Posted in Board Game Design

Board Game Design Journal #2 – Back to Formula

The play-testing of On Ice helped me realize something.
I don’t know what I am doing.

And that’s, OK. We must start somewhere!
Some aspects of the game play were so far off from what I was imagining, that the theme was invisible. I can’t hang with that. The game’s angst and anxiety is lost waiting for your turn. The randomness of the Mob phase was not how I wanted the situation handled.  The heist section was very anticlimactic and unrewarding and much too random. In that specific situation, my goal for the players is to know exactly what is coming. If they don’t prepare for it then they will be facing failure. Rather than hoping for a successful heist they’ll be forced to rely on their abilities to mitigate damage and escape. None of that translated over because the randomness was too much to conquer.
So, I took the experience back to formula. I’m examining the emotions I’m trying to pull out of people more closely. The good news is that a lot of what I have is still viable. The order things happen needs to change. Banking, for example, needs to happen first, above all else. Many player actions can be done simultaneously and cut down time in half. I was happy the mechanics for the heist phase – using skills to unlock required heist success dice – worked exactly how I envisioned. It did fail because of the randomness of the events deck. Also, having not streamlined the skill points system negotiations took longer than I was hoping for. But process-wise it went smoothly.
I’m not discouraged by this at all.  I’m not in a rush. I do have a goal in mind to try and publish this, but I am not going to let the vague goal get in the way of creating a fun game.