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Subject: [WIP] 2014 Card Game Contest - Timber! The Card Game rss

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Philip Pack
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My entry for the 2014 Card Game Design Contest ([geeklist=174468]Geeklist link[/geeklist]).
2nd Place in Standard Deck Category
4th Place in Voters Choice


Timber: A Forestry Card Game

2-4 Players - 30 minutes playtime - 54 Cards + 8 cubes\pawns\tokens (two of one colour per player)


Timber is a forestry themed economic driven card game, using set collection as the primary mechanic. Players will harvest three types of wood in order to complete one of the currently available contracts. Contracts are than sent to an available mill where the player is paid immediately. Players may purchase mills to earn extra profit, and will have opportunities to bid on "helpers" to hold back their competition. Manage your cards smartly as the hand limit in effect may force players to liquidate their harvested wood at a lowered value. First to reach $25 or more triggers the final round of actions. Find out who managed their way to be the best forestry company of the year!

Downloads
(v0.4d - August 16th)
Rule Book
Card Fronts
Card Backs



Change Log:
v0.4c - First release to BGG contest.
v0.4d - Improved Rulebook, few card updates/modifications. Thanks to /u/ProteanScott/ on Reddit for the feedback.

Upcoming goals:
v0.5 - logos applied on all card backs and a more useful score board design (will be uploaded to this very page)
v0.6 - cards/gameplay/rules are final (no more changes)
v0.7 - preliminary graphic design
v0.8 - first professional printing (likely via printers studio)
v0.9 - ???
v1.0 - PROFIT!
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Philip Pack
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[October 1st, 2014]

Thank you everyone who voted for my game. I'm very proud of 2nd place in Standard Deck and 4th in Voters Choice.

Big thanks to user Candi and reddit user ProteanScott for their critical feedback on my rule book and how to further streamline the game. I look forward to providing the public at least one further print and play update with these adjustments and hopefully some basic (draft) card art.

Please subscribe to this WIP thread for the next update, which I hope to have published before the end of the month. And hopefully cards with draft graphics before the end of the year.

[August 30th, 2014]

It appears that the current publication (0.4d) will be my official submission to the contest. Unfortunately I haven't had the time to draft a new score card that has more substance and style. Also I haven't found any further issues with the current (latest re-write) of the rule book.

After the completion of the contest, (in October 2014) I will do one more major update to the public print and play version of the game. I plan to make some game changes as per user feedback (to streamline the game and strengthen the thematic quality of in-game events). I also hope to have the score card update, and maybe a minor visual upgrade to all the cards.

I really hope to get more feedback from this contest. It really has been fun to participate in and see the other games.

[August 24th, 2014]

I've got an updated logo from my artist friend that I plan to share and update the rulebook with soon. I also plan one more minor rulebook update before the deadline. I also hope to have new score card layout before the deadline too.

[August 16th, 2014]

All files have been updated. Thanks to great feedback from a user on my reddit thread. Forest Fire card has been moved to the Forest Deck. Event Deck has been renamed Contract Deck. Rule Book has been completely re-written/organized to hopefully make it easier to understand.

Would love to hear from anyone who has had the chance to read the rules or even print and play the game. Thank you everyone.

[August 14th, 2014]

We are live! Really excited to share my first public project. I've been playing games all my life (now 31 years of age) and have been working on and off on game designs for about 5 years. I was never 100% happy with my creations, until now. Most of my design efforts are around simulations; economic, sports, political, etc. Problem with simulation games is that it's very easy to become over complicated and make the game very robotic and math heavy, something that would be better as a computer game instead of a tabletop game. And that was the problem with most of my early designs that never got past maybe one or two play tests.

Earlier this year I saw Dice Hate Me Games Kickstarter for their "54-card Rabbits". All of these games inspired me to try and take my previous designs and bring them down to just 54 cards (and maybe a few other common components). While my other two projects haven't been so successful with conversion... this one has me very pleased. It's gone through only very minor changes since it's original inception in its 54 card form.

Thank you to Microstack Games for putting together this contest... was good to have a deadline to get a few things settled down.
Really looking forward to hearing everyone's feedback about my game. And really hoping this goes well and I can take it to the next level with some full art work, professional card printing, and maybe even further.
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Philip Pack
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There are a few "bidding" events where you can try and either close a player owned mill or hire an arsonist to cause some damage. There's also a forest fire event, but that effects all but damage can be negated by paying "insurance premiums". Game is more light and family friendly, but I think there's enough player interaction to keep it interesting. Friend is just finishing off the logo... hope to have the files/rules posted in the next few days and will make it an official submission to the contest ASAP.
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Jessey
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This looks like an interesting game. I've just read the rules and I have one suggestion and one concern:

The Suggestion:
Instead of having Liquidation be a separate action, create a permanent "Liquidation" contract card that is never discarded and always available. That streamlines the mechanics a bit. Also, as it is right now the difference between the Liquidator Contract and the Liquidation Action isn't clear (it's a bit confusing - confusion made worse by the description of the Liquidation Action including a note about the Liquidator Contract).

The Concern:
There's actually two (and are related):
1) The Gameplay Description says that the Arsonist, Forest Fire and Mill Foreclosure are all Events which trigger an immediate effect, BUT Player Action includes "Activating Arsonist or Mill Foreclosure" contradicting this (the special card descriptions note that an immediate auction occurs).

2) The auction phase.

The auction mechanic exists only to resolve 2 cards - which is a whole mechanic to support a very small part of the game. Also, it will stop the game (which would otherwise proceed very quickly from turn to turn) so you can play a different mini-game briefly. Those kinds of "hiccups" in a game's flow can negatively impact the experience (especially if you were the next player in the turn order).

I think the game will flow better and be slimmer if those cards worked like any other contract (but they cost $$$ to acquire instead of logs). Either that, or at least make the auction quicker (for example: instead of incrementing it by 1 make it a silent and simultaneous auction where players just hold out 1-5 fingers in on one hand behind their back to show how much $$$ they bid. Highest non-tied player gets the card effect, that player and all who bid more than that player pay their bid $$$).
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Philip Pack
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Thanks for the response.

Candi wrote:
The Suggestion:
Instead of having Liquidation be a separate action, create a permanent "Liquidation" contract card that is never discarded and always available. That streamlines the mechanics a bit. Also, as it is right now the difference between the Liquidator Contract and the Liquidation Action isn't clear (it's a bit confusing - confusion made worse by the description of the Liquidation Action including a note about the Liquidator Contract).

I'll see what I can do in the rules to help with further clarification. The idea is that the Liquidator Contract is a limited time offer (only when one of two contracts are available) and offers a better value ($1 paid out for each 3 logs liquidated). The permanent Liquidation action (always available to any player, $1 paid out for each 4 logs liquidated) needed to be always available because of the 5 card hand limit, to ensure the player always has an option on their turn (not including to miss their turn). The hand limit is there mostly due to the limited number of cards in game.

Quote:
The Concern:
There's actually two (and are related):
1) The Gameplay Description says that the Arsonist, Forest Fire and Mill Foreclosure are all Events which trigger an immediate effect, BUT Player Action includes "Activating Arsonist or Mill Foreclosure" contradicting this (the special card descriptions note that an immediate auction occurs).

The option of activating these cards, would only be available to a player who has already obtained it thru winning the related auction (if/when it occurs). I wanted to ensure that it is understood that the player holding one of these cards must use their turn (not allowed to harvest, etc) to utilize the abilities of these cards.

Quote:
2) The auction phase.
The auction mechanic exists only to resolve 2 cards - which is a whole mechanic to support a very small part of the game. Also, it will stop the game (which would otherwise proceed very quickly from turn to turn) so you can play a different mini-game briefly. Those kinds of "hiccups" in a game's flow can negatively impact the experience (especially if you were the next player in the turn order).

I think the game will flow better and be slimmer if those cards worked like any other contract (but they cost $$$ to acquire instead of logs). Either that, or at least make the auction quicker (for example: instead of incrementing it by 1 make it a silent and simultaneous auction where players just hold out 1-5 fingers in on one hand behind their back to show how much $$$ they bid. Highest non-tied player gets the card effect, that player and all who bid more than that player pay their bid $$$).

Yes, the auction was added only for these two cards. The "shoot" auction mechanic is one that I might consider testing, and could always be a variant\house rule mentioned for those who choose to do it this way.

In earlier builds we had it so the card was available for purchase (as your action for the turn, all available from start of the game) for a flat cost. We found that these helpers (including other 'helper cards' that we tested) were rarely purchased. There was also a variant where they randomly appeared as current, but I wanted to ensure all players had equal opportunity to obtain the card (not just the player who happened to play next after they came up from their respective pile) Since the change to the immediate auction (and delayed to the second shuffle of the deck) players have purchased the card for use, but still not to the effect I originally hoped. Because of this I have considered reworking these cards to become immediate events. So not where players need to win an auction to own it, but where players effected (eg, owns a mill) could pay to cancel it's effects on them (much like the forest fire).

But I'd like some more play testing with the rendition of these cards to be completed before deciding if I will redesign (or remove) these 'event' cards. I've got about 10+ play tests completed so far, and feedback has been very good... but would love more game tested feedback (at it's current stage) from those other than family and friends.

Thanks!
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Jessey
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I'll try to print it up this week, although I will probably only be able to solo-test it.

I think making all three Events the same (modeled after Forest Fire) would be a good move. It would eliminate the auction mechanic and streamline the events (they would then all be the same).

Although, if no one was initially interested in buying those cards you may instead want to ask yourself what role they play in the game. Maybe they aren't the best way to achieve that objective (I assume it's a dash of "take that" and a pinch of "jump the leader"?). Take that in an otherwise friendly game can make those moments of 'take that' feel very negative for the player targeted by it, and there may be a better way to implement a catch up or leader jump mechanic. Maybe make Mill Foreclosure just like Forest Fire (pay 2$ to keep your Mill or lose it) and remove Arsonist, replacing it with Foreign Investor, which gives the player with the least $$$ (or tied players) some kind of benefit.
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Philip Pack
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Candi wrote:
I'll try to print it up this week, although I will probably only be able to solo-test it.

I think making all three Events the same (modeled after Forest Fire) would be a good move. It would eliminate the auction mechanic and streamline the events (they would then all be the same).

Although, if no one was initially interested in buying those cards you may instead want to ask yourself what role they play in the game. Maybe they aren't the best way to achieve that objective (I assume it's a dash of "take that" and a pinch of "jump the leader"?). Take that in an otherwise friendly game can make those moments of 'take that' feel very negative for the player targeted by it, and there may be a better way to implement a catch up or leader jump mechanic. Maybe make Mill Foreclosure just like Forest Fire (pay 2$ to keep your Mill or lose it) and remove Arsonist, replacing it with Foreign Investor, which gives the player with the least $$$ (or tied players) some kind of benefit.

Thanks again. I'll totally keep this in mind. It's something I'll likely do with the next update of the game. But only updates I plan (for contest purposes) is a few rule book touch ups and a few graphical updates (like the score card). Cheers!
 
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DjFIL wrote:
Candi wrote:
I'll try to print it up this week, although I will probably only be able to solo-test it.

I think making all three Events the same (modeled after Forest Fire) would be a good move. It would eliminate the auction mechanic and streamline the events (they would then all be the same).

Although, if no one was initially interested in buying those cards you may instead want to ask yourself what role they play in the game. Maybe they aren't the best way to achieve that objective (I assume it's a dash of "take that" and a pinch of "jump the leader"?). Take that in an otherwise friendly game can make those moments of 'take that' feel very negative for the player targeted by it, and there may be a better way to implement a catch up or leader jump mechanic. Maybe make Mill Foreclosure just like Forest Fire (pay 2$ to keep your Mill or lose it) and remove Arsonist, replacing it with Foreign Investor, which gives the player with the least $$$ (or tied players) some kind of benefit.

Thanks again. I'll totally keep this in mind. It's something I'll likely do with the next update of the game. But only updates I play (for contest purposes) is a few rule book touch ups and a few graphical updates (like the score card). Cheers!


Probably a good plan. Given how near the contest close is, a big change like I recommended would require a good bit of testing to make sure it still works!

Looking forward to trying it out either way!
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Philip Pack
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In my original designs (before it became a card game) there was movement of your loggers between patches, and there was even a simulation of regrowth of the forest (and replanting trees). But honestly, it made the game dry and boring. I couldn't be happier with how the game currently plays, and the streamlining of the event cards (see above) will be a great (and maybe final) touch to the game.

Hardwood and Softwood is already more valuable (and more rare) than Pulpwood, this is seen in distribution of contracts and forest cards. And there is already a variance in quantity (density) of logs in the forest cards. I think adding more species of trees would over complicate the game for no reason, and it would be tough to keep this with the idea of only being 54 cards.

I do plan to post at least one more WIP version (sometime after contest voting closes) that will have more visuals on the cards, as well as the modification to the event cards.
 
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