So I had a chance to play Camel Up last night, and enjoyed it a lot! Coup was also played, during which I tried the infinite Ambassador strategy after making a crucial and damaging error early-on and lost terribly while having a grand time.
However, as I attempted to demonstrate the core ship-building aspect of Boatbuilders, a crucial problem emerged: The table was a laquered smooth wood, and there was a gentle but steady AC vent overhead that was providing an almost-unnoticed breeze.
It was impossible to even get the base set up, let alone anything else.
This is a problem; while I knew breezes and smooth surfaces would be an issue, I hadn’t realized just how bad they could be compared to my relatively-controlled test environment at home. I think the game can be rescued by including 2-4 card clips in the set, and let players adjust how many they used depending on desired difficulty, but the problem is that will immediately bring us outside the scope for the limitations of the cards-only design Button Shy had asked for. So, while I am definitely wanting to hold onto Boatbuilders as a fun, light “pouch”* game, we’ll need to do a redesign asap for a new cards-only wallet game.
*In the vein of games such as Love Letter, Lost Legacy, and Cypher. Mostly just 18ish cards, and maybe a half-dozen small unobtrusive components.
The designing will begin under the cut!
First, a side tangent for Mistgore and Mamluki/Boatbuilders: the Mistgore playtest documents are ready, but while they are ready I’m still working on expanding the available warband lists to include Pirates, who focus on lots of enemy control despite not having a lot of armor or overt melee/magic power. Playtesting for Boatbuilders/Mamluki and the next iteration of Green-Circuit Mercs hasn’t happened yet, but will be happening later this week.
Moving on to a current mini-project…
As you’ve probably sussed out from previous posts and such on the matter, but I’m good friends with the designer of One Page Rules, Gaetano Ferrara aka “OnePageAnon.” I quite like the rules, and feel it’s a refreshing breath of fresh air compared to the original game systems he’s adapted and streamlined.
That said, Gaetano focuses a lot more on the wargame-scale side of things, while I definitely like mixing my chocolate and peanut butter and focus more on skirmish games and RPGs.
So something that has been on my mind lately as I’ve been brainstorming a new RPG (Inspired by the freeform skill/flaw choices in Eric Nieudan’s amazing White Books) is the concept of Skills. There seems to be two main schools of thought, and each has two subsections I’ll discuss a bit as well. The first of these categories is Structured Skills, indicating that the skills come from some sort of list that the player picks from and records, while the other is Freeform Skills, where the players are free to make up their own skills rather than pick from a list.
Of the two groups, I have to say I heavily prefer Freeform, as it allows for far greater flexibility when making a character and generally requires less memorizing of rules as well. Examples of this include Risus and one of my personal favorites, Simple D6. Freeform skill systems also fall on a gradient, between Mechanical and Fluffy.
Something I really enjoy in games is the chance that, under perfect circumstances and/or with a perfect roll, the underdog model or player character or what have you can overcome impossible odds and make the shot, 1-hit-kill the enormous dragon, dodge what should have been a point-blank shot, etc. I also like it when the trope is flipped on it’s head, where there’s a chance to fail so spectacularly that everything is ruined utterly and completely, if you roll/plan badly enough.
A good example of this is exploding dice mechanics, and for this example I’ll use Mantic’s Deadzone. Deadzone uses d8s, and on a roll of 8, you keep the 8 and roll another die. This means with an absurdly good string of luck, one can roll a huge number of successes, enabling a model that might normally never have a chance in hell against a target have a remote chance of actually damaging it or taking it down completely.