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Development Highlights

Posted by Nicholas McCollum on

Over the last few months, I’ve attended a number of smaller conventions and design/playtest meetups across Los Angeles and San Diego. These demos and playtests inspired a whole bunch of improvements to the game.

Here are the major changes:

No More Supply and Sale Cards

Wait, what!? That was at the core of the game! Exactly, so I made it better. Instead of “supply” and “sale” cards, there are now multi-purpose “market” cards; players choose to use them for either supply or sale.

Why? For one, it streamlines the game. Players now draw back to a hand of 5 cards immediately after playing them—instead of wondering when they should draw only to then forget. Oftentimes it would reach the store phase and multiple players would realize they had forgotten to draw cards, round after round after round.

Second, and more importantly, it improves the decision space and better enables players to plan and react to opponents during the advertising phase. It also mitigates the randomness of the card draws. Playing the market cards feels even more meaningful now.

No More Selling Market Cards

When I originally added this feature (very early on), I meant it to serve two purposes:

  • give players the extra cash and card filtering necessary to enter the expensive markets in the early game.

  • give players who were completely stuck a chance to, if not win, at least continue to play meaningfully.

This, however, was before I started each player with 10 points, consolidated the market cards, updated the distribution of items, and added other means of filtering cards. In other words, it’s no longer needed to serve its intended purposes.

Removing it has multiple benefits:

  • It streamlines the rules. Advertisement phase is now more straightforward since you only do one type of thing—play market cards.

  • It prevents the market from bogging down due to multiple players selling cards.

  • It eliminates the degenerate early-game strategy of simply selling cards each round while leveraging opponents’ demand.

New Cost Structure for Points

With the old cost structure, buying points was rarely a difficult decision; the gap between 3 and 4 was too big. Barring a series of windfalls (or the end of the game), players would never think to buy more than 3 points. I want them to get greedy and buy one point too many, only to end up a few dollars short for what they need the next round. At the same time, I want to punish conservative players who hoard their money and don’t buy any until the end of the game. Flattening the front part of the curve seems to have helped with this.

No More Fulfillment Center Bonuses

Speaking of points, these bonuses just don’t work. Fulfillment centers are good on their own, and the points only lead to strange incentives and big point swings during end-game scoring. It doesn’t make sense to encourage a player to open 3 art stores just because they have a means of selling 1 art item each round. It also doesn’t make sense for players to nearly double their scores, uncontested, at the end of a game because they were able to very luckily draw 1 store out of a deck of over 60.

(The stores themselves are still worth points, and I updated their values also to prevent undue game-end point swings.)

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