Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Project Prototypes: Frisco Wars

I Thoroughly enjoyed Grey’s game of Frisco Wars. I enjoyed it on many levels most of them stemming from the role-play, setting, and back story of the game. I am not normally one to enjoy a “risk” type of game and especially not one for role-playing board games but the fact that it was set in San Francisco made all of those elements come alive for me. The use of the bus-lines showed me that Grey was paying attention to the affordances of the setting he was using to play his game.

The core mechanic of the game seems to be picking up cards, putting down cards, and placing pieces. There isn’t much need for verbal communication in the game except for the declaration of war on a place and the deployment of war. Observing the board and its pieces as well as strategizing your next move as well as other players are key. Also memory is involved.
When playing the game the suspense of what cards will come into play becomes heated as well as the suspense of what areas will be hit next. There is also the elements of revenge and defense.

The structure for the game is pretty much developed. I think that it is all a matter of fine-tuning from here. There is a clearly defined goal of gaining the territory of San Fran, and eliminating rival gangs. There are checks and balances on players movement through the bus systems and not being able to use certain cards more than once in a round. There are resources for management and there are goals for gaining and maintaining your resources. Definitely this is the best developed element of the game is its structured resource system and attack cards. The only concern I have is the stress the game put on this system.
I think that when writing out a system of rules on paper a lot of the kinks will work out for the game. I know that when players have a clear introduction before playing the game and have solid rules to go on the semantics of the game will become less important than strategy and involvement. I would say on a scale of 1-10 the rules were a 6 for understandable only because there wasn’t any formal presentation. The use of the bus system in real life is complicated so naturally it will be one of the more complicated elements to Frisco Wars. I think maybe a map of the board and the bus-system for reference would help players. Or anything that helps them get familiar with the routes. Movement on the board needs to become less hectic and I’m sure that will come with a larger board and different pieces. Also clear markers for placing game pieces will help eliminate confusion.

We observed strategy from the game from the fluke that one player got more gun cards then others. But, this exposed a flaw in the game in how coveted the gun card becomes and how it must be balanced out somehow. Even if the gun cards are equally distributed, it will still become the primary card for each war round. The whole game is about strategy, how and who do you hit next and come out on top especially with the information you have gathered about players so far.

I think that the restrictive nature of the rules of the game keep emergent play from happening. But, emergent play isn’t necessary for the game to be successful. Getting players more into their roles and attached to their territories is key. This is the best aspect of the game which keeps players interested and will make for a successful final version. I know I will want a version of the game to play with friends from this element alone. There is a lot that comes with a player to the game before it has started when you live in San Francisco. Maybe that is where emergent play will arise, in the preferences and experiences players have as San Franciscans, for example: players who live in certain places want to hold those territories or players who want all of the parts of the city that attach themselves to a role they are playing etc…
Since the point system is pretty much developed you have the opportunity to get creative with the story. That is where I know the game will shine.


Blogger Signor Farinelli said...

Hi Jacob. Just a quick question: What is the name of your game that we played in Pete's? I want to comment on it.

November 11, 2004 at 8:01 AM  

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