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Subject: TRITIUM: Play-Testers Needed rss

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Ken Hardwin
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My friend, Brett, has spent the last few years designing a new (strategy) board game called TRITIUM.

He is having technical difficulties registering with BGG, so he asked me to post his request for playtesters under my account until he could successfully register with this site.

Full-game prototypes will be ready for shipment to blind play-testers within 3 weeks. He needs a comprehensive assessment of the entire game (game-play, instructional document, playing pieces, game-board layout, etc.). If you are interested in being one of his play-testers, please email him at mrbmeyer [at] comcast [dot] net.
Include a description of your play-testing group and process, and the format of your resulting comments/suggestions.
Again, he's looking for detailed assessments of the game.
Thanks in advance!
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Nate K
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Re: Play-Testers Needed
Um, could you give us a bit more, Ken? I don't know anything about your game other than that it is a strategy board game, and that you want highly detailed playtesting feedback.
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Brett Meyer
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Re: Play-Testers Needed
My name is Brett (user name Tritium) and I'm the one who has the board game that I need play-tested. I had my friend, Ken post my request for play-testers under his account since (for some reason) I was having technical problems while trying to register here. Anyway, I was finally able to successfully register here.

The board game that I need play-tested is called Tritium. I don't want to disclose too much information about the game since I want the assessment to be as "blind" as possible. I already have 2 groups who have agreed to play-test the game for me, but I welcome anyone else who will review the game.

The prototypes will be ready for shipment to play-testers in 2 to 3 weeks. It is not a role-playing game or a wargame. It is a game that involves a blend of strategy, skill & luck similar to the blend found in the game of backgammon. The rules are simple and there are very few game pieces. Set-up time is less than 1 minute.

Thanks in advance!
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George Buss
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Re: Play-Testers Needed
Couple of questions:

How many players is the game designed for? 2? 2-4?

Is there a theme on the game, or is it abstract strategy?

Is there a age you would say it is appropriate for? Target audience? Obviously not war-gamers or role-players, but are you looking for the Chess crowd? Gipf Crowd? or some other "strategy" group.
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Robert Seater
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Re: Play-Testers Needed
Tritium wrote:
I want the assessment to be as "blind" as possible.

Don't worry about that so much. It's more important to get a volume of testers, which will be easier if you tell people about the game. Telling playtesters the style of game, theme, and core mechanics is not going to undermine their feedback in any significant way, and it will make it much easier to get volunteers!
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Joe Mucchiello
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Re: Play-Testers Needed
Tritium wrote:
I want the assessment to be as "blind" as possible.

We rant and rave about making sure that you have blind playtesting from folks that don't know you. But that doesn't mean you can't describe what the game is about to them ahead of time. You just shouldn't show them any rules or give them any gameplay help. Games don't come in plain brown boxes that tell you nothing about the contents for a reason. People don't play games that don't interest them and feedback from someone who thinks they won't like it going in is not going be valuable feedback.

A blind playtest involves the play group receiving the game without your being there. They open the box, read the rules cold, and play. That doesn't mean you can't tell them ahead of time it's a racing game involving zeppelins for 2-4 players with a 20-40 minute playing time.
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Nate K
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Re: Play-Testers Needed
Indeed. You will get more volunteers if we at least know what the game is about. I mean, if nothing else, you'll get plenty of feedback on the theme if you let us know what it is. And if it's an interesting theme or concept, then you'll have more people willing to open up the rules and start playing
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George Buss
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Re: Play-Testers Needed
One last thing: don't take us personally.

Fact is: this is the crowd most likely to give your game a vigorous playtesting. Hell, we're giving you solid constructive criticism on one of your first posts!
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Brett Meyer
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Re: Play-Testers Needed
I really appreciate all the advice! I will be away from my computer until this evening. When I return, I will post with a more detailed description of Tritium and answers to all the above questions.
Thanks Again!
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Brett Meyer
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Re: Play-Testers Needed
Tritium is for 2 to 4 players.

I think an appropriate age range would be 8 years & older. Technically, if you can count to 6, you can play Tritium. That doesn't mean that an 8-year old will instantly be able to play the game on the same competitive level as a strategic-minded adult. Like other strategy games (such as backgammon & checkers), effective strategies are learned over time. For instance, I am very familiar with the probabilities and "patterns" involved in the game. Therefore, I would be favored to beat a "new" Tritium player. However, just like in other strategy games where luck plays a factor, a lesser experienced player can conceivably beat an "expert" player on any given game (although unlikely). That's what makes the game so exciting...it's never over until it's over!

Most games (using the established rules) have lasted from 30 to 60 minutes. If players want a "quick" game of Tritium, or even a lengthier game, they can simply adjust one of the rules in either direction, as explained below.

"Is there a theme on the game, or is it abstract strategy?"That’s a tough question to answer. Here is the "definition" of Abstract Strategy games that I found on BGG:

Abstract Strategy games are often (but not always):
1. theme-less (without storyline)
2. built on simple and/or straightforward design and mechanics
3. perfect information games
4. games that promote one player overtaking their opponent(s)
5. little to no elements of luck, chance, or random occurrence


I’ll address each of these five elements:

1. Tritium is not theme-less. In fact, every aspect of the game, from the colors used for the game grid & "pieces" to all facets of game-play, fits tightly into a well-defined theme. Let me explain: Tritium is a radioactive isotope of hydrogen. The word "Tritium" comes from the Greek word "tritos", which means "third". The nucleus of a Tritium atom is also called a triton. A Tritium atom’s triton contains 3 "nucleons", one proton and two neutrons. The game is therefore designed around the number 3. Trefoils (3-bladed "Radiation Symbols") are also integrated into the game. Trefoils are formed using the colors yellow, magenta & black, the 3 colors associated with the marking or labeling of radioactive materials. These 3 colors are used for all game "pieces" & the game grid. In playing Tritium, players earn points. There are 3 ways to earn a point. The 1st player to earn 3 points wins the game. So, as you can see, there is definitely a theme involved. However, one could say that the established theme does not translate into a storyline. In other words, a player wins the game simply by being the 1st to earn 3 points, not by constructing the nucleus of a Tritium atom.
2. Tritium is definitely built on simple and straightforward mechanics. However, here is where I need to be very careful not to reveal too much information about the main "piece" or element of the game. This main element is the absolute nucleus (if you will) of the game. It is what Mr. Mike Hirtle (former Head of Global Product Acquisition at Hasbro) calls the "Big Wow". I hope I am using the word Pawn correctly, but I define a pawn as any game piece that is moved by a player from one location to another location on a game board. In Tritium, there is only 1 pawn that is shared (and moved) by all players.
3. perfect information games: I’ll have to admit that I have no idea what that means.
4. In Tritium, players certainly want to overtake their opponent(s), specifically with regards to the score. For instance, player A (who has earned only 1 point) must "overtake" player B (who has earned 2 points) in order to win the game.
5. little to no elements of luck, chance, or random occurrence: Tritium does use 3 (of course) dice (1 yellow, 1 magenta & 1 black). However, the dice are used in a way that dice have never before been used in any board game (as far as I know). This element is also part of the "Big Wow". For instance, Tritium is NOT a game where 3 dice are shaken in a player’s hand (or dice cup) and tossed onto the game board. In fact, the dice never even contact the game board, and the players never even touch the dice! But, since dice are employed, there is an element of luck involved, but not enough an element to eliminate (or even significantly reduce) the advantage an experienced player enjoys over a less experienced player. For example, on any player’s turn, there is only a 3% probability that they may earn a point strictly due to "lucky dice". Again, one of the design goals was to create a blend of strategy & luck very similar to the blend found in the game of backgammon.

Adjusting the time required to play a game of Tritium is simple. The core rules establish that the winner is the 1st player to earn 3 points. Players who want a shorter game can agree to play to 2 points. Likewise, players who want a longer game can agree to play to 4 (or more) points.

As stated above, there are 3 ways to earn a point. 2 of these ways are strictly strategic, and the other way is strictly luck (with a 3% probability).

So, who is my target audience? Good question! In my opinion (and I may be a bit biased), anyone should enjoy playing the game. And don’t forget...it does have a "Big Wow".

Here is some more insight on what to expect:
Imagine a Checker board that consists of 11 squares X 11 squares. Instead of the squares being black & red, imagine a grid consisting of 3 colored squares (yellow, magenta and black). Some of the squares are special, and a player may earn a point by landing the pawn on 1 of these special squares. Unlike games such as Monopoly, where your pawn is forced to follow a predetermined path, in Tritium you get to create your own path (or route). You may have to determine your best path among several possible paths. Sometimes, your play will be offensive and sometimes it will be defensive. Points can also be earned by being the 1st player to challenge a previous player’s illegal move. If you spot an illegal play, can you be the 1st player to get your challenge chip onto the center square??
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Ed G.
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Re: Play-Testers Needed
Post in this Geeklist, as its all about testing games. Good luck!
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Matthew Rogers
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Re: Play-Testers Needed
Full Disclosure: Brett enquired about playtesters through another venue, and I'm having one or more of my playtest groups look at Tritium.

Perfect Information: This means that the state of the board and the position/points total of the players is able to be seen by all players. Backgammon and Chess are both perfect information games... an observer can walk by and determine who's winning, who's losing and by how much.

Perfect Information often gets tied into another category: deterministic vs. non-deterministic. A deterministic game will always play out the same way with the same pieces and same moves. Chess is a perfect information deterministic game. A knight that elects to take a pawn will always be successful and a bishop can always move any (valid) number of spaces diagonally. Backgammon is perfect information but non-deterministic. You cannot say at the beginning of a game how many moves it will take to bear off your pieces and while you can have a strategy, the rolls of the dice will determine exactly how you implement that strategy.

I'd love to hear more about the game, especially the 3% chance of earning a luck point (is it a valid strategy to push my luck or is just happy accident that I got a point that way?), but I suppose I'll see it soon enough.
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Brett Meyer
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Re: Play-Testers Needed
Thank you for defining Perfect Information Games.

Regarding the "luck point": Earning a point this way is not something that you try to do. It just happens on about 3% of your turns (actually 2.8%). Since it can happen on any given turn, you're always hoping that it happens since it gives you an automatic point without having to earn a point strategically.
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Brett Meyer
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Re: Play-Testers Needed
Here is the logo for the game:

Comments??
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Adam Kazimierczak
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Re: Play-Testers Needed
It's not immediately clear that the cylinder in the center is a T. You may want to connect the colored arcs like a lighthouse, possibly having them be yellow with purple for the rest of the logo (the current yellow/purple fade is hard on the eyes.
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Barry Figgins
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Re: Play-Testers Needed
rseater wrote:
Tritium wrote:
I want the assessment to be as "blind" as possible.

Don't worry about that so much. It's more important to get a volume of testers, which will be easier if you tell people about the game. Telling playtesters the style of game, theme, and core mechanics is not going to undermine their feedback in any significant way, and it will make it much easier to get volunteers!


Maybe the right target to aim for is the 'back of the box' copy. So the theme, the basic mechanic, maybe a little fluff to get the reader excited. You're not going to contaminate your sample by stating "A trick-taking game of Norse warfare for 4-7 players."
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Matthew Rogers
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Re: Play-Testers Needed
Tritium wrote:
Regarding the "luck point": Earning a point this way is not something that you try to do. It just happens on about 3% of your turns (actually 2.8%). Since it can happen on any given turn, you're always hoping that it happens since it gives you an automatic point without having to earn a point strategically.


Interesting. If it's not something that I can make a decision about, what purpose does it serve in the game's design? Is it a quirk of the rules that means that it's a logical outcome of the particular game state? Or is it a catch-up mechanic to allow less strategic players a chance to stay in the game?

I do agree with Adam that the logo needs some work... I think you can do something more interesting with the trefoil design or at least make it more apparent, ala his suggestion of connecting them. But depending on what game the design stage is at, beating up on the graphic design may be premature.

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Brett Meyer
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Re: Play-Testers Needed
I wish that Tritium could be briefly described with such a simple phrase such as "A trick-taking game of Norse warfare for 4-7 players."

Although the theme, rules, & game-play mechanics of Tritium are quite simple and straightforward, I'm finding it difficult to describe it in such a concise manner since I am not aware of any other board game that plays like Tritium does.

So, let me explain how a typical "move" is made in Tritium. Here is a rough graphic of the game grid:



Although it may look like a weird Chess board, Tritium uses only 1 very special "pawn" that is shared by all players. This special "pawn" (which is called the Triton) also generates a random result of 3 dice (yellow, magenta & black). Players use 3 custom-printed chips of the same 3 colors to plan their own unique path (or route) across the grid (horizontally or vertically) in order to move the Triton to a new square of the grid, hopefully landing the Triton on a square that will earn them a point towards victory.

Here is a geographical analogy:
Let’s say that you live in New York City (NYC) and you’re planning to move to Los Angeles (LA). You own a very expensive, vintage sports car. You do not want to put lots of miles on your vintage car by driving it across the entire country. Also, you have always wanted to visit Chicago and Phoenix, and here is your opportunity!

Now, imagine that you’re looking at a large map of the US. You decide to leave your vintage car in NYC and fly to Chicago. Imagine a small toy car on the map over NYC representing your left-behind vintage car. Now that you have flown to Chicago, imagine a coin on the map over Chicago which represents the end of the 1st leg of your trip. You now fly from Chicago to Phoenix. Imagine a 2nd coin on the map over Phoenix which represents the end of the 2nd leg of your trip. You now fly from Phoenix to your final destination, LA. Imagine a 3rd coin on the map over LA which represents the end of the 3rd and final leg of your trip. Now that you have made it to LA, you have a moving company ship your vintage car directly from NYC to LA. Imagine picking up the toy car from the map (over NYC) and placing your car onto LA.

Just as in the above analogy, the playing chips (yellow, magenta & black) document the path (or route) you take to arrive at your final destination, but the Triton (like the car) only moves from its starting location to its final destination after a legal pathway has been established by placing the playing chips onto squares of the game grid.

The available routes are limited since you are required to "obey colors".

For instance, if the triton is on the center (white) square, and you want to begin your move with the yellow die which shows a 2, you could only "move" up 2 squares or to the right 2 squares since those are the only directions where there is an adjacent yellow square.

The remaining 2 dice must also be "played" by obeying the same rule. The yellow, magenta & black chips are placed onto the grid squares to document your designed path prior to physically moving the Triton to its destination square.

I hope that this gives you a better understanding of one of the basic rules of Tritium. I still need more playtesters, so let me know if you're interested. I'll be happy to answer any questions you may have.
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Brett Meyer
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Re: Play-Testers Needed
zedturtle wrote:
Tritium wrote:
Regarding the "luck point": Earning a point this way is not something that you try to do. It just happens on about 3% of your turns (actually 2.8%). Since it can happen on any given turn, you're always hoping that it happens since it gives you an automatic point without having to earn a point strategically.


Interesting. If it's not something that I can make a decision about, what purpose does it serve in the game's design? Is it a quirk of the rules that means that it's a logical outcome of the particular game state? Or is it a catch-up mechanic to allow less strategic players a chance to stay in the game?

I do agree with Adam that the logo needs some work... I think you can do something more interesting with the trefoil design or at least make it more apparent, ala his suggestion of connecting them. But depending on what game the design stage is at, beating up on the graphic design may be premature.


You automatically earn 1 point if the 3 dice show the same number on your turn (i.e., 222 or 555), similar to rolling a Yahtzee (5 dice of the same number), which is even less probable.

Each player's turn consists of the player attempting to use the results of the 3 dice to earn a point towards victory. Although constructing a "move" that results in earning a point is fun, earning an automatic point is even more exciting!

With 3 6-sided dice, there are 216 possible outcomes. Only 6 of these outcomes result in triplicates (6/216=2.8%). Since this could potentially happen on any player's turn, it allows any player to earn an instant point (not just a "less strategic" player).

If you are playing backgammon, and you are way ahead of your opponent & bearing off your checkers, he could roll a double-6 that could completely change the game with regards to which player now is favored to win. Likewise, a triplicate (called a Tritium in the game) can instantly change the dinamics of the game (and potentially alter the other players' strategies).
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Matthew Rogers
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Re: Play-Testers Needed
Question regarding moves...

Say the Triton occupies the Tritium icon in the middle of the bottom row (assuming the previous player scored a point by doing so). Also say that the dice read Black 3 (or 6), Yellow 2 and Magenta 3.

Assuming that only orthogonal moves are valid, there are no legal moves with that combination of dice. Is there a provision for a reroll? Or does something special happen when the Triton hits the trefoil? (e.g. returns to the white start position, but then Black 3, Yellow 3, Magenta 1 presents the same problem).



For the back of box write-up, how about something like this?

Tritium is a route-finding game for 2-4 players. You'll need to find a way to move the Triton onto the Trefoil but you have to visit certain squares on the board. The player who can plot the best routes will earn points the fastest, and the first to three points is the winner. It's Terrific!

Hope I've hit the big points, and had some Quarriors-like fun with alliteration.
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Brett Meyer
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Re: Play-Testers Needed
zedturtle wrote:
Question regarding moves...

Say the Triton occupies the Tritium icon in the middle of the bottom row (assuming the previous player scored a point by doing so). Also say that the dice read Black 3 (or 6), Yellow 2 and Magenta 3.

Assuming that only orthogonal moves are valid, there are no legal moves with that combination of dice. Is there a provision for a reroll? Or does something special happen when the Triton hits the trefoil? (e.g. returns to the white start position, but then Black 3, Yellow 3, Magenta 1 presents the same problem).


86% of the time, you will have to land the Triton on your Trefoil (the one directly in front of you) to earn a point. After doing so, the Triton is returned to the center square before the next player's turn.

BACK-TRACKING:
Playing more than 1 die along the same row or column is fine as long as you don’t land any chip or the Triton on a square already occupied by the Triton or another chip. You may move past a square already occupied by the triton or a chip.

BOUNCING:
“Bouncing" happens frequently in Tritium, so it’s important that you understand how to "bounce". You are not allowed to play a die over any trefoil or the white center square. However, you may bounce off these squares and off the outer border of the game grid. Bouncing in Tritium is just like a rubber ball bouncing off a wall.

Below is one way to play the Black 3, Yellow 3, Magenta 1 (as referenced above) using back-tracking & bouncing. Notice that the Yellow 3 is played up, bouncing off the center square.



zedturtle wrote:
For the back of box write-up, how about something like this?

Tritium is a route-finding game for 2-4 players. You'll need to find a way to move the Triton onto the Trefoil but you have to visit certain squares on the board. The player who can plot the best routes will earn points the fastest, and the first to three points is the winner. It's Terrific!

Hope I've hit the big points, and had some Quarriors-like fun with alliteration.


I like that very much!
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Brett Meyer
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Re: Play-Testers Needed
Just to clarify:
Bouncing allows a player to break the color pattern, allowing a legal move when one would be impossible without bouncing. This does not mean that a legal move will always be possible. Sometimes, a move is not possible. In this case, the player stacks the playing chips onto the next player's Trefoil, which indicates the end of his turn (a non-move).

Before a game begins, each player is given a "challenge" chip. Once a player has completed his turn (a move OR a non-move), any other player may challenge the previous play by being the 1st player to get his challenge chip onto the center white square. If a non-move was challenged, and the challenger is able to demonstrate that at least one legal move was possible, the challenged player is penalized with a 1-point deduction & the successful challenger is awarded a point.

This ability to earn a point even when it's not your turn keeps all players focused on every play.
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Ken Hardwin
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Re: Play-Testers Needed
Hi Brett,

I love your game's logo. It uses the game's 3 colors Yellow, Magenta, and Black. And the top of the middle T is formed using 2 blades of a trefoil...all which stays with your theme. To me it's obvious that it is a T.

Can you mail me a prototype? My group would love to playtest it for you. We're a small group but we will play it numerous times and give you detailed feedback. I had 3 of the players read this thread & they are excited to try it out, and I am too!
I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong but I can't think of any other game that only uses 1 pawn (or Triton) that all players use. That's 1 thing that fascinates me about this game.

Another thing I (we) like is that you get to design your own route of movement.

I have a question. You posted this...
"86% of the time, you will have to land the Triton on your Trefoil (the one directly in front of you) to earn a point."

So what about the other 14% of the time??

Please say yes to us playtesting this. I think it will be a blast to play!
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Brett Meyer
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Re: Play-Testers Needed
Kenopoly wrote:
Hi Brett,

I love your game's logo. It uses the game's 3 colors Yellow, Magenta, and Black. And the top of the middle T is formed using 2 blades of a trefoil...all which stays with your theme. To me it's obvious that it is a T.


Hi Ken. Thanks for the compliments on the logo. It appears on the center square of the game grid and on the custom-printed "challenge" chips. I'm proud of the design, but everyone thinks their baby is the cutest baby ever born.

Kenopoly wrote:
Can you mail me a prototype? My group would love to playtest it for you. We're a small group but we will play it numerous times and give you detailed feedback. I had 3 of the players read this thread & they are excited to try it out, and I am too!
I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong but I can't think of any other game that only uses 1 pawn (or Triton) that all players use. That's 1 thing that fascinates me about this game.

Another thing I (we) like is that you get to design your own route of movement.


Yes, I'll mail you a prototype for your group to playtest. Thanks for the opportunity! Likewise, I'm also not aware of any other single-pawn game. However, I am certainly not a board-game expert (primarily a backgammon player). I know that you recently moved, so please email me your current mailing address.

The ability to design your own route based on the results of 3 different-colored dice is another feature of Tritium that I "think" is unique. Again, I'm no expert, so I have limited knowledge and can't say that no other game employs a similar mechanic.

Kenopoly wrote:
I have a question. You posted this...
"86% of the time, you will have to land the Triton on your Trefoil (the one directly in front of you) to earn a point."

So what about the other 14% of the time??


The "86%" is actually a sum of 2 different categories of dice results. I use the term "results" instead of "rolls" since dice are never actually rolled in Tritium. I'll explain the 2 categories that make up this 86% if anyone asks.

As for the remaining 14%, 3% will be Tritium (triples) which gives the player an automatic point. The remaining 11% are "runs" (2/3/4 or 4/5/6, etc.). When you get a Run, you may earn a point by landing the Triton on ANY of the 4 Trefoils on the game grid!

You do not have to play all 3 dice to earn a point by landing the Triton on a Trefoil. In fact, you can do so by only playing 1 die or 2 of the dice. However, if a point can't be earned, all 3 dice must be played to move the Triton to a new square. If all 3 dice can't be played, no dice may be played & the Triton remains unmoved.

Kenopoly wrote:
Please say yes to us playtesting this. I think it will be a blast to play!


YES! If all goes as planned, prototypes will be mailed out within a week.
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Ken Hardwin
United States
Illinois
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Re: Play-Testers Needed
Hey Brett,
Thanks for letting us test Tritium. Can't wait to get it!! I just emailed you my address.

Sounds like you don't want to give up too much details on the Triton, which is fine. It's probably best if testers not know everything about the game before getting the prototype.

Okay, I'll be the one to ask you...what 2 categories of dice results make up the 86%??

I have a stategy question but I want to think about it a while longer before I ask you.
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