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Balancing Yardmaster Express

David Short
United States
Tucson
Arizona
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Board Game: Yardmaster Express
I love designing inside guidelines. I enjoy the challenge and the thought gymnastics needed to solve a unique problem.

So, when Crash Games challenged me to make my 24 card micro game, Yardmaster Express, compatible with 5 players, I was up for the task.

Before I get into how I designed the game to handle 5 players, let me first briefly explain the anatomy of the 2-4 player game.

Yardmaster Express (YmEx) is a very simple drafting game inspired by my love for the original Yardmaster. YmEx captures the essence of the original and stuffs it into a tiny form factor.

The cornerstone to the game is the fact that the drafting centers around an evolving communal hand of cards. The key to making that communal hand offer compelling decisions for the players turn after turn, game after game, is the dichotomy between low value and high value cards.

This dichotomy exists solely because points aren't just awarded according to the values on the cards, but also to the longest cargo run of a single color. This provides a worthwhile incentive to playing lower value cards, which directly balances the choice between choosing low value cards versus choosing high value cards.

This balance between low values and high values drove my design of the cards. Each color is made up of six cards: three low value cards that don't change color and three high value cards that are mixed colors. The low values are easier to connect and offer greater chances at creating a long cargo run of a single color. The high values are more difficult to connect and discourage long cargo runs, but offer greater victory points.

From gallery of dshortdesign


So, that brings us back to adding the 5th player. I had 24 balanced cards for the 2-4 player game and I knew I needed Read more »
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Thu Jul 3, 2014 8:47 am
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