Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Further Warmonger thoughts

A couple of things that came to mind which I'd like to get down before I forget them...

* There should probably be some VP for having your Dreadnaught mini in play - probably 2 or 3. I'll note that this could have an effect when you 'spend' a Dreadnaught to attack a planet (or for a Military Campaign) - if you never get it back, that 'costs' you some VP. However, if you do get it back later (since you can only have 1 Dreadnaught) then it doesn't cost VP.

Edit: I'm thinking 2vp for Dreadnaught, up that to 4vp on the Upgraded Fleet side - see below

* I could put an 'upgrade' cost listed at the bottom of the Fleet tile, then on the back I could have an upgraded Fleet tile on which it only costs only 2 Fighters to get a Destroyer and only 1 Destroyer to get a Dreadnaught. I like the sound of that. For a player who wants to use their Dreadnaught for things, they can upgrade their fleet instead of getting a Level 2 technology (The cost would be "5 Fighters / 5 Research" like the other level 2 Warfare tech, and you'd do this as a Research role - so it's just a tech card that everyone has access to). There wouldn't be any points on the back, except for those which apply when you have your Dreadnaught in play. Or maybe there could be 2vp simply for flipping your tile (like other L2 techs), and additional VP for getting your Dreadnaught. Either way.

Edit: As above, I'm thinking 0vp for flipping, but 2vp for Dreadnaught and 2 more vp for Flip + Dreadnaught

I think I could still have the Destroyer Tech and Dreadnaught Tech cards in the stacks, I think they're still interesting.

* The more I think about the expensive start planets the more I don't want to decrease their cost. I think instead I'll create 3 more with the opposite cost (6 Colonize/5Warfare) which are otherwise the same, and then say that during setup you get 1 random cheap planet and 1 random expensive planet, choose 1 for the game.

* The more I think about cheap Start planets with symbols the more I don't want them in the game. They defeat the entire purpose of early game surveying. I suppose I could add some cheap planets that are not a Type and therefore do not do research (maybe cheap Utopian planets, or cheap Prestige planets?) Would that be interesting?

* I COULD add something like Utopian Start Planets, which have a symbol but don't (by themselves) help with research, and potentially Prestige starting planets which are worth 3 or 4 vp but are otherwise useless.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Exhibit: Purple tiles - the name's the thing!

One of the few items left to check off before Exhibit is ready for publication is to sort, stage, and name the tiles from the Purple auction stack. I'll list them here in approximate order of strength (weakest to strongest), describe their ability, and suggest a name where I have an idea. I welcome all feedback, especially if you've played the game, about staging the tiles. Of course if you can think of a thematic thing the tile could represent, please say so!

#1 - Government Grant
"1-shot 2 purple weapons" - this helps you win any 1 auction later, as you discard it as if it were 2 weapons of the color of the auction you're resolving.

#2 -Research Assistants
This tile gives you 2 additional dice to roll, thereby giving you more information to bid with.

#3 - Expert? Consultant? Expert Consultant?
"Power Tool" - this tile allows you to set the facing of any 1 die each turn (when tools are used - after rolling but before bidding).

#4 - ??? Backroom Deal?
"Dumpster Dive" - this tile allows you to swap it for any tile in the auction blocks.
This tile is worth 2vp (3vp total) at game end.

#5 - Expanded Storeroom
"Hand size +1" - this tile allows you to store 2 additional artifacts, but it takes up 1 storage slot itself, thereby giving you net hand size +1.

#6 - ???
This tile makes opponents outbid you by at least 2.
Is this functionally different than a purple weapon? Not really - they do the exact same thing! But it FEELS different in play.

#7 - Angel Investor?
"Purple weapon" - this tile acts like a weapon for all colors, including purple. Weapons allow you to overbid by 1 and still win the auction.

#8 - Fancy Display Case
"Wild Artifact" - this tile can go into any set. This is really good, and is frequently worth 4, 5, or 6 points if used to increase a set to 4/5/6 tiles. I think of it fancy display case because it can go with any Exhibit.

#9 - 3vp (4vp total, since tiles in your store room are with 1vp each at game end).
Things that are worth straight VP are Art, so maybe some kind of famous or unique art item?
Since this has no game use, it's always the last tile on the stack (it comes out in round 9 every game).

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The List - revisited

It's been a while since I've given any thought to old game design ideas. Last night I had the opportunity to recount some of them to a friend, and it reminded me how awesome some of them are! So I thought I'd revisit The List:

Old Standbys - games which have been around, 1/2 done and untouched, for years:
- 8/7 Central
- Hot & Fresh
- Dynasty
- Odysseus: Winds of Fate
- Kilauea
- Reading Railroad

Old Ideas that Haven't gone Anywhere Yet, But Probably Should - some of these have been getting stale as well:
- Investigative/Tabloid Journalism
- Red Colony
- Clash of the Kingpins
- Time = Money
- Dating Game
- Ticket Please
- Moctezuma's Revenge

I have lots of ideas for several of these games, so many that I think I'm overwhelmed and am not making any progress on any of them! The good news is that I have at least made SOME progress on my games, like Exhibit, Alter Ego, and The Knights Templar.

I think the best of the bunch are:

Dynasty: The Spread of Culture in Ancient China
Build villages and learn advances, assimilating opponents' cultures as you go. Your villages give you access to resources to spend on things like advances. If you cannot afford what you want, you can "trade" with an opponent (they cannot say no) - but if you do then you must take one of their Culture Chits onto your player board. This is both good and bad, as filling up your player board gives you benefits, but each of those Culture Chits represents scoring for your opponents. The first player to fully fill their board becomes the Emperor (and scores a small bonus), but it's the player who's culture is best represented who is the real winner!

Hot & Fresh
Delivering pizza can be frantic work! Plan your route and push your luck with the traffic laws to make deliveries and earn tips. There is a simple set of traffic laws, and the more laws you break, the more likely you will get busted. Driving safe for a while will turn the heat down, but your tips decrease over time so you're encouraged to press your luck at least a little bit. Originally the routes were intended to change as traffic lights turn from green to yellow to red - a newer development involves placing tiles between the main roads to represent shortcuts that you know about but your opponents do not.

Red Colony
Players build colonies on Mars, first by claiming property (building tubes and domes), then constructing various buildings under those domes. Income is customizable and ranges from early game building materials to late game higher level materials, to people. You'll have to spend time and effort to modify income over the course of the game. The goal will be to house as many people as possible in your Colony by the end of the game. A lot of the ideas for this game came directly from The Case For Mars.

Alter Ego
Cooperative deck building game of vigilante heroism. Save the city from Arch Villains - but as you become a stronger hero, you'll need to neglect some aspect of your Alter Ego life. In the early game you start with Family, Job, and Community cards which each give you some benefit. Each turn you must take another card, either another Alter Ego card or a Hero card. You'll need Hero cards to defeat henchmen, but you can only play so many cards per turn... so playing more Hero cards necessarily means playing fewer Alter Ego cards! This game will have a Cooperative mode, and possibly a Competitive mode as well where each player has a personal Nemesis in addition to the Arch Villains.

The Knights Templar
After hearing about Trajan's Rond-cala mechanism I had a guess as to how it would work. I was wrong, but I thought my idea might make an equally good game, so I combined that main mechanism with an older idea I had for a Knights Templar theme. In this game you'll Move your knights, Crusade against Moors and other enemies, Erect buildings, and spread the Influence of the Order of the Temple. But when the Order gets strong enough, King Philip will become nervous and issue arrest orders for the Templars! Race to Portugal (and maybe Scotland) where you'll be safe while a wave of destruction radiates from Paris, destroying buildings as it goes. When a building is destroyed, players with that type of building still standing earn some points, so it could matter which buildings you erect and where you erect them.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

EmDo: Warmonger progress

I've sent out Warmonger to a number of volunteers to playtest, and I'm starting to get some reports back. I'm looking forward to seeing more feedback from them.

I've been playing the expansion quite a bit myself, and tonight I went through the new tech cards to evaluate how I currently feel about them. I have some adjustments I'd like to make to some of them:

* Destroyer Technology: This card gives you a Destroyer as an action, and also itself counts as a Destroyer. That doesn't really make sense... you could save the action and just hold onto the card. I'm going to change that Destroyer icon to 2 Fighter icons instead, I think that would be more interesting.

* Dreadnaught Technology: Similar problem, why spend an action and a Destroyer to get your Dreadnaught mini when you could instead just hold onto the card and discard it as a Dreadnaught - the only thing you lose is the Warfare discount doing it that way. Also, I don't like Level 2 cards having Dreadnaughts on them anyway. I think I'd like to change that one to a Destroyer - so Dreadnaught Technology IS a Destroyer, and it allows you to turn a Destroyer into a Dreadnaught mini.

* Utility and Freedom of Trade: I added a Produce Symbol to Utility and a Trade symbol to Freedom of Trade in order to make them good enough... I do not think that Utility needs it though, it's a pretty powerful as it is with just a little effort. Freedom of Trade however is very possibly useless, so it did need a symbol, and in fact I might try adding a 2nd Trade symbol just to see how that goes. I don't want to have both a Produce AND a Trade icon, because that feels wrong to me (too easy). 2 Trade icons might be interesting though.

* Biosphere: I had added a Produce symbol to Biosphere because just 2 Resource slots does not seem to be on par with other Level 2 techs. It's been a thematic oddity that you'd need a Biosphere in order to store Iron and Silicon, but the point of the card is to allow a Fertile Empire to produce all 4 resource types. John suggested I make those slots hold "Any Resource" instead, which would (a) fix that thematic oddity, and (b) improve the card a bit because it supports Specialization and Specialized Production in addition to Genetic Engineering and Diverse Markets.

* Spoils of War: I seem to have accidentally left the 2vp off of this Level 2 card. That was an oversight, that card should be worth 2vp like the other Level 2 cards.

* New Start planets: I have been trying out some Start planets which cost the same as the ones in the base game, but are worth 0vp (or in some cases, -2vp) but come with one of the 6 Role symbols on them. Originally I had tried putting role symbols on the start planets, but I did not like it because flipping your Start planet first became a no-brainer. I preferred the choice between flipping the Start planet in order to do Research and Surveying up a better planet first. Admittedly, I get the impression that most players simply flip their Start planet first anyway, but that ignores some of the strategic space that I actually very much like. There's a trick I used to use wherein I would follow another player's Colonize role ad tuck my starting Colonize cards under my start planet, pursue Warfare to flip other planets, and only flip the Start planet at the end of the game with a Colonize role for the 2vp! So I'm seriously considering NOT including the cheap Start planets in the expansion, or at the very least, increasing the cost to 3/3 or so.

Edit to add:
I am actually very happy with the expensive planets, but I've heard back from a couple of playtesters that they think they're too expensive. I fear that players prefer to blindly flip their start planet before doing anything else, rather than consider Surveying first. this is true for the expensive planets (Survey for a cheaper one, or commit to flipping then get 2 planets worth of benefits) - and it also applies to the regular stat planets (flip cheaply to start researching, or Survey up a planet that will be more useful to flip first). This is why I didn't put symbols on the start planets in the first place, and why I'm leaning toward cutting the new ones with symbols (or at least increasing their price to 3/3).

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Games on BGG - follow up

Last time I mentioned that I'd submitted Dice Works, Alter Ego, and Exhibit to the BGG database. All three have been approved and now have BGG entries, so if you have played, do play, or are interested in information about those games, feel free to use the power of the internet! Now that the entries exist, I still intend to post Print and Play files for each of these games (eventually) for people to play until the games are published.

Dice Works
My last post contained a crappy rules draft for Dice Works, and I'm still interested in help writing a succinct but complete set of rules down before I upload the files. I should probably be able to upload that one soon. I think Dice Works will make a good Print and Play game because all you need are a couple of player boards, a couple of markers per player, and a grip of standard 6-sided dice.

I got a chance to play a few games of Exhibit lately, and I have implemented a couple of tweaks which I think have had a positive effect on the game:

* Leave un-taken tiles for next round: if everyone overbids on an auction (so nobody gets the tile), that tile used to be discarded. Now I have been leaving it in play so that there are *2* tiles for that particular auction. When there is more than 1 tile for an auction, the winner of the auction gets their choice of tile, and then the next highest bid gets the remaining tile and so on. On the down side, when there are auctions with multiple tiles, it cuts down on the tension of the bidding a little bit (if you're happy to get 2nd place then you don't fight). However I think on the whole this is a positive change and I like it.

* Grants: My friend Andrew, who has played Exhibit several times at various conventions over the last few years, suggested that players be allowed Grants, which are effectively 1-shot weapons. The game used to have 1-shot weapons in it's very early incarnations, but they didn't do exactly this, and the game has changed a bit since then. The current plan is that each player starts the game with 1 Grant for each Culture (i.e. 1 per color but no purple). They can be discarded when resolving an auction to add 1 virtual die of that color that only you can see (like the Weapon ability). I suspect the net effect of this will be two-fold...
    - It gives a player some small recourse from being bullied by players with weapons. The ability for a player with weapons to simply outbid you by 1, making it impossible for you to win the auction, occasionally left a bad taste in people's mouths. On one hand, that's kind of what weapons are for, but on the other hand I don't want the game to be disappointing. This may be a good compromise.
    -It softens the blow of overbidding when a crazy distribution of colors is rolled. Like with 20 dice, you bid 3 Yellow, and this time it so happens there's only 1 Purple and only 1 Yellow (for a total of 2). The Grant allows you to win that bid as long as you've only overbid by 1, and only once per color. This could be especially important in the early game where there aren't a lot of dice out there and it's easier to get shafted that way.

I have only played with Grants once so far, and I thought it was OK... I'd like to try it some more. I wonder if 5 Grants is too many, and if it would be better to limit it to 3, they could be generic rather than color specific, and you could be allowed to use only 1 per auction on any auction except purple. Another possibility could be to discard 2 Grants to get +1 Purple as well (graphically, the grants could show 1/2 a Purple die on the back for example).

* Consolation = Extra bid Token: I've been using this rule for a while now, and I am very happy with the result.

* Tweaked Purple tile abilities: I have tweaked a couple of the purple tiles, and I think I like the results. I will need to re-examine them and figure out how I want to stage that stack.

Perhaps I'll get print and play files for this one together as well and post them on BGG. I think the game is very close to done, and hopefully this means it'll be on Kickstarter some time soon, perhaps later this year!

Alter Ego
I'm less far along with Alter Ego, but I'm happy with how it's progressing, and I eagerly await having more time to work on it. I have a pretty strong vision of where I want to go with the game, and I just need to get some time to work on it. When I get that done, I'll probably post it as well - as a card game (with just cards and some tokens) it could make a good Print and Play game as well.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Games on BGG, also Dice Works Rules

Two things to report...

1. I have submitted 3 of my games to the BoardGameGeek database. I did this for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that a game I know of was NOT in the database (even though it's almost done and is under consideration by a publisher), and recently another game with the very same title was announced by another publisher. It's too bad, too, because that game had an awesome title, and it' been around for years in the designer's blog.

So that spurred me to add some games I've been meaning to add, although I'm not too worried about my titles being used - they're not as good as that example was:

Dice Works
Alter Ego (not accepted yet)
Exhibit (not accepted yet)

2. I decided I would make Dice Works available for print and play though the BGG entry, so I was putting together a PDF of the player boards and the rules. It occurred to me that I had not written down (or could not find anyway) the latest version of the rules - the only set I could find was very out of date. I am astonished by how much space this is taking for how few rules it seems like the game has. I think I'm just being thick and that this could be much more succinct. So I'm going to ask you, faithful readers, to take a look and tell me how to rewrite this so it'll fit on 1 page! Is that possible? Here they are:

A fast and furious dice game of invention for 2-4 tinkerers.

80 Standard six-sided dice (best if they have squared corners, not rounded)
- 20 each in 4 colors (Red, Green, Blue, Yellow)
4 Player boards
4 Worker markers per player

Each player board shows several Invention Tracks. Each track space is labeled with some combination of die faces. Sometimes only the color of the die will matter (solid colored square), and sometimes both the color and the value will matter. There is one track for each color of die in the game. One side of the player board only has 3 columns - if using that side, only use Red, Green, and Blue dice. If using the side with 4 columns, all dice are used.

Dice Works is played over a series of rounds. Each round players will contribute some number of dice to the pool, the pool of dice will be rolled, players will draft dice out of the pool in real time to place on their player boards, and once all of the dice have been drafted, players will update their Worker markers to show their progress. The game is over when a player’s marker reaches the top space in 1 or 2 of their Invention columns, depending on which side of the player board you are using. That player is the winner! If more than 1 person accomplishes this in the same round, the tie is broken by the level of advancement of the next highest marker.

Round Structure
1. Contribute and Roll Dice
Each player notes the number of dice of each color that they contribute, based on the location of their Workers on their Invention tracks, and takes that number from the supply. All of these dice are rolled together.

2. Draft Dice
Players grab dice in real time (no turns) to complete sets on their player board. The following rules apply:
2a. Only 1 hand can be used to grab dice
2b. Only 1 die can be taken at a time
2c. Once a die is touched, it must be taken and placed on your board before another die can be taken
2d. Dice may only be placed in the lowest possible space in each column (the space ABOVE your Worker) - until that is full. Once a space is full, a player may begin placing dice into the next space up.
2e. Once placed, a die on your board may never be moved.
2f. Legal placements include:
* The die color matches the space it is placed on, and if the space indicates a particular number, that must match as well.
* For spaces where number is not specified but there exists an equal sign (=) between the spaces, the value of the first die placed does not matter, but the value of other dice must match it.
* No die can be placed in a box unless
a. It is the box directly above the player’s Worker in that column, or
b. It is a box directly above a series of boxes which are full oif dice.

3. Resolve Round
After all dice have been drafted and placed, players first check for illegal plays, and then advance their Workers on their player board for each column that qualifies.
3a. Any die that is not placed legally is moved to the Scrapyard of that die’s color.
3b. After checking for legal plays (and moving illegal plays to Scrap), any worker directly below a box that is full of dice moves up - discard those dice to the supply. Repeat this until all Workers have advanced as much as possible.
3c. Next, players may use dice in their scrapyard. The least advanced worker on your player board defines your scrap rate (on the left). You may discard that number of dice from any 1 Scrapyard in order to turn it onto a die of that color with the value you choose and place it in any legal space. You may repeat this as much as you like, and any time you complete a box, advance the worker below it.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Eminent Domain: Warmonger Expansion - Playtesters Needed!

A couple of months ago I posted about Print and Play files for Eminent Domain expansions, and while some people did join the folder, I haven't heard back from very many of them. So I thought I'd try again, in a more organized fashion. So if you're interested in playtesting the upcoming expansion to Eminent Domain, read on...

There will be 1, possibly 2 expansions for Eminent Domain coming out this year: "Warmonger" and "Exotic." That's what I've been calling them anyway, I'm open to suggestions for their titles! I've been given the green light to send out the prototype files to people interested in helping us playtest the prototype.

The expectation if you sign up would be that you do indeed get at least one playtest session in, and that you complete a simple form that will give us feedback about how it went. We couldn’t have any public reviews made about the playtest sessions until we’ve finalized all the rules of course. The file will be simple to print out - just a bunch of cards - and could be compatible with a printed copy of the game if you use sleeves. I'll include a prototype copy of the basic game as well for those who haven't got sleeves, or who would prefer the art match the expansoin prototype art :)

So if you’re interested – send me (seth) an email (AT tastyminstrelgames DOT com) and I'll send you the files in about a week!