Role-based: The players choose roles to perform actions, actions that give some players more benefits than others.
Economic balance: The players need to raise money during the game to achieve the objectives but the money are of no use at the end of the game.
Opposite victory conditions: The victory conditions depend on how the players play and will not be revealed until the game ends.
Guessing game: A player strategy is not visible to the other players and must be deduced from their actions.
With Christina Regina, my games had found their place in the Swedish 17th century and I began to think of dramatic events to weave games around. One such event was the failure of Vasa Regalis. How about letting the players cooperate and/or compete to build the ship? And if they fail, let the entire Vasa ship fail? That would force the players to collectively contribute to a common goal, but individually as little as possible, a bit like in Nova Suecia. But as an extra challenge, the victory conditions would be ambiguous and dependent on success or the failure of the ship.
The main game mechanism does not have to be complicated. The players acquire goods (wood, cloth, iron and sculptures fit the theme) and combine them into higher values (1-3) that are secretly placed on the ship. If an area reach a certain value, the ship succeeds and the player benefits from having most goods left, otherwise it fails and the player benefits from having placed most goods.
The idea was intriguing but which other game mechanisms to include? I already had a production game in Nova Suecia and the essence of Vasa Regalis would not be the production but the use of the products. How about a trade game, where the players trade combinations? OK, but trade games tend to take time. I finally settled with a role-based game, where the player selecting the role gets the most benefits and the last player in the turn no benefits. This also ensures an asymmetrical distribution of goods With the addition of limited resources, there would be plenty of tactical opportunities in the role selection.
After that, the game was basically ready. I just had to test and tune some details concerning the number of roles (4 for acquiring goods, 2 for combining goods and another 2 wild cards for replacing goods on the ship) and the succeed/fail level (number of players +1). I also added an opportunity to sneak-peek on other players' placements to assess how much that has been placed and adapt their own placements accordingly
Like its predecessor, Christina Regina, Vasa Regalis is a simple and straight-forward game. The strategic depth may not be as big but the ambiguous victory conditions ensure that all players participate in the victory race until the very end.
Card game design
After having created a card game version of Christina Regina,
I considered doing the same with Vasa Regalis. However, the game is simple as it is and I couldn't see
how it could be simplified into a card game. A micro game contest at Boardgamegeek
gave me the challenge I needed to get the creativity started: design a game with only 18 cards,
including rule cards.
To accomplish this, I removed the procurement and improvement options and focused on the key of the game:
the build. Instead of building a hand, the players would all start with 3 cards each, number 1, 2 and 3,
thus keeping the game below the 18 card limit. As in the board game, the objective would be to
place cards in different parts, punishing low cards on low parts (you're blamed for the ship's failure)
and rewarding low parts on high parts (you keep most material for yourself). The symmetric start
conditions would make the guessing game even more intense as players would have a better (but still
not complete) knowledge of which cards the other players have played.
The game is currently undergoing test and not available for order but you're welcome to download
the print & play version using the link to the right and give feedback. If you like the game and
contribute to its final design, I'm more than happy to send you a copy of the finished game.
Game components (board game)
4 rule cards
5 ship cards; 1 per player
1 shipyard leader card
8 role cards; wood procurer, sculpture procurer, cloth procurer, iron procurer, craftsman, tailor/blacksmith, admiral and king
20 wood markers; 10 of value 1, 5 of value 2 and 5 of value 3
20 cloth markers; 10 of value 1, 5 of value 2 and 5 of value 3
20 iron markers; 10 of value 1, 5 of value 2 and 5 of value 3
20 sculpture markers; 10 of value 1, 5 of value 2 and 5 of value 3
Game components (card game)
1 rule card
1 turn card
4 wood cards; values 1-4
4 sculpture cards; values 1-4
4 iron cards; values 1-4
4 cloth cards; values 1-4
1. Playing Time
Vasa Regalis is quickly set up and only lasts as long as it takes to fill the four goods squares per player. The estimated playing time is 45 minutes.
2. Simple Rules
A player only have to understand the value chain of procuring basic goods (by choosing roles), crafting them into higher values (by combining them) and use the crafted goods to trade with the other players (for other goods) or build (for victory).
3. Few Choices
A player basically has two choices: choose a role and choose what to do with the goods (craft, trade or build).
A player does not know how the other players have disposed of their goods, more than he or she can remember from their actions. Nevertheless, knowledge of this is crucial in the disposal of his or her own goods.
5. No Player Elimination
All players participate to the end and they always have resources to perform actions.
6. Pacific Game
The players cooperate to build the ship. There are no aggressive roles or actions (although I accept no responsibility for the King's wrath if the ship fails).
7. Player Interaction
The player interaction is subtle and indirect. They compete in a subtle way by choosing roles to deny others actions and accumulating most goods. There is also a trade phase where the players directly engage in exchanging goods. Finally, and most important, the combined actions of the players determine how the game ends.
8. Few Pieces
The players play one role at the time and manage four kinds of goods.
9. Visual Interest
As in other games in the Nova Suecia series, I have attempted to add interest through the theme and let the magnificent Vasa ship do the job for me. Please read more about the theme to get to understand how it was built (and why it sank).
A ship certainly needs more than four kind of goods to be built. Nevertheless, I felt that the Vasa ship was an interesting setting for a competitive game where the players must cooperate up to a certain level to succeed while still keeping as much as possible for themselves. I don't blame the real shipyard leaders for the failure but is this not how many builders do even today?
11. No Luck
No dice. Not even drawn cards. The challenge is not to be lucky, it is to select the role that benefits you most compared to the others and place goods of the right value and on the right place in comparison to the others.
12. Positive Scoring
The game is not about destroying your opponents (although, you want to deny them as many benefits as possible). Your moves and actions will inevitably provide points for everybody. Your challenge is to get just a little more point than everybody else at every time.