Improving Through the Desert (And other board games!)

keithburgun

Administrator
Staff member
#1
Just kinda a little game design exercise, but I think Through the Desert is a cool game, with two significant problems:

1). No hidden info
2). Horrible bad opening phase where you have to place caravan leaders manually

So here's my solution for 1:
- the VP chips are flipped upside down until your caravan comes within 2 tiles of it.
- VP values are now -2, 1, or Rock. Rocks can't be moved through.

Here's my solutions for 2:
- Fixed starting positions? Maybe you can do this but have a sort of uniform randomization of the palm trees and a few visible rocks in a way that's balanced-ish. I dunno. Maybe the fact that this might be kinda hard points to a fundamental flaw in TTD as this kinda "race to VP" thing.

What do you think?
 
#2
I like how Through the Desert has the simple rules and I think you did a good job of adding depth but not making things weird and complicated.
You should throw these changes in and give the game a go then report back :D
 
#3
Going to use this opportunity to high jack the thread and say that adding 5 'blank' tiles for each person in Hive would greatly improve the game.
  • they are grey and either color can play off them
  • they cannot be moved once placed
  • possibly some rule for playing one every 4 turns or something but that might be over complicated
  • they have the same rules as the rest of the hive i.e. you can't leave them as islands and stuff
Yeah I think this would make the game less of a race and more opportunity to use the 'advanced' pieces in interesting ways.
 

keithburgun

Administrator
Staff member
#5
Love the hive fix. Definitely it needs more pieces overall. BIGGER GRID BIGGER GRID. But I love the idea of grey ones. Already sounds much better than Hive, which I feel like is really solvey.
 

Xom

New member
#7
Just kinda a little game design exercise, but I think Through the Desert is a cool game, with two significant problems:

1). No hidden info
2). Horrible bad opening phase where you have to place caravan leaders manually
I haven't played Through the Desert, but Hey, That's My Fish!, a simple 2–4 player abstract that I've played 3 times and liked, also has both of these. I haven't tried Hey, That's My Fish! 1v1, but I think choosing starting positions combined with 1v1 lookahead will be horrible. After starting positions are decided, I don't think perfect info is a problem in Hey, That's My Fish!, because that's just how the game is, kind of like Hex. I also don't think choosing starting positions is a problem in FFA, where you just plunk your pawns down near high-scoring spaces, and it's hard to lookahead past the opening scramble to claim those spaces.
 

Zera

New member
#8
I don't think grey tiles for Hive is a good idea. It would detract from the "every piece is a bug" theme, add new global rules, and potentially turn the game into something very different. Anyone who thinks Hive is too solvable, or a "race", hasn't played enough Hive IMO. The expansions, and the Pillbug in particular, make the grid large enough and the game complex enough that solvability is not a serious problem.
 
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#9
I don't think grey tiles for Hive is a good idea. It would detract from the "every piece is a bug" theme, add new global rules, and potentially turn the game into something very different. Anyone who thinks Hive is too solvable, or a "race", hasn't played enough Hive IMO. The expansions, and the Pillbug in particular, make the grid large enough and the game complex enough that solvability is not a serious problem.
The theme for the blank pieces could be honeycomb? (Maybe a NEST that certain types of bugs had to spawn onto?)

And yeah it would totally change into something different and that's what I was aiming for because of the problems I have with Hive, but I guess it might be nicer to think of making another game with these exact rules rather than how can we make Hive different.

I probably haven't played the game enough, tends to be a couple of matches here and there and often without the expansion pieces (particularly when showing a third person how to play). I'm curious if you have any problems with it or just like it how it is? I do think it is very good at being accessible and easy to learn + portable, making it pretty cool in that regard :D
 

Zera

New member
#10
The only real problems with Hive are those it inherits from Chess - No randomness and perfect information means it is solvable, and the first player probably has an advantage. I haven't played with the expansions much, but the ladybug seems a bit OP to me. If you nerfed it so it could only move 1 space over the hive instead of 2, it would still be about as good as a spider, maybe slightly better. As it is now, it can go almost anywhere it pleases. As with ants, its power doesn't really matter since the opponent also gets one, but I would nerf it so its value is more ambiguous.

"In January 2013, the Pillbug was announced as a possible expansion piece, and has been added to the game. It was designed as a defensive piece, to counteract the other two offensive expansions and to give the second player a bit of an advantage." - Wikipedia

As far as deterministic / perfect info / strategy games go, I'd say Hive Pocket is one of the best. Its rules and components are highly elegant, and its shorter length and lack of board enhance its portability. I also dig the bug theme. My board game collection is very small, but Hive is the best investment I've yet made. With that being said, I'll be getting Azul later, and expect it will be the superior abstract strategy game for home play.