Theme Park Board Game Design Blog – Week 8

This week, I’m focusing on developing a first pass at a rules sheet, as well as testing it out in a playtest. The part of the rules that are most clear to me are the tile placement rules, which you can see below. It’s mostly a rehash of what I’ve said in previous blogs, but I tried to illustrate the rules so that they’re easier to understand.

Rules

I also tried to develop a basic scoring system so that players have more motivation to build their park in a smart and strategic fashion.

My main inspiration for the scoring system comes from Ticket to Ride. In that game, points come from many sources. In my game, I plan to have the same scoring process – players earn points for placing attractions, restaurants, shops, and shows successfully, but each player also has personal goals to complete. Some of those goals include “Build 3 buildings of any kind in the Spooky theme”, “Build 1 ride, 1 show, and 1 restaurant or shop”, and “Build 3 rides in any theme”.

Economy

The biggest issue I’m currently running into is developing a good economy for players. I know that I want there to be more complexity than players simply placing down a different building each turn, but I also don’t want to have an overly complex system that requires several things to keep track of.

A simple solution would be to just use “money”, but even in that case, there has to be a way for players to earn it. I’m trying to tie the economy to the idea of players smartly and strategically building their theme park. The tile placement rules help a lot with players building the “correct” way, but there are still intricacies that are difficult to tie to scoring. For example, a good theme park has many connections between lands, allowing guests to easily travel around the park. Something like this is difficult to build into the rules, so I’m still considering having players moving avatars around the park to build, collect resources from, or boost the production of their buildings.

Playtesting

The playtesting session for this week gave me a lot of great feedback. I gave players each three “Creative Vision” cards, which act like the goal cards from Ticket to Ride I mentioned earlier. Once players finished one card, they’d be able to build 2-hex pieces. Finishing two cards let them build 3-hex pieces, and so on. I also had players move a “designer” token along the map (up to 3 spaces each turn). Anytime they wanted to move to a space without a hex, they’d place a path tile. They were also only able to build buildings on tiles adjacent to their designer.

As in the last playtest, players really enjoyed seeing the park grow out from the hub. Players felt like they were building up this whole park together, which is exactly what I was hoping for. However, players also felt that their goal cards limited their choices, forcing them to focus on one specific theme. In this way, they felt that they were working independently of the other players. Rather than traveling back and forth across the map as I’d hoped (which would also encourage them to build the park strategically), players simply built out from where they started. This created a park that didn’t quite look right. Players mentioned that they had no reason to backtrack at the moment.

Another interesting point that I found was that players were building the park in an antagonistic manner. Rather than building to use the space efficiently, they were building to box other players in. This is good in terms of building competition and forms a different sort of strategy, which I think is really interesting.

One thing that players mentioned they’d like to see is having more workers. This would allow them to build multiple areas of the park at once without having to backtrack all the way from one side to the other. I take it that this means that players don’t necessarily like the restrictions given to them by using the “designer” pieces, and would rather be able to build wherever they’d like.

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