So what’s up with Carousel?

Arcádia, Carousel, playtest

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Carousel is doing great! The main reason I haven’t been posting about is because I have been working on it so much. I’ll try to resume what’s been going on:

Prototype 3: At the Arcadia meeting some unexpected big flaws showed up, which brought the game to an endless loop. The biggest problem was that getting all the factors right so you could play a number card was so unlikely that nobody was able to do it. Most of the numbers that can get you points show up as the game progresses so the game was locked at the very beginning.

This called for a major redesign.

Prototype 4: This time I went back and changed the number cards. Now there are only 8 single number cards which you can play at any time. There’s a new action that lets you take a number from the table to your hand, which allows you to control the time flow. Other new actions allow you to play the previous number or refresh your hand.

There are now five more action cards so the total is 54, and the actions were moved around so they appear the same number of times per number. Games took longer than expected and I saw some situations where people won almost accidentally. I certainly don’t want that!

The main flaw seemed to be the lack of purpose in player’s actions. Sure, you want to get five cards in the bank but you don’t know what numbers will give you that. You could be moving the arrow around so your opponent doesn’t get to the highest numbers but they may have a card that scores them a point in the lower ones so what you did was basically random.

I know just how I can fix that.

Prototype 5 (the one you see in the picture above): I took away the action that scores points from the action cards! Now the way to do so is to get to the “$” card on the timeline. This card is on the table tight from the start and provides a much clearer goal to everyone. You want to get there but you don’t want the other players to to so. Also, it’s easier to steal cards from the bank than to get there, which allows for some interesting turncoat player interaction. The players liked that so much they wanted a few more “$”.

This sounded cool but they couldn’t be permanent just like the initial “$”. These are one-time uses. You can take a number from the table to your hand, leaving the “$” where that number was. The first player to get them gets to store it in the bank. Brought four of those in, took four action cards away to compensate.

There was an action which allowed you to trade your hand with an opponent’s. That brought an interesting dynamic element: you could play your actions so you get one card only, use that action and get a whole new hand. The player gets your (empty) hand and in their turn they won’t be able to play. As a designer I certainly found that interesting, but it was a frustrating thing to suffer while playing.

Nuno Carreira liked the game mechanics so much that he suggested something new: Advanced Mode. Don’t let the name scare you off, the only thing that changes in the rules is the fact than you can play three cards per turn instead of just one! This allows you to control the random aspect of the game, making it a lot more satisfying and tactical. It can be played without changing anything about the current cards!

Prototype 6: These ones are intended for Ludopolis. I rearranged the action spreads for 40 cards and made two new versions. One looks just like the previous one but with more balanced actions and a slight change in wording.

The other looks entirely different, with a whole new layout and icons instead of text. This new version is language independent and makes it easier to show the other players across the table the action you’re using. I can’t wait to try it.

Also, Carousel now has a Boardgamegeek page which you can access by clicking here.

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