Monday, June 23, 2008

Ticket, please!

I spent about an hour last night drawing a schematic-type proto board for "Ticket, Please" - the airport game. I probably could have done that better on the computer, but oh well... I have a full board in mind, this draft is just to test out some mechanics.

This first draft of the board has 9 airports in a 3x3 array. The center is the "hub" - none of the tickets originate or terminate there. There are 2 "gates" (player cube queues) at the Hub (and perhaps a third for later in the game).

The corners are smaller airports... they have 1 Gate, and another which appears later in the game. All tickets originate from one of the corners. The last 4 'cities' are just destinations, and they have only 1 gate.

There are "1" routes between orthogonally adjacent cities, "2" routes between diagonally adjacent cities as well as from 1 corner to each 'adjacent' corner, and "3" routes from each corner to the 2 'destination' locations which aren't right next to them. Corner to corner is the longest trip, and there's no direct flight there... though there are tickets which go from one to the other.

EDIT: I drew a schematic that describes the board!

There are 2 of each ticket at the moment from each corner to each other location except the hub in the center. I think the game will have 3 phases, in the first phase only the "1" routes can be used, so there will be more stops and layovers. In the 2nd phase, technology has advanced, so "1" and "2" routes can be used. Finally in the 3rd phase technology has advanced again, so any route may be used.

Now I just have to decide which mechanics to test out... I think I'm going to try the following first:

Begin by giving each player the 10 cubes in their color - one goes on the income track (which will be modeled after Brass' income track for the time being). Deal 3(?) Ticket cards to each player, then turn up 3 Ticket cards to form a draw pool. Each player should start with a couple of bucks - probably 10 or so.

On your turn you first collect income according to the Income track, then you choose a Ticket from the face up pool or play one from your hand. Finally, you turn a new card up to refill the draw pool.

You have 3 options of how to play this Ticket:
1. Place/advance a cube in the gates in each of the cities listed on the Ticket card.
2. Place/advance a cube in any 1 gate on the board.
3. Complete the ticket.

In more detail...
A "Gate" is a column of boxes located at an airport in which players place their cubes. No player may have more than 1 cube in any given Gate, but some airports have multiple gates, so a player could have more than cube at an airport (1 in each Gate). Whenever a player places a cube in a gate, they pay $2 and place their cube in the first available space (from the top of the gate down). If a player already has a cube at that gate, they can pay $1/3/6/10 to advance 1/2/3/4 spaces at that gate. Their cube is moved up the appropriate number of spaces, bumping other players' cubes down 1 space as they go.

Completing a ticket is how points are scored and income is advanced. I explained it a bit in a previous post, each card has a Base Income and a Point value. The Point value is a number of points you get for having completed the ticket. To determine how much Income is earned, you take the Base Income on the card and subtract off the Cost of the trip. The Cost is the sum off all Route numbers used on the trip as well as the numbers in the Gates occupied by that player's cubes (Gates are numbered 1/2/3/4/5 from top to bottom). The minimum Cost for a trip occurs when the player's cubes are at the top of 2 airports and those are the only 2 airports used (i.e. they are both listed on the Ticket card). If the route is a "1" route, then the minimum Cost would be 3. I'd love to post a graphical example of this, because it's hard to explain properly.

When Completing a ticket, players also receive points for being "on top" at each Gate used. this may or may not be the player who's turn it is.

Also when completing a ticket, the active player must move his cube to the first available space at each Gate used, with other cubes in line sliding up. thus, when you complete a ticket, you move to the end of the line in each of the gates used.

There needs to be a score track as well, to count the points you get for being on top when a gate is used. I'm not sure if it would be better to add the points from Tickets to the score track and shuffle them back in for later rounds, or to simply keep the tickets out of the game and count their points later. The latter might be interesting as it would change the distribution of cities in the deck, and would also make later phases (which are more profitable) a bit shorter. I'll go with that for now.

Each phase will end when the deck is exhausted, and the game will end after the third phase. The cards dealt to players during setup are each 1-use cards which do not get replenished. they can be used at any time during the game, but only once each. The winner will be the player with the most points. If tied, the player who completed more tickets should probably win, with 2nd tiebreaker going to the Income track.

I think I've kept the game simple, yet interesting. I'm curious if it'll play out the way I expect - I guess I'll have to try it and see!

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