Updated Aug, 16th 2013
Playtesting Update: scroll down for details
To break down my project I'd like to start with theme first:
Black Wells is a game about survival in a thirsty futuristic dark-age. In this era almost all the water is gone and must be fished out by intensive welling. In the mean time you are surrounded by opponents who want to steal what you have to survive. As a leader of your faction you must manage the construction of wells and logistics of battle.
So many great mechanics to choose from! Its been so difficult to rein in the brainstorming. I found that focusing on Grant's main questions helps keep me on track:
How Many Players play your game? - 2+, potential for larger games
What are the components of your game? - A shared Materials Deck and an individual Action Deck
How does one win the game? - Last person who still has water after everyone else has run out. Basically last person standing.
What is the structure of the game? Turns? Round Order? - Rounds for drawing from the Materials Deck, then Turns for players to play Action cards. A new player leads each new round.
Details -Getting more specific: Each player begins the game with, say, 10 Water points. These points are used to play Action Cards from player's individual Action Deck. Action Decks would contain things like Units, Wells, and Tech. Units can build and/or fight. Wells will get you more water to survive. Tech will help you be more efficient. Players must balance between spending now or saving for later.
I thought it would be cool to have a shared Materials Deck. When a player picks their Material card they must decide whether to stock-pile as Tools for building Wells/Tech, or to stock-pile as weapons for combat. Tools would wait in a stock-pile to be used by Units and Weapons would be set aside face down in a pile, when combat begins a weapon is flipped over and factored into combat.
Players must decide on the spot which way to convert there materials (Tools/Weapons) to emphasize the "rushed" feeling of the game, as if you're running out of time and can't make decisions with all the information you want. Each Material card would have a value score for Tools and Weapons. A crappy Tool might be great for a Weapon or visa versa. There could be resources that are good at both, or bad at both with special factors to spice it up.
I'd appreciate any feedback you have to offer!!
Playtesting Update: 08/15/13
This week I did two rounds of playtesting, the first session was a lot of note taking. Lots of things needed clarification and the game needed a lot of work. The second session I simplified the game down to a few basic card types:
Wells & Water Towers - Each player starts with 1 Well, can build new Wells and upgrade them. Water Towers are a way to stockpile water and also can be used as defensive buildings. However when you are putting water in or out of a Tower it cannot defend. The vision I have is a fortress type watertower.
Units - Each player starts with 1 Scavanger who has Build Points that can be spent to use Tools. Units can generate Build Points, Defend, and participate in Actions such as Raid
Actions - Actions simulate the raiding and conflict inherient in a waterless apocolypse. Units need cards like "Raid" or "Ransack" to attack. One aspect that we liked was that you have to pay to attack, and units that have attacked are unable to block the next turn (similar to MtG combat). There are also cool ones like "Poison the Well" which can devistate and opponent.
Buildings and Add-ons - Buildings add special bonuses to your cards, such as a Weapon Smith automatically makes all of your weapons Durable (more on this). Add-ons can provide an additional feature like the "Demolitions Guild" as an add-on of the Workshop, which allows the Ransack card to also destroy buildings. Each building has 2 potential add-ons, but only one can be used at a time.
Materials - The Materials deck is a shared deck of resources. Players can either convert materials into Tools or Weapons. Our testing showed a nice balanced conflict over which path to take, Tools or Weapons. Each of us during testing took opposite strategies and they both proved effective. There are also pools of water which you can discover. These give you bonus water but there is also Toxic Pools which take away water from you
What the tester liked: - Being concerned with not having enough resources. Tough choices between Tools and Weapons. He liked that both players had access to powerful cards that could potentially cause havock.
Future Thoughts: My goal is to keep developing the game while keeping in mind a Deck Building aspect. The first playtest each player had identical 50 card decks. This proved to be too much and was way more fun with 36 card decks. I would like to widdle it down to 30 cards/deck. Players could pursue different strategies with new cards. We found many variables that could effect gameplay, which could be turned into new cards. After more testing and focusing on how to make growth possible I would really like to release this game via Kickstarter.