Game Design Blitz #15

And today’s card is…

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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.

Board Game Blitz #10

And today’s card is…

The Card

Color: Blue

Number: 7

Piece: Card

Mechanic: Variable Player Power

The Definition

Variable Player Powers is a mechanic that grants different abilities and/or paths to victory to the players.

The Idea

Here we go with another wide-open mechanic. Variable player powers are something that can be utilized with just about any game. The problem is that player powers that are uniform are hard enough to balance in a game. Now give every player a different power and it becomes exponentially more difficult.

Additionally, the word “powers” is really just a placeholder for anything in a game that could be different for different players. In Vast: the Crystal Caverns each player plays a different entity or group and each entity has different mechanics and different win conditions.

The first thing that comes to my mind, especially to help balance the powers is to allow those to rotate. Then that really just becomes a worker placement game or more akin to Puerto Rico in that each turn you choose a different action. So, what if each player starts as a character with a specific power, kind of like Small World. You choose a character and an ability or action type is randomly chosen. Then, throughout the game players can manipulate the abilities to steal them, shift the whole table, etc… This seems like a very chaotic type of game where it would be very hard to plan for the future or build any kind of engine. The goal, however would be that for maximum efficiency each player should end up using each power roughly the same amount of the time.

Forgive me, as I’ve been watching a lot of Marvel movies lately, and the primary thing that comes to mind is the “hero” scene where the camera moves from hero to hero watching each do their own thing to take down the bad guys. We all know my feelings on coop games, so let’s not go there, and I think the hero thing has been done quite a lot. I’m even working on a super-power game already, so let’s not go there either.

What about a factory where each player is the foreman of a particular area. Each area produces a different parts of various machines, and so each foreman has a particular ability tied to that part. But, the goal is to build the machines, not the parts. As such you have to gather the other parts as well. You can do it, but it will be much more efficient if you take over the foreman position for that part. You can’t just take over a position though, you have to prove that the current foreman is less efficient. So, if you produce more parts than an opponent, you can then swap positions with that player. The problem with being more efficient than the other players is that you produce surplus parts, thus making it easier for the other players to obtain those parts.

The game will go over several rounds and the player to gain the most points by fulfilling the most machine orders will be the winner.

The Pitch

The Factory is a set collection game where each player uses their own position in the factory, and thus their own unique action to create components for numerous machines. But really you need to be making all of the components for these machines, so you watch for your opening. When your opponent is less efficient than you, you can report them and swap positions! Being the more efficient player means that you have created a surplus of parts, allowing the other players to collect them that much easier. After a full day on the factory floor, the player who produced the most machines is determined to be the winner!

Game Design Blitz #9

And today’s card is…

The Card

Color: Blue

Number: 8

Piece: Card

Mechanic: Press Your Luck

The Definition

Games where you repeat an action (or part of an action) until you decide to stop due to increased (or not) risk of losing points or your turn.

The Idea

The press your luck mechanic is quite an open subject and can be interpreted in many ways, and that’s good for coming up with ideas, but it isn’t great for a timed exercise like this, so let’s look at the card a bit more to draw inspiration. The card is blue out of four possible colors also including magenta, yellow and black. It shows both dice and a card, and has dice with the numbers 2 and 6 to determine the number 8 on the card.A very common approach to press your luck is to continue flipping over cards until you either get the combination of cards you are looking for, or you hit a card that is bad and ends your turn. What if we use cards and dice, where the cards give us the goal that we are trying to reach with our dice? At the basest level we can have a deck of cards running from one to thirteen. Two cards are flipped over and each player starts with two 6-sided dice which they begin to roll. Players may re-roll as much as they want and may lock a die at any time, however, if a 1 is rolled it must be locked. Whenever a die is locked the player may take another die from a pool of available dice. These may or may not be various special dice ranging in numbers. This is optional, and a player may lock all their dice if they choose. The first player that locks all of their dice takes the cards, then scores points equal to the combined total of their dice minus the difference between the total on the cards. Aces can be used as either 1 or 11. The closer you get to the total of the cards, the better score you get, but you risk someone else ending the round if you take too long. If you go over the total on the cards then you are busted and are out of the round.Each player puts back their extra dice and new cards are drawn to begin the next round. Play continues until one player collects all thirteen different numbered cards (I.e. Ace through King). The player with the highest score is the winner.

The Pitch

High Roller is a real-time dice and card game where players race to collect and lock dice in which the total of all the dice matches the total on the cards for the round. Don’t take too long because any player can lock all of their dice at any time and take the cards out from under you! The first player to collect all thirteen cards ends the game at which point the player with the most points is the winner!

Game Design Blitz #8

And today’s card is…

The Card

Color: Yellow

Number: 1

Piece: Hex

Mechanic: Area Control

The Idea

Last week I had to look up the mechanic because I wasn’t quite sure exactly what the mechanic was. This week I’m very aware of Area Control and how it works, but I realize that not everyone would know necessarily. As such I think from now on I’m going to always post the BGG definition of the mechanic at hand.

The Area Control mechanic typically awards control of an area to the player that has the majority of units or influence in that area. As such, it can be viewed as a sub-category of Auction/Bidding in that players can up their “bids” for specific areas through the placement of units or meeples.

One of the various mechanics in my favorite game is area control. In Tikal players vie for control of ancient temples by having the most explorers on the site. But, this isn’t “what’s your favorite game with this mechanic”, I’m supposed to be designing a game using area control. Unlike Tikal, I want the area control to be the primary mechanic of the game, but by itself, area control isn’t necessarily a “mechanic” in the same sense that an action point system (the primary mechanic in Tikal) is. It is more of a criteria to determine who controls a location or who scores points for a location. Can we turn area control into the driving force behind a game? What would an area control game system look like? I’m thinking something where the next action taken in the game is determine by who controls specific areas… kind of like worker placement by committee I suppose. Perhaps a resource-based system where each nation or region of the board represents a different resource, and players bid for turn order by bidding a number of workers to the region that they want to collect from. However, you are bidding your workers, and those bids are placed in those regions. The region with the most workers will be the only region that produces materials that turn. All workers that were used to bid are pulled to that region but there is some kind of penalty, say one of those workers is lost and will have to be earned again. So, if I use 5 workers on coal, Jessie uses 3 workers on brick, Jan uses 4 on wood and Shawn uses 2 on cloth. Then I would collect 5 coal. Jessie would lose one worker and collect 2 coal, Jan would lose a worker and collect 3 coal, and Shawn would lose a worker and collect 1 coal. If you are vying for the bid in the same region but are outbid, then you still collect but because your workers didn’t have to travel to another region, you don’t lose any workers. But there has to be some incentive to not just follow the start player, so let’s say that you still lose a worker, then a worker produces your bid-on resource, then the rest produce at the winning mine. In the example above, Jessie would earn one brick, one coal and lose one worker. Why not just bid all of your workers though? We would have to employ other actions for the remainder of the turn that require the use of workers… building things with the collected resources, trading resources with the bank (and maybe other players too?), improving the resource collection in each region, re-hiring workers, etc…

The Pitch

In Mining Town you are one of several mine owners vying to have the most valuable mine. The problem, of course, is that you need the resources that are produced by the other mines in town in order to build up the town’s infrastructure and improve the efficiency of your own mine. Each improvement that you make to your mine or the town moves you one step closer to being the most valuable mine.

Mining Town is a worker placement game which employs a unique area control mechanic to determine player order and the primary resource gathered in each turn. Players bid workers by placing them on the mine that they want or need to collect resources from. Each mine needs workers, but the one with the most workers pays the most, so any workers in other mines will head over to that mine to work for the day. Some workers get mad that you made the wrong choice for where to send them, so they quit and you must re-hire them to get back to full capacity. After resource production you use your remaining workers and the resources you have collected to improve your own mine, improve the town, rehire workers that quit and trade resources with the bank and/or other players.

After a set number of rounds, the game will end and the player with the most valuable mine is the winner!

Game Creation Series 02: The Epiphany

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It may hit you in the shower. It may hit you in the middle of a meeting at work. It may hit you in the middle of the night. Epiphany can strike at any time and you have to be ready for it.

I realize that I have another epiphany series that I have started on this blog, but honestly, I felt that this particular epiphany warranted a Game Creation Series post instead.

 

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Cast Iron Game Review – Azul

azul

As one of the King’s personal artists, your presence in the factory garners attention. Workers rush to show you their best hand-painted ceramic tiles. Color and shape explode from the bins and workbenches scattered through the warehouse. What’s this?! You have specifically asked for a certain number of tiles and they made too many! The extras have nowhere to go in your intricate designs and will end up in the bin. What a waste, and you are sure to get a reprimand from the King upon your return to the palace! You collect the tiles that you need and make your way to the palace to put them in place.

IMG_4388.JPGAzul is a tile-laying game for one-to-four players that allows you, a tile-laying artist the chance to embellish the walls of the Royal Palace of Evora. The artist that is able to make the most complete design while minimizing waste will emerge victorious. Michael Kiesling is the designer of this game published by Plan B Games, with art direction by Philippe Guérin. Azul plays over a variable number of rounds, taking between 30-45 minutes to complete a game.

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