Author Topic: Design Article #1: The Heart of TSSSF  (Read 1195 times)

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Offline Lord LunaEquie is me

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Design Article #1: The Heart of TSSSF
« on: July 07, 2017, 09:44:59 pm »
News article linked here.

The purpose of this thread is for discussion of the article.

Offline Lord LunaEquie is me

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Re: Design Article #1: The Heart of TSSSF
« Reply #1 on: July 07, 2017, 10:12:30 pm »
I'm looking forward to these articles. I'm big on the "inside baseball" aspect of design articles and talks, and I would love to get into the nitty-gritty of what makes TSSSF work so that I can better design my own cards.

As for the article itself, I completely agree with the "easy to learn" aspect. The rules and gameplay are so straightforward a newcomer can basically start playing after seeing a single player's turn, because pretty much everything is laid out on the table for them. The design is also so masterfully abstract that I think it really captures the essence of fanficcing and shipping that even people without experience in that can easily understand what players are doing in-game.

As I've said elsewhere, I love both how tightly the mechanics tie in to shipping, as well as how easily they could be reskinned for a different aesthetic. One thing I've never said, though, is that I really appreciate how flexible the point system is. Unlike games that use a judge, you can have a game with three, two, or even just one person without much issue. I've never had many friends at a time in the meat, so it's been difficult for me to play a lot of those kinds of games, because they don't work incredibly well unless you have a decent party of at least four people and it usually works better with more.

Offline N.A. Larson

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Re: Design Article #1: The Heart of TSSSF
« Reply #2 on: July 10, 2017, 07:28:37 am »
Glad you're looking forward to these articles! Are there any topics or questions in particular you'd like to see us address? Also, good point on the number of players needed for TSSSF vs CAH!

Offline Lord LunaEquie is me

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Re: Design Article #1: The Heart of TSSSF
« Reply #3 on: July 11, 2017, 06:52:02 pm »
I can't think of anything in particular that I would want covered. I just in general want to hear what makes the game tick -- why build the grid, why use the points, why refill the hand, etc.

Offline N.A. Larson

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Re: Design Article #1: The Heart of TSSSF
« Reply #4 on: July 11, 2017, 10:16:08 pm »
The grid is meant to represent a shipping chart, but I take it you're wondering about the mechanical implications and consequences of having or not having a grid. We hadn't talked about doing an article specifically about the grid, but we might if the topic isn't adequately explored elsewhere. Certainly it will be touched on when we discuss Ship cards, slice (the ability to discard a Ship card from the grid, i.e. grid destruction), and the flavor/mechanics balance of TSSSF.

I think we've pretty much covered why points are used instead of a judge, but this concept will be revisited in the flavor/mechanics article.

I'm not sure what you mean by "refill the hand." How else would players not run out of cards to play?

Offline Lord LunaEquie is me

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Re: Design Article #1: The Heart of TSSSF
« Reply #5 on: July 12, 2017, 11:37:46 am »
I was just throwing out random hypotheticals that came to mind. As for what I meant by them...

Yeah, I more or less meant "how does building the grid in the way it is help the game progress?", or, "how is the shape of the grid advantageous over other forms that could have been used?" -- though I understand the connections with actual shipping grids really drove the game towards the shape it is now.

As for points, there are a number of ways board games tackle point systems and winning. You give the examples of judge games like Superfight, Snake Oil, or Cards Against Humanity, and while yes that is a very fair comparison, many head-to-head board and card games have life systems where points go down, while others can use the victory points as a resource. Munchkin, for instance, is a first to ten points game, but your points go up and down like a life source.

Hand sizes and plays, too, can very from game to game. Ticket to Ride has no hand size and lets you play one track from your hand a turn, from one to six trains depending on the route, but you can't draw on the same turn and vice-versa, but it also lets you draw or pick two cards unless you pick a revealed wild from the pool, so you can save up a massive hand (I sat on a ~40 card hand on my first game because of bad draws). Most deckbuilding games give you a predetermined hand size, too, but you have to discard any unused cards at the end of your turn, then draw back up to full (usually 5). I'm not saying I think it's wrong to play as many as you can per turn then draw back up to seven, I'm just curious of the design decision behind it.

Offline N.A. Larson

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Re: Design Article #1: The Heart of TSSSF
« Reply #6 on: July 15, 2017, 11:44:33 am »
yeah, we'll definitely talk about what effect the grid has on the game. As to different shapes, according to HPG's Tumblr post I linked in my last post, they originally tried a hex grid. I imagine that would make it hard to play a Ship between 2 adjacent Ponies.

If the points aren't awarded by a judge, you're left with winning by beating your opponents or completing objectives. Since TSSSF was specifically designed NOT to be head-to-head (again, see the Tumblr post), that leaves completing objectives. If all the objectives are present simultaneously, the game becomes very predictable, like chess with it standard openings. Having the objectives on rotating Goal cards keeps the game fresh, and difficult to plan around (again, because TSSSF is not head-to-head). If you want your victory points (achieved Goals) go down, you should play with Ithry's #MadeOurMark cards ;)

Redrawing up to the hand limit keeps the game moving. The more cards you have, the more you can do. Also, it encourages players to get rid of (play) their "bad" cards. As to seven, I imagine the number was determined by trial and error, but I know that lets you make 3 plays, and hang on one Pony card.