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Title Chase: Basketball

This will be my on-going designers blog about the design, development and completion of Title Chase: Basketball.

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Title Chase Basketball is finished

Jeff Horger
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Title Chase Basketball is done. All of the rules have been finished and all of the pieces have been finalized. The art is still my word/paint based masterpieces but that will be livened up before publication.

the rules could still use some editing and the game itself still needs some play testing to make sure the wording and concepts are tight. So if anyone is interested in giving the final version of the game a shot, let me know and I will get you the files so that you can assemble a kit of your own to try out.

I would also be pleased if you just looked over the rules for errors.
http://www.gmtgames.com/p-399-title-chase-basketball.aspx
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Fri Jan 24, 2014 3:45 pm
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Bonus Tokens-Bonus Dice

Jeff Horger
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In the very early process of designing the regular season portion of Title Chase Basketball it became very clear that if we were going to have limited, abstract even, tracking of teams relative positions to each other that ties were going to hit us early and often. To account for that we designed Bonus tokens as an option that players could use to build their teams. these tokens represented key wins that would be used to break ties in the standings. Teams collect these tokens and the team with the most of them wins ties among other teams in the same standings row. A further refinement consisted of adding individual ranking values to each token so that the #1 token was better than the #36 token to break ties between teams with the same number of these tokens.

As important as these were, they had no practical use after the playoff seedings were determined. We decided to allow players to trade one of these tokens in for an extra ten-sided die in the playoffs. For a long time this method stayed in place. players would roll seven or eight dice depending on if you had a bonus token or not to spend for the extra die. As we got to the refining stage of the game people were having a difficulty with the game 7 situation. It was not a "real" issue as the stats had born our method out but there was a perceived situation that the visiting team had an edge in game 7 of the playoffs. In this situation, the visiting team was rolling first and locking in a die. According to the rules the home team cannot elect to choose a tie but must choose a different number than the one locked in by the away team. If all of the home team's dice match the visitor's roll then teams can play into the tie and the home team wins. Often the better team (at home in game 7) had an extra 8th dice to use and if one die tied but the other came in lower, the home team had to use the non-matching die. This created a perceived disadvantage and it did happen that way once or twice in the 400+ playoff series that we conducted.

To make the fix we went to the core of the issue, the 8th dice. The last revisions in the game now see the bonus token being used to replace any die the owner could use with a 10-sided die. Now both teams use only 7 dice each and if they tie in game 7, the home club moves on.

Title Chase Basketball is currently on the GMT P500 and needs your support to get moving. Please follow the link and pre-order a copy.
http://www.gmtgames.com/p-399-title-chase-basketball.aspx

I have created a Facebook Page where I will show the newest graphics changes when they become available. Please folow the link and like us at:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Title-Chase-Basketball/172740...

I have also created a Twitter account where I will announce any breaking news for TC Basketball or any of the other games that Carla & I are working on at:
https://twitter.com/Jeff_Horger
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Wed Aug 7, 2013 8:39 pm
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Dynasties

Jeff Horger
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Right now Title Chase Basketball is a single-season game. Play one season, determine the champion and call it a day. We have had some interest in developing a system where you get to keep players from year to year, have player retirement and aging, trades, a draft etc... All of these things are involved in a real NBA season and if the game were to have a multi-year component I would agree that they need to be in there.

I keep looking at this game as a very neat dice game meshed with a basketball theme. And while the theme did come first and the game was built from that, it was never intended as a game that could play for hours at a time. The game is solid in my opinion but the simulation value is low as far as the details required to track even the most basic of stats. The detail required to make this game a deep enough to include all of the variables of team management would cause the game to bog down severely. When I set out to make this game I had one notion in mind, make a game that can recreate one season of basketball in an hour.

So enjoy the game for what it is, a light, fast and exciting game replaying an NBA season. If you want to combine games into multiple seasons where scores carry over, that is fantastic. But I strongly suggest that you don't strive too hard to make this game something more than the structure can bear.

Currently Title Chase Basketball is available for pre-order through GMT Games at: http://www.gmtgames.com/p-399-title-chase-basketball.aspx

Title Chase Basketball has a Facebook Page at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Title-Chase-Basketball/172740...
Piop in and give it a Like to keep up with the latest news and to interact with the designers.

You can also follow me on Twitter for any breaking news at:
https://twitter.com/Jeff_Horger
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Tue Jul 2, 2013 3:07 pm
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Update on Scoring

Jeff Horger
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Over Origins we discussed and experimented with the new scoring system for Title Chase Basketball. If its going to be implemented, Carla & I want it to be as good as it can be.

The base points given for getting to the playoffs and winning playoff series are obvious and were easily implemented. However we came up with two more scoring situations that really fit the game and will make it much better.

The first new scoring achievement is winning a playoff series in a sweep. this will give the winning player an extra 1 point. In the game, much like in real life, going up 3-0 almost guarantees you will win the series and advance to the next round. The way the dice fall out though, it is very easy to give a game somewhere early in a series to hold back better dice to finish the other team off. This is especially prevalent in game 3 where the better team goes on the road and is already up 2-0. The game 3 can be seen as a chance to divest of a bad die, and give the other team a game, knowing that the odds are with them to win the series. An extra point for a sweep means that when that game three roll comes up, the road team needs to keep an extra factor in mind when choosing that key die.

The other scoring addition is actually an Agricola-style penalty. Each team that a player controls that fails to exit the start box in the standings will score a (-1) penalty. This is not quite as devastating as a new player may think. A player concentrating on only two of their teams may leave 3 or 4 behind and accrue a -3 or 4 point penalty. But if their investment in the top teams pays off, the 5 points for winning the title will off-set that penalty. It helps solve my personal annoyance of half of the teams being played and half never leaving the starting gate. Combined with the sweep scoring it will also make it possible that the game winner can be someone other than the player that wins the title. In this manner it becomes a lot like Thunder Alley where winning the race is very important, but victory in the game can also be achieved in other ways.

As always you can pre-order this game here:
http://www.gmtgames.com/p-399-title-chase-basketball.aspx

You may also "like" the Facebook page here:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Title-Chase-Basketball/172740...
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Wed Jun 19, 2013 2:25 pm
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Scoring by Popular Demand

Jeff Horger
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As we designed Title Chase Basketball, Carla & I started with a scoring system similar to Thunder Alley in that you would get scores for each team and the player with the most points from all of their teams would win the game. As we played numerous games it became clear to us that in over 90% of the games the player winning the championship would win the points battle as well. In a desire to streamline the rules and components we cut the scoring system from the game and went with the simple "winner-take'all" approach to it. Win the Championship, win the game. After all, what's the saying? no one remembers who came in second.

But after all of the response from blind testers and the euro-game crowd at CABS we have elected to put the scoring system back into the game and make the previous system an optional rule. This will serve the game in a number of ways.
1) Every team you get into the playoffs will be of value to you, therefore players will compete more for playoff spots further down the standings and more team will be involved in the game from top to bottom.
2) Players will have a chance to win if they do very well with a lot of teams but get unlucky in a crucial playoff series.
3) If you wish to play the game over a number of seasons instead of just one, you can still gain some points in an off-year.

Even though Carla & I believe the game to be pretty much complete, your testing is still causing us to make some subtle and not-so-subtle changes to it. Thanks again for all of the help to everyone all over the world that has given Title Chase: Basketball a play and who has sent us reports back. Thanks to the effort of people like you it will be the best game it can be in the end.

As always Title Chase Basketball is available at GMT Games for $33 as a pre-order:
http://www.gmtgames.com/p-399-title-chase-basketball.aspx
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Thu Apr 18, 2013 3:01 pm
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Cards Change Again

Jeff Horger
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First, our apologies to anyone play testing Title Chase Basketball. If you have followed every card change in the last two months you probably want to slap us right about now. And if you haven't you might be more confused as opposed to murderous. But that is the price we pay for playing games to help get them made as opposed to playing finished ones. Your help has been invaluable. Carla & I have made the current rules (mess though they still are), and now the most current cards available on BGG.

We made the changes in response to new players difficulty in understanding how to control their hands. If you play it enough you begin to see how it works but we felt we would lose too many players between play one and play two if we kept it the way it was. So we divided the deck into divisional decks and let people choose which divisions to play in. The latest change to these cards is adding a third option to each card and allowing you to choose two of those three actions to perform.

As an aside, Thank You to everyone sending us reports on the game. Everything you send helps us refine the game and the rules. Tomorrow we will acknowledge the popular demand and add a scoring system for the game as opposed to the winner-take all approach we have now. After all, it worked for Thunder Alley and as far as we can tell by watching and reading about play tests, it would be a welcome addition. We have played around with it for quite some time, so its already on the shelf ready to go.
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Wed Mar 27, 2013 3:20 pm
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Basketball without stats

Jeff Horger
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One of the loves of my life is sports statistics. At one time I knew them all and reveled in the backs of trading cards, not the front. But stats and games make strange bedfellows. Any game that really cares about stats is generally too long and involved to pull in anyone but the most ardent stat junkie. And ones that ignore stats often leave players like me cold and feeling that I am playing some very generic game in exactly the same manner as every other player that has touched the box. It has been very hard to find an interesting focus for the game where stats are not important (not even at all) but where the feeling of the sport can shine through. Clearly with Title Chase Basketball that point is in the playoffs. Almost any stat-aholic will tell you that basketball icons and legends are made in the playoffs. And TC Basketball gives you that feeling that the regular season is all about setting up for the big show in the playoffs. All of the building and manoeuvring of the regular season is only intended to help give you an easier path for a deep run in the playoffs.

So there are no stats in TC Basketball. No one will ever break a scoring record or score 40 points in a game. No team will soar to 70 wins in a season, or lose 70. But you get to do the one thing that makes champions, claim the title and hoist the (figurative) trophy.
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Thu Feb 21, 2013 8:25 pm
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Testing Results & Changes

Jeff Horger
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Thank you to all of you that have given TC Basketball a go and thank you to those few that have reported back with concerns and ideas. Most of the concerns that popped up here were the same ones that I was seeing in my local playtests.

The major issue is the feeling that players are not able to control their teams as well as they like and that cards they want to get, they never seem to get. I will say that the core group of players (ones that have player 10+ times) no longer feel "card-screwed" as there are ways to mitigate it. But it was coming up enough with players that have played once, twice etc... I believe that letting it stay as it is was not good for the growth of the game. Players that get frustrated on one or two plays will have negative feelings towards the game and perhaps spread those feelings about.

So the answer... We have now integrated Divisional Decks into the game. When you want to draw a card, you may do so from any of the divisional draw decks. That card works only for teams in that division.

I will have a new play test kit up next week (with another short blog post) for downloading and testing.

Thanks again for your help.
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Fri Feb 8, 2013 4:02 pm
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Time to Test

Jeff Horger
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So I think Carla & I have done all we can to TC Basketball by ourselves. It is now time to let the game loose into the wild and let it face the rigors of outside testing. I will make a Print and play version accessible to anyone that wants it. I ask only two things in return, Every question, concern and fault you find needs to be brought to my attention immediately and they you show the game to as many people as you can and direct them to the P500 page.

If you are interested in a kit please send me a valid e-mail that can receive attachments to my BGG mailbox.

Thank you all, I look forward to sending TC Basketball out to the world.
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Wed Oct 17, 2012 6:54 pm
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Strange Teams

Jeff Horger
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One of the most fun parts of TC Basketball was renaming all of the pro basketball teams so that I would not be violating the NBA copyrights on team names and logos. Of course I would like to have the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers in my game, but the cost for such a licensing arrangement is simply not acceptable for a small hobby print run. So I opened up the naming of the teams to my friends, family and acquaintances on Facebook using the polling option. Not only did I offers some selections that were plays on team names already in use or of an historical reference but i also allowed the crowd to add names to the poll. Often something cool made the cut (Indiana Racers or Carolina Kitty Hawks) but occasionally something from out of the blue would raise to the top like Atlanta Vultures or Denver Peak.

The Title Chase names are not official ones but I think that the Cleveland Waterfire can provide a laugh and the LA Showtime invoke the memories of Magic and Jabbar.

You may pre-order Title Chase: Basketball here:
http://www.gmtgames.com/p-399-title-chase-basketball.aspx
Note that you will not be charged for the game until it is actually printed and each order brings the game one step closer to production.

There is also a Facebook where you can follow the game and interact with me:
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Title-Chase-Basketball/1727403...
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Mon Oct 8, 2012 8:41 pm
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