Here's a super quick idea, combining the "line drafting" structure (from SmallWorld, Guillotine, Morels and Belle of the Ball) with action selection. This came out as a possible solution to a big hurdle of line drafting games. Replacing the cards as soon as one is taken from the line can be a bit fiddly. If they're not replaced, then the initial length of the line is so long it takes up the whole table.
I thought, why not just move the card at the front of the line to back of the line? Each card simply represents one action you may take during your turn. You can take the action at the front of the line for free, or you may pay one resource to skip that action and take the next one in line. Anyone who takes an action with resources on it also gets that resource. Once an action is done, that corresponding card is simply moved to the back of the line.
This greatly reduces the size of a deck for a line drafting game and makes it a bit less fiddly. Granted, you still occasionally need to re-center the whole line to the middle of the table as it gradually creeps backward, but it's still less handling than usual. There's also still the problem of gaps in the line if players skip to the second or third action. Eh, can't solve it all.
Above is a potential theme for this mechanic, you're eagerly awaiting a supply line of burros to come into town carrying ingredients for burritos. I love puns. Unfortunately I didn't have silhouettes of mules handy, so let's make do with camels.
The line begins with some basic actions like Get Lettuce, Get Tomato, or Get Flour. You know, the typical worker placement kind of thing.
You can also Expand Business, which adds new special actions to the line, like Get 2 Flour or 2 Lettuce. I imagine this would also involve some ownership mechanics like a player chip, so when this action is taken, the owner gets whatever the active player didn't choose. If you took 2 Flour, the owner of that action would get 2 Lettuce.
You can also Get Order, which lets you take your pick of a set of orders from local customers. When you have an order, you may fulfill it as soon as you have the prerequisite ingredients, thus earning money.
I imagine there's strong potential for Waterdeep-style Intrigue cards, too. Not sure what those would be called in this context? Shady buritto business deals? Sneaking sub-par ingredients? You tell me. :)
Last week you saw the first art preview for Belle of the Ball. Jacqui Davis is still working away at the rest of the guests. There are a lot of 'em! Once again, here's more art from Jacqui. Don't forget, Belle of the Ball will be kickstarted by Dice Hate Me Games in late Summer 2013 for an early 2014 release. You can find more about the game on the DHM site here.
In this update, you'll see one guest who may have a subtle resemblance to yours truly. That's probably because I wanted a character making an exaggerated "FFFFFF" sound and I sent a silly selfie as photo reference. See if you can spot it!
Jamshire County's pristine vineyards produces the best jams and wines in Ludobel. L to R: Lady Radioactive Rendermum, Barge of Jamshire; Apple Ash, Cape of Jamshire; Bumblebee Bindlemeg, Eye of Jamshire; Lord Marmalade Megablade, Ace of Jamshire; Gapplepap Gravelsap, Drake of Jamshire.
Glitterfall County is a sunny resort island with a landmark waterfall, just off the coast of Ludobel's mainland. L to R: Lord Waffle Wumple, Ace of Glitterfall; Lady Hard Cider, Barge of Glitterfall; Ffffaaaaa Flippinbird, Drake of Glitterfall; Ragathan Roffle, Eye of Glitterfall; Mumblecore Masherfax, Cape of Glitterfall.
Krinkle County is a cold, mountainous region, best known for its surprisingly warm baked treats. L to R: Stitch Sandybag, Inch of Krinkle; Blisterpack Bitack, Key of Krinkle; Lord Decimate Dunditel, Fool of Krinkle; Lady Velocipede Vintertav, Gem of Krinkle; Satisfied Stainclop, Jack of Krinkle.
Dent County's jewel magnates are the wealthiest citizens of Ludobel. The county is named for the giant canyon left behind from mining, now grown over with vines and bamboo. L to R: Lady Ubwub Ungerdub, Ace of Dent; Thathery Thumbvee, Eye of Dent; Xenon Xylosub, Drake of Dent; Lord Humblebrag Hamperrag, Barge of Dent; Gravity Gingersass, Cape of Dent.
There are still four more counties, so look for more previews in coming weeks. To see more of Jacqui Davis' work, go see her blog!
I'm a big fan of the drafting genre, like 7 Wonders, Seasons, Sushi Go!, and Among the Stars. Like the deckbuilding genre, I find it fascinating how an emergent activity from the CCG community could turn into a a full-fledged game genre of its own. I thought I'd try my hand at it today.
One of the fun things about drafting games is the tension of having too many good options, knowing that you'll have to pass some very powerful options to your neighbor. Based on their past choices, you know they're pursuing a particular strategy that will be greatly aided by this one last piece of the puzzle you have in your hand. Alas, nothing to do. You draft your own card and hope to get something better in the next hand.
But what if the game was as much about accurately guessing what your opponent would draft? And if you guess correctly, it would hinder his strategy a bit? Let's try this with a simple poker deck for sake of explanation.
To begin, each player is dealt five playing cards to their hand. The dealer then reveals two cards in the center of the table. The goal of the game is to draft cards in order to make the highest value poker hand, by combining cards drafted with the two community cards. However, there is a twist, described below.
- Look at your first hand carefully, but don't draft anything from it.
- Pass your hand to the player on your left.
- You will get a new hand from the player on your right.
- Each player drafts one card from their new hand and places it face-down.
- Taking turns, each player guesses which card the neighbor to his left drafted.
- Then the player to his left reveals his card.
- If the guess was half-right (either suit or rank), the guesser gets two chips.
- If the guess was completely right, the guesser gets three chips.
- If the guess was wrong, the player to the left gets one chip.
- Once all guesses and revelations are complete, hands pass to the left again.
Continue drafting, guessing, and revealing until there is only one card left in-hand. This last card is discarded and notes the end of the game. Each player scores points based on their poker hand.
- High Card: 1 pts.
- One Pair: 2 pts.
- Two Pair: 3 pts.
- Three of a Kind: 5 pts.
- Straight: 8 pts.
- Flush: 13 pts.
- Full House: 21 pts.
- Four-of-a-Kind: 34 pts.
- Straight Flush: 55 pts.
Play two more rounds and then add bonus points from chips. Chips earn points equal to their quantity multiplied by itself. For example:
- One Chip: 1 pt.
- Two Chips: 2 pts.
- Three Chips: 9 pts.
- Four Chips: 16 pts.
- Five Chips: 25 pts.
And so on. The player with the most points at the end wins!
I don't know if this is actually a fun game, but it certainly takes an emergent property of card drafting and makes it a mechanic of its own. Now when you know your opponent is going to take a particular card, you can get some benefit from that knowledge, too. What's more, the tension of drafting is even higher since you may end up double-thinking your neighbor. Do you take the card that gives you a straight flush, even though it's the obvious choice? Tense!
It’s been about six months since I started this whole full-time game designer thing, with Koi Pond being in many ways the flagship project for this experiment. Koi Pond was designed, developed, and published all in the past half-year, thanks to the coincidental occurrence of several factors. Here’s how it all came to pass and my thoughts on where it might go in the future. This is a long post, so here are the takeaways right up front:
- I worked fast, playtesting and revising rapidly.
- I could make my own art, which greatly reduced initial expenses.
- I still hired an editor and got lots of outside readers to review text.
- Because I worked so minimally, even modest sales put me in the black.
- I’m re-investing those earnings to future products.
- POD (unpackaged) cards are still a new model, with a small audience.
- The market may grow if POD games get reviewed alongside bigger products.
For another POV, Dave Chalker posted his own thoughts on publishing his game Criminals through DriveThruCards here.
Late last year I decided to resign from the ad agency. I’d worked my way through the creative department and was on the cusp of becoming creative director. It was a sweet gig for a long time, but having that full-time job and doing freelance and doing game design and, oh yeah, maintaining a healthy mental well-being was untenable. I made some drastic changes in my lifestyle, culminating in that resignation.
So, 2013 began with a bit of confusion about what to do next. It just so happened that the Boardroomers were holding a microgame design contest in February. The entries had to contain at least 1 of each of the following components, but no more than is allowed:
- Poker Cards (20 cards at the most, you must use the poker faces)
- Cubes (10 cubes at the most)
- Rules (These must be written out with examples when necessary)
I was having a bit of success with Suspense, so I thought I’d try my hand at another micro.
Searching for a Theme
I designed Love Me Not, as a very, VERY abstract thought-experiment in endgame scoring. I wanted to figure out a scoring method that required you to sort resources between two places, only the lower of the two totals allowing you to score. The game itself was too limited for its form factor and rightfully didn’t win the contest. It did let me explore this notion further.
When I reach points like this in a design cycle, I look for a good meaty theme that will perhaps suggest further secondary mechanics or make the central mechanics feel more meaningful. So, I searched for a theme in which it made sense for players to sort things into different places, but only attain value for those things if instances of those things were present in all relevant locations.
In other words, it felt like being a museum curator. Players would collect precious items and decide to put them out on public display (face-up cards) or keep them in the private archives (face-down cards). Examples of those items needed to be in both the display and archives to be valuable. I explored this idea a bit further, but I was really concerned that Reiner Knizia’s Modern Art was such a prominent game with this theme that I couldn’t escape comparison.
I looked further afield, examining what it felt like to play with this mechanic. Sometimes this can result in a simple title that in itself provides enough of a theme for the game to make sense. See “Can’t Stop!” as a classic example. When you play Can’t Stop, you really do feel like you can’t stop rolling those blasted dice.
When you play with this scoring mechanic, you feel like you’re keeping a secret. You feel like you’re being coy. Thus, I was tempted to leave the game at that, simply calling it Coy. But I couldn’t resist a pun, so I thought it would be clever to have koi fish on these cards. No real theme aside from that, just fish as a placeholder for a more traditional set of poker suits.
But of course, the idea of a “Coy Pond” or “Coy Koi” or just plain old “Koi Pond” was irresistible. That theme introduced lots of secondary mechanics to explore. What about pests in the pond? What about visitors? What if it’s a competition between koi pond hobbyists?
I developed the idea over the next couple of months at my local game store, UnPub, and PAX East. I got a LOT of help from outside playtesters, which was really invaluable. This is a shorter timeline than my usual development cycle, but I was actually able to fit in more playtests than usual. Actual chronological time didn’t matter so much as actually getting the game to as many table as often as possible.
Backing up a bit, throughout 2012 there was talk of DriveThruRPG branching out to print-on-demand card games in 2013. I thought this would be a great opportunity for me during this year-long experiment to try some low-risk projects. Most of the time, as you’ve seen with Belle of the Ball, even a small card game spends years in development and takes just as long to finally be published.
With DriveThruCards, I saw a sales option that could keep pace with my creative output, as long as I devoted strong enough attention to the quality of the product on sale. Originally I was going to publish Suspense with DTC. The art direction was simple and could be done in-house. The rules were easy enough to explain in a short PDF. Plus, the only actual game components were cards themselves.
A happy snag got in the way though. I was fortunate enough that Dice Hate Me decided to pick up the license as a part of the Belle of the Ball family of games, but that left me hunting for another potential product for DTC. The newly christened Koi Pond fit the bill.
Just like with Suspense, I can product the art myself. The rules were relatively simple (though a bit longer than Suspense). The cards were really the only play component (though there were quite a few more than Suspense). Plus, it was a pretty game that I hoped DTC would find valuable as a sales tool for their new POD services, thus driving more in-house sales.
Calling in the Editor
However, I used to have a bad habit of making an otherwise unfinished game look like it’s finished with some pretty graphics. I’ve avoided that pitfall over the past few years and become a better game designer for it. Still I knew I needed help to make sure this was a solid first outing and I was willing to pay for it.
Specifically, I hunted around for an editor for my rules sheet. I’m happy to say that Liz Bauman came to my rescue here. In short order, she found a lot of vagaries that needed clarification and game terms that needed more consistent application. Hire Liz a lot!
I’ve often said that no rules are too short for someone to get them wrong. Hiring an editor (and also getting lots of outside playtesters to read the rules) made the text a lot more clear. Examples of play helped, too. As a matter of fact, I’m still updating the rules sheet after further feedback from early buyers.
Prepping and Publication
With that done, I was ready to actually go live with this thing. Sending files to print is rarely a completely smooth operation. Each printer is basically its own country, with its own customs to learn as you go.
For example, one important thing to note is that the POD printers DriveThruCards hires has a 240% ink threshold limit. My cards were so colorful that their inks were in the 300 range. I needed to tone them down a bit so they’d actually produce properly. It was mainly little things like that.
Otherwise, the file setup was actually easier than with other POD printers I’ve used in the past. SuperiorPOD requires you to set up your own 18-up card sheets. Game Crafter requires you to upload each card face and back individually. DriveThruCards simply requires a multi-page PDF with alternating faces and backs for each card. The latter option is much more amenable to InDesign’s DataMerge tool.
- I’d lay out the cards with placeholders for variable data like rank, suit, and art, all pulled from a corresponding spreadsheet.
- Once done, I’d export an InDesign file through DataMerge, producing a multi-page document, with one card per page.
- From that, I’d export flattened images (with bleed) into a special “Renders” folder. Typically these were JPEGs since they retained the best color.
- Then I did a Photoshop batch action that reduced all the ink thresholds in each image file to those designated by DriveThruCards’ specs.
- Then I made a brand new spreadsheet. The first cell had the file name for the first card’s face. The second cell had the file name for the first card’s back. Thus, I continued alternating the file names of a card face with the file name of the card back
- In a brand new InDesign file, I’d link this spreadsheet with DataMerge.
- Again, I’d use DataMerge to export a multi-page document
- Finally, that multi-page document could be exported to a PDF suitable for printing.
It’s important here to thank Brian Petkash who very patiently talked me through that file setup process and is still diligently answering my pesky questions about how to actually get the file up for sale.
Unfortunately, I missed DriveThruCards’ “soft launch” period of February through March. I understand sales were slow during this period in general, so perhaps it’s for the best. I had Koi Pond ready that April just in time for their big public debut. Here’s how the numbers break down:
$69.80 Royalties Earned*
$100.83 Royalties Earned
Grand Totals To Date
$170.63 Royalties Earned
* The first month’s royalties were a bit low because I ordered review copies and expensed the cost to that month’s payout.
Koi Pond launched at the top of the hot list and stayed their for the first week. I kept up the marketing efforts through my blog, my Twitter feed and my G+ accounts. I also got a lot of help from people RTing my links.
Maybe I’m just too indie at heart, but I’m very happy with these numbers. I went into this experiment with a brand new game, an inordinately fast dev cycle, modest potential audience, and zero-to-minimal expenses. My investment of time and capital into this project has been quite met, I think. Anything more will contribute to further self-published card games.
Having the experience of Kickstarting three projects already, DriveThruCards offers me an appealing alternative. Yes, I have fewer sales over a longer period of time, but I also don’t have the stress of stretch goals, income taxes, and fulfillment hassles occupying my time for the next year. Instead, I can keep blowing on this little ember until it lights another fire.
Towards that end, I hope to keep up interest in Koi Pond with reviews and podcast interviews as I develop an expansion for the game, Moon Village. I’ve also already invested some of my earnings into the art for 9 Lives Card Game, currently in public beta. My game still a small fish in a very, very large ocean, but they’re growing!
Here's a new family card game I've been tinkering with over the past few months. You may recall some previous posts on the subject here and here. Well, with a bit of streamlining for the rules and a few tweaks here and there, I've managed design what I hope is a fun, fast, light strategy game that plays well with two to nine players. Yep, nine.
The premise of the game is that nine house cats have escaped. It's your job to bring them back home. The challenge is bringing them home while also making sure they're happy as possible with they return. Sometimes it's hard to do both! You know how cats are.
Players bid for cards, each featuring one of the nine cats. You're trying to claim the majority of the cards featuring a specific cat, thus allowing you to score points from that cat. However, not all cards are worth points, so simply winning a majority of those cards won't guarantee the best score.
This plus a little Baccarat-style mid-game scoring amounts to a light, tactical mini auction. Hope you enjoy! Please feel free to share your feedback.
» Download Prototype B
Jacqui Davis has been working diligently on the art for Belle of the Ball, to be kickstarted by Dice Hate Me Games in late Summer 2013 for an early 2014 release. You can find more about the game on the DHM site here. It's been a thrill to see these guests with silly names and sillier titles finally come to life.
Developing the island setting Ludobel has been exciting as an opportunity for world-building I rarely get to do. It's probably been since Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple that I got a chance to fully direct character designs. Jacqui Davis' work has been magnificent so far. In particular, she's really taken to heart my desire for a diverse cast of characters featuring a variety of ethnicity, silhouette, and gender presentation.
Each guest has a first and last name, naturally. I randomly generated these names from a list of suffixes and prefixes I thought sounded funny. On occasion, I'd tweak the names to maximize their tongue-twisting silliness, thus you get guest names like "Dirigible Dinnerbum." All guests come from one of the twelve counties of Ludobel, and each county has a Lord and Lady noted by a sash. Each guest also has an honorary title, reflecting a noteworthy skill, achievement or occupation. Thus you have titles like "Wall of Flappingcap" or "Fool of Dent." Enough chatter, on with the art!
Highmount County is home to high mountain steppes and equestrian aristocrats. L to R: Obelisk Orlantop, Inch of Highmount; Lady Livery Lingridtub, Gem of Highmount; Lord Anteater Appletend, Fool of Highmount; Vorpal Vanbee, Key of Highmount; Embrose Excrew, Jack of Highmount.
Anglebottom County is known for its fine silk exports. L to R: Lady Maybe Mumblecaw, Ace of Anglebottom; Lord Calla Quizcave, Barge of Anglebottom; Penny Puzzlemass, Cape of Anglebottom; Orblah Openbend, Eye of Anglebottom; Lady Critique Crappique, Drake of Anglebottom.
Indigum County is an artists' commune, source of baffling fashion trends. L to R: Kickingsell Kittenbell, Zest of Indigum; Meowsmith Mutterhut, Rock of Indigum; Ragequit Rumplefatch, Wall of Indigum; Lady Lovelylady Lamp, Quill of Indigum; Lord Wibblywobbly Wantonmutt, Lance of Indigum.
Craw County is a misty, rocky moor home to ancient ruins and dour historians. L to R: Jugular Jugkeg, Wall of Craw; Lady Custer Cutterlub, Lance of Craw; Lord Capable Canklerack, Quill of Craw; Underpants Unterdaria, Zest of Craw; Original Orblack, Rock of Craw.
There are still eight more counties, so look for more previews in coming weeks, including guests from grape-growing Jamshire County, mountainous Krinkle County, and super-scientific Flappingcap County. To see more of Jacqui Davis' work, go see her blog!
Here's a silly idea for a worker placement mechanic: What if in choosing the type of resource you get by placing a worker, you do not also determine the quantity of that resource? And vice versa, of course.
Consider the board above as a part of an introductory worker placement game, a la Lords of Waterdeep. Players are trying to achieve certain objectives (cards) by building groups of certain combinations of resources or spending those resources to build a better resource acquisition engine. Pretty standard stuff.
The twist is that each player only gets three meeple tokens of their own color. Players may not place two of their meeples in the same column. The columns are RESOURCES, QUANTITY, and TURN ORDER. Players take turns placing one meeple in either of the three columns. Once placed in a column, no more meeples of that color can be placed. Furthermore, no meeple can be placed in an occupied spot. By the end of the round, there will be one meeple per player per column.
Under resources, the top space is a "wild" resource, meaning that player can choose any of the other four resources below: ore, meat, grain, or money. The final two spots are cards, which will earn players points if their resource conditions are met. The first allows a player to draw a card(s), the second allows a player to play a card(s) and resolve its effects.
Under quantity, each space represents the number of those resources or cards a player may take from the general supply. The top spot allows the player to take three resources, draw three cards or play three cards. The middle spaces allow two. The last player to place his worker in this column must always place his worker in the last spot, which allows only one.
Under turn order, each space represents the order in which each player will take turns in the next round. The last player to place his worker in this column must always place his worker in the last spot. Though in last position, he will also be able to use a neutral meeple in the next round to place in either the RESOURCE or QUANTITY columns. (Their effects are cumulative, so if he places a worker on MEAT and GOLD, with a quantity of two, he'll get two meat and two gold.)
Curiously, you could just as well make this a simple sort of drafting game in which each of these options are laid out before the whole group on cards. But then again, I do keep trying to fit everything in the card game format these days. Anyhoo, hope you dig this little idea. Has it been done?
I'm still thinking about this card-turning Triple Triad-inspired game about lobbying an alien senate. This time, I'm thinking about some victory conditions outside of simply turning as many senators to your direction as possible. That in itself may earn you some points, but I would like to introduce a simple mission system in the spirit of Ticket to Ride or Takenoko.
Assume the game begins with an arrangement of senators on the table already. Each player is dealt a hand of five senators to play one round. The senators have various personal interests several issues, including logistics, military, culture, science, exploration, plus whatever caucus to which they identify. These would be represented by icons on their card.
At the start of the game, players also get a certain number of "Bills" that they're trying to pass through the senate. Normally, after each round, each player collects any senators pointing in his or her direction. This is the mainstream way to earn points. However, at any point during the course of the game, players may redeem Bills for which they are qualified. These are based on the game state, generally which senators are pointing in any particular direction. Here are some examples:
- Make First Contact with Ancient Artifact: Each trio of Science, Military, and Exploration pointing your direction.
- Explode Planet for Highway Construction: Each trio of Logistics senators pointing your direction.
- Vote of No Confidence against Solar Federation: No Solar Federation senators pointing your direction.
- Pledge of Impractical Idealism: No senators pointing in your direction.
- Campaign for Speaker Seat: At least one senator of each Caucus pointing in your direction.
Furthermore, I think some Bills ought to be public and out on the table, so all players are eligible to redeem them. This might divert attention in too many directions, but it's worth exploring.
In thinking about Triple Triad, one of the benefits of being a digital card game is that it's easy to change a card's color as its ownership changes between players. Obviously this is more fiddly in an analog game, but not impossible.
First, let's assume a theme something like the big Galactic Senate scene in Star Wars. Each player is trying to sway dozens of planets to ally with herself. Each planet is represented by cards with four numbers on each cardinal direction, just like a Triple Triad card. But, how to reflect "ownership" of those cards in play while still keeping them on the table?
You could place a coin on each card with one player being head's and another player being tails. For more players, simply use colored stones or poker chips. Unfortunately, this obscures some of the information on the card.
You might instead print double-sided cards, with identical information on each side except for a colored border. But again, the downside is that restricts some of your ability to keep information hidden, which is a great strength of cards in the first place.
Seeking an alternative, I was inspired by the new game Keyflower, which auctions hexagonal tiles in a very clever way. When you bid for a tile, you place your bid along the edge of the tile facing you. This is particularly useful in Keyflower since the meeples you're using to bid may be many different colors, so using the actual sides of the tiles makes each player's bid quite clear.
So perhaps these tiles can show their ownership by being oriented towards one player or another. I imagine tiles or cards with a small arrow pointing at whoever owns them. Here's an example of how it would work.
You place one tile on the table to start the game. Whenever you place a tile, you probably want to it point towards you, but it doesn't have to. As you will see, there may be times it's more advantageous to orient it a different direction.
Your opponent places a tile of his own. He points it towards himself. Whenever a tile is placed adjacent to another tile, check if the newly placed tile has more dots ("influence") along its edge than the adjacent tile's edge. In this case, it does not, so no further action is taken.
You place a new tile and it does have more influence than the opponent's adjacent tile. Because this is the case, your opponent's tile must be rotated so that it points towards you. (As shown below.)
In this manner, players can "capture" each other's tiles without having to actually pick them up. This would be ideal for card-based area control games where cards are often difficult to handle. Instead of picking it up, you'd simply rotate the card in place.
The other benefit, and the one I'm most intrigued by, is that capturing also changes the landscape of influence. Capturing a tile may lead to chain reactions, as stronger faces could suddenly reveal themselves to neighboring tiles. Chain reactions can be difficult to design into an analog game, but this may indeed prove a fruitful line of inquiry. HM!
Last week I played Guilds of Cadwallon for the first time. It's a very elegant tactical game with some clever nooks and crannies. You can check it out in the video above. It actually reminded me of Triple Triad, an old digital game from the Final Fantasy series that I've occasionally tried to hack into an analog format.
Anyway, here's a simple dice-based game you can play. Each player starts with an equal number of d6s, in their own color. To start the game, players roll all of their dice at once and leave the results as they stand.
On your turn, take one die from the supply (of either color) and place it on the table adjacent (up, down, left, right, not diagonal) to another die thus forming a grid of dice.
The round ends when all dice have been placed.
Then points are earned by surrounding an opponent's die with your die results totaling a number greater than your opponent's die result. Only orthogonal (up, down, left, right) adjacencies are considered, not diagonal. The points earned are equal to the surrounded dice result.
In the simplified example above, the player with dark dice has surrounded the light die with a total of 5, allowing her to score points from the light die. The light die's result is 4, so the dark player earns 4 points.
That's a fine, playable game on its own, but I also got to thinking about how to make it a little more flexible (and possibly marketable). Since going professional this year, I'm increasingly focused on making sure I can bring in some kind of income from what has been a rather idle hobby for the past decade. So, how can I make something sellable out of this idea?
Consider a set with square tiles, a positive or negative number on each side, possibly a wall on one or two sides, and a suit icon in the center. To set up the game, each player draws a tile from the bag and must place a tile adjacent to another tile, Carcassonne style. However the placement is far less restricted than in Carcassonne. You must simply not place a tile adjacent to a walled edge, unless your tile also has a walled edge.
Then you can play the dice game described earlier, but placing the dice on the tiles instead. In considering scoring, you would add your surrounding dice results with the facing numbers on your tiles as well.
Bonus points may be earned for collecting points from spaces with certain suits, or a certain combination of suits over time.
In the example above, the dark player surrounds a light 6 with 6. Normally this would not be sufficient to score the light dice result. However, the dark player has a +1 bonus from the tile below and a +2 bonus from the tile to the right. Thus, she has a greater sum than the light die result and can score 6 points from it. The "captured" tile also rests on a triangle, which may give the dark player some bonus points at the end of the game.
Much like Triple Triad, there are certainly ways to play this without dice. I can see a deck of cards laid out something like the example shown above. (More or less just Triple Triad cards, really.) You draw five at the start of the round, play one on your turn somewhere on the table, and use the base numbers to determine captures.
Instead of using tokens or chips to determine ownership, cards could have an arrow pointing to one edge. When you play a card, that arrow must point towards you. If a card is "captured," the card is rotated so its arrow points to the new owner, thus changing the orientation of its numbers. Perhaps even leading to a chain reaction!
Yeeeesssss. This may be worth exploring as a card game instead. But what theme? What theme, indeed.