September 8, 2011

Farmageddon Next

The Farmageddon that's published now on The Game Crafter is the one that will remain. I set out to create a game that was accessible, quick to play, and fun for casual gamers, or more hardcore gamers who need a filler game in between the meaty Euro titles. I've had a few great reviews from users on The Game Crafter and ones like this one from Father Geek have started to come in. I feel like some of the goals have been validated by customers, which is the best kind of validation.

But, a lot of these same folks are asking for more. A little more depth and a little more meat to push this past a casual game and into something with more heft. Well, I've been listening and taking notes. I've received feedback from Father Geek, Board Game Reviews by Josh, Dice Hate Me Games, and dozens of my players. Plus, I've thought about what I myself want to see.

Below is the new card distribution I'm testing, the new cards, as well as modifications to existing cards. I played a few rounds today and it was pretty dang fun.

Existing Farmer Card Distribution Update
Foreclosure: 4 (reduced)
Farm Futures: 5 (reduced)
Dust Bowl: 3
Thresher: 5 (reduced)
Crop Rotation: 3
Bumper Crop: 4 (reduced)
Foul Manure: 5
Genetic Super Worm: 4 (reduced)

Why am I changing the distribution of existing cards? Put simply, I need room. If I were to have this game picked up or if I were to self-publish it, cards are printed (typically) on sheets of 54. That means I have 2 sheets worth of cards (108) to work with. Surprise surprise, cost of goods impacts game design quite often!

The other reason is to allow for a little more balance. To make the game a bit more strategic I need to put less emphasis on drawing the best cards and focus more on players using the cards in the best way.

New Farmer Cards
Darn Gophers (4): Steal 1 Compost from any Planted Crop.

Darn Gophers is useful for slowing down another player while improving your own economy. It's also a more balanced offensive move instead of the devastation of Dust Bowl. Finally, it allows for some great combos with other cards.

Father Geek gave me the inspiration for this one. I fiddled a bit with his initial suggestion, but I want to give credit where it's due.

Rented Land (3): Place in front of you as an additional Planting Field. You must Plant a Crop on Rented Land the turn it is played. After Crop is Harvested or Destroyed, discard Rented Land.

Rented Land is a great card if all the fields are occupied and you don't have Thresher, Dust Bowl, or Foreclosure. It's especially great early in the game if one player takes up all the planting fields. Most importantly, this card adds another tactical choice to the game.

Father Geek gave me this one and I took it outright. 

Crop Insurance (3): Place on any Planted Crop. If Crop is destroyed, you receive $3 for every Compost on Crop.

This card is a bit tricky, but I love the flexibility and have already seen some cool tactics employed. The card protects you against destruction, so players are encouraged to spend Compost they might otherwise hold back. It doesn't protect against theft, which means it could be a very inviting target for players with Foreclosure. You can also use it on any plant and then get paid for destroying that plant! I once played it on my own crop, Composted it as much as I was able, then placed a Dust Bowl to clear the table. Guess who earned $9? This guy.

Father Geek gave me the inspiration for this one. I fiddled a bit with his initial suggestion, but I want to give credit where it's due.

Farmer's Market (2): Search the Farmer deck or discard pile for any one Farmer card. Add Farmer card to hand, then shuffle the deck.

This card is useful for players who may not have another card to play so they can at least make some progress. It's also great throughout the game if you have a strategy in mind and wish to carry it out. 

With the updated distribution of the old Farmer cards and introduction of the new ones, the deck is increased from 40 to 45 cards. In a typical game, the deck is moved through entirely once.

Modifications to Existing Farmer Cards
Bumper Crop: Place on any Planted Crop. Bumper Crop is added to your Harvest pile with a value of $3 when Crop is harvested.

Currently, this card can only be played on a plant you own. However, now I can place it on someone else's plant. This adds a great deal of flexibility to the card and so far I love it.

I want to thank Noble Valerian. His misinterpretation of the old card gave me this idea.

Cut Ideas
One idea I tinkered with was changing Farm Futures from "look at opponent's hand and steal 1 card" to "Steal 1 Card randomly from an opponent." This just wasn't as fun, however.

Originally, Dang Gophers was Steal 1 Compost from a Planted Crop or discard 2. However, nobody every chose the second option, so I removed it.

I toyed with the idea of forcing players to place Bumper Crop and Genetic Super Worm in the turn before harvesting. However, this just doesn't mesh well with some of the more powerful cards out there. Players will basically set up their opponents for success. By altering Bumper Crop I feel the card is way more flexible.

I toyed with the idea of making Foul Manure only last for one turn, but its usefulness was greatly reduced.

I'm still toying with the idea of giving crops unique properties (something suggested by Bob from Fried Monkey Games), but I'm not certain yet this is necessary. I feel there's already enough going on between deciding:
  1. How much to plant?
  2. What to plant?
  3. What to use as Compost?
  4. Which Farmer Cards to use? Defensive or Offensive?
  5. Who to target with cards? 
  6. (and in some cases) How to use Farmer Cards?
The future is still wide open for Farmageddon and I'm patiently watching new possibilities emerge while preparing for them by bettering the game.

Comments? Thoughts? Ideas? I'd love to hear them all.


Matt Worden said...

Nice concepts for changes, imo.

"Rented Land" makes me want it to be not-quite-as-profitable as normal planting fields. So, what if Rented Land were to raise the compost cost of the crop by 1 compost, or be a "-2" on your score (so you would put it in your harvest pile instead of discarding)?

Thanks for the peek into your process!

Grant said...

Interesting idea, Matt. The +1 compost would fit with the current tracking methods in the game. I'll try this. It puts a premium on default fields and doesn't hinder you too much.