My Game Design Duct Tape: Multi-Use Cards

Examples of multi-use cardsWhile I try to do something different in each game I design, and I try to let the theme of the game drive what mechanisms are used, I do have some common tendencies … and most obvious of them is my love of multi-use cards.

As a player, I love to have options, flexibility, room for creativity to use whatever my current resources are. The ability to combine things or otherwise have a choice in what a specific card is used for gives the strategy-crunching part of my brain a lot of enjoyment.

As a designer, I love the way multi-use cards can expand a design without much, if any, increase in number of components. There’s usually a bit more math and/or spreadsheet work that’s needed to make everything come together right … but that’s a trade-off I’ll take most times. Continue reading

Magistrate: Swords Into Plowshares?

Magistrate: Swords Into Plowshares?One of the good things that pushing out the KS project for “Days of Discovery” does is to give me a chance for a breather, in which I can spend a little time on some of my other designs. For some odd reason, I always feel better about my creative work when I have multiple projects spinning at once.

Recently, I had an idea about my bigger strategy game, Magistrate, that made me pause and really re-evaluate a couple of things. At first, it seemed like a giant change. But, after thinking through it a bit, I think it’s actually a natural shift in what I’m trying to accomplish.

Magistrate during playtest at Protospiel-Milwaukee, Spring 2015The idea is this: What if I removed the “Militia” third of the game … and changed it to something more in-line with the rest of the them — like Farmers?

The various battle systems I’ve gone through over the many, many years I’ve been working on this one have never really worked the way I want. I had started to come up with a new “push other people around” variant approach, instead of having actual military battles … but that didn’t really hit the spot either. So, what if instead of fighting, we work the land in order to generate resources? Hmmm … I think I’ll have to spend some time on this new idea! 🙂

Getting this Train Rolling Again

"Steam Train on Watercress Line" by Jenny GillelandSo, it’s been a couple of months of downtime on the games front for me.

Part of the time off had to do with the start of the school year and needing to focus on what my kids were up to, along with organizing the teaching program I run at church. Part had to do with a severe lack of motivation following Protospiel-Michigan in July, and not being able to attend any of the cool up-coming events this fall (GenCon, Gaming Weekend at the Geek Compound, Protospiel-Madison, BGG.Con, etc.). And a strong part of it had to with the weird, bio-rhythmic nature of my creative process (expect a blog write-up on this soon).

Those last 2 items are kind of related. So is my need — apparently — to do an annual pruning process in order to re-focus my game design time. I nearly always have too many creative project irons in the fire, and I have to pause here and there to do a mental reset to gain some perspective. So, on to how I am getting the train rolling again … Continue reading

Heading to Protospiel-Michigan this Weekend

Map to Protospiel, Chelsea, Michigan, July 2014Tomorrow, I leave for a pretty exciting game design related road trip. I’ll be picking up Jeff King (from All Us Geeks), Jason Glover (from Grey Gnome games), and David Sheppard (known to most as Sheppy) along the way. We’re headed to this year’s Michigan Protospiel event, where indie designers get together to test prototypes of their games with each other. While it’s always great to get games tested by a wide mix of players, getting them tested by other designers can yield espresso-like shots of great feedback you can’t get anywhere else.

King of Danger, TGC Version, Card Examples - March 2014I will be focused on testing my two Land of Danger card games — King of Danger and Danger at the Walls — along with my tile-laying, pick-up-and-deliver game set on the 1800s prairies, Abbottsville. I will also bring Magistrate along for continued testing as well.

Abbottsville, Early Playtest at Paul's Cabin, May 2014Another exciting development will be that Jeff Large from Happy Mitten Games will be there, testing my game, Aether Magic, which they will be publishing later this year. Can’t wait to watch that one being tested by Jeff and the designers there. A few of them may have played it in Milwaukee during the March 2013 Protospiel when it was still called “For Goods and Honor” … it’s undergone quite a thematic change, but the main social and production mechanics are still there.

I will try to send out tweets while the roadtrip is taking place, and throughout the weekend. So, follow me on Twitter to see how that bit of chaos works out! 😉

Back on the Table: Magistrate & Thunder Run to Gratis-3

Magistrate, Evidence Cube ExamplesAs I look forward to the Protospiel event in Michigan at the end of July, it’s time to get a couple of my other games back on the table to make them ready. Namely: Magistrate and Thunder Run to Gratis-3. For the most part, Magistrate just needs to get the doco finished and a little more polish … but Thunder Run needs a bit more work. That one (and Danger at the Walls) will be getting the majority of my attention over the next few weeks.

More specifically …  Continue reading

2013 Reflections and a Holiday Pause

Merry Christmas 2013 from Matt Worden Games

It’s time for me to put the game operations on pause until after the New Year. I’ll likely still be on Twitter and Facebook during the next couple of weeks, but I don’t plan on doing much with moving my game designs forward, or posting about things until we’re into 2014.

So, it seems like a perfect time to look back at the fun and excitement that’s been had over the past year, and to mention a few things that I see coming up in the near future.

Let’s start with a walk through the 2013 calendar. Continue reading

Magistrate – The Economy: Cards, Cubes and Actions

Magistrate: Cards, Cubes and ActionsAs mentioned in the original introduction post, the main economy of Magistrate is: cards » cubes » actions » VPs. This post will get into more detail on this, such as: How do you get cards? How do they get converted into cubes? How are the cubes spent on actions, and how do those lead to VPs? How do the various areas (people/military/agents) have an impact on a player’s economy?

Let’s work through these aspects step-by-step …  Continue reading

Magistrate – Introduction: Paranoia, Power, People, Armies and Agents

Magistrate, Updated Main Board, November 2013I spent a little time looking back at all of the computer files — rules, graphics, spreadsheets, notes and change plans, etc. — that I’ve collected over the years for this game.

Magistrate started in 2005! It was initially called Uncivil back then, and the backstory was a bit different. The design bogged down and I put it on the shelf for a bit. It reappeared in 2009, as Show of Power, but then bogged down again and was sent back to its shelf. Then, in 2012, shortly before Con of the North was being held, I got the design back out, renamed it Magistrate, and have been working on it actively ever since.

In fact, I did a little collection of the various main game board designs it’s gone through over the years (click for bigger version):

A Graphic History of Magistrate's Main Game Board Designs, 2006-2013

But, I don’t want to spend any more of this post talking about the game’s development history. I want to just talk about what it is now … Continue reading

Magistrate: The Grand Overview

Magistrate Title BlockI’ve been working on Magistrate for a number of years. Now that it is really coming together, I think it’s time for me to give a grand, step-by-step overview of the game. I will write it over a series of posts, linking each one here as it gets published to the site, and leaving this one pinned to the top of the main page until they are all done:

1. Introduction: Paranoia, Power, People, Armies and Agents2. Influence and Scoring: Judges, Evidence and VPs3. The Economy: Cards, Cubes and Actions … 4. The People: Production & Popularity … 5. The Military: Forts & Fights … 6. The Agents: Obfuscation & Operations … 7. Conclusion: Interactions & Strategies