Card management: Use a card as a clue to a treasure or a piece of a map with treasure (but using it as a clue means one less such card on the map).
Turn order management: Place a starting marker early for early turn order (but doing so reveal your plans).
Pattern recognition: Place cards and starting markers to optimize your path to treasures.
Shared map: Take advantage of other players' cards to block their paths and claim their treasures.
The card game version of Find the Treasure has an interesting background that well illustrate my
creative/chaotic process. The current Game Crafter contest
Hook Box Challenge
was using their new 18 card hookbox and I had considered submitting a card game version of
Turn of Time (which is basically a retheme of
Iconoclasm the Card Game). However, I thought a game of laying and
flipping cards would be too simple and abstract for the contest. An unexpected sales of Turn of Time
almost made me reconsider but I still wanted a meatier game.
How about a game where you lay cards to build a map instead, similar to
Akrotiri? On a Thursday
evening, during a floorball session and with only three days left to the deadline, the idea began to
shape in my head. Cards could be played either as maps or as clues, showing the way on the map. But
wouldn't players just build their own routes?
Well, what if the routes all starts from "holes" (cards spaces never filled) and where routes are followed in turn order. The turn order could be based on pass order, hence creating a tension between passing first (and take treasures first) and passing last (and decide starting points). That would add a turn order struggle in addition to the map/clue card management.
With that, I thought the game was interesting enough to pursue, not as Turn the Time the Card Game but Find the Treasure the Card Game. I then spent the Friday evening drafting rules and making art, mainly reusing art from Find the Treasure.
Still, I thought the game lacked some action and when I realized that you could use shards as well, new ideas emerged. During a jogging session, I thought of how to make the map more dynamic and the solution was the addition of pirate flags as movable starting points. By letting the players choose between different starting points, altering them and exchanging used clue cards with new ones, I suddenly had a a GAME not only in the first "map" phase but even more so in the latter "treasure" phase.
The rest of the day was spent completing the all the cards and rules, before leaving for a dinner. Some final details were modified on Sunday morning (thankfully, so that I could get the game out of my head during the following chess game) and I could then spend Sunday evening preparing the shop page, the print and play documents and the draft game video.
Find the Treasure! - the Card Game also got a solo version, something that is increasingly popular in
today's board games. As a player, I'm not a fan of solo games where you play against mechanics rather than
opponents (although I did add solo versions to my small puzzle games
Iconoclasm - the Card Game and
Turn of Time - the Card Game). However, the contest encouraged games
with many different player counts and I realized that the same rules
could be used for solo play as well so why not?
Three days' work is way too little time for designing a game, even a small one like this, but the deadline helped getting the idea out quickly and find the simplest solution at all crossing paths.
Nevertheless, subsequent testing revealed that the game was solid enough for the contest and almost reached the semi-finals in spite of the
huge competition (130+ games). Find the Treasure! - the Card Game will definitely be revisited and further worked on in the future!