The First Action Card is Revealed!

Today, we are revealing the first Action Card in Shipload o’Gold!

As I mentioned before, Marshall’s original idea for the game involved just one (rather large) deck of cards that mostly held cards that would cause players to pass coins around. There were a few cards that instead allowed you to take coins from a player, and cards that would prevent someone from taking your coins. I took that idea and decided to split the deck in two, creating Action Cards that players could buy and sell that were independent of what became the Weather Deck.

Having listened to nearly all of Mark Rosewater’s Drive to Work podcasts, I was familiar with his “10 Things Every Game Needs” discussions. With the single deck approach Marshall had, there was forced Interaction between players as you had to pass coins every turn. Inertia, the concept that the game is moving to an end state, was there, but games could drag on quite a bit because while coins would slowly move to the center and away from players, it wasn’t quick enough. The biggest concept that I felt it lacked was Strategy. There were no choices the player could make. Unfortunately I realized that early in that first play test, and it soured the game to me.

Splitting into two decks was my way of fixing the lack of Strategy. We also designed the two decks to have very different functions. The Weather Deck’s purpose is to end the game. The Action Deck’s purpose is to lengthen the game. Finding the right balance between the two has been the focus of many of our play test sessions. End the game too quick, and players will be frustrated they couldn’t develop any Strategy. End it too late, and players will already be bored with the game before it’s done. After much trial and error, we are confident our game is in the sweet spot.

Today’s revealed card is called Capture. This was the first Action card I created, as it was one of the core ideas of Marshall’s initial game.

As you can see, it is pretty straightforward; you take half of another player’s coins. Since you’re playing as pirates, we always round up. The coin in the bottom left of the card indicates the card’s sell value. Players start the game with three Action Cards, and can purchase more as the game goes on, assuming they have enough coins to do so as they cost two coins each. Action Cards can also be sold to get some more coins to your hand if the need arises. In this case, Capture has a sell value of one coin.

Sell values for Action Cards range between zero and four coins. This was another aspect of the game that we spent a lot of time balancing, so the “action value” of the card would be equivalent with the sell value. Capture is also one of the more common Action Cards, which also played into its sell value.

Next week I will be revealing another card from the Weather Deck, which shows how things can get a little more interesting. Until then, be sure to check back on Thursday for more company-related updates. Also, if you haven’t noticed yet, I added a card gallery for the game, so all of the cards revealed so far can be seen there. Our new member, Andrew, also has his biography up on the About page.

Finally, I’ll plug our online play tests again. If you’re interested, 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.