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Subject: WIP - Pocket Adventure - 2015 Solitaire Entry (Contest Ready) rss

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Jessey
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Entry for: 2015 Solitaire Print and Play Contest



Pocket Adventure is a solitaire adventure game in a compact deck of cards. Gather your things and explore the land, encounter monsters, meet travellers and visit towns. Collect treasure and complete quests. Do it for glory, for fortune or just for the thrill of adventure.

Play time: 20-40 minutes

Categories:
Best Medium Game
Best Thematic Game
Best Written Rules
Best Artwork
Best Hotel Game
Best Game with No Board
Most Innovative Mechanic Category
Best Greyscale Printed Game Category

Components
63 Cards (27 Adventure Cards, 18 Event Cards, 3 Character Cards, 3 Boss Cards, 9 Quest Cards, 3 Tracking Cards)

Game Rules

Full Graphic Fules

Low Ink Files


*** Original Post Archived Below ***


Looking back you can still see the trail of smoke winding up into the sky marking the place where your journey began. They had come to collect on your companions gambling debts, only to find he was not home. You hadn't seen him in weeks, and they didn't believe you. To 'send a message' they burned the little cottage to the ground and left you without a home. With the sum of your belongings, a rusty sword, a few scraps of food and an old roll of bandages, you set out. Maybe you would find that rogue whose habits cost you your home, or maybe you'd find comfort and joy in the life of a ranger as you wander from place to place... so beings your Pocket Adventure.

Pocket Adventure is a resource management adventure game with some light luck pushing elements. The aim is to get as much as I can out of a small number of cards. To achieved this, each card has 5 distinct areas. On one side a location, monster and item and on the back an event and note (see sample below).





Mechanics Overview (so far)

Each round you explore (look at the Location area of the next several cards and pick one to explore to), and then you will either have an Event, encounter Monsters, or Rest (based on the icons on the Location you explore to). Exactly what happens will be determined by the next card on the deck - if you encounter a Monster the Monster is the one on the next card. If you have an Event flip over the next card and see the Event at the top. If you Rest then you get to reroll you Action dice (there are 5) and you also look at the back of the next card (Weather Events can happen while you rest, and you can Advance your Quest).

You have 5 Action dice which are used when you fight Monsters and for some Events. They will have a number between 1 and 3 showing. When you fight you choose some of your dice and assign them to attack and defense, then the next card in the deck is flipped and the attack bonuses (in the bottom portion) are used to modify the monsters attack and defense values. These are compared to your assigned numbers (modified by gear). If you have attack > defense of the monster, then you defeat it. If it has attack > defense of you, you will also take damage (the wound type is indicated by the icon in the monster area). After each battle, the highest valued die that you assigned is removed (you get dice back only when you Rest).

Finally, the Note portion of the cards is how you advance in your quest. The number in the top left is the number in the quest sequence, the text is a description of the note in your travel journal and along the bottom will be a quest requirement (I haven't added it yet). When you satisfy that requirement then you flip your character card to show that you're "between quests". As soon as you see a card with the next number in the sequence you take it as your next Note and discard your current one. This makes it sort of like a little random adventure, since there will be multiple instances of each sequence number. Some quests make have a specific one that they go to, those will be indicated as well (the quest number will have a letter subscript, like "3a" will always go to "3b" and not "4" like "3" would)

I'm also adding Boss cards for bigger more epic, multi-round fights for special gear.

Components are going to be an (eep!) double-sided deck of cards and five custom dice (maybe six).
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todd sanders
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Re: WIP - Pocket Adventure - 2015 Solitaire Entry (Idea Phase)
that there is some fancy card art. I am going to have some amazing competition this year if I come up with an entry
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Re: WIP - Pocket Adventure - 2015 Solitaire Entry (Idea Phase)
dumarest123 wrote:
that there is some fancy card art. I am going to have some amazing competition this year if I come up with an entry


Credit where credit is due, the card frames and design elements are from
Sebastián Koziner
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and the illustrations of the monsters are from
Sean Bodley
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I got the card art made for a past entry (Pocket Explorers) but as the art trickled into my inbox I just couldn't use it for that game. The game was, mediocre at best (relying on dexterity gimmicks to be special). So the art has been sitting in my design folder begging to be used. I decided in November that I'd make good on it and use it for my entry this time around.

The card frames and art provided a really interesting constraint that I've never worked with before - card layout being predetermined.
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Caroline Berg
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Re: WIP - Pocket Adventure - 2015 Solitaire Entry (Idea Phase)
I agree, the art is lovely! *subscribed*
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In a hole in the ground there lived a
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Re: WIP - Pocket Adventure - 2015 Solitaire Entry (Idea Phase)
adularia25 wrote:
I agree, the art is lovely! *subscribed*


Really looks great. Both the art and design concept.
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Re: WIP - Pocket Adventure - 2015 Solitaire Entry (Idea Phase)
This sounds absolutely fantastic and is something that I've been after for years: a story generating solo with quick setup. Can't wait to see more!
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Re: WIP - Pocket Adventure - 2015 Solitaire Entry (Idea Phase)
skawitch wrote:
This sounds absolutely fantastic and is something that I've been after for years: a story generating solo with quick setup. Can't wait to see more!


That's one of the design goals - which is why 1/4 of my precious card real-estate is dedicated to a "journal entry".

The other aim is I want the game to be very easy to "pause". You will have your character card (which is just a player aid/reference that has little notes to help you organize the play area neatly), any equipment and items you've picked up, your current "quest" (journal entry) and your dice on the table 'tableau' style. The rest of the cards will either be in a discard or the adventure deck.

If you need to pause the game, you put the discard on the bottom of the adventure deck (with the "event" side face up so you can separate it out later), put your character card on top of the adventure deck, then your items and on the very top your active "quest". Put it back in the box (which will fit all the cards and dice snugly) and next time you play it will be easy to pick up where you left off.
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Jan Schröder

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Re: WIP - Pocket Adventure - 2015 Solitaire Entry (Idea Phase)
again: very interesting!
(i have forgotten already how many times i´ve written this word into any of this year´s WIP threads.. - lots of good ideas around!)

it´ll be interesing to see how you´ll string together the story fragments to create the adventure!
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Jake Staines
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Re: WIP - Pocket Adventure - 2015 Solitaire Entry (Idea Phase)
There seem to be several story-driven games this year. Could it be time to resurrect the best-paragraph-game (or at least best-storytelling-game) category? :3
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Nate K
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Re: WIP - Pocket Adventure - 2015 Solitaire Entry (Idea Phase)
Bichatse wrote:
There seem to be several story-driven games this year. Could it be time to resurrect the best-paragraph-game (or at least best-storytelling-game) category? :3


Maybe? I am considering buckling down and finishing Horns of Thunder, the sequel to my... what, 2012 entry? Man, that was a while ago. Anyway, it would be a gamebook that would fit nicely into a paragraph game or storytelling game category.
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Re: WIP - Pocket Adventure - 2015 Solitaire Entry (Idea Phase)
schroederjan wrote:

it´ll be interesing to see how you´ll string together the story fragments to create the adventure!


Many of the story fragments will be independent, so the player's choice of which one they proceed to next will determine how their adventure unfolds. The number sequence will let me keep the over all story consistent (so fragment "2" is the 'first day' fragment and fragment "3" is the end of first day fragment and so I'll be able to keep the story to a timeline). I'm also going to use icons to link story fragments together. So some fragments you cannot choose as your next journal entry unless in your journal you already have certain icons. This will let small stories unfold as you play (and will let me build in quest sequences that you can choose to follow).

That's the plan anyway. I'm putting together a set of 16 cards to start testing these ideas as well as stress testing the core mechanics.
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Micah Neveu

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Re: WIP - Pocket Adventure - 2015 Solitaire Entry (Idea Phase)
To increase the cool story aspect of it, you can hint some of the different fragments that occurred "earlier" in the timeline.

For instance one fragment has wolves as the main theme, another can have a small hint that something occurred with Wolves. You could also tie them together in art (which would be really cool, even if the text doesn't allude to it, there may be a visual hint). This would help thematically tie things together. Players will study the art to make connections - even though it has no game purpose.
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Re: WIP - Pocket Adventure - 2015 Solitaire Entry (Idea Phase)
racingspider wrote:
To increase the cool story aspect of it, you can hint some of the different fragments that occurred "earlier" in the timeline.

For instance one fragment has wolves as the main theme, another can have a small hint that something occurred with Wolves.


This is a really good idea. With the icon "prerequisite" system I'm working on for linking some of the story scraps together I can also, if i use the icons cleverly, make the system aware of which options you *didn't* take at previous forks. So, if you elect not to take the Wolf path on Journal Entry 5 and instead take the Forage for Herbs option then later, on Journal Entry 11, the game knows that you didn't deal with the wolves and the text will reference rumors of a pack of Black Furs attacking travelers on the road to the town. On Entry 12 you may have the option, if you didn't deal with the wolves, to deal with that pack.

All of this because of how the icon are used in the background. Great idea! Thanks.

And as for the art, while a cool idea, the art is all done. I commissioned it for another game that I wasn't happy with in the end (lesson: don't commission art, and if you are doing to do so for your project, wait until it's *actually* done to decide).
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Re: WIP - Pocket Adventure - 2015 Solitaire Entry (Idea Phase)
Looks very cool. Subscribed, can't wait to see how this turns out.
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Re: WIP - Pocket Adventure - 2015 Solitaire Entry (Idea Phase)
I've brainstormed a lot about the paragraph / journal notes mechanic so now it's time to talk a bit about the game mechanics themselves (which will help me make some final decisions about how story scraps link together via their requirement icons).

Goal
The goal of the game is to get as far through the adventure as you can. Your score at the end will be your paragraph number times 2 plus the value of your gear (some journal entry cards may also grant bonus points - some adventure paths are more difficult, and that is rewarded).

Game End
The game ends either when you complete the final quest (marked with a "star" icon - there will be multiple end points at different paragraph numbers. Choices will affect if you are forced to take on a final quest or if you even can take on a final quest at a given story scrap number) OR when you perish OR if you settle down.

You settle down if you run out of cards in the Adventure Deck. The discard gets reshuffled into the deck whenever you start a new quest, which means you'll need to keep on working those objectives or risk settling down (I may need a better explanation for this - it's like "running out of time" but not all quests will make sense to be "timed").

You can perish from wounds - represented by your combat dice. You have 6 in your combat pool, and each combat you will lose at least 1 (and maybe more against some foes). When you explore a location with the Camp icon, you rest and recover your dice to your combat pool... But, rest too often and you may not finish your current quest quickly enough.

Exploring



Each round you explore from your location. The top left corner of the card fronts has a number over a compass - that's the Exploration Value (it represents how well connected your current location is to other locations). You look at the top X cards (where X is the exploration value of your location) and pick one to go to next. Which one you choose will determine what happens to you on that round. The icon below that determines what happens to you (in the example it's a red skull, which means 1 Monster). There are three possibilities (so far):

One or More Monsters - which throws you into Combat (what you fight will be determined be whatever monster is on the next card in the adventure deck).

Camp - you rest which lets you replenish your combat dice pool.

Event - you look at the next card's back and resolve the event on the top portion (which will either be a Roadside Encounter, change in Weather or, something purely descriptive).

The other thing a Location may have is an icon in a hex on the top right portion of the location card - these are special locations (like notable castles, crumbling towers etc -- the icon is intended to convey the flavour). These icons are used by quests - some quests will require you to explore to a specific special location which will trigger your next quest (which will always be on the BACK of the location you explore to) and may throw you into a dungeon (which is a separate set of cards).

Combat

Most of the time you will get into combat. Combat is valuable because you get loot from defeating monsters, which will make your life a little easier as an adventurer. Also, most quests require you to fight monsters. The combat mechanics are intended to be (like most of the game) straightforward and simple. Here's the idea:

You have 6 combat dice in your pool. You assign them, as you like, between attack and defence. Then you roll the dice assigned to each side and total them to determine your attack and defence values (dice faces are: 1,1,1,2,2,3). Then, you flip over the top card of the adventure deck and use the axe/shield icons in the bottom portion to modify the monster's attack and defence stats. Then you compare.

If you're attack is > monster defence it will be defeated. If it's attack is > your defence you suffer the consequence (determined by the icon in the red hex on the monster part of the card). After combat, you always remove 1 die from your combat pool (you get tired). If you fail to defeat the monster, it runs away (combat is always 1 round). If you do defeat the monster you get a treasure! Shuffle the discard pile and draw 1 card out of it at random - the treasure portion of the card is what you found.

Some monsters will have special ability icons that makes things a bit harder (for example, monsters with Swiftness - a little wing icon - are not defeated unless BOTH your attack and defence are greater than their defence and attack respectively).

If you encounter multiple monsters you fight them each separately (each is a 1 round combat) in the order you choose.
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Nate K
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Re: WIP - Pocket Adventure - 2015 Solitaire Entry (Idea Phase)
Neat!
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Jan Schröder

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Re: WIP - Pocket Adventure - 2015 Solitaire Entry (Idea Phase)
Candi wrote:

Many of the story fragments will be independent, so the player's choice of which one they proceed to next will determine how their adventure unfolds. The number sequence will let me keep the over all story consistent (so fragment "2" is the 'first day' fragment and fragment "3" is the end of first day fragment and so I'll be able to keep the story to a timeline). I'm also going to use icons to link story fragments together. So some fragments you cannot choose as your next journal entry unless in your journal you already have certain icons. This will let small stories unfold as you play (and will let me build in quest sequences that you can choose to follow).

That's the plan anyway. I'm putting together a set of 16 cards to start testing these ideas as well as stress testing the core mechanics.


so you have control over the main story arc and what happens inbetween can be different each time somebody plays - really good! and gets the brain working... especially the icons:
so maybe some decisions you take will prevent you from taking other ones later on (maybe a especially scary part of your journey leaves a fear icon in your journal which means you´ll have to give up a strengh die in the next fight or
you can give up already acquired loot to be allowed to take a certain decision.
which means the system could reflect that your character accumulates a history during the game (items, mood, skills) which changes his abilities and possibilites in the future, opens a few and closes a few.

= can´t wait!
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Re: WIP - Pocket Adventure - 2015 Solitaire Entry (Idea Phase)
kurthl33t wrote:
Bichatse wrote:
There seem to be several story-driven games this year. Could it be time to resurrect the best-paragraph-game (or at least best-storytelling-game) category? :3


Maybe? I am considering buckling down and finishing Horns of Thunder, the sequel to my... what, 2012 entry? Man, that was a while ago. Anyway, it would be a gamebook that would fit nicely into a paragraph game or storytelling game category.

It's hard to know what categories will be popular in a given year. I got rid of best paragraph/story category because last year we didn't have any entered. This year there's a bunch. Also, time travel is a popular theme this year which is funny because I don't remember any time travel games in any of the previous contests.

I'll post on the main thread about it.
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Re: WIP - Pocket Adventure - 2015 Solitaire Entry (Idea Phase)
Candi wrote:
(...) OR if you settle down.

You settle down if you run out of cards in the Adventure Deck. The discard gets reshuffled into the deck whenever you start a new quest, which means you'll need to keep on working those objectives or risk settling down (I may need a better explanation for this - it's like "running out of time" but not all quests will make sense to be "timed").

"Settling down" is the best way I have seen in a long time to explain / justify such an ending.

I'm intrigued by what you have disclosed so far about Pocket Adventure: I'm looking forward to seeing how it shapes up.
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Re: WIP - Pocket Adventure - 2015 Solitaire Entry (Idea Phase)
Eustonius wrote:

"Settling down" is the best way I have seen in a long time to explain / justify such an ending.


Thanks for that. I was just considering removing the mechanic, or at least adding a bit of granularity to it (maybe a set of Determination token and every time you are forced to reshuffle the deck you lose one. Lose all of them and you give up on the adventuring life and settle down). I had a concern about keeping the deck compact which would mean you wouldn't really get to choose NOT to pursue your quest immediately, and even if you did it could be possible to get through the deck and not have an opportunity to finish your quest. Determination helps this problem though since quests which may require two or three runs of the deck to get a fair shot at completing can give you extra Determination tokens.

Some more details:

Event

If you explore to an Event location you will flip over a card and look at the top half of it. There are three possibilities:

1. Weather
Weather are constant effects that usually hinder your progress (except Clear Skies which doesn't). There is only ever one Weather effect in play, and it remains in play until you encounter another Weather Event (so you can suffer Cold Rain for a long time if you don't choose a Weather Event or find some other way to control the weather...). You begin the game with Clear Skies in play (it has no effect), but you may soon find yourself dealing with Fog, Light Rain, Wind Storms and other unpleasant weather conditions.

I MAY (a big may) use a series of icons to make weather changes more realistic (no blizzard on turn and heat wave the next), but we'll see. This particular mechanic idea is a "luxury" pending the stability of the rest of the design.

2. Roadside Encounter
These are things like traveling merchants and highway robbers. Each of these will tell you on the card how you resolve it. Merchants let you trade your treasure with treasure in the discard of equal gold value. Highway Robbers are a special combat encounter that if you fail to defeat, you lose your lowest gold valued item (your choice in case of a tie). There may be others as well (I plan to use roadside encounters to handle "side quests" which you might complete for bonus points and gear).

3. Something Descriptive
These have no identifying icon and just text. They have no mechanical effect on the game, and just have a descriptive block of text that explains what you see or hear. Some quests interact with these (for example, a quest may have as its goal "Encounter a Wanderer" which refers to the Wanderer event). In the case of quests that interact with these Events the subsequent quest paragraph will *always* be on the same card that triggered the quest completion (this is the only case where the player will not choose which quest fork to take).

Dungeons

Finally, there will be dungeons. A Dungeon will be a set of 9 cards separate from the main deck. To enter a dungeon you must have a quest that requires you to AND to explore to a location with the Dungeon icon. The specific dungeon will be determined by the quest.

Dungeons are a series of encounter cards with a Boss Encounter shuffled into the bottom 3 cards. You handle each card one at a time until you reach the Boss and then you encounter the Boss. Boss monsters are just like regular monsters but you need to deal them 3 wounds to win (and they fight to the death, so you cannot escape the encounter!). Bosses also have unique loot on their card. Below is a preliminary example of a Boss Card.



Deck Composition
When you start the game it will have 15 cards total. Some of those will begin in play. Your starting gear (Rusty Sword and Salted Meat) are cards A1 and A2 and the starting weather (Clear Skies) is card A3. The rest of the "A" cards (A4-A15) form the starting adventure deck. As you play, your current quest card may have a letter icon on it (a little "B" in a circle beside the name) this means that, as soon as you start that quest you shuffle the set of "B" cards from the box into the deck. Later quests may show a red "A" with an 'x' beside it, this means, for the rest of the game, whenever you discard an "A" card you remove it from the deck and put it in the game box.

This is how the game difficulty increases as you play.

Also, for the purpose of playtesting the core mechanics I'm now working on cards A1-A15 and quests 1-5.
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Re: WIP - Pocket Adventure - 2015 Solitaire Entry (Idea Phase)
Still making progress. Slow and steady since making cards is very time consuming. Not because they are laid out in a complex way (I took the time to make a template file in GIMP to speed that up) but because the cards have 5 distinct parts and I need to think about what that means for each card. Here's an interesting challenge:

The most important part of a card is the Journal Entry. Journal Entries are how the game and story progress, you move from entry to entry in ascending order, choosing paths along the way (there are multiple of each number to choose from - often unique). Here's the catch - cards are multiuse and every card has a Treasure spot.

When you defeat a monster in combat you find a Treasure (take a random card from the discard) and a player can have up to 4 Treasure cards at once time. When a player has a card set aside as Treasure (say the Silver Sword) that card is not going to be part of the Adventure Deck, which means the Journal Entry on the card will not be an option for the player when they get to that number (so long as they hold the card as Treasure). So, at one level I need to make sure each entry number is frequent enough that there is a really low chance that all "Entry 3" cards (for example) are currently held by the player as Treasure.

At another level, when you choose a Journal Entry card it will be permanently removed form the deck and added to your Journal stack (I like this mechanic because it means when you are finished the game you will have a stack of cards you can read which tells the key points of the story in sequence). Removing the card from the Adventure Deck means that it changes the distribution of Location icons, removes 1 Monster from the game and removes the Treasure from the game.

I think this introduces an interesting layer of 'advanced' play - when choosing your next Journal Entry taking into consideration all aspects of the cards can be important. Say you want to try and get a Silver Sword, then you better not pick the "Entry 3" card with the Silver Sword on the back (because that would remove it from the game!). However, this makes designing a single card a very involved process as there are a lot of variables for me to consider when I make it.
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Nate K
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Re: WIP - Pocket Adventure - 2015 Solitaire Entry (Idea Phase)
Candi wrote:

At another level, when you choose a Journal Entry card it will be permanently removed form the deck and added to your Journal stack (I like this mechanic because it means when you are finished the game you will have a stack of cards you can read which tells the key points of the story in sequence). Removing the card from the Adventure Deck means that it changes the distribution of Location icons, removes 1 Monster from the game and removes the Treasure from the game.



Okay. THAT is awesome.
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Re: WIP - Pocket Adventure - 2015 Solitaire Entry (Idea Phase)
Yeah, I see what you mean, I have the exact same problem. Each card in my game can be used for a "one shot" effect (play the card, pay its cost, resolve its effect) or can be laid out for a "permanent" effect (put the card face up on the table, pay a different cost, you now have a permanent bonus) or can be given to the enemy (in payment for other cards).

I have not started the work you are describing here yet because I'm still working on the raw rules of the game but I feel it will be difficult to balance. If you have any tip, I'll be glad whistle
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Jessey
Canada
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Re: WIP - Pocket Adventure - 2015 Solitaire Entry (Idea Phase)
courtjus wrote:

I have not started the work you are describing here yet because I'm still working on the raw rules of the game but I feel it will be difficult to balance. If you have any tip, I'll be glad whistle


Unfortunately, I think that the best approach depends a lot on the details of the game and how the multi-use cards different uses are related. In my case, the problem is that some mechanics remove cards from the deck (permanently and temporarily) and when a single card is removed the distribution of 5 important variables is affected (Locations, Monsters, Items, Journal Entries and Events). To make it worse, the variables depend on each other for a good game experience.

It's no fun to lose because the Journal Entry number you need next isn't in the deck (because it's on cards in your inventory), and it's also no fun to be unable to complete a quest because all of the relevant icons you need to secure have been removed from the game via your past Journal Entry choices.

So, my strategy is this, I've made a list of the worst possible play experiences and when I'm designing each card I ask myself if I can make it in such a way that the worst possible play experiences CANNOT possibly occur. Then, once I have all of the cards for a block designed I revisit that question but this time consider the set as a whole - I try and see if the bad experiences are (1) possible and if so (2) how to reorganize the card content to eliminate that possibility. This involves organizing the cards into a tree-chart tracking their relations and dependancies.

This has led to one change so far at the level of the main rules. Previously players could hold 1 Accessory, 2 "Hand" items and up to 3 consumables in their inventory. Now, players can hold only 4 items, of which no more than 2 may have the 'hand' icon. By restricting the inventory to 4 items I've ensure that at any given time only 4 cards are temporarily removed (instead of 6). This makes figuring out if the worst possible case can happen much easier.
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Ghislain LEVEQUE
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Re: WIP - Pocket Adventure - 2015 Solitaire Entry (Idea Phase)
Yeah my problem is simpler, I just have to balance the "value" of the cards (how much does the player want to keep the card) vs the "stength" of the ennemy generated if the card is given away.

I think I will just try to sort the effects by "value" and then spread them correctly on the cards.
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