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

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

Move the Chains: A Wider Range of Possible Results

Move the Chains, Play Card Example, New 4x5 Design, Dec 2013One of the interesting things that results from working up a full physical prototype of a game is that you’re able to see how things fit together across the whole game. It also forces you to work out the details across the full range of the game as well.

From my first serious design steps with Move the Chains!, I wondered if having only 9 possible results (3 different defensive “stances” x 3 different random result icons) for each play would be enough. After I did the mock-up of all the play cards, I confirmed that it would NOT be enough possible results. It just wouldn’t allow for having what should realistically occur most of the time be the result that comes up most of the time, while still allowing for some stronger positive and negative results as well.

So, I will be expanding the range of possible results by making 2 changes. You can see my first mock-up of how that might look in the pic to the upper-left. (Click it to see a bigger version.)

First, instead of just 3 different random results icons, I will now have 5: Double Shield (super good for the defense) – 11%, Single Shield – 22%, Equals – 33%, Single Football – 22%, and Double Football (super good for the offense) – 11%. This will give an even nicer bell-curve-like distribution of this aspect.

Second, I tested and scrapped the idea around having the defensive player pick which type of offensive play they wanted to be “strong” and “weak” against … it was overly fiddly, and kind of lame. It also didn’t take into effect the reality how different types of defenses will give different risks and strengths against different types of offensive plays.  So, I am now replacing that system with having the defensive player select one of four different types of defense: Base, Run Stop, Short Zone, and Deep Zone.

The bottom of each play card will show a type of defense, and the defender will play a card from their hand against each offensive play. This will give the added benefits of cycling through your deck faster, and give an extra layer of depth around which cards you will draft to hone your deck as the game progresses.

I’m still working this out, but I like where it’s going.

Move the Chains: The Powerful Potential of Player Cards

Move the Chains - Player Card - BackAfter a couple of posts (intro and gameplay detail) about my card based football game, Move the Chains, I have yet to give any description of what the “Player Cards” are supposed to be used for.

At this point, the game includes 18 of them, and they will become part of the players’ decks and used through the game to modify results.  They are also completely blank at this point … because I’m not sure exactly what I’m going to put on them.  I first need to test the way the plays work normally, without any modification, before I’ll be able to tell exactly what sort of modification will work right to add just enough spice to the game without overpowering it.  I also need to work out how the cards get into the decks.  Like the play cards, I’m assuming a little bit of dealing/drafting during setup, followed by some drafting-and-building during the game.

Here are a few things I expect to have them do … Continue reading

Move the Chains: Offensive Plays, Results and Realism

Move the Chains - Offensive Play Card, Heavy FormationAfter introducing “Move the Chains!” yesterday, I thought I would take a deeper dive on the way that plays are carried out.  This will lead into how the Clock/Results deck works and, ultimately, how to make all of this realistic.

I look at the realism thing in two different ways: (1) Does it *feel* realistic (or “about right”) to the players while they play? And (2) Does it produce actual realistic results, whether it feels right or not?  Also, how much will realism need to be sacrificed in order to make a smoothly-playing game of a good length that is exciting and fun for the players?  I see this as the main issue to deal with during the design cycle on this project, as I’ll detail below.

A little background info first … Each player will have a deck of offensive play cards. The player currently on offense will have this deck distributed between their hand (5-7 cards), cards used to mark progress on the current drive, a discard pile of cards already used in the drive , and a draw deck.  A typical play will go like this … Continue reading

Move the Chains: A Football Card Game

First Down MarkerI love football. American football. (I also really like soccer … but they are two completely different animals and really should never be compared. It would be like comparing water polo and volleyball.)

For years I’ve toyed with a couple of different sports-based tabletop games. I even brought a card-based football game called “Fistful of Football” with me to Protospiel in Ann Arbor back in 2009 … it wasn’t a very good game and was shelved as soon as I returned home.  But it sat there in the back of my mind, teasing me with different ways to make it work.

Eventually, I just started over from scratch, with the following goals:

  • *Just* use cards … no board or pawns/markers or other typical football game pieces.
  • Focus on the “chess match” of the two coaches trying to figure out which type of play to use and how to best use their players’ strengths.
  • The coaches should be able to build-up/hone/tune their playbooks as the game went on.
  • Keep the game at a “fantasy football” type level, instead of tracking ability ratings, stats, and other lower-level details.

So, here is what I’ve come up with so far … Continue reading