Two weeks ago I started this new bi-weekly feature called Design Me. The idea is that I come up with a random game design on the fly in an act of basically barfing a design into words that you are now reading! For the first Design Me I came up with a dice drafting/worker placement game called The Rolling Wort Boil. Today, after soliciting theme suggestions on Twitter and receiving none (I assume you all were at lunch) I have decided to collaborate with an awesome new tool available.
The tool is called Boardgamizer. It is a website that punches you in the gut with ideas for game designs. The way it works is it randomly chooses Mechanics, Themes, Victory Conditions, and Constraints. Then it’s up to you to let your mind plug away and come up with something. That basically makes Boardgamizer the perfect tool for these articles!
Here is the result for today:
The concept behind Hou-ti-son Basin is that the world has undergone massive changes. With the invention of flying automobiles, referred to as aircars, the road infrastructure has been completely neglected and mostly destroyed. There are only a few roads left that can be landed on. The other development is that with the aircars came aircar accidents. In the air there are no roads, so people would fly wherever they wanted, however fast they wanted.
Unfortunately when aircars crash in the air, they fall to the ground, often on houses or buildings. That’s not so good.
The other problem with the future is that supplies are very limited. People have to make death-defying flights to scary locations where they are put at risk so that they can purchase the supplies they need. But at the same time, they must be careful not to stock too many supplies at their “base of operations” lest they become a target of theft.
How To Play
At it’s heart, Hou-ti-son Basin is a tile placement game. Each turn players will draw and place a tile like they do in Carcassonne. However, the main thing that differentiates Hou-ti-son Basin from Carcassonne is that the tiles will be used for movement. This probably makes it more similar to Tsuro or Cable Car.
But there’s a catch. Players may place tiles on top of already existing tiles. The tiles themselves will show the flight paths that you are allowed to take with your craft. But flight paths are expensive to register with the recently founded Hou-ti-son Basin Aerial Flight Commision Ministry of Aerial Convenience. That means you’ll likely have to share the cost burden with your opponents by adding and sharing your flight paths. That save money, but opens the door to thievery and aircar accidents.
To win the game you will have to defend your base. That means you have to successfully fly out and procure the correct types of resources and return them to your base. This also means that you will have to protect your base from thievery. If other player have a flight path that connects to your base, they then have the capability to fly in there and steal some of your resources. To prevent that you will need to be close enough to your base to eliminate their flight path that gives them access.
So each player will have a secret card that shows their victory condition. These are different combinations of resources that they need to procure. If at any time their victory condition is met, all of the players will have one more turn to try to also meet their victory condition. If there are multiple players that meet their victory condition on the same turn, then the player with the most resources will win.
The tiles themselves represent the different resources in the game. For the sake of simplicity for this article I have created three different types. Let’s pretend they are water (blue), corn (green), and biomass (brown). Here are the available tile types in this quick design exercise:
There are a few rules to how tiles can be placed:
- White flight paths must line up.
- A tile can only be placed over a tile of the same color.
- Tiles can never be place over one’s starting base.
- Tiles must be placed orthogonal to already existing tiles.
The resources a player earns in the game are a direct result of their flight path. If a flight path has three or more of any type (color) of resource in a row, you earn one of those resources when you fly your aircar. If a flight path has 5 or more of the same color in a row, you earn 3 of that resource. So players will need to carefully place their flight paths so that they can earn the resources they need.
Here is the starting map:
I’m not a huge fan of the “defending your base” victory thing. Nor am I necessarily a huge fan of the hidden victory conditions for this game. But my brain already spewed those words into this article and therefore they shall remain.
I prefer this option: There are 8 flight paths into/out of your base. That means you can create four loop paths during the game if you fly out of one and into another. So I would have the game played where players can complete up to four loops. You earn resources for each of those four loops. Once a loop has been used, it’s “into/out of” spots are used up and unavailable. So players cannot just keep using the same flight path over and over.
The game would end when someone has completed their fourth loop. Each other player would have the chance for one more turn. The winner would be the player who has earned the most resources from their completed loops.
Remember that the point of these Design Me articles is to basically “practice” designing games. It’s fun to use a tool like Boardgamizer to choose some random mechanics and themes and see what you can come up with. So the game design thoughts above aren’t necessarily meant to become the next awesome game design, though I think this one could particularly be fun.
Please let me know if you have any thoughts or comments about this game design or about the Design Me concept.
Thanks for reading!