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1987 Channel Tunnel Design Diary (4/4)

Isra C.
Spain
Valdemoro, Madrid
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Hi there!

There's only 24h to go for the awesomely successful Kickstarter campaing in which 1987 Channel Tunnel is included

This is last diary entry, hope you like them!!!


Previously on 1987 Channel Tunnel Design Diary (1) , (2) , (3)...


We went to Protos and Tipos 2018 with the changes we had in the last post and we didn't stop demoing for the whole weekend. The plays followed one after the other and each one of us liked the way it was working.



At the end of the fair, Pedro Soto took the prototype under his arm and soon gave us the great news that it would be the first game of the 19xx series that would not be designed by Perepau. As you can understand, this was huge for us.

But that's it? What is this, the end of Game of Thrones? No! The diary doesn't end here. Once Perepau finished the development of 1906, he started with the development of 1987. He reviewed the cards and added a few little things that have given him the feeling of a complete game. We were able to test a version of that prototype in Essen in 2018 and we practically didn't need any additional rules to play. Shamely, it was the only game we played in the Spiel, but it was so special that we didn’t even notice. This game was a special illusion




Among the changes proposed to us by the chief developer were the financing as an action and the misalignment of the tunnel boring machine, which is a side effect of tunneling. Like when you drill a wall and you twist the hole (true story).
Since this change made the game was a little longer, they eliminate a section of the tunnel (before there were 7 cards, now there are 6, divided into 3 portions) and that made the game 10’ shorter. In addition, when you added the misalignment of the tunnel boring machine you had one more spark of uncertainty about when the end of the game would come, and we liked that very much.

The player's boards and tracks were also modified, which was to be expected since the model we show at Protos and Tipos was a "we need something functional" version. Let us explain ourselves. Sometimes in order to reach a fair, or a goal, you have to have something that works even if it is not perfect, it has to be functional. And that's what we did with the tracks and the board. We had to get to the Protos and Tipos and we didn't have the time to design a proper board. Perepau added financing as a requirement for the advancement of the tracks.



They gave us a first version to test the changes made by Perepau and between comings and goings we finished the development together. We want to highlight the documentation that the guys from Looping did added thematic decisions like the one that UK starts with less warehouse because they did not have where to store the rubble or that the cost of financing is different on the boards because each country faced it in a different way.



These modifications together with the misalignment and the asymmetry of the warehouses form the final version of the player boards. And the best of all is that everything is documented and has a reason!

And with this, some previews of images made by Pedro, a successful Verkami campaign with a lot of work, a lot of documentation and more enthusiasm behind it, we arrive at what you are seeing now. If anyone still wonders if the 19xx are made with love, bear in mind that they have 4 people who make a team. Víctor, César, Perepau, Pedro: Thank you for this opportunity!

For our part, these are the last lines of this 1987 Chunnel diary. Shortly, the following entries will be written by you playing this project that we love so much.

We hope you like it! See you at the table!.

Shei & Isra
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Fri Oct 4, 2019 11:31 am
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1987 Channel Tunnel Design Diary (3/4)

Isra C.
Spain
Valdemoro, Madrid
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Hi there!

There's only 4 days to go for the awesomely successful Kickstarter campaing in which 1987 Channel Tunnel is included and we're on hurry to finish the diary before it ends.

This is the 3rd chapter and the final one will be on Friday with the end of the campaing!


Previously on 1987 Channel Tunnel Design Diary (1) and (2)...

Easy, eaaaaasy.


The game was horrible, partly because they misapplied the central action mechanic, which is the coolest thing about the game. They didn't apply the obligation to go with all the discs of the same color, and that was awful. Apart from that, was also bad for more things that we saw, among them the payment of discs to get the cards and sometimes little interaction between the players in the actions. So we sat down to hit the head. We are engineers, and where we see a problem, we have to give it a solution.



The luck factor was still there and when there were no interesting cards, it was still stuck. The game was in a boring state that we wanted to avoid: draining-tunneling and starting again. There wasn't always an interesting card offer. And suddenly we got it!

To counteract the randomness and the poor offer of cards, we came up with the following: Each card was going to have an associated action. Therefore, with one card you could do two things: either get the card for the cost of discs or execute the associated action by discarding the card (unlocking the supply as the game advances).



Adapting it to the particularities of this design, we turned the randomness of the card display into a good thing giving the user several and variable actions to carry out! But the fact that the players lost actions in order to get cards in a round did not convince us; the game is fun when you’re performing actions!, so we took the cost in discs and change it in rubble tokens.



With this change, we saw the mistake we made associating the cost of the cards with the actions.

Okay, and now that cards are "bought" with rubble tokens, what do we do with the board? Should we remove it or put something else in it? As we are eurogamers, there is nothing we like more than a good track, so we put not one, but 2 that were unlocking things. Just as it works to see how you fill a board, it also works to see that you are given things as you move forward. But we're Uwe's kids and Uwe doesn't like to have things stored just like that, so we added an rubble token storage so you couldn't just accumulate for the sake of accumulating. And if it's full, you can't keep tunneling! It's up to you to be organised in this game.

Different versions of the boards.



Then we went from having the actions of draining and tunneling on separate action cards and put them together into one to make the turn by turn more tense. Because in the disaster game we saw with our friends, when the tunneling machines were "out of sync" (when one is tunneling and the other draining) there was no struggle with the actions. So we wanted to fight? Well, take a fight! And although it was a success, the setup was lame and the game asked us more things to do rather than two cards.



Having the tracks on the board and following the flow of the game, the action of uploading the tracks, "advance technology", we put it together with an action that until now only appeared on the cards you bought: Pavement, which consisted of, once a whole card was tunneled, you could turn it over to score 2 VP more at the end of the game.



We don't like to make a lot of changes to a design at once, but this time we didn't have much time. We made a first game and we loved it. This time much more than the time before the rural house.
We loved it so much, we finished one game and started another. At the end of the work session that day, we kept talking about the games and the design and what to modify here and there. We knew that we had something firm to work on and that we would reach Protos and Tipos without problems.



We had achieved it, we had made a huge turn to the prototype, we liked it a lot more than before and we had done everything before the Protos and Tipos. There was light (and what a light!) at the end of this tunnel.
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Tue Oct 1, 2019 8:48 am
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1987 Channel Tunnel Design Diary (2/4)

Isra C.
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Valdemoro, Madrid
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As you could see in the photos of the previous post, wooden discs were shown. In this post we are going to tell you where the concept of action discs comes from and how it was one of the motivating factors for the design of the game.

Once the theme was chosen, we were very clear about the main actions, where to spend those records. It was going to be necessary to drain water (drain, or what is now the action of planning) and it was going to be necessary to excavate (the action of tunnelling). The question now was how to bind those actions with the disks.



To do this, we rescued from our backlog an idea scrapped from another previous game (Marble Empire, which some of you will know that is the previous name of The Red Cathedral): the incremental cost of actions. A mechanics that worked really well for 2 players, but not so much when the number of players was higher. With this system we got that the different actions were auto-incrementing in their cost. For the first tests of Dover - Calais we used money to represent the cost, with the idea of having a single resource -some of our favourite games only implements one resource. But, it didn't go very well and the feeling was that all the weaker points remains the same.




Trying to reduce it down to the max, we opted simply use weights for the actions, which were reset turn by turn, and you could also get previously used discs. All discs are equal to effects but the cost of the actions is determined by the colour of the ones you play. It took only a few turns to see that this mechanics worth a game for itself.

So we had the central mechanics and its 2 main actions of the game, but if we stayed there, it was going to be a very bland game. We'd already had problems in the past with just scratching the surface and not adding something to give you the feeling of completeness. So we decided to include one more layer and add a random supply of cards. Along with that we added a couple more places to spend your discs, as well as the double drain/drill, get-card/play card.



In a design session, we thought to include an additional use to the cards. So that the card purchased on the display could be used and discarded to perform a main action. The use of cards for multiple actions also came from an earlier design that one day we’ll resume. But how could we get them, if we didn't have any resources to "spend" to buy such card? Of course! With the action discs!

Another thing we were looking for in this design was that the rounds could happen without a certain number of actions. The player could do as many actions in a round as coloured discs managed in turn. He could block an option for his benefit, but doing less action in that round, spending discs in pursuit of doing something less now, but then more powerful, resulting in very fast rounds or slow rounds as the players wanted.



We didn't want to use personal boards for this design, having the rubble tokens and the discs seemed enough materials (and if we wanted to make a 19xx game, that it means, a few materials) but it was crying for them. At the end we incorporated a pair of boards, to give the player a sense of development and give another uses to other components of the game. Because when you tunnel, you get a rubble token that... was useless!

Some time ago (before this design) we looked at many eurogames we played, wondering why we found them so satisfying and realized that the feeling of development and "I've done something" in a game can come in two ways: Either by emptying the board you that have full of things (Terra Mystica, Clans of Caledonia, Scythe...) or by filling it with things (Castles of Burgundy, Grand Austria Hotel...) so we already had the emptying part (the channel) we added the feeling of filling with the personal boards. We put goals and special actions (which ended up on the cards) on the board that you will get them covering with those rubble tokens.



But the randomness. Oh, the randomness! And that static supply of cards that moves less than the Caylus provost in a game with people who don't like to have fun. What to do? We can't put a "discard everything before you pick up a card" rule because when it appears in a game, it's not a mechanic we like. Increase supply? Nobody wants to have 20 cards on the table and see what each one does, you have to dose the information to the player. Although, despite this, we tried it with 3 places to get a card (so they didn't block the actions so much) and there was a kind of double supply.




After these inclusions and after many days of testing (and above all, versions and versions of the cards and the boards), when played the last time, we fell in love. Everything clicked. It was ready to show it to playtesters. And so we did.

Taking advantage of a sort of convention in a rural house with friends, the first two unwary who tried Dover-Calais, were the illustrator Paco Dana and 50% of Spanish famous blog Jugando en Pareja, Fayzah. We explained it to them, they began to play and... they finished it because they are friends, because the game was a real disaster.



We were planning to give them a lot of runs that weekend with friends who play all kinds of games (from heavy to light), but as that game ended, it went to the trunk of the car.

The most important prototype fair in Spain is “Protos and tipos” and in less than a month, we had promised Looping to bring them something they were going to love.

So… HELP!
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Thu Sep 26, 2019 7:32 am
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1987 Channel Tunnel Design Diary (1/4)

Isra C.
Spain
Valdemoro, Madrid
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We are writing this making of because of 3 factors:

1: We had in our collection 1920 Wall Street and we had been fascinated by its mechanics during the prototype con Protos and Tipos in 2017.


2: We had tested the prototype of what would later become 1906 San Francisco and we loved it.


3: Pedro Soto told us during the convention Jesta in 2017: "Let's see if you can design something for the 1900 series".

Why not to accept the challenge? We had defined very well the design parameters but with the freedom of mechanics. It had to fit into a small box (having 1920 at home helped a lot because we constantly tested if the game fitted), the theme must be an event of 19xx and had to be driven by a simple core mechanic but with depth like the rest of the series. We like challenging ourselves so we started working.

When we design -usually- we like to start from a theme. It helps us a lot because having a theme ,we can come up with different actions that suit the theme. So the first thing we had to do was look for a theme that would motivate us to create a new game. We got down to work documenting ourselves about the 20th century by reading Wikipedia for hours and watching a series of Discovery Max documentaries about the decades of that century. How difficult it is to look for a theme that is not a tragedy or a war! And we one of the things we decided: Wouldn’t be about something sad.

But a theme emerged that a priori matched perfectly with these premises: The Radio Row of New York. Sale of radios and electronic components, collectors, scrap that piled up in the streets... in New York at the end of the 20’s...? That’s a good theme for a game!. But on the other hand we didn't want to make a game set in the USA after Wall Street or San Francisco (which we didn’t know that would be set in Frisco so was a good choice).


We toyed with the idea of making a game about the Chernobyl disaster, but in the end we discarded it because three things: Was a very sad theme, maybe it was too soon and the theme suits perfectly for a cooperative -and we’re not fan of them so will be a problem.

We are eurogamers, and one of the most recurrent themes (apart from the Romans and the Renaissance) are the Egyptians. An event that has always fascinated us has been the transfer of the temple of Abu Simbel by the construction of the Aswan Dam in 1968. Perfect. We have Egyptians, temples, logistics, dams... Smells like wooden cubes being pushed up and down the river!


As a result of thinking about the Aswan Dam, we came up with the idea of developing a route that would connect two points, which would be "built" little by little from the ends, with a player on each side, it seemed to us that this had a powerful image in a game. And although the theme helps us to create, sometimes mechanics are imposed. Finally we opted to carry out a eurogame for two, because the layout was screaming for it, but the theme we initially chose no longer served us.


Searching through our list of discarded topics, we spotted the construction of the Channel Tunnel. It had everything! A delimited route(elements to build), that joins two countries (2 players) and has a delimited end (a country builds its part), is set in Europe and is contemporary to us. Besides, what is more euro than a Eurotunnel?

At this point, we had our fears: We didn't know if the nice people in Looping Games would be convinced. We didn’t have all the odds with us: The theme is dry as a desert and being a game for two wasn't an advantage either, as games with a wider range of players are generally preferred.


But designing is taking risks, and we were very happy with what we had came up so we continued. The important thing was to make a game that we could enjoy.



All these premises started the design of Dover - Calais, or as you may know it now: 1987 Channel Tunnel.
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Tue Sep 24, 2019 11:20 am
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Waffle Hassle ready for download!

Isra C.
Spain
Valdemoro, Madrid
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Hi everybody!

Well, the wait is over! You can download the final version (or, at least, the version we're going to present to the GenCan't contest) of Waffle Hassle



If you spot something that you don't understand or any errata just tell us and we'll try to correct it as soon as possible.



Shei and I hope that you like it and have a great fun with it. Enjoy it!

Download Waffle Hassle here!
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Fri Jun 29, 2018 7:45 am
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Design Diaries #001: Roll & Write for Gencan't

Isra C.
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Valdemoro, Madrid
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There is a new category of post here. When I started to write our weekly logs was intended to improve my English skills (and they are improving!) but the first intention was to do Design Diaries for Aalsmeer, The Red Cathedral and whatever Sheila Santos & me design for Llama Dice Games.

One of the greatest international gamers that we admire is Suzanne Sheldon:
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We read last friday from her twitter, a contest for the fun convention called Gencan't. It must be a Roll & Write Game for 1-N players and only in 2 sheets of US Letter pages.

People who read our weekly reports knows how hyped by Terraforming Mars we were... and we connected the dots.

We'll make a game for this contests that consists on Terraform a planet (We used Mars for reference) and it has to had elements from his father.

So we had to compute a whole game of TF in a sheet or two of paper that brings to you more or less the same feeling if you're playing a real TF game. That sounded too hard isn't it?.

We had to implement:

1 The end of the game will be when the 3 main parameters gets done: Oxygen, oceans and temperature.
· No more than 14 rounds in order to emulate the solo version of the game

2 For so, it has to have forests, oceans, temperature risings and cities.
· And everything has to fit in an hex map.

3 And technologies! And special powers to unlock!
· But you cannot erase anything from the sheet because we don't want to make a game for erasable boards like Saint Malo. We want to keep it simple.

4 And the game has to last about 20/25' and it will be 1-5 players.
· One of the keys of the success of R&W games it is its duration.

5 The name of the game.
· It has to appeal to Terraforming Mars.

So we took the following decisions:

1. We'll add the 3 parameters, except from the oceans by the moment (it's not easy to track how many oceans has been drawn).
· Well add a 14-turn track that every step is crossed at the end of the round to keep the count.

2. The most important thing! How the game will be developed without the hexagonal tiles of the game? The players will paint it in a common tally sheet. Everyone has it's own corporation (personal tally-sheet) but there will be another one bigger in the center of the table. Every player will draw a tiny tree if it's a forest and put his/her initial in order to claim it for the end of the game, for example.
· No predefined spots or places to draw the forests, cities and so.

3. Since every player will have its own personal board, we can define some technologies that you can unlock during the game. Once you have unlocked that power, you'll have this special ability forever.
· We'll see how to implement costs in money and "how to spend money in technologies"

4 The core mechanic of the game needs 2 dice + 2 die per player, so it's for 5 players, it needs 12 dice.

5 The name was really easy to find. It will be called Terraforming Dice
· All remembrance to Terraforming Mars is not intended meeple.

This is not the best way to start a new design, but we spent a reasonable amount of time in Photoshop for making the mars tally sheet and the personal tally sheet. After that, we started to design and tried to balance all of the parameters in the game up to 4 players but soon we realised that it will be better only up to 2 players to keep everything more simple.

So we printed the first version! Looked gorgeous but we had to scale some elements to make it more usable.


After tweaking a little bit the technologies, we already know that it won't work well, because we decided to start testing from a basis. We'll tune it later. So I played with my co-worker our first game of this thing:


We only lasted 7 rounds because we felt that some technologies were to powerful or some decisions were trivial. Anyway, we enjoyed it a lot! More than expected!

So with all of this auto-hype we started to work again and improve all the things we designed before. Because of the duration of the test, that's why we focus on do it for up to 2 players.


Great ideas, things made new for this versions that there aren't on the TF game that fits great on this one...

Well... we guess that Terraforming Dice Duel has born.


See you next diary: New balanced technologies linked to the 3 main parameters and unlocked paying its price!
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Fri Jun 9, 2017 10:15 am
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