Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Game Length Variants

My apologies for the lack of updates or information this past month.  Another series of frustrating delays prevented us from launching our KS campaign in June.  You really learn to develop your patience as a game designer, especially when working with established publishers.  There are so many factors in play that are simply beyond your control.  In addition, we got some valuable feedback from playtesters who got a chance to try out Clockwork Wars at Origins.  I've been wrestling with some of the key issues for the past few weeks.

One concern expressed by a number of folks was game length.  This is a sensitive issue for me, since I always wanted Clockwork Wars to play fast: 90 minutes at most.  However, several of the learning games at Origins were clocking in at over 2 hours.  As such, I've been trying to tighten up the turn structure a bit and, more importantly, develop a couple different ways (variants) to play the game.

The basic game will now be a shorter, tighter experience.  It will last 7 turns, with an Early Age of 2 turns, a Middle Age of 2 turns, and a Late Age of 3 turns.  For those who don't mind having a more drawn-out strategy game experience, there is an "epic game" variant that is 9 turns long (3-3-3), as per the previous rules.

Shortening the game down to 7 turns necessitated a few minor rules changes.  Capitals now provide 4 workers per turn instead of 3.  And each player starts with 1 Sorcery, Science, and Religion IP each, to help kickstart discovery.

I've been playtesting this shorter version quite a bit lately, and there's a lot to like about it.  Every turn feels incredibly important.  The first turn in each age is all about maneuvering on the map and acquisition of key discoveries.  The latter turn is about acquiring Victory Points or court dominance.

Originally, I tested a 2-2-2 version, but a 2 turn Late Age had some issues.  Players who researched late age discoveries only got 2 turns to use them - and that's assuming they researched them right away.   This made late age discoveries far less valuable, when they should be the most exciting and "over-powered" ones in the game.  With a 3-turn late age, players get the benefit of having a lengthy final stage to the game where all their toys are in play.  

Otherwise, we'll still working through a lot of the component design and should have some updated (and near final) prototypes in time for GenCon.  

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