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A blog about what we (Llama Dice) play and sometimes design.
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Design Diaries #001: Roll & Write for Gencan't

Isra C.
Valdemoro, Madrid
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There is a new category of post here. When I started to write our weekly logs was intended to improve my English skills (and they are improving!) but the first intention was to do Design Diaries for Aalsmeer, The Red Cathedral and whatever Shei S. & me design for Llama Dice Games.

One of the greatest international gamers that we admire is Suzanne Sheldon:
United States
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We read last friday from her twitter, a contest for the fun convention called Gencan't. It must be a Roll & Write Game for 1-N players and only in 2 sheets of US Letter pages.

People who read our weekly reports knows how hyped by Terraforming Mars we were... and we connected the dots.

We'll make a game for this contests that consists on Terraform a planet (We used Mars for reference) and it has to had elements from his father.

So we had to compute a whole game of TF in a sheet or two of paper that brings to you more or less the same feeling if you're playing a real TF game. That sounded too hard isn't it?.

We had to implement:

1 The end of the game will be when the 3 main parameters gets done: Oxygen, oceans and temperature.
· No more than 14 rounds in order to emulate the solo version of the game

2 For so, it has to have forests, oceans, temperature risings and cities.
· And everything has to fit in an hex map.

3 And technologies! And special powers to unlock!
· But you cannot erase anything from the sheet because we don't want to make a game for erasable boards like Saint Malo. We want to keep it simple.

4 And the game has to last about 20/25' and it will be 1-5 players.
· One of the keys of the success of R&W games it is its duration.

5 The name of the game.
· It has to appeal to Terraforming Mars.

So we took the following decisions:

1. We'll add the 3 parameters, except from the oceans by the moment (it's not easy to track how many oceans has been drawn).
· Well add a 14-turn track that every step is crossed at the end of the round to keep the count.

2. The most important thing! How the game will be developed without the hexagonal tiles of the game? The players will paint it in a common tally sheet. Everyone has it's own corporation (personal tally-sheet) but there will be another one bigger in the center of the table. Every player will draw a tiny tree if it's a forest and put his/her initial in order to claim it for the end of the game, for example.
· No predefined spots or places to draw the forests, cities and so.

3. Since every player will have its own personal board, we can define some technologies that you can unlock during the game. Once you have unlocked that power, you'll have this special ability forever.
· We'll see how to implement costs in money and "how to spend money in technologies"

4 The core mechanic of the game needs 2 dice + 2 die per player, so it's for 5 players, it needs 12 dice.

5 The name was really easy to find. It will be called Terraforming Dice
· All remembrance to Terraforming Mars is not intended meeple.

This is not the best way to start a new design, but we spent a reasonable amount of time in Photoshop for making the mars tally sheet and the personal tally sheet. After that, we started to design and tried to balance all of the parameters in the game up to 4 players but soon we realised that it will be better only up to 2 players to keep everything more simple.

So we printed the first version! Looked gorgeous but we had to scale some elements to make it more usable.
From gallery of israperrillo

After tweaking a little bit the technologies, we already know that it won't work well, because we decided to start testing from a basis. We'll tune it later. So I played with my co-worker our first game of this thing:
From gallery of israperrillo

We only lasted 7 rounds because we felt that some technologies were to powerful or some decisions were trivial. Anyway, we enjoyed it a lot! More than expected!

So with all of this auto-hype we started to work again and improve all the things we designed before. Because of the duration of the test, that's why we focus on do it for up to 2 players.
From gallery of israperrillo

Great ideas, things made new for this versions that there aren't on the TF game that fits great on this one...

Well... we guess that Terraforming Dice Duel has born.
From gallery of israperrillo

See you next diary: New balanced technologies linked to the 3 main parameters and unlocked paying its price!
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