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Designer's Diary - Memphis - V1.0 (kinda)

Mike Cooper
United States
Lewisville
Texas
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Genesis: A friend introduced me to the Mayfair crayon rail series of games, which are fun as a social activity, but can take a long time to play (think 1 hour per player) and there's not a lot of interaction. I decided that I liked pick-up-and-deliver games, but wanted something that played in less time and had at least some interaction between players. Before I knew better, I based it in Egypt, which is overdone. However, given that I've included quarrying of the stone and the end result is building monuments, I think I can get away with it at least until I try to publish, then it'll probably turn into construction in the city.

Overview: A pick-up-and-deliver game for 2-6 (may scale down to 4 due to building constraints on the board). Stones (cubes) are mined at the quarry upstream, then delivered to the desert and put into predetermined monument locations based on a random tile setup. When a monument is complete, the cubes are removed from the board and a replica of the actual monument is put in its place. The building of the pyramids act as a game timer. Once the last pyramid is built, the game is over.

Rules: These have changed significantly since the original idea and subsequent playtests, but since I'm starting new documentation online, I'm going to go ahead and call these v1.0. I'm currently using an action point system for resource movement (loading on barge/transport to desert/unloading to sled/transport to monument location/installation) and have decided I want to use the same type of action point allowance as in Niagara, coupled together with variable player power cards as in Mission: Red Planet. The player powers will either let you do positive things for yourself, or let you do negative things to other players.

Scoring: Completed monuments (except for the pyramids) score points based on their size. High score wins. Building on the pyramid gives you bonuses (haven't decided what type yet), but, of course, advance the end of the game.

Strategy: I'm looking for a balanced play between getting bonuses that will help build your monuments and stay a step ahead of your opponents versus hastening the ending of the game.

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Issues: The first full playtest took three hours with three people - not what I was looking for. I chalked it up to the size of the board and the fact that you could choose anywhere on the board to build (there were score multipliers that went up the further into the desert you built). The game was functional, but not fun. The interaction wasn't what I had hoped for, and it was tough keeping track of 20 action points (plus bonuses or minus penalties) each turn.
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