Sunday, February 5, 2012

Deck Building Game - going back to the project

The wonderful folks who follow me on twitter will know that I was working very very diligently on a Deck Building Game (hence forth DBG, because I'm lazy). Then I stopped working on it. Other projects got ahead of it and I needed some time to think about how to press on with a game that has no text, that's right NO TEXT. Everything is icon based. I had a bit of a time trying to figure out how to come up with icons that made sense. I feel like it's progressing in the right direction, but my immediate concern is that there are too many cards available at any given time. Nothing like giving AP players too much to think about. I'll give it some more thought this weekend and into next week, but ultimately this is going to go on the back burner again while I offer some more games to publishers and continue working on the Pineapple game with Chris Urinko (@battlejack) and keep playtesting.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

A social game

For those that follow me on Twitter you'll recall earlier this week I tweeted about a game idea I had for a social game. Here's the write up on it. If you're so inclined, feel free to make it into a prototype and play it.

Those familiar with Mafia or Werewolf will find similar mechanisms here, however these is no player elimination. Note: I have made some edits to reduce confusion about the roles and teams.

Lock'd Up!

A social game for 5 to 9 players.

Set up:

Select 1 player to be the Narrator. The Narrator will have several responsibilities including helping the prisoners identify each other and passing out the Contraband and Treatment cards.

The players will be divided into equal teams of Reds and Blues. If the number of players is unequal, the Narrator will add an extra Red card to the roles. The Narrator will deal the Red and Blue role cards face down so that each player other than the Narrator has 1. The players may now look at their cards, but are discouraged from discussing what roles they have been given.

The Narrator will now deal a Lock'd Up! card to every other player. These players are in Jail. The remaining players are considered to be out of Jail and will act as Guards. The Narrator will now ask the players with the Red roles to close their eyes so that the Blues can identify each other. Once this is done, the Narrator will begin the game. If by chance all of the Blues are out of Jail the Narrator will redeal all of the Lock'd Up! Cards so that at least 1 Blue is in Jail.

Playing the game:

Once the set up is complete the game will begin. The Narrator will deal either a Contraband (Blue) or Treatment (Red) card to each of the players who are out of Jail and acting as Guards.

The Guards will now select a representative who will interview one of the Prisoners. The Prisoners will also select a representative who will be interviewed by the Guard. The Guard will pass the Prisoner the Contraband or Treatment card. The Prisoner will look at the card and show their Role card (either Red or Blue) to the Guard, but only so that the interviewing Guard can see it. The Prisoner will show the card they received to the other Prisoners then place it face down in front of the Narrator in a separate pile from the remaining Contraband/Treatment cards.

After the interview has been completed the Guards will decide among themselves which Guard will be placed in Prison and which Prisoner will come out of Prison. After the discussion has ended the Prisoner who has been released will pass their Lock'd Up! Card to the Guard who has entered Prison.

Following this, the Narrator will ask the players who have the Red Role cards to close their eyes and the Narrator will call out a number of Blues who have been correctly Jailed. If all of the Blues are outside of the Jail the game will end immediately and the Blues will win.

Ending the game:

The game will end after 5 rounds if the above option has not occurred. If this is the case the Narrator will reveal the Contraband/Treatment cards, if there are more Contraband cards than Treatment cards the Blues win. If there are more Treatment cards than Contraband cards the Reds will win.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Cowboys, Dice, Dynamite!

I sat and played another playtest game of Streets of Laredo (previously Cowboy Dice). I ended up playing all three of the hands by myself. The Dynamite is a new wrinkle added in to slow down the Gold Mine which was proving to be way too powerful. With Dynamite (and Wanted!) the players have a chance to wipe out pesky buildings (and characters) with a two turn lag. The players can add further Dynamite and extend the lag (ditto for Wanted!). This time around the Gold Mine went up with a cloud of smoke burying its points, wah-wah!

Two players ended up with 8 cards each in their tableau, the first player to hit 8 cards in the tableau triggered the end game and the other player managed to play an 8th card. The problem I'm now having with the game is that the Sheriff is very rarely (if ever) used. This is disappointing. However, he's a good point grab. Maybe he'll get a different ability, draw a card for each Red card (Character) in the tableau and keep one. Who knows, but he's useless as written.

The Bonus! cards are also proving to be exactly what they should be. They drive card buying and encourage players to be thoughtful about what they put in their tableau instead of the original race to the most cards in your tableau. The Gunfights continue to work well and really make the game shine. There is nothing more satisfying than grabbing a card you need for that Bonus! and in the same move taking it from the opponent who is also looking for the Bonus! points.

In this play test, the player who had all three of his cards for the Bonus! ended up with the 1 point win. Exactly what was supposed to happen with them.

Very very happy for the most part with how this card game is progressing. Still think the Sheriff is useless. He needs a new ability.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Rules for NaGaDeMon Game: Cthulhu a Go-Go

Thank @krinklechip for encouraging me to post the rules. Keep in mind this is a raw version of the rules and the game. Its an area control game with a known traitor. Each of the character cards generate an effect for the other players or against the Cultist player. In the scoring rounds, the player with the highest single total of Influence cubes in that space will generate a result. I will try to keep those interested updated via twitter.

Cthulhu a Go-Go

2-5 players



9 Pawns

lots of cubes

7 Character roles

40 Cultist cards

Set up:

Shuffle the cultist cards to form a face down draw deck for the Cultist. Place the 7 Character cards near the board face up. Each player chooses a color and takes all of the cubes and pawns of the associated color to form a supply near them. If there are more than 2 players, 1 player can choose to be the Cultist. Otherwise play with full cooperative rules.

Choose a player to go first. That player will place their pawn in any unoccupied space on the map, this will proceed to the left until each player has placed 1 pawn. The last player will place their second pawn in the same manner and continuing placement will proceed to the right with the initial first player placing their second pawn last. Once this is completed, the Cultist player will place his or her pawn on any unoccupied space. Note: In the cooperative game the Cultist pawn will be placed in Central Park. Each player will place 1 Influence cube in each space their pawns are in.


The game will last for 10 full rounds. Each round will begin with the Cultist player removing 2 Character cards that had not been removed on the previous round. Note: In the cooperative game, you will remove 2 Character cards at random from those that had been available for use last round.

Round order:

The first player will always act first over the 10 rounds. The Cultist player will always act last. Note: In the cooperative game the top card from the Cultist deck will be turned over and the effects will be produced following the last player's turn.

Turn order for players:

  1. Select any 1 of the available 5 characters.

  2. Move 1 of your pawns 1 adjacent space.

  3. Move your other pawn 2 adjacent spaces.

  4. Place 1 cube in each space where your pawns are.

  5. Generate the effect of your character if possible.

Turn order for Cultist:

(Note: In the Cooperative game, players should agree how the Cultist pawn will move)

  1. Draw the top card from the Cultist deck.

  2. Move the Cultist pawn 1 space for each other player in the game, up to 4 spaces.

  3. Place 1 cube in each of the spaces the Cultist pawn moves through.

  4. Play 1 Cultist card to the table and generate its effects.

Scoring Rounds:

On rounds 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10 after the Cultist card has taken effect, a scoring round will commence. Beginning with space 1 and working to space 13 in numerical order, determine whether the Cultist or one of the players has the majority in each space.

If the Cultist has the majority, remove 1 cube belonging to each player that has a cube in the space.

If a player has the majority, remove 1 card from the top of the Cultist deck.

Game end:

The game will end at the completion of the 10th round including the final scoring phase.


The Cultist deck runs out of cards.

Winning the game:

The players win if they have exhausted the Cultist deck.

The Cultist wins if there are still cards left in the Cultist deck following the 10th round scoring.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Burn Baby Burn - first playtest

I prototyped Burn Baby Burn (it's code name, it has a real name that will get added when its closer to ready). I played a solo game of it. I don't know how Matt Leacock felt when he played his first game of Pandemic in playtest, but I felt my blood pressure rise, I wasn't breathing, and I was pouring sweat in a 70 degree house with a ceiling fan blowing on me. I'm really not kidding. I was absorbed and I was watching the buildings burn down and I just kept thinking, when is this gonna end?! Not because it wasn't fun, but because I didn't know if I was going to have a heart attack!

Each turn 3 new cards are turned over. The game plays over 10 rounds. Playing at the most difficult, minus 1 mechanism. It that one was present it would be been over for me, my goose would have been cooked, pardon the pun. That said, I managed to buy a fire engine and scored 0 VP. None! Players can buy cards from their solo heroic efforts to give them points, I didn't buy any. At that point I was too concerned with buying the cards that allowed me to put out fires or increase the potency of my water. I also didn't buy more workers. That seemed like a mistake.

The Fire Engine was great!! Being able to transport all 4 firefighters with 1 action was beautiful! But I didn't get it until about round 6. Should have bought it sooner. I was also able to cancel 1 of the burn phases, that was huge! That meant 9 fires didn't start! Since the cards are randomized, it can be very damning when you hit a string of 1's, 1 on each card and 1 is a 3 space building. I also kept 2 of the level 6 buildings out. That meant 3 level 3, 3 level 4, 3 level 5, 1 level 6. The trick was to try to save the 6's and 5's I think. That didn't happen either. I know that next time I sit down to burn, I'm going to look at some actual strategies and toss in the round burn effect where each round the building in the space of the round takes a fire token.

I really don't know how I feel about the game right now. I'm kind of excited that I was able to save 3 buildings, but also thinking, what if I saved more. Should the players be required to try to save half the buildings (5)? Like my twitter posts, that left me with a feeling of "Wow!" just flat out Wow!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Figuring out what to add

Adding layers is not something that is easy to do with game design. Knowing what to add can be even more difficult. Tweaking games after the original prototype is fleshed out is somewhat difficult, but usually necessary; building an additional level onto the prototype is even more difficult. When I design, I try to stick with a small handful of mechanisms and build the theme around those. The recent dilemma that has occurred for me is that I designed a game that while interesting and fun, felt to simple. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but rather than refining the simple game into a basic filler, I decided to push it in a different direction.

The question was, what do I throw at this design. Since it already has dice, adding dice wasn't an option. It already has a deck of cards as well so I couldn't throw any more cards at it, that would be more tweaking than adding a layer.

I played with various ideas, those who follow my twitter will see that. I contemplated spinners, role cards, ending trigger cards, further dice manipulation (which spawned a new game idea), area control/area majority, a lot of different ideas.

At this moment, I'm still thinking about what to add and how adding it will affect the final project. On the upside, the original art is coming along nicely.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

When the Road Forks, Take It.

Those who follow me on twitter (@benny275) will have read most of this already. Earlier in the week I was working on the cowboy game, dealing with a new idea for a mechanic. In short, the idea was to have a mechanic of drafting dice at the beginning of each round and then using up the dice you have drafted to complete actions. This created such a divergent path that it would have been a complete revision of the game. Since I like where the game was originally and the wife liked it (cause that's what really matters) I decided to leave the original game untouched by this new idea and began thinking how I could put it into a new game.

The concept of a second cowboy game emerged at that point. However, I have a very strict rule about not allowing games to overlap and influence each other. So having two similarly themed games wasn't going to fly for me. That's when I decided to put a different theme on it and away it went down the rabbit hole.

As my twitter followers and the wonderful people who play games with me on a regular basis know, I am in love with Martin Wallace's London. To me, it is one of the best game designs of the last 10 years. It is such a gamer's game! That being said, it is also sort of a puzzle game. There is a very predictable pattern of play where your strategy will be the same from game to game. This has not decreased my love for it, but it does leave me wondering about alternate strategies.

One point that gamers and game designers should be consciously aware of is the prospect of designing a puzzle rather than a game. There are a number of games that are designed in this fashion and rather than put those designers on the spot I'll let you figure them out. There has been some negative reaction on BGG about games that are essentially puzzles (single strategy games). I don't believe this is a bad thing, it is what it is.

With regard to my newest idea and plotted out game design, I am consciously aware of the is it is puzzle or is it a game question. Obviously I would like to design with multiple strategies in mind and focus on different ways that are all viable for winning. With this new one, you'll see an update when I get time to mess with it. Since the wife likes the two main designs I really should get back to work on those and get them done. However, the new one continues to nag at my conscious mind and push at me. Luckily I have friends to bounce game design ideas off of. It helps me design in a direction that is methodical and prevents me from getting stuck.

This idea is far from stuck, it continues to generate more and more sheets of paper of reference material. The last game that did this was the Airship game (still unnamed) and it turned into the beautiful game that it is. There are definitely more playtests that need to happen for it. Definitely look for more posts about the new one and expect a future blog as I get a chance to playtest the Airship game further.

For those attending Origins, I will see you there. Also, you'll probably get one of these blog posts about Origins.