5 Things I'm Playtesting in Regime

Regime is one of those games that would really do best with a retail scale production. It needs too many cards to be a profitable POD product, but I didn't realize that when I first published it. It's still on DriveThruCards, and you can buy it right now, but it's pretty much at-cost.

Since BGGcon, I've been taking the advice that I should work on more middleweight games with more components. Regime seems like the best fit for this new evolution. I've been working on updates to the components, which in turn led to some gameplay updates as well. None of these changes are final, they're just things I'm testing.

1. Faster Scoring
So, our game design guild has a rule of thumb for game design we call Vicki's Law: A game shouldn't take longer to score than to play. That seemed to be Regime's main weakness. It doesn't break Vicki's Law, but it is most certainly a misdemeanor.

At BGGcon, there was some talk of modifying the deck so some cards had only one or two suits, but none had three. My local group found that option a bit unappealing. The tension is lost or even somewhat spoiled when you had to trade a card for one that offered even less than your last one. By each card having three suits, each is equally likely of having a mix of three good/bad things.

Instead of modifying the deck, we decided we'd simply not score "Calm" during the scoring phase. The cards either gave you Unrest or Power, but Calm is simply neutral. That cut down the bookkeeping so players could get back to playing the game.

2. Modified Trading
Presently, your two choices during your turn are to "Oust" a faction into the leftmost space of the Popularity Track or to "Trade" a card from your hand by discarding it and drawing a new card blind from the deck.

We wanted players to have a little more choice in the trade action as it felt like you really lucked into a victory or lucked out of a victory by that random draw. So we changed the "Trade" action as follows.

TRADE: Discard a card. Reveal the top card of the deck and draw it into your hand, or discard it and draw the next card from the deck into your hand without revealing it.

This gives you two chances to get a better card into your hand and also reveals a little more information to the rest of the group about which cards are in the deck. If you take the revealed card, everyone knows what you took and what you gave away. If you take a blind card, then at least you've revealed a total of two cards to the group so they can plan accordingly.

3. A New Narrative Arc
The game currently has three phases to the popularity track which bestow either Unrest, Calm, or Power to the various factions. Here's how it is currently:

1: U C C P P P
2: U U C C P P
3: U U U C C P

I initially liked this arc because it made power harder to attain over time and made players panic as more and more of their hand would become persona non grata. However, this also makes catching up much more difficult as whoever is in the lead can rest a little easier knowing that their lead is only going to become more secure over time.

Narratively, it also felt weird that the country is falling further into unrest the longer players are involved. I'd rather players feel like they're making the country more stable over time. We tested reversing the order, but that inadvertently made the third round rather deterministic. As soon as three factions were ousted into the track, the remaining three were already guaranteed to score points.

So instead, we're testing this alternative narrative arc:

1: U U U C C P
2: U U C C P P
3: U C C P P U

The players are still ostensibly making the country more stable, but there's one additional sting as the first and last factions on the track will cause unrest. When three faction chips remain in the general pool, you're still not sure whether they'll be valuable or deadly.

4. More Dangerous Unrest
I still need to test this idea further, but if I'm not scoring Calm anymore then I want Unrest to feel a little more thematic than a mere point bonus as it stands now. One way to do this would be as follows:

"Whoever has most Unrest cannot win. Period."

This makes Unrest very dangerous, feels much more thematic, and removes one extra bit of accounting from the endgame. Sounds like we hit three birds with one stone, but I want to test it more to be sure.

5. New Components
If this is going to go to a retail publisher, it needs some room for chrome or stretch goals.

- Chips for the factions, which would be easier to handle than cards.
- Bifold score track going from 1-30. It might have a space for the deck and the discard pile.
- Two pawns for each player, one representing Power (points) and one representing Unrest.
- A "current turn" marker, so you know who takes the next turn after each scoring phase.

And that's where Regime development stands at the moment! Hope you like where it's going. As I said, none of this is inal. Feel free to test this with your own copy and send feedback. I appreciate it!

"Curse You, Robin Hood!" seeks playtesters!

I'm happy to say that "Curse You, Robin Hood!" is now ready for public playtesting. In the legendary days of Sherwood forest, the regular Joe merchants trying to earn an honest buck keep getting robbed by Robin Hood. They quickly learn that the trick to getting rich in Sherwood is to just not be the richest merchant, otherwise you're the biggest target for the Merry Men.

Find the complete rules here along with a PnP PDF of the 50 cards. This is the next stage of development of Sharewood, the original light tavern card game a bunch of us playstormed at BGGcon this year. (The story behind that is in this post.)

Curse You Robin, Hood! expands from 1 to 6 players, uses a custom the deck, simplifies scoring, adds shooting the moon and multi-round rules. I'm pretty proud of the solo rules as well, since they're not exclusively limited to one-player games. The bots can be added to a group of any size. It's pretty fun! Hope you get a chance to play!

Have fun!

New Patreon Tier: Twitch Streaming Graphic Design and Layout

For the past few weeks, I've been practicing streaming my work on Twitch. You can see some of the archived broadcasts on my profile page here:


I'm still learning the ropes and trying to figure out the technical issues. For now, I'm saving some archived highlights publicly on youtube, as you can see above and on my youtube channel here:


My main issue at the moment is that my archived streams are cutting off upwards of 20 minutes early for some reason. If anyone knows how to fix that, I'd be very grateful. For now I'm recording a local copy of stream. I will save those archived videos to youtube as Unlisted videos. That means only people who have the URL will be able to watch the video.

So that brings me to my well-buried lead: I have a new $10 tier on my Patreon page! I'll post archived twitch streams for $10+ patrons, along with as many files from that stream as I'm able. They'll still be viewable on Twitch for about two weeks after the initial broadcast, but for posterity they'll only be accessible to folks with access.

Upcoming streams include art editing for Do: Fate of the Flying Temple from Evil Hat Productions, RPG book layout for Karthun from Exploding Rogue, various card game prototypes, and much more. I hope you dig it!

Last day to get my card games by Dec. 24!

Hello, last-minute holiday shoppers! Today is the last day to order my games from DriveThruCards in the continental US and be pretty sure they'll reach you by December 24. Stuff those stockings!

Rhombus for the Rest of Us [Isometric Grids in Tabletop]

I just recently finished Monument Valley, the gorgeous and brain-boggling Escher-inspired puzzle game. It's been around for a little bit, but seems to have had a resurgence since it was a free download last week. Naturally, it got me thinking about how we might use rhombuses and isometric grids in a tabletop game.

Looking at some existing examples, Rome: City of Marble makes some clever use of these grids and emergent patterns, but Monument Valley has that lovely interaction with implied perspective that I really wanted to capture on the table. The Rocca line of games from Japan is closer to what I wanted to see, but still feels relatively linear compared to Monument Valley's three-dimensional gameplay.

All of this converged on two different games I've got on my docket:

Tile-Laying: the Tile-Laying Game

This is a co-design with Drew Hicks. We're both members of the Game Designers of North Carolina and we got to talking about an upcoming "meta" contest from Greater Than Games calling for games where the title is also the central mechanic. (These would be follow-ups to their game Deck-Building: the Deck-Building Game.)

Our idea was a tile-laying game about laying tiles. Initially this was laying tiles in a bathroom, and we started with this rough sketch.

I roughed out a mockup of a tile set with some simple rules: On your turn, lay a tile. When a line is complete, whoever has greatest total ranks on that line scores whatever that line of tiles says to score.

It was an absurdly AP-prone brain-burner, but that's how a lot of my games start. Drew cut back this thorny bush into a more svelte bonsai. The new rule was having a simple majority of tiles was what earned you scoring privileges and the only tiles you could score were your own.

We're also retheming it to be some kind of ancient period mosaic-laden plaza, so the scale of the art can allow for us to add a bit more detail to each individual tile. We're adding a row to the top of that grid that will feature mythological deities that bestow scoring bonuses to the line of tiles below them, from the top of the wall, to the bottom edge of the floor.

Isometric Path-Building Pick-Up-and-Deliver Game

This one's still pretty nascent, but I think the visuals are strong enough to really give it legs in the long run. If there's thing I learned from Kigi and Kodama, it's that people like collaborating building pretty patterns that make passersby stop and look for a moment.

First I mocked up a few hex tiles with the rule that they always feature three paths, each a different color, each connecting two sides of a hex with no overlapping entries or exits.

I placed these hex tiles together and threw on a few meeples to imagine what this game would be like with figures like Monument Valley's hero Ida traversing this weird isometric world along those paths.
What happens when you rotate a hex? Suddenly the implied ceiling becomes a floor. New paths also get created as a result. Are there some interactions with the faces of each implied cube?
Why this player would prefer to traverse along a path that is multi-colored. I wonder if the rule is that you can't enter a new tile unless the path changes color? That may be too counter-intuitive unless the idea is that you're picking up different colored cubes from the corresponding paths and delivering them to differently colored segments of the path.

It was about this time that I realized I didn't have to go through the trouble of making hex tiles when I could make the rhomboid faces of those hexes, thereby allowing players to make their own decisions about whether to make it a hex grid or not. This made some interesting gaps in the grid where a tile couldn't legally be placed. Perhaps those are the destinations for the various deliveries you need to make?

Ever since BGGcon, I've really taken to heart the advice to stretch beyond cards a bit. I'm really enjoying this so far! Hope you're digging the journey as well. :)

Watch Kodama: the Tree Spirits Overview from BoardGameGeek.con!

I was very lucky to sit down with Beth from BoardGameGeek at the Action Phase BGG.con booth to do an overview of Kodama: the Tree Spirits. Action Phase says Kodama was a very popular demo at the show with a lot of customer and retailer interest.

You can still pre-order Kodama: the Tree Spirits at the Action Phase Games website here.

On a personal note, I've seen so many of these convention overviews on the BGG youtube channel that it's a little surreal seeing myself on one. I was a little nervous, which you can probably tell, but hopefully it's a clear enough overview of how the game plays. I'm really looking forward to seeing Kodama hit many game tables soon.

Chinese Editions of Koi Pond and Kigi back in stock!

Good news! I have a few more copies of the Chinese edition Koi Pond and Kigi direct from Joy Pie. Order ASAP if you want it at your doorstep before the holidays. These are the actual Chinese editions of both games and are normally unavailable in the US. I got a few complementary designer copies and now I'd like to send them to you! Find them at my Etsy store!


Card at Work: 5 – Designing Poker Cards and Troubleshooting DataMerge

It's time for a new episode of Card at Work, this time covering how to design a deck of playing cards in Adobe InDesign's DataMerge. This mostly follows the same techniques established in the previous episode, but the latter half also covers some troubleshooting you may need to do when you're designing your own deck.

The last episode drew some feedback asking for more supplementary assets to go alongside the video content. I'd love to hear more about what you would like to see, especially as exclusives for patrons. For now, here's an oldie-but-goodie posted back in 2012, but goes along well with this episode.


That contains an InDesign file and support for a simple deck of playing cards using Noun Project icons. Hope that helps get you started on your way!
Daniel Solis
Art Director by Day. Game Designer by Night.