Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Crusaders final tweas - tested!

Last week I posted about some final tweaks I'd like to make to Crusaders. I updated my prototype and tonight I got a 3 player game in to test those tweaks.

They went well! I liked the size of the board, the number of open building spaces, and the feeling that we were running into each other by the end.

I also liked the random distribution of 26 out of the 30 enemy tokens. This game it turned out that 3 of the 4 enemies left out of the game were Saracens, which meant that several of the free buildings couldn't be had by more than 1 player, and I think that scarcity will be good for the feeling of interaction in the game.

I left the Crusade VP the way it was, but I continued to scale the enemy strength up rather than taper it off like the score... this did not really make any difference though because we didn't get to the point where it mattered.

I did a heavy building strategy, building to level 4 Castle and Church, and influencing for a fair amount. I only crusaded 3 times (one of each enemy type). Danielle did a lot more crusading (8 enemies total), so she got a lot more points from that, as well as 18 points in endgame bonus, but she didn't get any level 4 buildings down. I ended up winning by about 3 points over her.

Here are a few things I think I'd like to do a little differently:
* Score majority bonus for Saracens - I haven't been doing that since in theory the Saracens help you score the level 4 building bonuses, but maybe it'd be better to reward it. If nothing else it gets rid of an exception.

* Score 2nd place in a 3p game - currently the 2nd place majority bonus says "4p-only", but I'm not sure why. I think I'll try awarding it in a 2 player game.

* Try building/crusading in 2 spaces at once - This is something several players have asked to do, and I've been afraid it would be too powerful. I should give it a try though... if it does turn out to be too powerful, maybe I could make that a player power -- no rondel control, but the ability to Build in 2 hexes at a time, or to Crusade against 2 enemies at a time, given you have enough cubes.

* Maybe try final lap again - I have never been 100% satisfied with the end game just sort of happening. I don't like when it sneaks up on you. In EmDo I changed so once the end game trigger happens, you finish out the round and then play 1 final round (a "final lap"), like in Railroad Tycoon. Maybe the same thing would be good here. I tried it before and didn't love it, but maybe I should try it again.

And as a side note, the player power that simply starts with 2 additional cubes on the rondel MIGHT be a little overpowered, but not by a lot. Maybe it needs some kind of drawback... maybe something like "when upgrading, you may not distribute any cubes" or something small like that. Or maybe "-1 Travel".

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Idea for solitaire card game, made multiplayer by first drafting the cards you play solo with

To be frank, I don't care much for them, and I don't play them much. there have been a few I've found interesting or impressive - namely Friday, by Friedemann Friese, and Pocket Civ, by BGDF'er Scott Slomiany (for which I contributed a resource mechanism). But for the most part, they're just not my thing.

I worked on the solo variant for TMG's Harbour a bit, and I worked on development for Dungeon Roll as well, which is basically solitaire. Not being a fan or a player of solo games, I'm not sure if my work in those areas really went in the right direction or not.

I've never really been interested in making a 1-player only game, or working on solo modes for my multiplayer games. If a fan is interested in making a bot to play Eminent Domain against, or a solo variant that doesn't require a "dummy" player, then more power to them!

But for some reason I was thinking about solitaire game the other day. I was thinking about a deck of cards that you would shuffle and hold in one hand like Flip City, and like Flip City you would look at the information on the back of the top card and decide whether to play it or not. More specifically, you would decide HOW to play it.

Since it's apparently my thing, I decided to use planets, resources, and upgrades... though this time I sort of had Terra Prime in mind rather than Eminent Domain -- maybe because I've been thinking of Terra Prime's upcoming return as Eminent Domain Origins :)

So you would look at the top card of your deck and you would decide whether to play that card as an upgrade (to make use of the upgrade text), or load it as cargo onto your ship somehow to be delivered to another planet, or flip it over and place it planet-side up in your row or network of planets -- like exploring, only it would probably tell you what type of planet it is on the info side of the card.

The idea would be that you're building some kind of network, and then shipping cargo of some kind through that network. Originally I thought the network could grow like a lattice -- in many directions, making a sort of hex grid out of cards. But maybe a simpler version is that your network is simply a line of cards from left to right.

Rather than actually having a pawn that traverses the network, perhaps what you're doing is trying to set up a line that will score well, and what you score is the cards you've saved for cargo (rather than put into play). In a way this scoring lines in an array of cards is similar to Arboretum, which I played once, and was reminded of last night when I saw some folks playing it. In that respect maybe a lattice-style network would make more sense, and I could use a scoring system reminiscent to (but hopefully less byzantine than) Arboretum's.

I figure that the planets should have types that are important, rather than needing to take a delivery to a specific planet, thereby making things a bit more flexible. In addition, I figure some cards would have hostile aliens rather than planets, which you would fight in a way similar to Terra Prime. Rather than adding dice to the game however, I would simply put a die icon on each card with some value, so looking at the top card of the deck you'd see the current "roll" value, and if I wanted to generate a new value, I could instruct the player to cycle that card tot he bottom of the deck and reference the new roll value on the new top card. I tried to utilize this type of roll aspect in a different game I never got around to finishing, and I always liked the idea of it...


So as you play your cards, one at a time, you would choose whether to use them as upgrades, or cargo, or to build your network. Some cards may have a cost, which could be paid by removing the next card in your deck from the game - thus that card would never get played... so paying a lot of costs would reduce your potential score, as well as deny you access to those particular cards.

Maybe a simple way to score would be to do it all at the end (like Arboretum), so a player need not record timing or order of cards played. Maybe any cards remaining in your deck count as cargo, and each one scores based on how you've built your network.

I started off by saying that I'm not fond of solo games. If this idea turns out to work, and be a fun and relatively simple to play solo game, perhaps it could be made multiplayer simply by adding a drafting phase in front of the solo game play -- so 2-4 players draft cards from the entire stock into their personal, then run through their decks making their own decisions as to how to play their cards. Perhaps there's just 1 big draft and then players play out their cards until they're done, or perhaps it's an iterative thing, where cards not played are set aside than hen mixed in with the new cards obtained in the next draft phase.

It's an interesting idea, and I'll let you know if I put any more thought into it.

Crusaders final tweaks

I'm happy with the status of Crusaders: the rules are solid, the flow is great, and the game is fun. I've even come to terms with the game end trigger.

The final tweaks I've been wanting to make have to do with the game board. I currently have a 2-sided board, one side is smaller (fewer hexes), and the other is larger. The larger board feels somewhat solitaire-y, as there's a lot of space, so players aren't bumping heads as much - though there does seem to be a good number of Enemies (10 of each color), and players tend to get through most of them by the end of the game*. Players also tend to build about the right number of buildings by the end of the game.

(*so I don't forget, I need to tweak the Enemy Strength Tracks for Prussians and Slavs - I think they're too valuable at the high end.)

The smaller board was an attempt to force players into conflict sooner and more often by reducing the number of spaces available. I removed most of the empty spaces, and reduced the enemy spaces as well. While this succeeds in making the board a little more crowded, it brings along a few issues I'm not happy about:

* The lack of open building spaces means that a "build heavy" strategy needs to do a lot of crusading, just like a "crusade heavy" strategy does. This makes those two extremes not really different enough, all players need to concentrate on building up their crusade strength and fighting enemies, even if just to make space to build.
* Majority scoring for Prussians and Slavs is kinda lame when there are so few of each of those enemies in play each game.

I've been unhappy with the small board for those reasons, but I recently had an epiphany that might help me fix everything!

In case you're not familiar with the game, there are 3 types of enemies... Prussians, Slavs, and Saracens. The Prussians and the Slavs each have a majority bonus for defeating the most enemies of that type. The Saracens have no such bonus, but instead give you a free building (or troop) when you defeat them - so they help you get the Level IV building bonuses. Prussians and Slavs are generic, but there are 2 Saracen tiles for each type of building (and 2 for troops). When I created the smaller map and needed to reduce the number of enemies on the board, I removed 3 each of Prussians and Slavs because I wanted to maintain 2 Saracen for each free thing you can get - I thought this was important so that players could use the Saracens to pursue whichever strategy they wanted to.

However, perhaps that's not necessary. Perhaps it's actually MORE interesting if NOT all 10 Saracen tiles are available each game. Maybe players would have to adjust their strategy if for example there are no Saracens that will give them a free Church. Or if there's only 1 place to get a free Castle this game. That could make for more interaction in the game when players want to go after the same Saracen, and it could help with a previous "issue" I had where there wasn't enough incentive to go to particular locations on the board.

My first thought when I had this epiphany is that I could go back to using all 10 Prussians and all 10 Slavs, and reduce the number of Saracens used in a game instead. Like from the pool of 10 Saracens, you use 5 or 6 each game. But then I thought it might be even more interesting if I simply had 25 or 26 Enemy spaces, and used that many enemies at random (from a pool of 10 of each). That way, in some games Prussians may be in short supply, making that majority bonus more interesting.

I think what I need to do is try this out, but first I need to know how many total spaces to have on the board...

* 25 or 26 enemy spaces,
* 4 Starting spaces
* 1 Paris space
* ?? Empty building spaces

I need enough empty spaces to support players attempting a heavy building strategy, but not so many that the board feels too open.

And finally, once I get the correct number of spaces, I might shift the map over a bit so that the Crusades are being fought more in the Middle East than in Europe, which may be a bit more historically accurate.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Crusaders coming to life! Artist/Graphic Designer needed!

I'm happy to say that my Knights Templar themed game, Crusaders: Thy Will Be Done, will be moving forward toward production!

I am looking for an artist and graphic designer to head up the graphic look of this project. That is to say that I need either...

* A person who is both an artist and a graphic designer, or
* Two people, one of which is an artist and the other is a graphic designer, or
* A graphic designer who has a network of artist from which to draw

I am contacting some of the usual people TMG uses, but with all the projects in the works right now we could use more artists and graphic designers!

So if you follow me, are a fan of TMG (or of Seth Jaffee), and if you're a professional artist/graphic designer who does work on board games, and if you want to bid on this project, please contact me with your portfolio.

Thanks in advance, I'm excited to see this one move forward!

And if you're interested in last minute blind testing, let me know in the comments.

Thanks!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Skye Frontier - a mashup (also, a word about fake variability)

A year or so ago I was introduced to The King of Frontier, which is a sort of mashup of Carcassonne and Puerto Rico - a role selection game where the roles allow you to draw and place tiles on your player board, produce goods on those tiles, trade those goods for points, and build some higher valued tiles.

Carcassonne's not my favorite game, but I have no objection to tile laying, and I absolutely love role selection in general and Puerto Rico in particular. So King of Frontier sounded like an excellent game that was right up my alley.

Unfortunately, upon playing the game, it left me wanting. I was not impressed with the balance, and I generally thought it fell flat. I wondered if I couldn't do better with a role selection tile laying game, but I didn't think about that for very long - instead I just sort of lost interest.

Recently I've become enamored with a new game called Isle of Skye. When I heard the title (spoken), I assumed it was some kind of airship game, probably with a steampunk sort of theme. But as it turns out, Skye is the largest and most northerly major island in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland. Isle of Sky is a tile placement game where you build your little board by connecting square tiles like Carcassonne, which you obtain by a nifty sort of "I-split-you-choose" mechanism wherein you price your tiles, then opponents have a chance to buy them from you - but if they don't, then you buy them for the price you set. Medici works something like that as well.

Side discussion about Isle of Skye and "fake variability"

I've played Isle of Skye a handful of times now, and I enjoy it a lot. the tiles you get have landscape features which you need to connect appropriately, and they have various icons which interact with scoring conditions in various ways.

That's one of the attractive mechanisms - there are many tiles that depict scoring conditions, and you only use 4 of them each game:
In round 1 you score condition A,
In round 2 you score condition B,
In round 3 you score condition A & C,
In round 4 you score condition B & D,
In round 5 you score condition A, C, & D
In round 6 you score condition B, C, & D

So timing of scoring is interesting, and available scoring conditions changing game to game is interesting, it really gives a feel of variability and replayability... Or does it?

MOST of the tiles (there are one or two exceptions) score points based on different icons on your board, or your geographic situation (closed landscape regions for example). This serves to alter the values of the various tiles that you draw at random, which informs your decisions for how to price your tiles, and how much you should pay for tiles.

The thing is, it doesn't matter WHICH scoring conditions are up... you just reference them in order to make your valuation decisions. They could really be the same tiles every time and the game wouldn't really change - you draw the tiles at random after all! This idea of fake variability is interesting. It almost doesn't matter that the variability is fake, players will think it's real because it LOOKS like variability. I'm certain if the game came with static scoring conditions, people would complain that it feels too samey.

Now, if you saw the scoring conditions for the game, built a personal draw pool of tiles based on that, and always drew from that pool... then it might matter which scoring tiles were in and in what order they appeared, because you could include (or omit) certain tiles that will or won't score too well. for example, some of the tiles have end game scoring such as "1 point per Farm" which are independent of the variable scoring conditions, and you could include many farms and all of those score tiles when the scoring conditions don't include them, hoping players will allow you to buy them on the cheap as they chase the scoring conditions. THAT would be variability!

But I digress... let's get back to my original post, which is less about Isle of Skye, and more about fixing The King of Frontier.

Back on track

Where was I? Oh yes - I'd played King of Frontier and it fell flat, I wanted to take a stab at a better version but lost interest, and recently played Isle of Skye. Right...

The other day on a plane ride I was looking through my design notebook (as I am wont to do), I came across the notes about King of Frontier and I had an epiphany. Maybe I could fix the problems I had with King of Frontier by basically just playing with the tiles from Isle of Skye! I knew I had a copy of Isle of Skye waiting for me at home, so I wrote up some rules and looked forward to trying it:

Skye Frontier: An Isle of Skye/King of Frontier mashup

Setup:

* Give each player a player board with a 4x5 grid of spaces (the exterior of the grid has pre-printed landscape types).
* Give each player a Castle tile, which they will pace on any space on their board (landscapes must match, roads need not).
* Shuffle the tiles in the bag, then draw 4 into a face up display on the table.
* Place a certain number of coins (not sure how how many yet) per player into a supply pile and return the rest to the box.
* Place a supply of green, black, and blue cubes nearby.
* Randomly choose a starting player and give the Starting Player tile to that player.
* Draw 2 (?) Scoring Conditions and display them for end game scoring.
* EDIT: Make that *4* Scoring Conditions (after playing once, it was clear that more scoring conditions would be better)

You are ready to begin!

Each round, the start player will choose a role from the list below and each player in turn will resolve that role. For choosing the role, you'll get a privilege. Then the Start Player marker will pass to the left, and the new start player will choose a role... technically you don't need the Start Player marker, but since it's in the box, I used it anyway.

Roles:

Explore
Either:
(a) Draw 2 tiles from the bag, place one on your board or into your storage, and place the other face up into the supply. Placing tiles on your board costs cubes (see below). Or...
(b) Take 1 tile from the face up supply and place it on your board or into your storage.

Privilege: Repeat this action after all other players have gone.

Produce
Choose a landscape region and add 1 cube from the supply onto each tile in that region. If that region is complete, add 2 cubes instead. Fields get green cubes, Mountains get black cubes, and Water gets blue cubes.
EDIT: Now that I've played, I might try this instead: rather than double producing on a completed region, simply auto-produce once in a region when it becomes complete.

Privilege: Produce in a 2nd region.

Trade
Choose a landscape region. Take 1 coin from the supply for each tile in that region that has cubes, and connects back to your castle via roads. Then discard 1 cube from each tile scored that way. These coins will be worth 1 point each at the end of the game.

Privilege: Trade in a 2nd region.

Build 
Take a tile from your storage and place it onto your board, paying cube costs (see below).

Privilege: Build a 2nd tile.
EDIT: Instead of building a 2nd tile, I tried "get a discount of 1 cube" which seemed to work well.

Costs of placing a tile on your board:
Pay 1 green cube for each Sheep, Yak, or Farm on the tile,
Pay 1 black cube for each Tower or Barrel on the tile,
Pay 1 blue cube for each Boat or Lighthouse on the tile,
Pay 1 cube of any color for each non-matching landscape edge.

Game End:

The game is over at the end of a turn in which any player fills their board with tiles, when the supply of coins is exhausted, or when the tile bag is empty. At that time, each player should calculate their score to see who wins. Points come from:
* 1 point per coin collected via trade
* points based on scrolls on your player board
* points based on the end game scoring conditions


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Deities and Demigods - v1.0 rules (first play tonight)

Deities and Demigods
A game of epic adventure
by Seth Jaffee and Matthew Dunstan
2-4 players, 45-60 minutes, 10+

Components
7 board segments (each made up of 7 hexes, some water, some land)
4 sets of player pieces (1 player board, XX troops, XX boats, 6 devotion markers, 6 minimum devotion markers, 1 initiative marker, 1 starting city tile, 8 building markers)
32 Building markers (8 each in 4 player colors)
12 Quest tiles
XX Building cards (obtained by erecting buildings)
XX Artifact cards (Artifact cards are like weak buildings, require less devotion to build, and don't take up space in the cities)
1 Pantheon board (with space for deity cards, initiative track, and Underworld)
XX Deity cards (Zeus, Ares, Poseidon, Hermes, Hephaestus, Hades)
8 Starting Olympus cards (Zeus, Ares, Poseidon, Hermes, Hephaestus, Hades, 2x Hera)
XX Favor tokens (worth 1 VP each)

Setup
1. Shuffle the 8 starting Olympus cards to create the Olympus deck.
2. Place supply of deity cards on the pantheon board.
3. Randomly stack the turn order markers on the 6th space of the initiative track. This will determine order of play each round, with the marker farthest ahead on the track playing first, and the topmost marker in a stack playing before lower markers in that stack.
4. Give each player a player board and pieces of their chosen color. Devotion markers and minimum devotion markers go on the indicated starting spaces for each deity.
5. Place the 7 board tiles, random side up, in random orientation. Ensure that each city has at least 3 nodes that are not on the edge of the board.
6. Randomly draw a quest tile and place it on the quest space of each board - return the 5 unused quest tiles to the box.
7. In reverse turn order, each player should place their starting city tile adjacent to the board.
8. Place X troops/boats in the Underworld section of the Pantheon board, Y troops/boats on your starting city tile, and the rest into the supply section of your player board.
9. Shuffle the artifact and building cards separately and place them below the pantheon board. Deal out 3 cards from each deck into a face-up supply.


Gameplay
Deities and Demigods is played in a series of cycles through the Olympus deck, and each cycle consists of a number of rounds. To begin each round, reveal the top card of the Olympus deck. In turn order each player will have the opportunity to interact with the revealed card - either donating gold to increase devotion to that deity, or cashing in their devotion in order to access the action granted by that deity. After the last card of the Olympus deck is resolved, shuffle the discards and the next cycle begins. The game ends at the end of a cycle when any of the following triggers occurs:
  • One player has placed all 8 of their building markers into play
  • All 7 quests are complete
  • Either the artifact deck or the building deck is empty

Using the actions granted by the deities, you will maneuver your armies and fleets in an effort to complete quests and control cities. At the end of the game, favor will be awarded for quests completed, cities controlled, and buildings/artifacts built. Deity cards collected will confer favor bonuses based on your performance in certain areas of the game. The winner will be the demigod with the most favor.

Turn Order
Whenever required, play order will be based on the initiative track. The player with the marker farthest along the initiative track will play first. When multiple markers are stacked in the same space on the track, the order of play is from top to bottom of the stack.

A Game Round
To begin each game round, reveal the top deity card from the Olympus deck. In turn order, each player may either…
  1. Increase devotion to that deity, OR
  2. Execute the action of that deity.

Increasing Devotion
When you choose to increase devotion to a deity, pay 1, 3, or 6 gold in order to increase your devotion track 1, 2, or 3 spaces.
Anytime such an increase would take you beyond level 4 devotion (the top of the track), instead gain 1 favor token from the supply.

Executing a Deity Action
Each deity provides an action based on your level of devotion (level 1/2/3/4) to that deity. After executing the action, reset your devotion to that deity to the minimum level:

Zeus: Advance 1/3/5/8 spaces on the initiative track.
Hermes: Collect 1/4/8/12 gold.
Ares: Spend 2/6/10/16 movement points:
  • For 2 movement points, add a troop to the board in your home city or any node in which you have a building marker.
  • For 1 movement point, move an army (any number of troops) from one hex node to the next along the hex edges. Armies must always be on land or coast nodes. Non-mountain nodes cost 1 movement, mountain nodes cost 1+1 per unit in the army.
  • When moving into a node occupied by an opponent’s units, initiate a combat (see Combat, below)
  • Armies may not enter a space containing an opposing building.
Poseidon: Spend 2/6/10/16 movement points:
  • For 2 movement points, add a boat to the board in your home city or any city in which you have a building marker.
  • For 1 movement point, move a fleet (any number of boats) from one hex node to the next along the hex edges. Fleets must always be on water or coast nodes.
  • When moving into a node occupied by an opponent’s units, initiate a combat (see Combat, below)
  • Fleets may not enter a space containing an opposing building.
Hades: Return 1/3/5/8 units (troops or boats) from the underworld to your supply.
Hephaestus: Build an artifact or building based on devotion level...
  • Level 1: Build nothing.
  • Level 2: Build an artifact.
  • Level 3: Build a building at a city where you have a unit.
  • Level 4: Build an artifact AND a building at a city where you have a unit.
  • Each player may build at most 1 building in each city.
  • When building a city, move 1 unit in that node to the underworld.
Hera: Starting with the first player, each player may choose one of the following:
  • Add a deity card to the Olympus discard pile, paying the appropriate cost; or
  • Earn the favor of a deity from the discard pile, paying the appropriate cost; or
  • Gain 1 gold.
For each Hera card, only one player may choose to add a card to the deck, and only one player may choose to earn a deity’s favor. Any number of players may choose to gain 1 gold.
The cost to add a card to Olympus or to earn a deity’s favor is to move backward 4 spaces on the initiative track. You cannot go into negative on this track -- if you cannot move back 4 spaces, then you may not choose to add a card or earn favor.

Note: You may choose to execute a lower level effect than your current devotion level, but you still reset your devotion to the minimum after executing the action.

Artifacts and Buildings
Artifacts and buildings are cards that grant you immediate, single use, or permanent abilities. When executing a Hephaestus action you may choose an artifact if you have at least level 2 devotion, a building if you have at least level 3 devotion, or both if you have level 4 devotion.

In addition to game text, each artifact and building card has an icon on it which can be used in end-game bonus scoring.

Artifacts only require level 2 devotion to Hephaestus. Buildings on the other hand require level 3 devotion AND you must have a unit in a node adjacent to a city. When building a building, you replace a unit in a node adjacent to a city, moving that unit to the underworld. You may have at most 1 building marker in each city (including your home city) - you may not build in other players’ home cities.

Combat
You may move units into a space containing opposing units, but never into a space containing an opposing building. When you move into a space containing opponents’ units, a combat is initiated. The active player is considered the attacker, and the other payer is considered the defender.
  1. Check and resolve attacker’s Beginning of Combat effects
  2. Check and resolve attacker’s Beginning of Combat effects
  3. Remove units from both the attacker and the defender, one-for-one, until one of the players has no pieces remaining.
That’s it! Combat is over and you may resume movement.

Game End and Scoring
The game ends at the end of a cycle when any of the following triggers occurs:
  • One player has placed all 8 of their building markers into play
  • All 7 quests are complete
  • Either the artifact deck or the building deck is empty
Once the game end is triggered, add up your score from...
  • Favor tokens collected during the game
  • Quests completed (1/3/6/10/15/21/28 favor for 1/2/3/4/5/6/7 quests)
  • Matching icons on artifact and building cards (5 favor per 3+ icons of a kind)
  • Cities controlled (1 favor per building to the player controlling the most nodes)
  • Deity cards in your tableau (see below)

Quest scoring:
Score 1/3/6/10/15/21/28 favor for 1/2/3/4/5/6/7 completed quests.

Artifact/building icons:
There are 6 icons that appear in the upper left corner of the artifact and building cards. For each icon, you may score a 5 favor bonus if you have 3 or more of that icon.
Control of cities:
Each city has a number of nodes adjacent to it. The player with units in more nodes than any other player controls the city and scores 1 favor for each building in that city.
In the case of a tie for controlling nodes, then the tied player with the most total units in those nodes controls the city. In case of further tie, all tied players split the available points evenly (round up).

Favor of the deities:
Each deity card in your tableau confers favor for a certain condition:
  • Zeus: 4 favor - 1 favor per player ahead of you on the initiative track.
  • Hermes: 1 favor for every 3 gold.
  • Ares: 1 favor for each city controlled.
  • Poseidon: 1 favor for each quest completed.
  • Hephaestus: 1 favor for every 2 artifact/building cards.
  • Hades: 5 favor - 1 favor per unit in the underworld.

The player with the most favor wins! In the case of a tie, the victory is shared.

Monday, November 09, 2015

Idea for a series of games that make up a 4X game (which I need not worry about anymore!)

I had this idea I thought was novel, based largely on the new ideas brought about by games like 504 and Risk/Pandemic Legacy, and I guess Time Stories and 7th Continent (with their saving the game state). I liked the idea, though maybe ambitious for me, and I thought it was novel... turns out that the "Father of Legacy," Rob Daviau (title bestowed!), is already working on this exact idea (only likely better). Which is good news in some respects, it means I don't have to think about this anymore - I can just wait and play his game when it comes out :)

For posterity, here's the idea:

So... 4X games (Explore, Exploit, Expand, Exterminate). It's a genre that I, like many people I suspect, like in theory but never works in practice - at least not as well as I'd like it to. Either it turns out to be too complicated, or more likely too long. Or some players are turned off by the warfaring aspect. There's always something.

But suppose each of those X's were a standalone game, whose scope was on par with Ticket to Ride... and if you wanted to you could play some of them back to back, where your starting position in Exploit (for example) is based on your end position of Explore. So you could play a nice, 45 min game of Explore, or a 1-1.5 hour game of Explore+Exploit.

Explore is probably a tile laying game where you look for the "best" spots, like a land grab.

Exploit is probably an engine building game where you produce resources based on the land you control.

Expand is probably a resource management game where you use the resources you produced to grow your presence.

And Exploit is probably like Nexus Ops.

Ideally, each game could be played as a standalone, with the setup rules doling out starting positions that ought to be somewhat fair. As an alternative, players could use the end position of a previous game as their starting position, which may or may not be as fair, based on the outcome of the previous game. If you like resource management and engine building games, maybe you'd skip Explore and Exterminate, and just play Exploit+Expand. If you just like fighting, maybe you skip straight to Exterminate. If you like a little engine building in your war games but don't want to invest a ton of time into them, maybe play Expand+Exterminate.

While each game itself would be on the light end of the spectrum, combining them would make a longer, more involved, and hopefully deeper experience. On the down side, when combining these games you'd have to play them in the correct order, and you'd have to play them back to back (no Exterminate +Exploit or Explore+Exterminate) if they're to really feed into each other correctly - at least the way I'm currently envisioning it.

But like I said, it sounds like Dirk Knemeyer and Rob Daviau are already well into making a probably cooler version of this idea, so the down side of my version is hardly relevant :)

Sunday, November 08, 2015

(As yet untitled) Draft Row Game - first draft rules and cards

I spent about 8 hours prototyping today, and as a result I have not one, but 2 new prototypes ready to test! The one I'm more excited about is Deities & Demigods, which I hope to get to the table Tuesday with my playtest group, and if that goes well, I will bring it to BGG.con with me. I also managed to make some first draft cards for my latest new idea about drafting cards, playing them into a row, then "running" your row. I haven't tried this out yet, but here's a draft rule set - I suppose you could try it out if you wanted to:
What you'll need:
This file for the cards (10 pages): https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/4093/My%20Games/Draft%20Row%20Game/Draft%20Row%20Game.pdf
A supply of cubes in green, red, yellow, and blue
Paper and pencil to keep score
16 Bonus Score tokens (see setup, below)

Setup
1. Deal players a hand of 3 (2?) cards.
2. Deal 3 cards into a face up display.
3. Put a bunch of cubes in red, blue, yellow, and green into supply piles.
4. Stack scoring tokens with the highest number on top and the lowest on bottom for each of the following:
- Size 3 rows (5/3/1)
- Size 4 rows (5/3/2/1)
- Size 5 rows (5/3/2/1)
- Size 6 rows (5/3/1)
- Size 7 rows (5/3)
In other words, the first player to score a size 4 row will also score a bonus 5 points, while the 2nd person to do so will score a bonus 3 points.
Game Play
Players take turns drafting cards, playing cards into their row to collect resources, and if possible, scoring the row.
On your turn you must...
1. Draft one of the cards in the face up display into your hand, then replace it from the deck.
2. Play any one card from your hand. Collect the resources on one half of the card, then turn the card so that the taken resources are upside down and the other option is right side up, and add it to your card row.
3. If you have the resources pictured right-side-up on the cards in your card row, then spend those resources and score the points shown (right-side-up) on those cards. If available, also take a bonus scoring token based on the size of your row and add that to your score as well. Record those points on a piece of paper.
Game End
The game ends when all of the bonus score token stacks are used up, or when the deck runs out. At the end of the turn in which one of those things happens, the game is over. The player with the most points wins.

Let me know what you think in the comments below. If you are so inclined, give it a try and let me know how it goes!