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Subject: [WIP] Libtis: area control for 3-5 rss

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Andrew Watson
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I thought about area control games, such as El Grande, that have a scoreboard for each area. Then I thought: let's use Decktet locations as areas, with the suits lists as the scoreboards. So if you have enough cubes at a location at the right time, you get a suit chip.

At game end, you cash in your suit chips for VPs, with Moons being worth more than other chips (and so on, following the Decktet suit ranking). You also get VPs if you meet the condition on your bonus card.

Please take a look at the Decktet wiki entry for Libtis. It's work-in-progress, but it has progressed enough that it's ready for playtesting. So it's ready for you.

But are you ready for Libtis?
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Nate Straight

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Aw dang that's clever. I love majority games where you sometimes want second place.

Seems the biggest testing to do is balance of the bonus cards, since they really drive the game.

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Kenny VenOsdel
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A few comments on rules vagueries: (please take this the right way. I just like reading and commenting on rules)

1.
Quote:
Suits have the standard Decktet ranking, so that Moon chips are the most valuable, and Knot chips the least.

I assume you are referring to the reference card that is included with some decks that lists the suits in a vertical order. If I recall, PD has stated that the order of them on that card is inconsequential. It is still fine to use that as a sort of ranking system but you should spell it all out as some players may not have that reference card.

2. How is the board formed? I assume a 2x4 grid from the picture but it should say it. Also is it random or predetermined?

3. You should state that each player has their own color of cubes so it's apparent what they are used for. I can infer that information since I've played area control games, but others may not.

4. In the gameplay section you should say how and when a player may choose to move a cube. Must you play a matching card to move a cube? Does it have to match both cards you are moving from and to?

5.
Quote:
Card play for the round ends when the last card has been played by the last player (the player to the right of the start player.

If you must play a card every turn this is a bit redundant. You could simply say the game is over when everyone's cards are played. Saying "the last player's cards are played" suggests that they could possibly strand other player's with unplayed cards.

6. In the middle of the Gameplay section I would add a "End of Round" sub heading. Rather than say "score" you should say "Suit chips are awarded at the end of each round." Then describe how. Saying "scoring" happens is confusing since there are no points awarded.

7. The wording on round end ties is hard to understand at first glance. It would be easier understood as "If players tie for first on a location they each get one chip for the second value suit."

8. It seems you could simplify the rule for ties on bonus cards. Just say you score full points for being the sole person satisfying it and if tied then you divide the points by the number of players involved in the tie (rounded up 5 players will be 3, rounded down 2). I know this seems intuitive to do but not everyone will catch that and then be stuck looking at the rules to remember.

9. It may seem obvious but since you get points for a tie in regards to your bonus points you should also say that if someone else straight up beats you then you get nothing.

10. The Knot bonus seems a distinct disadvantage from the other "hold the most" bonuses. The Knots point value is less than that of Wyrm and Leaf but since they are also relatively small compared to moons, suns, and waves all 3 are not likely to be competed over. Perhaps there is a different point distribution for the suits that could balance this? Maybe just make Knots worth 4 points as well (then you also have a nice pyramid structure). Or perhaps your playtests haven't reflected this as a disadvantage?

11. The 9 and Pawn bonuses also seem much harder to get than the others. Have players been achieving these as regularly as the other bonuses?

12. Finally, I get a gut feeling that dealing cards and having bonuses so specific will lead to balanced games. Your draft variant fixes this for the first round at least, but its easy to see how you could get shut out of your bonus pretty easily just by the card deal. Since the bonuses are really important this would seem to be a problem.


Hope this helps! It looks like it could be interesting. As Nate said, being able to aim for a lower position strategically is very neat.
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Andrew Watson
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NateStraight wrote:

Seems the biggest testing to do is balance of the bonus cards, since they really drive the game.

Nate, I agree that getting the bonus cards right is the biggest testing challenge. In particular, I think that Libtis with Betrayal got right could be a very good game.

Then there's the question of whether Libtis is a game for 3-5, or a game for 3 or 4, with a 5-player variant. I suspect the latter, because with only 4 cards per round and 4 other players, there won't be much control.

Thank you for the kind words (not quoted above), and thanks in advance for any further comments - especially if they are based on playtesting!

Cheers,
Andrew

 
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Nate Straight

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kvenosdel wrote:
1.
Quote:
Suits have the standard Decktet ranking, so that Moon chips are the most valuable, and Knot chips the least.

I assume you are referring to the reference card that is included with some decks that lists the suits in a vertical order. If I recall, PD has stated that the order of them on that card is inconsequential. It is still fine to use that as a sort of ranking system but you should spell it all out as some players may not have that reference card.

The ranking is definitely not inconsequential. It's a designed-in feature of the deck.

Quote:
2. How is the board formed? I assume a 2x4 grid from the picture but it should say it. Also is it random or predetermined?

It doesn't seem like it should matter, based on the rules. There's no spatial element.

Quote:
4. In the gameplay section you should say how and when a player may choose to move a cube. Must you play a matching card to move a cube? Does it have to match both cards you are moving from and to?

Yes, this is unclear.
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Andrew Watson
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Kenny,
Many thanks for taking the time to read the rules, and to give such thoughtful and detailed comments. Here are my responses.

1. Yes, I can and should be clearer about suit ranking.

2. On most tables, a 2x4 grid is probably the best way of organizing the board. The location cards should be placed in the order specified, and scored in that order, to avoid questions of the "Hey, did we score this yet?" variety.

I am rather more explicit about this in my local rules file. I made the rules shorter for the wiki entry. Based on this and on some of your other comments, I should put the examples and other details into the wiki as well. I should also be explicit that you can move a cube from any location to any other location, not just to adjacent locations.

3. Again, need to be more explicit.

4. When you move a cube from one location to another, the suits on the card you're moving from are not relevant. There just needs to be a match between the destination card and the card played from hand.

5. Seems that I need to be less explicit here for a change

6. I thought I'd eliminated references to "scoring" at the end of each round in favor of "awarding chips" or similar. Perhaps I reinstated the reference to scoring when creating the wiki entry. Thanks for catching it, and for the suggestion of an End of Round subhead.

7. Yes, can improve wording on ties, and perhaps reinstate example.

8. Yes, could improve wording on this sort of tie as well! One way of doing this would involve demoting the 5-player game to a "yes, you can play with 5 if you really must and don't mind the much lower level of control" variant, and describing Libtis as for 3 or 4 players.

9. Yes, need to be more explicit about other aspects of bonuses.

10. I have thought about whether the Knots bonus card is worse than its Wyrm and Leaf counterparts. Here's why I don't think it is. There are only 2 locations at which you can get a Knot coin, and competition for Knot coins is likely to be less fierce than competition for higher-valued coins. So it probably takes fewer cards and cubes to capture the Knot bonus than the Wyrm or Leaf bonus.

11. Your flattering questions about playtesting lead me to confess that I haven't been able to do any, other than with me being every player and trying not to gang up on myself. I think that the bonus cards will change as a result of playtesting. There are several ways in which they could change, in terms of the bonus conditions, the bonus amount(s), and allocation of bonus cards. I think that playtest-based feedback will be the best source of information and opinion as to how bonus cards should change.

12. You make two good points here. First, is the game "too balanced"? My short answer: I don't think so. Second, is there too much luck of the deal? Again, I don't think so, but on this point I am less certain. But let's take the example of trying to catch a Wyrm in order to fulfill a bonus. You can at least attempt this even if you have no Wyrm in your hand. A Sun or Wave will allow you to place a cube on a Wyrm card.

My thanks are sincere and golden,
Andrew
 
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Andrew Watson
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Nate, thanks again, this time for your comments on Kenny's comments.

NateStraight wrote:


The [suit] ranking is definitely not inconsequential. It's a designed-in feature of the deck.

There's no spatial element [to the board].


Yes, this [rule about moving a cube] is unclear.

You are correct on all three counts. To address the last of them: when you move a cube from one card to another, the suits on the card you're leaving are irrelevant.

As to the spatial element, or lack of it, it could certainly be introduced, and will be if playtesters seem to miss it.

Best,
Andrew
 
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Kenny VenOsdel
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NateStraight wrote:
kvenosdel wrote:
1.
Quote:
Suits have the standard Decktet ranking, so that Moon chips are the most valuable, and Knot chips the least.

I assume you are referring to the reference card that is included with some decks that lists the suits in a vertical order. If I recall, PD has stated that the order of them on that card is inconsequential. It is still fine to use that as a sort of ranking system but you should spell it all out as some players may not have that reference card.

The ranking is definitely not inconsequential. It's a designed-in feature of the deck.


I took a quick glance through my book, the revised Decktet book that is. I did indeed find the section stating the order of the suits on page 20. Thanks for pointing that out. It was a purposeful feature I had missed before.
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P.D. Magnus
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The game looks nifty.


Regarding the ordering of suits: I think Kenny is right to say that there's something fishy about the phrase in the rules, "highest-ranking suit".

The word "rank" picks out something specific: Ace, number, or Crown. Suits don't have ranks, cards have ranks and suits.

It might be clearer to call them the "top" and "bottom" suit on the card. The three-suited cards also have a "middle" suit.
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Andrew Watson
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pmagnus wrote:
The game looks nifty.

Suits don't have ranks

Thank you for the kind words and for the clarification.

Andrew

ps I'll update the wiki entry over the weekend. I'm hoping to be able to get some playtesting this (Friday) evening.
 
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Andrew Watson
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Good news and bad news, as of Mon May 13
AndAgainMA wrote:
I'll update the wiki entry over the weekend. I'm hoping to be able to get some playtesting this (Friday) evening.

Good news: wiki entry/rules updated, in the light of the very useful feedback in this forum.

Bad news: didn't get to go out gaming on Friday, so no playtesting.

Other news: will send to a gaming friend in Boston a Decktet, set of chips, rules for Libtis, cubes for Libtis, and encouragement to do some playtesting. Will do that tomorrow (Tue) if time allows.

Question: how to encourage playtesting of Decktet games (and Libtis in particular)? Can't send out too many parcels like the one described above, which will cost ~$25 including postage.

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P.D. Magnus
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AndAgainMA wrote:

Question: how to encourage playtesting of Decktet games (and Libtis in particular)? Can't send out too many parcels like the one described above, which will cost ~$25 including postage.

I do want to try this at some point, I was just hoping not to be the first group ever to try it out.
 
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Andrew Watson
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pmagnus wrote:
AndAgainMA wrote:

Question: how to encourage playtesting of Decktet games (and Libtis in particular)? Can't send out too many parcels like the one described above, which will cost ~$25 including postage.

I do want to try this at some point, I was just hoping not to be the first group ever to try it out.

Well, I hope to be able to get to gaming this coming Friday, and to cajole some people into playtesting then, and I hope that the friend to whom I'm sending the Decktet and other materials will feel guilty if he has them too long without playtesting Libtis...
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Hey! I am new to decktet, and this is one of game I will definitely try with my gaming group. However, I think the game needs more of a story, or a theme. I think games are much more enjoyable with it, and much more easier to teach. Like why am I trying to put my cubes on the locations in the first place? What do the suits represent and who are the personalities? This game can definitely benefit from having a theme, preferably set in the decktet universe. And what does libtis means anyways? But other than that, I look forward to testing this game! It really is a smart concept!!
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Andrew Watson
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Dicken,
Thank you for your interest in Libtis. It's an area control game, with each area represented by a Location card. When you place a cube on one of those cards, you increase your influence on that location.

I did think of calling the game Location Influence. But that didn't sound too exciting. So how about Location Influence (Better Than It Sounds)? Turned into an acronym, that makes Libtis.

A theme, you request? Looking back over my notes, I find a story that starts:
The Kingdom of Libtis is divided, and not only by the boundaries between its eight provinces [Location cards]. It is also divided by the distinctions between the six guilds [suits]...

I'll get back to the game, and the backstory, this month. The summer zipped by with a longer-than-expected trip across the Atlantic, and a rather sudden move of house.

Thanks again,
Andrew
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Kenny VenOsdel
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The theme could be factories run amok. They are pumping out goods (the suit chips) as fast as possible and shipping them out to whoever's name is on the top of the list. They don't care where stuff goes, as long as they meet their quotas. If you can bribe or cajole the manager well enough you can snag the goods.
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Andrew Watson
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Kenny,
My first reactions: thank you very much for taking the time to join the Libtis conversation. The factory idea would fit well with the game design.

My second reaction: But the factory idea wouldn't fit as well with the Decktet itself.

Will bear (re)theming in mind as I get back to Libtis.

Andrew
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Kenny VenOsdel
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AndAgainMA wrote:
Kenny,
My first reactions: thank you very much for taking the time to join the Libtis conversation. The factory idea would fit well with the game design.

My second reaction: But the factory idea wouldn't fit as well with the Decktet itself.

Will bear (re)theming in mind as I get back to Libtis.

Andrew

As long as the items the factories produce are plausable in a decktet world it could be alright. Worry about the game first though. Theme isn't as important.
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AndAgainMA wrote:

My second reaction: But the factory idea wouldn't fit as well with the Decktet itself.

But they could be adjacent mills or farms.

Those seem like fresher and more interesting themes to me than divided kingdom, which has been done in a number of other Decktet games. It also lets the suit chips represent products, crops, or something else substantial, rather than something abstract like influence in the kingdom.
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Andrew Watson
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I intend to adapt Libtis for submission to a game design contest recently announced by Greater Than Games. Submissions are due by Monday, January 18th 2016.

I'm posting this here because:
- it might prompt some helpful feedback on the current design, or restart discussion in this thread.
- others may be interested in this contest: I think that many of the games originally designed for Decktet are the sort of light, small-box games that GTG is looking for in running this contest.
- I think that PDM should see what adventures are inspired by his Decktet.
- you might want to wish me luck with Area Control: The Area Control Game.

Cheers,
Andrew
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