Alpha Tests for Princess Mononoke-inspired Board Game

So I pulled together a very barebones alpha test of the core scoring mechanic for this Princess Mononoke-inspired board game.
  • Randomly shuffle 40 cards, in four suits, ranked from 1-10.
  • To start each round, deal a 3x3 grid of cards. Each player rolls four dice and keeps the results.
  • On your turn, place a die on a vertex of the grid.
  • At the end of the round, take any cards for which you have the greatest total sum of dice results surrounding that card.
    • Any dice placed on the edge get a +1 modifier.
    • Any dice on the outer corners get a +2 modifier.
  • In case of ties, the card remains in place into the next round.
  • If any sum of a suit goes over 10, score a number of points equal to your lowest suit. Then discard any cards of the suit that went over 10.
  • Continue until you cannot make a full 3x3 grid and the player who has the highest score wins the game.
There was a lot of really interesting emergent behavior in the alpha tests. I worried about letting so much ride on a single 4d6 roll each round. I think the averages even out after about five rounds, which is about how many rounds a 40-card deck allows for, but the future upgrades I plan to add will really make it work.

But that said, players sometimes wanted a really low roll so they didn't accidentally score when they didn't mean to do so. Players were also very scared of the high cards, often avoiding them to not score at a sub-optimal time. However, "dodging bullets" didn't really feel as satisfying as "winning" the auction.

Going on, the next steps are to...
  • Make a custom deck and lower the tip-over point from 10 to maybe 5.
  • Add upgrade cards in the deck as things you can compete for in the auction.
  • Make the deck larger to lengthen the game a bit. Upgrade cards will help with that.
  • Add an ownership of some kind, where players can claim spaces and get a benefit for it.
  • Oh, and make a board?

Looks oddly like a castle now that I lay it out this way. Huh. It'll take some flavorful graphic design to make this look anything like a valley. Hm.
Daniel Solis
Art Director by Day. Game Designer by Night.