Thursday, August 30, 2012

Of Feast & Famine Rules

I don't have much of an update, but since I haven't posed in while I thought I should post something!  I have complete the first draft of the rules for Of Feast & Famine.  There will doubtlessly be changes in the future.  I have made a few rules changes since the last time it was played.
  • Building the Castle is now the last step in the season... previously it was before paying Tribute.  The last time I playtested the game, we could simply accept all the tributes on the last round because we knew we were going to win before paying Tribute for the season.  That felt like cheating, so I changed the order.
  • I've decided to not allow Tribute to be refused once it has been accepted.  So if you accept it...  you've accepted it for the whole game.  This does a couple of things.  It makes paying tribute a bigger deal and therefore increasing the likelyhood that you fight....  which is what I want.  It also gets rid of at least one  "loophole."  If the Player with the Combat Specialty happened to be Chancellor, then the players could all "pay tribute" only to have it refused by the Chancellor (Combat Specialist) later.  That too felt like cheating.
  • I decided to change Poverty to be like the other dice rolling events in that ALL workers matching the die color go into poverty instead of one chosen by the player.  This is done for consistency and to just make the game a bit harder.
While I have made the change yet, I'm thinking about changing the Specialties a bit more.  Currently there doesn't seem to be enough reason to give an Event card to player as opposed to another.  I think I like the current abilities, but I want to add to some of them.  Also, some Specialties seem stronger than others so I may need to balance that out a bit.  Some ideas I had are:
  • Giving the Religion player the ability to re-roll the die when Poverty comes up.
  • Giving the Medicine player the ability to re-roll the die when Plague comes up.
  • Adding a set of modifers to each Specialty for Gold, Stone and Food (medicine, at least right now doesn't apply).  These modifiers concern how much resource is lost during for the Famine, Repairs and Feast cards.  In fact, maybe I take all the numbers off the event cards and only use the number on the Specialty Cards.  There could be multiple instances on a resource icon on a card that indicates that you subtract a particular resource more than once.  Hmmm... I like.
That's it for now.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

An extension of a couple of previous game ideas

A few days ago I posted a blog about a game idea that was sort of a variation on the game Scotland Yard.  And a few months ago I posted a blog talking about how cool it would be to have a game that had a really big turning point where the game completely changed.  Well, yesterday, while hiking for 5 miles through Kennesaw Mountain park, I came up with an idea that sort of combined those two ideas into one.  It's still, at best, a half baked idea, but here it is.

Suppose every player was on sort of a treasure hunt...  I don't know what the treasure is, but there's on one on them in the game.  There may be many minor treasures that help you out in some way or another, but there's one big treasure that every one is looking for.  The board needs to mostly contain lots of places to look, possibly with various terrains that the minor treasures could help you to navigate easier.  Once someone finds the big treasure, the game completely changes (here's one of the ideas mentioned above).  The game then runs into an asymmetric game where the one player who found the treasure is up against all the other players...  those other players represent a team that wins or loses together.  They are trying to catch the player that found the treasure before he can get to some particular location....  the location he has to get to needs to be far from where the treasure is found...  I'm sure some mechanic can be used to ensure that.  The treasure that is found gives the player that found it some sort of special power (there's a bit of a supernatural theme going on here I guess).  That power allows him to move more freely than the other players (see my previous post for more details of what I'm thinking.)  Of course, it could be a magic ring that makes him invisible, but that may be to Scotland Yard like (or Lord of the Rings like). 

The second phase of the game (i.e. after a player finds the treasure) needs to be balanced so that the single player has an advantage...  otherwise, why would players be hunting for it in the first phase of the game.  But it shouldn't be an overwhelming advantage.  I'm thinking, ideally, the single player should win 60% of the time.  There are some other concerns too.  When searing for a treasure, how do you keep someone from finding it on the first turn?  Or do you just embrace that?  perhaps finding the treasure early means that players haven't found many minor treasures that improve transportation, thus making the second phase of the game longer.  Or maybe it's not just a single treasure, but a few treasures that, when obtained by a single player, has the game changing effect.  Of course if you do that, there's the potential for deadlock....  I have part A, you have part B and no one will give up one part to the other player.  You can minimize that by having multiple copies of part A and B, but you can't eliminate the deadlock unless you do something like this:  have at least as many copies of the parts as there are players and then not allow a player to take more than one copy of a part.  So maybe that's what I'll do.

Oh well, that's it for today!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Of Feast & Famine update and other thoughts

I've been working on creating a rules document for Of Feast & Famine.  I don't think the rules have completely settled down, but I do think they're at the point where having them written down is a good thing.  The recent changes to the Specialties is an improvement, but I'm not sure I'm happy with them yet.  They "work" but they're not terribly exciting.  There doesn't seem to be enough of a reason to assign a particular event to one player or another.

*change of subject*

I've started wondering if I'm using the right strategy with trying to sell Of Power & Glory to publishers.  So far, I've submitted it to 1 publisher and no one else.  That's because I had heard that publishers don't want to look at games being considered by other publishers.  But recently I've heard some things (almost said in passing) that made me wonder if that's really true.  Or maybe it comes down to what "Considering" really means.  I wish I had someone that I could ask about it.  Perhaps I'm just getting impatient.  I think I just want an answer from the publisher I submitted it to... even if it's a "no".  But if it is a "no", I hope I get some feedback that I can use when I try the next publisher (or the next game to the same publisher!).

*change of subject*

I started thinking about a game I played a long time ago that I liked called Scotland Yard.  The cool thing about that game is that is was "asymmetrical" meaning that it was one player vs. the rest of the players.  The one player by himself was a criminal trying to escape the police (the other players) in London.   The board was basically a map of London with tons of distinct locations on it with paths to near by locations.  There were different types of transportation that the criminal could use: walking, bus, taxi, subway, ferry (I think....  it's been a long time).  But the big advantage that the criminal has is that he doesn't have a pawn on the board (or at least, not always).  So the police have to figure out where he is using information about what types of transportation he has used.

Anyway, I started to think about a twist on this concept.  I loved the idea of an asymmetric game, but I thought I could change the advantage of the single player to become some other game.....  I'm not at all tied to the police chasing a criminal theme, but that's where I'm starting.  If it ends up being a game about duck hunting on Mars so be it! Nonetheless, I don't have another theme yet, so I'll stick with criminal theme for this post.

What if instead of being hidden, the one player was allowed to move and take actions at will, but the other players had to plan in advance.  In other words, what if the other players had decide a turn in advance (or 2 or 3 turns in advance) what they were going to do.  Could be be kind of cool!  I can imagine some wonderful frustration of being right next the bad guy and knowing you're about to move the wrong way.  And this kind of restriction might make some thematic sense.  Big groups (represented by the many players) often are slower to move and must plan further in advance.  While a single person can just do what they want.

That's it for today!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Of Power & Glory Playtesting

I posted the following to a Secrets Factory meetup discussion. But I thought I would copy it here:

First, I want to thank everyone who helped me play test Of Power & Glory this weekend.  You are all a great help. 

So after having a little time to reflect on some of the feedback I've made a few decisions on the game and I wanted to run them by people to see what they think.  I really liked the rule change we played with the second time around... the one where territory cards that don't result in an actual battle just get removed.  So I want to make that change.  It also more elegantly solves the problem that the silly the-king-takes-a-ring-from-a-player rule was trying to address, so I want to remove that rule.  Rodger indirectly suggested something to me that makes me want another rule change:  He kept trying to change turn order as an action instead of favor.  I think that's actually a good idea.  So I want to make that change.  That leaves 4 favors and all of them are about the king.  Floyd had mentioned that the turn order favor wasn't really about the King and until he said that, I didn't really consider it thematically...  but you were absolutely right!  So it shouldn't be a favor, it should be an action.

Floyd as recommended using cubes for the map and rings for the titles.  I'm willing to give that a shot, but I'm not compelled right now to make that change.  Yesterday, while reflecting on the playtesting, I rediscovered why I wanted those two things to be linked in the first place.  Of course my  silly the-king-takes-a-ring-from-a-player rule (which may go down as one of the worst things I did to my game), destroyed the effect.  So here's the reasoning:
If one King, say the red king, starts to get powerful, players will start to take more red rings.  That effectively limits the amount that the red King can expand and makes that other kings more attractive comparatively.  My thinking is that that will tend to even out the power of the kings and make it less possible for one player to control the whole game. 

I did, however, start thinking about the number of rings.  If you think about it a bit, the fewer rings you have, the greater the effect described above.  And after a little math, I decided I want to add two more rings per king.  That's enough to (almost) cover the board and allow all 20 possible nobles to max out their rings.  Of course, some kings will die reducing the number of rings, but on the other hand, not all 20 nobles will be used and not all that are used will max out their rings.

I've also decided to make the conditions on the King cards easier.  I don't want them to be just as good as taking a glory favor, but they should be within the realm of being possible.  Here's what I'm thinking for them: 

  • Have at least 1 territory
  • Have at least 3 territories
  • Have at least 5 territories
  • Have move power than at least 1 other king (including defeated kings)
  • Have move power than at least 2 other kings (including defeated kings)
  • Have move power than at least 3 other kings (including defeated kings)
I would love to hear what other people think about this.  Thanks!

Friday, August 10, 2012

(Very) Quick Game Idea

I don't have long to post today, so I'll just give a brief description of a half baked....  make that a quarter baked game idea I had.  I actually thought about t while watching some horrible reality show called moonshiners.. about moonshiners.  So I can't currently think of the game with other theme than that (even though I'm not super thrilled with that theme).

Ok, so it's a card game for three or four players.  One player is the moonshiner, one player is the bootlegger (they work together).  The other one or two players is/are cops.  The cops are trying to bust the other two players.  The bootlegger has to come and pick up a delivery, but the moonshiner needs to make sure it really is the bootlegger and not a random car or worse yet, the cops in a sting operation.

The cards have various cars on them.  The bootlegger draws some number of them...  lets say 6.  He then displays them face up on the table however he wants.  Something about how he displays the cards is supposed to indicate to the moonshiner which car is the correct one.  Maybe one is upside down (that's an example, but far to simple to be realistic).  The moonshiner and bootlegger can discuss the signal before game play begins, but not during.  Of course, the cops can see everything the other players are doing to.  The bootlegger then lays down six of his special cards next to the six cars...  one of those cards is an arrow saying... this car!!!  The cops do the same thing.  Then the moonshiner picks a car to put the moonshine in.  If he picks the cops car, the cops "win" if he picks the bootleggers car the criminals "win".   Cops win if it's the same car...  something (or perhaps nothing) happens if he picks a car that no one chose.

That's about it...  there's a lot to work out, but it's an interesting mechanic....  information passing.  I'm not familiar with any other game that does that... at least not as a primary mechanic.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A few random updates

I came up with an idea for a party game...  actually I had the idea a long time ago, but I started actually working on it a little.  For some strange reason I don't think I want to explain it here... at least not yet.  It feels kind of crazy, because no one is reading this and even if they were, who would still the idea.  And If they did, why am I protective over this one and not the other game which I actually have more pride in?  I think it's because this game is SO simple that it wouldn't take any effort at all to steal it....  but for all I know, it's been thought of before.  Or it could be one of those "Why didn't think of that?" things...  except I actually did think of it!  :)

But here's what I can say:  It's called doppelganger and it consists of nothing but cards.  I also challenged myself (and I think I've succeeded) in making it so simple that I could write the rules on the box... a tuck box.  Seriously... the rules are something like, 6 sentences (I don't have them in front of me right now, so don't kill me later if it turns out to be 7 or 8).   This is, of course, a huge change for me.   While the game itself is very simple, the cards will take some work.  Each card (or nearly each card) requires it's own artwork.  That's a pretty common thing, but I've managed to largely avoid that.  I'll just be using clip art and/or stock photos, but it will still take a while.

In other news:  I ordered a new copy of Of Feast & Famine a few days ago and was a bit stressed out when I saw I was 180 or so in the queue for The Game Crafter.  I don't think I've never seen it that high.  I was a little stressed because I wanted it for this weekend.  Then I saw on TGC news that their cutter went down and I decided that I had no chance of getting my game in time.  But yesterday, it actually shipped!  I'm supposed to get it tomorrow...  even if it's off by a day (which it ofter is) or even two days, I should have it in time. 

But, the event that I wanted it for (game designers meeting for the Secrets Factory) got changed a bit.  As of this morning I was the only RSVP other than the guy who runs it.  So he decided to move it to a board gaming convention at Georgia Tech that happens to be happening on the same day (which, perhaps, is why no one else RSVPed).  That could be cool, but It's a lot harder to get playtesters at something like that.  Most people seem to want to play finished games.  I guess we'll see how it goes.

I also ordered a copy of Scarborough Fair.  Not much more news there except that (like usual), it wasn't 3 hours after ordering a copy that I made a change...  that happened on Of Feast and Famine too  except that was just a very minor cosmetic change.

That's about all!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Scarborough Fair

So I started thinking about a game that I had put on the back burner a long time ago.  I you read back far enough in the blog, you'll remember that I had an idea a while back for a game called Scarborough Fair that I bastardized and turned into a game called ATL for a Game Crafter contest.  It didn't win so I unpublished it to hide it's shame from the world. 

Ok, really, I just didn't like the airline theme and I started thinking about taking it back to it's original theme.  But when I started thinking about it recently, it changed a bit and I got more excited about it.  So I'll explain what I'm thinking now.

It's an economic game, so you win by having the most gold at the end of the game.  There are 4 resources: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme.  Part of the board allows each player to set a price that wish to sell each resource at...  the game starts with everyone selling everything for 3 gold each.  The rest of the board shows the actual fair. 

The fair has a few elements that I should explain:  There are 7 attraction areas with paths that connect each one to other attraction areas.  Schematically there's one attraction area in the center with the other six connected to it and their two closest neighbors.  However, I plan on drawing it much less regular than that.  Along the paths are tents where the players will have a chance to sell their goods.  There are varying numbers of tents on the paths.  Right now I'm thinking that 2 paths will have 1 tent, 2 paths will have 2 tents and so on up to 6 tents (there are 12 paths in total). 

There are 6 attraction tokens.  Each one has a different attraction on either side.  There are 3 types of attractions: Food, Music and Juggling. One side of each token has a food icon and on the other side, 4 of the tokens have music and the other two have a juggler.  The game starts with 3 food, 2 music and 1 juggler showing randomly placed on 6 of the 7 attraction areas.  On the left over attraction area in a pawn that represents a customer (similar to the passenger from a game call on the underground; the game that inspired this one not to mention Of Power & Glory).

There's a deck of cards.  Each card describes the desires of the customer.  It lists an amount and a resource (this is how much of what resource the customer wants to buy) and an attraction.  One card is used to control the customer each turn, but I'm thinking you actually get to see a few cards so you can see what he'll do next turn.

On your turn, you take one of three types of actions then the customer moves (likely resulting in goods being sold).  But first, the actions:

Changing the market:  you can modify each of the 4 prices that you charge for Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme by moving a marker up or down by 1 or leaving it where it is.

Buying resources:  You can buy as much of any one resource type you can afford and is available.  Each one costs 2 gold.

Hiring / Moving a worker:  You can place one new (or move one exiting) worker to any unoccupied tent.

Then the customer moves.  Here's how that works:
The customer will move from his current location to the closest attraction area with the type of attraction on his card.  If there's a tie (and there often will be), the player decides which one to go to.  You must always take one of the shortest paths possible (in terms of number of paths).  Note that you can get from any attraction area to any other in no more than two steps. 

Along the way, the customer will try to buy goods considering any player that has manned a tent on his path (or paths).  He will always buy the cheapest goods available.  However, if a player doesn't have enough to fulfill his order, he will get the remainder from other players if possible.  Ties on price are broken by choosing the tent that he encounters first along his way. 

Once he reaches the attraction area, the token from that area is removed and moved to the area that was just vacated by the customer.  And, the token will (usually) be flipped over to reveal that other attraction.  The only time you don't flip the attraction token is when by doing so you remove the last of a particular type of attraction.  E.g. if you you just went to the only juggler on the board, you place it on the vacant spot with the juggler still showing.

That's pretty much it.  A lot simpler than most of my games.  I do have one concern (a fairly big one)...  I'm worried about a run away leader issue.  After a good play test or two, I'll see if it's an issue and if so I may to add something to control that.  I've tried to think of something, but so far I haven't come up with anything I like.