Jan 122007

This past Tuesday we had a productive game design meeting. Everybody got to playtest each others’ prototypes, and we all found them to be rather interesting. I brought to the table a card game I’ve been working on for over a year now called Salvage. I haven’t been constantly working on it; it’s just been on and off the back burner for a long while. It has gone through a lot of transformations along the way. I like to try out a lot of ideas, and some of them just feel as though they are meant for another game, not this one. I scrapped a lot of ideas along the way because I wasn’t happy with how they worked in the game, but I think I’m to the point where I like how the system works.

Players assume the roles of post-apocalyptic scavengers searching through the rubble of a war-torn landscape to find the components they need to rebuild their lives. The piles of junk are limitless, but the resources they need are scarce. Players alternate between rounds of scavenging (card drafting) and building. During the draft, each player is dealt seven “junk” cards; they simultaneously select one each and pass the remainder to the left, repeating until done. With the “junk” cards they have acquired, players then take turns building and upgrading their camps, tools, weapons, and vehicles which all have their own unique abilities.

The testing in this latest version was mostly about the recycling of the junk deck. The depletion of the junk deck marked the end of a “season” in the game. The game lasts as many seasons as there are players. This allows for games with different numbers of players to roughly last around the same amount of time.

In previous versions of the game the junk deck would run out, players would get short changed junk cards (by design, I convinced myself), and play would continue as normal. The player with the leader card would get less short-changed than the other players because he was dealt his card first. After the short-changed round, a new season would start. Each new season would require all junk cards (even the left over ones the players had in their hands) to be shuffled into a fresh new deck. Even though the short changing of the cards didn’t affect the overall balance of the game, it just felt sloppy. It didn’t feel like good design when players played a round with one or two new cards instead of the full seven.

To fix that problem, I decided to just have the discard pile be shuffled when the deck ran out. That let the players continue to draw their cards so that each round they had 7 new cards. When the deck runs out, the players should note that the end of this round marks the end of the season. I also allow players to keep their card between seasons. It seems like a simple solution used in countless other games (and even in previous incarnations of this game), and I just took the long approach to get there.

With that nagging flaw no longer there, I plan on focusing on the project abilities, cleaning up the rules, and more playtesting!

One Response to “Salvage Playtest”

  1. I really liked the sense of conflict in this version. It had a much higher level of tension than others did. Having a defense against weapons was nice too. Very fun.

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