Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Moctezuma playtest and tweaks

Last Saturday I was able to get in not one, but two 3 player tests of Moctezuma's Revenge!

One of the main things that has kept this particular game down, and I think it's the thing that keeps many prototypes from making progress, is simply not getting it to the table. That's why I was so excited to play Moctezuma's revenge again, for the first time in 8 years.

I was over at Isle of Games, the FLGS that's nearest my new home, and it just so happens my longtime friend Ben is a manager over there. Ben is the one who tested Moctezuma's Revenge with me all those years ago, so it was neat hat he was around this time too... unfortunately he was busy working and couldn't join us to play :(

Here are some notes from those two games, followed by some changes to try next time:
For reference, the rules I used: Moctezuma's Revenge rules v2.0.

The game went over pretty well with the players. I wonder if it couldn’t use some more fundamental changes...

Game 1
I used the "5 action point" rule set ("5AP"), and I used 14 cursed and 11 safe chits, requiring 2+ cursed chits for a temple to be cursed. This was a mistake, actually, and it resulted in 6 cursed temples out of 7 (I added chits to the prototype according to majority needed, not 2+, AND I counted wrong when deciding how many chits to use... OOPS). 6 cursed temples is almost certainly too many! I think 4 or 5 max would be better. The players thought it would be OK if the minimum number of cursed temples was zero, but I think it might be better to guarantee that at least 1 temple will be cursed each game. 

We all knew which temples were cursed a few turns before the end, which was lame. Jim and I had researched several times before going exploring, while Hillary just went out and started looting temples. She ended up with maybe the highest score, but the most cursed icons and therefore an automatic loss. Is an auto-loss too harsh? Maybe there should just be a bigger penalty for the player with the most curse icons, like -1vp/icon, while everyone else only loses 1vp/2 icons.

Game 2
This time I used the "2 actions per turn" rule set ("2A"), and I used 9 cursed and 16 safe chits, requiring a majority of cursed chits for a temple to be cursed. This resulted in 3 cursed temples. I had the most points, but also the most cursed icons so I lost. Jim and I did about 2 turns of double research before exploring, while Hillary did about 4 this time. The 2A version went quicker and felt a little lighter than the 5AP version, but I think we got to do about as much stuff. 

I didn’t like that it took a whole turn to move to or from the library, and I didn’t like the temptation to research everything first then go explore, and never really research again.

Here are tweaks I would make for next time:
  • In 2A version, it should only take 1 move to get to or from the library, but you shouldn’t be allowed to do both in the same turn (the Library isn’t a shortcut)
  • In 2A version, 2nd Research in a turn should cost a discard of any treasure card. This gives you another way to dump cursed treasure, and it also means you can’t double research until you’ve gone exploring. So you probably will turn 1 Research/Move and start looting temples, then later come back to do more research.
  • Asymmetric starting info would be nice, but how to implement?
  • Is “Most cursed icons = you lose” a good rule? Too harsh? Maybe just a bigger penalty? try "most cursed icons: -1vp/icon, everyone else -1vp/2 icons".
  • Try using 12 Cursed/15 Safe chits for a total of 27, so 2 are unused each game… so you can’t count. I think that leads to 1-5 Cursed temples (and more likely 2-4).
  • Maybe make the Loot action (2A version) 3 cards, then 4… so if you see the Name card in the first draw, you still have a choice of 2 cards to keep. Or else add a SEARCH action to look at more cards, keep none (see below)
  • Maybe make an option to look at more cards but keep none… for if you want to find the name of a temple at the cost of getting a card. So like:
    • Move 1/Move 2 (1 space in the first move action, 2 more if you move a 2nd time in a turn).
    • (temple) Search 4/5 (keep 0). Helps you find the Name card.
    • (temple) Loot 2/3 (keep 1). Gets you more cards.
    • (library) Research 2/3 (reveal 1. 2nd one costs 1 card). Gets you info, reveals some, allows a discard avenue for cursed treasure.
    • (library) Study: Discard 1 card to reveal that temple’s name tile. Discard avenue for cursed treasure, and a way to learn the name of a temple.
  • One idea I had to prevent over-researching was this: You can only research the CURRENT or NEXT column, not beyond that. Then if you want to see info in the 3rd/4th/5th columns then maybe you’ll return to the library once the game is about ⅓ (or ⅔) over. Alternatively, maybe you can always research any column, but it costs a card to research beyond 1 column ahead of where the game is currently at?

Here's the updated rules based on this playtest and commentary: Moctezuma's Revenge rules v2.1

Stay tuned for more playtest reports or info about this game, and the experiment in co-designing with Jonathan Gilmour.

Post script:
I just had a thought on card distributions: Maybe there should be some more texture to the cards as far as VPs vs Curse icons. For example, currently the treasure distribution is 5/3/3/2/2/2/1/1/1/1/1, where the 5 has 3 curse icons, the 3s and 2s have 2 curse icons, and the 1s have 1 curse icon.

Perhaps it would be cooler to have some of the cards with a disproportionate number of curse icons, not directly related to the amount of VPs on the card, something like:
5vp/3 icons
3vp/2 icons
3vp/2 icons
2vp/3 icons
2vp/2 icons
2vp/1 icons
1vp/2 icons
1vp/2 icons
1vp/1 icons
1vp/1 icons
1vp/1 icons

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Moctezuma revisited

Every once in a while I review The List and spare a moment's thought for designs that have been sitting on the back burner, some for far too long.

Every time I do that, I invariably have the same thought... why did I never get anywhere with that one? I have this thought pretty regularly with respect to some games, less often with respect to others. But one of the games I often wonder this about is Moctezuma's Revenge.

Moctezuma's Revenge is a sort of deduction, action efficiency game about looting Aztec pyramids, but some of the pyramids are cursed. At the beginning of the game there are 10 pyramids, 7 of which are home to Aztec kings, and the other three contain clues to the location of El Dorado, the lost city of gold. Some (perusing the rules it seems between 3 and 7) of the 7 kings are cursed, and treasure from the cursed temples will be worth negative points at the end of the game. You don't know which temple is which, and you also don't know which of the temples are home to the cursed kings, so you can do research at the Library to find out.

That's the status of the game at the moment, you can see an old rule set in my blog. While I've thought about it every now and again, I haven't touched this game since 2008. For 8 years it's been one of those perennially back-burner-ed ideas, just sitting there wasting potential. That's why I'm happy about this next bit...

There's a prominent game designer you might have heard of... his name is Jonathan Gilmour. He designed something recently that's turned out to be very popular, and I know he's got some other stuff either out there or coming down the line really soon. I contacted Jon on Twitter a few weeks ago, and it turns out he was open to the idea of co-designing something with me. So I showed him my list, and Moctezuma's Revenge caught his eye. We had a chat about it at BGGcon, and it sounded like we were both on the same page when it comes to co-designing and the value that could offer to each of us, so when I got home I sent him whatever details I had about Moctezuma's Revenge, and today he put together a prototype and gave it a try!

I'm looking forward to the feedback, and to working with someone on this game, as it's not one I was likely to finish on my own anytime soon. Just discussing it with Jon has already got some creative juices stirring... here are some thoughts that came up in our conversation at BGGcon, some of which may end up being tested out:

* I don't know what I was thinking when I made 7 "cursed" chits - the possibility of all 7 temples being cursed seems like a lousy game experience to me. Perhaps I didn't want players to be able to win by just picking a temple, looting it like crazy, and just hoping it's not cursed. But I do like how the curse system works (and I think Jon does too). I suspect we'll want to cut that down to something like 4 "cursed" chits, so that 2, 3, or 4 temples will be cursed.

* As I recall from my one or two playtests 8 years ago, it was too tempting to sit in the Library and peek at all the curse chits before running off with good information about which temples are safe. There should probably be some incentive to not do that... one thought is maybe when researching kings, you flip the next curse chit (revealing it for everyone), and then peek at another 1-2 [alt: peek at a couple chits, choose 1 to turn face up]. Would sharing info like that make any difference? Or just serve to lengthen the game?

* Should you be able to research temple names at the library (look at X cards from the temple, keep none)? Maybe more efficiently than drawing cards when you’re AT the temple (so like look at 2/3/6 rather than 1/2/5)? Should this also be “reveal the top card, then peek at 1/2/5 (or 2/3/6) cards (again, so it helps others)?

* Maybe instead of action point allowance, you could just take a Library turn (Flip next Curse chit, then spend turn peeking at 1 Name tile, some (3?) curse chits (max 1 per king?), or maybe a few cards from a single deck) or an Explore turn (move and search or search x2, where “search” in this case is look at the top 2 or 3 cards of the deck where you’re at. Maybe it’s 2, and if you double search it’s 5).

* Maybe researching the name of a king (peeking at the name tile) should be done at the library by discarding a card from that temple. So you can pay points to learn the identity of the temple, or you can find it via exploration. If you learn that you have collected a cursed treasure, this would allow you an avenue to get rid of it. I would think you could only do this once per temple (leave the card face up in front of you to remember you did it), so you can't unload a truck full of tainted treasure, but maybe a limited discard would be good to have available.

* Instead of cursed treasure being strictly negative points, perhaps all treasure should be worth points. Maybe each treasure has 2 values, one for if it's safe, and a lower one for if it's cursed. In addition, the treasures could have curse icons which only count if the temple was cursed, and the player with the most of those at the end of the game simply loses (like corruption in Cleopatra and the Society of Architects or Unrest in Struggle of Empires).

I look forward to posting more about Moctezuma's Revenge, hopefully Jonathan likes it and gets some good tests and feedback in! 

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Deities & Demigods: Due Diligence

Looking at the title of this post, it kinda reads like an expansion to the communal deck learning game I've been working on...

No such luck! This post is about the due diligence we have to -- or ought to -- do as designers. When we playtest games, we tend to get a lot of suggestions from players. As designers, it's our job to parse those comments and decide which suggestions would lead to good changes in the game, which to write off, and which could be indicative of underlying problems (even if they're not directly useful).

It can be easy to write off suggested changes, especially when you feel like the game is done. Taking the suggestion to heart would mean making changes to the components and doing more testing. If you are happy with the game as-is, then this can feel like extra work for no good reason.

A real life example.

I am personally guilty of this exact thing... 10 years ago I had a very good suggestion from a player of Terra Prime. The player suggested having the space hexes face UP during setup, so you can see where all the planets are from the outset, then covering the center of the tiles with Exploration tiles so you still have the exploration aspect to the game. I thought this was an interesting idea, and thought I might even like it if I tried it... but I was pretty happy at the time with the exploration aspect as it was - face down hex tiles, and you explored to find the planets. Specifically, I liked the idea that the player who explored a tile got to choose its orientation. So while I figured I might try the suggestion for a future expansion or something, I completely wrote it off at the time.

After the game came out, one of the biggest questions people had was to do with the rule (there's only 1 rule!) about tile placement: "no 2 adjacent sectors can contain planets". I was surprised by this, since I figured that one rule wouldn't be hard to grok, and as I said, I liked the agency players had to create the board layout. When working on an expansion I finally did try the suggestion from that playtester: I laid the tiles out face up, and covered the center of them with new Exploration tiles (with Aliens and Asteroids, and a few new things I added such as Wormholes and Sunstars). It turns out I liked this method very much, and it removed the potential for that one rules question people were having.

I hadn't done my due diligence. 

Had I tried that suggestion out when it was made, I probably would have used it in the original release of Terra Prime, and the game would have been better for it. With Terra Prime that might not have mattered too much, what with the poor manufacturing, and the fact that very few people every really got a chance to play the game... but the point is that I received a good suggestion, and I ignored it. I don't want to make that mistake again.

Learning from our mistakes:

A couple of weeks ago I was in Seattle for Sasquatch, and I got a chance to play Deities & Demigods with Tim Eisner and his brother Ben. It was a pretty good test, and Tim and Ben had some interesting comments. I took note of two of them in particular:

1. In response to my saying I needed a round counter, and the idea of simply putting a round marker on the initiative track and make that track do double duty as the game timer, Tim and Ben suggested that the round timer work like the minimum devotion markers, and as the rounds advance, the initiative markers get pushed along the track and begin on the 2nd/3rd/4th/5th space. That way the game would kind of ramp up, and it would support my desire for players to have easy access to 1 or 2 Deity rewards even if they pretty much ignore Zeus.

2. Tim and Ben suggested that the high end of the Hermes devotion track was boring compared to the other tracks. I hadn't had any problems with it thus far... 12 gold seemed like a pretty good thing to get, but it's true that just getting a handful of gold isn't terribly interesting. We chatted about it and came to the suggestion that perhaps less gold and an immediate cube bump would be appropriate, and more interesting than just a handful of gold.

In an attempt to learn from my mistakes, I made an effort to try these tweaks, even though neither one was really solving a "problem" that existed in the game. I updated my prototype files and sent them to co-designer Matthew Dunstan, and I got ready to bring my prototype to Dallas with me. I got Deities & Demigods to the table 3 times during BGGcon last week, here's how it went:

In the first game, I tried tweak number 1 (which I've since dubbed "rising tide" variant, as a rising tide floats all boats, and the initiative markers are currently boats), but while I had updated my prototype files for the Hermes track changes, I hadn't printed them, so I left that tweak off. The rising tide variant did a couple of good things - it was a little bit interesting to get easier access to the early rewards on the Zeus track, and indeed players were able to get deity cards without concentrating on Zeus. However, it introduced some fiddliness, and some timing questions... I wasn't sure it was worth the effort.

I wanted to try that tweak again before passing judgment on it, so I kept it in for the 2nd game. And this time I also tried the alternate Hermes track... I just explained that instead of 1/4/8/12 gold, you get 1/3/6/10 gold plus a cube bump in 0/1/2/3different tracks. As it turns out, this instant cube bump basically undermined the main mechanism of the game! Players could use Hermes to directly bump their cubes, and when other deities came up they could simply resolve them, hardly ever paying them. As a result of that, players were ending up with large amounts of gold just sitting around unspent, and I didn't like the effect of these cube bumps at all! I might have gone a little overboard with this suggestion, perhaps a single cube bump at the top of the Hermes track would have been ok, but this certainly wasn't. I might try just changing the top level, so Hermes would be 1/4/8/10+cube, but going back to the known quantity of just gold is probably the way to go.

As for the rising tide variant, having played it a 2nd time, I think I decided that overall it was more trouble than it was worth, and while it did do something sort of interesting, it wasn't a good addition to the game. So I'll just be using a round counter to track rounds.

In the third game, I didn't use either of the tweaks, reverting back to the game as it was 2 weeks ago. I think I like that better, so I don't think I'll end up using either of the suggestions from Sasquatch.

Back to square one?

So were those tests a waste of time? Well, to an extent one could argue that they were, but that's a hard sell. Unless you know for sure that a suggestion isn't going to pan out, then it's worth doing due diligence and testing it out. I was happy I tried both of those tweaks, even though I won't be keeping them. though I do think that the next time I try an untested tweak, I'd prefer to do it with a group who's played before, rather than in a learning game.

So there you have it. You've got to do your due diligence, because you never know which decent-sounding suggestions will be right for the game, and which just won't pan out, until you try them.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Yokohama rules PDF (retail and deluxe versions)

If you're reading this you are probably aware that I work with/for TMG. In that capacity, I was in charge of revising the English rules for Yokohama when TMG picked up the license for US distribution.

You may recall we ran a (very successful) Kickstarter project for a Deluxe Edition of the game, which included some nice component upgrades such as metal coins, custom wooden goods tokens and custom wooden president and assistant pieces. We even ended up with cute stickers for the presidents due to overfunding :)

While some of the component upgrades were for the Deluxe version only, the whole game got a graphic design overhaul which will apply to the retail version as well. In that same vein, the rulebook edits will of course also apply to both versions.

I worked pretty hard re-writing the rules, and I got a lot of great feedback from the community which all got taken into account before finalizing the rulebook, and I am pretty happy with the result.

So if you're curious about the game, or looking for a diversion to pass the time while you wait for our Deluxe version to arrive, there's now a web friendly version of the rules to check out on BoardGameGeek.com:

Retail version: https://boardgamegeek.com/filepage/139827/tmg-retail-version-rules-english

Deluxe version: https://boardgamegeek.com/filepage/139828/tmg-deluxe-version-rules-english


Thursday, October 20, 2016

Essen interview with Würfel Reviews - role of the developer, among other things

One of the things I enjoyed most at Essen this year was an in-depth interview I did with Würfel Reviews about the role of the developer, as well as a bunch of other topics. It's about 45 minutes long, but I watched it and I am pretty sure I didn't sound too foolish! :)

Actually, I think it's pretty good, with a lot of good information in there. And I got to tell several good stories :) 

Let me know what you think in the comments below!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Deities & Demigods playtests at Essen 2016!

I managed to get not 1, not 2, but 3 whole playtests of D&D in at Essen 2016! Well, 2.8 at least...

First off, I went to Motel One on Thursday night and joined the UK Playtest meetup. I mainly went there to connect with Matthew and maybe play D&D with him, but he was late, and the person herding cats got 3 players sent my way to play! I sat out to facilitate, since the playtesting round was only  hour long, and we had to do rules... we made it through 4 (out of 5) cycles and got some commentary afterward. 2 of the players seemed to grok the mechanics, and went about their business. One player had a really rough time grokking the rules, got nothing done, and predictably complained at the end that there wasn't enough time to do anything.

We used the recent Hera's Spite rule that when Hera arrives, players either sacrifice the demanded item or else take a Spite token. If they sacrifice twice, they can discard a spite token. Like previous versions of Hera, I think this just served to slow the players' progress without any real benefit.

Matthew arrived near the end of that game, and we got to talking, and ended up playing a 2p game of D&D, trying the same Hera rule. After that we both agreed that maybe Hera just isn't necessary at all. We also discussed changing movement to simply be 1-troop-1-hex rather than the whole Army thing (moving multiple troops at once), to make the rule easier to understand. We also talked a little bit about "terrain" meaning both some stuff to make movement more costly, but also some beneficial things such as a gold mone, and whenever you step on it, maybe you get 1 gold.

A couple of days later Matthew and I had a scheduled meeting to play D&D, so we played another game, this time with Andy as well, who had played only once before. This version is much improved from the one Andy played last year at BGGcon, but beyond that he didn't have much in the way of comment.

We played without Hera this time, and just counted cycles - neither of us missed her. So yet again, Hera has been cut from the game! Maybe she can come back as another expansion module, where you simply reckon her scoring condition at the end of each cycle.

In discussion afterwards I think we may have agreed that terrain may not be necessary after all. We did change to the simpler Ares movement, and added 2 to each level of Ares so as not to remove overall movement from the game, and frankly the added movement wasn't necessary. Next time I'll try without adding any movement, and if that seems too tight maybe I'll try adding just 1 movement instead. 2 was way too much.

We talked a little about theme, as Andy pointed out that Oracle of Delphi would share a description almost entirely, and especially where it comes to god tracks where you increment them until you eventually use their ability and reset them. of course, the two games are nothing alike, but it might be nice to avoid that conflation. Andy and Matthew suggested Norse gods, or Egyptian ones. I don't know if I have the impetus to make that change though, as I like the Greek theme, and by the time this comes out, people will likely have moved on from Oracle of Delphi anyway (or even better, this might re-invigorate sales of that title) :)

I would still like to get some player powers worked in, since players ted to expect those nowadays. I think I have a few already, but I'd like at last 4 different ones, and possibly more like 6 or 8.

As a minor note (and I say this mostly to remind myself), I think I'll add like 3 more troops per player to the game. Also, instead of placing a disc when you do a quest, maybe you should just lie your troop down, thereby losing it for the rest of the game. I think that could be good, and now that the number of discs remaining isn't a game end timer, there's no need for them to mark both quests and buildings.

I feel like this one is in the home stretch, so to speak!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Essen 2016!

As I sit here, in a SUBWAY Cafe in Atlanta International airport, entering the 2nd hour of 6 hour layover waiting to board a plane to Dusseldorf, I am trying to remember whether this is the 4th or the 5th time I've been to Essen.

A quick perusal of my blog indicates that the first trip was in 2012 - Michael and I went on what I described as a 'scouting mission', and at the time I had envisioned potentially returning to the big show to man a booth, much like we do at GenCon.

If memory serves, we skipped 2013, but returned to Essen in 2014, this time with Mischa. We did not have our own booth, and in retrospect I am pretty happy with that decision. Instead we scheduled meetings with various european designers, publishers, and distributors about partnerships and the like.

In 2015, Michael decided he didn't need to be at Essen himself, and that he much preferred Tokyo. So while he has now attended Tokyo Game Market a few times (making great friends and partners, and picking up great titles such as Flip City, Yokohama, and Ars Alchimia, to name just a few), Mischa, Daniel, Andy, and took on Essen by ourselves. And a bit more organized this time. Daniel and Mischa filled their schedules with business meetings with partners (for both incoming and outgoing licenses), while Andy and I spent our time taking pitches from designers and checking out new releases for potential licensing.

This year will be pretty much the same I think. Andy and I will be taking pitches and checking out new releases (that reminds me, I'm supposed to be identifying potential titles to pick up!), while Daniel and Mischa again maintain existing foreign partnerships and forge new ones.

Unfortunately, I haven't had the bandwidth to really get excited about any new offerings... the only one I can think of offhand that I'd like to try, The Great Western Trail by Alexander Phister, is already picked up for US market by Stronghold Games. Lucky for me, W. Eric Martin puts together a terrific list of all the new releases each year, and Richard Ham (a celebrity in the game review space who has similar tastes to mine) maintains a list of his games of interest, and recently posted a 3 hour podcast discussing the games and expansions of interest to him. I've already listened to most of that podcast, but in a minute I'll be diving into both of those resources and looking for potential TMG pickups, as well as stuff I might like to check out for myself.

I'm curious to see how Essen goes this year, and whether I am going to think it's worth it for me to go, or if I'll do what Mike did and start opting out of the trip in future years. Last year we only signed 1 title from those pitches (though Guilds of London has been a successful title thus far), though it's refreshing to see designs from European designers - they seem different from the pitches we see at GenCon.

Side note: A further inspection of those blog posts have reminded me that I did not think to bring my Camelback this year. Drat. Fortunately I seem to recall water being more available last year than it had been in the past.

Deities & Demigods update

I haven't been posting as often lately, nor have I gotten in as many playtests of Deities & Demigods as I'd like (though apparently I've been testing more frequently than Matthew... I haven't heard from him in a couple of versions now!). However, I HAVE gotten some plays in, and I've learned a thing or two about the recent tweaks and proposed changes. Here's what's come up in the last few plays, using the last blog post as a point of reference:

1. Building reward icons in cities
I have been playing with the most recent versionI described, and I think I like it. Each city has a particular reward, and when you build you get 3/2/1/1 of it. At the start of the game (in reverse turn order) you select a starting city and place your marker on the LOWEST reward space and collect that reward. However, when building in a city where you already have a marker, you stack atop your other marker and collect no additional icons, whereas if you Ares over to another city first, then building allows you to collect the highest remaining reward icon.

For now I'm keeping this version of the rule, because it seems to be working well. It also means the buildings have no icons printed on them, just a big effect or endgame scoring bonus. The artifacts have a smaller effect plus an icon. The monuments still increase your minimum devotion, they also have an icon PLUS a favor token PLUS potentially another icon from the city. I think this makes monuments compare favorably to B+A.

2. Cutting virtual Zeus
I currently think that just having 1 Zeus in the deck is the way to go, especially with the initiative bumps available on artifacts and in cities.

3. Simplifying to a simple hex board
This has been working well. I would still like to see some semblance of terrain (even just water vs land) in the end, but maybe that's just unnecessary complication :/

4. Favor of the Deities
I did some more tweaking of the deity scoring, which makes them worth a bit more (at least potentially more)...
Zeus: 2vp per unique deity in your display (rewarding diversity)
Hermes: 2vp per devotion track at level 4, 1vp per devotion track at level 2/3 (indirectly rewarding showing devotion to deities)
Ares: 1vp per minimum devotion increase (indirectly rewards doing quests)
Hephaestus: 1vp per city with your building marker (rewarding building)

As a side note, I'm beginning to think that level 1 Hephaestus should give 1 gold per building marker, not per city with your building marker... so it doesn't require Ares to do something. The Hephaestus favor bonus could be harder to cash in on, and therefore be "per city with your marker".

5. Adding a cost for increasing minimum devotion
This turned out to be a bad idea, I didn't like it and I removed it after 2 tries.

It's possible that nothing needs to be done about this beyond making the min bump on the initiative track harder to get.

6. Game duration and Hera
I think forcing a 5-round game is the way to go, and adding Hera made it feel less arbitrary. The version I tried was this:
Shuffle 4 Hera cards into a face up stack. At the end of each cycle, add the top Hera card to the deck - if there isn't one, then the game is over. When Hera arrives, she makes a demand (each Hera card has a different demand).

The 1st version I tried was that Hera was simply an opportunity to earn extra points by satisfying her demand. Choosing not to only cost you the opportunity to score points. This turned out to be fairly boring though because often times players would ignore the demand and nobody took advantage of the opportunity. Maybe that could be addressed by tweaking the values of the rewards, but I tried something else that I thought might be more interesting...

The 2nd version I tried was that you MUST meet Hera's demand, and if you do then you earn a favor token. This was a bit better because players actually had to care hat Hera's demands were, and she actually had an impact on the game. However, it amounted to just handing out a bunch of points to all players most of the time, and also we had to lose random stuff whenever Hera arrived. Sure, we theoretically knew it was coming, but it could have worked better... this seemed a little harsh.

What I would like to try next time is this... when Hera arrives, she makes her demand. If you refuse to (or cannot) give her what she demands, then you get a Spite token. Spite tokens come with a scoring penalty at the end of the game. If you do meet Hera's demand, then you avoid the spite token. If you DOUBLE the demand though, you get to DISCARD a spite token (or if you have none, collect a favor token).

I hope this will make people WANT to pay the demands sometimes, and if you specialize in one type of thing, then maybe you'll overpay those demands to make up for failings elsewhere.

I was thinking the penalty would be triangular negative scoring, but maybe a majority thing would be better.

I still might like to see city control matter more during the game, and I worry that going heavy Zeus and dominating the initiative track might be too strong. But other than that I think the game is in good shape!

Friday, October 07, 2016

Eminent Domain: Still good!

Last weekend was RinCon, and I'll probably write a separate blog post about that. This post is about one thing I did at RinCon...

Old college friends Becky and Chris ran an Eminent Domain tournament, and they billed it as a Play With The Creator event. The idea was that ahead of the tournament I would teach the game, but I had a scheduling conflict, so my friend John taught it instead. I arrived in time to play, and so as advertised, players got to play Eminent Domain with the creator of the game!

There were 10 players other than me, and most of them had never played EmDo before. John is a shark, besides me he's probably played more EmDo than anyone in the world! And he's very good - he said that when he and I play, results are probably 60% in my favor. I think another player had played once a long time ago, the rest were brand new.

With 11 players, we had two 4p games and a 3p game, and the winner of each went on to play in the finals against me. Also, if I won the 1st game, then the 2nd place player from my table would advance.

It has been a REALLY long time since I've play Eminent Domain, and it's been EVEN LONGER since I played the base game without Oblivion expansion stuff. The first game was really interesting, as one of the new players seemed to grasp not only the rules, but perhaps a more advanced strategy... She took a Produce role in the 2nd or 3rd turn, right after colonizing her start planet - a move I usually warn against when teaching the game, because it puts a Produce/Trade card into your deck, which are mostly useless early in the game. While this may be considered a mistake, it's not the end of the world, and this player got a few more planets into play and called Produce and Trade rolls left and right, quickly getting to a P-T cycle of 3 or even 4 resources! Seeing this, and drawing some planets with Produce symbols on them, I tried to pivot into a P/T engine as well, though for some reason it took me a little while to get there so I wasn't able to capitalize on it too much. In my penultimate turn I did a produce role, fully expecting that opponent to fill up her resource slots, but lucky for me she only had 1 of her many P/T cards in hand! In the end I beat her by a single point, a margin which may have easily been reversed with just slightly more efficient play in the early game, or even just a better draw on that previous turn!

The finals ended up being that opponent and myself, John of course, and a guy named Taylor that I used to know 20 years ago from when I played Magic. In this game I started with an Advanced planet, and I happened to get more Advanced planets off the top of the deck, 2 of which had Research symbols (I;m sure John was jealous, those are his favorite). I went quickly and heavily into Research and obtained the level 3 adaptability tech with several rounds left to play. Online some players complain that this tech is too good, because if you get it early then you dominate the game. Well, in this case I didn't feel like it really helped me very much, apparently I didn't have a high concentration of standard Research cards. I only used it about twice. but the fact that it was worth 5 points was a big deal, and I was able to get a big Specialized trade off on the last turn for another 4 extra points, and I ended up winning by a wide margin. Of course John came second, then Tyler 3rd and the other opponent (I'm sorry, I forgot her name!) was last.

TMG had donated a couple copies of EmDo and each expansion as prize support, and I of course passed down any prizes. John already has EmDo and Escalation, so he only took Exotica. Tyler already had the base game as well, so he took the other Exotica and an Escalation. So even in fourth place, the other opponent walked away (very happy I might add) with copies of EmDo and Escalation in hand!

Everyone seemed to really enjoy the game, and I had a great time playing EmDo again. Man, that game holds up. I really am proud of it, and I feel like I should promote it more.

So if you still haven't tried it, play Eminent Domain!

Monday, September 26, 2016

General update to The List

About a year ago I revisited The List to take stock of the status of my game projects. I thought it might be nice to update that list a little bit, as some of the games on it have made some progress...

Published Games:
Terra Prime (BGG)
Eminent Domain (BGG)
Eminent Domain: Escalation (BGG) (expansion)
Eminent Domain: Exotica (BGG) (expansion)
Eminent Domain: Microcosm (BGG)
- Isle of Trains (BGG)
Crusaders: Thy Will Be Done (BGG)
- Isle of Trains: All Aboard (expansion)

Finished But Unpublished Games:
Exhibit (BGG link)
Eminent Domain: the Dice Game
Dice Works (BGG link)
Wizard's Tower (BGG link)
Now Boarding
Suburban Sprawl

Current Active Designs:
Deities and Demigods
Eminent Domain: Oblivion (expansion)
The Pony Express
Odysseus: Winds of Fate (BGG)
Alter Ego (BGG link)

Old Standbys - games which have been around, 1/2 done and untouched, for years:
8/7 Central
Hot & Fresh
Reading Railroad
All For One (BGG)

Old Ideas that Haven't gone Anywhere (Yet) - some of these have been getting stale as well:
Rondel Role Selection
Investigative/Tabloid Journalism
Red Colony
Clash of the Kingpins
Time = Money
Dating Game
Ticket Please
Moctezuma's Revenge
Scourge of the High Seas

Let's take a closer look at some of these:
Published games:
Crusaders: Thy Will Be Done (BGG)
I'm excited to say that Crusaders is moving forward at TMG! Adam McIver, now a full time TMG employee, has been spending some of his time working on the art and graphic design of the game (I shared the box cover recently), and it looks fantastic!
Isle of Trains: All Aboard (expansion)
Dan Keltner and I finished our expansion to Isle of Trains for Dice Hate Me/Greater Than Games almost a year ago, and we've recently been told that it will finally be on Kickstarter in the next week or so! The final title of the expansion is Isle of Trains: All Aboard.
Terra Prime (BGG)
In the near future (perhaps for TMG's 10th anniversary) we will be bringing back Terra Prime as a 2nd edition, with updated rules, expansion included, and set in the Eminent Domain universe. It'll be called Eminent Domain: Origins.

Finished But Unpublished Games:
Exhibit (BGG link)
I'm disappointed in the current status of Exhibit. A European publisher was very interested, but a difference of opinion between me an another designer on "IP rights" sort of nixed that deal. I checked with an IP lawyer to ensure that my understanding was correct, which it was, but the whole thing has left a sour taste in my mouth.
Now Boarding
I worked on this with Tim Fowers (Wok Star, Paperback, Burgle Bros, and most recently Fugitive). Since we made this game he has taken it in a bit of a different direction, and I think he might be making that version of Now Boarding his next project.
Suburban Sprawl
Based on another DHMG/GTG contest - this time a dexterity game (which uses 57 cards, plus score sheets)- I designed Suburban Sprawl with Matthew Dunstan. In Suburban Sprawl you toss cards into play to build Residential, Commercial, Industrial, and Civic buildings. I was going for a light, quick game with a sort of SimCity feel that's easy to learn and play, and at that I think we succeeded. Unfortunately, we didn't win the contest :(
Current Active Designs:
Deities and Demigods
Another attempt at Deck Learning, Deities and Demigods is like a role selection game, but the game calls the roles, and in random order. Players will have some control over which roles are in the deck, and can upgrade their efficiency at each role. The effects of the roles will allow players to move armies around a map in an effort to complete quests and control cities. Matthew Dunstan has been working with me on this one, and it has taken shape quite well, dare I say it's nearing completion. I still would like to add some more interesting board elements (terrain, or at least water), and I have yet to try the "expansion module" featuring Hades, a deity that was cut from the base game.
Odysseus: Winds of Fate (BGG)
I keep circling and iterating on this one. I need to implement the mot recent change ideas and try it again.
Eminent Domain: Oblivion (expansion)
3rd expansion to Eminent Domain. I worked out how this would play several years ago, and once Exotica was in production I finally started prototyping and trying it. I've gone through an iteration or two so far, and I think I'm close to something I could call the final phases of development, but I've been concentrating on other games lately so this one hasn't been played in a while.
Alter Ego (BGG link)
Mike's always been a fan of this one. Alter Ego was finally shaping up, but it hasn't hit the table in a while now. I think with a little TMG Utah input and some nice art, this could potentially be ready for a GenCon 2017 release, but looking at the release schedule, that seems really ambitious (I don't think I can count on TMG development help on this one... too much going on over there).

Recent Designs That Are Not On The Front Burner:
Rondel Role Selection
Another variation on role selection, this one got off to an OK start, but hasn't gotten any attention in a while.

Old Standbys:
Hot & Fresh
I'm a little disappointed I never finished this one, but the most recent changes (several years ago now) seemed like a big step in the right direction. I'm just not sure how excited I am about a press your luck pickup/deliver game anymore.
This is my shelved design that I'm probably most interested in, or at least the one I think might have the most promise as a "mediocre euro."
Reading Railroad
I always think that Reading Railroad would be a fun word-building / connection game, but the truth is that people who like word games probably don't want to play a connection game, and people who like connection games probably don't want to play a word game. Still, I'd like to finish this one day.
All For One (BGG)
All For One might be my single biggest disappointment. It is the game that really got me into the design hobby, and I thought it was good - really good - but it never got any publisher interest. It's suffered some setbacks, and now, almost 10 years later, I feel like it might be a bit old fashioned and in need of an overhaul, but I don't have the impetus to overhaul it.

Old Ideas that Haven't gone Anywhere (Yet):
Investigative/Tabloid Journalism
I think a game where you put together parts of stories and embellish them to make them work would be a cute and fun game, but the theme may not really be very desirable, so I never revisited this idea, even though I think I had the main mechanism completely thought out.
Ticket Please
A game about controlling gates in airports and moving people to their destinations, in the same scope as a Ticket to Ride seems like it could be really successful, I'm not sure why I haven't revisited this yet.
Moctezuma's Revenge
Maybe it's because I don't really like press your luck games or deduction games much, but I never got back around to Moctezuma's Revenge, even though it sounds like a system that could make for a solid game.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

No fun blog post title, just a Board Games Insider interview, and some fancy art for Crusaders.

 A couple of weeks ago I recorded a quick interview with Ignacy Trzewik for Board Games Insider's new special interview episode series. That interview went live yesterday, so check it out and let me know what you think. (Is there an easy way to embed audio from someone else's web page here? Or is that like stealing or something?)

At the end of that interview I mentioned that I was giddy for another Seth Jaffee title (Crusaders) to be moving forward. Adam McIver has started on the art for it, and has been knocking it out of the park (as per usual).

I'll just leave this right here...

Yes, I used the word "giddy" (Michelle made fun of me for that), and it's true. I didn't realize how excited I would be to have another designer credit under my belt. I figured with Terra Prime (watch for the re-release as Eminent Domain Origins, coming soon!), Eminent Domain, Escalation, Exotica, Microcosm, and Isle of Trains (watch for Isle of Trains: All Aboard, coming to Kickstarter soon!), as well as all my developer credits (don't worry, I won't inundate you with those here), that the novelty would have worn off a bit.

But no. Maybe because it's been a while, or maybe because most of my design credits are for the same line of games... for whatever reason, I'm finding a feeling of excitement and yes, giddiness, at the thought of my next game coming out.

And it might help that I really like Crusaders. I think it's good. "Good" like I enjoy playing it over and over, but also "good" like I think it has a good chance of going over really well with players, leading to commercial success, and all the riches and popularity that accompanies being a "big name" game designer :)

Yeah, right. Someone on BGG the other day said they were buying Exotica and contributing toward my Lamborghini... I was like "Lamborghini? I am just hoping I can pay my bills this month!" :)

But wouldn't it be cool? Every time I have a game come out, there's a small part of me that thinks it would be so cool if that game somehow blew up, and really did lead to fame and fortune! Realistically though, the best I can hope for is that players do like the game, and that it sells enough to warrant reprints and becomes an evergreen title for TMG. Note that most games DON'T do that, many games don't get a reprint, and those that do may not get a 2nd reprint. If Crusaders warrants a reprint and an expansion, I'll count that as a success!

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Revisiting a classic post: Balancing Game Elements

I've been working on Harvest lately, an upcoming TMG title in the Harbour universe (side note: watch for Harbour on TableTop with Wil Wheaton, season 4!).

Here's the description of Harvest from BGG:

Mind the fields of Gullsbottom! Plant and fertilize your seeds, tend your crops, and utilize the various buildings at your disposal. You'll need to work smarter, not harder, as harvest season is coming to an end! Who will have the best harvest this year? Will it be you?
Each round in Harvest, you first draft turn order (and the benefits that come with it), then send your two workers into town and into the fields. Plant seeds, tend fields, and harvest crops to make room to plant some more! Utilize buildings and magical elixir to amass a bigger and better harvest than your neighbors at the end of five rounds of play.
Harvest is a worker placement game where you first reveal worker cards (spaces that will only be available this round), then draft turn order (the later you go in turn order, the bigger the bonus you receive), then place your workers and take the associated actions. In developing this game I've been working with the designer to figure out the appropriate power level of the actions in the game -- both the standard spaces on the town board, as well as the value of the worker cards, and the buildings you can build. As that's mostly accomplished, lately we've been working on the power level and balance of various characters you can play in the game.

At several points during this process I've been reminded of an article I wrote back in January 2014 called Balancing Game Elements... re-reading it now I think that might be the best game design article I've ever written. It continues to hold true today, as I have been using the same process to balance the elements of Harvest.

You see, a major benefit of working this way, finding an average value for an element (say, the buildings in Harvest) which incorporates all the costs and benefits of that element including opportunity costs, is that it leaves you with only one variable when designing things that interact with that element. This makes it relatively easy to determine things like the value of an action which gives you that element.

By way of example

Without knowing anything about the game it may be difficult to give you a concrete example, but I'll try:

In Harvest, there's a town board that has 3 main areas that offer a variety of different effects or resources. Each of these areas has a "Choose 2" space (letting you get any 2 of the things on offer in that area) which is limited to 1 worker, and a "Choose 1" space (letting you get just 1 thing) which is unlimited. In addition, each round you'll turn up a number of worker cards which have more action spaces on them. The value each of these spaces confers is defined as follows:

Choose 1 space: 1-2 units
Choose 2 space: 2-3 units
Worker card space: 3-5 units

So ideally you'd prefer to take a worker card space first, a Choose 2 space next, and a Choose 1 space only if you had no other option, just based on the value of stuff you would get.

However, the game is not quite that straightforward. A space that's technically worth 5 value might only be worth 3 to you because you can't use all of it's benefits at the moment. So there are plenty of times that a Choose 2 space is just as good if not better for you than a worker card space. Very seldom do I want a player to choose a Choose 1 (default, fallback) space over a worker card space though.

Note that these values are sort of average values, and they may depend on your situation and whether or not you can make full use of the resources you get from these actions.

That said, there are buildings in the game which can confer abilities, one-shot resources, or an end game scoring bonus. There is a wide variety of buildings, with 6 face up to choose from at a time, each supporting various strategies. It's difficult to evaluate exactly how much each of these buildings is worth, which is where my Balancing Game Elements post comes in handy. If you read that post, you know that step 2 in the process involves choosing a desired power level for the elements and designing the elements to be worth about that much. I'm currently choosing to assign a value the buildings in Harvest at "4". This means that I'm targeting an average value of 4, some buildings will be worth a little more or a little less, depending on whether you can utilize them to full effect or not.

One of the things you can get from the town board, an action that's always available, is building a building. So, if the buildings are worth 4, and the default "choose 1" space is supposed to be worth 1-2, and you can use that default space to build a building... then it follows that there should be a cost of 2 to use the build action on the town board. Also, if the worker card spaces are supposed to be worth 3-5, then perhaps one that just allows you to build a building for no cost is appropriate. Simple math, which can be applied because I wrapped all the variables into the valuation of the buildings.

Now, I may be incorrect in that evaluation. If I've over- or under-valued the buildings then that should show up in playtesting a players recognize and either ignore or capitalize on the imbalance. If that turns out to be the case, then I can easily re-evaluate them and adjust the actions that allow you to build accordingly. Let's say I significantly overestimated the value of buildings, and that they should really be worth only 2. In that case the standard build action on the town board should not cost anything, and a worker card that allows you to build should also come with 1-3 value worth of more stuff. Similarly, if I'd under-valued buildings and they are really worth an average of 6, then the standard build action should cost more, and the worker cards that allow you to build might also need some kind of cost.

An alternative to tweaking the actions is to make an editing pass at the buildings, either powering them up or down until they are more closely averaging the targeted value of 4, which would then justify the cost of the town board and the worker cards.

Hopefully that makes sense, and indicates the usefulness of incorporating all of the costs and benefits (including opportunity costs) into the value of the game element itself (in this case the buildings), rather than trying to think about things separately.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Deities & Demigods update

last time I listed some tweaks I'd made but hadn't necessarily tried yet. I'll revisit those here, and then explain the further tweaks I've made since the last post.

Let me begin by saying that I really feel like the game is working well and feeling solid. I'm happy with the progress thus far, and thinking back to the original versions, it definitely feels like a much improved game.

Here are the comments I made last time (in blue italics) as well as my comments on each:

* Buildings and artifacts no longer have set collection scoring.
I kinda liked the idea of set collection scoring on buildings and artifacts, like the Exploration cards have in Goa for example. However, it may have been a little out of control (or not), and more importantly, it was annoying to have to count up so many things at the end of the game. The more interesting rewards were the ones that gave you gold, favor tokens, devotion bumps, or advances on the Zeus track. So I just replaced all the set collection icons with those, and added another: 2 Troop movement.

This was a good idea, and last night I took it one step further... with the new icon-on-city-spaces thing (see below), I decided that buildings didn't need to have icons on them. They're strong action or end game scoring bonus is good enough, and you get the icon from the city (so long as you haven't built there before).

Also, removing the icon means I can revisit the balance of Building+Artifact vs Monument for level 4 Hephaestus, which was weighted too strongly in favor o B+A over M.

One player (the immutable T.C. Petty III) suggested that Artifacts were not attractive enough, and removing icons from buildings might help that situation as well.

* Building costs vs incentive to spread out and build in different cities.
Originally, each player was allowed only 1 building per city, so if you wanted to build another building, you had to move to another city before you could do that. There was some bonus for being the first player to build in each city, to give you some incentive to race to build in the cities before anyone else did.

More recently I've tried instead allowing multiple builds in a single city, with the rule being that you pay 1 gold per building already in the city... so if you stay put and build, it'll cost you more and more. Then the incentive to spread out is cheaper building. That was OK, but I wasn't sure I liked it.

My new tweak is this... each city now has 6 spaces for buildings. 5 of them each have one of the standard icons, the ones you find on the building and artifact cards:
- Advance x2 on the Zeus track
- 2 Troop movement
- 1 Gold
- 1 Favor token
- 1 Devotion bump

The 6th space has a better version of one of those:
- 3 Zeus track
- 3 Troop movement
- 2 Gold
- 2 Favor token
- 2 Devotion bump

The idea is that the FIRST time you build a building in a city, you may choose any remaining space to build in and collect the bonus. Any further building you build in that city is placed on top of your first building marker, and earns you no additional bonus. I had intended to also keep the cost of 1 gold for each building already built, but maybe with this tweak that's unnecessary... instead of paying more, you're giving up opportunity cost of getting those bonuses.

There's incentive to spread out so you can collect more bonuses, and there's incentive to act fast as the first player to build in each city has first dibs on the better-than-usual space.

One of those icons will be marked, and when players choose their starting city they will get the marked bonus (which will be the weaker version of whichever powered up bonus is in that town).

This seemed interesting, but I have since tried another version of the idea. Currently each city has a particular icon, and different spaces have a stronger version of it. For example, 3/2/1/1 Gold, 3/2/1/1 Favor, 3/2/1/1 different devotion track bumps... I made this change in hopes that (a) players may care more about which city they go to, and (b) there might be more of a race to build in cities because a 3 icon is much better than a 1 icon. I actually wonder if it should be 4/2/1/1, so that building first feels a lot stronger than building second.

* Virtual Zeus phase in cycle #1.
I was thinking that Zeus was kind of boring in the first cycle or two of the game, so in the last couple of games I have tried starting the game with a Zeus round before drawing any cards. This way Zeus would come up twice in cycle 1, but only once in cycle 2 (unless someone added a Zeus card). I've enjoyed this, but I don't know if it's necessary or not. Especially with the possibility of starting with extra Zeus track advances from your starting city this might not be important anymore.

Yeah, this was an interesting idea, but ultimately unnecessary. I got rid of it. I think more of the Initiative track advances make initiative fights interesting enough.

* Simplifying the board to a simple hex board.
I've always enjoyed the movement rules where you move on the vertices of the hexes rather than from hex to hex. But since I made the Quests and Cities reside inside hexes, that line has blurred. Some players get a little confused by the movement rules. It's possible the troops should just move from hex to hex and NOT reside on the hex nodes after all.

This dramatically reduces the size of the board, but if I similarly reduce the amount of troop movement you get from Ares then everything should still work similarly... so instead if 3/7/11/15 troop movement, you'll only get 1/3/5/8, and instead of costing 2 troop movement to bring a troop from your supply into play, it'll only cost 1. This simplifies Ares a bit, and the lower numbers might make movement turns easier and faster to execute.

This has turned out to be a fine change. One of those "kill your darlings" moments. I had initially imagined a grand, epic scale, and moving around the nodes makes the board much larger... but in effect this is the same thing, and it's much simpler to describe and perform the actions.

Some other issues that have arisen are mostly to do with game balance  and the values of certain things such as the favor of the deities (scoring for the cards in your display). I've iterated through several versions of those. The current version is as follows, which makes the deities basically worth 1-4vp. In a couple cases if you go extreme you can get a little more out of them, but if you do then you'll be sacrificing in other scoring areas, so that's probably OK:

Zeus: 2vp per other unique deity
  ...encouraging you to get multiple different deities. This might ought to be just "per unique deity"
Hermes: 1vp for each level of devotion (cube level)
  ...encouraging you to save up devotion to Hermes, because hoarding cash wasn't really working right.
Ares: 1vp for each devotion track with increased minimum
  ...encouraging you to not only get min bumps, but to spread them out. Indirectly this rewards questing, because that's where a lot of min bumps come from.
Hephaestus: 2vp for each city where you have 2+ building markers
  ...encouraging you to build, but without necessarily moving a lot.

Another main thing I did (haven't tried it yet) was to add a cost to increasing minimum devotion. Bumping up the minimums is strong -- and I want it to be. But a double bump is proving to be VERY strong, potentially too strong. I had a few ideas to combat this, and the simplest to try is adding a cost to it. Your 1st, 2nd, and 3rd min bump on any devotion track will cost you 1, 2, and 3 Favor tokens. This means you lose a few points for specializing in a deity and taking advantage of the power that entails, and furthermore it may not be trivial to GET the favor tokens, thus increasing the demand for things that provide them (some of the artifacts for example).

I added a Favor token to the Monuments, mostly to make them compare better to Building + Artifact, but as a happy accident it means if you build a monument, you'll have a favor token to spend on the min devotion bump.

This might be awkward, and lead to things like a player doing a quest and not getting the min bump reward because he doesn't have enough tokens, but maybe that's OK. And if this cost turns out to be too high, I could try 0/1/2 tokens instead.

Other potential schemes to combat this dynamic (in case the cost doesn't pan out):
* Only allow 1 min bump per track total (I don't like this because there are plenty of min bumps to go around, and I feel like everyone will just "specialize" in everything)
* Increase the length of the tracks (to 5, probably). this might mean also changing the cost for showing devotion to 0/1/3/6 for 1/2/3/4 bumps, which could be OK, but I might miss the tension of being broke and therefore having to resolve a deity prematurely because you managed gold poorly. Maybe that's OK though, you'd still have the "increase devotion or cash it in" decision, which is the meat of the game.

The other main thing I've been concerned about is duration. Currently the game feels fine when it lasts 4 or 5 cycles, but if it goes on to 6 cycles, I feel like it's dragging and overstaying its welcome. So I need some way to ensure it ends after 5 cycles, but arbitrarily doing so is lame. I'm going to try ending after 5 cycles at most, and the game could end early if the triggers occur, and I've got some ideas to spice that up a bit perhaps, which involve re-introducing Hera as a sort of game timer.

Related, I'd like to see control of cities play a bigger role in the midgame, which could come into play via this Hera scheme. I've got a few ideas of how to implement her rolling around, and I'll let you know which I decide sounds best, or which I end up trying out.

That's about it for now. Looking forward to trying the game again!

Friday, July 15, 2016

Quick AMA on Reddit! Yokohama Deluxe and other stuff...

I'll be on Reddit for an AMA between now and 11:00am MST.

Yokohama is blowing up on Kickstarter, but it ends tonight! If you've got questions about that game or anything else, come ask them on Reddit!