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Subject: Designer Diary - Five Tribes - Part 2 rss

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bruno cathala
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3 - Along a lonely road...

That thought continues to haunt me well beyond this second night.

But what story could I couple with such a mechanism? What pitch?

And then, all of a sudden, it all becomes clear. Colored tokens present on the playing surface in the early game must be... workers . Yes, that's right, rather than just another workers placement game, why not work on a game in which ALL workers are already present on the board at the start of the game, and in which it is their displacement that will generate the different tactical options available to players.

Yes, it is clear, that's what I want to focus on:
A GAME OF WORKERS DIS-PLACEMENT!

This being established, I must now rebuild the game. And to build it, at this stage, I need a story... These "workers", what is their function? ...In which world do they evolve?

At first, for convenience, I decide to settle on Ancient Egypt. Ancient Egypt is good: it speaks to everyone, I don’t need to worry about being realistic, there is a sizeable shared fantasy in the collective unconscious, the gods are all-powerful and can be used as alibi for all conceivable effects I may need, images are easy to find. At this stage of progress in my work, it's perfect. And there will still be time to consider something more original later.

In this universe, the workers will move from tile to tile... Quite logically, I come to think of these tiles as different neighborhoods in a city in full development. Workers will move from neighborhood to neighborhood. A quick search on the web and I come across the story of the city of Heliopolis. Stories full of gods, castes and legends... The soil is fertile; even better, this name will do just fine for a prototype. (well I admit, I also briefly considered calling the game "The Village Meeples" ... sorry ... ;-)



Even at the prototype stage, I want this game to be beautiful on an aesthetic level, varied and fun to play on a tactical level. These different neighborhoods should have different functions. Naturally enough, in a city in these latitudes , I am thinking about souks, oases, temples, gardens... For what purpose, I’m not sure at this stage, but I want variety. But not too much. Otherwise the game will be too long to explain, and too difficult to master.

As for the workers themselves... First, I place an order for a sizeable set of colorful Meeples. Because it will be much nicer to have the feeling of seeing "real" characters move from neighborhood to neighborhood rather than having colorful wooden cubes standing in for my characters!

Again, I want and need variety for the richness of the game, but not so much that the game loses half of its potential players mid-way through the learning curve. The crucial question is: how many "colors", i.e., how many different jobs for these famous workers?

Impossible to pick less than 3 colors: When you want to balance a multi-player game (because of course, by now, I’ve decided not to confine myself to a two player game), it takes a minimum of three variables. It's like a seat: with one or two feet, it will be super unstable and reserved for high-flying acrobats. As soon as you add a third leg, it all immediately and permanently stabilizes itself.

But it’s also difficult to go beyond 7 colors: in fact I remember an interesting discussion with someone who worked on the memory of humans. He’d told me we could demonstrate that for 80 % of the population, it was quasi-impossible to reliably memorize more than 7 different elements, no matter how simple and different each of these 7 elements might be.

So I opt for 5 colors. It is entirely arbitrary, but at the same time, it feels pretty consistent and comfortable in terms of balancing richness and accessibility, and then there is exactly 5 different colors in Magic The Gathering... this can’t help but make me confident!!

Now these workers, I need to find a job for them all. Let’s see… We shall have:
➢ The Merchants in green, of course
➢ The High dignitaries in yellow
➢ The Architects in blue
➢ The Priests in white
➢ And in red… the Assassins of course (can’t go wrong with a little direct interaction. I don’t like it when everyone plays alone in his own little corner ... we'll see what to do with it later, but I WANT murderers. Na!)

And in regards to how many of each type... Well, let’s start with the same number of characters in each category.

Now back to my beloved city, Heliopolis. First, how large should it be?
There are five classes of workers, all in equal quantity. We start the game with 3 workers on each tile (since this was the basis of my small initial prototype) . Therefore the number of Tiles * 3 must be a multiple of 5!
An area of ​​3 * 3 tiles won’t work , nor would one of 4 * 4 ...
But 5 * 5 = 25 tiles and 25 * 3 = 75 Meeples will work, with 15 meeples in each category. That doesn’t seem bad. Let’s start with that.

So 25 neighborhoods in total… Just like I did with the other elements of this game, I begin running some game situations in my head, and decide to divide these tiles into two main categories:
➢ Monuments (that will include Temples and various other Buildings)
➢ Popular areas (Markets and Oases)
Of course, there should be more popular areas than monuments. In addition, aesthetically, it will look better and be easier to read, not a bad thing. So let’s go with 15 Popular areas and 10 Monuments. For a first test run, this should work.

The setup will be random: the 25 tiles will be randomly arranged into a 5 × 5 square, with 3 Meeples randomly grabbed from a bag and placed on each Tile. The background and stage are now all set, and the actors all in place.

Now let’s try and breathe some life into all of it.


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Dérek Boily
Canada
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Très divertissant, j'ai hâte de lire la suite (et d'essayer ce jeu aussi d'ailleurs)...!
 
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Cristian Frunza
Romania
Bucuresti
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Looking forward to reading part 3 ! It looks really interesting.
 
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