Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Clear the board

In my recent games of Camp Nightmare I have found an issue with complexity overwhelming new players.  Generally speaking the complexity of the game is all right, but at sometimes the sheer number of current effects in play becomes a problem to handle.  The culprit behind this is Disasters that sit in play and continue to modify the game, like these below:

Rabid Fox

No one may take the Forage Action.  Pay 2 Food to trash Rabid Fox.

Poor Planning

No one may draw cards.  Trash Poor Planning when all players have 1 or 0 cards in hand.

Scary Noises

When morning comes, lose 1 Fun.  1 Player may pay 7 Energy to trash Scary Noises and gain 1 Fun.

Heat Wave - Weather

All player Energy gains are reduced by 1.  Trash this when another Weather card comes into play.

Each turn a Disaster occurs and most of them do their thing and then vanish.  The trouble is that it is entirely possible to have as many as six Disasters like those above sitting in play modifying the game.  Keeping track of all of the things that those Disasters are doing became a real issue for people and obviously I was taxing their memory rather than their strategic thinking.

My theory now is that I should clear the board and only have things in play that really need to be there.  I love the Weather mechanic where each new Weather card cancels the previous one because that isn't too tedious to keep track of and managing the weather is a big part of the game.  The other cards can be rewritten to have one off effects like most of the rest of the deck so they don't clutter up the surface so much.  This also has the nice side effect that the game will take up less space because there are fewer things to put down on the board.  For example, the Scary Noises card above now looks like this:

Scary Noises

Either 1 player pays 7 Energy 
lose 3 Fun.

However, there are some small exceptions to the rule that I kept in because I like them so.  Poor Planning, seen above, is still in the game but has an extra line added to it that really improves the card.

Poor Planning

Place this card on top of the Gear deck.  No one may draw Gear cards.  Trash Poor Planning when all players have 1 or 0 cards in hand.

The other exception is a couple of cards that last until the end of the day/night.  This means that they do need to be kept track of but they go away quickly and often immediately because people usually pick them right before a day/night switch for obvious reasons.

Wolf Howls

Until morning comes no one may Forage or Gather Wood.

Hopefully this new design will be more fun, particularly for people learning the game.  One of my goals in every game I build is to maximize strategic depth while minimizing complexity and usually there is some sort of tradeoff that has to be made there.  In this case I think I am losing almost nothing in terms of strategy but I am lowering the complexity substantially.  Victory!

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