I’m working on a card game called Open Boat, a project that’s been in the works on and off since 2005. One thing that’s always been a problem is ending the game – it has to have a finite resolution, or the possibility of one, and I’ve mostly been leaving that in the hands of players whose characters die to give them something fun to do. A weekend stuffed with playtests (thanks Steve, Robo, Joel, Anmar, Dan, and Goaty) helped to arrive at a different conclusion:

Now the event cards (one draw per turn/game day) have between zero and three little boat symbols on them. You lay these out as you go, and when you get ten (or 12, or whatever is optimal, don’t know yet), your little band of castaways on the high seas is saved. What do dead people do to stay engaged? They each get to draw an event card and decide, as a group, which will be played that day. So they can, if they want, stretch out the game by playing events without endgame mojo. Of course the most devilish and punishing cards have lots of endgame mojo, and the nice helpful ones have none. I’m pretty stoked. I think I also fixed the tiller problem. Full speed ahead!

Pacing and Endgame
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3 thoughts on “Pacing and Endgame

  • September 8, 2008 at 12:08 pm

    Jason, I would have the dead players take an active role as the dead or the forces of death to thwart the alive players and lead them to failure.

  • September 8, 2008 at 12:14 pm

    Hi Brian,

    They do get to do that. The event cards vary in severity, and the procedure is: someone chooses an event card, then each player of a dead castaway also chooses one. The dead guys look them over and pick the one they want. So they can choose a really harsh card (which speeds up endgame) or a mild one (which drags endgame out), within the bounds of the random draws. There’s a bit of competition there as well, because if everybody dies, the *first* Castaway who died wins the game. So the dead will be picking favorites or gunning for everybody.

  • September 8, 2008 at 1:08 pm

    Oh, and the event cards are discarded and only viewed by dead players, so the game cannot end until somebody dies. It’s possible the first person will die and shout “sails on the horizon!” but that is unlikely. We had a playtest where nobody got very degenerate and there were no interventions, which is sub-optimal. It’s a fine tuning thing.

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