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Playtesting with some younger kids - basic rules work well (plus, some new ideas)

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- So I had a chance to playtest the current rules with a small group of 8 to 9 year olds, and right now, the basic rules work pretty good (may scale down to 24 cards though), as the game was pretty long-ish when young kids had to think through event card consequences.

Some minor fixes will be implemented (like event cards that alter the terrain, should have the picture of the terrain on it for easy reference). Also, when playing events as an action, it would be good to state that this must always be done as the last action (both myself and the kids got confused when we did an event as the first action, and then tried to keep track of where not to play second and thrid actions because of possible consequences!)

- I also played with a few 6 year olds, and essentially I think the basic rules were mostly too much for them (some of them were into it, but quite a few lost interest because it does get mentally quite busy). However, we ended up making up a new set of rules on the spot, and here, they quite enjoyed playing a simple "trumps" version of the game using the following as stats:

Scale
Food chain rank
#terrains
#climates
FLIGHT>MOVE>SPREAD
points

When there was a tie it was actually quite fun if the tie happened with the MOVE or #terrain values (multiple ties would occur so that it ended up having a "war" like mechanic to it). One of the kids even suggested that in the event of a tie, the first kid to yell out the latin name wins!

- Ooh ooh, and the best suggestion from the kids - why not make the "starter" cards an "avatar" type card. i.e. Can the kids make a card that represents themselves? Kind of like a nod to role playing. As well, some of these kids said it would be cool if with these "self" starter cards, you can pick a skill (i.e. like you're an expert in one particular thing which means any cards you have with that detail, you can play it better).

- There was also some other interesting idea about competing for the same table space by using dice. Here, it was like having a chance for a battle mechanic. I worked through this one a little more, and wondered if the following might be a fun thing to try.

Let's say there's an organism on a certain space. And player 2 has a card that could potentially also go on that same space. Here, player 2 decides to challenge for that space. Then, a "risk" like mechanic comes into play with rules as follows:

Each player will determine who gets the space by rolling between 1 to 4 die. The number of die is dependant on how many viable connections the card has in that space. i.e. if the player 1 card has one good foodchain/terrain/climate linkage, then he/she gets to roll one dice. If player 2, competing for that space, actually has a card that fits in the space better (i.e. can have two linkages), then he/she gets to roll two die.

Like RISK, the die are rolled, players lose dice depending on what they roll (I'm sure there's a perfect way to describe this mechanic in the Risk rules), until they are out of dice. Winner gets to place the card on the spot.

To show that the original card always has an advantage having colonized the space first, in the event of die roll ties, challenger always loses.

Anyway, my main criticism for doing this is that it adds another mechanic, and whether that may be too much? (Although it might make it more fun for the younger kid set - it was playing the event cards that really slowed down the 6 year olds, since sometimes the consequences took some concentration to work out fully).

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The easiest way to cope with the actions is a rule that was implemented very early:
One Event per turn.

Not sure why this was dropped out of current revision. It makes it WAY, WAY, WAY easier to deal with.

I'm leery of adding dice because it A) requires carrying additional equipment B) requires buying additional equipment C) if you're a teacher, do you REALLY want to listen to 15 sets of dice clattering across a desk top? Or chase them under desks?

Resolution by Rock-Paper-Scissors does almost the same randomization as a standard six sided die without requiring extra equipment, eliminates the losing them under things, and for restless kids that have trouble sitting still, gives them something active to do.

You just go for playing RPS as many times as the guy with the MOST likages, but you can't get more wins than you have linkages. (if you tie, replay RPS)

Example: Bob has 1 linkage, Ed has 4. They play Rock-Paper-Scissors four times. Bob wins twice, Ed wins twice. Ed WINS however because Bob can only win once total.

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3 Sounds like my idea on Sat Aug 14, 2010 4:02 pm

The "can challenge for space" idea sounds like one aspect of the predator/prey coadaption idea in the other thread. I think that the same objection and the same solution apply: you don't want to make the base rules too complex, so instead of having this dynamic in the base rules, you can make it happen using event cards: an "invasion" event card, which would [use made-up jargon to] fit the whole dynamic in the card text.

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