IGDC Judge Comments
I found the card placement and math involved to be a major distraction to this game.
Excellent teamwork game. Requires both good strategy and tactics as well as thorough communication between players. Tweaking the number of stacks and/or cards available makes raising or lowering the difficulty of the game simple and easy. One of the best Icehouse games I've played.
DennisDuquette 3-High is fun, but needs at least some tweaking. We house-ruled right away that setup would be simply draw two cards: the first is the row and the second is the column locating the placement of the next piece. Even so, setup takes a long time. Sorting by and shuffling each color before placing pieces would make setup even longer. Also, the special rule for moving with diamonds needs work. As it stands, the rule makes the eight of diamonds into "Play this card only to immediately lose the game. Yes, your hand size effectively just decremented." As to the competition design restriction, this was definitely team and diamond. However, the high appeared in the title but not really in the mechanics (a low card was as often useful as a high) nor the table talk (unfortunately, nothing about moving pyramids in straight lines to build trees lends itself naturally to using the term high). This is a good game that I will play again, but with a little tweaking (possibly also non-trivially incorporating a non-abstract theme) this could be a great game.
3-High: I found the setup interesting but the gameplay was too aggravating to even finish a whole game. Sorry.
3-High has a really neat mechanic. I'd consider playing solo. The one obvious issue is the 8 of diamonds - a dead card, impossible to play as written in the rules. If this is by design, it needs to be acknowledged in the rules. If not, can it be a wild card? Some other game changing rule? Finally, the amount of communication of what's in other players' hands would be appreciated. If the discussion is unlimited, the game could become trivial to win.
The 8 of diamonds is unplayable; I guess that's fine, but it doesn't seem very elegant. Are players supposed to share information? Encouraged to? Should it really end when the draw pile is empty? It seems slightly more elegant to end when someone can't draw a card. Which side of the board you play something on seems redundant with the whole plus/minus thing. You can always move it the absolute value of the difference, and you just need to choose which way you want to move it, so there's not really any need to choose one of opposite sides of the board.
3-High - 4 Presentation (2 max): Misspellings, images not embedded (and yet they are on the wiki?), no examples of full play (and minimal examples in general), and no wiki integration (categories, infobox). Rules are straight-forward, though, and clear enough. "Just the fact, ma'am." (1)
Use Of Terms (2 max): "High" is barely addressed--making trees "three-high"--and is not really integrated. Team play is a simple, but acceptable, use of "team." "Diamond" use is similar: obvious, not clever or interesting, but at least diamond cards are special. (1)
Playability (3 max): There's no rush, but you can lose if a piece goes off the board or if you have no play at all--seems contradictory (i.e. what kind of danderhead would make a losing move off of the board, if not rushed?). Unclear if you can break up a tree to make a play (seems like "no" would be implied). Unclear the degree to which folks can share information about cards: is it like Bridge with guessing by behavior, or are we just hoping to get lucky with card sequences? Eight of diamonds can't be played without losing--WTF? All five trees complete means, IDEALLY, it will take 20 cards out of the 32 in play to move the 5 mediums and then the 5 smalls--I suspect this game will end in failure more than success, without some cooperative element. (1.5)
Fun Factor (3 max): Too random for my tastes, too stacked against success, too little means to leverage the "team" to make a win (at least, in the rules as written). Not likely to play again in this form. (0.5)
in response to comments so far from the creator
Considering given only 30 days to design a game with restrictions & learn how to edit a wiki (which there are no simple instructions to do so) I think I did pretty good. 3rd place for 3-High seems appropriate. I'm happy.
- David Artman 16:07, 4 June 2009 (UTC) - just a few points:
- Learning wiki code isn't too tough, and this wiki also takes HTML. These days, knowing a smattering of HTML or markup code in general is pretty useful, I feel (Web 2.0--catch it! :) ). Google it and you'll find a wealth of info. OR, you can just copy someone else's code (from a page with all the layout elements your game requires) and then change the text and copy & paste and so forth.
- 3rd is very good, I feel; and you only BARELY got third. Check my profile and you'll see that I've not had the honor, yet (though, in my own defense, I've competed against more submissions). No sour grapes... just sayin'..... :)
I found the card placement and math involved to be a major distraction to this game. As with any new mechanic, my players got used to it with practice.
The house rule idea about just drawing two cards for piece placement This makes it possible for 4 pieces to stack on the same space during setup. The current placement rules only allow for a max of two pieces on a space in setup. Also I like the idea of only having a max of two pieces in any row or column. It seems to add game balance.
8 of diamonds is a dead card. It was in the rules but found it redundant listed after the players lose the game when a piece is moved off the board. I like the idea of making the 8 of diamonds wild though.
Team implies players work together. Hopefully through effective communication in playing only the exact cards needed to finish trees. Play with cards face up to encourage team work. Mechanics makes it impossible for a single player to finish all the trees. (except in solitare of course)
Which side of the board you play something on seems redundant with the whole plus/minus thing. You can always move it the absolute value of the difference, and you just need to choose which way you want to move it, so there's not really any need to choose one of opposite sides of the board. If I can find a way to phrase this more simply I'll use it. It may take more text to explain what absolute value means.
Unclear if you can break up a tree to make a play Yes you can. (When moving a piece that is on top of another, only count and move the top most piece.) When the tree is completed again, you lose another card in hand.
what kind of danderhead would make a losing move off of the board, if not rushed? The one only holding the 8 of diamonds.
- David Artman 16:07, 4 June 2009 (UTC) - I'd make this explicit in the rule about losing, as it also clears up the "why ever play the 8 of diamonds" question that seems to come up often enough above. "Why play the 8 of diamonds? Because you're forced; it's a random lose condition, which you can try to mitigate with smart play of the cards you have BEFORE you are down to that dead-man's hand of a lone 8 of diamonds." Or, you know, something like that which fits the rest of your rule text's voice.
IDEALLY, it will take 20 cards out of the 32 in play to move the 5 mediums and then the 5 smalls--I suspect this game will end in failure more than success, without some cooperative element In a perfect game only 15 cards would be used. The large piece could be moved to a space where the medium and small pieces only needed one card each to complete the tree.
Thank You for your input and comments! They are greatly appreciated.
- David Artman 16:07, 4 June 2009 (UTC) - So finish her and get her onto What Can I Play? and Existing Games!
The cooperative aspect really appealed to my group. There's a significant luck aspect involved in whether you win or lose, but the game was fun each way. The subtraction aspect seemed a bit confusing at first, but quickly became natural; however, we tended to ignore the times that someone placed the card on the wrong side. I could see it as a way to help children learn subtraction, while still being fun for the parents.
Perhaps you could word it as moving the piece a number of spaces exactly equal to the difference between the card and the pyramid value. That avoids the negative number issue.
--Eswald 22:44, 31 May 2010 (UTC)
Best of 2009 evaluation
3-High is a nifty cooperative puzzle in search of a theme. I tried it out with two players, but think it might be better solitaire. We lost because we didn't have any cards left that would move a small pyramid just a few spaces. All we had left at the end were aces and sevens (both of which are nearly useless for moving smalls). We were THIS CLOSE, which gave the endgame that satisfactory "we could'a made it" feel that co-op games are best at. I can see how repeated play will yield enlightenment about the effective management of hands, and how an experienced player has a better chance of winning. The only other solitaire pyramid game I've enjoyed is Rotationary, and I prefer 3-High already. I might pick this up from time to time, whenever I want a quick abstract puzzle, but would pass it up in favor of a competitive pyramid game. - Cerulean 13:04, 10 June 2010 (UTC)
Semi-finalist evaluation comments
Hackel: Okay co-op or solitaire puzzle. 3-High has depth that induces table talk and hides the obvious moves. 3-High's biggest challenge is hand management, getting as much utility from aces and sevens as you do from fours and fives. The setup mechanic for randomly distributing the pyramids on a chessboard is very ingenious and clever. However, after 3 plays, I have gotten good enough at it that I can consistently win, making this co-op puzzle relatively easy to master.
Myers: I'm not crazy about 3-High either. It's a nice concept, but not really "winning game" material, I think.
Stout: A fun introductory game, with a nice cooperative aspect: if one player does most of the completions, their hand gets too small to have many movement options left.
Bentley: A much better cooperative game than Apophis, it felt most like solving a puzzle cooperatively. I like the random setup and gameplay, but I actually think that as it stands, the game may well be too easy. We were doing quite well when I believed that the pyramids needed to be stacked up with their own colors, and that's a hell of a constraint to impose. I think the game might benefit from being made more difficult (like imposing such constraints, or even random ones, like drawing a goal card at the start of the game that says "assemble black pyramid first"). While it may engender the conversations of Pandemic, I didn't get the impression that it supplied the same sort of tension - possibly because we used our cards to such good effect in our two games, I never got the impression that the game was getting down to the wire and I had to start being really careful about my move choices. I think it might actually work better with more people, because having fewer cards (and thus fewer options) in hand will probably make the game more challenging.