Design Blog 2-01

This week I’d like to look at the mechanics used for scoring points. For those who haven’t had a go at Ghostel, players roll dice at the start of each night to determine how scary they are. The players then place their dice on the people in the house, trying to equal or beat the Courage number on the card. If they can, the person is scared out of the house and the players who placed terror dice on the scared person score based on who had placed the highest pips of dice. Players score points depending on who scared a person the most, with scores for first, second and third or lower.

The reason I wanted a tiered scoring system was two fold. Firstly, it means that no matter how low your dice scores are, if you can position or move cannily around the house, you should be able to score at least some points (the lowest a player can score in a scare is the third place points; it’s impossible to score nothing). This then goes towards mitigating the luck factor involved in rolling dice and giving everyone a chance to keep up until they get some better dice rolls.

Scores in the bottom left are tiered so everyone can get some points
Scores in the bottom left are tiered so everyone can get some points

Secondly, the scoring is tiered in such a way to make sure a single player won’t be able to ‘run away with it’. Whilst the scariest player may get the highest points, the second and third scariest will still get something, even if it’s just something to buy more cards for the next turn. There’s also the option to affect how other players score, since the player with the highest score will be going first in the turn; this allows the other players at the table to follow and out-spook the lead scorer, forcing them into second or even third place scoring that turn.

So what do you think? Is the system too complex for a ‘light’ game? Does it work hard enough to mitigate the luck element of dice rolling? Does it remind you of another game that uses a similar system; if so, does it work? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

2 Responses

  1. Hi Bev. Played this briefly at Dragondaze and was impressed. Definitely going to pick this up when the KS rolls out.

    Games that use Dice worker placement Alien Frontiers and Kingsburg. Those are quite a bit heavier although Ghostel is a good introduction to next level games I think.

    Can’t quite remember what he upgrade cards did.

    Have you guys tried “Blind bidding” as a variant. If each player had a small board of the mansion behind a screen and freedom to apply dice as they wish. Might be a bit swingy though.

    Do players get bonuses for rolling Doubles? Allocating a double 1 to beat a players 6 would mitigate some low rolling.

    Anyway I’m not a designer lol. Just curious.

    Your design as it is seems perfect to me.

    1. Hi Carl, good to hear from you and glad you enjoyed!

      Also, thank you for the suggestions. I think the blind bidding idea could be interesting, however this would mean the player with the lowest score wouldn’t have the advantage of knowing where the other players were going. That said, I reckon it would be amazing as an Expert level rule, as you try and second guess where everyone is going!

      The doubles idea is a cracker, will definitely keep that one in mind for future expansions.