Unpub 4 is tomorrow, and I’ve been doing a lot of preparation, but I was able to put together an overview of the game as it is currently. After the changes from the previous test, I got through a game of 10 Acres with 4 (in a bit more than 10 minutes, but it was a learning game) by increasing the number of cards and restocking at a fixed rate. Unfortunately, I discovered that resupplying was too slow, hampering some strategies. But I got some great advice, and the resupply rate will probably be set by tokens, to have the right number of goods added to the game. I also discovered that unlimited special harvesting could make a game last forever. So the special rules are probably becoming one-time use tokens.
I also rearranged the rule cards a bit, and I’m finally happy with their format, so it’s time for an overview of the basic products in the game. I’ll start by explaining the ones I have been using since the beginning.
The basic animals are Cows and Sheep. Cows are the most valuable product in the game, and are worth 2 points when harvested. Sheep are worth only 1 point. They also share growth behavior, giving 1 new for every 2 existing. Location doesn’t matter, so it’s just the total number that counts. In addition, new cows or sheep can be placed on any space that already holds one of the same animal. However, only 2 cows can be kept on a space, while there can be up to 4 sheep. This means cows are slow to grow and max out quickly, requiring constant attention, while sheep are less intensive. As another trade off, cows are worth only 1 point per 2 cows at the end of the game, while each sheep space is always worth 1 point.
On the crop side are grain and vegetables. Grain and Vegetables are similar because they each grow at a steady rate. Grain is the more flexible crop, and benefits from having a long time to grow, giving 1 point per grain. Vegetables are more fickle, and can only be harvested for points when fully grown, but give 5 points when harvesting the whole space. Grain left at the end of the game is only worth half as much, while vegetable spaces are worth 1 point, even if not fully grown.
Fruit is slightly different from the other plant crops. I haven’t decided if it should represent apples, strawberries, or something else, but in any case, they do not “grow” in the same sense as the other plants. Since each turn is basically a year, fruit generates points by “regrowing” year after year, instead of by replacing them. Because of that, fruit is worth nothing when harvested, and very little at the end of the game.
I am mostly happy with the different mechanics for each of the basic products. I would love to have sheep to generate points during growth, like being sheared for wool, but I haven’t been able to make it work so far. It also gives me room for an expansion like Alpacas.
I also have some extra crops I was looking at adding into the game. So far I have ideas for Beans, Flowers, Pigs, Chickens, and Alpacas as I mentioned above (but I’m out of cube colors). I’m also working on some special actions that involve farm improvements that a player could construct instead of a normal action: fences that break adjacency on your own or another player’s board for some direct interaction. And some Barns and Greenhouses, which are expensive to build, but generate extra points for animals and plants, respectively.
I’m not going to give the full details yet so you need to come to Unpub 4 to get the first look and help test these new concepts.