Building Abbottsville: Less Puma, More Cowbell

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Abbottsville Village Alarm - Prototype, July 2014Taking Abbottsville with me to Protospiel-Michigan was another example of why I really, really enjoy these sorts of designer get-togethers. You get a lot of smart people around a table to look at your game in a spirit of creative improvement … and the results of those moments have always made my games better.

Thanks to those that played the game and gave great feedback, I now have some really good take-aways on Abbottsville:

  1. The game needs to get wider and deeper … more narrative (“more cowbell”) about the people and the village, a wider array of things for players to be after, more asymmetry between players’ objectives (quick aside: a nice article about asymmetry by Grant at Hyperbole games) … make it less about “go out and gather resources” and more about proving yourself as a village leader.
  2. Abbottsville People Card Example for Doco, May 2014 Have the character cards drive that narrative and have the narrative drive the scoring. In other words: remove the generic “reward card” scoring and go with a more specific “complete mission X to score Y points.” (A special thanks to Gravwell designer, Corey Young, for spending some 1-on-1 time to discuss possible options here.)
  3. Having the predators all descending on the village isn’t as fun of a game element as having them wandering the map and interfering directly with other players. (“less puma”)
  4. Have the map spread out more and give a larger array of different types of tiles.

Abbottsville, Center Starting TilesThese are some bigger things to work through and will change the feel and flow of the game quite a bit, while still retaining it’s original core — adventures around an 1800s village on the American prairie. At this point, I’m letting the design sit for a bit so that the ideas can percolate.

So, here’s a feedback request for you: What sort of things would you expect to run into or want to go find while exploring the wilderness around a village in this “old west, but not too far west” type of setting?

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