Design Workshop Wrapup 4/12/14

by Chanse Horton on Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Small Town Politics

This edition of our weekly workshop started with testing some new rules on Flip the Script, and continued by dealing with some eagerly awaited old business. Our initial brainstorming session back at the beginning of the year yielded not just one, but two major game ideas. One, which we immediately began work on, resulted in what you now know as Flip the Script . The second idea, which was initially tabled so as to allow focus on one project, finally started to come to life in a big way this Saturday.

Small Town Politics

Our newest-oldest project, whose working title is Small Town Politics, is intended to be a light, not-quite-collaborative, role selection game revolving around the management of the quintessential American “Small Town”, and is thematically inspired by novels such as Stephen King's “Under the Dome” and movies like “Fried Green Tomatoes”. The idea is to get across that feeling of “everyone's got their paws in everyone else's business.” In this game, the players will collaboratively attempt to guide the town through a series of crises, while at the same time altering the town's reputation to guide themselves to a personal victory. If the town loses, everybody loses, but if the town survives, someone wins.

Game Elements 

The small town is represented largely by five Reputation tracks, currently consisting of:

  • Economy
  • Education
  • Culture
  • Safety
  • Community

At the beginning of a round, a Crisis card will be drawn, ranging from “Earthquake!” to “Recession!”, forcing the town to meet a set of Reputation criteria. In order for anyone to win the game, the town must survive x number of crises before failing y number of crises.

Each player will start the game by being dealt a Secret Role card. These will be tropes like “Mob Boss”, “Vigilante”, and “Religious Fundamentalist”, and will detail the way that player will score at the end. This scoring is expressed as multipliers based on the ending Reputation values of the town. For example, the Mob Boss will score highly for a negative Safety rating, but needs a strong Economy to extort from.

Players should also be able to deduce one another's Secret Role, and thereby attempt to subvert one another's win conditions.

The second major element for each player is the Public Role. Public Role cards will be privately drafted each round (ever played Citadels?), and will be public offices such as “Mayor”, “Sheriff”, “Teacher”, etc. Public Roles will dictate your initial resource accumulation for a particular round, and will incorporate some sort of rule-breaking “power”.

Players should also be able to deduce one another's Secret Role, and thereby attempt to subvert one another's win conditions. Our fondest hope is that the juxtaposition of a player's base desire to win alongside his/her responsibility to help the town survive will result in a lovely inner turmoil.

Sample STP Action Cards

Action cards will consist mostly of Buildings and Events, and will be a player's primary means of affecting the town's Reputation tracks. Buildings can be played by any player, but will cost Money. Events will be free to play, but require the approval of one or more of the town's Public Roles. If a player drafts a particular role, then that player is free to play any associated events. If the Event requires the approval of a different official, well, that's where the Favor tokens come in.

If the town loses, everybody loses, but if the town survives, someone wins.

Ah, Favor tokens... {cue evil Monty Burns laugh} At the beginning of the game, each player will pass a Favor token to the player on his/her right, thereby forcing everyone into the “you scratch my back...” cycle that we want to emulate. Your Favor tokens will be of a color specific to you, and thusly someone can only compel you if they have a token of your particular color. Players will then be able to play their Favor tokens to compel other players to act “in their favor”. For example, suppose Blue Player is the Mayor. I might play a blue Favor token to force the Mayor to approve my Mayor-only event card, or I could allow myself to use the Mayor's “elicit a favor” power.

STP Overview Image

We're a long way from a finished product, but we've come so far already. We are more than ready for the hard work necessary to bring this to a table near you! In fact, we were so self-satisfied by the results of the day, we treated ourselves afterwards to a nice stroll down the Atlanta Beltline. A lovely ending to a productive day!

Let us know what you think in the comments below, and stay tuned for updates on Small Town Politics!

Leave a Comment

David Baumgartner over 3 years ago said...

This design session was such a blast. There are few things in life like game design that combine productivity, good company, and great times!

Bruno Monlevade over 1 year ago said...

This looks a perfect game for my group and would be nice to have it someday.

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