We’re back this week with another game, courtesy of prompts from Boardgamizer. As I noted last week, this is NaNoWriMo month, so the other weekly posts are on standby until December. Another note is that I’ll be out of town the remainder of this week, so there will be no Mini-Updates this week either.
That said, let’s get to the prompts!
The Unused Parameters
While the idea of a puzzle mechanic is interesting, and the Theme makes it seem like a perfect match to Red November, I’ve honestly never been much of a fan of gnomes versus basically any other fantasy race, and the constraint was the same as we had for Recurring Cases a few weeks ago.
Again, another promising game, and I like both the Constraint as well as the Mechanics. However, the Theme and Victory both overlap a lot with Musketeers, so it’s a pass for this one as well.
The Winning Parameters
Right off the bat, the design possibilities between Tableau Building*, Paper-and-Pencil, and the Constraint have all kinds of possibilities, but add into that the Themes and Victory, and I think we have a game design idea:
Michael Crichton, eat your heart out.
*Tableau Building typically involves games where you lay down tiles and such, which help determine what actions and options are available later in the game. It meshes well with eurogames and worker placement, such as in Lords of Waterdeep.
Brainstorm: The Mechanics
Let’s work the restraint of 18 cards into the Tableau-building, and make those the various park Locations. Each location should have a landmark thing it does, like Genetics Lab that spawns dinosaurs, a Garage that stores vehicles, an Herbivore Paddock for each player (6), a single or pair of Carnivore Paddocks, and so on. Each Location will have a dirt Road going through it, sort of like the game Tsuro. Lastly, let’s number each Location with 1-20, so we can determine what starts to fail, and when.
Next, the players: This is where the pen-and-paper comes in. Players get a character sheet, where they pick a trait and a flaw, and record health, damage, poison, etc. Not too crazy, but more than a flat role card like other games might have (and to force them to get invested, with spaces for name, hobby, fears, etc). Players basically can build their player to have pre-breakdown advantages, post-breakdown advantages, or both.
Dinosaurs come in two flavors: herbivore and carnivore. All paddocks always have a minimum of 1 dinosaur of the given kind on each. Players will score however many dinosaurs they have in their paddocks at the end of the game, if they survive.
At the start of the the game, players put down their herbivore paddocks touching the Visitor Center location, and all player tokens start in the Visitor Center. On each player’s turn, they draw and place a new Location, move their pawn or use the location’s action or add a tourist to a location, and finally roll the die (d20). On a roll of 2+, everything is fine. On a roll of 1, the Breakdown begins.
When the breakdown begins, the player will roll and place a broken marker on whatever location had the corresponding number. Then, on the next turn, automatically the numbers on either side break down (ie, if the first turn location #10 broke down, next turn #9 and 11 break down, then #8 and 12). Breakdowns usually result in loss of using the action for that Location, but in the case of the paddocks, it means dinosaurs start to escape.
For Herbivores, it just means lost points, but Carnivore escapes are where the game gets interesting. Carnivores head towards the nearest food, with the preference being Tourists > Players > Herbivores > Carnivores. If a Carnivore gets to the food source, it eats all of them on the space and powers up or adds additional dinos by that much (depending on carnivore species, like raptors vs T-Rex). Players can escape being eaten by rolling a die and rolling greater than the Carnivore’s Power (starts at Power 1).
When player Move, they can either move 1 space to any orthogonally adjacent Location, or two Locations if they are in a Truck and moving between two Locations that are linked by a road. Carnivores always move 2 Locations.
To win, players need to visit a minimum set of Locations and escape the failed dino zoo. Getting killed means you only score half points, and you get way more points for carnivores that are still in their paddocks versus contained herbivores (And tourists count as free dinos if none have escaped, effectively acting as a point multiplier), encouraging risky behavior. There’s a cooperative aspect, as you want to avoid predators and try and deter them from killing others and becoming beeftastic, but at the same time the endgame is every man/woman/dino for themselves so you want to not be too friendly or risk helping someone get a leg up on you in the end.
Brainstorm: The Story
Basically, you’re all playing Attenborough’s John Hammond, scientists and entrepreneurs, trying to cooperate to create this wonderful vision but of course also trying to one-up the others and get the best segment of the park, with the most tourists.
Then, of course, everything goes to hell.
By way of an apology for not having a more unique story, I offer up this gem:
Brainstorm: The Elevator Pitch
Compete with your friends to build the best dino park money can buy! Grow your dinosaurs, attract guests to the park, but beware that if things start to go badly, you and your co-owners may be in for a fight for survival to escape the park alive!
This one sounds awesome, if for no other reason than an excuse to play with little dinosaur meeples. I really like games with semi-random but reliable board layouts, like Guilds of Cadwallon or Robo Rally, so I think this one is on the growing list of game ideas I’d like to take and develop further, just for funsies.
So what did you think of the game, and how would you have tackled this prompt? Let me know in the comments and/or reblogs!