This game not only has an historical theme, it has its own history as well. In 1998 Sander developed the first version of this game, and made (and sold) 50 copies. The game could be played with two or three players. Creating pure elements with triangles was, as still is, the object of the game. The triangles were created by Gods or alchimist. That was not yet decided. Play was in round robin, and players had two actions per turn. They could play a triangle, or move a step on the compass. Each player had a white card to take an extra action, and a black card to block one action of the player on their right.
The game is played, the first time Sander met Bert in 2010. Quickly the game focus changed to creating Puerto Diablo . After the successful Kickstarter of that game, Kwintessens presented itself as the next game. Both felt that the game was good, but could be improved. While Sander started on new artwork, he also gave Bert the liberty to change the game play in whatever way needed.
The first step was to add a fourth player. The second step was to change the functions of the black and white card. The white card became a Kwintessens card (could be used for every element) and the black card a blocker. This worked, but there were two issues: the luck of card drawing decided the winner too often, and the starting player had a disadvantage. The starting player should play a card that the next player(s) could use to create a pure element.
The weird advice for the starting player during demo days was "best to do nothing".
Each turn players had an action too few... they needed to move on the compass and play two triangles to form a new pure element. Three actions needed, two provided. This lead to the idea by Bert to introduce bonus actions, and combine that with simultaneous card selection. The card the players selected for the bonus-action, also determined the player order. There were bonus actions to play an extra card, or to take a step on the compass, but also bonus actions to move cards around. This made the game very tactical. It has been played on various game festivals in the Netherlands.
The players liked the game, although we received the comment that the complexity was too big for a short game. And also, the water and air images looked too much alike. These images were cutouts of a big image per element that Sander created. Both water and air are blue, and even though different, several players had trouble discerning them.
No, that drum roll was too early. The experiences on game festivals did lead to the biggest change of the game!
Instead of choosing different actions, all actions are performed by all players in phases. Taking cards, taking a step on the compass, and then playing cards. Players can play as many cards of one element that they want (and have). Now a player might play five cards in one turn! This speeds up the game, and to avoid it being over before it begun, some extra rules were introduced. Players needed to make an extra pure element, and per connected group of cards of one element, each player can only have one pure element.
Still, a negative way of play was too strong. Especially with fewer players, a player could decide to not use many cards, not build a pure element, but only break down the pure elements played by other players. To motivate players to build pure elements, the first player who build one per element receives a dragon card. This card can later be used as Kwintessens card.
We are on the road with our prototypes and will Kickstart in may/june this year.