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Air Capital of the World

Hello everyone!

I’m Kyle, from Wichita, Kansas. For those of you who don’t know, Wichita has the nickname of “Air Capital of the World”. This is because, almost a century ago, the aircraft manufacturing industry really “took off” here. It is still going strong to this day and employs thousands of people either directly at aircraft manufacturers or in one of the countless suppliers of parts, components, nuts/bolts, tools, etc. Years ago, I had tried to design some games at home, but a combination of life events and ADHD made me shelve those attempts. Now I am back with a vengeance thanks to a theme that is personal to me, sharing an industry that is under-utilized in gaming and important to my hometown.

In Air Capital of the World, players take on the role of industrious and ambitious aircraft manufacturers trying to capitalize on a lucrative and exciting industry – small aircraft production. From sporting planes (airplane racing used to be a big thing), to private pilots, to company jets, to military contracts, small planes have had a lasting effect on the world – thanks in no small part to people like Clyde Cessna, Walter & Olive Ann Beech, and Lloyd Stearman. Players ultimately have a goal to have the most victory points and money at the end of the game, and they do this by marketing, developing talent to increase product quality, innovating on their designs, investing in capital by purchasing new buildings/businesses, certifying their aircraft and of course producing aircraft to sell to the general public or fulfill contracts they have signed.

I want three things from this design: a meaty game with lots of options but relatively quick turns; a “cascading rewards” system where actions get better as you perform them; and a general sense, if a little abstracted, of what the aircraft manufacturing industry is like. First, I started with figuring out what the actions would be, and how the game would flow. I had some sort of production line set up idea, where you would start by purchasing raw materials that you have to turn into parts, which then become a plane, which is then tested, and then sold. Each of these would be a separate action, but you could make capital investments to speed things up. You could buy a raw materials supplier to cut out that step, manufacturing equipment to create parts, hire pilots and inspectors to speed along that part of the process, etc.

I hated it.

It was so boring, so dry, so repetitive, and ultimately resulted in the same thing every time. Sure, I might buy the raw materials factory, and another player may hire a pilot and inspector, but all that happened is we both spent some money to cut out one step. Even though they were different steps, in the end it was the same effect – instead of 5 steps to go from procurement to selling a plane, we both were down to 4 steps. Who cares?

I shelved this idea for a while, until a few months ago. I visited a local museum (Kansas Air Museum) and part way through nervously brought up to my wife that I had a design idea a while back about the aircraft industry of Wichita. I said I had a general idea of how I want it to feel, and a name, and that’s it. As I was about to say the name, she already knew it. Anyone from Wichita would recognize this as a tribute to our city, and the amazing people who work in this industry, and I realized if I want to do this, I must really take it seriously…

Next time – don’t be afraid to become a cannibal.


I read this thread and ... I had some ideas I'd like to SHARE

#1: Most of the airplane antics that I know are related to "showmanship".

What do I mean? Well I'm talking about daredevil flying to the applause of the audience on the ground watching the planes do all kind of "tricks". Why is this important???

#2: Because if you want to celebrate airplane development and manufacturing, it doesn't mean that that ASPECT needs to be the "core" of the game.

So while your knowledge of building planes can be helpful... It's hurting the more CREATIVE side of the game. Now while you don't want to go into war or sky battles... Maybe simulation can help. Like touch-football.

#3: Celebrate not FOCUS on manufacturing.

Take a game like Scythe which has miniatures for mechs. For the most part the game is NOT about fighting the opponent. It's about OPTIMAL MOVES each turn. Yes towards the end of a game there may be more confrontation and skirmishes... but for the most part that is NOT the focus of the game.

#4: Secret objectives ... That Alien-inspired Airplane.

The other thing is that each player could have some kind of SECRET build objective(s). I'm not 100% sure about this... My knowledge of planes is basic and I flunked a Statics Engineering course which doesn't make me the greatest person to PLAN for construction.

#5: You need to find something of greater importance and "the whole manufacturing" aspect be a sub-component of the greater game IMHO.

Real life doesn't make great games. Why are there so many "Medieval Merchants", "Pirate", "Zombies", "Fantasy Races", "Fantasy Plots", "Super Heroes", etc. GAMES??? Because reality doesn't make for great games.

#6: Formula D: Check out that car RACING game.

I don't know of a better source of inspiration than that game. It's a RACING game with different boards/tracks. Your BUILD/MANUFACTURING needs to be like 5% of the game (like the pit stop in Formula 1). The rest could be an AIR SHOW and SPEED, DANGEROUS FLYING, TRICKS and such could be the 90% of the game!

When I read your post, that's what came to mind: Formula D.

Here the BGG Link/URL:

Just some thoughts... Because you've already figured out that the GAME of the building is not FUN. Focus on what is FUN ... Flying, Tricks, Danger, Dogfights, Simulations, etc.

The Wright Brothers

Celebrate the "Wright Brothers" an the EARLY times of Avionics. Maybe making all kinds of prototypes from different parts and seeing how successful you would be at taking the air.

Given ALL your KNOWLEDGE... Go BACK to the PAST... And device things that DON'T work and put it all together...

That could be cool IMHO!

Note #1: Since you already know HOW to build planes... Make up things (Fantasy) of component of PRE-FLIGHT ERA and how you assemble the TOGETHER. I can't explain further because I don't have sufficient knowledge of the subject matter. But knowing how to build, should help you in thinking up things that DID NOT WORK! Could be fun to play... All these CRAZY contraptions built up with all kinds a parts (From your Hand of cards)...

Another example

Picture a board with different AREAS: Commercial Flights, Private Jets, Area 51, Military Base (that's all I got for now)... And picture YOU are the Engineer that needs to work on manufacturing various CRAFTS for the designated AREAS. You can have Engineers (your meeples) that have different STATS (Creativity, Mathematics, etc.) like Fantasy Characters but make them REAL-WORLD. Your engineer starts off with limited amount of stats and GROWS as the game progresses.

Don't ask me what the GOAL of this game is... IDK. Right now it's a question of completing CONTRACTS in different areas of the game.

That too could be fun and maybe a little bit more IN-LINE with your EARLIER CONCEPT. Best!

Note #1: Perhaps you have a TEAM instead of only one Engineer. Like a Designer, Engineer and Test Pilot. Each of them have a variety of STATS which mean one is more appropriate in various phases of the production of the aircrafts.

And it can take time to move from one phase to another (some kind of missions but instead they are REAL-WORLD Tasks that need to be performed -- assuming some kind of dice rolling and matching...)

Things like that... Cheers.

Other AREAS could be like...

The University: A place where "Designers" can study and boost their knowledge (think STATS).

The Factory: A place where "Engineers" can tweak their craft and experience (think STATS).

The Simulator: A place where "Test Pilots" can tweak their abilities and reactions (Think STATS).

Those could be other location on the board that ALLOW for "Training" of the various Meeples a player controls (In my version there are "3": Designer, Engineer and Test Pilot). I think this kind of game could be FUN ... Given that you have a Military Base and AREA 51 ... Some secret missions with all kinds of Sci-Fi would come into play ...

Very cool! Again feel free to use, adapt or ignore these ideas if they do/don't work for you! Sincerely.

Use of COLORS for different areas

Think if the BOARD was a MAP of the USA (excluding Hawaii and Alaska). Each location could has one or more of the "areas":

A University (for R&D), a Factory (for Production) and a Simulator (for Testing).

Each of those locations has COLORS:

White : Commercial Airlines
Blue : Small Planes
Red : Private Jets
Green : Military Projects
Black : Secret Lab

You draw a CONTRACT card which indicates the COLOR of the Contract and your Meeple (Designer, Engineer or Test-Pilot) determines the nature of the location you must travel to.

The locations on the MAP are interconnected like "Pandemic" (that's the best way I could describe it...) Interconnection like NODES.

When you travel to a location and complete a "mission/task" with a Meeple, you put down a CUBE of your COLOR to indicate that this location for that Meeple is DONE (Closed ... Contract Fulfilled). You keep the card which has a monetary value for end-game scoring.

That's what I got for now... Maybe this will give you some INSPIRATION. Don't give up on your DESIGN... Try to re-purpose it... Feel free to explore these ideas further! Best.

Note #1: End-goal can be complete "x" amount of mission for each type. That could be designated by the STAT cards from each Meeple (per player). Like "Victor Sanders", an Engineer, requires "8" successful Contracts to be completed.

First player to satisfy ALL THREE (3) Meeples/Member of you team WINS the game.

At the beginning of the game, player each draw one (1) Designer, Engineer and Test-Pilot cards with some default stats and WIN condition.

See it's not hard figuring out Victory Conditions! Again just some inspiration to help you along and give you other ideas that are DIFFERENT from your current design ... To see how you can take it into a different direction...

Fresh ideas sometimes spark NEW ideas (of your own) ... And you can borrow from my ideas the concepts you like and ignore whatever is not for you!

Cheers mate.

Action points

You could have ? Action points per turn (3 or 5 -- maybe) and allows you to MOVE and/or perform a CONTRACT (once you've reached a designed location with the matching COLOR and MEEPLE (Character).

I know you're from the "Air Capital of the World"... But it doesn't NEED to solely focus on that state (Kansas) ... You can make special board precision like Wichita, Kansas has a University, Factory AND Simulator for "Commercial" purposes (White)...

Other cities may only have 1 or 2 of those locations while Wichita has all 3!

Something minor but highlights the city/county and give homage to that location.

Anyhow... Just adding some more ideas for you to review and ponder. Again feel free to use, adapt or ignore these ideas if they do/don't work for you!

Note #1: And BTW HOW(?) you design the missions/contracts is entirely up to you. Are the multiple steps (some) or do they rely on a bit of LUCK (too!) That's one aspect for your engineering background to figure out what works (and the kind of steps you can imagine or use).

kylemartin wrote:
... I had some sort of production line set up idea, where you would start by purchasing raw materials that you have to turn into parts, which then become a plane, which is then tested, and then sold...

This could be some of your more STATIC missions/CONTRACTS ... break down into several parts: like one could be like: "Pick-up Titanium from San Diego California for the Factory in Wichita Kansas (Engineer)." So in this case it would be a 2-Step CONTRACT: Go to San Diego and then proceed to Wichita Kansas with the Engineer Character...

first in flight

There is a new game called First in Flight which is about the early pioneering days of aviation - could be worth a look to see what other are doing in this theme.

I was imagining this would be more of an engine building game like Terraforming Mars, where the drafting phase offers different players with different choices, so they end up with different strengths and weaknesses. This could be used to create a trading element to the game, with a player who needs a certain part that only another player can manufacture.

I like the idea of having contracts for different aircraft, which again means players have different options for achieving the end goal of the game so everyone is playing a little differently.

I also thought of Galaxy Trucker with the distinct phases of building the spaceship and then trucking around in it completing missions. There could be that element to this game to give it more variety and fun, provided the building phase wasn't already very heavy.

For me personally, I'm interested in engineering and would like to see all the parts and what's involved in making a plane, but others may want less of that or want it simplified. It would be worth doing some playtesting or questionairres with random people to see how much complexity they enjoy and what overwhelms them.

worker placement seems right

It deffinitly seems like a worker placement type of game. You need a stabilizer? I'm already there, you'll have to wait till next round.

For the game to be exciting you need a goal that's difficult to reach. Once you have a goal and end condition, see how many people reach it. It's your game, you can reduce the number of rounds, or increase how many planes need to be built.
If there's a "shortcut" to build a plane faster, there should be a high chance it fails and sets you back. This gives a sense of strategy, and a joyful experience when it pays off.
For people learning as they play, Wingspan nailed it. Different goals made you pay attention to different information. So you don't learn everything this game, but you learned about the different styles of engines. Next game you might learn about different cockpits?
But I deffinitly like QuestCCG's idea of adding a bit of fantasy. Hiring a goblin engineer to build a U.F.O. seems the opposite of what you want, but it's fun to think about.

Another workerplacement game that might help is Viticulture.

People do like to build things (Sim City), don't give up, and don't be afraid to "aim for the stars" !!


To be fair, I didn't propose Goblin Engineers... I suggested having Characters with "Real-World" stats that correspond to the needs of the mission/contracts.

I was just stating that most games are less "Real-World" and more fantasy...

That's not to say games like Power Grid, Viticulture, Pandemic, and so forth... Are not FUN games. Like @Craeneium suggest having some kind of GRIND in a board game is usually necessary, the key is to make that GRIND less BORING and make it more FUN to "complete" tasks.

And having multiple paths to Victory increases the likely-hood of being replayed. Not everyone needs to be doing the same thing (That's what I believe Kenny was suggesting). And that could be true too... But it's more complex to design and balance such that one strategy doesn't dominate the game.

I think that's what you ran into your attempt: too linear, no worker placement it was a bit procedural. You basically suggested the OPPOSITE of what could make the game FUN: have a quick way to stock up on RAW materials and speed the game along.

I think it should be the opposite: the RAW materials are costly and rare and must be gathered from specific locations, etc. That makes for a kind of GRIND and is not necessarily BAD ... It gives players something to DO... And if you vary it (like contracts), that could make for a FUN game.

I personally think you were headed in the WRONG direction, that's why I posted some gaming ideas. Just to get you re-wired and thinking about how can you make YOUR game better, even if it did NOT work out initially as planned.

TBH, TradeWorlds started off as a design completely written in a notebook with a TON of ideas while I was stuck in the Hospital... Something like 30 days. The point being that all the notes that I had written and thought they all sounded AMAZING (that's the thing with IDEAS... They all sound amazing until you actually TRY them and then you realize that the game needs more WORK) but actually did not work. Sure all those notes and time & effort I put in while being ill did pan out and ... resulted in TradeWorlds.

So don't be discouraged if your FIRST or SECOND TRY don't meet your expectations... You're learning what is GOOD, BAD and GREAT! Take that knowledge and apply it to YOUR design and I'm sure you'll find good ways of making up things to do for your gamers!


Note #1: And I usually don't talk BAD about any games... But there is ONE (1) that I TOTALLY despise because of the GRIND and multiple paths to victory: Lorenzo Il Magnifico.

I watched the game being played and immediately decided that I was HAPPY that I was NOT playing only watching ... Because the game was too boring IMO. But take a look at this game... You're probably wondering WHY(?) I initially suggested "Formula D", in that example, I was more exploring the dynamics of trick flying and things like the Snowbirds (in Canada):

Anyhow maybe with a more DYNAMIC kind of "board"??? Where "Formula D" has a preset board, a flight aerobatics and racing could involved things like dynamic flight paths to follow and such...

Again not a pro in flying-related information... But gives you a couple of avenues to explore.


Everyone knows that the GNOMES make for better ENGINEERS!!! SHEESH... Get your FACTS straight! (ROFLMAO) Just kidding... Goblins work too... Just you need to prod them to work as they most of the time drift into dreaming about capturing Fairy Princesses or Elven Druidesses... Hehehe!

Cheers all.

Thanks for all the interaction!

I appreciate all the comments, and will slowly go through and address them over time - I was not expecting this level of response this quickly!

I am new to this forum, so maybe I made a mistake, but this is the first of several journal entries I have planned as the project has progressed. My hope is that by having a few things lined up, I will use the buffer time to get more done, and that constant deadline will help push me along. :)

That said, I do like what has been suggested, but soon I'll post what move I went with. As for the theme, there are several successful games focused on manufacturing/industry like Kanban, Barrage, and Furnace. There are also lots of games focused on one city. I think this theme is the best match for making a game focused on Wichita. And, I definitely have no intention at this time to go into a non-real world setting.

Also, Lorenzo Il Magnifico is a GREAT game! :)

Wingspan like game/engine builders to look at.

Well better late than never I suppose. I think that these theme a design goal would lend itself to a design that is similar to Wingspan or at least starts that way. They would both be about thing that fly :). But a little more seriously, like Wingspan there would be a tableau for each player with four or possibly five options : Build/recruit (instead of play a bird), buy materials (instead off take food), Build a planes (instead of lay eggs), and acquire contracts ( instead of draw cards). Then the fifth action would be to sell the planes. Though selling could be a free action or maybe combined with one of the other actions. Also like Wingspan as a players build/recruit into an action area that action is improved, both in a standardized way and in a way that is specific to how you built your company (based on the cards the player has built/recruited).

If you want to go through the complete history of flight, you could break things into ages like seven wonders. The only catch is that once your play area is full for an action, to build a new thing you have remove the thing that is already there.

Here are some games with engine builders components that I think are worth taking a look at for inspiration to implement acascading system of rewards:

Wingspan (obviously)


Scythe, Terra mystica, Gaia project. (These all allow players to move pieces onto and off of the tabluea to improve and sometimes unimprove actions)

Glory to Rome. (This game is basically a race to be the first one to get a ridiculous engine running and overwhelm the other players)

Feel free to disregard use or improve upon. Good luck with your game.

Some thoughts on "Air Capital of the World"

I'm a fan of aviation (just checked out Jane's Aircraft Recognition Guide from my library ;-) and find this idea of a game of competing small aircraft producers intriguing. A few thoughts:

  1. Even if the game focuses on manufacturers in/around Wichita or more broadly Kansas, I would not emphasize that in the game design just because it seems unlikely many players would care about that. Unless something inticing can change that ... a map of where the plants are located as a game board? An explanation of why the location really matters to the game?
  2. If you do focus the game on Wichita/Kansas, could you get some development funding from the local/state government?
  3. You might add more suspense to the game by introducing external events (I'm thinking "event cards" a la Monopoly or something along those lines) that affect the entire business, or one of the competing firms, like:
    • A plane manufactured by your company has crashed and the FAA has ordered an investigation, during which your production of that model must stop. This will cost you $NN/week.
    • An approaching tornado/storm will bring all test flights and aircraft deliveries in the area (if indeed all are in one region) to a halt. Therefore, all players now must ...
    • The federal government offers grants to promote the development of electric small aircraft engines. However, you have no spare production capacity, and still a contract for 100 internal combustion engines to be delivered. Your options now include ... with the following costs...
    That sort of thing.
  4. Will you ground the game in a specific time period, like the present or the 1950s or whenever the Wichita aircraft industry was at its peak or ...? Somehow it seems to me that players like to identify a specific period in non-abstract games, and that could also affect the overall design (e.g., "mid-century" look or not.)
  5. Are you planning on having cards or whatever depicting specific aircraft models (which I think would be important to get into this game! ;-) that these manufacturers produce? If so, can you use actual ones (Cessna Skywagon, Beechcraft Bonanza, etc.) without extensive rights negotiations (or maybe those will be worth it?), or will you have to make up model designs and names that resemble them?

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