Game Makeover: Nines Micro – Round 4

Design Workbench

Design Objective

Now with a game that seems to be pretty solid and fun it is time to introduce Orientation as a card state. Orientation is the final (at least that we can think of at this time) card state important to the game. Its importance comes from the original goal of having a purely graphical game in which the scoring is obvious by the appearance of the grid. Along with making orientation important comes providing an action to manipulate it.

Will card orientation introduce more fun and new (desirable) player challenges or just complicate the game with little or no benefits? Let’s see.



There is one simple change to the prototype this round. We add an action to the “0” cards that allows changing orientation. So the Value-Action matrix now looks like this: (The Conceal/Peek changes from Round 3 are also incorporated).


Action on Card

Player Affected

Basic Type


Change the orientation of any card.

Either (+/-)



Reveal/Peek at a card in any player’s grid.

Either (+/-)



Reveal/Peek at two cards in your own grid.

Self (+)



Trade a card in your grid with the Trade Row.

Self (+)



Swap any two cards in your grid.

Self (+)



Force another player to trade a card with their choice of card from the Trade Row.

Other (-)



Trade a designated card with another player. The player taking the Action gets to select both cards.

Self (+)

Other (-)


You may notice that the updated “0” cards in the image are a new set of Uno cards. This is due to the fortunate circumstance of having to provide my original set to someone else to test. The image also shows a Yellow “0” card which we haven’t used yet and is an indication of what is to come in the next round.


The initial and expected use of the “0” action is to reserve the action to change the orientation of the other player’s that affects the scoring of 2 rows/columns.

The Draft

There are no changes to the draft this round.

Grid Play

Orientation is intended to be a third priority scoring element - on the order of something like this:

  • Numbered Sets = Meat
  • Color Collection = Potatoes
  • Orientation Collection = Gravy

Some observed impacts of introducing the Orientation Collection so far are: (with a few solo tests)

  • Positive:
    • There is an additional option available to the players.
    • There are no bum cards, so each player has points and actions equating to a valuable draw every game.
  • Possibly Negative:
    • Potentially introduces too much fiddliness.
    • Based on the current rules, orientation may be almost completely ignored.
  • Still Uncertain:
    • The scoring method in general is still uncertain and Orientation may point out some flaws. (Which is positive in progressing the game design, but uncertain in outcome.)

Much more playtesting is required at this time. This should be close to the final 2-player game unless something needs to be thrown out. The scoring mechanism still needs trimming which could affect the whole game play, but here is a good spot to test the smoothness of play further before making those changes.

New Rules

With card orientation now playing a role in scoring the game and with an Action related to changing orientation, some new and revised rules are required:

  • Any time a card is Revealed, the player taking the Reveal Action may set its Orientation however they desire.
  • Scoring:
    • There are now two types of Collections; Color and Orientation.
    • Collections: Any collection of all the same color or orientation in any row or column (and optionally diagonal) scores -3.
      • We are starting here for simplicity (not in scoring necessarily, but in degree of change from one rule set to the next). We expect that the scoring for an orientation collection if done this way will be less than that for color (probably -1) or to take a different approach to scoring altogether.

Working It Out

So have we made any progress with these changes?

  • Few Decisions
    • Orientation provides another option which results in additional decisions and more complex decisions. However, orientation may be an almost trivial aspect so the impact to decisions will likely be small. (Though at least the small impact is in the right direction).
  • Bland
    • At this point orientation does not have an impact here, but this element is being introduced to see if a purely graphical card/tile can replace the current numbered cards. If successful, this should have a big positive impact on the “blandness” of the game.
  • Multiplayer Solitaire
    • The “0” action allows players another option to affect each other’s grid. However, it still needs to be seen how often that action is used. As with the decisions, the impact is small, but in the right direction.
  • Game Length
    • No significant impact.
  • Redundancy
    • No significant impact.