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An unnamed board game

6 replies [Last post]
Joined: 03/09/2010

Hi everyone! This is my first post and I just wanted to talk about a board game I designed around last Thanksgiving. I've shared it with family and a few friends and the design seems solid but it just needs a little more oomph.
I have no artwork (as I am not an artist) but I do have the basic game rules down.
Each player begins with one of seven islands on the board. Each island produces a "color" of good. The object of the game is to advance your island down a "building tree". At each level, you can only select one of the two buildings for a given island. The buildings are as follows:
Initial island (Level 1) advances to Marketplace OR Harbor (Level 2)
Marketplace advances to Bank OR Guild (Level 3)
Harbor advances to Guild OR Den (Level 3)
Bank advances to Gallery OR University (Level 4)
Guild advances to University OR Factory (Level 4)
Den advances to Factory OR Academy (Level 4)

At each tier your island produces more gold. Simply put, at
Level 1 you get 10 gold/turn, at Level 2 you get 25 gold/turn, at Level 3 you get 50 gold/turn, at level 4 you get 125 gold/turn.

To advance to the next level, your island needs the required goods:
To get to level 2 you need 2 unique foods, to get to level 3 you need 3 unique foods and 2 unique tools, and to get to level 4 you need 4 unique foods, 3 unique tools and 2 unique luxuries.

During your turn you may have your island produce its color of good. A food costs 5 gold, a tool 50 gold, and a luxury 250 gold. Getting unique goods usually involves trading with other players for their goods.

Goods travel between islands on ships. Each turn you may move your ship(s).

Each round (a round is when all players have gone) a player draws a "global effect" where these effects could be auctions, extra ship movement, or a "discovery" where free goods appear in the center of the map and go to the first ships to arrive.

The unique buildings have special "powers":
Marketplace: +5 gold/turn for each unique resource on that island
Harbor: +1 to your ship movements (each island is separated by 7 spaces, and to move a ship you roll a 1d6), and you can produce ships cheaper
Bank: Allows you to take out loans
Guild: Halves the cost of goods production on that island
Den: Allows you to build Pirate Ships which steal goods from other ships on the board
Gallery: With an Artist and two luxuries, you produce an Artwork (worth 4,000 victory points)
University: Produces your choice of an Artist, Engineer, or General
Factory: Doubles the production of your island (produce 2 goods instead of 1), and with an Engineer, it's doubled again (turning in a luxury is worth 500 victory points - a factory can net you up to 2,000 points per turn)
Academy: Allows you to produce soldiers cheaply and go on quests; ships with Generals complete quests automatically (quests are worth anywhere from 1,500 to 3,000 victory points)

Each turn you also get a card from a shared deck of cards; you draw a card for each building you have, and each card has a "required building" in order to play it. Players are allowed to trade cards, of course.

Winning the game is currently a point system where the winner is the person with the most points at the end of the round in which any player has 10,000 or more points. Points aren't really accumulated until the 4th tier, though.

I know I've given a lot of information here. My design goals were to mix my two favorite games: Civilization and Magic: the Gathering. However, I am running into a problem where in the late game players take a lot longer during their turns as there are a lot more options, so games average 4-5 hours long (I'd like to get it down to 3 hours). It also seems that there may not be enough interaction between players.

If you have any more questions let me know. Thanks for reading.

truekid games
truekid games's picture
Joined: 10/29/2008
4 to 5 hours is definitely

4 to 5 hours is definitely towards the long end of the spectrum. without more information, the best i could say is try and find one thing that solves both problems at the same time (more interaction/shorter game). perhaps a building or group of cards that heavily rewards trading? the reward advancing the game state, and also encouraging players to trade? or maybe a static "first person to do (something interactive and with multiple steps) gets X, each subsequent person gets Y".

btw, do you have any victory point values less than 100, or do they all have 2 extra zeroes just for the look of it? (sorry, that's a pet peeve of mine).

Joined: 03/09/2010
The Academy currently has a

The Academy currently has a card that gets you 50 points each turn for each soldier you have. You can also get 5 points for turning in a food or 50 points for turning in a tool (nobody does this though)

I find myself just being able to make incremental improvements. When I first began, there were 10 spaces between each island (super slooooow!), so I reduced the spaces between islands. I then reduced the requirements for tier advancement. After that, I introduced the "race to the center" mechanic which favors mobility.

The next improvement I can think of is to put point cards in the third tier, just so players at least feel like they're progressing toward victory while in the third tier. The game really slows down at that point because players have more resources and options to work with.

In a timed game we it was going at around 10 rounds/hour, and two of the three players got to the third tier within that hour. At the second hour one player got to the fourth tier, but then gameplay just dragged on for another two hours without a winner. However, we were testing out different rules that I didn't personally like.

As far as interaction, the round-wise "world events" deck has 30 cards and half of them are auctions. Auctions work where the high roller is the "auctioneer" and selects any color good. The strategy here is if you know you're going to lose the auction, you just select a good that will be worthless to the player who will win the auction.

truekid games
truekid games's picture
Joined: 10/29/2008
that sounds like you need to

that sounds like you need to tune your 4th tier buildings specifically to accelerate the game much more than they do- rather than just being a cog in the machine, make them the jet engine. also, if players have too many options to make a timely decision, find a way to reduce their options as they advance (give them only so many actions per turn, or remove/replace lower-level options once they've advanced to a certain point).

edit to add: so you've multiplied all values by 5 rather than 100 ;)

Joined: 03/10/2010
Player Interaction

You said that you can create soldiers and generals? Maybe you could include the option to sack other players islands. This opens up more tabletalk and could speed up the game.

Taavet's picture
Joined: 08/15/2008
Trim the fat

Gilmok wrote:
The Academy currently has a card that gets you 50 points each turn for each soldier you have. You can also get 5 points for turning in a food or 50 points for turning in a tool (nobody does this though)

So, if nobody does it why is it in the game? What would make someone do it? If there isn't a strong enough incentive for someone to do something then you could probably just drop that ability.

Instead of tacking on more like racing to the middle for free resources try reducing what you currently have. If the point of racing to the middle is to favor mobility, increase the incentive for transfering goods from island to island to favor mobility.

Time things and see what takes the longest then try and figure out a way to reduce that.

Joined: 12/18/2008
Experiment with making your

Experiment with making your upgrades much more powerful - even wildly so. Even if it seems wrong to you, just try it. You might be surprised at the outcome.

Consider making the upgrades exclusive too, to add differentiation in player positions. That's another issue though.

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