The current game design contest over at TheGameCrafter.com has a bit bigger requirements than their previous contests. It’s being hosted by publisher The Flux Capacity, who are looking for a new game to add to their catalog. The requirements are for a game that can handle 2 to 6 players, runs 60-90 minutes (for sure under 2 hours), and has a well-integrated theme.
And I have a new design that I plan to enter into the contest, that I’m calling Abbottsville. I’m a little sheepish about doing this ahead of time again. Last time I did this — with Thunder Run to Gratis-3 — I didn’t understand all of the contest rules and had to scramble at the end to get things ready … and I simply missed the deadline. I don’t think that’ll happen this time.
So, here are the high-level details on this one …
Background: In the mid-1800s, William Taylor Abbott (simply called “Abbott” by those that knew him) and his wife, Helen, headed west away from the civilization of the original states to found their own village out on the prairie. You are one of a few dozen people that went along on the adventure and helped to get things setup in the new village, named Abbottsville. With the young village established, Abbott has asked you to take a small party of people out into the wilds around Abbottsville, explore and map the countryside, and return with needed resources, such as water, stone and food.
Mechanical Overview: This game will include tile-laying, custom dice, changing market values on the 3 commodities, unique character cards, unique item cards, and three different ways to score points. It’s one of the bigger designs I’ve worked on … not quite as big as Magistrate, but then again I don’t want to spend 9 years on this one. 😉
Tiles: There will be custom hex tiles that are chosen and placed by the players. This process of exploring is one way to score points. The points possible will encourage players to put less desirable things on the map, while the more desirable things will allow you to do more in the other areas of the game … so, some interesting decisions there, hopefully. The game will always start with the main Abbottsville tile in the middle, surrounded by some stockade fencing tiles (as shown by the picture on the top-left of this post). Then players will have a choice from 3 different tile stacks what to add on from there (click the picture to the right to see different types of tiles).
There will be a lot of empty grassland, and also tiles with water, stone and food available for gathering. There will also be a medicine hut and a trade caravan, which will add some cool features to the game as well. Some of the tiles have a mountain lion in one corner … these add an element of risk to the game.
Dice: There will be custom dice used for gathering resources and to check for attacks by predators (those previously-mentioned mountain lions) and your defense against them. Some of the map tiles will add to your ability to gather resources and/or increase your chance of being attacked.
Market Values: There will be a sort of market value system (that I’m still trying to button down) for the 3 resources that you will be able to gather, which is the second way to score points. The main concept is that getting your set of resources back to the village before the other players will make it more likely that you’ll score more points for them, and that a resources value will decrease faster if it is a popular delivery.
Characters Cards: I have never done a game with custom character cards in it before. So, this will definitely be an area that I will need to tweak and balance as I test this game. While each player starts with the same exact setup (the “yellow” card in the pic to the left), they will be able to add people to their party throughout the game. Each character adds some sort of resource-gathering and/or defense capabilities, and some add special abilities as well. Each of them has their own background story.
Item Cards: In addition to adding people to your party, you will also be able to find and carry special Item cards. These can be carried face-down, but in order to use their special abilities, you’ll need to reveal them to all of the other players. These cards are given as rewards at Abbottsville and by dealing with the Trade Caravan tile on the map. These are the third way to get points, by turning them in while at the village. They have different point values based on whether you had shown them or kept them hidden.
Getting It Done: Probably the most difficult restriction in the contest rules is to keep the cost of the game — as priced out by TGC’s fulfillment service — under $40. I’m making use of a lot of different components, and a couple of them run a little bit pricey. But I think I’ll be able to sneak this one in at around $38-and-change if I can keep the rules booklet to a reasonable number of pages.
I have most of the graphics done. At this point, I just need to finish off a couple of the game boards (“mats” in TGC lingo) and get a prototype ordered. I just noticed that TGC’s backlog order queue has gotten huge, and they are currently quoting 20-some days for a new order to be delivered. So, I will need to hand-craft a prototype to test with in the meantime.
I’ll let you know how that goes.