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.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Rollin' in the Deep

Those who follow me on twitter have probably noticed my recent comments about a quick card game. It came together awful quick! From start to finish on the cards and rules, it was about 3 hours. Of course this is a rough playtest copy and the art on the cards and stuff is not final.

I noticed after it was designed that I do not have a d8 in my possession at this moment. I'm in between moving houses and I tend to design with d6 in mind. This game is a bit of an anomaly in many regards. The fact that it uses a d8, it is the smallest game I've designed so far (32 cards and 1 center piece). The rules are barely over 1 page long, this includes a set up diagram.

The name comes from the song by Adele, Rolling in the Deep. I hear it on the radio about once a day while I'm flipping around looking for some decent music. The song struck me literal. What about a game about rolling dice underwater. Well, after a few days of rattling this around in my brain I came up with the idea of treasure hunting underwater. Each of the cards might or might not have treasure pictured. The ones that didn't had some sort of hazard. To make the game move along the center piece features an octopus who flails its tentacles around smashing cards. So we use the d8 to represent the tentacles. Each pile of cards goes in 1 of the spots.

The players are represented by colored pawns and they have assorted actions. Each player has the same actions. The game ends when the cards run out and the highest total of treasure is the winner. Simple, easy, and hopefully fun.

Playtest results will follow and if I feel its worth playing, I'll put some art on it and offer it up for download.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Cowboy game

So I got a couple playtests in this weekend with the super awesome Donnie Clark and Jasmine Tan. They were agreeable to go with my new idea of having a gunfight every round in the cowboy game. What Donnie noticed was there was no way to mess with the other players during their turns. For a light dice fest this is a problem that can be remedied.

We also played with the idea of having more dice to roll from the beginning and drawing 1 card every round. This half worked. I think it is going to remain at 3 dice to start, but will keep the draw 1 card every round. That being said, there is a LOT of dice rolling now. Too much in my opinion. What I think I'd like to do is do a discard to play the cards. I'm thinking of a matching system a la London. Put instead of a straight up 1 for 1, I think some of the more powerful cards will need a 2 for 1 or 3 for 1 maybe even 4 for 1. To help the issue of non-matching cards I'm going to use the idea of matching two cards to make a different card. Okay, that's not a good explanation, here's an example: Player 1 has a Blue card he really wants to play and it costs 2 Blue cards to play. Player 1 only has 1 Blue card and 2 Red cards in hand. So Player 1 can pitch all three, pairing the Red cards as a wild card and the Blue card as itself to make 2 Blue cards. Tah-dah! Then the card comes into play and starts doing stuff. That was another option that came up.

Since this is a light game there shouldn't be a reason cards do not take instant effect. Right now they delay for a round. I think I'll keep the board cards, because they add the nice dimension of drawing something you really want (another nod to London). I think there may have to be a limit of cards on the board to take from, maybe 5. The trick will be figuring out which ones get replaced when cards are added to the board with the discard to play actions.

Did I mention the gunfights worked like a charm?! It was super great to roll six poker dice (cowboys and their six-shooters) and then make the best 5 card poker hand. The problem we ran into is the cards have costs using 3 and 4 die straights, which are not acceptable poker hands. So I think I may push those two into a rank above a pair, which makes them slightly harder to kill. We initially played that they were below a pair which made them wicked easy to kill. I also may up the hands on the red cards and I can drop the hands off the other cards.

That's it for this post, I guess stay tuned for more ramblings from game design land.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Zeppelin game design continuing and cowboys rolling dice

So we had another play test with the beast. It remains a beast, but everything is gelling. The airships had to be modified (they have to be airships due to the thematic timing). What we noticed playing again was the presence of several strategies that are all viable. Woo-hoo! The next tricky part is how are the enemy cards going to affect play. It seems obvious that some of the PvP stuff will drop off as a strategy. Players may want to look at diplomacy as an option. We also discussed boarding parties as an option for play. At this time it isn't, but that's not to say it couldn't be.

In addition to the airship game, I have also been working on a dice game with cowboys. The trick is going to be making it different enough so it does not draw comparisons to Dice Town, Pony Express or Bang! I don't think it feels similar to these games at all. The redesign process continues along the right line. It was a bit of an Ameri-Euro hybrid, then it got pushed back toward Euro too much and it stopped being fun. Now the pendulum has swung back to the American side and there is a lot more direct player interaction with the required duels every turn. I don't feel it will slow the game down too much, but it will add a nice game end condition and a good way to allow a distinctive win instead of making it a race to collect 12 cards.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Zeppelin game continues

I got a chance to sit down with a friend of mine and we talked through the design and everything that has gone into this beast so far. Right now, it is literally that. It played two players in about 2 hours and change. That is not counting stopping to discuss why parts of the game work the way they do.

The market works SO MUCH better! I noticed that it can still be limited in that there are only 5 parts, 6 if you add in the trading mechanism. This was good to see. We agreed that we would only replace the bits that had been bought rather than clearing and restocking 25 parts.

The revamped zeppelins and plane worked well. I think the soldier may gain a second ability to repair, but not build. This would make them slightly more valuable and players may be more willing to build them.

What I keep noticing is that even though there are plenty of options to dump action points into in the early rounds, the later rounds have more workers and thus more action points, but far fewer choices. I realize I could complicate the game further by adding in something where the action points are spent doing something useful. However, it complicates an already complex game and provides even more time doing those extra actions. While I personally don't feel it is a bad thing, I have a concern that players may not see it the same way I do.

This game plays very much like a worker placement game, but with the workers doing multiple actions on any given turn. Worker placement games also have a total number of workers allotted for the entire game. Agricola has 5, Stone Age has 10, etc. This game has an unlimited supply of workers. Granted you can only hire 2 workers in any given round, but you can build lots of soldiers. So by contrast, there is going to be wasted action points.

What I am considering at this time is cutting the total play time by having a round limit, possibly 10 rounds. Right now, the game ends when any player either collects all 10 of their spoils and returns them to base or loses them over the ocean. The problem with this is, it can cause some anguish ferrying stuff back and forth especially with zeppelins and planes getting shot down all over the place.

The next addition to the beast is going to be the enemy cards, they are going to trigger at 5 point intervals. Such that player 1 scores 5 points and will thus be attacked at the beginning of the next round by an enemy (or not, there will be a few duds). This enemy will have to be defeated or it will do some damage and attack the next player at the beginning of their turn. This may not happen though. We'll see.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

zeppelin game continues

I am incredibly psyched about the play test planned for tomorrow. I spent tonight printing the new zeppelins and planes. The icons look a lot better and the cards look sharper. This is by no means a finished product, it is more of a way to get the game more functionally playable. I cannot offer enough thanks to my friends who have played it so far. This is going to be a very busy weekend for play testing and beating my head against the wall if it goes poorly. Thursday night will see a visit to the game group, South Arlington Gamers. Friday and Saturday will be spent at Dallas Games Marathon. I will definitely try to put up a post on Sunday following all of that hardcore gaming goodness. I'm looking forward to seeing how the chit-pull system from the previous post works. I know for a fact it will be much better than the dice rolling. I also added on a trading post element allowing players to trade in 1:1 on parts, but it will cost two AP from the same character. It will also be interesting to see how the weight limits slowing down the zeppelins will affect game play.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

dice vs. chit-pull

So I was looking at ways to do the market for my prototype (zeppelin game) I'm working on. I noticed that the die rolling to set the market with resources did not provide very many resources. Plus in larger games I would have to use some sort of system of adding additional items and that would just be a mess. The chit-pull system allows me to put more of the heavily used resources for pulling in the bag and less of the less used ones. It still randomizes it as there will now be 5 unique markets for the players to choose from instead of one big market. With four types of resources the average die roll with a d6 for each resource is 3.5 so only 3.5 of each resource would be available per turn. Using a chit pull system would expand the market capacity to 30 (6 spaces in each market) and allow for more resources to be taken versus the maximum of 24 resources (assuming each die landed on 6). Using the chit-pull system allows for 15 of the most used resource and 10 of the middle resource and 7 of the least used resource. This leaves out 12 chits per round as the chits would be put back in the bag and reshuffled. This will provide a better chance for the most used resource (iron) to have a higher probability of being added to the markets and the least used resource (rubber) being added to the markets.

The dice were interesting in the original play tests, but long term would need to be counter-balanced to reflect the increase in players. Using this system of pulling the chits balances that out by allowing more resources to be available per turn. It also prevents the situation of one player buying up the most used resource and leaving the other players with out. Although it was funny to hear a play tester say, "I just want to get shot down so I can get some Iron!!" (I will always remember that moment, Donnie!)

I may also look at adding a "Black Market" where the players could all utilize it once per turn but would have to spend 2 action points vs. the single action point for the traditional market. This would allow more resources to be made available per turn and allow players to take 7 total resources in one round.