How much is too much

It has been a while but as with any pet project, time is relative.

One of the aspects I have been exploring for the game is the deck(s) of cards. Having made the decision to use a normal playing deck does not impede that such a deck cannot be customized.

At first the idea was simply to make unique artwork for it – hiring an emergent illustrator – but then, and following some feedback, an image of game cards with the normal information – suite and card ‘value’ – and addition of capabilities, both in the Action and Gunnery/Boarding, started to grow.

Some attempts were made but none has been to my personal satisfaction. Of the options I put up to my own decision none was good enough to think – this is good – but rather the best fell into the category of – the least bad.

This situation makes me take a step back and think about it two fold;

  • maybe it is the graphical arrangement that isn’t good enough
  • maybe too much information

And the second is the one I want to write about.

Recently the wargames convention in Badajoz, Spain, was held – Bellotacon – and Stuka Joe made the live coverage of the event along with a lot of interviews. Magnificent prototypes were displayed and new, old, and under final production games were being demonstrated, and one of the interesting comments that “José” ( Joe ) kept coming up with when having the first impression of the games he knew nothing about was, and not quoting directly but rather an interpretation;

“few moving pieces but a lot of action going on with each one”

I found this to be quite important and more so very true with any of the games I enjoy.

  • game pieces are immediately visible and quickly identifiable
  • several levels of action and related decision making relating to each

As I look to ‘A Sprinkling of Nobility’ I can recognize the first – both ships and ship boards are almost perfect as I envision them. The actions possible to be undertaken and the related decision making process by the players is almost at the breaking point of stating – This is exactly what I imagined.

Given the game does not use dice but rather a set of playing cards I must confess I am not happy with that.

Not satisfied in the sense that my eyes are constantly moving from the cards to the ships boards and to the tables that identify which set of actions I am able to perform when playing a certain card.

In a sense the pace is broken twice as I decide the cards to play, while consulting the player aids for the tables that convert card face to abilities and then modifying such through consulting the ship boards.

I feel this rather convoluted and, being very much a miniatures gamer as much as a cardboard game, I feel the necessity of having “few pieces with a lot going on” – information must be immediately delivered and game time spent on the tactical decisions, not game rules maths.

So how to overcome this issue…

I experimented with adding the elements to the cards. Each card has the base 2 data sets, suite and value, and I added 3 more values sets, for Actions, Gunnery and Boarding.

Suddenly I had all the information needed at a glance. But then it hit me that it was too much information in a card – maybe for some players it is not but for me it is too much. Let me explain my reasoning.

When I play “Sueca” I have cards, 10 cards in hand, each giving 2 values, suite and face value. That’s the “few moving pieces”.

But the interaction between the cards play and the four players needed to play the game is what makes it grand, not the game pieces and intricate data – “a lot going on”.

I must apply this approach and try to accommodate a method of delivering the information in the most natural way possible so that the players attention is fully on the tactical side of things.

After all the player will be acting as commander of fighting vessels during the grand age of sail and not as an accountant aboard.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s