This past Wednesday I began building a paper prototype board game, which I have tentatively named “Switch.” The game is a mix of Mario Party type gameplay with elements of Candy Land and requires 2-4 players to play. The main objective is to make it to the end space on the board before the other players.
Classroom Playtest (2/19/14)
To begin, each player rolls the dice. The person who rolls the highest number goes first, the second highest roll goes second, and so on. Then, players place their unique player tokens on the start space on the board.
After the order has been determined, players roll the dice and move the same number of spaces as specified by the number on the dice. When a player lands on a switch space, they must draw a random card with a designated player indicator on it. Whichever player card is chosen is the player with whom spaces must be switched.
The player cards are flipped upside down and shuffled by another player. The player who lands on the switch space must choose a card from the small deck without seeing the card they are choosing. Once selected, the player and the other selected player must switch spaces immediately.
If a player lands on a +/- space, the effect takes place immediately, causing players to move forward or backward depending on the number. If a +/- block causes the player to land on an additional action space (such as a switch space) the new space takes effect immediately.
Pennies in the game allow players to roll the dice for a chance at sending a chosen player back three spaces. If a player uses a penny, it can only be used once. Once used, the player chooses a player they’d like to send back three spaces. Then, they roll the dice. If they roll a 4-6, the chosen player must go back three spaces. If they roll a 1-3, nothing happens. Using a penny sacrifices the players turn as well, so it is a risk. Using the penny can be a key strategy if you are trying to make a player land on a switch space.
Also, “slide” spaces – spaces indicated by the wavy lines connecting to another space – must be utilized. A player does not have the option of using the slide if they land on the designated space.
Home Playtest (2/22/14)
To begin, I drew up a new game board, but kept the number of spaces the same. Players still begin at the “start” space and end at the “end” space, but now certain features have been added, while others have been removed. There are four unique player pieces for players to pick from now, allowing for distinction while moving around the board.
Additionally, I have recut the player deck cards in a more uniform fashion, which will make it much more difficult for players to determine which card to pick from when switching with another player.
As far as rule changes go, I have made multiple adjustments to the game in order to make it flow more smoothly, while maintaining a manic play experience.
Rule change #1 – Times 3 Multiplier: I’d first like to note that the “times 3” item space – or whatever you want to call it – has been removed. Instead, players now have a single dime – usable only after their first turn – which allows them to multiply their current roll by three. This special ability must be used at the beginning of a player’s turn and once used, it is gone forever and players must sacrifice their following turn.
The main reason for this change stems from problems during the initial playtest in which players would end up switching back and forth between the “times 3” space, causing confusion and problems if the player had already chosen to utilize the space. To alleviate said problem, I turned the “times 3” space into a utilizable ability with a one time use, thus rectifying past problems. While playing through my game with the changed rules intact, my friend and I did not run into any problems with the “times 3” mechanic, which has now become a strategic part of the game.
Rule change #2 – Determining Roll Order: To begin the game, players still roll the dice to determine who goes first, the difference being that only the highest roll matters. Once the starting player has been established by the highest dice roll, the players turn order is based on a clockwise rotation. This change was spurred on by initial confusion in which players would go in order based on whoever rolled highest. The problem, unfortunately, was that players already had designated player indicators based on where they position themselves around the board, which meant that going based on a dice roll from highest to lowest would displace players and cause disorder when trying to remember who goes first, second, third, etc. The change made to this specific rule thankfully alleviated the problem.
It should also be noted that the player indicators – “player 1, player 2, player 3” etc. – located on the corners of the game board dictate the identity of each person playing the game. Those identities then relate directly to the player deck cards used to determine who a player will randomly switch with when they land on a “switch” space.
Rule change #3 – Small Changes on The Game Board: Other small changes made to my game pertain directly to the spacing of various “action” spaces on the board. Action spaces include “switch” spaces and “+/-” spaces, both of which needed a bit of tweaking in order to make the game flow at a better pace.
Also, I added in a “slide backward” space to balance out the “slide forward” spaces, which originally had one additional space. This makes the game a bit more challenging for players, ultimately bathing rolls in a thick air of malevolence. And such, players will feel elated at finally passing through the game’s split early on.
Classroom Playtest #2 (2/24/14)
After playtesting my game one final time with a small group in class, I was able to come up with a few adjustments to improve the overall play experience. I did not choose to implement them at this point because there were still a few complications with these changes, but they’re a step in the right direction.
Change #1: Instead of drawing a card to determine who you switch with, players could roll the dice to determine the outcome by assigning numbers to each contending player (i.e. player 1 = 1,2 on the dice). The problem, however, is that players wouldn’t have a permanent set of numbers because the dice is only divisible by three in terms of number assignments, which could cause the same unnecessary breaks as do the cards currently. It’s a work in progress.
Change #2: Rather than making every single “switch” space abide to the laws of randomness, I’ve conjectured that giving players the option to choose who they switch with on certain spaces would increase the stakes of the game and the overall sense of pleasure when you screw someone over. I wasn’t able to draft this into the final version of the game.
Aside from those two pending changes, I wasn’t able to come up with much else I’d like to see changed, other than the overall aesthetic appeal of the board and its components.