## Graphtastic: How long do Foursies games take?

One of the bold claims we’ve made about Foursies is that “games are quick and fun”.  It must be true.  Nick says so in the voiceover for our video!

The actual numbers I’d been telling people were that games take, on average, ten to fifteen turns to complete.  This is roughly half what you’d expect from a game of Connect 4, for instance.

If I wasn’t so modest, I’d say we’d reinvented a genre.

Now the game’s been going a few days, I have a graph to prove it that claim.  Or very nearly.

The number along the bottom is the number of turns taken to complete a game.  The height of the bar is its frequency.

There’s quite a few games lasting up to 19 turns, but after that it really does drop off.  Between 10 and 15 really wasn’t a bad guess at the typical length of a game.  Thank you players – you’re doing it right!

Well, mostly.  Look at the number of people who are completing a game in either 3 or 5 moves. That’s really messing up the nice smooth distribution on my lovely graph!

I had an instant hypotheses about the 3-move spike.  Certain starting positions stack two of your counters up and two of your opponents up.  Like this:

The simplest strategy for this game is to make lines of three.  It’s not really the best strategy because it’s easy to block a single line of three and it should be fairly obvious what you’re up to; but people do it.  I have to admit that occasionally I fall for it too, especially when I’m playing a dozen games at once.  Lots of the people I’m playing against build straight upwards to try to make an easy line and hope to get away with it.

So when you’re presented with the 2+2 pattern above, an awful lot of people instinctively stack their counters on top and hope for the best.

Either that, or they think they’re playing a match-three game.

Let’s hope that’s not it and assume the game plays out like this:

- I’ve got three in a row!

- Ner ner, so do I.

- But look, now I have four!

Thus, a game ends in three moves.  After digging a little bit into this, I found that’s not the only way it happens, sometimes people just don’t see lines of three and lose quickly.

Clearly they should be buying the “Show 3s” hint.  It only costs 40 coins, and it helps to avoid an awful lot of mistakes!

For the other spike on the graph at 5 turns, I really don’t have much to go on.  It seem sometimes games just end that way.  But why would they end in 5 so much more often than in 4 or 6 – or even 7?  I’ll wait for more data to arrive and try to aggregate it, but meantime I’d welcome any reasoned explanations – or even wild guesses – in the comments!

## Everyone Loves Foursies!

We’ve known it for some time, of course, but Foursies is awesomely fun and addictive.

Obviously we’d say that about our own game.  We love it to pieces.  But it’s not taken long for others to catch on, with more than 3,000 players signing up in the first couple of days.

No, it’s not Draw Something.  But that’s a pretty good start for our humble little studio.  It’s making us bounce around the office while we work on the next update on a Saturday morning anyway.

I wanted to take the opportunity on this lovely sunny day to share with you some of the glowing comments we’ve already started to receive.

AppAdvice was first to publish a full review, with Christine Chan saying:

I am really enjoying the graphics in this game. It’s cute, colorful, and looks great on Retina iDevices. The game boards look nice, and the wide variety of counters available for players to use are shiny and pretty. The music is also quite soothing, which is nice to have around as you strategize your plan against the other player.

The players themselves appear to be hooked, having much the same reaction as many of our beta testers.  They didn’t think they’d like the game much, but it turns out they can’t get enough of it!

Deltahorse left this five-star review in the US App Store:

Didn’t think I’d get hooked on this game the way I did, but I find myself starting a new game as soon as the last one is finished!

Back in the UK, we had this great review from S&AT:

I didn’t think there was anything new that could be done with Connect 4, but Lightwood Games proved me wrong. The constraint that you have to play in a different column in every game takes it to the next level and really makes you think.

On Twitter, @PaperTitans – the team behind the awesome “rain-em-up” game Kumo Lumo – said we “kick all kinds of ass”.  We agree.

We always love to hear from people who are enjoying the game.  Even simple tweets like this make us smile.  A lot.

Facebook didn’t let us down either, with Joshua telling us:

This is a sticky game, you have been warned. Gotta go now and play Foursies…

Finally, over on Gear DiaryMichael Anderson had this to say in his review:

Would use again/recommend?  Definitely!  I have always loved Connect 4, and the quick and easy way you can connect and play a round makes it a no-brainer.

Have you played Foursies yet?  What do you think?  We love to hear your comments.

## Happy Foursies Day, everyone!

Foursies, our new twist on the classic four-in-a-row board game, is now available.

It’s April 4th.  4/4.  Hence: Foursies Day!

Download Foursies on the App Store or watch the demo video below to find out how to play.

## TableTop Day Report

Saturday was the first ever International TableTop Day, thanks to Wil Wheaton, Felicia Day and others coming up with the bright idea just a couple of months ago. Despite being in the middle of the Easter weekend, the response was amazing! There were games played all over the world, by people of all ages, and #TableTopDay was trending on Twitter pretty much all day!

Here at Lightwood Games we challenged ourselves to spend the day away from our computers, playing real physical board games with other people! That’s why we had to make a physical copy of Foursies in time for it, so that we could still talk about our new game without needing to get out any iPhones

We started the day with a trip to our newly discovered local game shop as we all wanted to buy some of the games we’ve been seeing on the TableTop YouTube series. Chris and I bought Gloom, Pirate Fluxx, Munchkin Zombie and Rock Band Manager, with Colette purchasing Ticket to Ride and Tsuro. Turned out they were actually having an event there and they have so many games we could have lost our day there quite easily, but as we had guests arriving we had to get back home!

Our first game of the day was Gloom. I’ve seen this played a couple of times but never been brave enough to join in as the story telling part seemed a little daunting. Turns out, I love it! Sometimes the “story” degenerates into “and then suddenly they were in prison, and I’m not sure how that happened!” but mostly we could keep some sense to the tales and it had us giggling at the poor old dam being perturbed by pudding and Alice who was already in prison, eating a jam sandwich which attracted the wasps and was hence wounded by wasps It was great! We played it a few times over the weekend and now I’m eager to get the expansion packs to add more families and more story telling possibilities

Next up was a game of Tsuro. This is a beautiful game with very simple game play to start and then a little more challenging as it continues. Simple enough for everyone to play quickly Even Jack joined in…

We had a quick game of Pirate Fluxx before lunch. We’d never played any of the Fluxx games before – the constantly changing rules are a little hard to keep up with, but it’s a fun little game which could make a nice starter for an evening of games Both times we played I won pretty quickly and all of a sudden which felt odd. Perhaps the other versions play a bit differently?

Whilst we were having a late lunch Dave and Gill turned up to join us for some games We had a quick round of Zombie Dice, using tasty brain sweeties for counters whilst we waited for Nick to join us too. Zombie Dice is a very quick game and simple to explain – you roll dice hoping for brains to eat rather than getting shot!

Once Nick arrived we had another game of Tsuro with lots of dragons on the board – the complexity jumped up faster this time with so many tiles being placed each round, but everyone enjoyed it

Then we had a bit of a dilemma – with 6 of us suddenly a lot of the new games couldn’t be played, and we didn’t really want to split up into 2 groups of 3. So we put aside all the shiny new games and instead played a couple of word games First up was “Get a Letter” which is played in 2 teams and once a category is announced you have to shout out words, one for each letter of the alphabet, flipping that letter towards your team. There’s a timer, but we mostly completed the alphabet before it was even close to finished! Lots of shouting and giggling with this one!

Next up was a game of “Last Word” another word shouting game, but this time you each have a category and then a letter is announced and the first person to think of words announces their category. A random timer is started and all the players shout out words. The player who gets the last word in before the time advances one space round the board. More giggles, arguments over whether places were countries or cities, and the some disturbing suggestions for “liquids” coming up! Gill was particularly good at this game and came first so quickly that we played for second place to give the rest of us a chance to play!

Nick had to run off at this point but that put us down to 5 players, which is the correct number for Ticket to Ride! So it was time to play that for the first time! None of us had played it before, yet Chris’ “hoard all the cards” strategy had us wondering what he was up to

In the end he managed to beat me by just a couple of points, despite my impressively long train track! I enjoyed this more than I expected and I’m looking forward to playing it again sometime

We finished the night off with another game of Gloom. Gill was very good with the story telling aspect, and most of the families suffered terrible fates… except ours (Chris and I were playing as a team) as everyone ganged up on us! Our family were rather cheerful at the end of the game!

That was the end of the official TableTop Day event – lots of games played, lots of fun and giggles

However, we were having too much fun and hadn’t yet managed to play everything! So there were more games on Sunday! Starting with us learning how to play Munchkin Zombies. We’d never played any Munchkin games and the roleplaying theme of the original didn’t really appeal to Chris or I, but Zombies are always appealing The game has a lot of rules to get your head around, and there was some amount of arguing as to what it all meant… but eventually fun was had During the first game we were all being very nice and helpful to one another. The second game, we all turned nasty and there was no help at hand, only increasingly crazy amounts of monsters and modifiers!

In the end, we were all level 9 and I hadn’t seen a monster for a few hands. Then Chris turned over the pathetic little level 1 zombie chihuahua and we just didn’t have enough cards left between us to stop him winning! Gah!

After that, David returned with Settlers of Catan in his hand and so we all sat down to play that – another new game for me! I was a little sceptical as I’m not a fan of “resource management” style games, but it had sheep… amusing myself building a sheep army kept me from finding it dull, and amazingly I even won!

A whole weekend of board games, and the discovery of a shop with weekly gaming nights! Hooray!

Did you play any board games over the Easter weekend? What games should we play next?

## Foursies – Approved & Playable!

Exciting news!  The version of Foursies we submitted to Apple has been approved.  We have a bit of server-side work to do before the game can go live, so we’re sticking with the originally planned launch date of 4/4 – however, this means we’re definitely ready to release the game next week!

We’ve also put the finishing touches on our demo video which you can watch here:

If any reviewers or celebrities happen to be reading this and would like an advance copy, we will send you a promo code

We’re also on track to finish making our real life Foursies set in time for TableTop Day on Saturday.  Just a couple of coats of paint to go – all the 3D printing is done. Here’s how it looks right now!

In case you missed it, here’s a recap of the journey we took to get here:

We’ve now made the plans available online at http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:66911

So, if you happen to be taking part in a TableTop Day event this weekend, and want a new game to play, and have access to a 3D printer, why not go ahead and make yourself a foursies set?

I know that’s a pretty unlikely combination of things, but stranger things have happened… and please do let us know if you print this.  We’d love to see how your copy comes out.

Even if you’re not interested in printing it, you might be interested in the interactive 3D view of the models that Thingiverse provides.

We can’t wait to be able to play this on an actual table with actual people!

## 3D Printing Foursies – The Boards

After playing with playdough the other day we had decided to have boards standing on hills, but to print them as one solid piece for stability. It didn’t take Chris long to add a hill to our board and we soon had something printing!

Unfortunately with such large models it was a good 7 hours before we could see the result…

It worked! We have a Foursies board embedded in a hill! Confident it was going to work we set about making the tallest hill. This took a few attempts to get the model correct as we didn’t want to risk printing above the height of the printer, but we needed it as tall as possible! After a few extra checks we set the model printing

We left it printing overnight. These long prints are best left alone so we’re not tempted to interfere Come the morning we had another board on a hill and some beautiful support structure to admire (and then remove!)

We made two more models with different heights and set about printing them… this afternoon the final model was complete with mere inches of filament left on the spool!

Finally we have 4 complete Foursies boards! I bet you’d like to see them all together now wouldn’t you?

You can comfortably see all four boards at the same time if you lay them out like this Mission complete!

Knowing we would have the boards complete today, and also knowing that the model shop is closed tomorrow, we paid Affinity Models another visit today to get the rest of the colour palette required and a finer paint brush for detail work Obviously I couldn’t resist giving the boards their first bit of colour

Plenty more to do, but it’s starting to really look like a game now!

## 3D Printing Foursies – Adding Colour!

The one thing our models are currently lacking is colour! As lovely as they are, this natural white look just isn’t really cutting it. So today, we decided to make our first colour prints!

We removed the boring white plastic, grabbed our pretty pink spool, and spotted a problem… the spool was a completely different size Some panicking and googling later we discovered an adapter we could print to make it work! A touch frustrating to have to refit the white plastic and then wait a number of hours whilst we printed the parts, but seriously, how cool is it that we can upgrade the printer ourselves?!

We finally got the pink filament loaded and set off printing the first set of counters for the game We can happily print 23 at a time, although on all the nicest settings this takes over 2 hours! 3D printing certainly isn’t fast, but it is fun!

We can’t wait to play with colourful counters in our boards Not that we’ve finished printing all of those yet, or you’d have seen them!

There was also a little trip to our local model shop today to get a bit of expert advice about how to tidy up our models. The friendly guy inside helped us choose some files to smooth out the few rough areas, and also some primer and paint So I’ve got a little testing to do this evening to see if his suggested paint was a good choice and then we’ll probably be going back tomorrow to get more colours!

## 3D Printing Foursies – Playdough Hills!

We’ve worked out how to print a four-in-a-row board using our 3D printer, so making four of them is no problem!

What happens next is figuring out how to make this into one complete set that holds together for a game of Foursies!

Given we’ve been 3D printing for less than a week, the plan we came up with is somewhat ambitious: to model the actual landscape used in the Foursies app – in other words, using a hilly landscape to support the boards at different heights.

With such limited experience of 3D modelling, it felt impossible to prototype this in a CAD program straight away.  Instead, we began with playdough!

If you want to follow along at home, here’s the recipe for playdough hills that we used:

Combine 250g plain flour, 50g salt, 140ml water, 1 tbsp cooking oil in a bowl.  Add some green food colouring – because we’re making hills of course!  Mix and knead.  You’re done.

Here’s what happened:

And what did we learn from this little experiment?

Firstly, this playdough recipe is incredibly salty – and bright green – and yet our cats still want to eat it!  Silly creatures!

Mostly though, this was about gauging the relative height required between the front and back boards.  My first instinct was that the boards at the back would need to be elevated clear above the front ones (so their bottom edge at the back was above the top edge at the front).  In fact, that’s not the case.  Putting this setup on a table at the typical height you’d play it, you’re looking down on all the boards at an angle of somewhere between 30 and 60 degrees.  With the separation I envisaged, you can comfortably see the entire game, even if the boards at the back are raised by less than half the height of the ones at the front.

There’s some maths in there somewhere, but it doesn’t seem necessary now I have measurements that work for our models

And sure, we could have worked that out by stacking the boards on books or something, but then there’d be no playdough!

One thing we felt important was that one board could still function on its own as a standalone four-in-a-row game, as well as being part of this set.  After some pondering it became clear that the hills would become part of the same model as the boards – rather than being a separate stand.  The biggest issue now is the maximum height our printer can make; theoretically 135mm, but given we have to set a calibration height of 134.4mm, probably a little less than that to be safe!  We need to find a combination of hill and board sizes that fits this restriction.

Finally, the other thing that getting hands-on with gloopy home-made modelling material helped with was visualising what shape a hill actually is, and how I might go about constructing it from primitive shapes in the simple CAD tool I’m using.  Hopefully we’ll have some actual models to share tomorrow and you can see how it turned out!

## 3D Printing Foursies – Counters

An important part of Foursies is the counters. For the game we’ve made lots of different counters which a player can choose from to make the game their own For the real life version the first decision is how big should the counters be?

We have some size limitations because our printer can only print in a 14cm cube which limits us to a more “travel size” version. However, there’s still room for variation. We printed a whole selection of sizes to see how they felt in hand.

Based on the first board we printed, which *just* fit, we know that 16mm is about as large as we can go, and we printed down to 12mm. After a bit of playing we reckon that 14mm is probably the best compromise between a holdable size and keeping things small.

The other interesting decision to make with the counters is how to print them. They could be printed flat or standing up, which gives 2 very different textures.

Chris prefers the feel of the ones printed flat, but as you can see from above, removing the raft can be a touch problematic and leaves a nasty mess which would need tidying up. I actually like the way the ones printed vertical feel, so I imagine there’ll be more testing once we have a counter design, rather than just a cylinder

The easy decision to make was what colours to print our counters We ordered some more filament over the weekend which arrived today.

Look out for pretty purple & pink models coming soon!