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.