I’m finishing up the Dig Site art and will be printing everything out today. I’m very happy with the new game on paper, but am waiting to post the PnP files until I get at least one actual play test done. The new version is much simpler as I mentioned in the previous post. The game still uses a deck of hex tiles and a deck of poker cards, however the player screens, scoring chits, find markers, and action tokens have been removed. The player screens and scoring chits are gone because the scoring has been incorporated into the deck of poker cards. The find markers where just a clunky mechanic that didn’t add enough to the game to warrant its’ existence. Lastly the action tokens have been removed because the turn has been simplified and shouldn’t require a tracking aid.
The new game plays as follows:
At the start of a round the players each play one tile face down onto the map from a central deck. The players look at the top three tiles, bury one at the bottom of the deck, play one face down, and return one to the top of the deck.
Each player moves and plays cards, or plays cards and moves. players no longer receive points for flipping a room tile face up, instead they draw cards equal to the number of unique icons on the tile (1-3) when they reveal a room. Each playing card has a set of icons (1-3) printed on it. In order to play a card the player must be on a room tile with matching symbols. Once the player plays a card they choose one of the symbols on their card that is consumed and each player in turn order may play a card that matches the remaining symbols and consume a symbol. The purpose of this mechanic is two fold, players are involved when it’s not their turn, and the cards with more icons, which are stronger, have a risk versus reward mechanic.
Example: Player 1 moves and reveals a room with 3 icons on it @,#, and $. After drawing his 3 cards he chooses to play a card that has @#$ printed on it. He then decides that the @ icon is used. Player 2 chooses to play a card with a # symbol on it. Player 3 has no cards with just the $ symbol so they cannot play a card. All the cards that have been player are resolved starting with Player 1’s card.
Room cards no longer have an effect when they are revealed or while the player is in the room. which was to reduce the amount of information the player needed to look up, or try to process when taking their turn.
At the end of the round the first player token passes to the left and a marker is placed on the base camp tile. At the end of the 7th round the game is over and the players total their scores.
Scoring has also changed. At the end of the game the players score 1 point for each scoring icon that they have either in their tent (previously called bank) or in their rucksacks , a full set of 3 icons gives the player a bonus point. The set bonus may change based on play testing I’m considering making it 2 bonus points, but need more data.
If your interested in the PnP files send me an email. Thanks for reading.
Over the break I got a chance to catch up on a few things and rehash the priorities for the different projects I’ve started. Digsite is getting a large overhaul after a couple of play tests over the break. I was not satisfied with some of the mechanics and felt that it needed to be more streamlined in order to be the game I was trying to make. The Elderhaven Setting that I worked on in November will use the Savage Worlds system, eventually I’d love to get it published, but for now it will just be a project that people can download and use. Elementary is still being playtested and will likely go on hiatus until I finish the rework of Digsite.
The new Digsite is much simpler, number of different actions in the deck have been cut way down. Traps, reactions, and tricks are all gone. Instead all of the different types of cards have been rolled into one dynamic mechanic that give the players a risk verses reward choice when they play cards. Cards that give more advantage allow other players the chance to play bad cards.
I’ve been wanting to make the scoring system a little deeper and was able to add an element of set collection to the scoring system that will give players a reason to try and cover a large section of the game map and reward clever play. The hex tiles no longer have specific affects that happen when the card is flipped instead that’s handled by the players and the tiles have one to three different symbols that the player takes and scores at the end of the game. Each set of three is worth four points and each individual symbol is worth one point.
The artifacts are also receiving an overhaul, but I have not finished working on the concepts involved with those cards yet. Each artifact will have a scoring symbol to allow them to be a part of the set collection mechanic.
Thanks for coming back after such a long break. I’ll be updating on a regular basis, but may not do one a week.
I’m going to try making these updates a little more interesting by taking some time to write about game design concepts in addition to the short updates on my games. The first thing I want to talk about is tone in games. When we play games, or at least when I play them, the tone of the game has a huge affect on the amount of enjoyment players receive from a game. For instance, is the game heavy on player interaction or is it more solitary? Are the players playing against the game or against the other players? Does every game that has lots of player interaction have the same tone? No, tone is more complicated than that. A game with lots of player interactions that create complications for the player (I.E. worker placement) is completely different in tone from a game that has a lot of interactions that remove something from the player (I.E. resource stealing). Not only do the game mechanics create a tone but the art work, fluff text, and complexity of the game also contribute to a games tone, Munchkin for example has lot’s of humor in both its art and its mechanics and wouldn’t be nearly as humorous if either of those aspects were removed from the game.
So why am I talking about tone? Because I believe that to make an amazing game you need ton have a clear concept of the tone you want to set and make sure that you consistently present that tone throughout the game. Several times during my short time as a game designer I’ve removed specific actions the players could take or even whole mechanics not because they were bad mechanics but because didn’t fit well with the tone I was trying to foster throughout the game. You need to be careful you don’t shift tone or create dissonance within the game. Shifting tone in a game is similar to changing perspective mid paragraph, you should try to stay away from it unless you really, really, really, know what you’re doing. I’ve had it happen in my games when a particular action was far more harmful to players than the rest of the available actions and players felt bad for being that “mean” to the other players, the action was balanced but didn’t fit with the games tone. Dissonance, I’ve found, happens mostly when you focus to much on the raw mechanics of the game or lose sight of the tone you’re trying to maintain. For example if you’re making a game set in a dark grim post apocalyptic realist world you probably shouldn’t make all the cards have cheesy jokes on them. I’m not saying you couldn’t incorporate humor into the game, but there’s much better options, like going with dark humor or making the setting lighter. Tone is a complex part of what makes games enjoyable. Some people have strong preferences in the tone of their games others might not have as much. Some games are designed with one tone in mind from start to finish while others evolve a tone over time. I personally favor the evolving tone because I prefer formulating mechanics and then working towards a cohesive tone rather than picking a tone and then finding mechanics that fit the tone.
Elementary is still bouncing around in my head. I’m going to remove scoring from some of the equipment that provides resources to make it a more pronounced choice for the player, resources or easy points. I’m also working on creating some new spells to add to the spell deck and reworking how many spells players can have in play as well as how they acquire them. Over the week I had another idea for a drafting game, I’m starting to sense a theme in the game ideas i have, that revolves around the players being adventuring guild drafting adventurers to become the best guild in all the lands. It’s still in the very early conceptual phase though so there’s not much more to say about it.
Thanks for reading and as always if you are interested in helping play test please send me an E-mail and I’ll get you copies of the PnP kit.