Card games

Microgame update — Shape Up!

We’ve done a few playtests now of the microgame mentioned the other day, and it’s gone quite well. In fact I think out of all the games I’ve got as far as prototyping and testing, this has been the one that’s most ‘worked’ on the first go. (Which hopefully means that I’m learning something from all this… or else that even the blind pig sometimes finds a truffle.)

One of the playtesters even suggested a name for it: ‘Shape Up’. Which there have been several previous games called, but none of them seems to have stuck or become popular, so might do.

After trying various variants on the rules, we ended up liking best pengshui_master‘s suggestion of an optional move each turn.  This did lead to a bit of reverting, but not so much as to detract from the enhanced flexibility it added: there generally seemed to be more useful things that one could do. I need to test it next with some diehard keen analytical gamers (ie. people cleverer than me) to see if it does still have a vulnerability in the wrong hands. The current playtesters (who are more casual gamers) felt the game was reasonably enjoyable at first encounter but also had the promise of a bit of depth available once familiar. Which is the ideal, really.

I’ll put up the PDFs once I’ve made a few design and text revisions, so you can have a go yourself if you like!

2 replies on “Microgame update — Shape Up!”

Shame I missed ‘s comment on the original thread. The problem isn’t revert battles, the problem is this:

<start with any sequence of ‘place’ actions>
* Player A makes a ‘move’ rather than a ‘place’.
* Player B always reverts that move [*].
* Player A now cannot opt for move and must place. Therefore player A’s previous move was a (weakly) dominated option.

Therefore all ‘move’ actions were irrelevant. This is not the same as a revert battle, which takes the form of an endless loop.

I like ‘s proposed rule in terms of forcing the game to progress, but there are still things I don’t like about it:

* The “optional” part is really inelegant, because except in very obscure corner cases it will always be correct to take the move.
* It makes it extremely cheap to disrupt whatever your opponent is doing, which places a heavy emphasis on fortunate draws over strategy.
* I worry that it significantly favours the last player who gets a move. (Although this is just conjecture.)

[*] Unless player A’s move action was suboptimal, of course. That could happen in a real game, but isn’t interesting.

I worry that it significantly favours the last player who gets a move.

I worried about this too, but am doing so slightly less now, because it seems in practice that the last player gets to either disrupt the opponent or do something good for themselves, but only rarely both. (Without a move option of some sort, the last play is dictated, which I think is undesirable.) But this is one of the things I want to see strong players get their hands on, because it might be I’m underestimating the advantage.

which places a heavy emphasis on fortunate draws over strategy

This is my main concern at the moment. Again, it would be good to see two players actually playing with strategy, to see how much of it survives.

I guess there are tweak rule options available, restricting the capabilities of the move, if needed. I’ll have a think about that,

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