Over the break, I had a chance to work on 10 Acres. I was not 100% happy with the action card game mechanic, because it was a little limiting. (This was intentional to keep the game quick.) It was somewhat random, and not particularly “compelling” but I thought it worked for the weight of the game as a fairly light filler. The main problem was that players were mostly playing alone, and there was very little interaction. My wife helped me work on this.
The first idea for how to add interaction was to use a larger shared board, so players were directly competing on the same board, but this got away from the original concept, and had some challenges for resolving conflict resolution. So if players aren’t competing on where to place things, there must be competition on how to pick them up. Simply limiting the quantity aggravated a rare problem from the original game of what to do when there aren’t enough tokens, and what order it happens in.
I found myself practically forced to give up simultaneous play, which I am reluctant to do because it will likely slow the game down. But several ideas that were bouncing around in my head started to form into a workable shape. If players take turns, then resources can be limited, accumulating slowly on the rule cards. Then the card action phase can be removed and the actions can be taking the resources directly, and this limits the number a player can take at a time. Taking one would prohibit another player from taking the same thing. It was immediately obvious that a player could not take all of the resources that had accumulated, or the entire game mechanism fell apart, so we added a twist. Unlike many action selection games, the player can only take as many resources as he or she can place, and the others remain for the next round. This allows for some more complicated strategy of what to take, when, and whether the other player will take it before you can, leaving you without enough to place.
The next day, I fleshed out the idea even more. The number of players could be increased if the goods restock at a fixed rate (i.e. 2 per player). The cards I had reluctantly gotten rid of could serve as the mechanism for that, providing some randomness and more strategy for what goods are available. Add more types of crops and animals to play with more people. The “last resort” actions now become viable options, if your desired action is taken.
I’ve also worked on some of the preliminary art in advance of Unpub4. The card action art changed several times, but now I’ve got something easily understandable. I also have a Title, but I don’t know if I like it yet. Now to test it with these new changes, and more players.