November 25, 2013

Grow Prix!

Working on Coup has been a very fun and entertaining experience. Creating cards, boxes, rules, and having them all printed and assembled has been awesome. Now with the prototype just having been shipped, and expected to arrive in a couple of days now, I have started to look for more to do. Having an idea and seeing it come to life has been extremely enjoyable. But with the design work on Coup winding down, I've started looking for new projects to work on. 

A couple of days ago, I started working on a new project. Instead of a reprint like Coup, I have decided to create my own micro-game! Coming up with the theme of the game was surprisingly easy. Coming up with the mechanic has been more difficult. 

The theme of the game developed from the idea of having competing flower shoppes in Switzerland (Why Switzerland, I'm not quite sure). From there it developed into a flower "pageant" where you tried to get the highest scoring flower wins. But I felt like that was a bit too devoid of meat and finally decided on a sort of Black Jack mechanic. So it turned into a flower competition called the Grow Prix (a play on Gran Prix) where you have to attempt to match and NPC Lilly Gardener, the master gardener who has convinced the Judges that she is the trendsetter in the competition.

The objective of the game is to get a flower as close as possible to that of the NPC Lilly Gardener. The game itself consists of two decks of cards. A Flower deck with 10 different flowers, each with a number named "Petal Points". There is also an Action deck consisting of 9 different actions, allowing you to do many things in an attempt to reach a flower with the Petal Points near that of Lilly. I am waiting for some blank playing cards to come in the mail to play test the game design. Currently, the game can be made for $8.57 a box, about 50¢ cheaper then the coup design. This is most likely due to there being 15 wooden cubes instead of the 50 cardboard shards. 

Listed below are the revision zero rules that have been created so far. The cards and flowers have not been included since they are still being worked on. But I will include draft card backs. Colors and designs are just temporary. If you want to check out the current full rules, click here and ignore some of the consistency error

The objective of Grow Prix is to have a flower with Pretty Points closest to the flower that Lilly Gardner possess by swapping, modifying, and protecting your flower. The player with the most Championship Tokens (Championships), or the first to 5 Championships wins the game!

The game begins with the 10 flower cards (Flowers) and 18 action cards (Actions) separated into two decks. Place the Lilly Gardener card into the stand. Shuffle the Flowers and deal facedown 1 Flower to each player and 1 Flower to Lilly Gardner. Next, shuffle the Actions and deal 1 Action to each player. The player with the most house plants goes first. 

During a round, play rotates clockwise (or counter-clockwise if you're in the Southern Hemisphere). At the start of a player's turn, the player draws one action card. After that, the player must play one Action and must play the effects of the card, even if it does not benefit the player. After the effects have taken place, the next player may take their turn. 

The round ends if any of these conditions are met:

  • Each player has taken 4 turns.
  • There are no more Flowers left to draw.
  • There are no more Actions left to draw.

At the end of the Round, All Flowers are flipped upright. The players then compare their flowers to Lilly Gardener's Flower. The winner is determined by which Flower's Petal Points are closest to the Petal Points of Lilly Gardener's Flower. If the Kadupul Flower survives at the end of the match, that player automatically wins the round, no matter how near or far from Lilly's Petal Points you are. If two or more players are equally close to Gardener's Flower, the winner is determined by:

  • If Lilly's Flower is >5, the higher number wins [Judges like Complexity].
  • If Lilly's Flower is <5, the lower number wins [Judges like Simplicity].
  • If Lilly's Flower is =5, then Lilly wins the round. No player receives a Championship.

If there is still at tie, the player who has no boosts from Actions wins [nature over chemicals]. 

The winner of the Round receives a Championship Token and the cards are reset for another round.

November 24, 2013

Creating A Card Game: Revamping the Rules

Everything I have been doing for my reprint of the game Coup has been done after I stumbled across the rules online. After reading through them, I decided that I liked the game so much that I was going to add it to my collection. Finding that the only way to get this game was to do a reprint, I had to go in and edit the rules.

Revamping the rules for Coup was a fairly simple process. Or at least it became fairly simple after I decided to not re-theme the game. Originally when I decided to go ahead with the reprint I wanted to give it a Space/Future theme. This eventually fizzled out for two reasons. The major one was that it was going to be more difficult to find "open source" artwork to use, and with commissioning artwork taking a lot of time, I decided I was too impatient. It can always be re-skinned after I cut my teeth on the production.

The second reason is that I couldn't come up with Space/Future sounding names for the characters. Or at least ones that would make sense. Captain could stay the same and become a starship captain. Duke might become a Senator and Ambassador might become a Diplomat/Minister. But I didn't like any of these very much. And I had absolutely no idea what to do with the Contessa. Some of these names almost gave way to an American President theme (senator, first lady, president, vice president, assassin). But I found that theme a bit distasteful since it would boil down to political parties trying to kill each other. So in the end I decided to stick with the Italian Mafia style theme. 

So the rules themselves were pretty well written. Few exploits or loop holes were found. One concern was the lack of mention of how many actions you can take per turn. Also missing was a description of the turn taking itself. Along with that, continuity errors were cleaned up and consistency throughout the document was improved.

To add a little bit of originality, I decided to change the name of a character in the game. I felt like "Ambassador" was a bit of a mouthful to say. I also felt like, based on my limited knowledge of 16th Century Italian culture, that it didn't fit the game as well. It took me a while to determine an alternate, but I eventually decided on "Governor". In the end, I really like Governor more than Ambassador. Initially, I wanted to change the "Contessa" to something else. But after some digging, I learned that "Contessa" fit the role to a peach. The definition being: an Italian Countess. Using that definition, I might change "Duke" to "Count", but I'll wait until I get my prototype set and get some comments from others.

With all this in mind, I put together the rules. Adding a design, formatting, and etc, I have ended up with my prototype rules sheet. Unfortunately, I didn't read the information on the printing very well, and should not have put the background on the rules set, since the Documents from TheGameCrafter are not full bleed. I could have it printed as a one page "booklet" but I didn't feel like this little reprint should be anything fancy. I wanted to do a minibooklet, but again since this is just a fun little reprint, I didn't devote the time or effort into this.

What I have been working on though have been three extra cards to include with the game. When the game is created, cards are printed in sets of 18. I pay for all 18 cards, even if I don't use them all. So with Coup only having 15 cards, I have 3 cards left for me to do whatever with. With one I have put my "game company". The second card will have a link to a facebook page. The third card will have a link to the Wounded Warrior Project for people do donate to. Concepts for these are included below. 

November 21, 2013

New Blogger Banner

Here were the three iterations of the The Fenngineer blog banner. Not sure which one I like the best. I like the vector arrow over the 'F'.

November 20, 2013

Creating a Card Game

In the past couple of months I have recently picked up the hobby of listening to podcasts at work. Originally introduced to the hobby through the Geeks of Steel and Order 66, has rekindled my enjoyment of playing paper and pencil RPGs, board games, and card games. So I've gotten with a game group to play some RPGs, taken a trip out to game stores, and started listening to The Dice Tower podcast. 

While visiting a nearby store, Underhill's Games, to purchase a copy of Settlers of Catan, I stumbled upon a small game called Love Letter hanging on the rack. It looked like a theme I could get my girlfriend into and play some games with her. Not one to make an impulse buy, I held off and promptly started a week of looking up reviews on the game. The game sounded fun and simple, and with only 15 cards, it was in a niche called microgames. With my incredibly unreasonable microphillia, I had to purchase this game. After playing it, I have to report that I love the game. This began a search for other games to add to my now established microgames collection. I purchased a game called Agent Hunter also by AEG. While the game wasn't as fun as Love Letter, the box and card art looks great, I like the theme, and with 20 cards it fits the microgame genre.

Wanting more, I stumbled across the game Coup, a simple game of bluffing. But when it came to purchasing the game, my efforts became fruitless. It appears that the game was only in print for a short run and that there is no place out there to buy it. I found that a new skinned version of it was up on Kickstarter, but with no release date information (and with a dislike of the artwork), I decided it was as good as nonexistent. I gave up looking for it.

One day while filling through some of the Geeks of Steel podcasts, I was listening to an episode when one of the cohost stammered and it sounded like he said "ice, ice" and I mentally put a "baby" after it. I laughed at myself and briefly wondered how cool it would be to have someone make a chopped up version of the Vanilla Ice song made with bits from the GoS. That's when it hit me. People on the internet create stuff like this all the time and we take that for granted. We think that stuff like the Internet Song just generated by a higher being called the internet. But it's not. It's created by someone who had an idea, put effort into it, and produced this piece of "art". So if it can be done with remixes and mash ups, why can't it be done with a card game? And with the age of the internet, finding the resources and production methods have become almost comically easy. 

So, over the past few weeks I have developed a friendship with The Game Crafter and put hours of effort into recreating this game. Being that it was already published, everything I am doing has been under Creative Commons and not for profit. I am working with friends who will be developing artwork for this project later, while I have chosen artwork from online for the time being.

It's been a lot of work, and a lot of fun. And as of Monday, I have sent out for my first prototype set. Over the next few days I will be posting artwork, insight, and photos of the prototype. I will also post reviews, comments, and quotes of people who I will ask for opinions. 

So, ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, I present: