Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Center Board

I have made myself a cup of coffee, so here I go again untangling my board game design brain and placing parts of it on this screen. I wrote about the overall background for the game I am putting my soul into at the moment (Edinburgh - Old Town, very much the working title) last time so now I want to talk a little about how I think it will work.

This is the point where I suspect I will get half way through the description and think "bollocks, this is way too complicated", but I'm going to go for it anyway.

Let me start be telling you "who" I envision you playing as in this game. "Who", "what", "where" and "why" are questions that I like to ask about everything, and design is no exception. I know form #BoardGameHour that there is some resistance out there for soulless middle management games (I call them euros), but that they tend to be quite prevalent in the hobby (yes I know and play lots, but I’m a theme guy at heart).

My first attempt at this game had you playing as a land lord/lady trying to make money in a very nasty city. The thing was, you were playing cards that caused plague, witchcraft, other interesting things which was fun but didn't fit. Also it was very middle management, which I want to avoid if possible. 

So where am I now with "who" and "why". The setting stays the same, the old town of Edinburgh in the 17th /18th century but now you are a malevolent spirit stuck in the street where they met there end, manipulating the destiny of the people who live there. Why are you doing this, because the story of your brutal death is slowly being forgotten as the city changes, there is only one way to not disappear into obscurity, make your tragedy the start of a saga of horror. You want your street to be the most famous street in Edinburgh and for your memory to live on in the tales that are told about it.

“Enough with the flavour Nate”, my brain shouts at me, get to how the game might work. Well, the basic building blocks are deck building/ manipulation and resource management. Which sounds pretty standard, but I think I have some twists up my sleeve (I am rarely accused of being normal). Let me walk you around the communal board as it stands today:



This is the board everyone has access to and the parts of it are thus:

A)  The gray areas are for the current / future event. Events will have a range of effects on the game. I know it’s a little old hat to have an event deck and this might be one to the first casualties during a cull. It’s sitting there at the moment as a little hug of randomness for me. These will not be once a turn flip the next event card. They will have conditions that will trigger the end of the current event and the start of the next one, so they can be manipulated and planned for. I will go into more detail about all the cards in the future.

B)   These 4 spaces represent the local reporters who are looking to write the periodical news. Each will have an angle that they are looking to cover for the next paper, whoever fulfils the requirements gets the story written about their street (victory points). These are victory conditions that change as they are achieved.

C)   This is the royal mile which is the main street going through Edinburgh. For game purposes it is where players get the cards to build up and change their decks. This part works like race selection in Small World. So you can have the bottom two cards for free or cheap and as you bypass selections you pay to move to the next. Thus if the bottom set are pretty shitty, after a while there will be a big bonus to take them.

Writing this journal has already made me think twice about some design decisions. I had always envisioned that there would be two or three rows and that they would be independent of each other. So if you wanted the 3rd card on the left hand row, you placed recourses on the 1st and 2nd card, took the 3rd card and carried on. As I was writing this I felt it would be interesting to have the cards come as a pair (as described above). That way there might be more difficult decisions because there are going to be bad cards that you don’t want, but want if they are with a really juicy card you do what. I’ll let you know how this goes.

D)  This is just the turn track really and it represents a week. It has day, night, “papers come out” and “rest days” on it. Cards have different effect depending on if its day or night and the other two are just scoring / admin points.

Now… Each player has their own tableau and this is where the action takes place. It’s also where some of the twists in the design are I feel, but I have finished my coffee, so that board and those aspects of the game will have to wait.


I know this was not a very interesting post, but some of the time I’m going to have to bore the pants off of you to get to the good bits :0)

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Thanks for adding to the conversation on Ministry of Board Games ;-)