Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Reviving old games... Alter Ego and Scourge of the High Seas

In the last few weeks I've brought 2 old game ideas back to the forefront of my mind... partly because I really like the ideas and have always wanted to work on them, and partly because Michael would like to see more Seth Jaffee designed games in the marketplace. Many people don't realize that I'm associated with some of the big box games from TMG: Ground Floor, Kings of Air and Steam, and Belfort for example, even though I do have a developer credit on those games. Developer credits in the rulebook and on the back of the box are not as prominent as Designer credits, and on database websites such as BGG there's not a field for developer (though I think there should be). So I've finally gotten around to reviving 2 of my designs that have been sitting around for a few years: Alter Ego and Scourge of the High Seas.

Both of these games are card games with deck building aspects, and both have the opportunity for excellent art... both seem very thematic and fun to me, so i think they could both be well received in the marketplace. In case you're new to this blog, or have simply forgotten since it's been so long, here's a short description of each of these games.

Alter Ego

A cooperative deck building game of vigilante heroism

You won't see Crime City on any map, but that's how people have come to know your hometown. Sadists, Anarchists, and the Mafia each carving out portions of the city they call their own. Hundreds of innocent bystanders caught up every day in their turf wars, or held under their oppressive thumbs. Precious few have the time, the money, the guts, or the wherewithal to do anything about it. You're one of those few... Of course it means you'll have to give up that happy home life, or that cushy job. The paper paints vigilantism in a negative light - you'd be viewed by the community as a monster. But your city bleeds... the city bleeds and it calls your name. Will you answer?

You're a vigilante hero, one of the few in Crime City who have come together to put an end to the reign of terror the city's been trapped under. Banding together, you'll fight through a swath of henchmen in order to find and defeat an Arch Villain. But as you get stronger as a hero, you'll have to neglect some parts of your Alter Ego life - your family, your job, and your community.

In Alter Ego you play Job, Family, Community, and Hero cards into a display. You can only play so many cards each turn, and as the game goes on you'll need to play more and more Hero cards to defeat henchmen... meaning you'll have to neglect some aspect of your Alter Ego life.

Henchmen come into the game each turn and take civilians hostage. Fight the Henchmen to free the civilians, and defeat them to gain benefits... defeating underlings will eventually pique the interest of the whoever they're working for, bringing an Arch Villain into play! Defeat the Arch Villain to save the city and win the game!

In "expert" or "competitive" mode, each player will also have a Nemesis which they must defeat as well to win the game.

I'm pretty sure I know how the general rules of the game will go, and I have a prototype from before. I'm struggling with how the Equipment cards should work, but I have a new idea for that which I think will be good - all (or most) equipment stays in play, not your deck, and has an activation cost to use. Some can be used once per turn, some more often than that.

I just had a thought about a different way to do a showdown between each player and their Nemesis... maybe once the Arch Villain is defeated, players simply sort out their decks, and if your deck meets certain criteria (enough of each type of indicated card in it), then you are deemed strong enough to defeat your Nemesis. That way you don't need to play out some sort of battle turn by turn (though that might be fun). Defeating your nemesis could simply be worth some bonus points, and defeating henchmen could ls be worth points, and the winner could simply be the Hero with the most points.

Scourge of the High Seas

Yo ho, yo ho, a pirates life for me...

Captain of a ship in the Golden Age of Piracy! Visit Tortuga to recruit crew, buy equipment, and upgrade your vessel in order to engage in trade, treasure hunting, and plunder on the High Seas. Stash your booty away at your island hideout to keep it safe and off of your ship. He who buries the most treasure will be remembered forever as the Scourge of the High Seas!

This one is intended to be like Ascension, but with 2 Center Rows. I have a pretty good idea how I want this game to work as well, but have faltered on creating cards for it. I have a handful of card ideas from a year or two ago, and I just put together a spreadsheet to try and tabulate a bunch more card ideas. I have made some progress, but there's a lot of work to be done balancing and creating all the different types of cards in the game!

On your turn you first visit Tortuga and spend Treasure to get Crew, Equipment, and Ship Parts. You can also condense resources (turn 3 copper into 1 gold, to put it into Dominion terms).

Then you hit the High Seas and engage Ships, Trade Ports, and Buried Treasure cards ("buying" these cards with Plunder, Goods, and Maps which you've accumulated from other cards).

Finally, you visit your Island Hideout, where you man Bury cards to get them out of your deck. Each time you do that, you must take a Hideout card into your deck which is useless, so you'll want to be a little careful about when you choose to bury cards.

At the end of the game (when should this be???) the player with the most Treasure buried in their hideout will be the winner.

I've never been good with game end triggers. This game could end when someone has buried a certain number of Treasure (like Ascension), or it could end when a limited pool of Hideout cards are taken... I can't think of another way that makes a lot of sense.

Game Design Retreat

I'm hosting a Game Design Retreat this week (tomorrow through Sunday), and I hope to get both of these games "to the table" - to discuss with other designers even if not to play. I guess we'll see how that goes. I do not think I'll have a playable copy of Scourge, but hopefully I can get at least a partial test of Alter Ego in and see if I'm headed in the right direction with that one!

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