Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Know your Role

I have been testing Camp Nightmare a lot and really like the basic game a lot.  I constantly have new ideas for things I could add in to the game but as any good designer knows the easiest way to make a new project unwieldy to the point of uselessness is to continually add in everything you can think of.  In no time you will have a teetering tower of poorly connected ideas that will shortly collapse in on itself.

However, when thinking about board game design it is very useful to consider how you might create expansions for the base game to allow those who master the initial mechanics to continue to push themselves and stretch their abilities.  My goal with Camp Nightmare is to have a set of new additions for an expansion that don't substantially disrupt the balance of the base game but add a lot of interesting new things to think about.  Ideally I want something where the experts can play the expansion while the new players simultaneously play the base game.

The way I am trying to do this right now is by adding in things called Roles which are roughly analogous to classes or jobs.  Each player will have one and it will give them new mechanics and choices without actually adding in raw power.  Now we all know that every time you give someone more options you are indirectly increasing their power but the difference is a fairly small one here and mostly affects the worst case.  In the best case you draw all the most effective options anyway so the extra choice offered by Roles won't matter nearly so much.

Some examples:

Any time you gain Energy you may give 1 of your Energy to another player.
When any player Forages you may take -2 Wood to gain +2 Food.

These all do fairly straightforward things that mostly you could achieve simply by playing properly otherwise.  They obviously change the game a bit but they don't completely rewrite things.  The ones below though have more bizarre effects.

During your turn you may discard a card.  If you do all players except you play with their hands face up on the table until your next turn.
When you Rummage you may search the deck and put 1 card on top of it.  If you do you draw 2 less cards than normal.

The idea is that every Role should make things a bit different and make you rethink how you want to approach the game.  Most of them end up being resource conversion but as we have seen there are a few really interesting ones on the list.  I like this implementation a lot because it hits every checkbox I was aiming for - small power increase, lot of new things to think about, and expert players can take a Role while not giving one to new players who aren't so familiar yet.  (Or they could give one of the very simple Roles to the new player so there won't be much thinking about it.)  Also there is a lot of great flavour that can come from the roles, exemplified by the examples below.

You are immune to Heat Wave.
Freezing Cold gives you -1 Energy each Night/Day swap.
When any other player Naps you may each spend 2 Energy to gain 1 Fun.

My next project is to start building flavour text for all the cards.  This is never the place that I start because I immediately start working on crunch rather than fluff (I was a mathie for a reason) but eventually you really need to make the game cute as well as balanced.

1 comment:

  1. I continue to appreciate the fine flavour of the game.