Return to Fortune Tellers

boardgame prototype, Fortune Tellers
The second prototype for Fortune Tellers, 2013

Fortune Tellers is a game I’ve been thinking about for eight years.

Back then I tried two different prototypes. The concept had potential but the gameplay had flaws that I didn’t know how to solve at the time. It was enticing and intimidating, much bigger than the ones I had made before. Shortly thereafter I had to move out of the country and left it behind.

I still think of it regularly because the theme makes me laugh and because – as far as I know – there hasn’t been another game like it. Since it’s something I’d still like to play, I guess I’ll have to make it myself. I hope the added experience will help to cross the gameplay bump.

So, what is this game about? Here is the synopsis:

You are the village’s fortune teller. For years people have come to you in search of insights about health, relationships, business and more.

…until there was something you didn’t see coming: a second fortune teller set up shop in the village and your steady stream of clients has turned into a drip. It’s time to put your skills in practice and regain your reputation!

The only way to make points is by correctly predicting the future. You’ll write predictions, place them face down on the table and then will try to get the other players to do the things you wrote. When they come true, you get to say “Aha!”, show them the prediction and get to feel very smug.

The main design challenge in this project is that there needs to be another game to make predictions about. One lives inside the other and they need to work together. The game needs to have actions that can be predicted, but can’t feel too constrained.

I’m swapping the worker placement mechanic of the original for a rondel and an area majority game to emulate word of mouth around the village. Just like with Cortiça, I started by making a mockup “screenshot” of what it could look like during play to help visualize the full game and how many components it would require. This is what it currently looks like:

Current mockup for Fortune Tellers, 2021

The next step is to turn it into a prototype so it can be playtested. Since the pandemic is still going it will have to be digital, which is a good excuse to finally learn my way around Tabletop Simulator to playtest online. Maybe you’ll get to play it!

Stay tuned!

Analog catch-up

Agent Decker, Blight Chronicles, boardgame prototype, competition, Cortiça, event, Fortune Tellers, media

Hello, how are you?

So much has happened since the last post, I thought I’d do a couple posts to catch up. This one is about my analog projects, in chronological order:

January 7th: I gave my first talk! I was one of the speakers at Run for the Border 2020 in Dundalk along with Jordan Bradley, Pete Mc Nally and Donal Philips. It was a short talk called “So, you’ve designed a board game. Now what?”. It was about the different paths you can follow in order to get your game published, with the suggestion of using print and play as a way to grow an audience before either showing it to a publisher or trying to release a full/premium version of your game.

I’m not used to public speaking so I must have made all the newbie mistakes but the reaction was very positive and I would like to do it again.

Thank you Ellen!

May 13: Agent Decker was featured by Shut Up & Sit Down! During the quarantine they’ve started looking at both solo and print and play games and they noticed mine! I’ve been a fan of theirs since their first video nine whole years ago, so this was an honor.

“On the off chance that you’ve not played a deckbuilding game before I would say print off Agent Decker immediately.” – Quintin Smith

July 27: It was a long journey but I finally have my copies of Blight Chronicles: Agent Decker. Nine months after the backers got theirs so I might have been the very last person to get one. Board & Dice decided to make it a kickstarter exclusive after the campaign was over so unfortunately you won’t find it in stores but there is the option of getting the print and play version online.

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They even sent extra goodies like the add-ons, playmats and the smaller version!

On the same day I submitted my first entry in a Button Shy design contest, but that deserves its own blog post. Soon. 🙂

Oct 2: Recently I felt inspired to go back to Fortune Tellers. This is a prototype I was working on 7 years ago. At the time the mechanics had some issues but I was enamored by the theme. Now that I have a bit more experience I might be able to do something with it, even if it means I have to scrap the mechanics and start fresh.

This is what it looked like back then.

I can’t stop thinking about this game. I don’t know of others like it, which makes me feel like I am on the verge of creating something original and that feeling is so great that I want to share the process with you. Step one was bringing the blog back to speed.

Can’t wait!

Fortune Tellers

boardgame prototype, Fortune Tellers, playtest

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My new game is called Fortune Tellers. It’s about predicting the future.

The idea started as a friend told me he wanted to make a game about Nostradamus. He is a great designer with several published games, but he didn’t know how to turn it into one – just found the theme appealing.

A lightbulb lit in my mind!

A while ago I sketched out a game where you combined words to make stories. While interesting as a concept, it’s too vague for a game. I needed something to narrow these stories to something relevant to the game, so this made perfect sense.

I thanked him, he said “I can take the Nostradamus idea”, but I said it’s still his. I don’t want to get stuck with a historic theme. All I needed was the bit where you predict stuff, because shady fortune tellers sound a lot more fun to me.

So that’s it: a game where you’ll predict what the other players will do during that game. You can get more verbs to predict new situations, and more assistants to do more things every turn. In short, two games at the same time!

I was invited to the latest Arcádia meeting two days beforehand. I didn’t want to wait a whole month to try it out, so I hurriedly made the first prototype. Some parts were improvised, I just wanted to check if it was fun to play – and it is!

The players liked it a lot. The “Aha!” moment when a prediction you made happens is a lot of fun, and something I haven’t felt in many games. Of course, it needs a lot of tweaks, like fixing the game’s economy, making matches shorter and even more types of possible predictions. I’m working on that.

Stay tuned! I predict it will be a lot of fun.