"Time Marches On" Winner



Greetings,

First and foremost, I must thank each of the participants in the 
contest.  Impressive lot, you bunch.  I enjoyed testing the games, 
and I felt the group as a whole were a good show.

Second, I'll not keep you waiting... I chose [trumpet 
fanfare] "Kidsprout Jumboree" as my favorite (and therefore the 
winner).  Hale-Evans couple, if you would be so kind as to send your 
postal address to me by email (jdroscha @ att . net), I'll send your 
prize off straight away.  Congratulations.  Also, if you could email 
me your thoughts on the recent discussion of "next contest", it would 
be appreciated.

Third, I'd like to share a few comments and suggestions regarding 
each of the entries (in alphabetical order).  The suggestions would 
perhaps be more properly termed "expressed possibilities" as I've not 
taken the time to test any of them... they merely occurred to me and 
I thought I'd blurt them out on my keyboard.

CONSPIRACY
Comments: Conspiracy was the most complex entry and is the most 
complete piecepack ruleset I've seen, including inline examples, 
inline designer notes, additional pages of designer commentary, and a 
lengthy play example.  I like the "conveyor-belt" tile movement.  I 
also dig the "coins gang up by pointing" mechanic (which would seem 
useful in a piecepack wargame as well).
Suggestions: This might sound goofy, but I'd like to see the board 
upside-down (i.e., take the current board and rotate the words 180 
degrees).  Since we sat in a U-shape around the table when we played 
this, having the Present end of the board toward the players would 
give a better sense of the Future coming _toward_ the players.  Small 
thing, but hey.  Also, it might help alleviate the opacity of the 
rules if the theme were better integrated with the rules text.  For 
example, instead of the "Place Coin" action, maybe call it "Concoct 
Scheme (place coin)" or something.  Some of the possible changes 
mentioned in the designer commentary sound interesting, though it 
already feels to me like there's more minutiae than I could ever hold 
in my feeble brain, so perhaps some pruning could be considered first.

COYOTE MOON
Comments: Appealing theme.  The "round" board with the clockwise and 
counterclockwise concentric tracks is groovy.  The connection to the 
contest theme is perhaps a bit weak, but that doesn't detract from 
the game itself.  (Future/past is a worthy thematic interpretation, 
but which evaporated quickly during play.)
Suggestions: Not much... this is a decent, tight little game.  A 
better way to randomize the initial coin layout would be nice; the 
person placing the coins is very likely to (unintentionally) note 
some of the coin values, which could provide a slight advantage.  Any 
additional ties between mechanics and theme would be welcome (besides 
being hopped up on payote while playing).

KIDSPROUT JUMBOREE
Comments: This would be worth playing even without the Excuses, but 
they really do make the game.  Fun theme, well intertwined with the 
mechanics.  Quick to play, easy to remember, good dose of luck, fair 
helping of tactics.
Suggestions: I would like to see more variety in the Activities.  I 
suggest one of two methods... 1) one chart for each die color, vary 
the time needed for activities (rather than merely matching the die 
roll), and allow the Leaping Buck (or Rutting Buck, as I am wont to 
label) which color/chart to roll against; or 2) just keep the die 
roll for # of hours as it is now but skip the chart and let the Rutt, 
er, Leaping Buck "make up" the activity name.  Why?  Because I like 
to relate the Excuse directly to the Activity, and more variety would 
provide further meat for the grinder (or somesuch metaphor).  Also, 
the rules could more clearly state that each round is not so much 
progressing through the day as it is progressing through the day 
planning.  That is, the action takes place perhaps the night before 
(or the morning of), and the SproutMeisters are filling their 
dayrunners.

ONE MAN: THRAG!
Comments: Amusing solitaire diversion of the line-em-up and knock-em-
down variety.  I like to see solitaire games that are not sorting 
exercises.  I like the healing mechanism.
Suggestions: Name the special weapons, and maybe give them different 
powers.  Also, if there could be a final round wherein you take down 
the evilnasty wizards, that would give the game a better sense of 
closure.  A different turn timer (if you skipped the "home by 
breakfast" paragraph of the intro, further distancing it from the 
contest theme, but so?) might be in order... perhaps remove a tile 
from the Healing stack each time before shuffling them?  That would 
be, uh, something like 15 turns (5 + 4 + 3 + 2 + 1) instead of 12, 
but if you added the finale of fighting the wizards (null tiles would 
be available for this), it should come out about right.

ROCKIN' NEW YEARS
Comments: Funny theme.  Mechanically reminiscent of Dungeon Crawl 
(another piecepack game, for those of you who have not seen it).  
This game felt undertested, which Dave conceeded.
Suggestions: Finding "hidden" stuff should be harder (ideally, it 
should start out difficult and get easier as the deadline looms 
closer).  Stealing should be a little easier (and maybe less 
random... what about trading parts?)  The problem with 2 players 
being able to block an opponent's exit might be fixed by giving 
players higher base movement, then penalizing that movement when 
burdened with Clarkdroid parts (which would also eliminate the need 
for capping the number of Clarkdroid parts carried).

Piece,
James