Game Design Blitz #20

And today’s card is…

The Card

Color: Yellow

Number: K/13

Piece: Chess Hex

Mechanic: City Building

The Definition

City Building games compel players to construct and manage a city in a way that is efficient, powerful, and/or lucrative.

The Idea

In my opinion City Building is not really a mechanic, it is more a genre of game. The definition above came from the “Board Game Category” of BGG. Many city building games exist with a multitude of mechanics that facilitate the building. Quadrapolis, Machi Koro and Flip City are three excellent examples of games that are city building games but use vastly different mechanics to implement. One is tile placement, one is dice rolling/tableau building and the last one is a deck builder game. It doesn’t even have to be a “city” necessarily. Space Base is a prime example of something that uses a mechanic similar to Machi Koro to build fleets of space ships. So that said it looks like we are wide open again.

Lets look at the rest of the card. The number is 13/K, the color is yellow and the piece shape is a hex. Maybe the players are kings, each trying to build the best castle? But that has kind of been done with Castles of Mad King Ludwig… which, while you are only building a castle, could still qualify in my mind as a city-building game. I like the engine-building aspects of Space Base and Machi Koro, so I kind of want to base my medieval themed game on engine building as well. I won’t use the same dice-method that those games use though. I’ll use the hex tiles, and they will make up different parts of my castle, and the village surrounding it. The castle needs the surrounding village to support it; with the subjects of the kingdom fulfilling vital roles in the castle from cooks to groundskeepers to guards. The crops and livestock of the surrounding village provides food for not only the castle, but the village as well. Players will have to balance building up their castle with supporting the castle and the village.

Hex tiles are the piece of choice, and I definitely want each player to build their own castle… but, what if the village was shared? I kind of like that. In the beginning of the game, nothing is connected. There will be a frame that creates the play area, or a board with the hexes printed on it, and once players connect to each other’s villages, they gain the support of the pieces in that village, opening up the possibility of supporting different strategies… but is it a trap? Are we close enough to the end of the game that trying to work on a new strategy is not feasible? That is certainly a delicate balance that we will have to try and achieve. Another possibility to consider is the use of a network system (roads, pipes, etc…), so that even if the two villages connect, to utilize the function of a building in the opponent’s half of the village, it has to connect back to my castle via a road.

How do the player’s get these hexes? I am leaning towards drafting them, though I know that has been done over and over. At the beginning of the round, the start player will draw tiles equal to 2x the number of players, and they will draft one of those tiles. In turn each player will draft a tile and then it will snake back to the start player, so they get the first pick, but also the last. Turn order will rotate each turn so that each player gets to be start player at least once. Then each player will choose one tile to place into their board and the other will be harvested for resources. The players then send their subjects out into the village to activate the buildings, because why not throw some worker placement into the mix?

At the end of the round, the player must have the required resources for their castle’s demands. If not then that piece of the castle shuts down (flips over) until the player can pay the full cost. If the player can’t pay that cost a second time, then that piece is removed back to the draw pile.

The end of the game comes when the entire frame is filled in and points are scored primarily from the components of your castle that are active. Points can be earned throughout the game, possibly based on village tile placement and whether those village tiles contribute to just your castle, or to all castles.

The Pitch

The King has fallen and there is no heir. The kingdom is in shambles and it is up to the future king to re-build. There are several people vying for the role of king however. In King of the Castle you are one of the many people staking a claim to the throne. You will draft tiles to build up your own regal castle, but while the presence of your castle is important to keep the citizens in line, you will need to support of those same citizens and their various talents and resources in order to maintain your castle. Meanwhile, not that far away, your opponents are all building their castles. You must balance increasing the splendor of your own castle with building the village infrastructure needed to support that castle. Eventually your village and those of your opponents will spread until they meet. If the network of roads supports it, then you can all start utilizing the resources of you the whole village. There can only be one king, however, and that will be the one with the most impressive castle!

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