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Subject: My Romulus and Remus rss

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Grant Rodiek
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Hi! Welcome to SPQF. I saw the BGG page was approved quickly by the admins (thanks folks!) and to change things up from my other games, I want to post a steady stream of articles here on this page to give you a reason to follow and hopefully drive interest in the game.

We're in art production now, and I think the design is more or less finished, so I hope I can use this to speak candidly about the design and reveal art as it comes in.

SPQF is my new deckbuilder for 2-4 players. Today I want to discuss origins from to perspectives: its mechanisms, thinking of the greater deckbuilding genre, and its theme.

Another deckbuilder?

Deckbuilding at this point is saturated with amazing and dreary titles. While I'm ambitious, I'm not foolish. I recognized I needed to bring something new to the table more than a twist on the two major archetypes, which in my opinion are Dominion and Ascension (though I think Star Realms does a better job, and Hero Realms even better).

I've played quite a bit of these games, so I took some time to think about what they all do, or don't do, to see where opportunities were for novelty. I identified a few things quickly:

- Most heavily focus on Trashing and drawing cards and gaining additional actions

- Most begin the game with lousy cards that you upgrade or replace to create an engine.

- Most are not very interactive.

- All have a cost on cards. Gold, and currency as cards, factor heavily into the experiences.

Some of these lead to changes that are more subtle, but appreciated more once you play a bit. For example, SPQF has no card draw, very limited trashing (and the why you do it changes), and very few bonus actions. The days of Great Hall x 50 to buy a Silver are gone. And let's be clear: I'm not saying this is better than Dominion! I'm saying that experience doesn't exist.

Other changes are visible from the start. There are no bad cards in SPQF. You all begin with five very useful and identical starter cards, then five more Civ cards from the deck. They are all good, and all useful. In SPQF you start at 60 mph.

Looking to Race for the Galaxy primarily, but also with a nod to Eminent Domain and many others, I introduced a follow mechanism. On the surface, you can follow an opponent's action to take a lesser version of it. You're involved in every turn. But, more subtly, you need to build your deck in mind with not only what you're trying to do, but what your opponent is doing. Otherwise, you cannot follow and will get fewer actions.

But now for the big twist: the card economy and deck management. I've distilled buying to a single choice. At the end of each turn you must buy a single card. The card has no cost. You choose the card you want and you buy it. From where do you purchase? Your opponents.

At the end of a turn, cards you didn't play to follow (off turn), or play for their action (on turn) are placed in front of you. This is called your trade row. Opponents can obtain a card from your trade row on their turn. On your next turn, you flush your trade row and create a new one.

Sometimes you'll put 2-3 cards out! Sometimes none. Sometimes you won't care if you lose the cards. It isn't your strategy. Others, you'll take a suboptimal turn in order to preserve your engine. Sometimes you take the risk and your opponents simply don't care.

I've created a lot of games where your property isn't your property, and I know the initial reaction is "ah! Don't take my stuff!" But the reality is that this forces you to think about your deck and cards differently. It acts as a culling mechanism. And as all of your decks inflate, you're all buying from each other. It's a part of the economy. It's a part of trade. It's how the game is tuned and I promise you won't lose because someone bought your card, unless you're just reckless.

With these highlights covered, let's move onto the theme.

Another Civ game?

Pal and person who plays my games
Nick Tich
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suggested I make a post-apocalyptic game. I cannot recall if he also said deckbuilder, but I love the apocalypse and started from there. Ultimately, much of the work that goes into rebuilding a civilization is the same as building a civilization, and as I dug more into the game, I felt the violent aesthetic of the apocalypse wasn't right for my game.

But, I began by abstracting the components of a civilization. I thought about the ancient Romans and Greeks. Foundational to them were:

- Agriculture, Industry, and Expansion of infrastructure
- Military strength
- Amazing leadership and resolve
- Scientific advancement, either created, borrowed, or stolen

I built cards around those six aspects, and from there devised my basic core loop.

1. You need food and materials to grow your civilization and expand it.
2. Expansion allows more people and power.
3. Excess leads to wealth and prosperity.
4. Interacting positively with neighbors (which is following) is beneficial.

Cards in SPQF represent the people in a civilization. Their ideas. Their motivations. Your deck may have a very agrarian focus, or you may be trying to create a city of marble, like Augustus did.

With this abstraction comes something that makes sense, but also doesn't come with a flood of rules. I try to house everything in the cards, and I've tried to keep this a 30 minutes or fewer experience. While it isn't a pure civ game, nor does it have the breadth or epic feel of a personal favorite Clash of Cultures, if you take a moment to look, I think you'll see some thoughtful thematic fingerprints.

But, let's be honest: I'm not the most thematic designer. I'm trying to create a great deckbuilding experience here. So, hopefully you won't hold that too much against me.

What would you like to see in the future? Be sure to comment, subscribe, etc. so you can keep track of this if you care!
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Dvonn Yinsh
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The obligatory,

When is it going to be out?
Will it be via Kickstarter?
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Grant Rodiek
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candoo wrote:
The obligatory,

When is it going to be out?
Will it be via Kickstarter?


Hi Dvonn! We've just begun art production. I'm also doing some component checks, weighing and testing shipping, and have a few friends I trust who I want to play the game some for feedback. My hope is to put it on Kickstarter sometime this summer, and as I'm sourcing the materials and such, it'll be delivered just a few months later.

Which answers your next question, which is that yes, I'll use KS. I've tried not using it, but it didn't work for me. KS helps me reach more folks, and as I won't sell this at retail, I need the platform to reach the 250-500 people I hope will buy it.

Anything else?
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Nick Tich
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Glad to see SPQF up and running on BGG, Grant!

I've been friends with Grant for some time now, and through that I have been given the rather unique opportunity to see this game evolve from a simple idea, to a game that I can't wait to get my hands on.

I don't have as much time to play games as I once did, and Grant and I were discussing how the Civ genre really doesn't have a lot of options for games that play in a reasonable amount of time. The truly epic civ builders demand a sizable time investment, while any games that reduce that play time really seem to end just as you begin your ascension to power. That's when Grant told me about his idea for a deckbuilder that has you buying cards from your opponent's decks.

This 'stealing' of your opponent's cards is what prompted my idea to use a post-apocalyptic theme to abstract this mechanic as ruthless attacks on your opponent's engine. But Grant's tests with his friends proved that this 'theft' did not give that feel. The purchase of other player's cards felt more like migration, and the spread of different ideas to other cultures. It was quite amazing to see just how much this simple mood change in the theme brought a true civilization feel to the game!

For many of the same reasons Grant outlined above, I have not really been a big fan of the deckbuilding genre. I've found that many of these games feel like solo affairs, where you are focused in on your own unique engine. Either that, or you are forced to remember what exactly is in your opponent's deck. The follow mechanic and trade row purchases ensure you are involved in every player's turn from the get go. Your civilization is not being developed in a bubble, but rather you are invested in what the other nations are doing so that you might benefit as well. Wonderful! Now that is something I can get behind!

Best of luck the rest of the way, Grant. Exciting to see this taking shape!
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Dvonn Yinsh
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HerrohGrant wrote:
candoo wrote:
The obligatory,

When is it going to be out?
Will it be via Kickstarter?


Hi Dvonn! We've just begun art production. I'm also doing some component checks, weighing and testing shipping, and have a few friends I trust who I want to play the game some for feedback. My hope is to put it on Kickstarter sometime this summer, and as I'm sourcing the materials and such, it'll be delivered just a few months later.

Which answers your next question, which is that yes, I'll use KS. I've tried not using it, but it didn't work for me. KS helps me reach more folks, and as I won't sell this at retail, I need the platform to reach the 250-500 people I hope will buy it.

Anything else?


Just played my first game of Cry Havoc yesterday. I loved it.

Look forward to watch what you do with a deck builder. I’m personally not a deck builder fan....however...
The best deck builder I’ve played is the recent Path of Light and Shadow.
I also like the deck builder aspect in Great Western Trail and Rococco.

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Grant Rodiek
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candoo wrote:
HerrohGrant wrote:
candoo wrote:
The obligatory,

When is it going to be out?
Will it be via Kickstarter?


Hi Dvonn! We've just begun art production. I'm also doing some component checks, weighing and testing shipping, and have a few friends I trust who I want to play the game some for feedback. My hope is to put it on Kickstarter sometime this summer, and as I'm sourcing the materials and such, it'll be delivered just a few months later.

Which answers your next question, which is that yes, I'll use KS. I've tried not using it, but it didn't work for me. KS helps me reach more folks, and as I won't sell this at retail, I need the platform to reach the 250-500 people I hope will buy it.

Anything else?


Just played my first game of Cry Havoc yesterday. I loved it.

Look forward to watch what you do with a deck builder. I’m personally not a deck builder fan....however...
The best deck builder I’ve played is the recent Path of Light and Shadow.
I also like the deck builder aspect in Great Western Trail and Rococco.



Unlike Path, Great Western Trails, and Cry, SPQF is still mostly a card affair. It doesn't use deckbuilding to drive other actions on a greater board. Yes, you have a tableau and some tokens, but you can also say this about Dominion (with some expansions).

I came at this as a fan of the two primary Deckbuilders I mentioned. I don't claim to "fix" it (and really, I like it so I don't think it needs fixing), nor am I so bold to claim I'm upending it. BUT. I do think this is a fresh twist and if that doesn't scare you away, stay tuned.
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Is there a Print and Play available?
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Grant Rodiek
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Nikolas88 wrote:
Is there a Print and Play available?


Yes! I uploaded it to BGG yesterday and it hasn’t been approved yet.

While we are waiting, you can access it from my web rules.


https://docs.google.com/document/d/1C-7XqygNi1zq5PuX7AjfkBSJ...


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Great, thanks!
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Grant Rodiek
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Nikolas88 wrote:
Is there a Print and Play available?


The PNP is now in the file section.
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Christopher Hayashida
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Just curious, Grant, but have you played Glory to Rome? With the lead/follow mechanism (and superficial things like the Greek theme and tucking cards under a mat), I thought an obvious one-line description would be "Glory to Rome: The Deck Builder."

However, that description might imply that the game is out-of-control with a lack of balance, has crazy win conditions, and other things. It sounds like your game is more about engine building.

I don't know that I'll have time to make and play a PnP copy, but I'm looking forward to gameplay videos and the Kickstarter.
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Grant Rodiek
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chayashida wrote:
Just curious, Grant, but have you played Glory to Rome? With the lead/follow mechanism (and superficial things like the Greek theme and tucking cards under a mat), I thought an obvious one-line description would be "Glory to Rome: The Deck Builder."

However, that description might imply that the game is out-of-control with a lack of balance, has crazy win conditions, and other things. It sounds like your game is more about engine building.

I don't know that I'll have time to make and play a PnP copy, but I'm looking forward to gameplay videos and the Kickstarter.


I have, once, years ago after the Black Box Ks. I still own my copy in shrink.

I get a lot of comparisons to Chudyk because I also really love multi-use cards. And lately I’ve been very interested in tableaus and long term consequences.
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