I have put a little more thought into the recent ideas I had for a game about the Pony Express. Here's how the skeleton is shaping up...
I will need a game board, so because that's generally my weak suite I once again I went to Twitter to crowd source one. John Lonnie came through again with a nice image that will serve well as a basis for a game board. I had asked for something with 10 towns plus the post office, and he sent me this awesome looking map:
I've sketched out some trails between the towns, and I'm starting to think I might need more towns in the game. But that remains to be seen - for now I'm going to stick with 10.
Each trail will have a "cost" associated with it - what you pay to traverse that trail. The game will be about making deliveries for money, and the rider who profits the most will win the game.
Set out the game board and draw 2 Item tiles per town. These items will be available to pick up during the game, and they will give you benefits such as discounts on routes.
Each player will be dealt 1 Parcel card, and then 2 more parcel cards per player will be laid out face up to be auctioned off. The player with the least money (recorded on a Money track around the board) will be the Auctioneer, and will choose 1 Parcel card to auction off. The Auctioneer will also be given $10.
Starting at the minimum bid ($3 or $4), the Auctioneer will count up ("$3... $4... $5... $6...) until another player speaks up and claims the delivery ("I'll take it for $6!") The Auctioneer will give that player the Parcel card, as well as $6 (out of the $10 they received). The Auctioneer gets to keep the rest. If nobody claims the Parcel by the time the Auctioneer gets to $10, then the Auctioneer must keep the Parcel - they are now responsible to deliver it, but they also get to keep the $10 they received. Again, the player with the least money becomes the Auctioneer, and this process is repeated until all Parcel cards have been auctioned off.
After all of the Parcels have been claimed by riders, we move to the delivery phase. Before any deliveries are made, a Hazard tile is drawn and placed on each trail. Hazards are things that make the trails more "dangerous" - and therefore more expensive to take. Some hazards will be negated by certain items.
In this phase of the game, the player with the MOST money will be on turn. On your turn in the delivery phase, you move your rider from one town to the next, paying the cost of the trail in between, as well as any penalties from hazards or bonuses from items. When arriving at a town, you make your delivery (if you have a Parcel for that town), and you may take 1 of the Item tokens at that town. Or maybe you must either do one or the other - I'm not sure about that yet.
I'm thinking a rider should have a maximum number of items they can carry, so if they get too many, they'll have to discard down, or leave an item at a town perhaps. Then there can be an item (saddlebags) that increases the number of items they can hold.
Once all riders have returned to the Post Office, having delivered all of their Parcels, then the next round begins. I'm thinking 3 rounds, 10 towns, therefore I'll need:
The game will be over after maybe 3 rounds, and the player with the most money remaining will be the winner!