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Designer Notes: Day 1

How in the world does one begin to make a board or card game from a bunch of math notes? Glad you asked, let me tell you what happened.

For me, the first thing was coming up with an objective. Do the players battle it out head-to-head with the winner having the most points? Is this a game of life and death? I knew that I wanted players to build a deck as they went along to show that throughout their time in the game, they had accrued knowledge leading to some ultimate goal.

So I went out and bought every deck-builder game you can think of: Ascension, Dominion, Clank!, Star Realms, Legendary, Summer Camp. The list went on and on. The more my partner and I played these games together (yay COVID), the more obvious it became that we were done playing these after 5-6 playthroughs. Don't get me wrong, a lot of these games are classics, but in my humble opinion, really struggle when it comes to replayability. Yes, yes, I know that Dominion and Ascension and Star Realms and Legendary each have 30 or so expansions, but I don't want to have 12 Kallax shelves in my basement for these alone. Let's be honest. The expansions add new cards and mechanics, but the win condition is still the same. The winner is the person with the most points at the end.

There had to be a better way, so my partner and I brainstormed games we had played with the best objectives. By best, we were looking at games where the winner (1) earned the win and (2) the objective changed the way a player could approach the same game, but in different ways each time. Enter, Ticket to Ride.

There are other games that have a similar objective mechanic out there, but it's the simplicity of Ticket to Ride that drew us to it. I like complicated games, but I despise teaching new players how to play them. In Ticket to Ride, each player has two train routes which they are trying to complete by connecting their train cars across the map. Each route is slightly different from one another and these routes are hidden from opponents until a player accomplishes the route. It's edgy, mysterious, and takes a simple concept and adds permutations to create a new experience each time.

So, we did the same thing. The rivals (next blog post will be on this; they are called players now) would attempt to complete one of a couple of objectives by performing in-game criteria. The criteria of each objective would be different, but many of these would share some of the same components so that other players couldn't pinpoint what you were doing. We landed on 25 different objectives, each with a silly name that I pulled out of the air, which we edited and tweaked from day 1.

What game has your favorite objective? Why do you like it more than other games of that genre? Comment below and let us know.

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