Round Forty

Project: Design a board game.

Status: In progress. (first prototype made and tested. revisions in the works.)

Narrative:

January 5, 2013

I love to play games and like to create…therefore I found it imperative that I create a board game. Having spent a few of my earlier years at the Forest History Center with the Minnesota Historical Society in Grand Rapids, MN, I found inspiration to do a strategy game based on the unscrupulous practices of early lumber barons. There was a practice of cutting timber beyond the square boundaries of purchased land rights resulting in what were called ’round forties.’ After weeks of brainstorming and planning, I got a very basic prototype made up. One session of test playing on New Year’s Day showed there is some major overhauling to do with the mechanics of the game in order to quicken its play.

The game board was first designed as a square base divided into 16 squares (as a section is divided into 16 40-acre parcels). On top of the board acting as the ground was 48 tiles acting as the trees. The tiles assembled would appear as 16 squares with arcs cut from each of the four sides as visible in the feature image here. Besides being slow moving, the other major strike against the game was the complication of placing and removing the 48 tiles.

So I need to rework the mechanics, recreate the prototype, and then test play it again. And then retest it. And then retest it again and again. Directions and prototype photos coming soon…

March 3, 2013

So after two months of barely touching this I may have had an epiphany. The tiles need to be removable from the board in order to signify harvesting and thieving of timber. So I thought and so I was married to. As cool as the idea was, however, it just wasn’t practical for set-up and play. Too time consuming, to clumsy to manipulate. I thought maybe there could be tokens put onto the board to signify areas had been cut, but on top of the other tokens already in play along with ice road tokens and hauling pawns it would be far to much going on. Somewhere along the lines the concept of the dry erase marker came to me. I’ve seen other games with a glossy coating that can be written on and erased. In this way the squares and the arcs can all be printed as lines on the base board, tokens and ice roads can be played, and any timber removed can be marked with an ‘X’ on the squares and arcs of the board. Brilliant! Logistics resolved. Now I just have to work out the problem with the mechanics.

April 25, 2013

Alright so I changed the ‘brilliant’ idea of marking the arcs with a pen. We’ll bring back the arc cut-outs but reduce the number in half by joining two adjacent arcs into one. The two conjoined arc pieces make a pointed oval, which I learned is officially known as a vesica piscis (translated fish bladder?). With 16 40-acre tile pieces plus 24 vesica piscis pieces, the total tile count is at 40- much more manageable.

Also changed are the mechanics. Originally drawing factor cards (horses, men, axes, etc) to perform actions (cut, haul, etc) in the style of Settlers of Catan resources, I found that it was much too slow going and cumbersome to accomplish tasks. I revised it to have a factor board in which tokens are used each round to claim a limited number of factors (reminiscent of Agricola). I have not yet tested it, but in my mind it seems that it will work better. Testing may adjust the quantities of men, horses, axes, etc that are available, but it is certain that there will need to be additional spaces available for an increased number of players.

May 6, 2013

I made a lot of progress on the game artwork this weekend. The Factor Board is done (pending revision after play testing) and the Character Boards are done, with the exception of importing some old photos and historic stamp hammer marks for the lumber companies.

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