Game Design Blitz #11

And today’s card is…

The Card

Color: Yellow

Number: 3

Piece: Hex

Mechanic: Route/Network Building

The Definition

Route/Network Building games feature network(s) (interconnected lines with nodes) using owned, partially owned or neutral pieces, with an emphasis on building the longest chain and/or connecting to new areas. Although arguably a separate group, Connection games, in which players connect fixed points on the board, are also included among Route/Network Building games.

The Idea

There are a lot of games to take inspiration from including popular favorites like Ticket To Ride. We could go one of two ways with this mechanic, either a pre-printed board like the aforementioned Ticket To Ride, or we could go modular where we build the board as we go. I’m more enticed by the modular aspect, and since the piece on our card is a hex, let’s start there, with hex-shaped tiles. Another caveat to these types of games is that they tend to incorporate some form of resource pick up and delivery. In my first Game Design Blitz I stated that I would try to stick with ideas I hadn’t previously thought about, but this is one of those occasions where this mechanic fits an idea I had previously (like last week sometime, and all I did was write down an idea paragraph.

I am a traffic engineer by day, and occasionally I get inspired by my job, and this is one of those times. The idea is for a Transportation themed game where we are attempting to get customers from some origin to some destination. There will be various modes of transportation ranging from driving a personal vehicle to riding a bus, light rail or even heavy rail. I’m going to take back the modular aspect of the game and start with a pre-printed board. For the sake of convenience let’s say it will be a map of the Pacific Northwest where I live. There would be a central area that represents downtown Seattle, broken out into its various neighborhoods, then suburbs surrounding that, and further out destinations like Vancouver Canada to the north, Couer D’Alene Idaho to the east, the ocean to the west and Portland to the south. Each region will have attributes that customers are attempting to get to, i.e. downtown Seattle will be good for shopping and working while Couer D’Alene is good for vacation. I’ll still utilize a modular aspect and give players the ability to update and modify the various routes that start out the game (yes, with hex tiles). Customer cards will be flipped up indicating an origin and an attribute the customer is trying to achieve. For example, they start in a suburb and want to get to work. It will also indicate a preferred method of travel. Players will spend turns investing in various modes of transport, attempting to provide the cheapest option to try and collect the customers. Customers will also retain memory of which player they traveled with in the past which will influence whether they choose you again or not.

I’m nearing my destination (starting in a suburb and heading for work – I use light rail) so I need to wrap up. On to “The Pitch”!

The Pitch

In Commute players are investors attempting to corner the Transportation market in the Pacific Northwest. Vying for control of the various modes of transportation; car, bus, light rail and heavy rail, each player attempts to provide the best and cheapest experience for their customers. Customers are represented by cards which indicate an origin and a purpose (I.e. suburb and work, or Downtown and vacation). The players entice those customers by providing the fastest and cheapest mode of travel to get to a destination that meets the customers’ needs. Players may also spend resources to upgrade and improve their infrastructure, lending a modular aspect to the game that results in a different play experience every time. The winner is the player with the most points at the end.