Game Makeover: Nines Micro – Round 3

Design Workbench

Design Objective

Now that we have a sense of how the game plays, we are ready to make a few more changes. Although we started with fairly stripped down rules, we are going to try to strip them down a bit more. Previously we only allowed Actions and Locks to be played on Revealed cards. That made it simple to think about what was happening, but also imposed a rule; “the card must be revealed” that may not be necessary and may actually inhibit the game play. So what if the state of the card Concealed/Revealed doesn’t matter?

Is the game more interesting? Is it easier or more difficult to understand, explain, score, play, etc.? What new problems may arise from this new mechanism? Does it reduce or increase the rule set?



There are no changes to the prototype in this round.


Opening the ability to affect Concealed cards changes the game significantly.

The Draft

There are no changes to the draft this round.

Grid Play

Some observed impacts of this rule simplification so far are:

  • Positive:
    • The first obvious positive impact of manipulating Concealed cards is the introduction of bluffing. It may not be obvious until you play the game, but the first time a player decides to Peek instead of Reveal, the other player is immediately curious and probably nervous about that card.
    • Trades with the Trade Row “open up” a bit. It seems that in most games trading with the trade row goes stale fairly quickly unless a player can force trades. Now, with Concealed cards in the Trade Row, players seem to be more interested in them. They are more willing to press their luck than to trade for a less optimal card.
  • Potentially Negative:
    • It depends on what you are looking for in the game, but one of my initial goals was to not make this a “memory game” – one where memory plays a principal role in winning. Manipulating Concealed cards and Peeking at them without Revealing them certainly increases the role that memory plays in the game. Though, each player can choose how much they want to play this way and there remain other viable strategies that don’t require so much memorization.
  • Still Uncertain:
    • Although the rules are generally simpler with this implemented, it may be harder for players to understand the simplified rules. Understanding the best direction requires further testing. In playtesting so far the first and common question is, “When I move/trade a Concealed card, do I Reveal it?” Rather than the obvious, “Leave it as is,” the expectation is one of the following:
      • Always Reveal a moved/traded Concealed card.
      • Reveal a moved/traded Concealed card if the card it was swapped/traded with was Revealed.
    • Keeping cards Concealed can increase the total game time. So far it hasn’t been obvious, but more playtesting is required. It will definitely be a negative if the game is routinely and measurably longer and if the race element of the game is negated.
    • Part of the interest in the game is related to programming Actions – setting up a trade with a predecessor Action. With Actions now on Concealed cards, there appears to be less forward planning and programming required. More playtesting is required to see if this is a real change and whether that change is positive or negative.

New Rules

Playing the game now with the ability to affect Concealed cards creates the possibility for more options to the Actions and requires some revision to the rules.

  • Obviously, all references to “Revealed card” in the Actions are removed.
  • All “Reveal” Actions now read, “Reveal or Peek…” The Player can Peek at the card and then decide whether to Reveal it or not.
  • The End Game can now be initiated before all cards are revealed, so this rule must be changed. There are a couple options yet to be tested:
    • Once one player has revealed all unlocked cards in their grid, their round is finished.
    • Once one player has revealed or locked all cards in their grid, their round is finished.
    • Once both players pass on taking any action in successive turns, the round is finished.

Working It Out

So have I made any progress with these changes?

  • Few Decisions
    • The players now have the additional decision to Peek or Reveal.
    • The decision to use an Action is more frequent – they don’t require as much staging.
  • Multiplayer Solitaire
    • Actions on Concealed cards have opened more trades with the other player.
  • Game Length
    • Possibly negatively impacted due to more turns used to Reveal all the cards, but this requires more testing. Locking Concealed cards may mitigate the effect.
  • Redundancy
    • More options available every turn means less redundancy in those turns.