The Eye of the Storm

This week we'll be revealing another Weather card from Shipload o'Gold.

Early on in our designs, one of the very first things we noticed about the game was that if it wasn't your turn, you often weren't paying attention. This was because there wasn't really anything for you to do when it was someone else's turn except wait for the chance of a coin being passed to you, or having to deal with another player's Action card. We took a two-pronged approach to solving that problem: 1. Add Weather cards that would affect players other than the current player and, 2. Add Action cards that could be played at any time. The second approach hints at some of the cards that will be revealed in the coming weeks. With the first approach, we added cards very slowly as we didn't want to overwhelm the players at first. This was partly because the Action cards weren't yet built to help extend the game as much.

The first Weather card we came up with for this approach was Hurricane.

For many iterations, the rules for Hurricane were simply: All players pass 1 coin to the center. This ensured that all players had to be ready for this at any time, and greatly altered players' strategies as they no longer had to prepare just for the Weather card on their turn, but also on other players' turns. Once we rolled through some more iterations and the Action cards were getting a bit stronger, we needed to readjust the Weather cards. We had some options for this, and we decided rather than add more Weather cards (which could end up increasing printing costs), we opted to instead add some more modifications to the Weather cards we already had, though we did still end up adding two Weather cards.

One strategy that we saw many people adopting was to sit on a big bank of Action cards in their hand. Our first attempt to beat this was to implement a hand limit of three on Action cards. Even with this, people would sit at the max hand size, so we wanted to come up with a way to discourage that as it ended up causing not-so-fun situations. The current version of Hurricane addresses that. Since the Action cards are supposed to be items/equipment on your ship, we figured if you were "heavily loaded" you'd be slower, and not able to get away from the Hurricane. Here's the text of Hurricane as it reads now:

All players pass 1 coin to the center. If a player has 3 Action cards, they instead pass 2 coins to the center.

As you can see, this discourages people from sitting on a full hand. It has been quite successful at keeping players engaged in the game and creating more choices for players on all turns. Since early versions of the game, the Hurricane was something players would fear. Now, it's no longer the most damaging card to a player, but it definitely keeps them on their toes.

Next week I'll be back with another of our Action cards, so be sure to come back for that!

As always, if you’re interested in joining us for an online play test, you’ll just need a copy of Tabletop Simulator on Steam, and having a Skype account is preferred, though we can use the text chat or press-to-talk in Tabletop Simulator if needed. Shoot us an email with the subject “I want to play test!” and we’ll let you know when there’s an opening in an upcoming play test.