Thursday, December 29, 2011


I've been working on a new game that's very different from any of my others.  It's called SoothSay and it's only a game in the loosest of terms.  Basically I wanted to create something similar to a tarot deck or an Ouija board and then turn it into a party game to give it more mass appeal.  But really, the game is just an excuse to take part in an activity that (hopefully) is a little creepy. 

The "game" is for each player to take turns playing the soothsayer.  The soothsayer picks another player to ask a question, then the soothsayers performs a reading to answer the question and all other players vote yeah or nay on  the performance.  The question asker serves as a tiebreaker if one is needed.

The "reading" is where all the fun is and it's still being designed, but it relies on the use of a deck of hex cards.  Each card has a letter in the center along with a number.  Along the 6 edges are astrological symbols in either white or green.  The "rules" of the reading are that you shuffle the deck and deal out cards and try to match them up with other cards so that the touching edges have the same symbol in the opposite color.  But the soothsayer has a lot of room for interpretation...  A LOT of room.  I'll provide an interpretation guide, with all sorts of loosey goosey rules on interpreting the reading.  The deck is designed to maximize the odds of spelling something in English while still seeming like your placing cards according to rules that the soothsayer can't change.  Each card also has a color to it so the reading could come from the letters or numbers or colors or the shape made by the cards or anything else that the soothsayer dreams up.

I've ordered a copy.  I'll play it a see what I can come up with.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Another post Quitavox playtesting post

Playtested Quintavox again.  The Senate change worked well.  We came up with a few additional changes or at least, things to try.

First, the easy one:
Some one pulled a Protection card card and accidentally called it "Justice."  But I think I like the word "Justice" a lot better so I changed it.

There was a suggestion to limit the number of rings in the game when playing with fewer than 5 players.  Which I think was brilliant.  The specific suggestion was to have the same number of many rings of each color as the number of players.  And since each player has 4 pawns that can each take 2 rings, that's 8 rings per person and there are 8 issues, so you would have exactly enough rings to go around no matter how many players you had.  This is a very elegant solution and I might very well go with it, but I had a different but related concern that may change this a bit.  The other concern was that even with 3 players, there was a lot going on..  almost too much to keep track of.  And if you had 2 more players, it might be a bit too chaotic.  So I was thinking limiting the number of pawns you get to 3, but allowing each one to campaign 3 times.  But that's 9 rings per player not 8.

So the next I play, I'm going to try both changes at the same time which means, that there actually be less than enough rings to go around.  That might be a good thing as it give the game a little more drama, but it might also unbalance the game.  But I'm thinking it will actually improve the game.  Each player could only take one more ring than his share, so it's not like one player could go crazy taking rings left and right.  The player it affects most is the one hanging back and watching how things develop (which looks like the winning strategy by the way).  But that player has the benefit of choosing his rings with more knowledge.  Half the rings are pointless anyway.

Another thing to consider is this:  Which rings do you remove in a fewer than 5 player game?  My current thinking is to remove the "1" rings in a 5 player game and the "1" and "5" rings in a 3 person game.  Incidentally, I'm becoming less convinced that the game will work for 2 players.  But since, I have yet to play it with 2 players... who knows.  So for 2 players I suppose I would remove the "1", "4" and "5" rings.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A post Quitavox playtesting post

I playtested Quitavox this week.  It played well.  There were a few critiques, but they were all minor.  The first one was that the color assignments for the 8 issues should be changed so that opposing issues had opposite colors.  I actually intentionally didn't do this originally because I was worried about making a political statement with my game by making some issue black and its opposite issue white.  But I decided that game play was more important so I changed colors to make more sense.  I tried to pick the least controversial issues to be black and white:  Expansionism (Black) and Isolationism (White).

Then there were a few issues that I believe I have all addressed (at least partially) with the same change.
  • The game ended in a tie and I hadn't come up with tie breakers yet, so we made up one on the spot, but it was rather complicated.
  • There was often 1 action point left over that players couldn't do anything with.
  • The first person to play has a bit of an advantage
  • Tiebreakers for control of a county are a bit complicated.
So here's the change:  I added a little section on the board called the Senate.  There are 5 spaces there and a cube for each player.  The order of the cubes is used as a tiebreaker for both county control and the end of game.  Players can, for 1 action point, swap any two adjacent cubes in the Senate.  The order is initialized to be in inverse turn order. 

Of course, I'll have to order a new copy of the game, but I'll wait until after Monday to do that because I have another playtesting possibility then.  But overall, the game played well.  I think it maybe close to done.  Though I do have to admit, that when playing it, I felt like it was missing something.  I'm not sure if the Senate addition is it or not.  I guess we'll see.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Of Feast & Famine

The game that I used to call Cheshire's Kingdom is now called Of Feast & Famine.  I suppose that makes it a "sequel" to Of Power & Glory.  I've actually been thinking about a third one in the line called "Of Intrigue & Inheiritance", but I'll save that for another blog.

I got my first copy of OF&F in yesterday and playtested it with my wife.  I'm actually a bit surprised how well it did by the time I was done tweaking stuff.  Don't get me wrong, there's a lot left to do, but the game was fairly playable.

So here are the things I changed or clarified from my first playtesting (all of this is subject to further change):
  • The peg pawns that I thought would stack... don't.  So I'll just have to use cubes.  It will cost $1.00 more, but I'm not as concerned about that as I am the more clumsy feel of the game.  Actually it wasn't too bad with cubes, but I was really hoping for parts that stacked more naturally.
  • In a one player game, you use 3 pawns.  In a two player game, each player uses 2 pawns.
  • I need
  • The game starts with 5 workers in the castle and 5 rations.
  • You now seed the game with 5 disasters by rolling dice at the start of the game.
  • It costs 5 rations to create another worker.
  • A feast costs you 1 ration an 1 worker must go to the castle.
  • Plague cause workers to go to the calendar 1 season ahead.  The basis for choosing how many people get sick is half of the Well workers (rounding down).
  • If you have a feast when the rations are at 0, a worker dies...  and another 1 must go to the castle.
  • the "castle" disaster is now called "feast".
  • You no longer repair all buildings from the workshop...  the workshop is just for the long term projects.  To repair a building you must go to that building and repair it explicitly. I'm still a little up in the air as to whether 1 action repairs all damage to a building or just one cube....  I'm leaning towards one cube.
  • I'm on the fence about whether or not to limit the number of times an action can be performed.  I think I need to do that, but I didn't play that way yesterday and it was ok.
Other observations:
  • The enemies were way too easy...  I spent my time dealing with the other problems and then realized, "I could just attack my enemies and win"  I'll have to make them a much bigger concern.  Perhaps be moving their numbers closer to 7.  Perhaps by seeding their hostilities (this might be a difficulty adjustment as well).
  • I need to change the role cards to indicate the color of the pawn that is used.
  • The board looks great!

That's all for now!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Advanced Rock Paper Scissors

While designing Zodica, I had an idea to use a rock-paper-scissors mechanic in the game.  Well, it didn't work out in Zodica, but I thought that I might be able to use it in another game.  Part of the reason it didn't work out in Zodica is because people could keep straight what beat what.  So I thought I would keep it as straight forward as possible and literally use Rock, Paper and Scissor.  From the start I knew this would have to be a light, slightly humorous game.  So I tacked of the word "Advanced" to give it that "I take myself too seriously" kind of humor.

I started out thinking of a game not too removed from Zodica.  Each card had a rank and a suit (rock, paper or scissors).  It's a trick taking game, but you have to play in structures that are all within the same suit and of the suit that beats the previously played suit.  I went through several variations of this and nothing quite seemed to work.  So I had to venture a little further away and I think I've come up with an idea that may work.  It's still a trick taking card game with three suits, Rock Paper and Scissors, but the traditional ranks are gone and replaced with several attributes.

There are 60 cards, 20 each of Rock, Paper and Scissors.  Each card has 3 attributes on it.  I'm still working on what those attributes are, but I want them to be in the "silly" category.  But for the sake of explanation, I'll use easy to remember, mundane attributes:  A letter A-D, a number 1-5 and a Color (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple, White, Black, Grey,  Brown).  What's important to note is that one attribute has 4 possible values, one has 5 possible values and one has 10 possible values.

The entire deck is dealt out.  I'm going to use the same card passing rules that I used in Zodica, then a player starts (I have yet to decide how that player is chosen).  The first player must lay down a single card, the suit doesn't matter.  The next players may choose to play or pass.  Whenever a player plays on a hand in a trick they must play a "Train" of cards that is 1 larger than the previous hand and of the appropriate suit (e.g. rock on scissors, scissors on paper or parer on rock). 

So what's a Train?  A Train is a list of cards of the same suit where each consecutive pair of cards has an attribute in common and no attribute value is used more than once in the train. 

For example:
[1 A Red][1 B Green][2 B Orange][3 C Orange][3 B Grey] etc.

But I could NOT do:
[1 A Red][1 B Green][2 B Orange][3 C Orange][3 B Grey][4 B Brown]
because the last card is linked to the card before it with the "B" but that attribute value was used earlier in the train to link cards 2 and 3.

If all players pass on a trick, the player who played the last hand in the trick wins the trick and puts the cards face down in front of them and leads off again. 

Scoring is very simple.  You score one point for every card you take.  There is a bonus (say, 10 points) for going out first and a penalty (again, say, 10 points) for going out last.  You keep playing until someone gets to 100...  maybe 200.

That's it!  Pretty simple.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Cheshire's Kingdom - part 2

It's funny how quick things change.  There were many things that I said in part one of this post that had changed in my mind by the time I got out of the car after heading to work that same day.  And much has changed since then too....  Sorry that I haven't been recording it all.  There's been a lot going on recently.

So, where am I?  I've actually already ordered a copy of Cheshire's Kingdom from The Game Crafter.  Part of me says "It's way too early for that", but the other part (which obviously won) says "yeah....  but I WANT too!"  Perhaps this is just me trying to justify it, but I do believe that creating the board helps me develop the game.  The board is pretty good looking if I say so myself.  I suppose it's time for me to figure out how to attach a picture to the blog....  (as I typed that, I felt completely technologically inept...  did I mention I'm a Software Developer by trade! :)  )

Ok, so here's what's changed:
  • Movement: I got rid of the concept of movement.  Players no longer have a physical presence on the board, they just take one kind of action.  The board is there to show where workers are assigned.  There simply weren't enough places for people to go to make this a meaningful part of the game.
  • Food Production: A subtle change / clarification to the way the food production works.  I've decided that workers that are working in the fields eat for free, but produce extra food for the rest of the workers.  You may be asking your self. "Isn't that just like each worker in the fields producing 2 food and not having a special eat-for-free rule?"  No, it's subtly different because of stacking.  Here's a simple case, population of 3 and two of them produce food (stacked).  With the produce-2-food model we get this:  2 workers, stacked is like 5 workers so they produce 10 food for a population of 3 that leaves an excess of 7.  With the eat-for-free model we get this: 2 workers, stacked is like 5 workers so they produce 5 food for a population of 3 (but only one eats) that leaves an excess of 4.   But the real motivation for this change is that I'm going to have other multipliers in this game and I wanted to keep the math as simple as possible.
  • Repairs: I talked about repairing roads in the first post, but now that there is no player movement, roads don't mean much.  So now you have to repair the actual buildings.  Each build has a place for 3 damage.  the first damage does nothing.  The second one prevent stacking in that area, the third damage prevents the building from functioning at all.
  • Plagues:  my current thought on how this works is as follows:  When a plague occurs people may die.  The base number is 1/2 the population (rounding down). But you get to subtract 1 for every worker in the hospital (including stacking).  I feel like there needs to be more here though...  there's not much for a player to do about this.  The disaster just occurs without warning and you deal with it.  Here's a raw idea that I just this instant came up with.  What if you placed sick workers on the calendar (that the circular thing with the seasons on it) that represented how long they were sick for and you had by that time to use your doctors on them until they died....  I like this idea.  I'll have to think about it more.  I was going to use the calendar for another purpose that will likely have to change... I like this idea better.
  • War:  This hasn't  changed much, except that I made a vague mention to "power" in my last post and I think understand better what that is.  I think is a the number of dice that the opponent rolls to represent their strength.  I've never been huge on dice in games, but here it seems to work for me.
There were some things that didn't even have a change to get to last post than have changed:
  • Events:  I changed the event decks (that I mentioned but didn't go into) to a simple dice system,  This was largely driven by cost of game concerns, but now that I've grown accustomed to the idea, I kind of like it even if money was no object.  The idea now is that at the end of each turn, a player rolls 2 dice and that drives 1 or possibly 2 events.  First, it drives a bad event.  The bad events are numbered on the bottom right of the board.  They include rising hostilities with a neighbor, damage to a building, plagues and famines and also an annoyance from the King himself; he request the service of a worker in the castle.  You can move him right back at your next opportunity, but it could add some grief. Also, if you roll doubles you add a worker to your population.
Ok... I think I'm going to go off and thing about the plagues some more.  Later!