Friday, June 30, 2017

The Fatal Flaw

It was announced that "The Perfect Moment" won the Button Shy wallet game design contest. I have had an idea about making a 18 card standalone expansion to the game.

I spent a little while brainstorming ideas, and made up some of the cards. I just printed it up and played it with my wife, and it was definitely playable. We had some problems with it (like any first time game), but the game worked fairly well. 

The expansion is right now named "The Fatal Flaw". My original ideas for card abilities were fairly good (in terms of what would make the game playable with those cards), however I had to change some of the abilities after the first play through to balance them, and to make them more able to modify the state of the game. I also had to make a few changes to the original game to work better with the expansion.

One change that I had to make was to the original game colors. I needed to change cyan to blue so that I could make the other game the secondary colors (purple, orange, and green.) I also changed Keys to draw a card first, because that makes it work differently than tent, which was pretty similar to keys. Another change was that I made the love story cards red - because people really wanted that. 

Here are the original cards from the original game, and the cards from the expansion:

I haven't yet drawn icons for the expansion, so I am just using icons off of the Noun Project right now.

The expansion plays pretty much identically to the base game, but with different abilities. The real magic is when they are both combined together: instead of just building a bigger deck like in most expansions, in this game both decks are set side by side, and you can draw from either one during any draw. The cards are both used, but they are kept separate, and so the players still have the same chance of drawing a card of the color that they want.

When players discard, they can discard to any deck, and so the decks will get jumbled up throughout the course of the game. This should be fine, since the backs of the cards are going to be different for each deck.

The expansion has two new ideas that the base game did not have: one is cards that modify the public objective (which, with the expansion there are two of - the Anomaly, which is the base game public objective, and the Paradox, which the expansion adds).

The other new idea (and the more interesting one in my opinion) is cards that can score other cards directly as part of their ability. This allows players to either focus on building a good setup to score cards for a lot of points, or it allows them to try to quickly win by flooding their score pile with repetitive small points.

It remains to be seen if a player with shoes and matches both can defeat a player that is playing without any of those cards. I think that it is possible (likely?) that I will have to do more balancing.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Burying treasure and removing the Hold In

I brought Grab the Loot! to the Board Game Design Guild again. This play was testing out buried treasure and coins being valued at 4. We played a game, and then had an excellent discussion about it. Here are my notes (and what I plan to do about them).

  • Some cards need to be reworded: (so, I am going to reword them)
    • Trevyn- should say "to the captain", so that it doesn't affect stolen treasures
    • Gripe- should say "gain an item", so that you don't just shuffle coins around.
    • Sophia- should say "gain from the captain", so that it doesn't affect stolen/donated coins.
    • Bribe- should say "gain an item" like gripe
    • Trick- opposite order is more common for wording?
  • Buried treasures should not get players shot. (This is a great idea. I am going to do it.)
  • Do not "Texas Hold'em" in all of the Captain's greed cards. This spawned a large discussion, and more people were on the side of not "holding in" the cards. The arguments for the holding in were: simplified math, however the arguments against it were: one card was worth 25 points which was the most valuable card in the game by far, and the scores in our game were tighter with the holding in removed. (I did not originally have all of the cards "held in", but added that because Daniel Peterson said that it would make the math easier. With the results of the debate in, I am ready to do a lot of math after each game to determine if the scores are really tighter, but I do agree that that one card being worth 25 points is a smoking cannon which indicates a problem. I will have to fix this either way.)
  • Coins should be worth five points to make math easier (I am sort of scared that this might make them too powerful, but I'll give it a go and see if it works out.)
  • Game wants more interaction (I am always up for that.)
    • Make more cards affect the captains greed.
    • Put player abilities on player cards which can be activated by meeples and give benefit to the player as well as the player that placed their meeple. (I will try it out. It sounds interesting.)
  • Perhaps make some cards that always are available (I am up to try this out)
    • Add an ability to the "Captain Standee", so that players can visit that location no matter what.
  • Player's abilities should be secret until they are used (this sounds fun. I will try it out.)
  • Abilities that can be only used when revealed (this is a combination of the prior idea and putting placement slots on player's cards.)
  • Coins should not be in the greed. (This spawned a debate, and more people were in the "Coins should be in the greed" camp than the "coins should not be in the greed." The root cause seemed to be the following point, which I think that I can fix (even if I make coins still in the greed.))
  • Players should be able to make themselves safe from getting shot without losing all of their treasure. (I have seen three or four players that have (in the quest to not get shot) lost all of their treasure, so I feel for this point even if I have always "gone big" instead of "going home").
    • Add cards to allow players to bury more treasure -which is immune to getting you shot. (I think that this is the solution. Players that are getting antsy can bury their treasure and not lose it all. It wastes their turn, and perhaps is less advantageous to them, but it also prevents their treasure from getting stolen, so it might just be worth it.)
After the play session was over and the discussion ended I had a few more ideas while driving home.

  • Card abilities to add:
    • flip up top card without having to place on it by paying money.
    • peek at the next greed card.
    • look at all the greed cards that are out of the box (by paying money).
  • Perhaps some characters should have abilities that let them score loot differently?
All in all, I am going to be doing some more modifications to the game. I really like the way that it is heading.

In other news, I have been working on "The Madness Place" again (finally). It needs some more polishing up before I print it up again and try to play it, however it is actually going somewhere. 

Here are how the cards are now looking: There are  fewer energy types, which should alleviate the problem with getting the right energy types, and there are also now scoring rooms, which should alleviate the "one winner and a ton of losers" feel that the game had in the past. I still need to figure out what cards have what on the back sides, but I think that we are practically ready to play it.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Making games for kids

I joined the Haba kids game design contest this week. As part of the contest you get a bunch of parts that they had lying around and have to make a game that uses the parts. I got the following:
I have tried out two designs so far. The first (which the younger kids liked the most) was a game where you visit the zoo and try to become brave enough to befriend a spooky shirt that is also at the zoo.

In the second game the players are trying to catch a bunch of gnomes. The older kids liked that one better.

I might combine them into one game - perhaps you are going to visit a fantasy zoo and need to gather all the small magical animals so that you can return them to the (scary) warden.

My two year old son is about to have his birthday, and he asked me to design him a game for a present. We got into discussing the theme, and from this was born "Robots fighting Aliens and saving Princesses". His design considerations were the following:

  • Has to have good robots
  • One robot has to be a hero with a gun
  • Has to have evil aliens
  • One alien has to be good
  • There have to be princesses that got stolen by the aliens
  • It needs a map for them to move around on
I'm thinking right now that the rules will involve placing aliens all over the map (multiple to a tile), princesses in the center, and allowing the players to start in the corners. Players move their hero robots around fighting Aliens and eventually save the princesses.

If the heroes are outnumbered, the heroes have to go back to the corner to pick up reinforcement robots to successfully clear out a square. The aliens also will slowly move around.

I have a week until the design is due, so hopefully it all works out and he loves it.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

An idea is budding...

I just had an idea (which I totally didn't steal from Carl Chudyk (not really, I pretty much stole it from him)) for a new game. I think I am going to polish off the old Polynesian theme and mock something up some time.

I should be working on The Madness Place, but doing what I feel that I need to do to it will be hard. I really dislike simplifying games, and always worry that I will simplify them too much.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Done with TLDR for a while

I finally finished working on Terran League of Defense Robots and submitted it.


Since then I have come up with a few modifications Grab The Loot. The first is adding hidden treasure cards to every player (which makes it less of a perfect knowledge game), and another is making treasures have an effect (like you can return them to the captain to do something).

We played today at lunch, and had a few ideas: one was to make coins worth more, another idea was to make the player that loses a treasure places the captain meeple instead of the player that gains the meeple.

I should probably also spend at least a little time on the art work some time.

I have also been making a whole bunch of icons for people on BGG as a means of giving something back to the community. It has been going fairly well so far, and I have had a lot of people request icons.