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Subject: Hyperminer - 2012 Solitaire Print and Play Contest - Contest Ready rss

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Julian Anstey
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Entry Thread for Hyperminer
Designed for the 2012 Solitaire Print and Play Contest

Description:
Seeking your fortune, you have bought a mining spaceship, but you have a limited time to pay off the loan. You must fly from planet to planet, obtaining minerals on one before selling for a profit on the next. The blue planet is richer in ore, but you will receive a lower price for the blue than for the relatively rare red minerals. You may purchase upgrades to your spaceship but it will cost you time and money. Can you pay off your loan before the bailiffs turn up?



Components:
69 playing cards.

Also Required:
20 cubes (5 each of blue, green, yellow, red)
Money to represent up to about 200 Credits (optional)

Playing time: 10 minutes

Download links:
Cards
https://docs.google.com/open?id=0BxdoGc4NM2uYSlpOREdEUUFTS3M

Card backs (optional)
https://docs.google.com/open?id=0BxdoGc4NM2uYei0xckhPS2xIRWM

Rules
https://docs.google.com/open?id=0BxdoGc4NM2uYYV9qMWE1MUUycWM

Vassal module
https://docs.google.com/open?id=0BxdoGc4NM2uYVEJNa0VZWExyVms


Any comments welcome. Note that the artwork is by my daughter (age 9). Thankyou to anyone who tries it.



Edit: The above links are to the competition version. The latest version is available here:

Cards
https://docs.google.com/open?id=0BxdoGc4NM2uYT1RsTlZ3cG1hT3M

Rules
As above for now. One clarification and details of new upgrade cards to come.

Card backs (optional)
As above

Vassal module
https://docs.google.com/open?id=0BxdoGc4NM2uYYjJfdG9WUDVzWkE
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todd sanders
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Re: Hyperminer - 2012 Solitaire Print and Play Contest - Components Ready
all for kid artwork so good job there!

do you forsee any problems if all the up-facing cards are all sell values?
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Julian Anstey
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Re: Hyperminer - 2012 Solitaire Print and Play Contest - Components Ready
Thanks for taking a look, Todd. I'll be looking at the rest of this year's entries from now on, including yours, which I have no doubt is amazing.

Every card can be used to sell _something_, and every card is _potentially_ useful for mining (but you might need the landscanner to convert a zero to a one). Really, a face-up card gives you information that you can use to avoid wasting the very limited cards looking for the result you want. But it can be disappointing when you come across a good face-up card when the only use you can put it to is flying to another planet.
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Julian Anstey
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Re: Hyperminer - 2012 Solitaire Print and Play Contest - Components Ready
Since my initial post gives a borderline complete version of the game, I thought I would mention some of the history of development.

My original idea had a die roll to make when mining.

When I decided to have a specific number of cubes on each card, some thought on details brought me to the point of making a first prototype. This involved fewer cards than in the final version - only 9 cards per deck. This was obviously preferable from a print and play point of view, but unfortunately it didn't work well. It required a year turn marker that was moved on when a deck ran out. The deck was then reshuffled. There were loans that had to be paid off, the sooner the better, but it was possible for the player to drag the first year out by not running any one deck out. I also had the player pay for a mining transaction and for flying, but these were too easy to forget.

Here is a picture of some cards from the first prototype, also showing my own original artwork. Perhaps you can see why I asked my daughter to take over art duties. blush


There were various updates to this prototype before I realised that a major change was needed. This meant the change to 16 cards per deck and only running through once. All of the values on the cards were necessarily changed at this point. I was simplifying the game as much as possible so, at first, there was no need to pay for upgrades, but I brought this back in to prevent players being able to upgrade their ship to capacity before doing any mining or selling. The monetary cost (and the enforced delay in time) also helps to bring into question whether it is worth buying all of the upgrades.

There were some changes to card values and a decision on the amount of money required to win the game before the final version. I also felt obliged to create a Vassal version since the game requires making a fairly large number of cards.
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Chad Mestdagh
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Re: Hyperminer - 2012 Solitaire Print and Play Contest - Components Ready
Did you cut those cards yourself or did you just write on some blank cards?
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Julian Anstey
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Re: Hyperminer - 2012 Solitaire Print and Play Contest - Components Ready
For the prototype I wrote on blank cards. The photo of the game in play in the first post above is of cards I made myself.
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Julian Anstey
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Changed to contest ready.
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Nate K
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Holy crap, I just took a close look at the cards. Your nine-year old daughter drew all that? Because the art shows a surprisingly good grasp of form and depth. I'm three times her age, and I don't think I could draw drills or space stations that well.
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Julian Anstey
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Thanks for the compliment. I just read it to her and she was leaping around shouting "Wooo!" with a beaming smile.
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Chad Mestdagh
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I just realized that you made your own vassal module!!!!

Good job on the module! I guess that means that I don't have to make it! Is there any chance that you could add the rules to the module (I like to add them as part of a Chart. Edit one of my modules to figure out how.)

And yes, your daughter's artwork was amazing!!!!
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Julian Anstey
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Chad, thanks. I was very much feeling my way with the Vassal module as I hadn't got around even to trying it from a player's point of view before this competition. I'll try to add the rules tomorrow as I'm not in a position to do it this evening.

And again, thanks for the kind words about my daughter's artwork. She was bouncing again when I told her!
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Julian Anstey
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I've added a "Rules" button and a "Using This Module" button to the Vassal module. Thanks to Chad for the advice.
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Marc Nelson Jr.
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Neat!

I tried the Vassal module and stranded on the red planet with $91. I really like the four face-up cards mixed in. I don't know if I've seen something like that before.

Great job!
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Julian Anstey
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Thanks a lot. I did consider having all of the cards face up but it just didn't feel right.

$160 is definitely possible. In my last two games I got 161 and 157 and I've had as high as 180-odd.
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I played the vassal module.

I got $160 with cards to spare. After getting a bit of cash i mostly flew around waiting for the big sell cards to come up.

If there's one thing i'd add, it would be a ship marker, so you know where your ship is if you go to the bathroom or something. I tend to play solo stuff while doing something that doesn't require my full attention, and more than a couple of times i had to try pretty hard to remember where i last landed.

Good job!
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Julian Anstey
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c.w., thanks for playing, and thanks for the feedback.


HELP
Can anyone give me some advice on the Vassal module? I can create a ship marker easily enough, but when I drag it onto a deck, the deck visually turns into a stack of ship markers. It's the same with the mineral cubes - if you drag one of them onto a hold space on your ship, instead of seeing a ship card with a cube on it, you see a stack of two cubes.

I've tried adding a "Does not stack" trait to the ship marker and the cubes, but it doesn't seem to make any difference.
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Chad Mestdagh
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What is happening is that Vassal is treating the ship marker as though it is the top card of the deck. The deck creates a space. Anything that is put in that space is considered part of the deck. A player can pick the ship marker up and find that the deck is still there.

There are a few things that you could do.


But the absolute easiest would be to create a background image that allows for a space to put the ship. That way the ship will never be intuitively be put on the deck. Call it a docking bay if you will. The piece just goes there so that the player knows where the ship is.

I am not sure if this would work but another simple solution would be to reduce the size of the deck so that the actual deck space is really small and nothing can actually be put on the deck. But of course, this would also mean that any card taken off the deck can't be put on it. (unless you created a Return to deck command.)

As for goods, again on the background art, place a space to put the goods.

More complicated ways would be to move the decks off the main screen and create a button that would drag a card onto the main screen. You would also need to put a marker on each card and piece so that it separates the peices so that cards are always underneath the tokens that you put on them. You would also need to create a text label for each planet that lets you know how many cards there are left for each planet.
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Julian Anstey
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Chad, thanks a lot. I'll see what I can do tomorrow.
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Julian Anstey
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In the end I've done the following:

Added a ship marker.
Added game piece layers.
Converted the ship, extra holds etc. from single card decks to pieces and put everything in appropriate layers.
Updated "About this Module"

This means that you can now place the goods cubes on the cards if you want to. Unfortunately, it seems that decks of cards ignore the game piece layers, so you still can't put anything on those without them stacking. You probably wouldn't want to put anything on them apart from the ship marker, and since that's an optional extra that doesn't affect the game, I'll live with it.
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Mike Arlington

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Hi Julian. I recently printed and played Hyperminer, and it is quite a good game. It feels like it has just the right combination of skill and luck to keep a person interested in replaying it. I thought the way each card could be used as a different resource was implemented quite well and was pretty clever.

I also want to reiterate the opinion of everyone else: Your daughter's artwork is fantastic! I, like Nate, would not have known it had not come from an adult with artistic talent if you had not mentioned it in the OP.

Let me give you some of my scores and strategies I used/learned while playing:
- First game I got $88. I bought all the upgrades somewhat early and then bought and sold primarily single cubes (Not the combo prices). I think this was because when I decided to sell, I was just willing to take any deal that came up.
- Second game I got $178. I sold singles early on so that I could afford the upgrades, and then bought them at my first possible opportunity. (Although I skipped the Gigagrabber, which I don't find terribly useful). When selling, I hit a bunch of the combo sale prices and used mostly those. I feel like I got a little lucky this game, but also felt like my strategy had vastly improved over the first play.
- Third game I only got $49. I tried the same strategy as game two, but I skipped any sale that was not a combo price. I thought I had stumbled upon the game winning strategy in my second game, but I got greedy and burned through a lot of the decks looking for those combos. I could have done a lot better this game.
- Fourth game I got $135. One of the piles started with a face up 3-color sale on it. This gave me a pretty good boost to start the game off, and I feel like I did pretty well the rest of the session, though I may have still been too unwilling to sell individual cubes (like in game 3)

I have some questions, comments, and ideas if you don't mind listening to me ramble...
- At first, I thought the upgrade prices seemed pointless. $3 is such an insignificant amount in this game. I realized after a couple games though, it really makes a huge deal on the beginning strategy of the game. It was a cool revelation!
- A couple questions on the rules:
+ When I'm mining, do I *have* to take as many as show up? If it shows 4 for the drill, can I take 2?
+ When I'm mining, can I ditch things that are currently in my hold, or do I have to wait until I am using a turn to sell?
+ The upgrade process was confusing to me. I wasn't sure I was doing it right, or what the thematic explanation for burning three cards was. I rationalized it by saying 1) I'm on the planet, flying to the space station orbiting the planet. 2) I'm on the space station buying an item. 3) I'm flying from the space station to the next planet. Is this correct? I assume I can't do something like 1)Fly 2)Dig 3)Upgrade 4)Fly?
- It would be really neat if the resources were not only color coded, but had symbols to go with them. To match with the art theme, I was thinking of Yellow Moon Cheese, Blue Earth Water, Red Martian Spices, and Green Venusian Gems while I was playing.

TL;DR
I enjoyed game, and please give your daughter my compliments!
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Julian Anstey
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Wow, thankyou for the fantastically detailed comments, Mike.

Thanks for the information on strategies and scores. For now I'll just say that, yes, burning through too many cards is definitely a bad idea.

You are right about the upgrade prices - they were added late in the design process specifically to prevent the strategy of picking up whichever upgrades you want before you even start mining. The price is low because I didn't want to put people off buying them altogether, and the price of three cards is already quite steep.

Again, your understanding of the reason for spending 3 cards is completely correct - the first represents flying to the space station, the second is to buy the upgrade on the space station, the third is to fly to another planet. Since the upgrade takes place away from the planet, you can't do any mining or selling until you get back.

You can take on any amount of cubes up to the amount on the card (plus upgrade bonus), no need to take them all. Also, you can ditch cubes when mining. Thanks for pointing that out. I'll make it clear in the rules, obviously after the competition period.

I like your idea of differentiating the goods more, especially visually. I had considered naming them along the lines of, say, rubium for red, but in the end I decided it would add a little fog to the rules.

Thanks again for the excellent feedback.
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ErikPeter Walker
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I played a couple games last night, but my comment got killed by the server downtime. So here we go again:

First off, I haven't used Vassal before but after a couple minutes it was clear enough what was going on, and wow, how convenient compared to printing and cutting a bunch of cards!

My first game I won with 170, having drawn every card (and blind selling my last 2 yellow for $5 each on the last draw). The selling system seems pretty luck heavy, since there's nothing more aggravating than sitting in a planet turn after turn hoping to sell. But, as I guessed at the time, there is a memory component so it's possible to "fish" for those big 30s. I do think every color (besides the matching planet color) coud have a price on every card, even if they are really low, so it's not just waste. Maybe.

My second game I made 174, because I was lucky with a few 30s and knew to diversify more before trying to sell. However, I had a few cards leftover since I sat on one planet selling repeatedly until the color I needed to break 160 came up. The strategy of "get 3 colors, go to 4th planet" seems pretty straightforward. You're bound to get lucky a few times.

I only ever buy extra holds. The time it takes to upgrade is the biggest issue preventing me from trying those others out. If red was substantially more valuable it might be worth it to try out a risk mitigation strategy on red with the, um, that tech that gets you something on an unlucky dig.

Nice work!
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Julian Anstey
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Thanks, ErikPeter, for some more great feedback.

I take your point about wishing to always have a sale available except on the 'home' planet of the good and that it can be frustrating if you waste a few cards waiting for a suitable sale. On the other hand, as you said, for optimum play there is a memory element that reduces the luck.

I'm being drawn into discussing strategy. I'll certainly be happy if there is a discussion to be had and there is no obvious dominant strategy.

It's interesting that you did well with the 'triples', and you're not the first. I have more often than not struggled to make good use of them in playtesting. I would rather be gifted a double than a triple because they are worth about the same if you sell 2 pairs and I can usually collect the goods with 2 digs and 2 flights, instead of 3 digs and 3 flights for the triple.

I'm not completely sure on the best strategy regarding the upgrades. I'd be interested to hear more opinions about this. I agree that the holds are more or less required, though the second will be less valuable than the first. I think the other two are borderline worth it, but I've succeeded with none, one and both. The Landscanner (0 becomes 1) seems attractive, because zeroes are obviously to be avoided. On the other hand, over the course of a game, the Gigagrabber should get you more extra cubes - but they might not be the cubes you want the most.

Anyway, thanks again. The detailed feedback I'm getting is most interesting and valuable.
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Mike Arlington

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I think the land scanner is worth it. I don't know what the odds are, but if you run into at least 3 blank digs you've made the land scanner break even.

The giga grabber on the other hand... I am almost always trying to sell to pairs or triples instead of singles, so I only ever want to dig up at most 3 cubes; the rest are usually a waste, as I need the rest of the space for another color(s).
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ErikPeter Walker
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I don't think there's a dominant strategy. Just maybe not enough strategy, in general. Besides "avoid selling singles if you can help it (unless you need the room for visible doubles or triples) it seems straightforward.

Admittedly, the depth of my experience is limited to a few games, but I haven't been able to discern the effect of the different rarities on my choices. No matter what planet I'm on, if I have room in my holds, I'll probably dig. Avoiding one planet--or worse, focusing on only one--means you'll have fewer chances to make most combo sales (when a planet dries up).

As I mentioned earlier, the land scanner could come in handy to find more "rubium" than you normally would, (since man, it's rare) and sell it singly, IF the difference in sale price was enough to justify buying it before a cargo hold or two.

I think it's a clever game, but right now the replay value is limited because my choices aren't super interesting. If there was more interplay between the available techs--e.g. better balance in usefulness and a different selection to choose from each time--it could gain some staying power. It could pose challenges like "how can I win with no additional cargo holds"? some of the time.

Maybe some overarching "event" to deal with that varies from game to game, like fewer cards but higher prices on a planet, or cargo holds costing 10, would deepen the strategy.

Just a thought. Trading stuff for money and flipping lucky draws is fun by itself, even without tons of depth.
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