I've decided to blog my journey around my first board game, titled "Fearsome Critters: The Ballad of Flapjack Swede." Hopefully, this keeps me accountable to the game, because I've been working on it for over two years, and I really think I might have...something.
Yesterday, I met up with two awesome friends at Cafe Mox in Ballard. I love this location. It's a place where you can unabashedly drink beer, play board games, and occupy a table in a crowded restaurant for hours without raising an eyebrow.
Yesterday marked a pretty big milestone for my game and I. It was my third playthrough of Flapjack (Flapjack is shorthand for Fearsome Critters: The Ballad of Flapjack Swede), and for the first time in all my playtrhoughs, the game clicked.
My first two playtrhoughs were pretty linear, and took north of 3 hours to complete. My second playthrough was with a 6-player game, and after 4 hours with no winner, we hung it up.
But this third playthrough reaped the benefits of those first two marathons. After explaining the rules and getting settled, we had a winner in 90 minutes. I feel that 90-120 minutes is the timeframe that I want in Flapjack, so this was really encouraging. It also proved that iterating, editing, and cutting elements out of the game were actually making it better. I woke up today encouraged.
I'm also going to max out the game at 4 players. A 5-6 player expansion may eventually be in the works, but for the game to move along, it needs to have 2-4 players.
Another encouraging thing happened during this playthrough, the game finally felt crunchy. There were a lot of moving parts, but they all had a real impact on the outcome of the game. I also introduced an asymmetrical victory condition, allowing players to basically choose a development, military, or economic path to victory. This also made the game feel unique and crunchy.
I'm pretty stoked on this.
Battles, which came few and far between in the first two playthroughs, were prevalent in this iteration of the game. Also, players seemed to have a real ownership over their armies, and the act of recruiting new forces seemed fun, strategic, and presented the players with tough choices.
I can't wait to make a few more tweaks and give it another go. As the Seattle weather turns dingy and damp this winter, and the people of Puget Sound retreat indoors, I expect to get a lot more playtests and prototypes going. With hope, I expect to emerge this spring with the caliber of game that can make a modest appearance on the boardgame convention circuit next summer.