I’ve been working on a game over the past few months, with my friend—and designer of Rocky Road a la Mode—Joshua J Mills, called American Steel. I haven’t written much about it because It’s been coming together quickly, and wasn’t really stable for long enough to write meaningfully about it. That and I hadn’t played it myself until recently. But I am absolutely thrilled to announce that this past weekend, American Steel won the Ion Award at SaltCon.
About the award: The Ion Award is a game design competition, and Josh and I are honored that American Steel joins previous winners that include Xenon Profiteer by T. C. Petty III, The Scarlet Pimpernel by Brian Kelley, and Yardmaster by Steven Aramini. Josh went out this past weekend to present during final judging and accept the award.
About the theme: American steel is inspired by the U.S. steelmaking industry at it’s peak in the 1970s. [Hmm. What is it with me and games about industries on the verge of collapse?] Over about 5 rounds, players will upgrade their mill, produce steel, and fulfill contracts for everything from paperclips to ships to iconic landmarks. American Steel started as an entry to the Manhattan Project dice game contest. We spent a while looking for the perfect new theme, which we found in steelmaking, but chose a more modern setting that is under-represented.
About the gameplay: Each round, each player rolls their 4 dice. They choose one die, locking its face, and use it as either a worker or rolled resource. After taking actions, players roll their remaining dice, choose another die to use along with the previous dice, repeating until the end of the round. Players will earn points by filling contracts, but first, they they must produce steel using a combination of coal, oxygen, and pig iron made from raw ore. They can use profits to add upgrades, which add new actions to their mills but also provide extra abilities that can be used once in a round by temporarily giving up access to the action.
About the development: American Steel took its current form before Pax Unplugged in the fall, and we worked on it furiously over the past four months to get it ready for the Ion Award and Unpub 8. Designing this game was a completely different experience for me than previous games, so I’m looking forward to sharing more about that process of working with a codesigner who lives across the country.
A big thank you to the Ion Award judges, and to all the players who helped improve American Steel over the last few months. I can’t wait to see where this journey goes next!