monster and try different strategies. I prefer movement and attack, but next I want to try a super defensive monster.


You can, if you want, focus tightly on one track and max it out; this will leave you weak in the other areas, though.

Quote:

- The rules are very detailed. Great job on that front! There were A LOT of them though, and my first game I was having trouble remembering everything. I actually thought I needed a Dargon Rises card to get out of the water and forgot about being able to spend movement points. Needless to say, I got stuck with a bunch of above water attack cards I had to give to the puny humans. Oops!


Double oops. I took Dargon Rises and Dargon Dives out of the deck when I made it smaller---their effects just duplicated movement cards---but I forgot to edit them out of the rules. blush

Quote:

- To help the rules/remembering situation, a Turn order cheat sheet would go A LONG WAY to helping the player (or at least me). I don't know if there is room for it somewhere on the play mat, but that would awesome.


I agree; something like that would be helpful. If I want to fit it on the mat, I would probably need to remove the arrows to make room. Would that be a detriment?

Quote:

- The Manifest says I should have 8 10-hex map pieces if they are 2-sided and 16 if 1-sided. I only had 8 1-sided tiles. Did I miss something?


There should be four more sheets of backs on a separate link above. (or here) They are just the same tiles, but mirrored. They aren't really necessary.

Quote:

- How is Dargon's cave treated after the starting turn? Regular water tile? Can puny humans move through my cave?


The cave itself is far beneath the surface. The humans can move across the water above your cave. That is, yes, it's treated as just another water hex.

Quote:

- Is it possible to move from one land hex to another land hex? I didn't see it mentioned in the moves.


I didn't think of it. It should be possible.

Quote:

- Typo: On Page 6 of the rules it says "Reduce on skill of your choice by one space"


Oops. I will fix it.

Quote:

- Also on page 6, right below that it lists two abilities: Dargon Dives and Dargon Rises. These cards were not in my set, so I assume they are relic rules from a time when I couldn't spend movement points to get in/out of the water?


Yes, these cards got removed when the action deck got trimmed down to 36 cards.

Quote:

- I must move if I use a move card. Can I spend two movement points to move off a square then back onto it?

Yes, you can. This may be useful if on the surface as ships follow you...
Quote:

- I must use a card if I play it. I can use a charge card to attack and not move. Can I use it to move and not attack?

No. You move "up to 2" spaces, so zero is allowed, but you make exactly one attack.
Quote:

- Can I use an attack card with a negative modifier if it will make my attack zero (or less)? I wasn't sure if that broke the same rule as "There must be a unit to attack in order to use an attack card"


No. The more formal statement of the rule is "This card may not be played if no human unit is damaged as a result of playing it" which includes needing a unit to attack, but is not limited to it.

Quote:

- Typo: Page 7 under the Depth Charge ability it says Coun instead of count


Oops. Fixed.

Quote:

- If the puny humans learn and need to remove the lowest numbered card, I assume I choose in case of ties?


The intention was for each card to be uniquely numbered, but I just checked and there are two 04 cards and no 03 card. One of them, probably the Budget Cuts, should be numbered 03 instead.

Quote:

- I never moved onto land in my game, and they seemed pretty inconsequential to me. I never saw a reason to get up on top of them. It would take three MP to move around one and four MP to move through one.


Yeah. Moving onto land is in there because a giant monster should be able to go on land, but it really isn't serving much game purpose. The original idea was that ships follow you through water but can't follow across land.

Maybe if Land-to-Land and Land-to-Water were 1 MP? That would change the costs to 3 and 3 while affecting pursuit.

Quote:

- Lightning breath seemed really expensive HP-wise to me. I never used it (which is a shame. I love giant monster breath attacks!), because I never wanted to sacrifice enough HP to make it useful.


I went back and forth a lot on how to balance Lightning
Breath, and I'm not sure I got it right. Part of the trouble is finding a formula that can be described briefly on a card.
I'll take another crack at it, and any suggestions are welcome.

(Maybe: 1/hex first target, 2/hex second target 3/hex third target...?)

Quote:

- Typo: On the Earthquake card you are missing a space between the words "oil platform"

Oops. fixed.

Quote:

- I'm going to sound like an elitist dick here, but I cannot stand Comic Sans. I'm that guy that won't buy a professional game like Defenders of the Realm because they used Comic Sans on their cards. I obviously don't expect you to change this aspect of the game now, but I feel obligated to at least mention how much I hate this font every time I see it.


If it is any consolation, the typeface is Chalkboard, which is Apple's knock-off of Comic Sans.

I don't have much attachment to it as a typeface; I was just looking for one that gave me a "giant monster" feel. I'll try to replace it eventually.

Quote:

- You should totally add fire tokens to place on destroyed oil rigs. It would help remember where not to go as well as be fun.


That would be cool. I'll add it to the to-do list.

Quote:

So to sum up, this is a pretty great game, and I enjoyed being able to play test it. One thing I didn't mention above is that this game is by far the most difficult to assemble game I have played from this competition. Most of the games involve a bunch of squares I can cut using my paper trimmer, while this one made me get out my exacto knife and glue. It was definitely worth it, but I think it may be why you haven't gotten as many people posting feedback here. There isn't much you can do about it, but there are a couple people making VASSAL mods pro bono for the competition. If you can convince one of them to make you a mod for this, I imagine you can get some more people to give it a try.



Again, thank you for playing and for all the feedback. I fixed the typos in the rules and cards. I'll try to incorporate the more substantial changes soon.
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Re: WIP -- Dargon Attacks! -- 2012 Solitaire PnP Contest Entry (refining phase)
cznrhubarb wrote:

So to sum up, this is a pretty great game, and I enjoyed being able to play test it. One thing I didn't mention above is that this game is by far the most difficult to assemble game I have played from this competition. Most of the games involve a bunch of squares I can cut using my paper trimmer, while this one made me get out my exacto knife and glue. It was definitely worth it, but I think it may be why you haven't gotten as many people posting feedback here. There isn't much you can do about it, but there are a couple people making VASSAL mods pro bono for the competition. If you can convince one of them to make you a mod for this, I imagine you can get some more people to give it a try.


After making the components, I realized that it might be possible instead of using the tiles to build a fixed board with oil rig, island, and fleet home tokens to place on it. Such a board may end up being easier to assemble, but I'm not sure how I would go about making it. Would creating (or at least, trying to create) an easier-to-assemble board be worthwhile?
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Re: WIP -- Dargon Attacks! -- 2012 Solitaire PnP Contest Entry (refining phase)
Quote:
Quote:
- To help the rules/remembering situation, a Turn order cheat sheet would go A LONG WAY to helping the player (or at least me). I don't know if there is room for it somewhere on the play mat, but that would awesome.
I agree; something like that would be helpful. If I want to fit it on the mat, I would probably need to remove the arrows to make room. Would that be a detriment?

That would be fine. I actually didn't use the arrows when I played.

Quote:
Yeah. Moving onto land is in there because a giant monster should be able to go on land, but it really isn't serving much game purpose. The original idea was that ships follow you through water but can't follow across land.

Maybe if Land-to-Land and Land-to-Water were 1 MP? That would change the costs to 3 and 3 while affecting pursuit.

Yes, that sounds like it would be a useful change.

Quote:
I went back and forth a lot on how to balance Lightning
Breath, and I'm not sure I got it right. Part of the trouble is finding a formula that can be described briefly on a card.
I'll take another crack at it, and any suggestions are welcome.

(Maybe: 1/hex first target, 2/hex second target 3/hex third target...?)

I think my problem with it is that Dargon's special attack feels like it should be one of the cards that is overpowered for Dargon and a bad card for the humans. As it is right now, it's more similar to the -2 attack card: Something I don't want (or can't) use, but don't want to give to the humans either.
I'd rather see it be something like "Deal ATTACK damage to all targets in any hex other than Dargon's. Dargon takes 2 damage per hex in distance." and for the Puny Humans be something like Bluepeace or Budget Cuts.
But that's just my opinion. I don't know if changing one card from 'universally bad' to 'universally good' would throw off the balance of the game.

Quote:
If it is any consolation, the typeface is Chalkboard, which is Apple's knock-off of Comic Sans.

I don't have much attachment to it as a typeface; I was just looking for one that gave me a "giant monster" feel. I'll try to replace it eventually.

Huh, I had to look up a comparison to see the differences between the two after reading that. I still don't like it though. =p
I did a quick search on fontsquirrel.com (which is my primary source for fonts that are 100% free) and found these two that make me think of giant monster movies:
http://www.fontsquirrel.com/fonts/Alpha-Echo
http://www.fontsquirrel.com/fonts/Edo

Krikkit wrote:
After making the components, I realized that it might be possible instead of using the tiles to build a fixed board with oil rig, island, and fleet home tokens to place on it. Such a board may end up being easier to assemble, but I'm not sure how I would go about making it. Would creating (or at least, trying to create) an easier-to-assemble board be worthwhile?

I think that would be a good idea. I just checked the size and it looks like a constructed board could fit on two A4 sized sheets of paper placed side-by-side. Not only would it remove all the non-right angles I had to cut, but I had a problem with my board shifting all over while playing because I had only printed it out on some 110lb card stock. Dargon's Cave in particular kept getting rotated, which is a problem considering the numbers are on there.
The other thing that was a pain was folding and gluing the ships. I glued the Dargon piece and one Cruiser before I just gave up. The first game I just layed the other ship pieces flat on the board, which made them difficult to move. The second game I folded them in half. It looked bad, but they were easier to move. (The picture in my post above shows my dumb ships if you look closer.)
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Re: WIP -- Dargon Attacks! -- 2012 Solitaire PnP Contest Entry (refining phase)
Most recent update:
- Replaced Chalkboard typeface with Belligerent Madness (by P.D. Magnus).
- Tweaked Lightning Breath action. (Now: ATTACK damage to one target, 1 damage to all other units, 2 damage/hex to Dargon.) and replaced Strong Legs special power with Improved Lightning Breath effect.
- Switched from hex tile assembled board to board with pre-printed map and counters for map spaces. Moved playmat charts onto margins of map.
- Updated movement chart. Land -> water now costs one, which made Strong Legs less viable.
- Counter sheet now includes burning oil rigs and sector set-up counters.

I still need to update the rules to describe these changes (notably land->water movement and different set-up instructions).
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Re: WIP -- Dargon Attacks! -- 2012 Solitaire PnP Contest Entry (refining phase)
Krikkit wrote:
Most recent update:
- Replaced Chalkboard typeface with Belligerent Madness (by P.D. Magnus).
- Tweaked Lightning Breath action. (Now: ATTACK damage to one target, 1 damage to all other units, 2 damage/hex to Dargon.) and replaced Strong Legs special power with Improved Lightning Breath effect.
- Switched from hex tile assembled board to board with pre-printed map and counters for map spaces. Moved playmat charts onto margins of map.
- Updated movement chart. Land -> water now costs one, which made Strong Legs less viable.
- Counter sheet now includes burning oil rigs and sector set-up counters.

I still need to update the rules to describe these changes (notably land->water movement and different set-up instructions).


New stuff looks good. The new map looks a whole lot easier to set up, and having all of the number trackers attached to it is a welcome change. I also like the improvements for the oil rig and oil-rig-on-fire art. Looking good!
The change of font is also very welcome =D.

The lightning breath card still says the damage is 2 per hex per target. Is that correct or should it be 2 per hex only?

Dargon's turn is labeled as '1' and humans' turn is labeled as '2', but Dargon's turn order is on the right and humans' is on the left. This seems out of place considering we read from left to right. Was this just because of a space concern?

While the new lightning breath power looks good, I don't know if it looks good enough to use. It is the only power that is directly connected to another card in the Dargon deck, not to mention there is only one Lightning Breath card. I'd have to use up one of my 3 card slots to hold on to Improved Lightning Breath waiting for the one Lightning Breath card to come up. This is all conjecture though. I'll have to play test it again before I knew for sure.
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Re: WIP -- Dargon Attacks! -- 2012 Solitaire PnP Contest Entry (refining phase)
cznrhubarb wrote:

The lightning breath card still says the damage is 2 per hex per target. Is that correct or should it be 2 per hex only?


2 per hex.

Quote:

Dargon's turn is labeled as '1' and humans' turn is labeled as '2', but Dargon's turn order is on the right and humans' is on the left. This seems out of place considering we read from left to right. Was this just because of a space concern?

Yes. I realized after quartering it that only the left side had enough space for the oil rig charts. I numbered it as is because that is the actual turn order.

Quote:

While the new lightning breath power looks good, I don't know if it looks good enough to use. It is the only power that is directly connected to another card in the Dargon deck, not to mention there is only one Lightning Breath card. I'd have to use up one of my 3 card slots to hold on to Improved Lightning Breath waiting for the one Lightning Breath card to come up. This is all conjecture though. I'll have to play test it again before I knew for sure.


That may be so; I haven't had a chance to test it yet. The other, safer option I was considering was adding an improved lightning breath card as a "play" or even a "use once" power.

Edit 7/11:
Thinking about it more, the best way to power up breath attacks without shifting game balance too much might be to simultaneously power down charging. That would also free up the special power card for a more general-purpose power. I'll try making some changes soon and see how it goes.
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Re: WIP -- Dargon Attacks! -- 2012 Solitaire PnP Contest Entry (refining phase)
Krikkit wrote:

Edit 7/11:
Thinking about it more, the best way to power up breath attacks without shifting game balance too much might be to simultaneously power down charging. That would also free up the special power card for a more general-purpose power. I'll try making some changes soon and see how it goes.


So I updated the cards to this, but it's still untested. More importantly, the rules should now be caught up to the changes in the rest of the game.
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Re: WIP -- Dargon Attacks! -- 2012 Solitaire PnP Contest Entry (refining phase)
And in the end, I couldn't do it. I reverted the regular cards, but not the power cards back a version.
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Re: WIP -- Dargon Attacks! -- 2012 Solitaire PnP Contest Entry (refining phase)
cznrhubarb wrote:


There isn't much you can do about it, but there are a couple people making VASSAL mods pro bono for the competition. If you can convince one of them to make you a mod for this, I imagine you can get some more people to give it a try.


I think I have arbitrarily created a limit of one vassal module per person entered. So I will pass on making this module. To many games to be able to pull this off.
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Re: WIP -- Dargon Attacks! -- 2012 Solitaire PnP Contest Entry (refining phase)
radchad wrote:

I think I have arbitrarily created a limit of one vassal module per person entered. So I will pass on making this module. To many games to be able to pull this off.


Thank you for all the modules that you make. I wouldn't have played nearly as many other games from the contest without them, and I've played fewer games than you've made modules for.
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Re: WIP -- Dargon Attacks! -- 2012 Solitaire PnP Contest Entry (refining phase)
radchad wrote:
cznrhubarb wrote:


There isn't much you can do about it, but there are a couple people making VASSAL mods pro bono for the competition. If you can convince one of them to make you a mod for this, I imagine you can get some more people to give it a try.


I think I have arbitrarily created a limit of one vassal module per person entered. So I will pass on making this module. To many games to be able to pull this off.


So I built my first VASSAL Module (here). It's a little clunky but mostly functional.

Notes:
- Each individual deck has its own window, which avoids clutter, but takes some juggling.
- In a slight change from the official rules, special power cards are discarded and reshuffled instead of added to the bottom of the deck. (I couldn't figure out how to make this work.)
- Most card actions should have a button or a drop-down menu choice for them.
- Oil rig repair and Dargon's health, movement, attack, and defense are done as properties on the counters themselves. This saves a lot of chart space, but is less convenient to access.
- It's hard to keep straight when many counters are stacked in a hex. I need to pull a bunch of them to the side to count for attacks and/or the extra ships track.

Screenshot:

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I'm declaring Dargon Attacks! to be contest ready. It could probably use more tweaking, but I think I've hit the limit of what I can do absent more play-testers.
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Krikkit wrote:

So I built my first VASSAL Module (here). It's a little clunky but mostly functional.

Notes:
- Each individual deck has its own window, which avoids clutter, but takes some juggling.
- In a slight change from the official rules, special power cards are discarded and reshuffled instead of added to the bottom of the deck. (I couldn't figure out how to make this work.)
- Most card actions should have a button or a drop-down menu choice for them.
- Oil rig repair and Dargon's health, movement, attack, and defense are done as properties on the counters themselves. This saves a lot of chart space, but is less convenient to access.
- It's hard to keep straight when many counters are stacked in a hex. I need to pull a bunch of them to the side to count for attacks and/or the extra ships track.



Also, the extra island tiles are included in the setup deck. These are officially optional, and I'm not sure what impact multiple islands have. Feel free to ignore them if drawn.
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This is quite a monster of a game! So many cool mechanics: building two decks simultaneously such that the one defeats the other; a learning AI; a large deck of special powers that takes many plays to explore; ... As we say in German, a fireworks display of ideas (Ideenfeuerwerk). All that said, it’s all balanced and smoothly integrated, flows well and is a lot of fun.

The rules are on the extensive side, but the core engine is actually very simple. I wished that more wargames were designed and written up in such a digestible, modular fashion. Of course, I expected no less from a computer scientist. The components aren’t few either, but they’re printer-friendly. I printed them in black and white, and they still look great. I found the effort for building the game very reasonable considering its complexity and playing time.

A few more good things I’d like to highlight:
* I much enjoyed blowing up several of the tiny warships at once, or taking them along for a ride.
* Many interesting strategic decisions. Destroy the ships or the platforms? Destroy the platforms enirely, or leave them heavily damaged? When to give up the evolve cards?
* Great card names.

I’ve played three games so far:
Game 1: I somewhat arbitrarily decided to neglect my attack skill. It turned out that this would force me to give my minus-one attacks to the humans, so I spent all my early evolves to improve as an attacker. I stayed underwater whenever I could, and gave the humans no additional depth charges, but plenty of ships and air strikes. I damaged several oil platforms, and then destroyed them in a row. I won on my second to last turn.

Game 2: I played with extra islands, and one platform ended up being almost enclosed by islands, but it didn’t make much of a difference because I destroyed that platform first. Based on my experience from the first game, I started with a high attack skill. I gave the humans mostly build and converge cards, never actively destroyed a ship, and ended practically all my turns below the surface. Lots and lots of extra ships, but I could heal the brain damage fast enough, despite having given up one heal card and having only 1 defense. Eventually, my health declined, but I still won comfortably.

Game 3: I vowed to stay above the surface this time. I used my newly gained mobility to bring all platforms down to 3 or less repair. I met little resistance, obviously, until I started destroying them. For the last two I had to submerge to avoid certain death. Still, the easiest victory overall. That said, I cheated once when I would have had to give 3 additional cards to the humans because I had drawn no movement card. I wanted to see how good the above-surface strategy is, and didn’t want my result distorted by bad luck or my general carelessness.

The first two games took well over 2 hours, the last one about 2 hours.

The only real issue I have with how these games went is that they bogged down towards the end. They were really fun and addictive until the human turns became so lengthy. I resolved 10 and more human cards in a row without making any decisions, and often without a relevant outcome. It was less of a problem in the third game, which ended faster. Submerging seems to invalidate the human actions too much.

A few minor peeves:
* Initially, I sometimes moved all ships when I was supposed to move only cruisers. I think it’s because, usually, all ships move. Also, the "+1 card" on one of the converge cards seems easy to miss.

* The randomized board setup. I found drawing 18 times from these tiny chits tedious. Maybe use cards that show a sector with all markers in place? That could also rule out scenarios where all platforms are near the center (too easy) or near the edge (too hard).

* Insignificant islands. I realize these have already been discussed a bit. I picture Dargon leaving the sea as a dramatic event that occurs only rarely and late in the game. They could be places where ships can’t attack you (if submerging didn’t already have that effect).

* No playing cards for no effect. Having to give unplayable cards to the humans seems like an excessive penalty -- discarding them would be bad already.

* The extra ship track. I think it would be more fun if the player was responsible for keeping the number of ships in check, giving him or her a reason to use Lightning Breath etc. Maybe the penalty per removed ship just isn’t high enough. Four ships for 1 life seems like a bargain.
If ships in the same space were stacked or aggregated (using numbered markers), there would be no necessity to remove ships automatically. But I suppose you’ve considered that, and concluded that the many individual ships are essential to the game’s feel.

* Minor layout/ rulebook issues:
~ It took me a bit to understand that islands are essentially obstacles. Perhaps the rulebook could communicate that better.
~ Similarly, I wondered for a while if the extra ships are removed for good or if they return somehow.
~ After first reading the "Game Sequence" section, I guessed that the surface/ submerge arrows on the cards meant that Dargon surfaces/ submerges automatically when playing the card. Other than that, I knew everything I needed for playing the first turn. I would replace the arrows with something that doesn’t suggest movement, and move the unimportant section on random choices to below the "Surface" section.
~ I kept taking a wrong turn on the winding health track, going, as far as I remember, from 6 to 13 or from 14 to 7. It still happended to me in the third game.
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firpo wrote:
This is quite a monster of a game! So many cool mechanics: building two decks simultaneously such that the one defeats the other; a learning AI; a large deck of special powers that takes many plays to explore; ... As we say in German, a fireworks display of ideas (Ideenfeuerwerk). All that said, it’s all balanced and smoothly integrated, flows well and is a lot of fun.

The rules are on the extensive side, but the core engine is actually very simple. I wished that more wargames were designed and written up in such a digestible, modular fashion. Of course, I expected no less from a computer scientist. The components aren’t few either, but they’re printer-friendly. I printed them in black and white, and they still look great. I found the effort for building the game very reasonable considering its complexity and playing time.

A few more good things I’d like to highlight:
* I much enjoyed blowing up several of the tiny warships at once, or taking them along for a ride.
* Many interesting strategic decisions. Destroy the ships or the platforms? Destroy the platforms enirely, or leave them heavily damaged? When to give up the evolve cards?
* Great card names.

I’ve played three games so far:
Game 1: I somewhat arbitrarily decided to neglect my attack skill. It turned out that this would force me to give my minus-one attacks to the humans, so I spent all my early evolves to improve as an attacker. I stayed underwater whenever I could, and gave the humans no additional depth charges, but plenty of ships and air strikes. I damaged several oil platforms, and then destroyed them in a row. I won on my second to last turn.

Game 2: I played with extra islands, and one platform ended up being almost enclosed by islands, but it didn’t make much of a difference because I destroyed that platform first. Based on my experience from the first game, I started with a high attack skill. I gave the humans mostly build and converge cards, never actively destroyed a ship, and ended practically all my turns below the surface. Lots and lots of extra ships, but I could heal the brain damage fast enough, despite having given up one heal card and having only 1 defense. Eventually, my health declined, but I still won comfortably.

Game 3: I vowed to stay above the surface this time. I used my newly gained mobility to bring all platforms down to 3 or less repair. I met little resistance, obviously, until I started destroying them. For the last two I had to submerge to avoid certain death. Still, the easiest victory overall. That said, I cheated once when I would have had to give 3 additional cards to the humans because I had drawn no movement card. I wanted to see how good the above-surface strategy is, and didn’t want my result distorted by bad luck or my general carelessness.

The first two games took well over 2 hours, the last one about 2 hours.

The only real issue I have with how these games went is that they bogged down towards the end. They were really fun and addictive until the human turns became so lengthy. I resolved 10 and more human cards in a row without making any decisions, and often without a relevant outcome. It was less of a problem in the third game, which ended faster. Submerging seems to invalidate the human actions too much.

A few minor peeves:
* Initially, I sometimes moved all ships when I was supposed to move only cruisers. I think it’s because, usually, all ships move. Also, the "+1 card" on one of the converge cards seems easy to miss.

* The randomized board setup. I found drawing 18 times from these tiny chits tedious. Maybe use cards that show a sector with all markers in place? That could also rule out scenarios where all platforms are near the center (too easy) or near the edge (too hard).

* Insignificant islands. I realize these have already been discussed a bit. I picture Dargon leaving the sea as a dramatic event that occurs only rarely and late in the game. They could be places where ships can’t attack you (if submerging didn’t already have that effect).

* No playing cards for no effect. Having to give unplayable cards to the humans seems like an excessive penalty -- discarding them would be bad already.

* The extra ship track. I think it would be more fun if the player was responsible for keeping the number of ships in check, giving him or her a reason to use Lightning Breath etc. Maybe the penalty per removed ship just isn’t high enough. Four ships for 1 life seems like a bargain.
If ships in the same space were stacked or aggregated (using numbered markers), there would be no necessity to remove ships automatically. But I suppose you’ve considered that, and concluded that the many individual ships are essential to the game’s feel.

* Minor layout/ rulebook issues:
~ It took me a bit to understand that islands are essentially obstacles. Perhaps the rulebook could communicate that better.
~ Similarly, I wondered for a while if the extra ships are removed for good or if they return somehow.
~ After first reading the "Game Sequence" section, I guessed that the surface/ submerge arrows on the cards meant that Dargon surfaces/ submerges automatically when playing the card. Other than that, I knew everything I needed for playing the first turn. I would replace the arrows with something that doesn’t suggest movement, and move the unimportant section on random choices to below the "Surface" section.
~ I kept taking a wrong turn on the winding health track, going, as far as I remember, from 6 to 13 or from 14 to 7. It still happended to me in the third game.


Thank you for trying Dargon Attacks, and thank you for the feedback.

You won all three games. Was the game too easy? Submerging being strong and the extra ships track being weak are both partly the result of me worrying the game was be too difficult, but I may have pushed things too far the other way.

I don't have time now, but I'll try to address some of the specific points soon.
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I went through the rules again to make sure I didn’t miss anything important. I noticed that I didn’t apply the underwater restriction of heal in at least two of my games. Also, I happened to draw many evolve cards early in one game, and in another, the fleet homes were far off the center of the board. To be sure, I played another game, but won again. Having 5 less life, or 5 less cards in the deck would have made it close. (Not that I’m proposing that.)

Yes, it seems easy to win for a cautious player. I'd say a bit too easy, although I could certainly see players losing their first game. Also, the game does a good job at scaring players as the human deck "goes off" with the planning cards and builds ships at faster and faster rates, while Dargon sometimes can’t accomplish anything on his turn.

It’s an illusion, though: against a submerged Dargon, even a dozen human cards deal, what, 2 damage in the expected case? The initial depths charge is sooner or later set aside (card number 9), which makes it easy to keep the humans at 1 or 0 depth charges. Also, destroyers getting removed in favor of cruisers makes depth charges less dangerous. (And if Dargon’s turn is unproductive, he still stashes away cards for the next turn.)
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firpo wrote:

A few minor peeves:
* Initially, I sometimes moved all ships when I was supposed to move only cruisers. I think it’s because, usually, all ships move. Also, the "+1 card" on one of the converge cards seems easy to miss.

* The randomized board setup. I found drawing 18 times from these tiny chits tedious. Maybe use cards that show a sector with all markers in place? That could also rule out scenarios where all platforms are near the center (too easy) or near the edge (too hard).

...

* Minor layout/ rulebook issues:
~ It took me a bit to understand that islands are essentially obstacles. Perhaps the rulebook could communicate that better.
~ Similarly, I wondered for a while if the extra ships are removed for good or if they return somehow.
~ After first reading the "Game Sequence" section, I guessed that the surface/ submerge arrows on the cards meant that Dargon surfaces/ submerges automatically when playing the card. Other than that, I knew everything I needed for playing the first turn. I would replace the arrows with something that doesn’t suggest movement, and move the unimportant section on random choices to below the "Surface" section.
~ I kept taking a wrong turn on the winding health track, going, as far as I remember, from 6 to 13 or from 14 to 7. It still happended to me in the third game.


Most of these should be relatively straightforward to fix, although the Cruisers only and +1 card problems may need extra iconography. I'll clean some of this up, but I won't post any changes until after the contest.

Quote:

* The extra ship track. I think it would be more fun if the player was responsible for keeping the number of ships in check, giving him or her a reason to use Lightning Breath etc. Maybe the penalty per removed ship just isn’t high enough. Four ships for 1 life seems like a bargain.
If ships in the same space were stacked or aggregated (using numbered markers), there would be no necessity to remove ships automatically. But I suppose you’ve considered that, and concluded that the many individual ships are essential to the game’s feel.


Actually, I just didn't think of using stacking counters. The main advantage the extra ships track has is that it also handles the issue of more stacks than counters, although that case seems unlikely in practice. I'll experiment with unlimited ships, but its a large enough change that it will cause ripple effects through the rest of the design. For increased difficulty with fewer changes, the track can be shortened by a space, making it 3 ships for 1 life instead.

Quote:

* No playing cards for no effect. Having to give unplayable cards to the humans seems like an excessive penalty -- discarding them would be bad already.


Allowing cards to be discarded makes it too easy to ignore the "bad" (-2, -1, regression) action cards by discarding them. The deck doesn't cycle quickly enough early for dead cards being shuffled in to matter.

Disallowing discards also makes it harder to wait for "perfect" turns, where you can move to surface, attack, then move to submerge again. (At least I always seem to get stuck underwater with 1 move and 5 attacks.)

Quote:

The only real issue I have with how these games went is that they bogged down towards the end. They were really fun and addictive until the human turns became so lengthy. I resolved 10 and more human cards in a row without making any decisions, and often without a relevant outcome. It was less of a problem in the third game, which ended faster.


I agree that the game bogs once the humans start taking long turns, but I'm not sure what to do about it. In some ways, the long turns serve largely to increment the Extra Ships Track--unless you're surfaced, at which point they become deadly.

Quote:

Submerging seems to invalidate the human actions too much.


The low-key approach to making submerging less safe is to raise the number of the initial depth charge card, add another to the deck, and maybe prioritize them slightly per associated actions. This might make lurking underwater chancier but still viable, especially if coupled with unlimited counters.

Additional possibilities include changing the damage formula for depth charges and allowing a weaker underwater attack by default each turn (1 damage/2 destroyers?), but I would prefer more minimal changes if possible.
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