It’s Friday and I haven’t exercised my brain lately. So today I am doing a Design Me challenge.
Design Me challenges are all about exercising your brain. Like soccer players need to practice when not playing games, so I believe designers should practice their design skills. A Design Me challenge is a great way to exercise your designer mind. So let’s exercise our minds using this combination of theme, mechanics, and victory condition from Boardgamizer:
If you have never checked out Boardgamizer, go do so right now! You just might be inspired for your next awesome game design.
Manhunt is a tile (card) placement dexterity game for 2 to who knows how many players. Let’s say 8. So 2-8 players. Each player is given an objective card at the beginning of the game. On each card are two goals. The first player to complete both goals will win this fast-paced fun and interactive game!
This game has very few components. They are:
- 8 Objective Tiles
- 46 City Tiles of varying terrain
- Manhunt tokens
- Objective tokens
How To Play
Deal each player one Objective tile. This represents that player’s victory condition. Shuffle the City deck and place it face down near the edge of the table. Flip one tile face up and place it in the center of the table. Then flip two more tiles and place them face up next to the deck.
On your turn you will either choose one of the two face up tiles OR you will draw a tile off the top of the deck. Then you will flip, drop, toss, or whatever you need to do to get the tile onto the table. However, you simply cannot place the card on the table.
No matter where the tile lands it becomes part of the city.
Of course you will want to try to do certain things. Let’s look at the tiles and then discuss some strategy:
Some of the objectives require you to earn Manhunt tokens. To earn a Manhunt token you you to get your tile to cover up a cross-hairs icon. For each icon that you cover you will earn 1 Manhunt token.
Some of the objectives require grouping colors together. So if you can get a group of four brown city sections together then you might meet your objective.
Some objectives could be to get roads together. If you can get three road sections to line up you might meet your objective.
When you complete an objective you should take an Objective token and place it onto your objective tile to indicate that the objective has been met.
So using roads, city sections, and cross-hair symbols you can have a slew of different objectives to meet. The first player who can meet their objectives from their tile will be the winner.
I have successfully exercised my mind and created a tile placement dexterity game that I think could be a fun 10-15 minute filler. I have not played Jason Tagmire’s Maximum Throwdown but I imagine this is similar to that. Sorry, Jason, if this is a rip-off of that. Or I suppose this is similar to FlowerFall. If you think a game like this could be fun, then I suggest you check out Maximum Throwdown or FlowerFall.
Thanks for reading and don’t forget to exercise you designer mind!
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!
In case you missed it, last week was GenCon. That meant thousands of people (49,000+) visited Indianapolis for the convention and nearly all of them bought board games. One of the games I picked up, despite my lack of interest in the artwork, was The Little Prince, co-designed by famed designers Bruno Cathala and Antoine Bauza.
I love tile laying games. So when I watched W. Eric Martin’s video preview of the game I thought it could be really interesting. And since Bruges was sold out before I even got to GenCon I had a little extra money to spend on other things. For $28 this seemed worth it.
In The Little Prince you will play 16 rounds of the game. On any given round, whomever went last during the previous round gets to choose a type of tile. There are four types of tiles: Characters, Left Curve Edges, Right Curve Edges, and Centers. So the player will choose one type and draw as many tiles as there are players. They are placed face-up. They will then choose a tile, and then they get to choose who gets the next tile. Once all players had chosen then the next round begins.
Here’s a look at the setup (note that you do not actually need the scoring track on the box, but it’s kind of nice to look at):
With fewer players you’ll use fewer tiles, but the gameplay is the same (except for with 2 players). There are also a few things to watch out for in the game. Baobab trees are awesome! Unless you have too many. If you ever get to the point where you have three baobabs on your planet then those three tiles will get flipped over. That’s bad because then you cannot use them for your scoring condition.
Also, volcanoes are no good. Whoever has the most volcanoes on their planet at the end loses a number of points equal to the number of volcanoes.
At the end you will have four scoring conditions that give you points for the things you have on your planet (roses, sheep, lamp posts, etc.). Your goal is to have the most points.
Simplicity: 16 tiles doth a planet make! That’s such an easy thing. It is very simple to play. Just choose a tile and place it down. The location doesn’t even matter so long as you are forming the shape of a planet.
Complexity: 16 sounds like a light game, but there is a lot of strategy in this game. The more players, the better off you’ll be. There are interesting choices of taking a tile that may not score you as much, but could cause another player to lose even more points. There are interesting choices about trying to get in the right spot in turn order. And then near the end of the game there are interesting choices. This game is filled with interesting choices.
Artwork: Originally I was not a fan of the artwork. I’m not familiar with the French story so there is no nostalgic connection for me to the artwork. While I can understand that others may enjoy it, I would definitely be on board to re-theme this one. I could consider myself a fan of the artwork on the basis of others enjoying that nostalgic feeling.
Designer Perspective: What would I change?
Other than re-theming there’s only one change I would make. I would add more scoring characters so that there are no duplicates. In my first game I had both lamp post scoring characters, and I had 13 lamp posts on my planet. With duplicate scoring characters there is a potential for making a huge killing. While I understand that there is also strategy inherent due to the duplicate scoring cards, I’d prefer there be no duplicate scoring cards.
What we have here is an interesting conundrum. First, the game is based on a French book, so I’m inclined to choose a wine pairing instead of beer. (No worries, that sort of blasphemy won’t happen here!). Second, the game itself is so simple and light, yet so deep with strategy. I have to choose a beer that fits that characteristic. I’d like to choose a French beer, but unfortunately France just isn’t known for it’s beer. So my preferred beer pairing for this light yet deep game is Stella Artois. (It’s close enough to France!) This beer meets the characteristics of the story and the game. It is a lighter beer but has a beautiful depth to it. I think with it’s hoity toity glass with the gold rim (not pictured), it would be a very nice fit with The Little Prince.
Disclaimer: I’ve only played the game twice, but I think it was a lot of fun. My wife played it with me and immediately afterward wanted to play again. That makes me bump the rating up a little bit. This game is very accessible. It has some awesome depth to the strategy. And it plays quickly. This will hopefully become our group’s go-to filler for a while. I know that I won’t turn down a game of it! For now I’ll rate this a 9 on the BoardGameGeek rating scale.