The original game of New Bedford was designed around 20 buildings. There were two reasons for this. First, 20 allows for a wide variety of plays and strategies without requiring the players to track huge number of new buildings in each game. Second, I could fit 20 building tiles onto a sheet of 8½” x 11” paper.
But I had more ideas. A lot.
The first set of buildings was all buildings paying tribute to other games that inspired New Bedford. Of course, some the ideas didn’t fit into the existing structure of action buildings, like a Library to pay tribute to Puerto Rico, which would have doubled a town bonus as a passive ability. And while I had fun making versions of these buildings that reference both the source mechanics and typographical style of the original games, they aren’t all realistic or worthwhile buildings.
Then there were several mechanics that I thought were too complex to add into the base game, like the Captain’s House, which lets you return ships early. There were some ideas that were largely redundant with existing buildings but combined them in different ways or with different bonuses, like the building that is now the Shipwright, which lets you dock up to 2 ships. There were also a lot of thematically interesting buildings that I wanted to include, like the Sundial Building, which was already a bit of a landmark at the time. There were also some great ideas that just didn’t fit in the base set, like the Fairhaven Bridge, which lets you use an unbuilt building by “crossing over” to the town across the river.
I had also foreseen the potential need for some kind of promo buildings eventually, and I knew that if the game took off, I might eventually want to put out a full expansion. But when I signed with Dice Hate Me Games, we started talking about the possibility of adding more buildings to the base game as stretch goals for the Kickstarter Campaign. Now, the base game of New Bedford is absolutely complete with 20 buildings, and already provides a ton of replayability. But I was also excited about some of the buildings I had designed, and as a player myself, I realized that people would love to have even more options. So I refocused and started testing an entire set of 20 more buildings, divided into 4 themed sets of 5 buildings.
The first set deals with commercial life in New Bedford. The Candlemaking industry was one of the roots of New Bedford’s growth, especially the valuable Spermaceti candles, hence the bonus for sperm whales. I’ve already mentioned the Sundial Building, that set the ships to New Bedford time. Of course the Fairhaven Bridge connected the town to Fairhaven, making all of its businesses available to the residents of New Bedford. The US Customhouse is famous as the oldest continuously operating customhouse in the US, and earns money as ships return. (It has the highest potential return from a single action in the entire game, but is hard to achieve.)
The second set relates to private life in town. The Dressmaker benefits from the longer whalebone from bowhead whales. The shanty house isn’t valuable, but it’s price is nice (if you can actually manage to get rid of your money). The Mayor’s House is a much more powerful building action than the Town Hall, just remember that you might be helping others more than yourself. The Perfumery needs ambergris to produce its luxury goods, but ambergris comes from sperm whales, so as their numbers drop, so do profits. The Captain’s House comes complete with a widow’s walk, where a spouse patiently awaits the captain’s return.
The third set covers more industry. The Salvage Yard is for those players who ask if goods are worth anything at the end of the game, but be warned that it still isn’t easy to make it profitable. The Butler Flats light had been a salter, another important industry, but it made more sense to associate it with the Clark’s Point Light since it has a similar function, and both lighthouses were important early constructions. A refinery was a vital part of the whale oil industry, and New Bedford’s refineries were an important part of the early petroleum industry, too. The Storehouse is basically an extra town bonus. Finally, the Distillery reflects the importance of appropriately provisioning a ship for sailors’ needs.
Commerce, Residential and Industry. You see, I still carry the influence of Sim City and Suburbia in categorizing buildings. But I still made sure that each set had a good distribution of powers across strategies. Oh, but what about the fourth set? That set is special, and I’ll talk about that next.