Sands of Time development history

A blog about the development of The Sands of Time, from Spielworxx
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Beyond Sands of Time: peering into the future

Jeff Warrender
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Averill Park
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Unfortunately, it looks like Sands won't be released until Spring of 2017. Instead of trying to stretch this series out to keep building the anticipation, I'll fire off the last two posts now and bring the series to a conclusion. There's one more post that will have to wait until closer to release time, but for now, we've reached the end of the line. I hope you've enjoyed the series.

Although I've contemplated some possible paths for expanding Sands, I've also been working steadily on a few other projects, which I'll mention here in case anyone is interested in keeping an eye out for them (or playtesting them!).

Collusion

This one is a heavy-ish Euro-ish game about building a power structure to ensure that the end game state best conforms to several schemes that you were dealt during setup. The game features a degree of "cut-throat cooperation"; the most original mechanism for that being that you have a stack of "power discs" which can be used to power up your actions, but which can be lent to players with whom you have an alliance in exchange for a one-time power boost. So, you want to ally with players whose power structure best complements what you have, so that you can benefit from their structure and they are likely to loan you power discs to use yours.

Status: early beta


Lost Adventures

An Indiana Jones-themed artifact hunt co-designed with Steve Sisk. Travel around the world visiting "theme cards" to get information about the whereabouts of a lost temple and its contents; then, enter the temple and try to run through it to be the first to find the artifact. But, the Nazis are in hot pursuit and will challenge you at every step!

This is another one that has been years in the making. Like Sands, it has gone through quite a few versions, and has recently gotten another overhaul. The latest approach introduces time as a resource, which you can use in a few ways -- to boost your chances when facing a challenge, or to acquire powerup cards to help you on your way, or to scoot across the board to capitalize on windows of opportunity that may quickly slam shut.

Status: under evaluation with a publisher


Evangelists

This game is set in the 1st century. You're traveling around the Roman Empire compiling accounts about the life of Jesus of Nazareth, and interviewing the eyewitnesses to those accounts. I'm not aware of other games specifically about writing a book like this, but I think the solutions to this problem in this game work well thematically. You have full-size cards that represent papyrus sheets, and you place the accounts (half-size cards) onto those sheets, physically, representing that you've incorporated that story into your gospel. Then you can move around the pages to get bonus points for implementing literary devices. Takes about 90 minutes, playable for 1-5 players.

Status: late beta


The Thirty Years War (a Quartermaster General game)

I worked some years ago on a Thirty Years War game but never got it to testing. Ian Brody, designer of Quartermaster General, is an attendee at our playtest gathering, Spielbany, and I pitched to him the idea of a Thirty Years War game using his system. (For those unfamiliar, it's an ingenious card-driven system that lets 6 players reenact WWII in about 90 minutes). He was receptive to the idea, and it's currently in pre-alpha testing. There's no specific plan to publish the game at this time; it's more an idea that I had that he's given me the space to run with.

It's playable for up to 6 players, but unlike QG where the players are split onto two teams, in this game, everyone is out for himself. However, there are still teams: in fact, there are four, and every player is part of two teams. So, you're either pro- or anti-Habsburg, and you're either Protestant or Catholic. The game can end when one team beats its rival, but your own score is based on how your teams did and how many lands you acquired. So, you don't want your team to win until you're in position to win individually. In fact, this wrangling was exactly what caused the war to go on so long.

Status: early alpha


Le Sablier

Way at the opposite end of the spectrum from Sands is this chaotic real-time co-op about a dinner service at a busy French restaurant. Each player has a different role in the restaurant, and must oversee the processes characteristic of that role. The twist is that all of these processes are governed using sand timers, and the game uses about 25 total, of a few different durations. Some timers represent processes you're waiting for (e.g. cooking food, waiting for customers to peruse their menus), others represent processes that have an upper limit (e.g. how long a given customer will wait before leaving), and trying to synchronize everyone's activities between these processes is fun and a challenge.

Status: late beta


I am Spartacus!

A co-design with Rich Durham. It's a very short large group social deduction game for players who don't want to have to engage in "bluffing salesmanship" -- "I'm not a werewolf, he is a werewolf!" This game (sort of) recreates the iconic scene from Kubrik's classic film. A few players are Romans, most are slaves, one is Spartacus. The Romans call for a confession, then slaves can, if they wish, stand up and declare "I am Spartacus!" The Romans then execute some of them. The twist is that the Romans and Spartacus are on the same team -- they both want Spartacus to die (in Sparty's case, because he wants the other slaves to be spared). It's simple but fun, and requires few components.

Status: seeking playtesters

Ultimatum

A game of "confrontational diplomacy". Players are rulers acquiring cards to build up various aspects of their nations. They can negotiate to acquire each other's cards, but in this game, when you "negotiate", you don't make deals, you issue ultimatums! A player on the receiving end of an ultimatum can comply with the demand, or can defy -- in which case the issuing player must make good on his threat or else must incur "disgruntledness" from his population!

This one is, believe it or not, custom-designed with my wife in mind. She has a strong preference for games with direct conflict, and the core idea here is inspired by her play-style in trading games like Chinatown.

Status: early alpha

[Untitled]

A pure negotiation game that plays in 30 minutes. Players are [politicians/representatives at a peace treaty conference/TBD]. There are seven agendas, each with a track from -5 to 5. Each player has a stake in four of those agendas, and wants to advance either the positive or negative side of that agenda. Players also have influence cards that give votes on the agendas. But each agenda needs at least 3 votes to advance, and you can only play one vote on an agenda each round. Over a series of 3 rounds, players will try to persuade other players to support them, and at the end, the player whose agendas are in the strongest position will win.

Status: early alpha
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