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FCE: Advent of "Sky Fire"

This game has stalled. While I find the concept interesting, gameplay has turned out to be dreadfully boring. In an effort to remedy this, I'm making a change. To sum it up: one of the terrain is bad, and affects players negatively.

I'm replacing the "Plains" with something tentatively named Sky Fire. This represents something like a meteor shower, with space debris so large and resilient that it's enough to hit the surface of the planet and scar it to the extent that no other terrain can be Made there. The players' goal will still be to earn as many points as possible, while avoiding the penalty provided by one terrain that subtracts points instead of adds them.

The rules for placement remain the same, though Sky Fire will be addressed with the following changes:

  • Any time a player Makes any Sky Fire terrain, they will earn 1 Dominion in Sky Fire (regardless of the number of terrain they Make).
  • New Game End condition: The game will end when one player has 6 Dominion in Sky Fire, or when the map grid is completely filled with Terrain.
  • Whenever a player has 5+ Sky Fire energy in their supply, they -must- Make Sky Fire terrain that turn.
  • Player energy limit will be 10 units/cubes. They must Make terrain until they have less than 10 energy in their supply.

Scoring will remain similar, while Sky Fire Dominion points will count against a player's score instead of towards it. I'm strongly concerned about the idea of subtracting points in any game design, but playtesting will help inform me of how it feels in this context.

Sky Fire cannot be added to the "Terrain Bonus" scoring area - at least, not yet. Again, I want it to be clear that Sky Fire is bad, so maybe it will count against player scores instead of add to them.

I will be playtesting this tomorrow with the hopes that the game will start having greater potential, while not being to complex or convoluted.

I predict that players will want to strike a balance between waiting until they are forced to Make Sky Fire - and then use all 5 energy at once to do so - versus strategically using Sky Fire to block player score bonuses where their opponent has the lead in Dominion. We shall see how it plays out.

Comments

Lots of Fuel For Thought

Thanks for all the suggestions, questccg. :)

Based on what you shared here, and considering thoughts of my own, I am going to try the following:

  • Abandoning a penalizing terrain for the moment. I may come back to this in the future. For now I will stick with the player earning points instead of taking them away.
  • A small deck of cards will be used. Each card will have a specific terrain, and an arrangement of 1-4 tiles. A player will be able to choose from an open hand of 3 or more cards at the start of their turn to Make terrain.
  • I'm also strongly-considering removing the map grid, and just allowing players to build the map in any direction. This will facilitate some creative flexibility on the part of the players, but it also requires that I come up with other ways to reward players for building out the map.
  • Players will have Domain markers of some kind, like a tower or menhir or something like that. Players earn points immediately by placing their markers on the map at intersection points between different types of terrain.

I'll have to detail all this in additional posts, because it's a suite of significant changes from the look and feel of the game up to this point. Stay tuned. :)

Let me offer you a minor critique based on what I know so far...

So the original idea was to "draw" terrains based on other ones around and a set of rules used to decide where and when a terrain may be played. If this is correct, well then let me critique the game just a bit...

I think there comes an issue where just drawing terrains isn't very exciting as a concept. Sure you like the IDEA ... But as I have explained in numerous post about "IDEAS" is that they ALWAYS sound so AMAZING and you are going to revolutionize the Game Industry. But TRUTH is that MOST "IDEAS" suck! That's right they just don't work like the concept even if you followed your IDEA from start to end, no deviation.

I already posted that you should CHANGE you Mountain rules... That having a line of mountains in the map is well "too boring".

Furthermore ... This whole VICTORY POINT system is VERY EURO. Do you LIKE "Euros" or not?! IF you find "Euro" games BORING (like I mostly do...) I watched a game of Lorenzo Il Magnifico which is a Euro worker placement game and I was like: "WHAAAT?! How can you people PLAY this???"

Bottom line, I dislike EURO games. SO IF you are designing a EURO game, it may be the game itself that needs to changed.

How can we FIX it and make it all better, hmmm???

Okay so you have SIX (6) types of TERRAIN. Great nothing getting the BLOOD PUMPING like some DICE ROLLING. How about one 1d6 for the TYPE of terrain and 1d6 values 1 to 3 (2x). So basically two (2) custom dice... Now you've got a Tactical Layer. And you roll for the amount of TERRAIN to play/draw and WHICH TYPE.

Victory or Lose condition: Cannot fulfill the dice requirements. Player is eliminate if this happens. Play continues until the LAST player left becomes the winner. Of course people HATE player elimination... They PREFER "Euros", right?! Players will be MOSTLY IN the game except for the very last few rounds.

And it is based on MANY FACTORS: Where you drew terrain, where your opponents drew terrains, the dice rolls nearing the last few rounds (which is luck - but heck do you want a BORING GAME or one with rules and a tad bit of luck???)

The interesting point to the DICE rolling is this: early on you will WANT to roll HIGH, to get things moving. Towards the middle of the game, you'll want to see how the game is progressing and where there could be opportunities to "squeeze" a player or two ... And then total CHAOS in the very last few rounds where it's all about elimination...

These are some suggestions that are simple to implement. Granted it would be COOL to have 2 Custom D6s ... But hey, you can have 2 colored standard D6s and have a "card" with their the values matching what terrain and what value (Maybe 2 cards).

Again like always feel free to "ignore" my ramblings. I think this could VASTLY improve the game and with revised placement of terrain rules ... The game could be MUCH clearer and TENSE ...

Cheers!

Response

Thanks for taking the time to read through this and respond, questccg. :)

I'm not going with dice for this game. The closest I think I will come to this is to have players draw cards that indicate the type and number of terrain they Make on their turn. For example, each player could draw a hand of three cards, and then choose the card they want to play on their turn. This at least would make the game go quicker, and take a layer of decision-making out of each turn.

  • I want an equal spread of terrain available to players, and dice don't allow for that.
  • I liked the convenience of throwing the cubes back in the bag at a certain point, but choosing when and how to add terrain to the map.
  • I have some Eurostyle mechanics involved because I want the player to have more control over the outcome.

Lately I've been considering the differences between input randomness and output randomness, and how depending on one or the other changes the flavor of a game. I've spent a lot of my time playing games that have a bunch of output randomness (the player makes a choice, then a randomizer determines their level of success), and now I want to experiment with game-making where the player has more control.

This game actually started out with dice being used to determine the type of terrain made, very similar to how you describe it. And the player had so little agency that it was also a dissatisfying type of game. I shifted to drawing cubes from a bag and the "point system" for Making terrain as a response to this.

I'm still seeking the balance of fun and control. At the moment, relying on dice for everything doesn't seem to be the most effective answer to that.

Thanks again for speaking up, quest...!

No worries...

I had not seen a "dice-version" of the game. You must have had this in-mind before posting the journal. Okay... I was going to simply ADD that in a DICE-version, the player who goes LAST has a MAJOR advantage since by player elimination (the others go "out") the last player could win by "default".

And I don't like that either.

But since you've already explored the dice... That's not your concern.

Best of luck with the remainder of your playtests and refining. Please feel free to let us know what DOES WORK and what you needed fixing.

Cheers!

Something else to consider

BTW you could go with six (6) cards for the different Terrain Types and each player draws ONE (1) card. This is another option, instead of dice. But this supposes that you allow up to six players. It doesn't really matter if there are LESS ... But ... At two (2) players, it becomes a bit "boring".

The whole gist of the DICE was to add tension to the game. In a 2-Player game, the odds are 50% and it's only one of the two players who wins. So that means there will be less tension in such a game. Either you win or I do... A bit boring. Especially if we are talking about drawing cards and figuring out how many items need to be "drawn".

I'd personally make it a 3-Player or more game. Three (3) is not too bad... It's a bit more tense because the odds of winning are lowered a bit.

But I still think 4+Players is where this kind of simple game can shine. Anyways let us know your progress... I liked the "basic" idea. But I haven't played so I don't know how good it is.

Cheers!

Also...

If you have a Micro Deck of 7 Cards, you can have 6 Terrain Types and 1 Skip your Turn. Players draw from this pile until it is EMPTY. This ensure that all Terrain Types get "played" and that someone will sit out 1 turn. It's all "Random" but then you can either draw for the amount of terrain to be drawn or roll a die.

You can use a Standard dice 1d6 with opposing sides.

So: 1 & 6 = 1, 2 & 5 = 2 and 3 & 4 = 3. That's pretty easy to understand without a look-up table or doing math to figure out the correct value.

I would make some starting position changes. Something like Mountains STARTS in the Middle of the play area. River and Swamp are next to each other and same for Forest and Plains. Desert is a bit of a wildcard... and should start opposing the River. With such flexible rules, you can make a TON of setups.

Just some extra "notes" that I had. Best.

Just to be clear ...

With a Micro Deck of seven (7) cards and drawing until the Deck is empty will ensure that one of your concerns with a die was not having equal amounts of terrain "outcomes". Which means you want to ensure that all six (6) terrains get a chance to appear in the play area (paper or board) but with different amounts.

It's the amounts that will determine the additional terrain (between 1 and 3) and will make the growing MORE dynamic... even IF you have rules.

Cheers!

Some other rule(s) that I wanted to suggest

I know it's your Design... And that you will implement as YOU see fit. But I just could not help but be "complete" with my own ideas about your game.

So let me wrap up my "rule(s)" and then you can let us know how you have managed to progress with the game.

"Desert" is like a TRUMP suite. If it comes in contact with Plains, Forests or Swamp, it REPLACES that terrain. Only Rivers or Mountains can block off the onslaught which is the "Desert".

"Mountains" must be played NEXT to another Mountain tile. If they are positioned in the CENTER of play, this means that they grow "out-ward" and usually cut off either side of play (Rivers + Swamps or Plains + Forests).

That's it for now... I just wanted to make these contributions in the event that you may want to TRY them. Like I said, I know it's YOUR design ... I'm just making some suggestions. Which you can ignore if you don't like them or have tried them before.

Keep us updated with another Journal Entry... Want to see what works out to be the better method in handling the play of terrains. Best.

Also ...

The game will have a "relaxed" feeling until the middle-point of the game. So it's not like it's super competitive. But the from the middle-point until the end, you need to be careful that you don't cut-off too many "outs" (or spots for various terrains) otherwise you may get eliminated too early.

Tension therefore BUILDS around the middle-point and towards the END (last few rounds) ... It's super-tense with every roll counting. It lies in the "Roll of the Bones" (Rush literally! - lol) and a few last rounds...

It would be a "special" game. Not that I know too many of "THESE" types of games. Most go the Euro way with Victory Points and Tracks... But I see your "Pen & Paper" game more as an adrenaline rush in the last few rounds.

Please share with me your thoughts! I'd like to hear what you think of the 2d6s dice add ... I think it might add some DYNAMIC to your game and make a player walk away VICTORIOUS or ashamed!

It's kind of like in Texas Hold'Em Poker: Nobody knows who WINS until the River... Cheers!

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