Monday Brews 7-28-14

There are only a few Mondays left before Gen Con! Aside from game design and development it was a decent week. My mother-in-law fixed out bathroom ceiling. My softball team won the championship (back-to-back seasons)! And I was inspired by a Euro game.

So let’s get right to the coverage of the Boards & Barley I enjoyed last week.

The Barley:

Dark, smooth, tasty… and potent!

BARLEY SPOTLIGHT:
Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron

I had this too late in the evening to fully enjoy a 12%abv brew. However, I am looking forward to trying another one. This was one potent little beast with a woodsy character that made me wish I were sitting in a nice chair by a fireplace smoking a pipe. The inside of Bilbo Baggins’ home would suffice. Ultimately this beast was an enjoyable beer and I recommend you try it if you get a chance.

The Boards:

Four player render.

BOARDS SPOTLIGHT: Attika

Sometimes I am shocked by the simplicity of classic Euro games. In Attika you have two options on your turn: Draw buildings or Build buildings. Two choices. That’s it. How can you possibly make a compelling game from two choices? You make it compelling by adding tension, making it a race, limiting players options, and by adding a little bit of randomness so that not every game is identical. This game is so simple yet possesses an elegance that makes me jealous as a game designer. It’s not the greatest game ever made, but there is just something about it. It makes me want to start a game design by only giving players two options. It’s similar to games like Ticket to Ride where players only have three choices on their turn (play trains, draw train cards, draw route cards). That simplicity builds throughout the game and it makes for a pretty outstanding experience.

Designer’s Corner:

Such an old version. It's way better now.

Such an old version. It’s way better now.

As Gen Con approaches I find it is once again crunch time to prepare a game for demoing/playtesting. Last year I failed miserably to have Conclave ready to go. Though Conclave only had two or three real playtests so it didn’t deserve table time anyway. But I have found that I am still making some major changes to Brooklyn Bridge.

One issue is that it takes way too long. This has always been the case. One reason for that was because players would have to build the towers first, then they could work on the cable. Having this linear progression through the game combined with the mechanic for obtaining cable bundles caused a huge halt in the action and really killed the dynamic of the game.

So I am changing how it works. Now the cable will be an important aspect from the start of the game. Players will have to choose whether to contribute to the cable (long-term points) or contribute to the bridge (short-term points). Adding in a cable mechanic that forces players’ strategy from the start of the game should not only allow for quicker gameplay but also add a layer of decision space to the game.

Another change I made was to drop mortar from the game. Previously when players wanted to contribute to the bridge they would have to have one mortar per brick they were building. The result was that since players had to spend turns gaining bricks and other turns gaining mortar, the game slowed down. Now without mortar in the game it will be more of a fast-paced race where players will have more competition for building the bridge.

The final change I am looking forward to trying is that I dropped private scoring in favor of public scoring. I had created about 12 private scoring cards. These were horribly unbalanced and ultimately didn’t drive players’ strategy as much as I had hoped. So now I am converting the scoring conditions to a more Euro approach. This is accomplished by having some cards that are “Accomplishments” and having some cards that are endgame scoring conditions. For example, if players build 3 bricks in any one section of a tower they can take one of the scoring tokens for that accomplishment card. Then the scoring token is placed face down by their player mat and will be added to their score at the end of the game. This is pretty standard Euro fair and I think it will work quite well in this situation.

I’m excited about the current state of the game but I know I have a lot of work ahead of me. Many more playtests are required for this game before I’ll be happy with it, but progress is certainly being made!

Horizontal Rule

So what Boards & Barley have you been enjoying? How are your game designs coming along?

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Posted on July 28, 2014, in Brooklyn Bridge, Game Design, Monday Brews, My Games, The Barley, The Boards and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Good luck on Brooklyn Bridge over the next couple of weeks! (I know the feeling; I’m doing some development work on a game that I want to test with some people who will be at Gen Con, but I feel the time slipping away. 🙂 I hope to get a chance to try this one at Gen Con; I love the theme.

    • Thanks Randy. It definitely is crunch time for Brooklyn Bridge with some of these pretty significant changes. I’ll have Brooklyn Bridge after hours (late at night) in the open gaming hall.

      • I’ll be sure to track you down. Are you planning to publish Brooklyn Bridge yourself when it’s ready? Or are you planning to pitch it to publishers at Gen Con?

  2. Randy: we might self publish but I doubt I would turn down a contract from another publisher. But first I have to turn it into a great game or else the rest of the conversation is pointless.

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