Quartiles: Alterations Round 2

Previously, I mentioned changing the requirement for getting stars from “any match beyond the first” to “any match (including the first”.  To reduce the tokens in the game I thought, that would let me just allow players to use the tails side of a coin as a star, thus removing star tokens as separate tokens.

Further testing last weekend led me to think that there’s still more than needs to be done.  My current thoughts have the following changes:

  1. Each round, players receive only the number of tiles equal to that round.  So 1st round is 1 tile, 2nd round: 2 tiles, 3rd round: 3 tiles, 4th round: 4 tiles.  This reduces the total number of tiles per player by 6 (from 16 tiles in the old revision, to 10 in the new).  For 4 players that’s 24 fewer tiles being played each game.
  2. To keep with the 4 theme, instead of numbers 1-6, I’m thinking having just 1-4 + x/wild on the tiles would be better, it would reduce the number of tiles and the number of possible matches, which means cards required (and even fewer abilities).  That’s not a bad thing, especially when the current cost to print is about 50 bucks IIRC.
  3. Starting layout:  Currently I just place a single random tile in the center and players build off that.  It’s bothered me because the first player doesn’t really get the option of making a multiple edge connection.  In fact in theory only the 4th player in the 4th turn might be able to play it if others played their tiles in an “L” shape.  My one possible solution was to give the first 3 players a free star.  But I have a better idea…  A + layout.  A center tile, and then 1 tile above, 1 below, one left and one right.  This provides the 2-edges that would allow for more matches and since there’s 4 double-edges with that layout the max 4 players could in theory have a shot at making a full edge connection on their first turn.
  4. The last thing I’m pondering is giving each player a starting 1,2,3,4 token.  This can make it a bit faster to get up to speed as well and start scoring instead of waiting for so many plays to happen.

In the end I think each of those four things will have quite an impact on playtime.  I may not even need all of them.   But I’m certain I’ll use 3 and 1.  2 is most likely as it just fits the theme and will keep costs down.  4 is just a minor adjustment if I want to speed the play up a little and the others don’t fulfill it.

Quartiles: Minor conceptual alterations

I think what I’m going to do to speed up the gameplay for Quartiles, is a fewfold.  I mentioned at least one in the previous post.

  1. Allow adding/subtracting of values on squares to obtain a desired chip of the given result (I play a 4 next to a 2 and receive a 6 chip), as I have no cards that require a 4 or 2 but, say, two cards that need four 6s total.  This will help make it easier for players to get chips quicker
  2. My initial thought with that was to have that ability but not able to gain stars if doing so.  But that’s an artificial restriction that doesn’t necessarily serve a purpose other than encouraging direct matches.
  3. I also feel like my original vision of giving stars to only matches beyond the first match was also a bit too much and slows the game down, both by restricting collection of stars and by forcing people to calculate (however simple a calculation is) how many stars a player receive.
  4. We further found that, with 4 players, even with the amount of stars I had, there were still a few shy of what we really needed.
  5. Then for some reason it hit me:

Remove the “beyond the first match in a turn” requirement to receive stars.  I wanted to encourage matches, but the game encourages that itself.  There’s no reason NOT to make a match if it’s one you need.  And you’re always gonna wanna optimize the maximum tokens you can if possible.  I shouldn’t need to incentivize something that already incentivizes itself.

So now, players receive stars on any match.  But then I thought, that adds MORE need for stars.  Then I thought…

Why have separate star tokens?  In keeping with my dual-use theme (with the cards themselves having both a points/ability) make the tokens map that to their operation.  You can pay a token as a number for a set for points OR you can pay a token as a star.  This means even numbers you aren’t using become useful.  But it might hurt you in the long run if you get new cards down the road that do have that requirement so there will be some extra strategic thinking.  This may be bad, but if it’s less tedium overall (calculating/counting star tokens) – removing artificial barriers and getting on with the game, I think it’s a winner.

It’s funny how even upon the first iteration if things go well, there are still some massive changes in how a game can develop that completely alter how you play it.

Quartiles: 4p testing w/4-draws

So – My goal was to get the game down to maybe 1 hour… On the one hand I’m not hitting the mark.  On the other, for the most part it’s not *too* draggy feeling, however.  There is still some drag.  Some of it is due to analysis paralysis.  Not terrible paralysis.  I think 3/4 of us had at least one play that took 5-10 minutes to figure out what we were gonna do.

One of the issues is that, unfortunately, I forgot a few things about print vs screen design. Print is darker.  It doesn’t help that the fonts I used were hatched so only 50% of the font was color (even if they were thicker/wider fonts.  Half of them were empty).  The little bit of white chalkboard texture was completely lost.  I suppose that’s fine.  But it’s a shame since I originally wanted to have a bit more of a feel of chalkboard with that white residue of wiped off chalk.  Though it’s probably easier to read with just pure black.

Anyways, part of the slowness, I think came from the darkness of the colored numbers + smallness.  So I just revamped it using a different font that’s thicker and increased the size of the font.  Here’s pictures of the old and new.  I made the red a bit more pink in color just for contrasts sake, but not sure I like the look of it, exactly.  Though my other colors are generally brighter, too (like the blue and purples aren’t pure dark blue or dark purple).  My main issue there is I don’t want it to get too much in the way of purple, but I think they’re different enough (and the “1” shape is CERTAINLY different enough from the “6” shape of purple) that it shouldn’t be an issue.

I may actually make it even larger yet.  I put the square boundaries inside the “make sure it’s in here if you want to guarantee it’s printed, because they want to reduce registration errors, but that makes the info on the tile a lot smaller, and it’s clear there’s still plenty of room for printing for the most part (I could probably eek out another 1/8 in. on each side for an extra 1/4 in total of printing size.  We’ll see.

Anyways, here’s the old and new tiles side by side.  You can see a clear difference/contrast now and I think that will make a HUGE difference when it comes to figure out what you’re going to do.
One thing I’m also thinking of doing, though not sure if it’s going to be a power or a universal ability:
Instead of just matching squares/numbers in order to gain a token of that number,  I’m thinking of letting players add or subtract so that way, if you don’t have the number you need, you can still play a tile and gain tokens.  Maybe it won’t count towards the star limit so it won’t be *too* powerful.  That way if I have a 5 and a 1, and need a 4 but there’s no 4 squares, I could match the 5 & 1 and get a 4.  That might help speed up the flow – I mean, there’s some math there, but it’s just adding and subtracting, not too complex.  That should help speed up the flow by giving more options for matches.

In terms of powers/abilities, I’m going to refine them by reducing options.  I want options, but I feel I’m giving players too much choice (+1 OR -1 to 2 squares) or “pick two”.  I need to give a clear and direct choice.  Play for power or points, and the power should just be one thing.  The costs on powers also still need to be refined as well.  It’s getting closer, I think, but there’s still some obvious discrepencies.  And the verbage on cards that I caught after I sent it for printing.  That said, it’s getting closer and I’m generally pleased with the quality.  The game *mostly* has the flow I want, but just need to tweak.  I’d really like to make it so the game takes no more than 60 minutes with 4 players.  I’m not quite sure that’s possible.  The fact we only played 2 rounds with 4 players and it was about 80 minutes (some of that was explanation/rules debates – but that happens in a lot of games, even ones you know and play many times and are published — I need to account for that, and not just assume players will perfectly play the play they want/have right away).  Basically it seems if you break it down that’s 20 minutes/player, divided by 2 rounds, that’s about 10 mins/player/round.  There’s 4 tiles/4 cards, which means about an average of 1.25 minutes per decision of play on ones turn per tile/card strategizing.  I guess that’s not bad – but still is long when looking to use 4 max players and WANTING 4 rounds (quarters), but clearly pulling off only about 2-3.