My latest few revisions to Monkey Lab included the following changes:

Shared Scoring

When a player scores by unlocking a cage, the players in the same room or adjoining rooms also score (except one less point). The score keeping is now done with numbered chips that are kept face-down instead of opened cage tiles kept face-up. This main problem that this fixes is the runaway leader problem. When one player got a huge lead, the other players felt hopeless. Now, since the points are hidden, and since scoring happens more often, players are unsure of who is exactly in the lead and by how much. In the few tests I’ve tried with this, this seems to work nicely.

Once side-effect of this new scoring is that players can now cooperate. It is a nice addition to the game since it adds a bit more depth to your decisions and it really works with the theme. It even works well with two players and gives the players a big incentive to use the combat mechanic to scare the other player away.

Game Ending

The game used to end when the guard made his way one time around the board. No matter how much I wanted it to happen, players always forgot to move the guard. I tried it at the beginning of the turn as well as the end, but no luck. I decided to remove the guard moving altogether and add a different end game condition. Now, when the deck runs out of cards, the game will end. I’ve tried this a couple of times, and it seems to be a good timer. Players have control over it and it guarantees a certain length to the game. I still need to tweak the number of cards in the deck, but this seems to work.

The Guard IN the Rooms

I liked the mechanic of the guard so much that I didn’t want to completely get rid of it. I instead added cards that moved the guard inside the lab rooms. He has the same effect of limiting actions to his room and adjoining rooms. Thematically, it works since he is slowing the monkeys down by chasing them. It adds a certain amount of tension because the other players don’t know when he will strike. Also, since he starts out off the board, there is a certain time of “free play” in the lab. I’m not totally convinced that I want him to affect adjoining rooms as well since it seems to really hinder players options. I’ll probably test it more both ways to see which I like better.

2 Responses to “Monkey Lab Revisions”

  1. Oh Monkey Lab, how I love you so. The gaurd control and new end condition are fantastic. I’ve only played with the cooperative version of the rules, but in any case, I think they are fantastic as well. I think you have a good point about the gaurd affecting only the room he is in.

    You might try playtesting the end condition with a loot type ending.

  2. I’ve played Monkey lab with the shared scoring mechanic once, and I thought it just awesome. I really like the cooperative aspect, but it still really maintains the competitive side of things (You won’t win the game if you are never unlocking cages). However, as long as you can manage to be near someone who is unlocking a cage, you won’t fall too far behind in points that you can’t come back. I’m looking forward to playing with the new cards that move the guard around. I think it will play much better than moving the guard after each turn. The way that the guard worked before, it just didn’t seem to add much to the game play, it was just something you had to try and remember. It worked as a timer, but using the draw deck as a timer is much cleaner. I thought it was a lot of fun the first time I played it, and it has only gotten better.

    Great game Dan.

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