Recommend
3 
 Thumb up
 Hide
13 Posts

BoardGameGeek» Forums » Board Game Design » Board Game Design

Subject: Playtesters wanted for BIT ROT rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Ian Arbuckle
United States
Kennewick
Washington
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I'm looking for folks interested in playtesting a rough draft of a solitaire game. The working title is "Bit Rot."

The Pitch: You're a hacker! Gather data, sell it off for bonuses, push your luck against detection, and ultimately fulfill a large contract before enough trace data builds up and you're exposed. Bit Rot is intended to be scenario-based, kind of like D-Day Dice, in that while a lot of rules are common to all scenarios each individual card might tweak those rules, have differing layouts, or parameters, or other tricks to set them apart. Right now, I have only developed and have been testing on a basic scenario.

The basic gist is that each turn you'll plan out a route through remote servers, establish a target, and do a push-your-luck blind pull of data cubes trying to obtain the colors you want without piling up too many black "breach" cubes which represent your exposure to security types. I'm hoping it feels like "push-your-luck" anyway and not "resign-yourself-to-your-fate," if you know what I mean.

You'll need to print out the net map (scenario sheet) and the rules, available via DropBox here: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/n4of07r3t6gfzr1/cpk9AK9Ejx

You'll also need:
12 red "military" data cubes
12 yellow "social" data cubes
12 green "economic" data cubes
12 blue "governmental" data cubes
20 black breach cubes
7 six-sided dice
5 route markers, numbered 1-5
1 trace dial with numbers from 00-50 (I'm just using the threat dial from LotR the Card game)
1 opaque bag

If you take a stab at the game, please let me know. If you have any questions, I'll be happy to answer them and clarify the rules and intent. This is very much at the "proof of concept" stage.

Thanks in advance!
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jack Guritza
United States
South Euclid
Ohio
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I downloaded the rules. I will take a look when I get a chance...
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Alex Retter
msg tools

I played throught the scenerio. I am new here, but have some pros and cons as well as some rule clarifications I would like to share. What is protocol in terms of giving feedback? Do you want it posted for all to see or a private message?
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ian Arbuckle
United States
Kennewick
Washington
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Go ahead and post it here. :)
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Alex Retter
msg tools
Saltboy wrote:
Go ahead and post it here.


Big Picture:

Overall I think the concept is good and should be very fun. I happen to like puzzles, especially math based so this was a good fit for me. I really think I am either missing the rules somewhat or the math behind it needs looking at. I could not find a strategy that gives much chance of success. I think with some tweaking the game could be quite fun. Despite what will be a number of negative sounding comments to follow, they are really only meant to help build what I think could be a fun game.

Pros of the game:

1. Its enjoyable to plot a strategy from the beginning and try to execute it.

2. Definitely good for people who like math and probability management.

3. I like the concept of the side jobs which add some complexity to it.


Cons of the game (none of which in my opinion damage the proof of concept but are instead implementation issues in my opinion)

1. The game is a hybrid of a puzzle and a heavy luck based game. I happen to like both, but still felt like it was a bit frustrating to spend time developing a strategy and lose when getting generally neutral pulls. This leads to my 2nd comment which could address the 1st.

2. The particular scenario to me is too hard for what this game is. It is possible I am missing some rules, but I played through twice and played a number of times going through the math and taking the most likely outcome with various strategies. Everyone seems to have a very low chance of success. I would like the game better if either the strategic angle were less (simpler luck game) or there were strategies that led to a higher probability of success (good strategy could overcome the daunting probabilities ).

3. Not sure that it is a con or not, but I enjoyed doing mock play throughs with expected outcomes more than actually playing. When I came to the result that a strategy had a low probability of success, didn't feel like actually executing it.

Some other observations/questions about rules and the game in general:

1. Was billed as a push-your-luck game (which I also like a lot) but didn't play that way for me. The loss of stashed cubes happens so early and grows so quickly, it is almost impossible to actually maintain a stash. Every optimal strategy I developed was to focus on the critical side jobs, get the one or two cubes needed and stop. This is almost always one pull (maybe two) and quit. The idea of pressing my luck didn't play in because getting cubes into the stash seems basically worthless because they will be taken in the trace phase.

2. Trace -5 seemed like a very high risk/low reward option. Didn't see why going for it made sense.

3. Does stash 1 of your choice mean put 1 cube into your stash? If so, seems of very low value. Trade two blue cubes for 1, which will almost certainly be traced away.

4. Can you degrade a router to zero? (I assumed no, but if possible would improve the odds of success).

5. I was initially confused about what trace value now +2 was. Would -1 to trace value be more clear?

6. Critical side jobs are aligned with yellow. If you get blown up early and this becomes a 3, it is game over. (i.e. a reasonable 1st move is go from the blue 1 to the yellow 2. This gives 3 black cubes and 2 yellow. There is a 30% chance of getting 2 black. This is game over as the trace becomes 5, which takes a cube every turn and the yellow is 3. This can be mitigated by making a route of 3, but that results in extra black cubes which really hurt you later even if you get lucky on the 1st pull.)

7. Every end game strategy revolved around filling the bag and hoping for an extremely lucky pull to win. Because trace was likely taking 3 cubes per turn, I do not see a viable build strategy at the current levels. Tweaks could help a lot. i.e Is 21 really the right level to start taking 3 cubes from the stash or should it be higher?

8. The red trace to +2 is not as helpful as it would seem. It is tough to get and likely will cost 4 or 5 trace to get. Takes 4 or 5 turns to pay back, at that point you are probably at 21 anyway and the only real value is to keep you below that and the 25 level.

9. Wasn't clear if you could go back and forth when placing tokens. i.e. put token 1 on first block, then 2 on 2nd and then 3 on first and 4 on 2nd and 5 on 1st or something similar to this. Could be a strategy at the end game around this.

10. Should probably clarify in the rules in section 06 that the effects last the rest of the game.
4 
 Thumb up
0.01
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Hans Otto
msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I looked at the scenario and thought, If you print this you need a color printer, because of the colors for the side jobs.
If I speak for myself, I have only a b/w laser printer
I'm not sure, whether it's worth the effort to change this, maybe I'm a single case here
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Alex Retter
msg tools
gulden wrote:
I looked at the scenario and thought, If you print this you need a color printer, because of the colors for the side jobs.
If I speak for myself, I have only a b/w laser printer
I'm not sure, whether it's worth the effort to change this, maybe I'm a single case here


That is a good point. For playtesting, might be good to have a version with different shapes or the first letter of the color or some other marking. I printed in B/W and played in front of a computer with the board on the screen.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ian Arbuckle
United States
Kennewick
Washington
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I'll definitely build up a B/W friendly version of the board. Apologies!
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ian Arbuckle
United States
Kennewick
Washington
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
First off, Alex, thank you for the valuable feedback!

Alex Retter wrote:

2. The particular scenario to me is too hard for what this game is. It is possible I am missing some rules, but I played through twice and played a number of times going through the math and taking the most likely outcome with various strategies. Everyone seems to have a very low chance of success. I would like the game better if either the strategic angle were less (simpler luck game) or there were strategies that led to a higher probability of success (good strategy could overcome the daunting probabilities )


Definitely a consideration high in my priorities. I'm a total newbie when it comes to designing solitaire games; actually, no qualifier needed: I'm a newbie when it comes to designing games. Balancing difficulty seems especially key in solitaire games, though, especially those designed to be a twenty-minute diversion. One question: were you leaving all cubes in the bag in between runs, as long as you didn't exceed the available stock of breach cubes? Getting a bunch of desired cubes in the bag and then doing some lower difficulty runs can be valuable, I've found.

I'm inclined to shave the game off toward the simpler, luck side if this concern is a large one.

Alex Retter wrote:

3. Not sure that it is a con or not, but I enjoyed doing mock play throughs with expected outcomes more than actually playing. When I came to the result that a strategy had a low probability of success, didn't feel like actually executing it.


I kind of enjoy that, too-- It's actually the element of other solitaire games that formed the seed of this one. However, if the mock runs are more fun than the actual ones, that's probably an oops I'll need to address. :)

Alex Retter wrote:

1. Was billed as a push-your-luck game (which I also like a lot) but didn't play that way for me. The loss of stashed cubes happens so early and grows so quickly, it is almost impossible to actually maintain a stash. Every optimal strategy I developed was to focus on the critical side jobs, get the one or two cubes needed and stop. This is almost always one pull (maybe two) and quit. The idea of pressing my luck didn't play in because getting cubes into the stash seems basically worthless because they will be taken in the trace phase.


Good to hear, though it doesn't exactly mirror my experience. I kind of intended that you'd be pushing your luck further if your Trace was high, so that you could grab some dummy cubes to toss away at the end of the turn, preserving the data you needed in order to fulfill the Deal.

Alex Retter wrote:

2. Trace -5 seemed like a very high risk/low reward option. Didn't see why going for it made sense.


You're right that it seems to have low utility compared to the other side jobs. I threw it in there to help myself out during a game where I was just slightly over 25 Trace, which shut down the red routes-- But that's a limited use case, so there could probably be a better job for that, or it could be eliminated.

Alex Retter wrote:

3. Does stash 1 of your choice mean put 1 cube into your stash? If so, seems of very low value. Trade two blue cubes for 1, which will almost certainly be traced away.


Since blue isn't used in the Deal, I thought it might be a way to use excess blues to move yourself closer to fulfilling the contract, but again you're right that it's limited and not particularly attractive on the risk/reward scale.

Alex Retter wrote:

4. Can you degrade a router to zero? (I assumed no, but if possible would improve the odds of success).


Nope! I'll add that clarification into the rules.

Alex Retter wrote:

5. I was initially confused about what trace value now +2 was. Would -1 to trace value be more clear?


Some symbology might help this. I'll try to clarify, as long as the end result is that you don't add as much to your Trace dial by default.

Alex Retter wrote:

7. Every end game strategy revolved around filling the bag and hoping for an extremely lucky pull to win. Because trace was likely taking 3 cubes per turn, I do not see a viable build strategy at the current levels. Tweaks could help a lot. i.e Is 21 really the right level to start taking 3 cubes from the stash or should it be higher?


I'm certainly eager to entertain any tweaks. Do you have any recommendations? (I really appreciate the level of analysis you've given this, by the way.)

Alex Retter wrote:

8. The red trace to +2 is not as helpful as it would seem. It is tough to get and likely will cost 4 or 5 trace to get. Takes 4 or 5 turns to pay back, at that point you are probably at 21 anyway and the only real value is to keep you below that and the 25 level.


Agreed. I'd like to keep a side job that reduces the default Trace increase, but red is probably not the color for it.

Alex Retter wrote:

9. Wasn't clear if you could go back and forth when placing tokens. i.e. put token 1 on first block, then 2 on 2nd and then 3 on first and 4 on 2nd and 5 on 1st or something similar to this. Could be a strategy at the end game around this.


I'll clarify in the rules. I intended for that to be possible.

Alex Retter wrote:

10. Should probably clarify in the rules in section 06 that the effects last the rest of the game.


Agreed!
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Alex Retter
msg tools
Saltboy wrote:
First off, Alex, thank you for the valuable feedback!

Alex Retter wrote:

2. The particular scenario to me is too hard for what this game is. It is possible I am missing some rules, but I played through twice and played a number of times going through the math and taking the most likely outcome with various strategies. Everyone seems to have a very low chance of success. I would like the game better if either the strategic angle were less (simpler luck game) or there were strategies that led to a higher probability of success (good strategy could overcome the daunting probabilities )


Definitely a consideration high in my priorities. I'm a total newbie when it comes to designing solitaire games; actually, no qualifier needed: I'm a newbie when it comes to designing games. Balancing difficulty seems especially key in solitaire games, though, especially those designed to be a twenty-minute diversion. One question: were you leaving all cubes in the bag in between runs, as long as you didn't exceed the available stock of breach cubes? Getting a bunch of desired cubes in the bag and then doing some lower difficulty runs can be valuable, I've found.

I'm inclined to shave the game off toward the simpler, luck side if this concern is a large one.

Alex Retter wrote:

3. Not sure that it is a con or not, but I enjoyed doing mock play throughs with expected outcomes more than actually playing. When I came to the result that a strategy had a low probability of success, didn't feel like actually executing it.


I kind of enjoy that, too-- It's actually the element of other solitaire games that formed the seed of this one. However, if the mock runs are more fun than the actual ones, that's probably an oops I'll need to address.

Alex Retter wrote:

1. Was billed as a push-your-luck game (which I also like a lot) but didn't play that way for me. The loss of stashed cubes happens so early and grows so quickly, it is almost impossible to actually maintain a stash. Every optimal strategy I developed was to focus on the critical side jobs, get the one or two cubes needed and stop. This is almost always one pull (maybe two) and quit. The idea of pressing my luck didn't play in because getting cubes into the stash seems basically worthless because they will be taken in the trace phase.


Good to hear, though it doesn't exactly mirror my experience. I kind of intended that you'd be pushing your luck further if your Trace was high, so that you could grab some dummy cubes to toss away at the end of the turn, preserving the data you needed in order to fulfill the Deal.

Alex Retter wrote:

2. Trace -5 seemed like a very high risk/low reward option. Didn't see why going for it made sense.


You're right that it seems to have low utility compared to the other side jobs. I threw it in there to help myself out during a game where I was just slightly over 25 Trace, which shut down the red routes-- But that's a limited use case, so there could probably be a better job for that, or it could be eliminated.

Alex Retter wrote:

3. Does stash 1 of your choice mean put 1 cube into your stash? If so, seems of very low value. Trade two blue cubes for 1, which will almost certainly be traced away.


Since blue isn't used in the Deal, I thought it might be a way to use excess blues to move yourself closer to fulfilling the contract, but again you're right that it's limited and not particularly attractive on the risk/reward scale.

Alex Retter wrote:

4. Can you degrade a router to zero? (I assumed no, but if possible would improve the odds of success).


Nope! I'll add that clarification into the rules.

Alex Retter wrote:

5. I was initially confused about what trace value now +2 was. Would -1 to trace value be more clear?


Some symbology might help this. I'll try to clarify, as long as the end result is that you don't add as much to your Trace dial by default.

Alex Retter wrote:

7. Every end game strategy revolved around filling the bag and hoping for an extremely lucky pull to win. Because trace was likely taking 3 cubes per turn, I do not see a viable build strategy at the current levels. Tweaks could help a lot. i.e Is 21 really the right level to start taking 3 cubes from the stash or should it be higher?


I'm certainly eager to entertain any tweaks. Do you have any recommendations? (I really appreciate the level of analysis you've given this, by the way.)

Alex Retter wrote:

8. The red trace to +2 is not as helpful as it would seem. It is tough to get and likely will cost 4 or 5 trace to get. Takes 4 or 5 turns to pay back, at that point you are probably at 21 anyway and the only real value is to keep you below that and the 25 level.


Agreed. I'd like to keep a side job that reduces the default Trace increase, but red is probably not the color for it.

Alex Retter wrote:

9. Wasn't clear if you could go back and forth when placing tokens. i.e. put token 1 on first block, then 2 on 2nd and then 3 on first and 4 on 2nd and 5 on 1st or something similar to this. Could be a strategy at the end game around this.


I'll clarify in the rules. I intended for that to be possible.

Alex Retter wrote:

10. Should probably clarify in the rules in section 06 that the effects last the rest of the game.


Agreed!


I don't know how to quote various parts and respond, so I have to apologize for that. I will walk you through my high level math, but in the end it is a design question. I am not sure how easy or hard the game you want it to be to win. I will follow-up with thoughts on that, but there is not really a right answer.

When I look at the endgame, I see the same situation no matter the strategy to get there. You will almost certainly have a trace level of 3. There is almost no reliable way to take routes that will not result in an equal or greater number of black cubes going in as other colors combined. Therefore, you are in a position where you need 8 cubes to win. To build a stash you must get 4 or more cubes a turn. Now even with a route of size 4, the odds are that by the time you get 4 black cubes, you will only get 3 or 4 of other colors. That is if you are willing to blow-up. If you want to stop at 3, you will only have 3 colors, which will immediately be wiped-out by the trace. Therefore, I don't see an alternative to filling up with 20 black cubes, having maybe 7 or 8 red and the same yellow with a possible other stragler or two and hope somehow you can draw 8 before you bust, knowing that even if you have a 5 route, the odds are you will only get 4 and will make little progress. I definately could be wrong, but I have not found a way that has better odds than that at the end (unless I don't understand a rule).

I think it would be worth looking at it if you had more cushion with the amount of cubes you lose with the trace.

2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Nate Wasser
msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
So, I had a chance to test this over the weekend and would like to give you my insights. They'll be blunt and to the point, but hopefully constructive criticism. Some of these points may have already been mentioned, I'm just copying all of the notes I made.

1. The rules have a few ambiguities:
- I wasn't sure if you could use the same line in the net map multiple times, and if so if you could bounce directly back and forth. You've cleared that up already though.

- During a Run you are told to check the number of set aside breach cubes against the value of the route token on the target. If multiple route tokens are on the target I assume you check against the higher number, but that isn't made clear.

- After the Trace I assume you return the set aside breach cubes to the supply, but again this isn't explicit.

- Also the words "must voluntarily" don't really mesh. If you must, it isn't voluntary.

- The Scenario's Deal wants 3R+3Y+2?. Does this mean 2 additional cubes of any color, 2 cubes that aren't red or yellow, 2 cubes of the same color, or possibly something else entirely?

- The side job costing two yellow cubes states: "Ignore difficulty of 1st hop." If the first hop is the same as the 3rd hop, does the difficulty get counted or not?

2. I liked each element of the game itself much more than I liked the sum. It's not constructive criticism because I really can't tell you why, I just don't know, but I somehow didn't feel engulfed by the game. It played out in a fairly sterile way. Again, I really liked the bits and pieces, and I think you've got something here, there's just something missing. Sorry I can't be more helpful.

3. I played a bunch of times, first without allowing routes to bounce back and forth, then with. At first I found the game incredibly hard to win or even come close, although when I managed to at least come reasonably close to winning in the second to last turn I think I had the most fun. Then with bouncing allowed I thought the game was too easy. I made 3 or 4 runs at the greens, getting the 4th and 5th route tokens and building a stockpile of cubes I could afford to lose, then went for yellows (and put reds in the mix while I could do so cheaply) with one more red hoarding on the more expensive red server towards the end. Using the yellow side jobs to reduce difficulty to 1 on the blue and yellow 2s, you can put 5 yellows in the bag for the price of only 3 breach cubes, or 5 reds for 4 breach cubes. (Even less, if you go for the 2 cube yellow side job.) You can also wreck the upper green server and the yellow-red server just before going over 25 (keep pulling breach cubes out till the difficulty increases) in order to keep the amount of breach cubes in the bag low, so you have a good chance to pull lots of yellows and reds on your last turn. If you have a decent stash of greens and/or blues to lose, you shouldn't have to give up that many yellows. Hang on to the reds for dear life, as they get too expensive with trace above 25. I upped the difficulty of all servers by one to try and work against this in my last game and failed, but it was reasonably close.

4. The game play sort of reminds me of Shogun, in a "fill the bag with reds from the red server, then pull out reds while raiding the green server" way. It doesn't make any sense, but that's not neccessarily a bad thing.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Alex Retter
msg tools
Nate Wasser wrote:
So, I had a chance to test this over the weekend and would like to give you my insights. They'll be blunt and to the point, but hopefully constructive criticism. Some of these points may have already been mentioned, I'm just copying all of the notes I made.

1. The rules have a few ambiguities:
- I wasn't sure if you could use the same line in the net map multiple times, and if so if you could bounce directly back and forth. You've cleared that up already though.

- During a Run you are told to check the number of set aside breach cubes against the value of the route token on the target. If multiple route tokens are on the target I assume you check against the higher number, but that isn't made clear.

- After the Trace I assume you return the set aside breach cubes to the supply, but again this isn't explicit.

- Also the words "must voluntarily" don't really mesh. If you must, it isn't voluntary.

- The Scenario's Deal wants 3R+3Y+2?. Does this mean 2 additional cubes of any color, 2 cubes that aren't red or yellow, 2 cubes of the same color, or possibly something else entirely?

- The side job costing two yellow cubes states: "Ignore difficulty of 1st hop." If the first hop is the same as the 3rd hop, does the difficulty get counted or not?

2. I liked each element of the game itself much more than I liked the sum. It's not constructive criticism because I really can't tell you why, I just don't know, but I somehow didn't feel engulfed by the game. It played out in a fairly sterile way. Again, I really liked the bits and pieces, and I think you've got something here, there's just something missing. Sorry I can't be more helpful.

3. I played a bunch of times, first without allowing routes to bounce back and forth, then with. At first I found the game incredibly hard to win or even come close, although when I managed to at least come reasonably close to winning in the second to last turn I think I had the most fun. Then with bouncing allowed I thought the game was too easy. I made 3 or 4 runs at the greens, getting the 4th and 5th route tokens and building a stockpile of cubes I could afford to lose, then went for yellows (and put reds in the mix while I could do so cheaply) with one more red hoarding on the more expensive red server towards the end. Using the yellow side jobs to reduce difficulty to 1 on the blue and yellow 2s, you can put 5 yellows in the bag for the price of only 3 breach cubes, or 5 reds for 4 breach cubes. (Even less, if you go for the 2 cube yellow side job.) You can also wreck the upper green server and the yellow-red server just before going over 25 (keep pulling breach cubes out till the difficulty increases) in order to keep the amount of breach cubes in the bag low, so you have a good chance to pull lots of yellows and reds on your last turn. If you have a decent stash of greens and/or blues to lose, you shouldn't have to give up that many yellows. Hang on to the reds for dear life, as they get too expensive with trace above 25. I upped the difficulty of all servers by one to try and work against this in my last game and failed, but it was reasonably close.

4. The game play sort of reminds me of Shogun, in a "fill the bag with reds from the red server, then pull out reds while raiding the green server" way. It doesn't make any sense, but that's not neccessarily a bad thing.


Its interesting, I was adding in multiple black cubes when I played if I doubled back on a route. It is obviously much easier if you can double back and only take black cubes once. The only thing from a design standpoint is that it obviously makes back-and-forth routes the optimal strategy. This may make the design of multiple, interesting scenarios more of a challenge if players are going to be focusing on creating back-and-forth paths.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ian Arbuckle
United States
Kennewick
Washington
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Thank you for the feedback!

I have updated the rules and scenario PDFs linked in the original post for B&W friendly printing and to clarify a couple of rules points. "Ping-ponging" is indeed allowed and intended-- The servers that receive multiple route token contribute their difficulty in breach tokens to the bag only once per run.

I've also clarified a couple of side jobs, added a visual distinction between one-time effects and permanent effects from side jobs, changed up the Deal slightly, and added a wider buffer to the Trace values that trigger cube discards.

My instinct tells me, though, that I'm tweaking something that needs a larger overhaul...
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.