People who read this blog – welcome back, you beautiful people – will know I have spoken about this game before. The reason I’m taking a crack at it for the NaGa DeMon (national game design month, for the uninitiated) is that after a couple of play tests, I knew that the game needed a substantial re-write. Each time it was played, with different numbers of players, the game got bogged down and would have taken hours to play, even taking into account the fact that it was going slowly due to note taking and rules clarifications. Luckily, the people who offered to help were all game players and knew what I wanted to achieve, and they offered some great suggestions for streamlining and simplification. First though; what the heck is this game?
Excitement and Adventure (no longer a working title, it’s actually grown on me), The Race for Glory is a Steampunk themed game of exploration and fame. Each of the players take on the role of one of six members of a Neo-Victorian London based members only club called the Explorer’s Repose. They have each put their name forward to engage in a once in a lifetime race to as many exciting places around the globe as they can get to in a set period of time. At the end of that time, the Explorer who has gained the most renown for the club is declared the winner. To help them on their way, they put together an Expedition of fantastical Gadgets and stalwart Retainers, then pick an Adventure, and away they go. On their travels, the other Explorers will be trying to hinder them, and vice-versa. But there are also cards that can be played to their own advantage.
I’ve tried to keep the mechanics simple to stop the game dragging on to long. The rule book is now available for download, but bear in mind that it is formatted to be printed off as an eight page booklet. Basically though, the players buy things, play cards and go on Adventures. Most of the cards are fairly self explanatory, but the problem has been in showing the passage of time and incorporating how the explorers use that time. I eventually settled on a ‘time slider’. A simple count down of 20 to 0, which drops a point at the end of each turn. When it hits zero, renown is totaled up, and the winner is declared. Once a turn the players who have characters on an Adventure may make an Exploration roll to see how much progress they make on their current venture, with Exploration tokens showing how well they’re doing. Once they feel confident that they’ve explored enough they can make their Adventure roll to see if they’ve found what they were looking for. Each token gives a plus one to this roll, but every Adventure has a difficulty that takes away from it. So the players have a choice to spend more time exploring to increase the odds, or take a gamble and possibly end up getting more lost or returning to London in shame.
The Expedition cards are designed to help in this, with action cards played by all explorers that can also hinder. This was a big part of the game for me, as I didn’t want each player to take their actions in vacuum, preferring the idea of player interaction. Successfully completing Adventures not only gains renown, but also means the Explorer gets an extra revenue source with which to buy better things or fund more rewarding Adventures. For people lagging behind – due to bad luck with regard to card draws or dice rolls – there are ways for them to get back into the game through certain options and an increased chance of drawing extra cards. This is a totally new mechanic for the game, and I’m hoping that after a few more play tests I’ll get to see how well it works.
That’s the basics of the game then. At the moment, I’ve managed to complete the Excitement deck; containing the resources needed to go on Adventures and ways of helping/hindering those who are also on one. I’ve also worked out a first draft of a play mat to show the differing results to exploration rolls one would expect on different continents, and as mentioned above, the rule book. At the moment I’m working on the Adventure deck. This is separate from the Excitement deck and can only be drawn from if the player skips their normal draw phase. When they do so, they take the top three cards and select one that they would like to attempt. when it is complete I hope to have nine different Adventures per continent, with a few extras that can be attempted on any land mass with appropriate modifiers.
After that I need to go back and revisit the characters. I like all the original ideas I had for the basic archetypes, but since the rules have changed so dramatically, I think that only the basic idea and the character names will stay the same.
As an aside, the reason I’ve kept the working title – and added a subtitle – is that I’ve been thinking that basic mechanic of this game would work well in other settings, and currently have an idea for a sci-fi exploration game too.
Linked here is a sample of a few different types of Excitement cards, just to give you an idea as you check out the rule book. If that looks interesting to you, please let me know; I don;t want to spend a month on something that no one cares about. And if you fancy playing the game, then keep an eye out – maybe even join the Facebook page for this blog – as I will be opening it up to more play testing over the next week or so.