Posted on Dec 9, 2014 - 15:47
Thibaut and I set out to create another board game after all the fun we had at the game jam in July making a board game about drinking at an oasis in the dessert (with music!).
The topics of the game jam, decided via vote, were:
- Winter is coming!
- How did THAT happen?
We choose to focus on “Winter is coming!” and “Growing” and kicked the jam of with a 3×15 minutes brainstorming session putting out three different rough game concepts.
After a short discussion, we decided to go with a farmer theme (grow stuff before winter) with a base mechanic of planting seeds on a field.
We settled on a game with four players, a game board with 4×4 plots and four different types of plants/seed: wheat, potato, apple and carrot (love the symmetry:). The seeds were shuffled and distributed randomly to the players. The players would then plant seeds taking turns until all seeds were planted. Then the planted seeds were scored according to several rules, e.g. one point for each adjacent field with the same plant. In addition, the plant a player would receive score for was randomly determined.
The game board was simply drawn on a piece of paper, for the seed markers we used colored markers from a board game prototyping set.
We played several rounds with this mechanic and it already showed a quite dynamic and interesting game play with lots of player interactions. But the game play was still a bit too static. The small board limited the players choices (think tic-tac-toe) and the direct player interaction was quite limited.
Enter the …
We increased the board to 5×5 plots with an empty plot in the middle. This was sufficient to create a more dynamic and tactical game play when placing the markers.
In addition, we introduced a swapping mechanic: after each turn each player has to pass one seed token to her neighbor. This increased at the same time the randomness and introduced new tactical option.
After the base mechanics were fixed, we focused on balancing the scoring mechanism. While we tried to keep the strength of the different plants comparable, we wanted to give a very different feel, which also included one plant to be stronger than the other. Such differences would be balanced by (1) playing of several rounds and thereby every player having the chance to play one of the stronger plants and (2) the “gang up mechanic”, i.e. players who won a round would probably be watched closely the next round with the rest of the players teaming up to prevent another win. Especially the second point is strongly supported by the mechanics, which give plenty of options to slow down another player.
The game was finished and balanced around 7pm, which gave us plenty of time to prepare the presentation
You can download the rules and some artwork on our github page: