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Subject: Dale of Merchants Collection - Development diary rss

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Foreword

This will be a four part writing describing the journey I made while creating Dale of Merchants Collection. I hope you find it exciting and educating. A new part will be released each Tuesday for the next 4 weeks. Please don’t hesitate to comment and talk about each part. I’ll happily answer, if you have any questions.

And without further delay, let’s jump right into the first part!

Dale of Merchants Collection - Development diary
Part 1: Expanding the horizon

Let's begin the diary by discussing the general idea behind board game expansions. When is the right time to release one? What an expansion should include? Read my thoughts on those and more below.

When an expansion is announced for one of my favourite games, I get unrealistically excited. If I love a game, I should be guaranteed to have a good time with the expansion, right? More often than not this is the case but sadly there are exceptions. Sometimes the expansion introduces something out of the left field, something too exotic. I liked the original game, why would the designer change the game so radically in an expansion?

People, including myself, usually purchase expansions precisely because they liked the original game. I thought that a lot while designing and developing Dale of Merchants Collection. Still, it’s not clear how much I should restrict myself while creating the game and how far I can venture from previous games in the series. Staying too close to previous games could make the whole series feel stale while reaching too far could alienate old fans. I did my best to balance between these two extremes.

I knew right from the start that any new Dale of Merchants games must include a bunch of new animalfolk decks. Dale of Merchants 2 introduced 6 new ones with similar complexity level to the original Dale of Merchants. This time I created way more new decks than I originally planned to include in the Collection. I had to draw the line somewhere so I chose the 8 most advanced decks to be included in Dale of Merchants Collection. I thought that fans of the series would be the most likely ones to purchase this big box game. Thus I included the most complex stuff in it and left the simpler stuff for the next small box Dale of Merchants. Yes, you read that right. There will be even more Dale of Merchants after the Collection!


Two decks from the game in a prototype form: Fickle Giant Pangolins with their dice and Wealthy Tuataras with gold.

I wanted to include something totally new in the game as well in addition to the new decks. One of my absolute favourite games is Cosmic Encounter and I had played around the idea of introducing player powers to Dale of Merchants for a few years now. The Collection was the perfect opportunity to introduce them to the series. Players get to play individual animalfolk characters with one or more abilities that can usually be used during a player's own turn. They won’t change the game radically but do provide even more tough and interesting choices for the players. I hope you like the characters once you get to try them out!

Just as with complexity and familiarity, the timing of an expansion is a balancing act. Release it too soon and people haven’t played the base game enough to want more or release too late and everyone has forgotten the game exists in the first place. I released Dale of Merchants 2 roughly one year after the first one. I felt the game needed more decks fast to provide enough variation for players to explore. Now it’s almost two years since the latest game in the series and I feel the time is right for more. Another reason to wait a bit between installments is the fact the designer (me in this case) has time to make other games between expansions to gather more experience. It’s easier to invent fresh stuff when you’ve had a small break in-between. Check out Dawn of Peacemakers if you want to know where my time was sunk.

Next week I will tackle testing and balancing. How to make sure the new content doesn’t break old stuff?

What do you usually look forward in an expansion to your favourite board game? Variety in form of more of the old stuff or something that pushes the game in a totally different direction? I would love to hear your thoughts!
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I like "more of the same but with a slight twist" kind of expansions.
Leaders/characters/asymetric player powers is a great addition.

I love Dale of Merchants because you swap decks and have a completely different experience and strategy each time. So any new deck completely changes the way you'll approach the game, even if you don't focus on the new faction your opponent might and will, and you have to play around that, which makes DoM fresh each game.

Optional player powers is always great but I get frustrated when my opponent doesn't want to play them

So it sounds lke the perfect new expansion for me!
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Louise McCully
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I have a hard time thinking of Tuataras being wealthy. They are our living dinosaur. I would have associated them with being resilient and wise.

Why did Tuataras make you think of wealth being their trait?
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rhianna_ wrote:
I have a hard time thinking of Tuataras being wealthy. They are our living dinosaur. I would have associated them with being resilient and wise.

Why did Tuataras make you think of wealth being their trait?
They're one of the oldest forms of life in their current form still living on our planet. That lead to a thought that they would have a lot of knowledge as you said. That wisdom could be used to gather wealth if used correctly. We didn't stop there however. Tuataras have a dark past in Daimyria. They were pirates in the not so distant past, terrorizing the folks living in and near Oceania. Nowadays they have stopped ransacking and benefit from the riches their ancestors accumulated. They're even a bit ashamed of their past and prefer not to talk about it. It's no surprise that some animalfolks have their doubts about Tuataras and have hard time trusting them.
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Sebastian Zarzycki
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Liuhuparta wrote:

What do you usually look forward in an expansion to your favourite board game? Variety in form of more of the old stuff or something that pushes the game in a totally different direction? I would love to hear your thoughts!

Ideally, the expansion should:

- fix problems with the base game version / previous expansions, if there were any. Better by rule change or component replacement, rather than adding new stuff on top of previous stuff, in hope that it balance itself out. Usually it doesn't.

- not come with substantial amount and variety of new components - this is overwhelming and discouraging from ever trying the expansion

- be easy to integrate with the previous game and easy to store together with previous game - this is extremely important to me, I hate hate hate storing game in more than one box.

- not introduce plethora of new rules, sometimes contradicting or overruling previous rules from base game. This all boils down to "integration" point - the more seamless, the better

- make the game more replayable and more interesting, by offering new choices to consider

- make the game more interactive (debatable, but I'm always up for more smart interaction between players)

- keep the spirit and soul of the game. If it tries to add to much or just different stuff, the game loses the thing that made us like it in the first place

- not break the game, either by introducing poor rules or by providing new effects/rules that make one path/choice clearly better than others

- never happen, if the game was really designed from the very beginning to be a standalone, complete, whole package. Usually, expansions for such games are quite bad.

- have Aardvarks/Anteaters, Okapis and Possums in it (!)
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Woah, that's a really comprehensive list, Sebastian. I agree on pretty much all of them. Not sure on adding interaction though if the base game didn't have much of it. Personally I love interactive games and my designs do include it quite a lot. Still, if there's a game with really low interaction, adding a whole bunch of it in an expansion might not be a smart move and deter the fans.

I hope you can check most if not all of the items on your list with Collection. I can even reveal that at least one of the animals you listed will be featured in Dale of Merchants Collection! Be sure to suggest all of them with this form if you haven't already.
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Sebastian Zarzycki
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Liuhuparta wrote:
Not sure on adding interaction though if the base game didn't have much of it. Personally I love interactive games and my designs do include it quite a lot. Still, if there's a game with really low interaction, adding a whole bunch of it in an expansion might not be a smart move and deter the fans.

That's precisely why I've added "debatable" remark. Personally, I don't think games with really low interaction are (in general) good games, to start with, but I can understand that some people might like it. So in my head, adding interaction is a good and expected thing, because I assume the interaction was already there in the base game :)
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rattkin wrote:
That's precisely why I've added "debatable" remark. Personally, I don't think games with really low interaction are (in general) good games, to start with, but I can understand that some people might like it. So in my head, adding interaction is a good and expected thing, because I assume the interaction was already there in the base game
Understood! In that case I would put the "more interaction" under "more of the same".
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Lovely read saami, looking forward for more :star:
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Dale of Merchants Collection - Development diary
Part 2: A balancing act

It’s time to talk about play testing and balancing, an integral part of any game design. I could ponder about the decks and possible interactions between them until the end of time and they would still be far from perfect. Based on my experience, testing the game out is the best way to figure out how the game works and gives you better idea of what you want the game to be. Seeing the game in action is extremely helpful in so many ways. Most designers tend to agree with that sentiment.

I had pretty solid groundwork ready for the animalfolk decks and cards. I call them the golden rules. Those state what a deck and their individual cards can and cannot do. This list has grown quite a lot during the years and made the design simpler on some fronts and more challenging on others. It’s easier to make cards that feel at home in the series while avoiding making them unbalanced. At the same time, these restrictions have logically made it harder to invent new cards and decks in the first place.

Here’s two examples of these kinds of guidelines, deck uniqueness and card strength. Each deck must feel unique when compared to all other decks in the series. I would rather release less decks that each feel hugely different from each other than artificially bloat the number of them by releasing yet another deck almost identical to the Dwarf Crocodiles and so on. Guidelines concerning the card strength make sure that I avoid power creep while verifying that new cards are still interesting and worth purchasing. More often than not cards are actually exactly as strong. If there is a situation where card A is stronger than card B, there must also be a situation where card A is weaker than card B. Different cards are worth a different value based on variety of things. How long do you estimate the game to last? Which cards do you have in your deck? How about your discard pile? How about your opponent’s hand? All of these and many more are part of different situations in which different cards are better than others.

Character cards were a whole new story. While I had gathered ideas for them all the way from 2015, I hadn’t tested them nearly at all yet. I struggled for a while when I started play testing and developing them with full force. Soon it became apparent that I needed new golden rules for them as well. After thinking carefully what I wanted from them it became way easier to grasp what they should be able to do and what they weren’t allowed to do. This is something I will try to keep in my mind even more in the future when it comes time to balance a game out. It greatly reduces wasted effort when you specify what you actually want from a game element.


Examples of a few character cards in various stages of development

Should I test all different combinations to make sure nothing is broken? After a little bit of math, it’s pretty obvious that it’s simply impossible. With the addition of 8 new animalfolk decks, there are a total 21 decks. It is possible to play 1,330 different 2-player games, 5,985 different 3-player games, and 20,349 different 4-player games. If we factor in the 55 character cards, the respective numbers increase to amazing 1,975,050, mind-blowing 157,016,475, and staggering 6,940,128,195 different games. I fear it’s unreasonable for me to test all of these out. This makes it even more clear that I must get solid guidelines so I can compare all player abilities to others. I’m confident that all the decks, their cards, and each character card is fairly balanced after our process.

Feel free to correct me if you spot mistakes in my calculations!

There’s one last thing I would like to discuss concerning expansions. Designing more content which should be able to co-exist with previous games sets restrictions in variety of ways. I welcome most of these as I was the person behind these restrictions in the first place. Each new golden rule restricts all future expansions. Also the cards themselves set new restrictions that can sometimes block the development of new ideas. For example, there were a couple of cards that let you get rid of unlimited amount of junk. This wasn’t a problem earlier as this unlimited amount was never too large. However, this made it basically impossible to introduce a new deck revolving around gifting junk to other players from the junk pile. I really really wanted to introduce this new deck which meant that it would be a bad match with multiple old decks.

What was the solution to this? The alternatives were either to drop the idea of this new junk-centric deck or to do something to the old cards. I decided to do the latter. Thus I created an update pack which will have a few old cards with updated effect texts. They’re exactly the same in most cases, I just set some limits on the previously uncapped effects. This makes sure that you can’t too easily get rid of any junk gifted to you. The update pack will be available in the upcoming Kickstarter for free. The campaign will launch in exactly 1 week from now!

Next time I will talk about boxes, fitting expansions in one box, and what problems it creates for publishers.

How balanced is your favourite game? How unbalanced a game has to be for it to bother you?
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Sebastian Zarzycki
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Update pack... amazing. I salute you for not being afraid to change previous design/components a bit, if it serves greater good for future of the game. That's something that is practiced less and less these days - mostly (I think) because of the printing costs and maybe a reluctance to admit openly, that something wasn't designed perfectly the first time (or doesn't gel very well with new stuff).

The balance is such a hard thing to discuss. It depends on the players greatly. Ultimately, the "balance" can be expressed with this sentence:

Quote:
"No matter what my/others perception of effects/actions is, if the gamestate is relatively equal (no significant tempo loss), is there still a decent chance (not a guarantee) that I win with what I have (this new faction, this new mechanic, etc.), assuming I'm playing optimally?".

Some designers also add another one on top of that, which has little to do with math, but a lot with perception/psychology:

Quote:
"Is the behavior/tactic/strategy I'm using or I'm playing against fun to play / play against?".
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Liuhuparta wrote:
The campaign will launch in exactly 1 week from now!

Yes!
Yes yes yes!

Wait...

Nooooo I'll be on holiday!
Sami, don't do early birds cry


And thanks for the great read. The guidelines is a great idea to avoid power creep, and power creep being so bad in games in which you shuffle expansions together!
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Any hints at when the KS will be scheduled to deliver? Are we looking at an over 6 month production to delivery time?
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Razoupaf wrote:
Sami, don't do early birds cry
No, I don't do early birds. They're not my style. The whole Kickstarter is one big early bird.

rattkin wrote:
Update pack... amazing. I salute you for not being afraid to change previous design/components a bit, if it serves greater good for future of the game. That's something that is practiced less and less these days - mostly (I think) because of the printing costs and maybe a reluctance to admit openly, that something wasn't designed perfectly the first time (or doesn't gel very well with new stuff).
Yes, doing an update pack like this is expensive. I simply put the value it gives to players higher than the cost of making it.

rattkin wrote:
Some designers also add another one on top of that, which has little to do with math, but a lot with perception/psychology:

Quote:
"Is the behavior/tactic/strategy I'm using or I'm playing against fun to play / play against?".
That is absolutely something I keep in mind as well. I could write a whole diary about just that!

rbf1138 wrote:
Any hints at when the KS will be scheduled to deliver? Are we looking at an over 6 month production to delivery time?
I've set the estimated delivery on the project page at May 2019. That should be the extreme case if we have multiple hinderances. If everything goes smoothly, everyone should receive games well before that.
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Liuhuparta wrote:
[...] and staggering 6,940,128,195 different games. I fear it’s unreasonable for me to test all of these out.

What! This is unacceptable, sir!

Also having to wait one more week for the campaign, and then months to get the game, when I want it in my hands NOW... Unacceptable...
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Ren3 wrote:
Liuhuparta wrote:
[...] and staggering 6,940,128,195 different games. I fear it’s unreasonable for me to test all of these out.

What! This is unacceptable, sir!

Also having to wait one more week for the campaign, and then months to get the game, when I want it in my hands NOW... Unacceptable...



We need a lemon deck now.
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Dale of Merchants Collection - Development diary
Part 3: One box to rule them all

Game boxes! Tiny boxes, large boxes, medium sized boxes. Let’s talk about all of them! This episode will concentrate more on the publishing side of things instead of design. Choosing a specific box size is more or less a publisher’s job. While the designer can make wishes, they rarely have a lot to say about it, unless the box is used in some way or form during gameplay. One of the best examples about this that I can come up with is IceCool. In it you’re flicking penguins inside the stacked boxes.

There are countless things the publisher has to take into consideration when choosing the box size. The components inside only define the minimum requirement for the size. Should the box have room for expansions? Will there be expansions in the first place? How much does it cost to ship the games around the world? Will the game be sold at retail? Will there be an insert and if so, which kind? How about players’ hopes and dreams with their shrinking shelf space? And of course, did you think that I would forget about sleeves?

Instead of discussing all the above things in general, I think it makes more sense to apply the relevant parts for Dale of Merchants Collection. It is a third game in the series. A series with small boxes which can hold only one game’s content inside of them. And barely with the sleeved cards. I thought that it was time to change that. The box for Dale of Merchants Collection will be the standard Ticket to Ride size with a bit of added height to make room for storing cards in landscape orientation.


Here’s a mock up of the custom plastic insert and the dividers separating each deck.

The decision for the box size has been done. It can hold a ton of content in it but why stop there? Why not take the opportunity to organise everything neatly inside the box as well? I believe we all agree that storing components inside baggies is less than ideal. That’s why I chose to include a custom plastic insert in the game. It will have spots for each component of the whole series. Yes, even sleeved cards!

Speaking of storing the whole series. It’s always problematic to plan a box with excess space as you never know beforehand how well a game will sell. Will it even be financially viable to release an expansion? If so, how many? Dale of Merchants Collection will officially have room for itself, Dale of Merchants 1, 2, and 3. That is correct. There will be Dale of Merchants 3 later on. I believe this is the first time I share that information in public.

And by the way. The Kickstarter for Dale of Merchants Collection is now live! Click here to check out the campaign! Pledge now to help us make the game a reality.

Next diary part will be the last one for now. I will write about theming and illustrating then.

Should a publisher worry about how people store their games and expansions? Do you store your expansions in the base game if at all possible? What do you do with the expansion boxes?
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Liuhuparta wrote:

Should a publisher worry about how people store their games and expansions?

It's somewhat tough to answer. Ideally, yes. But some sanity and reason also must be applied here. Different people choose different things and storage schemes can be really varied. If possible, offer a choice. I think that people who want custom storage, are usually willing to pay extra for it (hence the popularity of various storage systems for Gloomhaven, Terraforming Mars, Eclipse, etc.). Legendary Box for Scythe is a prime example of it. Also, if the game is popular, releasing another expansion in a big box is truly a great move, surely to be appreciated by the fanbase.

Liuhuparta wrote:
Do you store your expansions in the base game if at all possible? What do you do with the expansion boxes?

Yes, always in one box, ideally the core box. I tend to keep expansion boxes in huge cardboard boxes stashed in my garage. I somehow cannot force myself to throw them away.
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Liuhuparta wrote:
There will be Dale of Merchants 3 later on.

Shouldn't it be called Dale of mercants 4? It will be confusing calling it 3.
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Can you discuss some of the character cards to give us a better sense of this new aspect of the game, something to get us more excited about them? I mean, I love the idea of unique player powers added to practically anything, but there's always the question of how they're implemented and what sort of player powers are they.

I'm especially curious because you referenced Cosmic Encounter as the inspiration, whereas on the other hand you've written about your golden rules of balance, and I'm sure I've seen plenty of writings about how almost any given player power in Cosmic Encounter is broken in some way.

I personally don't like Cosmic Encounter at all (due to the gameplay of it. I felt like I was playing the players rather than the game, and that's not what I want out of my games), but I did love it in theory because all of those different player powers seemingly offer immense replayability, which is always a plus in my book.

Liuhuparta wrote:
rattkin wrote:
Some designers also add another one on top of that, which has little to do with math, but a lot with perception/psychology:

Quote:
"Is the behavior/tactic/strategy I'm using or I'm playing against fun to play / play against?".
That is absolutely something I keep in mind as well. I could write a whole diary about just that!

Please do.

Liuhuparta wrote:
What do you usually look forward in an expansion to your favourite board game? Variety in form of more of the old stuff or something that pushes the game in a totally different direction?

I generally look for more of the same. A few different examples:

Majesty: For the Realm - I'm looking forward to an expansion to it, even though one has not been announced as far as I know, and I want it to feature many more different scoring rules to extend the playability, but I'd also appreciate unique player powers, and that's about it - in terms of materials, that'll be cheap too, and hopefully that'll reflect in the price of the expansion. More likely in my mind is that they'll release an expansion that will contain more than that and cost as much as the base game. What else they add and the cost will determine my interest.

Race for the Galaxy - I love this game, and had the expansions been just more of the same and be priced to match that fact, I'd most likely buy all of them, but each one added complexity and mechanics I didn't want in the game. Only the last one of which appealed to me enough to want it.

For the Crown (Second edition) / Tyrants of the Underdark - A couple of my favorites, for which I've bought every content expansion and if they keep releasing them I'll keep buying them - so long as they keep to the form of more of the same. (I would however love For the Crown to be pushed in a different direction by including rules for a dynamic market [like Star Realms or Dale of Merchants) rather than the static Dominion-like market, but I don't know if that counts.)

Kingdom Builder - Another one I love, and I'd love to expand it too, but two things keep me from it: The price of each expansion, and the longer set up each addition would force.

Liuhuparta wrote:
How balanced is your favourite game? How unbalanced a game has to be for it to bother you?

My favorite is For the Crown, and I think it's perfectly balanced, but that's not something I particularly care about. I love it in games where every (or almost every) strategy feels overpowered, and I don't recall ever being bothered by a lack of balance, but maybe all the games I've played are just blanaced well enough for me.

Liuhuparta wrote:
Should a publisher worry about how people store their games and expansions? Do you store your expansions in the base game if at all possible? What do you do with the expansion boxes?

I think publishers should take that into account too, but that's not to say they should value it over cheaper pricing and delivery costs for example. I generally store my expansions in the base game where possible and throw out the expansion boxes.
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salva wrote:
Shouldn't [the upcoming Dale of Merchants 3] be called Dale of mercants 4? It will be confusing calling it 3.
This is a conscious decision that I made. I wanted to call the small boxes Dale of Merchants 1, 2, and 3. It's a bit weird based on the order they are actually published but no one cares after 3 is released. I could have released 3 before Collection but people are already getting antsy about storing the series so I believed it would be an appropriate time to release the large box sooner rather than later.

Another minor thing to note is shelf presentation. It would be weird to have a single "Dale of Merchants 3" box on your shelf. In my opinion it's cleaner to have just "Dale of Merchants Collection" there.

Melody303 wrote:
Can you discuss some of the character cards to give us a better sense of this new aspect of the game, something to get us more excited about them? I mean, I love the idea of unique player powers added to practically anything, but there's always the question of how they're implemented and what sort of player powers are they.

I'm especially curious because you referenced Cosmic Encounter as the inspiration, whereas on the other hand you've written about your golden rules of balance, and I'm sure I've seen plenty of writings about how almost any given player power in Cosmic Encounter is broken in some way.

I personally don't like Cosmic Encounter at all (due to the gameplay of it. I felt like I was playing the players rather than the game, and that's not what I want out of my games), but I did love it in theory because all of those different player powers seemingly offer immense replayability, which is always a plus in my book.
Firstly, thank you for your comments and thoughts on all the questions so far! It's always interesting to read other's thoughts about small things we all have a passion for.

It might be smarter for me to say that I took inspiration from Cosmic Encounter especially in form of high variability and replay value. In Cosmic, players have been put in charge of balance. Does someone have a player power way stronger than others? Then you're supposed to gang up against them to balance things out. I can only guess but their golden rule is probably something closer to "Everyone should feel overpowered! Some even more than others!".

In Dale of Merchants Collection, my aim was to carefully balance each character card with care. While they do radically different things, no one should win the game outright simply because they had an overpowered character.
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Sebastian Zarzycki
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Let me rephrase that question, maybe. When using asymmetrical player powers, there are usually two outcomes in design:

a) your unique powers constrain you (either by actual limitation or by providing superior options) and make you play "on rails", as in: performing the "plan" that was assumed to be done with that particular power usage.
b) your unique powers, well... empower you, broadening your options, allowing for more interesting choices, that could be, but not should be, made.

What's the case here?
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Sami Laakso
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I definitely targeted the latter option (b) in my design process. The character abilities provide additional options that you can do on your turn. However, most of them come at some sort of cost. That cost isn't always worth the ability. Though sometimes with clever play the cost itself can also be a positive thing. It's all about knowing when and how to use your abilities to your advantage and when not to!
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Liuhuparta wrote:
Should a publisher worry about how people store their games and expansions?
Yes, please care!!! Game boxes are not just for getting the game to the player they also need to be able to support storage, setup, and in some cases travel.

I think that you did the box design perfectly for this game. The first two games were small and portable. I loved this because I could take them on trips. And the game setup was still manageable because the options were still somewhat small.

And now that the collection has grown, a big box storage solution is available with this standalone expansion. Since each game is playable on it's own, new players can get in starting with the big box or the smaller portable ones. And returning players get the benefit of a storage solution along with the new content.

Liuhuparta wrote:
Do you store your expansions in the base game if at all possible?
Yes, I store my components with the base game. This saves on shelf space and it makes setup and transportation for game nights much easier. I also makes it possible to store all the content for a game in the same location, making it faster and easier to find and get everything we want to use out when we play.

Liuhuparta wrote:
What do you do with the expansion boxes?
I keep the extra boxes in storage until I need them. I like to use the smaller boxes to take a playable subset of the game on trips. I like to use the bigger boxes for overflow. If the base game box gets too full, I use the next biggest box from the set and start filling that.

I always prefer to store my game in the boxes they came with (or in set storage boxes provided by the publisher) because it is easier to identify what they are on the shelf. This is especially important to me because I also play several trading card games whose deck box options are often generic. It's hard to know what's in them without opening each one.

I also keep boxes in case I decide to sell or trade a game. Sometimes I find out later on that a game isn't for me. Other times I upgrade my game to a newer version and want to sell the older one. I've also had cases where, in order to get all the expansion materials that I missed before, I had to get the big box version because the smaller expansions were not available anywhere for purchase.

Sometimes I use the boxes to hold spare gaming bits. Additionally, I have also used their inserts for parts when I needed extra materials to better sort my games.

I haven't done this yet (because I do not have an official gaming space yet ... some day .... some day!!!) but I have heard others that use the box lids for decoration and wall art.
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Comboteur "Crazed 'Beastface' Survivor" Fou
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There are some very nice designs of player powers in Mystic Vale, in three different forms: leaders, amulets, and totems.

All of them are broken in their own right. Some are restrictive and force you to adapt to them, some broaden your options, all force you to play around them to gain the full benefits. There is the leader that grants you -40 vp at the end of the game if he's on the wrong side and the one that gives you -100 if you don't trigger his auto-win condition. And then there' the one that gives you stuff for free but takes a while to activate.

Balancing 55 different asymetric power is not an easy thing but one thing I've learned when judging Mystic Vale: if it looks overpowered, play more: it usually feels underpowered unless you manage to entirely build around it.
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