Category Archives: Ziggurat

Monday Brews – 3-9-15

It’s gonna be 48 degrees here in Wisconsin today so that’s pretty awesome. Also awesome is that the college basketball tournament is approaching. I love the tournament because the kids playing college basketball put so much heart into it compared to professional sports where it’s more about money. But this website isn’t for writing about sportsball.

So let’s see what Boards & Barley I’ve enjoyed over the last week:

The Barley:

BARLEY SPOTLIGHT:
NEW! Snake River Vienna Lager

My friend Jeremy brought these back from a recent trip out west and graciously shared them with us. It was a very enjoyable beer and was characteristic of Vienna Lagers. I’d love to visit the brewery someday. By the looks of their website they’ve got a great brewpub.

New Beer Count for 2015: 19

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The Boards:

Unfortunately you still can’t turn lead into gold.

BOARDS SPOTLIGHT:
NEW! Alchemists

I had been wanting to play this game by Czech Games Edition for a while and was able to get it to the table at Board Game Night. Alchemists is like Clue except instead of having to figure out three things you need to figure out 8. And instead of having turns where you roll a 1 and move one space through the mansion you can do great stuff every turn. And instead of having the game end by someone making a lucky guess you play 6 rounds.

Alchemists was a ton of fun. The gameplay is great. The theme works really well. The deduction is intense. I lost badly but I seriously enjoyed the game. The only downsides for me were that there’s a pretty steep learning curve. The first play took us three hours. That included the time it took to teach, though. The bottom line was that I thoroughly enjoyed the game and I can’t wait to play Alchemists again.

  • NEW! Robinson Crusoe – We got beat so badly that I’ll have to play again just so I can feature it as the BOARDS SPOTLIGHT without feeling like we played so poorly.
  • Roll for the Galaxy

New Board Game Count for 2015: 14

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Designer’s Corner:

Ziggurat is coming along nicely. I have been working on it feverishly so that I can have it ready for Protospiel-Milwaukee in April.

The problem that was mentioned about the game in it’s previous form was that if you weren’t building you were falling behind. And the first to build got the better bonuses so they could build better and faster and become a runaway leader. That was a bummer.

So I’ve come up with a new, more “Euro” system of playing this game. It will turn the game into more of a point-salad, “Feldian” type game, but those are the types of games I enjoy.

The solution I came up with changes the game slightly in that it is mildly less accessible since the learning curve is steeper. However, the game play should be much improved as there are more things to consider on each and every turn. The scoring conditions are also improved. In the previous version the win would all but be known when the game ended. I prefer that players not know who is going to win before the end of the game. This gives all players hope that they might somehow sneak out a victory. So I’ve changed it so that there are a lot more points counted at the end rather than during the game.

Overall I’m really excited about where this is going. I think there’s a lot of potential here. But ultimately, this game is a lot of fun to design.

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So that’s what I’ve been up to. What Boards & Barley have you been enjoying?

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Ziggurat: Building the Game

I designed Ziggurat the Thursday evening before Prototspiel-Madison in October. I prototyped it the Friday of Protospiel. It was played four times during Protospiel. And I am finally putting together the pieces to turn it into an awesome game!

So today I want to share a little bit about the game and the basics of how it plays. But first here’s a history lesson:

What is a Ziggurat?

Ziggurats are like the Sumerian equivalent of Egyptian pyramids. They are basically a huge brick structure with several levels. They served as the focal point of worship in those ancient cultures. Often it is believed that a temple was built atop the ziggurats.

And since I’d rather focus on the game rather than the history, here’s the Wikipedia link: Ziggurat

The Game…

The thrust of the game revolves around building the Ziggurat. As the design currently stands you have two options on your turn:

  1. Purchase resources (bricks, laborers, special abilities) from the courtyard marketplace.
  2. Spend bricks and laborers to build the Ziggurat.

One of my design goals is to come up with games that are accessible and easy to teach. Ziggurat is like that. The simplicity of limiting what actions can be taken makes the game accessible for non-gamers.

The region of interest, in terms of adding strategy, is to design compelling and interesting decisions into those two options. For example, when purchasing from the courtyard market, would you be willing to pay a higher price for a better card? Also, when building the Ziggurat, does the location where you are building matter?

These are the sorts of things I’m trying to design into Ziggurat. Let’s take a look at the prototype.

The Prototype…

I had previously obtained some components from The Game Crafter at a prior Protospiel event. It turns out that the components I had worked perfectly for what I wanted to achieve with Ziggurat. Here is a first look at the bare prototype:

Barebones prototype demonstrating the 3D nature of the game.

Bare bones prototype demonstrating the 3D nature of the game.

The Ziggurat is composed of three levels. On each level there are platforms that need to be built. Players will build the platforms by spending the appropriate resource and then placing one of their player cubes onto the platform. Once the first level is completed it will be scored. Then the large square tiles for the second level will be placed on top of it. Here is a look at the Prototype with more details on the tiles and platforms.

The Ramp lists what the scoring conditions are for the current game.

The Ramp lists what the scoring conditions are for the current game.

One thing of great importance in the game are the platforms. Each platform requires 4 cubes. When any given platform is completed, each player who helped build the platform will earn some reward. The rewards available are shown on the corners of the tiles. This is a way to ramp things up in the game and loosen the tightness of the resources. It also incentivizes building, which is the whole idea of the game.

Here’s another picture of Ziggurat at the end of a Protospiel playtest:

Ziggurat Completed! Time for final scoring.

Ziggurat Completed! Time for final scoring.

In the bottom left of the image above you can see the courtyard market. In the current version of the game there are six cards in the market. Players may purchase up to two cards. The card at the end costs zero and the costs ramp up as 1, 1, 2, 3, 4. The image has different costs, which I have since adjusted.

The Latest Prototype…

I’m a sucker for creating decent looking artwork and graphics. I use Inkscape, which I recommend. I mocked up some cards and placed an order with TheGameCrafter.com. Here’s what they look like:

Each card represents a laborer OR the resources on the back.

Each card represents a laborer OR the resources on the back.

With a deck made I decided it was time to upgrade the tiles and platforms as well. So I did. Here’s the final result which shows the current state of the game:

Not too shabby, for a prototype!

Not too shabby, for a prototype!

I have some big plans for the game. I want it to be slightly less singular in terms of your goals so I’ll be adding a few other paths to victory. But I solidly enjoy the game as it is.

Feel free to ask any questions. I’m excited to hear what people think and I’m just as excited about the future of the game. This one feels like Scoville did when I designed that. I think there’s a lot of potential here. Thanks for reading!

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