Grand Illusion Update


Today I wanted to report on the progress of The Grand Illusion. Normally I do that on Thursdays and I was planning on posting a game review today but I’m excited about the game so I figured I’d write about it.

What’s New?

I’ve begun prototyping! I have created a deck of skill cards. These cards represent the 9 types of magic in the game. The types of magic are in two separate tiers: basic and advanced. There are 6 basic types and 3 advanced types. Here is a picture showing the skill cards (thanks to The Game Crafter for blank cards – They have blank poker cards on sale right now for 1 cent each!).

Collect these and use them to perform never-before-seen magic tricks to appease your growing audience!

Collect these and use them to perform never-before-seen magic tricks to appease your growing audience!

Those are hand-drawn icons, people!

What’s Next?

The next step for the prototype is to create a deck of Trick cards. These are cards that represent magic tricks. During the game you’ll need to collect the skill cards shown above and then turn them in to complete the magic tricks.

Once you perform a magic trick you will earn the rewards and audience shown on the card.

So let’s discuss audience… Audience is actually a currency in the game. It is necessary to build an audience during the game or you will not meet the requirements on your Grand Illusion card. So each time you perform a trick, if successful, you will gain audience. In the game you will collect skill cards, spend them to perform tricks, gain audience and increase your skills to be able to perform better tricks.

There will definitely be some engine building in the game. The goal of this design is to be an entry-level game with an easy rule set that is quick to teach and play. The main mechanics are set collection and engine building.

Engine Building

Engine building in games refers to the idea of obtaining some ability or benefit that let’s you do things a little better, then getting another one that builds on the previous ability or benefit.

In The Grand Illusion the engine is represented by the skills each magician will gain. Will you become a master of vanishing acts? Perhaps you’ll be the best at restoration magic? Ultimately you’ll have to get proficient at at least two basic types of magic and one advanced magic.

The question I’m currently struggling with is how exactly to create the engine building element. I have two options I’m considering:

1) Splendor-Like

In the game Splendor players turn in poker chips to grab a card from the table. Once they grab that card it usually acts as a poker chip. So for future card grabs they need one less poker chip. This would work perfectly for The Grand Illusion but I don’t want to copycat an existing game.

2) Tech Tree

A tech tree is something where you must complete “Level 1” stuff before you can work on “Level 2.” So in The Grand Illusion I could have a tech tree (pyramid) of trick cards on the table. When a player would perform a trick they would place a token of their player color on the trick to show they’ve completed it. This would also direct their play as there would be advantages and disadvantages for breadth versus depth.

I think that once I create the Trick deck I’ll try out both of these options. The Splendor-like version may work better, but I’m more drawn to the Tech Tree version since it is more original.

Horizontal Rule

My goal is to prototype the skills deck this weekend and aim for the first playtest next week! Thanks for reading. I’d love to hear your thoughts about the different engine building options.


Posted on September 12, 2014, in Game Design, Grand Illusion, My Games, Prototyping, The Boards and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. The tech tree approach does sound more original. Cool to see your progress!

  2. In the tech tree, would there be bonuses for being the first or not the first to do a trick? For example, thematically if I’m the first to do a trick, I might gain more audience because I’m so original. But if I see you do the trick first, it might be easier for me to perform it later because all I have to do is copy you, rather than come up with it on my own trick.

    • Yes, Adam. There will definitely be bonuses for being the first to perform a trick. Though just because some else has performed it, that doesn’t mean it will be easier for you to do it. Observation does not equal ability.

  3. Would there way for the tech tree to be optional? I like how 7 Wonders handles that with the chaining: you can always build card Y if you have the resources, but you might be able to build it for free if you have already built X. It seems like something like that would work well: you could perform a trick B if you gained the right skill cards, but if you already had some relevant experience from completing trick A then perhaps trick B could be easier?

  4. Loving how this is developing. I agree that the Splendor method seems right in line with the way this game is developing. I think a mix of the two (Splendor – Tech Tree) would be awesome if you could pull it off. Something like having the first trick of a branch of the tree gives no bonus, but gives you the ability to do the next trick, The next trick gives you the ability to do the third, but also a +1 or +2 “poker chip” then doing the third would be a +3 “poker chip” or something.

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