September 11, 2014 at 5:19 am #2628
Design Notes 9/9/14
Design goals: critical thinking/decision making, cooperation, engagement (pacing/tension)
The core age-range is 5-7.
Our working assumption is that an entire game will last about 20 minutes.
Components needed for basic prototype for play testing:
1) Player Cards
4) Spell Ingredients
5) Spell Recipes
6) Hazards (crows, etc.)
7) Clock (turn length and game length)
8) Victory Conditions/Goals
Thoughts on the above:
1) Player Cards: I’ve attached a prototype player card that includes four basic elements: an image and flavor text, a place to store a spell, a place to store a spell ingredient, and a place to collect your crystals (dice).
2) Board: I’m doing some research on board size right now. The basic board layout Tim and I discussed includes 8 collection sites (one in each cardinal direction, with one site in between). The basic thought right now is that, in addition to being easiest to go to adjacent sites, there is one shortcut to a site elsewhere on the board. In addition to the eight collection sites, there is a central site in the middle of the board. This may be where ingredients are combined/spells completed, as well as where new spells are drawn (depending on scope/length of game).
3) Dice: Dice are a really important aspect of the game, both mechanically and aesthetically. We are leaning toward d8’s as being the most crystal-like of dice, though d4’s are also possibilities. We would like to emphasize iconography over numbers on the dice (e.g., a crow, a crystal, etc.). There are several different concepts for dice:
a. Each player has three color-specific dice. One die is a movement die, another is an action die, and the third is a sharing die. The first simply has numerals that represent the number of steps you can take. The second gives you a chance to do something magical (complete a spell) but also may have a hazard side (crow). The third die may not be rolled, but may only be shared (gifted) to a friend to help him or her. When you’ve used all three dice your turn is over.
b. You have one color-specific die for movement. You get to move the number of steps you roll. Actions like collecting an ingredient happen automatically when you enter a collection site. Completing a spell happens automatically when you are in the central circle on the board with players who possess all of the needed ingredients collectively. There is a separate hazard die that everyone who moves takes a turn rolling, with the possibility of a crow visiting to steal an ingredient.
c. Each player has a color-specific d8 and a collection of color-specific crystals (glass or plastic beads). At the beginning of your turn, you roll the d8 and add that many crystals to the magic circle on your game board. From then on, you spend the crystals like action points. Move one space, pay one crystal. Gather an ingredient, pay one crystal. Share an ingredient, pay one crystal. Complete a spell, pay one crystal. Give a crystal to a friend to help them. When your crystals are gone, your turn is over.
We also want to keep the dice sharing mechanic simple. For example, it’s easy for me as an adult to see the big picture of how a turn or turns might play out and make a case for why some players should give me dice. For young children, the sharing will often be based less on analysis and more on raw preference or whim which kinds of takes us away from critical thinking. So, I think that dice sharing (and the other forms that cooperation/collaboration take in the game) needs to be pretty simple and streamlined.
4) Spell Ingredients: Spell ingredients will most likely be represented by cards that players collect by visiting a collection site. For simplicity’s sake, it is most likely that you will collect one known ingredient from a site. For example, when you visit the Old Oak you collect an acorn. This may be represented by a circle on the game board with the acorn image near or on the Old Oak collection site. We also discussed the possibility of collection sites containing two or more variable ingredients. In addition to there being eight spells ingredients altogether, we thought it might be interesting to add a symbol to the corner of ingredient cards that signifies the “type” of ingredient — maybe tied to the four elements. Then you could have spells that were less specific (one water ingredient, one air ingredient). This seemed to complicate matters, perhaps unnecessarily. However, the symbols could be included for use in an expansion and/or a more sophisticated variant.
5) Spell Recipes: The central concept for spell recipes is taken from Ticket to Ride — the route cards. Again, depending on the final scope/length of a game: each player receives a spell recipe when the game begins, or one spell is revealed and placed in the center of the board when the game begins. Spell recipes will consist of 2-3 ingredients. Completing a spell requires cooperation, but how will players collaborate to create spells? There are lots of different ways this might work:
a. Fairies can only carry one ingredient at a time (one slot on their player card). In order to complete a recipe, fairies need to meet together and combine ingredients.
b. Fairies gather ingredients and then stash them in the center circle on the board. When all of the ingredients needed to complete a spell are present, the players do a simultaneous “Captain Planet!” roll where they need some number of successes for the spell to happen. Tim and I were really into the idea of a “Captain Planet!” (or Voltron, if you like) roll making its way into the game somehow, even if not here. Seems like a very fun way to represent cooperation, and a potential highlight of the play experience.
Questions we have about recipes include: after completing a spell, do you draw another one? If so, where do you go to get it? Do you need to go get it, or does it appear automatically? Do you need to go to a particular place to complete a spell, or can you do it anywhere? A lot of these questions relate to the overall scope/length of the game. For example: perhaps players gather completed spells/magical items from collection sites (Rainbow Elixir, Firefly Lanterns, etc.) instead of spell components.
6) Hazards: The central hazard in the game remains crows. Crows steal spell components and/or slow players down (though I believe strongly that we should avoid the lazy “lose a turn” design cliche common in children’s games — remember, one of the design goals is engagement). How does this hazard manifest? Through cards (mixed in with spell ingredients) or through dice (an icon on one or more of the dice that are rolled each turn). How will players interact with crows? This is another possibility for collaboration, and could be a high/low roll kind of situation, or a “our combined total exceeds the crow’s total “Wit” or “Cunning” or “Trickery” — whatever the flavor is. Given the core age range (5-7) we’re talking about numbers 0-10. Responding to crows is another possibility for the “Captain Planet” roll discussed above. We also discussed the possibility of “The Nests” or another collection site on the board that was high risk/reward where all of the stolen ingredients are kept. I don’t know how “pranking” or “defending” against the crows works right now.
7) Clock (Turn Length/Game Length): Beyond an overall game length of around 20 minutes, we didn’t come up with too much concrete here. We know that we don’t want players to spend too much time traveling to and fro without anything else happening. That’s why we’re leaning toward “automatic collection” of ingredients when you pass over a collection site, and maybe auto completion of spells once all the ingredients are present in the same location (therefore not making players travel to the middle to cast them…). This is what I mean by scope. Another example of how to change the scope of the game would change how movement works: instead of counting steps between sites, you just fly from one site to any connected site (as described above, to adjacent sites as well as one additional site connected by a shortcut). That has players whizzing around the board collecting cards pretty quickly. Also: How is the game length represented visually on the board? Is it just a track on the edge of the board that, once each player’s turn is over, shifts one notch closer to game end? Represented by an old clock ticking toward the party beginning? A setting sun? A candle burning down to a nub? There are more thoughts about turn length under “Dice” above.
8) Victory Conditions/Goals: I still like the idea of players competing against their own best previous scores. Scoring could simply be the number of completed spells in a game. In this model, the game length would be independent of the number of completed spells. Turns are taken, the marker is moved along the track, and — at game end — the party begins. You count the number of completed spells and record it in the Archive. This is just one idea though.
Attachments:You must be logged in to view attached files.September 13, 2014 at 5:28 am #2631
New board prototype based on last week’s discussion. I researched board sizes for typical square-shaped boxes, so this board is 20×20 inches. Definitely not the most economical use of board space (some things are missing, like places for cards and the turn marker graphic or track) but it gives some sense of where it’s at right now.
Attachments:You must be logged in to view attached files.September 13, 2014 at 5:36 pm #2633
Awesome write up. Been thinking about this since you posted it so my answes to your numbered sections is kind of non-linear.
1. Looks good. What is the resolution of the fairy Nevin? Is it screen resolution (72dpi) or print (300dpi)?
Do you want to give each fairy different abilities either in their Crystal set or printed on their card? I imagine Nevin would maybe get +1 bonus to movement dice, where as a strong magic prankster might get a bonus to magic dice.
In a second i’m gonna suggest round-shaped ingredients. I think the crystal spot should by diamond shaped, and the ingredient spot should be round. Pattern matching!
2. Board looks really good. Did the free map making guy also provide the map curls? I like those!
I want to see more of a short-cut for going through the middle- by having fewer hop-spots in the middle. Players could have the option of dropping resources in the Solstice spot whenever they move through as a sharing mechanic.
As far as economic use of space at first i was gonna suggest making room to drop the cards in the wooded spaces. A cooler option would be round cut outs that you stack on top of the collection spots. I think you only need like 2-4 of each ingredient, depending on how many players. I think a 2″round, kind of heavy 1-2mm board would be awesome. For the luxury edition you could have laser cut wood rounds.
What are you thinking for the Solstice spot art/icon? I could see either an old-timey sun (with or without face) or a lavish banquet hall filled with fairies (and perhaps a crow spy’n in the window).
3. I don’t like C because it feel a little complicated. I like the mechanics of B, as i feel collecting ingredients and dropping ingredients (if you support my above Solstice spot sharing) should happen automatically.
I still think that all the dice described in A could be merged into one d-8, saving costs and reducing complexity. What do you see as the sides of the sharing dice, is that one a mix of magic/crow and movement faces? I do think kids would like having a variety of crystals and not just 3 of the same crystal so i’m kind of gemini brain on the merged dice i just suggested.
4. As you can tell i’m down for the rounds. Ingredient Rounds could be 2 sided with the location printed on one-side (old tree) and the ingredient on the other (acorn). If you wanted to add the complexity of multiple ingredients at sites, they would have the same location back (old tree) and are stacked that side up randomly. These alternate ingredients can be used in more powerful, advanced recipes.
5.Recipes: I like the option of fairies can only carry one thing and drops them off at the solstice spot. Once all the ingredients are there, any fairy can go to that spot and roll the magic/crow die to activate the recipe causing Raibow Elixer or Firefly lanterns to happen.
Do completed recipes have any impact or bonus, or are they just end game points? I think a bonus like everyone faster or you get a re-roll would be cool granted bonus from completed recipes.
I say give one recipe to each player at the beginning and that is what they are working to complete that game, this will support a shorter play.
6 Hazards: I kind of want to play a game without crows to see how it flows. AND THEN, watch a game and just think how i would try to screw the fairies up. Then, make like a counter game where someone is taking turns on the same clock as the fairies, probably snatching Ingredient Rounds, so there is no longer enough of something to complete all these Recipes. Players then need to work to steal back the resources from the crows that they need or have a less splendid party.
Great work. Getting really close to playable. We should play it somewhere magical for the first time. I came across this weird lake north of columbia on like 46th. It has this ancient gazebo and commemorates lewis and clark (though it also states lewis and clark where never actually in the park). Or, like in a cardboard fort of our own making.September 24, 2014 at 7:34 pm #2649
Great Discussion! The game is definitely progressing nicely and cool to see thoughts in writing. Here are my two cents:
I agree with most of what is written and Ryan’s thoughts about actions, round ingredients that stack at each spot, etc.
Player Powers -I think this should be an option but not built in. I could see special magic power cards that players could add (Stretch Goal).
Recipe Powers – I feel the same about this. Maybe in more complex game these recipes are added in so then players can choose do we try to do the magic bonus recipe that is more complex, or just finish the simple ones.
I am excited about both these options and think they are a cool way to add complexity to the game for older children.
I like each player having a spell. I think each player should have one spell total for the whole game, or they need to go to a special spot to get a new spell – so they could complete two but might be wasting valuable moves.
I thought the sharing dice we had at the playtest worked really well. I do think that shared dice should not be able to be saved so if a player doesn’t use them they are returned at the end of their turn. Prevents bad feelings while still penalizing giving your dice to someone who doesn’t need it.
Excited for another playtest and to really refine the crows. I still don’t totally get how they work but agree with Ryan that watching the game played without them and thinking of ways to sabotage the fairies is a good way to go about it. I wonder if there are a couple ways that the crows could hinder the fairies. 1. Steal an ingredient, 2. Carry to random location 3. Steal Recipe or something like that.September 25, 2014 at 3:23 am #2653
- Play Test Notes 9/8/14
1. Want more dice! To roll and share. The more dice you choose to roll the more chance of crows!
2. I wish Tim could give me some of his 6!
3. The center routes should be 2 steps and two should be 3 steps.
4. Some effect should happen as fairies put stuff in other places (e.g., seeds in the woods). These interactions could be neat. But how not to make too complex?!?
5. 6 = move anywhere or take 6 steps?
6. Crows only attack Solstice (the space), OR they attack resources not on Solstice?
7. Recipes should have different point values.
8. Can you cast a spell and then move?
1. Reroll with risk option.
2. I think shared spells will be more fun.
3. Minor bonuses: crystals or extra ingredients.
4. Move other fairies.
5. Shared spells.
6. One sharing die.
7. Cast spell at end of turn.
8. Holding onto shared dice is hard.
9. Only one spell per fairy.
10. Want to move other fairies.
Game 1: Basic game. No crows. No sharing dice. Total score of 1.
Game 2: More complex. Crows. Sharing dice. Total score of 3 or 4.
I wish I had written down notes closer to the actual play test, but some of the things I remember most strongly are:
1. Everyone enjoyed the second game much more. Everyone felt like the game was more directly cooperative, they enjoyed sharing dice, there was much more table chatter and planning happening, and the threat of crows added interest.
2. The way that players planned/worked collaboratively seemed adult-minded to me. I don’t think players of the core age-range (5-7) would be picking up and dropping ingredients all over the board in quite the same way to maximize efficiency. I felt the same way about the manner in which sharing dice were discussed and used.
3. I thought one of the break-out ideas of the session was the “Captain Planet”-style role to defeat the crows, which Bill described as: every player has a crow die (d6 or otherwise). Half of the sides have crow icons while half of them are blank (or have an icon representing fairy magic or power, like a crystal). When crows attack (a “1” is rolled during a player’s movement), every player rolls their crow die and you simply see if the number of positive rolls (crystals) is greater than the number of negative rolls (crows). If the fairies prevail, the person who rolled the 1 gains a feather. If the crows win, they steal an ingredient (or take a fairy to the Nest, or…).
3b. What if you don’t want the feather? Does it just fall to the ground on that spot, waiting to be picked up?
4. Both games, we played that rolling a 6 on the movement die allowed a player to “fly” (teleport) to any space on the board. In playing, we realized that taking six steps was frequently more advantageous than zooming to another spot (due primarily to the ability to pick up an ingredient as you pass through a collection space and continue moving to the next destination, as opposed to flying which forces you to stop wherever you land). I want to think of some other “special effect” for the 6 (or the 8 — whatever the high roll is on whichever dice we decide to use). I had originally thought of discarding your spell to draw another, but this turns out to be disadvantageous more often than not (you’ve already spent time gathering ingredients toward your current spell etc.).
5. Does the cap on number of ingredients make sense? How many of each ingredient should there be?
6. Does the concept for the ingredient “Feather” work? Can you only get a feather after defending against the crow?
7. Should there be a “Nest” collection site, where you can also get feathers? How do we simulate high risk? Is it just farther away, therefore representing a greater time investment to get there? Are all of the ingredients the crows have stolen also there for you to choose from, or just feathers?
8. Should the Feather be a “wild card” ingredient that can stand in for any other ingredient instead of its own separate thing?
9. I’m wondering if dice for action/movement should be done away with. What if, instead, you have three crystals? Spend a crystal to move to a site on the board. If it’s a collection site, you move there and collect that ingredient. If it’s the Solstice site, you get to cast (complete) a spell. If it’s the Nests, you get to rescue a captured fairy. Etc. You could also share crystals with friends somehow…
Player and Recipe Powers seem like interesting ideas that would be simple to add-on to increase depth/complexity. I’m into it, but probably not for the base game.October 1, 2014 at 2:21 am #2654
Thanks for typing up the recaps! Here are my notes by point:
1. I still want more dice. I currently think a movement die (with chance of Crow), a share die (with or without chance of crow?), and a Crow Die (that is rolled when a player rolls a 1 on a Movement or Share die).
3. I still think the map should be asymmetric. The resources that are harder to get two would be featured on more valuable/easier to accomplish recipes. Two of the routes to the center should be 2 steps and the other 2 center routes would be 3 steps and then i’d be happy.
5. I think move 6 steps is better than teleport. Teleport breaks the hopping mechanic of movement. Not all fairies have wings (do they?) so teleport/flight sometimes doesn’t makes sense.
7. Recipes should def have different point values. In the advanced game i want them to grant abilities for the rest of the game after they have been accomplished.
8. I think we have ruled that you can NOT cast a spell and THEN move.
6. I prefer each player have their own share die, cast in their color.
8. Yeah, i think if you don’t use the share die by the end of your turn, it gets returned to the other player as if you had used it. We talked about forcing the use, but then players would basically need to hop back and forth to land where they want AND use up all their dice. Fairies should be able to move UPTO the total movement of all their dice (theirs and shared dice). Dice are returned and that way players always get to roll a full number of dice (2) per turn.
9. I think 1 spell per fairy is great.
10. What if whenever you roll a 6 you get to move a total number of 6 steps moving yours or other player’s fairies. That way even at the end of the game every fairy matters because another player might get a 6 and move you where you need to be. Factoring share dice each player has a 33% of getting a 6 each turn.
Game 2 was bette for me. Game 1 can be the version for toddlers.
2. There was a lot of extra meta-talk because rules were open to interpretation (do you share largest dice or choose dice to share? Do they get used up or can you hold it?). I think once the rules are established the choice of roll a dice and share one will be pretty simple.
3. I like each that each player had a crow die and we needed a certain number of successes. If the crows win they steal a rando resource (either from player, a dropped one, or from one of the resource piles (removing it from the economy). I think the crows should have a distant nest a player can travel to snatch a stolen resources back, or gain a feather.
b. i think the player can choose to keep the fairy or leave it in the space. If a lot of ingredients are going to be left in spaces i still think be would be BADASS as 1.5-2 inch rounds. mmmmmmmmmmmmm, rounds.
4. I think 6’s should let you move any # of fairies a total of 6 steps. :-)
9. To me this feels like an over simplification. Maybe in the TODDLER version (game 1) you don’t roll dice and just use your crystals as you described above. Children 7 and up can play the Game 2-versionOctober 1, 2014 at 6:10 pm #2657
Cool, thank you for the continued feedback and ideas Ryan.
How do you all think I should proceed to the next step? Take a shot at writing the rules out? Do another play test with you all?
I’m thinking I should solidify the rules and bring a prototype into my classroom for a week to play test.
I feel like like I have enough information to craft a 2.0 rule set (or would it be 1.1…?)
Anyway, let me know your thoughts. I’d like to keep it moving, not 100% sure how to do so.October 1, 2014 at 8:15 pm #2658
I would say next steps:
1. Write out an official description of the rules, from overview to setup to playing to victory. I would call that V1, and then we have a reference point that we can try changes to see if they fit or not. Ben’s most recent write up for SCRAP does a good job of outlining the game in simple terms, and will make a good skeleton as we flesh out the rules.
2. Print a color board: Can i take the image you did and run it up to 300dpi and probably 20×20 (4 10×10 tiles)? Again just to have a V1 reference and we can take it from there. Can i make the center routes different lengths and add a bird nest off to the side?
Once you have the rules written out and a big play board def take it to the kids. Then you can find out if Game2-Version is too complicated, or if Game1-Version is too simple.
You must be logged in to reply to this topic.