Friday, December 20, 2013

Rondel Role Selection: A theme emerges!

After a hearty discussion on social media, a theme has emerged for my latest game idea: the Rondel Role Selection thing.

Players are geneticists (or mad scientists), collecting samples of various species in order to splice them and create hybrid beasts of myth and legend...

For example, instead of combining Red, Yellow, and Blue resources into Orange, Green, and Purple resources, players will collect Human, Horse, and Bird DNA, and splice them to make Centaurs, Harpies, and Hippogriffs.

Rather than buying Buildings which confer benefits, players will consume their DNA samples researching the specimen to understand Traits. Mechanically this is the same thing, you exchange your resources for a card that gives you some benefit.

I currently have an even/symmetric distribution of abilities on buildings. I tend to start that way. Multiple different people suggested changing that to make each 'color' have some character - like one color gives you abilities which help you move around the rondel so you can take the action you want more often or at lower cost, another color helps you collect resources more efficiently, and maybe a third is generally worth more points. I could tie that in with actual traits of the beasts represented by the resources... like birds can fly, so the bird DNA could purchase traits that help you move around the rondel, while Humans have opposable thumbs, so maybe they're better at collecting resources (which in this game means getting samples of creatures).

As I mentioned in the previous post about designing Theme-first vs Mecahnics-first, as soon as you have a theme, it helps direct the rest of the mechanisms in the game. I had originally used just 3 basic resources and 3 secondary resources, because using the color wheel made it easy to remember which resources combine to make what. It's a pain to remember X+Y=A, but everyone knows Yellow and Blue make Green... But now that I have a theme, the color mnemonic is no longer necessary - it's relatively easy to remember that a Horse token and a Bird token combine to make the thing that looks like it's got horse parts and bird parts (even if you can't recall what a Hippogriff is called).

So now that I'm not constrained to 3 primary and 3 secondary resources, I am free to add additional resources to the mix... Snakes, Fish, and Lions for example. That gives a lot of possibilities for secondary "resources":

Man + Horse = Centaur
Man + Snake = Gorgon
Man + Bird = Harpy
Man + Lion = Sphynx
Man + Fish = Mermaid
Bird + Horse = Hippogriff
Bird + Snake = Wyvern
Bird + Lion = Griffin
Fish + Horse = Hippocamp (Sea Horse)
Fish + Lion = Merlion (Sea Lion)
Lion + Snake = Chimera (? usually part donky as well)

I don't have anything for the following combinations, but maybe not every combination is necessary...
Bird + Fish = ?
Horse + Snake = ?
Horse + Lion = ?
Fish + Snake = ?

I believe I want the hybrid creatures (the secondary resources) to be worth 1 vp apiece. I think I want to have some Contracts or something like that which translate some hybrid creatures (in some combination) into extra VPs - but some players didn't think that was necessary. 

Instead they wanted the collection of traits that you collect in front of you to be more meaningful - like maybe you turn sets of those in for extra vps - like you're cobbling together traits to create new creatures. This could work, but in my mind, combining basic resources into secondary resources wasn't supposed to be the final step in the process. I'm not sure why but it feels anticlimactic to me. I envisioned collecting basic resources, combining them into secondary resources, then combining those into VPs via "buildings." I'll have to give this part some more thought...

But first, I probably want to consider expanding the game to 6 basic resources. I think I can still do that with 7 action tiles - maybe each action allows you to do any 1 of three things (as a Privilege maybe you can do 2 of them)... Collect a basic resource, combine two different compatible basic resources, or research a trait based on a different basic resource. That may be a lot of info per action tile, but maybe not too much.

I'll be sure to post the progress of this game. Leave a comment with our thoughts - I'd love to see what you think about this theme, or the mechanics of this game!


John White said...

Lion+Tiger = Liger!

Anonymous said...

Horse + Snake = Dragon?

FIsh + Snake = Sea Serpent?