Tag Archives: project

Argh, who am I?! – Revision and Playtest 2

I made some revisions to both the cards and rules for Argh, who am I?!

Previous Posts: Argh, who am I?! v1 rulesMaking of, Playtest 1.

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Changing the Card List

The card list has been expanded and changed from all Hollywood monsters:

  • Frankenstein’s Monster
  • Mummy
  • Skeleton
  • Vampire
  • Werewolf
  • Fish Person
  • Zombie
  • Ghost

To a range of people/things:

  • Alien
  • Robot
  • Pirate
  • Ninja
  • Cowboy
  • Demon
  • Angel
  • Zombie
  • Vampire
  • Werewolf
  • Santa Clause
  • Tooth Fairy
  • Easter Bunny

This should now allow the players to narrow down their potential character card in a larger range of ways, similar to 20 Questions.

Changing the Rules

The first set of rules I wanted to change from version 1 of the game, was the question and statement section. The answering back and forth was messy.

The main issue I was trying to avoid with the original rules was that as soon as the players realise that one player is telling the truth (or lies) they become the most reliable source and there is no reason to ever ask anyone else a question. By giving the player who is asked a question some power, it reduces the chance of this happening. In changing this aspect I did not want to lose the freedom of the players to ask whoever they wanted a question.

There were a number of possible work arounds which I considered:

  1. Every player must be asked at least one question before, players can be asked another question. This at first seems a fair method however it has a downside in terms of elegance. The players will require an additional token or card to remember who has and has not been asked a question. Additionally, the first player will get to ask their choice of all other players whilst the last player will not get a choice, every round. This could be solved by skipping the first player of the previous round to change the first player for the current round. Balancing out in the end. All this adds a lot of additional components and rules for a relatively small game.
  2. Players who are asked a question get to ask the next question, and must ask someone else. Players in this case have to balance asking someone who they know is telling truth/lies with giving them the power to ask another question about their own card. In this manner the game should self balance. One issue might be that players may realise the point at which someone has worked out their own card and therefore not ask them a question again, so they cannot declare. To get round this a player could declare at any point.

Of these I selected the second option.

Changing the Setup

Another issue that needed resolving was the length of the game, which for its type was possibly too long. Also there was difficulty in knowing what the cards were in the deck, so you could work out who are or are not. A problem exacerbated by the newly increased character list.

This was solved with a simple setup rule change.

  • The entire deck of cards is shuffled.
  • Cards are laid face up, one at a time, in a grid.
  • Any time a card matching an existing grid card is found it is added to the play-deck. Therefore, mixing the matching truth and lies cards between grid and play-deck randomly.
  • Once the grid and play-deck both contain one of each character type, the play-deck is shuffled again.
  • Each player takes one card from the play-deck.
  • Players help each other orientate their cards correctly.
  • The game begins.

So, although the list of characters is longer, the actual play-deck is smaller than the original version. Additionally there is no need for reference cards for the player as setting up the game creates a grid reference for all the players. There is also now no repeating of the same characters.

Playtest 2

I took the new cards and rules to my monthly board game meet-up and played a couple of games.

The first game went ok, but there was a weakness found in the system. Once someone had identified who they were once, and therefore had the most cards, they could keep randomly guessing to diminish the deck and win with their single card.

The second game we removed this issue, if you’re wrong when you declare you are removed from the game. However if you’re the first person to declare correctly you win. This added a nice layer of tension, do you risk guessing early without all the information but with good odds, or do you risk waiting and someone else guessing first. It also reduced the playtime to a nice length for the style of game.

I did however get confused with the truth and lies, and double negatives at one point, giving a player some incorrect information.I handled it in that moment with a friendly apology, however, this is something that needs consideration in the future.

We played with a relatively large group of people and at times I noticed that some were being left out more than others, so further testing is required for different group sizes.

Once the game was reduced to two/three players the game play changed. For two players it is impossible to have the don’t question back rule.

Thanks to the Playtesters: Ricky, Robin, Patrick, Jonathon, Jazz, David & Peter.

What’s next?

  • I am going to have another look at balancing the character list, so it doesn’t swing too heavy in any sub-genre’s favour.
  • I need to test it a lot more times with different group sizes, and different deck sizes.
  • I’m interested to see if I can expand the deck, but add an additional stage to the set-up which removes a number of cards depending on how many players and how difficult the players want the game to be. This might need a little bit of math to get to a nice starting point but will be ultimately balanced in playtesting.
  • Consider testing the other rules variation with the additional tokens, to see how it feels.

Can I get the new cards?

I’m going to hold off uploading the new cards for a little while until the game has settled and I have time to do some more placeholder art rather than just text titles.

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Making: Argh, who am I?! – A game of truth, lies and deduction

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Argh Who Am?! Print and Play.pdf

I’ve had an idea floating round my head for a while, being a fan of Werewolf and other hidden role games, and having at that point recently played Hanabi by Antoine Bauza (@Toinito) I wanted to make a hidden role game but where the players are aware of everyone else’s role but not their own.

The only other game I’ve seen look at this is Pair of Ducks by Tuesday Knight Games (@TuesKnightGames), the creators behind the fantastic Two Rooms and Boom. In Pair of Ducks each role that the players can see changes how they play, whether they answer ‘yes or no’ questions silently, audibly, truthfully or with lies.

I wanted to avoid covering the same ground so I put the game on the back burner for a while. This was probably about a year or two a go.

Over the last couple of weeks, the idea bubbled up to the top of my mind again and I started mulling it over once more.

For a game like this it seemed to me that the players would need to deduce who they were. The major question in designing the game, is what mechanisms are in place for them to do this. I had a number of thoughts/concepts I was puzzling over.

  • Have pairs of roles, and they need to work out who their partner is.
  • You win if you are the only person who is alone, i.e. no one else has the same role card as you.
  • Certain roles can perform certain actions, other players can stop you from attempting actions that you cannot perform.
  • Having to ask players to perform actions that only they can do.

Taking some influence from Coup by Rikki Tahta I started to think about the passing of tokens, and certain roles being able to do certain things. Players would balance moving tokens around as they needed with giving other players information about their character. So, what could the players do with tokens:

  • Take a token from someone.
  • Give a token to someone.
  • Take a token from a shared pool.
  • Give a token to a shared pool.
  • Swap two piles of tokens.

The thought being at this point, that not only would you need to work out what role you are/if you’re alone/in a pair, you would also need to meet certain conditions, like have the more than/less than/equal number of tokens than another player.

The problem with all of this was the amount of complication and all the information the players would have to deal with, they would need to know which characters could do which actions, without actually knowing the character they currently are. It just all seemed too much. I needed to simplify things.

I still liked the idea of having two of each role, and felt this needed more exploring. Then I was hit with a thought, what if one of each of the pairs had to tell the truth and the other had to lie. Things then started coming together.

Players would ask questions about their character of another player and they would respond truthfully or not depending on the card they had, information that could be shown by text on the back of the playing cards like this:

The issue with this rule alone is that, as soon as you have determined that a player is telling the truth all players would ask that player question rather than anyone else. There needed to be some sort of price for asking a question, something that would stop this happening.

The solution was to have those players give the player they ask some information about their card. In this situation, if everyone keeps asking the same person questions they will get more and more information about their card, giving them a big advantage, which you would want to avoid.

After a little more work and thought, here it is:

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Argh Who Am?! Print and Play.pdf

How to Look at Your Card

In this game of truth, lies and deduction you do not see the Monster on your own card, but you can see the Monster on everyone else’s.

  • There is both a truth and a lies card for each of the eight Monsters. By orientating your Monster portrait correctly, the text on the back of your card will show you which of the two you have.
  • If your card is a truth card then you must tell the truth during the Exchange phase, if it is a lies card you must lie during the Exchange phase.

Setup

  • Shuffle all the Monster Cards together.
  • Deal one card to each player and one card face down into a discard pile.
  • Place the remaining cards face down where everyone can reach them, this is the stack.
  • Hold your card so everyone but you can see the Monster you are.
  • Help everyone orientate their Monster portrait correctly.

Play

Starting with the player explaining the rules, then continuing clockwise, players take turns to either Exchange or Declare.

Exchange has two stages, statement and query, both which must be done with players telling truth or lies depending on their current card.

  • Statement: Tell another player something about their Monster.
  • Query: Then ask the same player a question related to your Monster that they will answer with either a “yes” or a “no”. You cannot directly ask if you are a specific Monster.

– or –

Declare, state the Monster you believe yourself to be, then place the card face up in front of yourself:

  • If correct keep the card in a pile in front of you.
  • If wrong place the card in the discard pile.

Then take another card from the stack.

End of the Game

Continue taking turns until a player attempts to take a card from the stack but cannot because the stack is empty.

Count how many cards you have correctly identified, the player with the most cards wins.

At the moment the cards have classic monsters on them (and very basic art), but that may change with playtesting, in theory they could be any thing which gives a lot of options for making custom decks for different player preferences. Here are snapshots of the font and backs of some of the cards.

If the game goes well, I’ll look into producing some better art work for it. If you manage to play it or have any thoughts or suggestions please let me know.

I think the game will work with between 3-10 players, but this needs further testing to see if this is true.

Argh Who Am?! Print and Play.pdf

Game Idea #1: Detective Game

I have been working on a game idea which is about putting elements together in solving a murder. There is not a correct answer to each case, but the players need to provide convincing reasons to why their solution is the best. Players make choices about which leads they will follow causing an apparent solution to emerge.

Thematically, the murder takes place in a small town. Both the local law enforcement and the out of city Agency are looking to solve the case.

 

Components:

  • Person Cards: Describe the person (Name, age, height, etc). In addition there are four possible leads, that are a combination of people, locations, objects, and statements, and how these relate to the character (e.g. relative, partner, works at, works with, was found in their pockets).
  • Location Cards: Describe a location. Again these have leads which can be people or objects with ways that they relate to the location.
  • Object Cards: Any possible item. These have leads which relate to people and locations.
  • Statements: These are things people can say. They may relate to the victim, or could be an alibi for the time of the murder. These can contain leads to people, locations and objects.
  • Cause of Death Cards: What biologically cause the death of the victim, for example suffocation, blunt force trauma, decapitation.
  • Timer: This is used to determine how long the players have to decide which lead they will follow.

 

Phase 1: A New Case

One player is selected to be the Judge.

The role of the judge is to control all elements of the game; distributing cards to players, timing rounds and most importantly at the end of the game deciding which team will win and which team will lose.

The remaining players are split into two groups:

  • Local Law Enforcement: These are the local police, they may not be the best trained but they know the people, their relationships and the ins and outs of the town. 
  • The Agency: These are outsiders who have been sent in from the city. They may not be from around these parts nor understand the local ways but they’re will trained and know exactly what they are doing.

Each team will follow leads into the case, looking at people, locations and objects. There is only so much time so leads that are not followed will go call. There is potential that the two teams will have slightly different abilities which reflect the theme of the game.

The Judge will deal out the first three cards:

  • Person: This represents the victim.
  • Location: Where the body was found.
  • Cause of Death: What ended the victims life.

Through some method (coin flip, or decision) the players will determine which team follows which lead, i,e, the victim or the location the body was found.

 

Phase 2: Following Leads

Each team will ask the Judge for the cards they require for their chosen leads, be these, people, locations, objects or statements.

Once the cards are dealt out to both teams the judge will start the timer.

When the time is up both teams have to decide which one of the four possible leads they will follow.

This phase is repeated until a certain number of leads have been followed.

 

Phase 3: Solving the Case

Once the last lead has been followed, the teams will have a set amount of time to consider the evidence in front of them, they will then put a solution to the case together which they will present to the other team and the judge. The solution should contain:

  • Suspect(s): Who the team think committed the murder.
  • Motive: Why the team think the suspect(s) committed the murder.
  • Means: What the team think the suspect(s) used to commit the murder.
  • Opportunity: How the team thick the suspect(s) were able to commit the murder.

 

Phase 4: Judges Decision

Once both cases have been presented by the two teams, it is up to the judge to determine which team has solved the case.

The player to the left of the judge will now become the judge and a new case will start.

 

Some possible additional elements

I would potentially like to add some additional game elements to the game.

  • It would be nice if there was further interaction between the local law enforcement and the agency teams. This could be either restricting certain leads, or perhaps stealing leads that are not taken.
  • There should be clear links between the evidence that both teams are drawing together. It makes more sense for the narrative part of the game if they have some similar elements. Perhaps an additional area is require, or some method for linking multiple cards. 
  • The different teams could have different special abilities which reflect the theme. For example, the local law enforcement may get to pick from two person cards, discarding the other.
  • It might be possible to add a point system to the game, where the winning team are rewarded. At the end of the game the player with the most points wins overall.
  • Cross examination from the opposing team during the presentation of the solution might be an additional feature to consider.
  • The ability to split/multi task. So instead of selecting a single lead and seeing the four leads the come from that, it should be possible to implement a system where the team can follow two leads, however if they do so, they now only receive two cards for each lead instead of four.

Not Snakes and Ladders – Dragon’s Hoard

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A couple of years ago I was inspired to have a go at creating a board game after discussing Snakes and Ladders with a friend. Basically Snakes and Ladders a game without any choice or interaction, the dice decides who wins and looses. I wanted to have a go at amending that.

Adding choice.

The first thing I wanted to do was to let people decide where the to put the ladders.

Each player is given three pawns to move instead of just one, all of which they have to get to the end.

Removing some of the Randomness

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Rather than using a dice each player has an identical deck of cards. They have up to five cards from that deck in their hand, and on their turn they can play only three of the cards. This also adds another element of choice. The cards allow them to move, place ladders, or place bombs.

Adding interaction

The players pawns interact with each other. They push each other over and can stop them getting up by standing on top of them.

Adding explosions

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Rather than having players slide back down the board they are knocked over when bombs (placed by the players) explode. This adds some hinderance but it is not overly punishing as it takes a move action to stand up again. In addition the bombs destroy ladders, and set off other bombs, so it is possible to set up catastrophic chain reactions.

Undoing some of the rules

In order to add a little bit of complexity and uncertainty a number of the standard rules can be undone by specific rare special cards. These stop you being pushed over, stop you being knocked over by a bomb, allow you to stand up when you’re at the bottom of a stack of people, and finally increase the rate at which bombs explode.

Overall, I’m pretty pleased with how the game turned out. I’ve played it a few times with different groups of friends and its possibly not recognisable as a snakes and ladders variant any more.

 

The Final Game – Dragon’s Hoard

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A dragon lays dead in the battlefield leaving his treasure unguarded. Will your team be the first to reach the top to claim the Dragon’s Hoard or will you be left behind.

Be the first to get your team of three to the top of the mountain to win. Use ladders to speed past other players or knock them over, stand on fallen competitors to stop them moving and blow things up with bombs.

2-4 Players, plays better with more players.

To play this you’ll need:

  • 4 sets of 3 player tokens, I advise using the kind of meeple’s that you find incarcassonne. The main requirement is that you can lay them down in a distinguishable way and stack them on top of each other.
  • To print 1 set of the Ladder and Bomb Tokens, preferably mounting them on card.
  • To print the Board (finished size A3), again mount on card if you’ve got it.
  • To print 4 sets of the Cards.
  • Four sets of card sleeves to place the cards in, preferably matching the player token colours.
  • And to read the Dragons Hoard Rules.

Humanity – Update

Screenshot from 2014-07-12 17:26:13

The latest version of my narrative rpg game Humanity, along with very basic Character sheet.

After the playtest I had a couple of weeks ago I have made a number of changes.

The most major changes are:

  • The way the world and characters are created.
  • The dropping of multiple attributes.
  • Having a single Narrator (GM) per scene.

 

World and Character Creation

In the first version of Humanity, characters had a list of basic character traits that they had to make a note about; love, fear, appearance, goal, etc.

To make the whole process more user friendly the character background is done by completing keywords in a passage, meaning the character background forms a couple of paragraphs about their history, mannerisms and most importantly their power.

A similar process is used for creating the world setting that the characters exist in as well as the links between those characters.

 

Less Attributes

Originally I used four attributes, Strength, Dexterity, Charisma and Intelligence and then had a separate track for humanity. The key focus of this game is the characters loss of humanity so I decided to drop the other attributes and where checks and challenges occur just have a flat result system. I think this will make things a lot simpler for the players.

 

Who is the Narrator?

One issue that came up in playtesting was the lack of clarity when it came to who was controlling the world. In play people would often control both their character at the same time as the world around them, something which reduces the amount of collaboration in the story telling process.

The easiest get round was to rotate the narrator clockwise between each scene. This does mean that when a player narrates their character is out of the limelight on a sort of narrative autopilot but it just makes everything clearer.

 

I’m hoping to get an opportunity to playtest this version in the next week or so.