The Monday Game: Alien Ambassadors and Mistgore

So, first an update on Mistgore. I’ve been working on this for the last week or so, bitten by a bug to get this up and running soonish so it stops creeping into my other game design thoughts. I’ve got the basic rules, the first two warbands, and (most of) the first City module if you wanted to take a look and let me know what your thoughts are on it so far!

Cool Text - Mistgore 185762855302091

We’ve got a new game design contest, this time for just a “great game,” the 2017 Northwest Luci Award. (They’re good games, Brent.) I’m excited for this one, as the contest finalists will be at the Evergreen Tabletop Expo, which is near my family and relatively close geographically!

Slotting this into our existing schedule:

Unfortunately didn’t have a chance to test Green-Circuit Mercs this last week due to playtesting the 2nd edition of the Stop Thief playtest, but going to try and get in a playtest game this Thursday with the local game group hopefully so we can get the design hammered away for that one!

Picking our parameters will be below the cut!

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Plus, now I found out there’s a gaming expo almost in my backyard in the form of ETX

So, from the Luci guidelines, there are no restrictions other than that it can’t be an RPG or videogame. However, they do indicate the game categories it will be judged for an award in:

Three games will be presented with awards live at ETX – one for Best Game Design, one for Best Family Game Design, and one People’s Choice award.

My takeaway from this is that if I have the option to swing the design needle to be more srs bsns or more lighthearted and fun, the lighthearted family approach will definitely be the better option. That said, here are our parameters:

The Unused Parameters

p5

While the constraint might be interesting given the Roll-and-Move restriction, the theme means I’m going to have to pass; I’m personally too distracted by the current US political climate to be able to focus on a game with this theme and have a family-friendly and positive experience.

p4

I like the constraint for this one, but I’m afraid I’m not sure how best to integrate it into the theme. Maybe some sort of card-laying game using long tarot-style cards, trying to make shapes that correspond to a scoring chart of some sort. Not super-engaged with the design idea, but it has some promise.

p3

Weirdly enough, I like everything about this one other than the theme. I think there’s some space for working with it, like a Noah’s Ark themed thing with trying to complete your boat full of creatures and then get the farthest distance, but it’s again not really a design that grabs me.

p1

The Theme and Victory and Constraint are all interesting, but again I get the distinct excitement-killer of a Mechanic. I might need to try playing more games with this, but currently it always just springs to mind tile-laying equations on a grid for some reason, even though I don’t know if I’ve ever played a game like that either!

The Winning Parameters

p2

The Mechanics is a weird-but-good one, but that theme is pure gold. The Constraint automatically shifts the game to being more simplistic, and the victory and mechanics both means this game won’t have to have a lot of moving parts.

Right now, the idea coming to minds is a charades-style game between a space ambassador and the human diplomats trying to translate stuff.

Let’s call it that: Alien Ambassadors

Brainstorm: The Mechanics

So, I’d like to do a single Human Translator, and have all remaining players be the Ambassadors. Ambassadors are trying to use nonsense words and restricted charades to try and indicate information to the translator. I think by its sheer nature the game will be semi-cooperative in that the Translator wins if at least one Ambassador gets their full message across and wins. This does mean a two-player game will be more of an exercise in fun than a competition, but it should still be fun and I can use similar countdown-style rules as Codenames uses for their two-player variant.

I think we’ll have a board state with three sets of objectives: Places, things, and animals. Each Ambassador wants to see one of the things in each category, and so we’ll have the mechanic being a process of elimination, minesweeper style, where the Translator tries to eliminate options that no Ambassador wants. They flip over the card they think nobody wants, and if blank, great! However, if they flip over an Ambassador’s preference card, they and the Ambassador are a step closer to loss: The Ambassador loses if 2 of their 3 preferences are revealed. Every turn the Translator must reveal a card after getting that Ambassador’s clue, but they get a set of three reminder tokens for each ambassador they can use to mark what they suspect are the preferences for each one.

So, in addition to the, say, 10 options for each Place/things/animal category and the cards to go with that, the Ambassadors have restrictions on how they can communicate: They get a card that shows some random word (like “fleem” or “scree”) or action (“wave your hands” or “spin in a circle twice”), and one of these is an affirmative and one is a negative. There’s also an “Interference” card that indicates some way in which your communications don’t work right: “Answer true questions as false and false questions as true for Places only,” “Answer every third question incorrectly,” or “You cannot use your arms or hands when acting out your clues to the Translator.”

charades-cartoon-book-cover

This means you’re mocking the Ambassador’s request for some KFC

Brainstorm: The Story

Earth has been invaded! The aliens are coming to try out Earth’s sights and tourist attractions, but unfortunately the translation devices aren’t ready yet. Brave translators are attempting to help out the in-need ambassadors, but they’ll have to use deduction and their wits to figure out how to keep the alien visitors happy!

Brainstorm: The Elevator Pitch

Alien Ambassadors is a quick and fun game of acting and intuition. One player is the human Translator, trying to help the other players’ Ambassadors communicate what they want to see while visiting Earth! Can you and your friends and family successfully make contact in this game of communication and guessing?

Closing Thoughts

This should be a pretty quick one to bang out, and I suspect that playtesting will very quickly identify if there are any quirks to deal with. Tomorrow I’ll be going over an exact partlist and rule doc for this so I can get it ironed out completely.

Please let me know what you think of the game idea and the parameters in the comments and reblogs below! Cheers!

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2 thoughts on “The Monday Game: Alien Ambassadors and Mistgore

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