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Subject: What's all this then? rss

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Cole Wehrle
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Years before I began work on Pax Pamir, I was thinking about designing a game on the British East India Company. I couldn’t quite make the game work, though not for want of trying. Every few months I scrapped the design and moved on the next letter in the alphabet. Revision “A” had heart but was unworkable. Version “B” was too didactic. “C” was a mess. “D” was an abstract filler. “E” was a hex-and-counter game. After eight or nine years, I had nearly burned through the alphabet. But, it wasn’t totally fruitless. Both Pax Pamir and An Infamous Traffic were spin offs from one failed iteration or another.

Now, at last, I have a design I am proud of and one deserving of the labor it takes to polish its ideas. This iteration has been in development for about a year and really took off over the past six months. Like Pamir, the intent of this bgg page is to chronicle that development on the road towards publication. I have listed Sierra Madre Games as the publisher with Phil Eklund’s permission because he has “dibs” on the design. It is my intent to submit a near-final version of the game to Phil by the Winter for final develop in hopes of a Essen 2017 release. It's possible that the game will take longer than that to finish, but the development has been quite smooth so far. Of course, if the submission isn’t to Phil’s liking, it’ll be shopped around, and, if it cannot find a home, I’ll pursue P&P options.

If you'd like to know more about the game, I wrote a fairly detailed description which you can find both on the game page and below. I'm happy to answer any questions you might have about the design and will likely be posting on this forum with design updates as progress continues.




Quote:

Over its 250-year history the British East India company grew to become one of the most influential commercial and political organizations in the world. Its profits catapulted the British Empire to global dominance and shaped the fate of some of the world’s great nations. But, its ascent was anything but easy. The Company was filled with diverging interests and struggled constantly at home and abroad.

John Company attempts to tell the story of the British East India Company from the inside out. Players will steer their dynasties through the company’s history, vying for position, power, and prestige. The goal of the game is simple: use the Company and the Company’s trade to secure your place in society back home. To this end you will guide your scions through their careers, exchanging favors for positions in London or plush colonial posts. Players will collectively control the Company, facing tough budgetary decisions and conflicting interests. Should a Governor conduct a campaign to expand company holdings or invest in his region’s infrastructure? Perhaps the honest tax revenues would be better diverted to expand his summer estate back home...

As the game continues, the Company may face open rebellion in India or outright failure as it grapples with increasingly bold attempts at regulation from the British government. It’s even possible that the Company’s trade monopoly will be revoked, leaving the players to form and operate their own trading firms. Each game offers a huge range of possibilities, informed chiefly by the decisions the players make. In addition, players can tailor their experience by using one of the three tournament scenarios that cover the Early, Mid, and Late company that can be played in about 90 minutes. The game also offers a full campaign game that will take players from 1720 to 1857 in an evening.

Taking its inspiration from Phil Eklund’s seminal Lords games, John Company offers Food Chain Magnate by way of Republic of Rome. And, with only sixty cards and a modest footprint, John Company is one of the most accessible SMG offerings to date.

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Valerio Vitelli
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Next step is to design a game on the Dutch East India company and then combine the two for a 4-12 players competitive in a semi-cooperative game.
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Here the truceless armies yet / Trample, rolled in blood and sweat; / They kill and kill and never die; / And I think that each is I. // None will part us, none undo / The knot that makes one flesh of two, /
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Sick with hatred, sick with pain, / Strangling -- When shall we be slain? // When shall I be dead and rid / Of the wrong my father did? / How long, how long, till spade and hearse / Puts to sleep my mother's curse?
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You're in good company.
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Andrew Denison
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Another game to buy next year . This sounds interesting.
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Morten K
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Re: What's all this then?
Consider my interest piqued.
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Matt Clark
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Subscribed of course!
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Tony Fryer
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I'm quite interested in the subject matter, and your description makes me interested in the game based on that. I wish you clarity and success in your design process!
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Hugo Soares
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Very interested to know more, subscribed.
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mawa
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Subscribed
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O.Shane Balloun
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Bellingham
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I will play as the Atreides, Bene Gesserit, Emperor, Fremen, Guild, or Harkonnen.
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I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
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I CANNOT WAIT for this.
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J S
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Well, this immediately got added to the wishlist as a "must have."
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Andy Mesa
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Portland
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Any chance we can see what you have thus far at BGG Con?
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Cole Wehrle
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Andy Mesa wrote:
Any chance we can see what you have thus far at BGG Con?


Yup. I will be playing the game every day, probably multiple times every day assuming we don't break it.

At this moment the design and most of the card art are both "done." This is due mostly to the game being pretty straightforward--well, for me--and because there are only 60 cards. Also, a lot of this design was built using models so almost every element of the game has been played tens of thousands of times. Computer-aided design fills my heart with glee.

I still have pretty short list of design questions that still need answered/addressed. But, most of those questions just require me to play the game a bunch more. The thing works and works well at this point, but needs humans to push it.* Heavy negotiation games are funny in that way. The game can still work just fine even with a very rough balance. The main challenge is making sure the game is as dynamic as possible. So I'm spending most of my time trying to get rid of any strategic saddle points and get that donkey space as wide as possible. (Translation: bust up any optimal strategies and forcing the players to muck about in the wonderful world of sub optimal decisions).


*Though a lot of the design has been tested to hell, one of the big unknowns about the design lurks in the negotiation rules. John Company features BINDING negotiations. Essentially, this lets players write rules as the game goes along. I think I've found a way to do this and track it without it becoming a nightmare, but it is going to need some real-life humans to mess around with it. And, I consider this feature somewhat central to the design so it's something that I'm not going to just drop if the going gets tough. The Brits were obsessive about contract law and its important to what the game is modeling. Also, if the Company deregulates, it's important that the players be able to form join business ventures. A Pamir/Porfiriana "wild west" style negotiation rules would not work at all.**

**On the other hand, it's possible to play the game with little table talk. One of the original designs features for the game, wayyyyy back in 2009 or 2010, featured totally silent play with the only communication between players occurring through "correspondence." So, the game is built as a very open negotiation game that can also work with tacit agreements between players ala Bohnanza
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Sean McCormick
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Super excited for this.
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Paul Schorfheide
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Looking forward to watching (or hopefully playing) a game!
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8-bit Matt
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How the hell you have time to design and playtest games, all the while being a husband, father, and working on a dissertation... I'll never know. But... keep doing it!!!! thumbsupthumbsupthumbsupthumbsup
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Nostra
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This part of the description - has me salivating!

Taking its inspiration from Phil Eklund’s seminal Lords games, John Company offers Food Chain Magnate by way of Republic of Rome. And, with only sixty cards and a modest footprint, John Company is one of the most accessible SMG offerings to date.

But I do hope footprint modesty doesn't mean - small shoe!
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Cole Wehrle
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8bit Geezer wrote:
How the hell you have time to design and playtest games, all the while being a husband, father, and working on a dissertation... I'll never know. But... keep doing it!!!! thumbsupthumbsupthumbsupthumbsup


Well, kid two stops me from getting much sleep so I guess it helps to have all that extra time. Most of the cards for John Company were designed while rocking a sleepin' baby on my shoulder.




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Cole Wehrle
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Thanks everyone for the words of encouragement. I can't wait to show you more about the game and how it works. For those coming to bgg con, it'll be easy enough to find me. You can also PM me during the con (I do my best to answer my geek mail in the evening).

For now, I thought I'd drop a preview of some cards I'm working on. At this point I'm just trying to get everything nailed down before the con (no flavor text for now!). That said, I'm not planning anything much fancier for the look of the final game--time constrains do impact some things and I imagine a springtime dissertation defense (fingers crossed) is going to keep the look of this game a little more modest.



(Not pictured are the very important region placards and the buckets of dice. There are bunch of dice in this game which also takes some notes from Greenland).
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O.Shane Balloun
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Bellingham
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I will play as the Atreides, Bene Gesserit, Emperor, Fremen, Guild, or Harkonnen.
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I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
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wolframius wrote:
Next step is to design a game on the Dutch East India company and then combine the two for a 4-12 players competitive in a semi-cooperative game.


Splotter produced a game about this theme with VOC!: Founding the Dutch East Indies Company (VOC = Verenigde Oostindische Compangie). It has fascinating dexterity, negotiation, and pick-up-and-deliver mechanisms.

Nevertheless, I'd be up for another game about the historical VOC.

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Jeff Pratt
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Just admit it already, Small World is not a fantasy wargame...it's a Mancala variant!
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grammatoncleric wrote:


Splotter produced a game about this theme with VOC!: Founding the Dutch East Indies Company (VOC = Verenigde Oostindische Compangie). It has fascinating dexterity, negotiation, and pick-up-and-deliver mechanisms.


No it doesn't. It has a fairly humorous blindfolded drawing game, but other than that there isn't a single moment of that game that is fascinating. I am still convinced those "advanced" rules are a practical joke.
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O.Shane Balloun
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Bellingham
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I will play as the Atreides, Bene Gesserit, Emperor, Fremen, Guild, or Harkonnen.
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I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
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vladdswrath wrote:
grammatoncleric wrote:


Splotter produced a game about this theme with VOC!: Founding the Dutch East Indies Company (VOC = Verenigde Oostindische Compangie). It has fascinating dexterity, negotiation, and pick-up-and-deliver mechanisms.


No it doesn't. It has a fairly humorous blindfolded drawing game, but other than that there isn't a single moment of that game that is fascinating. I am still convinced those "advanced" rules are a practical joke.


U BOOS BRO(ER)? Taking you guys for a ride on the maelstrom in the Indian Ocean still makes me chuckle. My sense is that the advanced rules, which we didn't play, are the only way to play the game.
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Jeff Pratt
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Just admit it already, Small World is not a fantasy wargame...it's a Mancala variant!
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We played the advanced and they were terrible.
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wilky
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I am always interested in games that have a unique theme and now having Bios: Genesis to keep me going until this game. I am fascinated by the theme and the setting.
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O.Shane Balloun
United States
Bellingham
Washington
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I will play as the Atreides, Bene Gesserit, Emperor, Fremen, Guild, or Harkonnen.
badge
I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
mbmbmbmbmb
vladdswrath wrote:
We played the advanced and they were terrible.


Oh, you're right, we did play with the advanced rules. I was confusing a full player complement for playing the advanced rules. I rescind and revise: I am still convinced that playing with a full player complement of 5 people is the only way to enjoy VOC!
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