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4:13 PM
@doppelgreener It turns out that the Killbot variants are actually different names
@murgatroid99 neat, do you have any photos?
I saw that yesterday on reddit, but I don't think there were pictures.
ahh, trying to get to reddit now but keep getting the busy cat
What I remember is that people were saying that there were different adjectives, i.e. Curious Killbot, Enraged Killbot, etc.
But all with the same collector number
@murgatroid99 Unstable Variants -- official coverage of the variants in Unstable
and yeah, though I'm disappointed they don't have functional differences. They're all vanilla 2/1's for 2. :(
4:22 PM
ahh kitty is gone for me
Having only one Killbot kinda affects Mary O'Kill's hype.
But four different names means you could have 16..?
hmmm, only would make a difference in constructed I guess
I doubt the different variants will make the card more likely to show up in draft pack than another card of the same rarity
though one thing to consider, the specific variants of the rares could get pretty expensive on secondary market, as they will probably be more rare than mythic...
say the Ashnod's alter like varient becomes popular in Commander:
Hahaha This variant would be so fun to build around for commander:
Just torpedo your own deck so it is useless and no longer possible to win and give it to your opponent. "Here, take this. It is your problem now."
5:01 PM
@AlexMitan Hi!
Oh hey, long time no see
I have a slightly vague question regarding game design that's more the ballpark of "hunch" than Q&A
if I'm building this board game based on, basically, units carrying around stacks of tokens that let them perform actions, imagine a beer coaster with 5 red tokens, 2 yellow tokens, 1 green and 6 blue or something
that's one unit, be it a ship or wizard or whatever
my current concept of attacks(and other risky attempts) is to roll a pool of dice with a simple mechanic
I've tried several, but the thing is, it's either pretty lackluster or one-sided when fights do happen
highest attack die > highest defender die tends to be heavily in favour of defenders
>= is in favour of attackers
highest non-draw die seems fine but encourages huge pools and is slower to calculate
there's an idea of making large pools meaningful by counting doubles as extra successes, sure
but is there a decent d6-pool resolution mechanic that takes little to calculate, favours pools of 2-4 and doesn't bias towards an attacker or defender as pools increase?
5:18 PM
(I had to go AFK to get some tea! Reading now.)
@AlexMitan You might want to check in with RPG players, who will have seen loads of kinds of dice resolution mechanics:

 RPG General Chat

Main chat room for tabletop role-playing games
One of the popular RPGs uses "roll a fistful of dice, count successes, where a success is 4-6 on the d6".
Reminds me of high-level fireballs....
@AlexMitan Spartacus: Blood and Fire sorts both dice pools, pairs the dice from each pool, and you have to count how many dice from the attacking pool are > the corresponding defending dice
e.g. attacking 6-6-4-3 against defending 5-4-3-3 scores 3
both pools start at the same size but successful attacks destroy the defender's dice
I think I need to set my high-level goals first..
again, that is
I want this to be a tactical boardgame that can have RPGish flavour on the side
@AlexMitan Yes, it looks like you arrived at this dice mechanic 'cause you had two things and pushed them together.
It looks to me like all of those Everythingamajig cards have two abilities from existing cards and one new ability.
5:34 PM
@murgatroid99 Scryfall's discord rifled through them -- every ability has been printed on another card before.
I just want not to have 1000 mechanics in my game, I want elegant resolution that doesn't sway the whole game basically... I want some actions to be resolved quickly without rolls, and others with rolls where sacrificing gives you an edge without requiring you to pour a massive amount of dice
That is fair. :)
I don't know if the bias should be towards the attacker or the defender
if the bias is towards the attacker, people are going to either go full M.A.D. or chip away and attack every turn
if the bias is towards the defender, it's boring
Often good games are made out of seeing how little you need to create the desired gameplay. And there are games that have insane amounts of mechanical complexity -- like Twilight Imperium, which takes hours because of how its parts interlock, or Mage Something which has so many different mechanics and subsystems it's like emulating a computer game (and my friends who could endure Twilight Imperium were still just figuring out the game after 3 hours of play, and gave up)
basically, I'm smitten about emergent complexity
5:37 PM
@AlexMitan then maybe you need to bias toward the attack but look elsewhere for resolving that situation
my favourite games have that: Homeworlds, Gnostica, Fate as an RPG
2 or 3 rules intertwining endlessly
or... well... Go
also, I don't want players endlessly licking their wounds either
for 5 turns each they just rotate dice regaining one point per turn... abhorrent
Do you know what type of game play you are looking for?
@doppelgreener Even the one where you swap everything with another player?
Agressive play vs. defensive play, setting up a plan over multiple turns vs. reacting to your opponent each turn
more the "accumulate a combo then blow it up"
or a plan
but that means there's going to be a bunch of downtime
which has to be interesting
damn... this is useful
I need to come here more often
I mean, I probably need to go now
5:42 PM
haha feel free to drop in, it is general chat
but this is good, talking helps more than endless sketching and rolling dice alone
it is nice to have a break from mtg every once in a while
combos are hard to balance
I have about 7 A4 pages full of sketches and statistical tables and graphs
5:43 PM
just look at CCGs
well, not complex combos, there's still no hidden information
try to figure out what type of play you want to have your players expierince before you get bogged down in mechanics
but for example
1 red token to start an attack, then yellow tokens to add range to it, or blue tokens to steal on success
@doppelgreener huh
@doppelgreener They all from artifacts as well?
5:45 PM
alternatively, 1 yellow token to move, then yellow tokens to move further, or red tokens to knock enemies and obstacles aside
@AlexMitan If your units carry around resources and roll dice corresponding to those resources, you might want to look into things like requiring resource expenditure to make rolls.
@Malco Not sure, maybe!
@AlexMitan have you ever played orcs, orcs, orcs?
this is what it looks like right now
I think "move" is at the core of my problems: if I allow one square of movement for free, I have to let other resources enable actions for free too, with expenditures for boosts
if I require expenditures for everything, generating resources might get tedious and things will run dry away from resource spots
for example, the green die can be used for free to increase the right ship's red or green, or extra pips for extra reds
or the left ship's blue can be used to augment an attack with leeching
Have a look at Orcs, Orcs, Orcs for a different type of game that you might able to pull ideas from. It is competitive PvE that has a good balance of trying to build a combo and go off to get a bunch of points, and reacting to randomness of the board and other players actions
hm, will do!
for now I gotta go but I'm coming back
and of course, it isn't "what it looks like", it's just testing ship-to-ship combat
5:50 PM
it uses cards instead of dice though and players end up building a mini deck that they use as resources
cards might be a better idea than dice if you are looking for planning and useing resources
yeah, but I strongly prefer resources being local
this ship having yellow means nothing for that mining crew down the hill who's maybe just chucking ore around without needing to move
and if anyone's played Homeworlds, I want resources to be visible too, with that "oh crap" factor when the enemy shifts a ship into a big red warship
like... hey, there's a shuttle with 12 red coming my way..
One player per ship right?
nooo no no, each player controls a bunch of ships
or units, since any theme can be pasted on
ahh bit more difficult then..
I have ideas for big modular ships too, but that definitely neeeds to take a backseat
I gotta go ggghhh
thank you!
5:56 PM
cya, np. Just keep thinking about what you want the game to play like and what styles of play you want to encourage.
Then after you have that stuff nailed down start working on mechanics. Mechanics should serve playstyle you are looking for not the other way around
3 hours later…
8:52 PM
Looking for guidance and advice for the initial posting on my electronic board game on Board Game Geek. I'm going to avoid any value judgments as to the excellence of the game, since that is partly subjective, and instead focus on the nature of the game and gameplay. Here is what I am thinking:
About Mbrane:

Wholly original mechanics, unlike any previous game in its class.

Game of pure skill, with significantly less rules than chess and no special conditions.

Utilizes Sudoku as the context for a tile-based strategy game which introduces blocking factors (resource stealing strategies). Factorial nature of the gameboard provides effectively infinite replay, despite max 81 turns and 10 minute average game time

Designed in the spirit of medieval tile games, currently in abstract form--gameplay may be understood as "Risk without dice"
Any thoughts or advice would be appreciated!
from a quick look, you don't really go into what the game is
can kind of gather that it is probably a 2 player strategy game?
@Malco The formal title is "Multiplayer Partisan Sudoku", but there are more marketingey descriptions on the app stores, and formal rules posted on the company webesites...
something like chess or checkers but involves number's instead of pieces
ok so to go to marketingy type questions then
exactly! only it is a pure placement game, requiring no token movement.
Who should play your game?
8:57 PM
@DukeZhou I think his point is that there isn't much description of the gameplay experience
and why should they play your game
@murgatroid99 Yes, that thanks murg
re: gameplay, I was thinking

"A struggle for territory in a condition of rapidly diminishing resources. "


"Risk without dice"
ok so that kind of conflicts with your "Wholly original mechanics, unlike any previous game in its class." statement
as to why, I'm not sure how to do that without mentioning how rare and extra-ordinary the game is, which, based on experience, would likely generate flame...
@Malco "Gameplay" is distinct from game mechanics
I'm having trouble seeing how "Risk without dice" is a meaningful description of a game based on Sudoku
9:00 PM
(dang video gamers have clouded matters, but "gameplay" has value.
@murgatroid99 you'd have to read the rules, or better, try the game, and they it will be clear
but, even though the game is simple enough that a 6-year old can play, and complex enough as to be unsolved, very, very few people get it just by reading the 9 simple rules.
Anyway, my understanding is that the gameplay is something like "Place pieces to expand influence. Control more regions to win the game"
@Malco i.e. anyone can make a risk-like game, but novel, fundamental game mechanics almost never occur
@murgatroid99 That is very helpful!
Don't concentrate so much on how extraordinary and revolutionary the game is at a theoretical level. People who are looking to buy the game want to know why it's interesting/fun to play, not why it's some sort of game theory breakthrough
on the site it does a bit more breaking things down I see
@murgatroid99 absolutely. learning to avoid that entirely, except with mathematicians, engineers and game theorists ;)
9:03 PM
Key points:
Simple to learn, suitble ages 10+
Short games ~10min
focus on strategy and planning where you are playing against a player not random chance
possible a learning curve like chess? easy to learn hard to master
@Malco that's very useful
and not really a "solvable" game, enough complexity you will get a different game every time?
oh yes, I've been testing got 4 years, and haven't played the same game twice
(i.e. not like tic-tac-toe where perfect play leads to tie everytime)
only in the 2x2(2x2) version!
(which we're not actually offering;)
but 3x3(3x3) offers an amost perfectly "balance asymmetry"
9:07 PM
So, Who do you hope to play your game
Our major market is the Chess player base, then strategy gamers (although they may mostly be interested in later, "themed" graphical versions, where an 8 might be a castle)
Also Sudoku players, but likely only the subset that actually likes competitive games will be interested
I would drop the comparisons to chess, or at least reword them. Currently, it kind of reads like you're trying criticize chess down to make your game sound better, which doesn't look good.
and this game is every bit as brutal as Chess
it is definitely more elegant that Chess, but I take your point!
Ok, so consider working on the familiar
@DukeZhou This, I think, is something for players to judge
9:09 PM
I'm back
it would be nice to compare it to Chess, but in a way that wouldn't generate flame...
Also, I can't figure out what "Factorial nature of the gameboard" is supposed to mean.
it isn't that useful to someone to say how completely different and unlike anything is. As saying what something isn't dosen't really give you much information on what it is
@murgatroid99 not necessarily. Chess is possibly the greatest game of all-time, but it can get loopy, and there are a lot of rules once you drill down
@murgatroid99 essentially, Latin squares and Sudoku have factorial complexity. this is in addition to exponential complexity. That's what provides the incredible variation with so few turns
@DukeZhou One thing that has bugged me a little since I originally read your game description: how easy is it for a human to look at a board state and determine what moves are available? I think that plays a part
9:12 PM
Ok, so coming here helped me clarify some things
@murgatroid99 super easy
Find strengths in your game that relate to strengths in the games enjoyed by your target. Draw parrallels, you like X, X is good because 1 is key to it. My Y has 1 as a key part
(therefore Y is good, and you will like Y)
we even have player assist for lazy players who don't want to have to deal with that aspect
I need to go back to the high-level concepts and "reasons to play this" and step back from the low-level implementations of stuff I don't even have a place for yet
@DukeZhou But in what sense is the game board itself "factorial"?
9:13 PM
@murgatroid99 because the game is played on empty Sudoku boards, using values 0 through 8, conforming to the constraints of Sudoku
I had an idea to write a three-column thing, "Thing I like in game X" -> "Concept I like that underpins it" -> "How it could fit my game"
so the game tree is partly based on the total number of possible Sudoku squares, reduced, at about 6.67x10^21
(although it's much larger because of the 81 turn sequence)
@DukeZhou This doesn't really clarify things. The game board itself is a square.
But a square where each position can take a value between 0 and 8. (that's the factorial part. compare to binary tokens in Go and Reversi)
using higher level math things as a marketing tool isn't inherently bad, I am just too far out of the demographic to properly critique it.
if you want to make the game more appealing to people outside that demographic as well I would consider emphasizing it in your main advertising copy
9:17 PM
@AlexMitan I was going to add to Malco's suggestion that, once you understand the type of game and game elements, you can start looking for an underlying mathematical and logical structure (the game mechanics) and how they interact with the gameboard topology
@AlexMitan Sounds like a good way to orgainze your thoughts
@Malco we want to try and appeal to the widest possible audience because it's so quick and easy to play. But initially, I'd be happy with Chess & Go players, and hardcore strategy gamers...
those are the people I'm most interested in feedback from at present
hrmm I'm not that big a chess player and have never played Go
@DukeZhou I know how the game works. What I'm saying is that "factorial nature of the game board" won't be meaningful to people looking to play the game
There is a Chess Stack but their chat dosen't seem too active
9:19 PM
@Malco or people who think strategy games should ideally not involve chance...
@murgatroid99 ic. good advice then!
A focus on the "Skill based Nature" of the game along with the "Lack of ALL RNG elements" might be a good idea for you then
@Malco i.e. uncertainty in outcomes is good, and having to "hedge bets" with moves, but where that uncertainty of outcomes deterministic (factors beyond calculation;)
@Malco that's useful
So from the short talk your focuses could be:
I've had my mind blown a bit that an element of randomness, something that I usually scoffed at, can actually help with the problem of analysis-paralysis
In theory, one could stare really hard at a Go board and then have a foolproof winning strategy, but randomness could provide some fog to deter slow play
@malco that is very good. (gotta go afk, but I'll check back for any more thoguhts)
@AlexMitan randomness is a great balancer for players of less skill, a reason why it is so heavily utilized! backgammon is a great example of a skill/luck game that is thousands of years old :)
9:25 PM
I don't mind randomness in games as long as it doesn't make things too "swingy"
It ads uncertainty which can make things more exciting
I realised that my girlfriend doesn't really like Homeworlds but loves Gnostica, two games that to me are quite similar in appeal
@DukeZhou This is a limited and uncharitable view of "randomness"
I tend to Sherlock out on games that are "pure" enough, and it may not always be fun for others or even me. I tend to play more dynamically and ballsily on games with just enough randomness, and sometimes, dare I say, I have more fun because if I lose, it's not that pointy. Come to think about it, I can see how someone might lose at a pure abstract and see it as an insult to their intellect
Losing to the game vs losing to a player
And also, interestingly enough, she isn't a big fan or player of many no-randomness games, but in games with a reasonable amount of it, like Gnostica, Carcassonne, etc., she crushes me and others
to the point where it has to be another skill that a player can have in using randomness or calculating risks or -something-
so if a touch of chaos can allow a player to tap into a skill that they may have and feel good about it, I can't say no to that
9:32 PM
Understandable, players that are better at making good decisions now and adapting could benefit from a swingy game with random elements. Whereas long term plan and execute players would be better suited to games with no randomness and very little hidden information
ok, just to be clear, hidden info = unknown OR chance?
This was kind of what I was getting at when you were talking about your game earlier, which type of player do you want to attract
Hidden info can be both yes.
Hidden info is any game relevant information that the player doesn't know, so
things like die roll outcomes, what cards they are going to draw, and most importantly how their opponents are going to react/play
I'm trying to think of an example game with no hidden info but I can't seem to place one now...
maybe that peg solitaire game?
the thing is when you get things where there is no hidden info, it gets hard to say whether or not it actually counts as a game
Generally, players' minds aren't counted as part of the information in a game
So, games like Tic-Tac-Toe, Checkers, Chess, Go, etc. would be considered games with no hidden information
@murgatroid99 True, I guess while its in their head it is still outside the game. But it is important to consider when the player actions happen when designing
sequential turns will have different impact on strategy than simultaneous turns
or even a complicated structure of timing and priority like MTG has that is kind of a simultaneously sequential hybrid
There is no simultaneity of decision making in MTG
It's complicated, sure, but it's purely turn-based
9:45 PM
but compared to other TCG there is a lot more options for timing
big one being that you can preform actions on another players turn
I'm pretty sure you can quantify some sort of middle point, MTG had ways to play in the opponent's turn with instants and such, right
it is still sequential but there are lots of opportunities for one player to be extremely disruptive of another person's turn
The sequence of who can act when is a lot more granular than the turn sequence, but at any point in the game there is at most one player making decisions and/or taking actions
Yes, but if you take Hearthstone for instance, there is only a limited amount of actions that an opponent can take on your turn
I think the only hidden by player (ie. not random effect) actions you can have are secrets? and even these need to be set up on your own turn
I can't think of any fully simultaneous games off the top of my head right now, but the style seems to be better suited towards electronic ones. Since a computer can take the players actions and buffer them up and then deliver them all at once
Btw, does anyone here know how to model a certain distribution on anydice?

"mine Xd6 vs Y node" -> roll Xd6, any that come up >= Y are summed up
9:51 PM
oh. duh, FPS and RTS are an example of simutaneous games
I've never played it, but I think the game Diplomacy has simultaneous turns
Icehouse is simultaneous
a lot of weird pyramid games are
and a bunch of "electronic-like" ones are, where you program movement for a robot
like ricochet robots, rambots
Assuming you're referring to the card game War, I don't think that counts as a game at all. It's all the way on the other end of the randomness spectrum: players make no decisions, they just act out a random process until somebody "wins".
I think the minimum for some thing to be a game is it needs choices?
there are probably more key parts...
Yeah, I was half-joking, but I encountered an interesting answer about how board games specifically offer many things to people, and strategy or even choice may not be a primary goal for some
btw, I got the anydice thing going:
function: mine DIG:s vs ORE:n {
result: (DIG >= ORE)*ORE
10:04 PM
Aight thats it for me for today, time to head home
good chats today, nice to see some new faces
@AlexMitan At least based on the definition this site uses for deciding whether to allow questions, a board game needs to provide a "challenge", which in my mind at least requires that the outcome depends on the players' decisions and/or skill
@murgatroid99 not saying randomness is bad, it has many purposes. I personally believe the two "Ur" games were probably tic-tac-toe and "throwing bones" (dice)
But there is a special status afforded to games of pure skill, Chess and Go in particular, which is the association of genius with high-level play
Backgammon is a obviously a fairly ideal mix, based on the ancientness of the game
but RNG is definitely an equalizer
@AlexMitan although the strategy for Mbrane/[M] is quite immediate (not requiring looking ahead many turns) it's true that there is an intimidation factor, where people feel like their intellects are on trial
But many people find it to be an incredibly interesting, fun, and easy to play game, and we have a small, but growing, community of addicts!
@AlexMitan by contrast, my college-age buddies love it because when they pwn their friends, they take it as validation of their superior intellects (lot of trash talking goes on in that crowd, upping the fun significantly;)
But yeah. it's like pulling teeth getting people to try something new, and if you tell them it's great, their response is usually negative (we're in a generation of game designers, and everybody things their game is the greatest game.)
10:20 PM
just now here I was making mining "cool" for my game
But we've been testing for several years, and of the people who do try it, who do like strategy games, the response is revelatory as they start to see some of the implications of the simple mechanics
it's fairly mind-blowing, super simple to play, and quite fun in a fun/pain way
what's Mbrane??
Also, can I have some feedback on something?
Mbrane is the app you can play [M] games on!
M games?
10:24 PM
this sounds really cool, is it something one of you made?
@murgatroid99 Poker I think is an especially interesting RNG & Hidden Information game, particularly for the way statistical analysis can be used to maximize desired outcomes. Recent work in poker solving is quite exciting!
@AlexMitan it took me 8 years of thinking how to build a game on top of Latin Squares/Sudoku (after many failed attempts, the rules just dropped into my head, fully formed, while on a week-long Fallout 3 binge;)
I'll be sure to try it asap
Tested on paper for about 6 months before I programmed a prototype in a text editor on my iPad (<32K!)
oh wow
what'd you make it in?
Put together my team, a professional marketer and a trained programmer (BS). We're all working for sweat equity because we believe in the potential.
@AlexMitan coded in pure JS lol with no libraries b/c my iPad only had wifi, and I couldn't depend on connectivity
I never even thought people would be interested in the abstract version--I figured it out by thinking of medieval tile strategy games
10:28 PM
looks like a game that's easy to code once you get the rules right
like... I'm not saying... I mean "easy to code" as in elegant
but when I started playtesting on the integer-only prototype, play testers strongly urged me to move forward with the abstract game
@AlexMitan yeah. unfortunately it's why I have to pursue a patent (expensive and uncertain!) but the upside is that, although I can hopefully restrict people from selling it, I can't stop anyone from making their own versions :)
That's one of the strengths of abstract games. You can make a Chess board at home!
Yup, also true
if it weren't for print-n-play...
just today I printed some tri-chess wedges
Imagine print-and-play when everyone has 3D printers
it's coming
any year now
oh yeah, it's coming
10:31 PM
by the way, I really have to go, but I want a bit of feedback on a mechanic
do you mind?
I don't want to sound selfish
since my game will revolve around resource management, basically, I wanted to make resource acquisition more swingy and exciting, and maybe even a bit tactical
it happens by mining from these resource nodes, by expending potentially vital other resources
imagine using semi-scarce energy to mine for more energy
I have an image of setting the difficulty for a "mining mission/attempt", 1-6
then deciding how many tokens you're willing to expend on it
by rolling that many dice
dice that come up >= difficulty are harvested times the difficulty
as such, 3d6 mining a 4-node: it comes up 5 4 2 -> 2 dice passed, therefore 8 resources gained, 3 expended, net gain of 5
@AlexMitan I've been studying chance in games for several years. Richard Garfield defines luck as "uncertainty in outcomes", but this can be generated purely deterministically (Chess, Go, etc.)

In terms of elements of chance, there seem to be only two fundamental methods:
-Random Number Generation (Dice, Card Shuffling, etc.)
-Imperfect Information (sometimes termed hidden information, but the latter may also connote "Incomplete Information", which is more of a Game Theory, as opposed to a Combinatorial Game Theory concept.)
the way in which I'm asking for feedback is this:
is setting a difficulty and dig number a genuine tactical choice?
the maximums seem to swing up and down wildly, which would suggest so, while the means aren't too unstable
I want the player to have a choice between risky, high-reward mining hits or steady-flow, but costing time(turns)
better visualisation
11:06 PM
@DukeZhou I had another question about the game: as the game approaches the end, how easy is it to look at a board state and determine who is doing better?

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