This is another "not actually done anything" post, like my recent one about puffins wearing hats. I feel I need to make sure I don't fall into the trap of constantly writing about things I am planning to do rather than actually doing anything but, conversely, writing things down and sharing them can sometimes help keep me moving forward. I hope you will bear with me.
In case you aren't familiar with Invaded, the outline is that you are a tribe in a relatively peaceful land that has just been invaded by a powerful (non-player) colonial force that wants your land and your resources. It's a competitive game where you win by surviving the invasion the "best", though there are opportunities to change the way you score along the way, and as a result, strategies could involve trying to run and hide, collaborating, or fighting back. The actions of the colonial power are decided by the players by playing colonial activity cards: when it is your turn you take one action for your tribe, and one on behalf of the colonial power, and those actions generally tend to make the invaders expand their base, build forts, and attack the native tribes.
|This is how Invaded looked in its very first playable version.|
It has come a long way since then.
- The game has a lengthy player reference sheet that is largely reminding players of the actions available to them, and players usually initially spend a lot of time referring to this. Actually there are two sheets: the second is an icon reference. Complex (or, at least, lengthy) reference materials may be an indicator of problems in the understandability of a game that is, or should be, relatively straightforward to play.
- The central "aggression" tracking board is a bit of a kludge, and several aspects of the game require cross-referencing with this board to see how those other elements behave. For instance, the colonial activity cards have different options based on the aggression level of the invaders, and it is easy to make mistakes with this.
- The fact that players make a move using a card and a move from a menu of options using pieces on the board feels like there are different mechanisms for different parts of what they do on their turn. Which there are. The different mechanisms, while arguably justified, do add a cognitive load on the players and leads to questions.
I have been pondering this all and am now starting to think that I may be ready to make some serious changes. I have a few notes, but basically I need to find some time to knuckle down and retool the entire game with the biggest change in components for a very long time. It's worth a try and if it doesn't work out, I will be able to roll back, so it's just time (and a load of toner and some cardstock) at risk here. A quick outline of what I am planning to do:
- Instead of the colonial activity deck I will try having a deck of cards with combined tribal and colonial actions. As with the recent iterations, you will have a hand of cards and choose what order to play them in, and will be able to decide whether to play the tribal or colonial action first, but you must do both if you are able. Playing tribal actions from cards will remove the need for the "menu" player aid.
- You will start with an initial hand of "low intensity" activity cards, which you keep from round to round, but as the game progresses you will gain additional cards which allow more powerful actions, but which also make the colonial power more aggressive, and you will be able to get rid of your starter cards over time.
- This may not be needed, but I will probably replace the aggression board with a small event deck, which gradually ramps up the game's intensity. The developing hands of action cards will be another way to build intensity without needing the tracker board.
- The strategy/upgrade cards may no longer be needed, but I'll probably leave them for now, though making adjustments for the other changes taking places.
- Not really necessary, but I feel an urge to retool the location cards, partly to rejig the resource distribution, though I may turn them into actual hexagonal tiles to make everything look a little nicer as we move forward.