During our development of Age of Primes, I really came to appreciate the game’s resource management. More specifically, the lack of relying on a specific currency in order to play the game. Today’s topic is the ‘One Play Per Turn’ system of Age of Primes.
When we originally set out to design Age of Primes, we created a list of things that we liked and didn’t like about our favorite card games. One of the very first things that floated to the surface for us was that we wanted to remove ‘Resource Screw’. It is never fun to lose a game based on not having an amount of energy required to play your favorite cards. It is totally fine (and fun) to get your butt kicked by a better player, deck or even a cool combo. However, sitting there frustrated and angry while watching someone else play isn’t…
We happened to discover our resource management technology by dumb luck. Jake and I were talking about how to solve an issue that our previous system kept running into. During a playtest, I said aloud, “I wish I could just play this card and not have to pay the cost.” There was an awkward silence as we both thought about it and weighed the ramifications. Jake finally replied, “We could do that, but it would need to be balanced. Maybe limiting it to once per turn?”
After a couple of meetings, we fleshed out how that scenario would look and why it would be either really cool or really bad. We decided to take a swing with the new rules. During testing, we discovered that when restricted to a single play per turn, each player had an opportunity to establish their board position at a very similar pace relative to other card games that allowed you to play an unlimited amount of cards based on your available resources.
We were so excited about this discovery that we converted our card designs to this different resource system. It turned out that the old cards didn’t perform very well under these new conditions, yet the game itself was more entertaining and had a deeper level of strategy. We went back to the drawing board to begin re-designing Age of Primes using this new technology.
The Prime Effect
What really helps the pacing under the ‘One Play Per Turn’ system is that Prime card abilities function and feel like an extra play. Activating a Prime’s ability is very meaningful in this game, it has a direct impact on how your deck plays and drives your ‘prestige engine’ (the method you use to win the game).
A game of Age of Primes always begins with a Prime in play which can’t be defeated. This means that you will always have a play for turn plus a Prime activation to power your engine. Should you draw and play a second Prime card, you really begin to see the power of the Primes, and how they give depth to an otherwise simple system.
Tune into my next article where I will take you a little bit deeper into Persona selection and we can learn more about the different Primes in each House. Until then, please feel free to leave your questions and comments below or you can reach me on Twitter or Facebook. If you have a topic idea that you would like me to discuss, please feel free to let me know.
Until next time…