First Snow

Continued from Another expansion idea for Verdant Grove

First Snow is a 9 card Print ‘n’ Play nano game, by Tomas Uhlir as part of a 2017 competition on Board Game Geek. It ended up winning a bunch of the awards, including best overall game. It uses one card for scoring, two cards for the players to keep track of inventory, leaving just six cards for actual game play. It is set in Inuit territory, as Winter approaches, and so the cards are double sided, with a Summer side, and a Winter side, and at the start of each round you change a Summer card to it’s Winter counterpart. This got me thinking about adding complexity to Scenic by using double sided cards.

First Snow

Card 1 is set to Winter, whilst the rest are set to Summer.

The idea of a double sided cards for Scenic, is an intriguing one, giving the ability to mix up day, night, Summer, Autumn and 6 possible races, whilst keeping card count down. A two player game (36 cards) would have 72 faces to play with, so a lot more variation would be possible, with each 9 card panorama. If we keep with the idea of having a Summer Version and an Autumn Version of the game, that could be combined for 4 players, we have these 9 card panoramas in the base version of the game:

  • Summer(or Autumn) Day/Race 1 (eg, Sprites, Nymphs, Gnomes)
  • Summer Night/Race 1
  • Summer Day/Race 2 (eg, Brownies, Faeries, Jinn)
  • Summer Night/Race 2
  • 3 Modifier Cards x 3 copies

1 copy of each 9 card group would be 45, leaving 27 faces, or 3 groups of 9 cards. Will keep that in the bank for the moment.

Those 45 faces would give 2 copies of each set in the deck. 2 copies of Summer Day, 2 copies of Summer Night and 2 copies of each of the Races. If we add another group of Summer Day/Race 1 and Summer Night/Race 2 would make it 3 copies of each set in the deck, and would use up 18 card faces. The last 9 faces could be 9 more modifiers, different ones … or just blank card backs. If there are 9 cards with plain backs, maybe they get shuffled and stacked on top of the deck, to get used last. Wait, getting ahead of myself there …

Two important things about using double sided cards. Firstly, they shouldn’t be of the same location but of a different time or Race. For example, if one side of the card is Summer Day, Water Gnome, the three cards that will not be on the opposite side are Summer Night, Water Gnome, and the two versions of the same location card, but with the different Race. Actually, now that I’ve typed that, it probably shouldn’t be guaranteed that way. It should be randomised, so that occasionally, that rule gets broken.

Secondly, if cards have two faces, and especially if you have only one copy of certain faces, then you can start to know what cards are what. You can look at the top of the deck, and know what card is next. I mean, that’s what cards backs are for. So how do we make sure the next cards are unknown? The obvious answer seems to be to draw from the bottom of the deck. If the last cards that get drawn have a back on them, then you won’t know what they are. But … 9 single sided cards wouldn’t work, because it should be an even number for 2 players, for fairness. If we make 4 copies of the three modifiers, that would use up an extra 3 card faces, and mean 6 single sided cards get drawn by the two players, during the last two turns of the game. But, that might make it a bit too easy to know what the last cards are going to be, so perhaps we should make less copies of the modfiers, and have 12 single sided cards …? Knocking up a new prototype with double sided cards is definitely in order.

Night Icon Sets

In making a card with a third variable, that could be used with both the Location and the Race element, the Background colour of the Icons seemed to be the way to go. I’ve quickly mocked up adding a Yellow BG to the Day cards, and a purple/blue one to the Night cards to help distinguish the two, beyond the obvious colour difference that will be apparent in the cards. The panorama above is worth 6 points (3 for the Set of Sprites + 3 for the Set of Water), but each set could have garnered an extra 3 points, for a total of 12, if only that Water Sprite had been the Day version of the card.

Okay, time to run a random sequence generator, so that I can make my random double sided cards.

Continued in Scenic – Prototype 2

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