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.
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 »
Ramblings - Charrettes - Game Design
Archive for Playtesting
03 Jul 2014
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18 Sep 2013
Gamesmith's meeting was very productive. We started off playing my game Round Trip. Round Trip is a set collection and pick up & deliver game for 2 to 4 players about moving your party of travellers thru an airport to their destination gate. It's fairly light and accessible, yet with enough of a puzzle to solve to keep all kinds of gamers actively invested.
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I'm not normally a designer that juggles a magnitude of game designs at one time. I know of several designers that do that (and do it well). Instead, I tend to focus on a select few, even as narrow as one design at a time.
However, I'm currently in the midst of a game design watershed. My microgame Enqueteur is signed with a publisher and we are actively working on finalizing it. Bomb Squad is being reviewed by several publishers and we are fielding comments from blind playtesters across the country. Ground Floor: Middle Management is developing nicely and is a priority for me. And of course, my new idea Clone Lab is my new design focus. BUT...
...apparently, that wasn't enough for me. A new idea has thrust itself into the mix and garnered all my design effort in the last week or so.
Here's some back story. My friend, Mike Tunison and I are flying together to BGG.con this year (oh yes, that's happening!). The downside is that the travel will be around 8 hours each way. Mike came up with a solution to the time sink though.
A little over a week ago, we got together to play some games at lunch and he mentioned his idea to spend those 16 hours designing a game together. But not just any game. A game about traveling by plane that could be played on those small trays on the backs of seats. I immediately was excited about the idea.
Later that day I found I couldn't stop thinking about it. By the end of the day, I had the main mechanism and storyline worked out. By the next morning, I was piecing together a prototype. The day after that we were playtesting it. Whew. Talk about a flood of design (unfortunately, this flood blew past Mike and thus we'll be pursuing two designs separately... but he still deserves props for providing me such great inspiration).
So, here we are. Round Trip is a set collection and pick up & deliver game for 2 to 4 players. It's euro goodness in a small package - both in duration and footprint.Read more »
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18 Jul 2013
I've sadly neglected this blog for over a year now. Shameful . My hope is to resurrect it to at least it's previous averageness.
The following is an update on every one of my current designs (in alphabetical order). If you aren't familiar with these designs, you can find their game descriptions here. If you want to learn more about my previously published designs check out my designer's page.
Bomb Squad (w/ Dan Keltner): This is coming along quite well. I'm pleased with how it's evolved and the balance we have struck with the Hanabi mechanism and the other elements of the game. We are continuing blind playtesting with several groups. The feedback has been very beneficial. Additionally, we have had some good interest from publishers (even going as far as receiving a contract from one), but haven't found a good fit yet. The future looks bright here (at least that's how it appears without my sunglasses on).
Clone Lab: This is a brand new worker placement idea that I will delve into further in my next blog post (
already being writtenDone. Here's the link). I'm quite thrilled with it, so much so, that other designs might have to be put/kept on the back burner. I'll give you the hook here before making you wait for the follow up blog post. Player's are mad scientists that have figured out the cloning process and have moved onto their next big creation. They must complete their next big project using only themself and their clones. Each player can have unlimited clones, but each clone costs to create and costs to maintain. Additionally, each subsequent clone is not as capable as the original. This is especially so, if you opt to "cut corners" by cloning one of your clones instead of yourself.
Cluny Monks: I'm still pretty stoked about this idea. I'm mixing a rondel with worker placement in a very thematic setting. However, my enthusiam to conquer another deep euro has waned due to it being so difficult to playtest such beasts. So, this sits on the back burner, but I will not let it collect too much dust.
Enqueteur: I'm proud to say this has been picked up by a publisher! Very exciting stuff ahead for this little micro game.
Ground Floor Expansion: Tentatively named the Middle Management expansion, this project is coming along very well. I've had a blast uncovering new developments and expounding on the base game. I'll be writing a blog post about this as well, but I'll tell you that this expansion allows players to hire Managers that both come with an unique Expertise card (special ability) and are capable of bonuses when working in the city.
Mars:embarkation: I am a little sad to report that this project has lost some steam. It just wasn't developing at the quality or speed in which I was happy with. I'm not ditching it by any means (in fact, I might playtest it this weekend), but it is no longer my top design priority like it once was.
Skyline: Landmarks: This project has been done for a while and I continue to be pleased with it. The reception has been incredible. It's difficult to play the base game without it now. Here's to hoping it sees the light of day.
Tombstone (w/ Clive Lovett): Much like Mars, this game has not been given the love it deserves lately (Sorry Clive). It has tons of potential and I fully expect my inspiration for it to return. Ready your six shooters, bushwhackers.
edit: Added Clone Lab blog post link
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