episode I: About Michiel, the guy who had a strong gut feeling...
episode II: The Needle in a Haystack or How I Came to Find a Publisher
episode III: Does eurogame need a theme?
episode IV: Theme and Logic
episode V: It's all about trust
episode VI: He better not...Is it only me or every new title of the series is shorter?Trash story #1: Dowry
Every Friend card in The Legacy has its cost. It represents cost of marriage. In terms of rules it tells you how much you have to pay for putting this card into play. For some marriages you pay more, for some you pay less. Simple mechanism. It worked well.
But... One day I did asked a question...
'In old days father of a daughter had to bring dowry to marriage. We don't have it here, do we?'
'No, we don't.' said Walec.
He didn't know what was coming...
'I think it would be really cool if we have it. If player has daughter, he wants to give her husband - he will pay dowry. If player has son, he wants to find him a good wife - he will receive dowry...'
Walec looked at me with fear in his eyes. At this moment he might realize what was coming. Quickly I confirmed his fears...
'I want every women card in the game have no cost value. I want income value that will represent dowry your family received. When you marry your son, you will receive money.'
Walec knew that defense makes any sense but still he took a chance.
'Ignacy, it will take all economy in the game to the bin. We will have to recalculate every damn friend card, every single action in the game, every single mission, patron, everything... We need to make it right from the scratch. And it is not only changing prices, whole economy of the game will change if players can earn money with marriage action - this is completely new strategy...'
I knew all of that.
'Can you recalculate all of that?' I asked without a blink.
'Michiel had 3 years to calculate cards and actions and balance it...'
'So we will work faster. We have 6 months...'
That day we took whole economy of the game and simply trash it.***
Trash story #2: Crystal ball
At the prototype stage there was Crystal ball action. It lets you draw 2 child cards and choose one. In terms of theme - you go to the fortune teller and you ask about gender of your child.
But there was a serious problem with this action - it was not worth Action pawn. At some point we make it even for free, no money to pay, only spend action - but still, too expensive. Action pawn is damn valuable in The Legacy.
So I removed this action from the game. It was less popular than other actions, so I decided to trash it.
As you can imagine, soon after that players started complain. 'I have 4 daughters! I need son! I need help! Bring Crystal ball back!'
'Oh, come on!' I resisted 'Deal with it! I will not bring it back!'
Unfortunately, Michiel was missing this action too. 'Players need to have chance to choose gender of child. It is important for creating right genealogy tree. It is important for strategy.'
'I know.' I was replaying to his emails.
'Will you bring Crystal ball?'
'What will you do then?'
'I don't know.'
Months passed. No Crystal ball. No other option. Lack of good ideas for solving this problem.
But Michiel didn't give up. He sent another email, this time to Walec: 'At that time doctors said that if you cut off one testicle...'
Walec received this email and he started to laugh. He read it aloud.Quote:An 18th-century French book called The art of boys suggested an extreme method of ensuring children of one sex. The author suggests that one testicle and one ovary are intended for each sex. By removing a testicle or ovary, children of the other sex can be guaranteed.'This is good.' I said.
Walec stopped laugh. Looked at me. 'What? What is good?'
'This is good.' I said again. 'Player can draw from child deck as long as he draws daughter, but since the father lost testicle, he looses Honor. This is brilliant.'
'You must be kidding.'
'You actually want to introduce rule that let cut off testicle?!'
'Blend rules with theme. That is what we do here. I tell you, Michiel will love it! Put cutting testicle into rules and start testing.'
Is there any other game here at BGG that let you do this?***Trash story #3: Full bin
For the past few months we changed the game a lot. We trashed event deck, we designed and then trashed special skills for Mansions (they will be back as goodies for pre-orders!), we designed new action (Lands) and we trashed it after few weeks, we designed War action and...
Ah, War action!
Yesterday, when I started to write this article Merry said: 'You have to write about War cards. It was dumbest set of rules you designed for years!'
Yeah, she supports me 24/7.
Anyway, War cards - in the game there were scientists (connected with Fertility doctor action), aristocrats (connected with Claiming the title action), craftsmen (connected with Venture action), artists (connected with Mansion action), diplomats (connected with Mission action)... and there were officers - connected with no action.
Eurogames don't like it that way, right?
So together with Multidej I decided to design War action. You could send your son to war. I designed deck of some about 40 cards and believe me, they were awesome.
Your son could become hero and gain Prestige.
Yous son could become captive and you need to pay money to rescue him.
Your son could get wounded and can not have children anymore.
Your son could find a beautiful foreign girl and you receive 1 of 10 friend card...
Your son could...
It was adventure deck. I love adventures. I was designing and designing new war cards and I have so much fun.
And then we played it.
One player's son got royal honor after epic battle. Player got 3 Honor points.
Other player's son got killed. Player discarded his card.
'Are you f... kidding me?' he then asked.
'You know, you sent him for a war. What were you expecting?' I was trying to defend but it was senseless. Randomness in this deck was crazy.
I was changing this deck back and forth for couple of weeks making it less random, but in the end it was always clear - War deck is adventure deck. The Legacy is not adventure game.
So I took all this amazing cards and throw them to the bin...***
Trash story: conclusion
I was writing about it last year when I was posting about Vlaada Chvatil destroying my Robinson - designing game is basically trashing stuff. You trash stuff all the time. No mercy for your beloved ideas. Every single day you are looking for better solution and this is all that is important.
With introducing dowry rules and changing whole economy of the game we took to ourselves crazy amount of work to do. It was damn hard decision. But we did it because we believed it will make The Legacy better game, with more different strategies and with better theme.
Few weeks ago I was in Hungary. I was running demo game of The Legacy. When Simon (if I remember correctly) drew 3rd daughter card in a row he literally started to cry. Having three daughters is like announcing bankruptcy.
'Man, you need to open a venture.' we said.
He burst into tears.
This one moment of pure fun and joy when theme was so nice incorporated and we all have fun that one player has 3 daughters and it will cost him so much money... It was worth spending all those days and nights recalculating every single card...
You can follow me on Twitter at @trzewik. This is BGG copy of my blog BoardgamesThatTellStories.com
24 Jul 2013
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