We have been hard at work refining Who Wears the Crown since our last Design journal and we have a number of exciting improvements to share with you! Last time we focused on some core aspects of the game including the intrigue actions, the end game, and finally a few other minor considerations. With these aspects polished, I have turned my focus to a number of other areas that needed refinement to bring Who Wears the Crown back to its design intent of being a simple political intrigue, king-making game with deep gameplay. The impediment to this goal is twofold: first, the number of components can overwhelm a new player and secondly games would last too long leading to player fatigue in a game. To solve this problem, there were three main issues addressed: extra components, too many cards, and too long of a build up to the end game.
What was Worked on
As I was working on trying to make Who Wears the Crown? easier to understand I found that a number of components only had a single purpose towards the end of the game. These tokens included a token for marking a player who triggered the end of the game as well as a formidable deck size. This extra token, while it appeared to be a small change, had a massive impact on the player’s focus and understanding of Who Wears the Crown? not only was it cumbersome to explain but I found that players were distracted by this token. As such, the token to mark the player who started the end game was removed and replaced with the claim tokens that track the endgame. Not only does this provide a clear understanding of how many rounds are left but it also eliminates a need for a token that only has one purpose.
Second, it became more evident that the deck of cards was too big for the number of cards that were being used in a given game. As a result, I revisited the ratios of Support to Betrayal cards for each of the values (1, 2, and 3 points) and cut down the deck to its smallest size possible (11 cards) based on their ratios. This tiny deck was insufficient to play with so I split the difference between the original size of 86 cards and the tiny size of 11 cards and came to a deck of 36 cards and found that even in 7 and 8 player games there are enough cards to trigger the end of the game. This smaller deck will not only create a more affordable game due to less cost of components but also means that players are not left wondering what cards remain in the deck and that there is less variability in what players will draw in a game and provide for more consistent game lengths.
Finally, while the tension while players play Who Wears the Crown? is desired for a feeling of political intrigue in a royal court, it can lead to players feeling exhausted and reluctant to play again. On top of this, players seem to like the end game a lot more than the set up to the end game. To help fix both of these problems the point value that starts the end game has been changed from 10 points to 7 points.
While we have fixed and continued to refine Who Wear the Crown? we still have a few things we are working on and playtesting. We are continuing to see if the change from 10 to 7 points as the endgame trigger while help brings Who Wears the Crown? to its design intent. A few other things we are thinking of also include the number of rounds for the end game, the usefulness of the spy action, and how to handle bluffing. We are also in the process of getting some fantastic art done and the world of Who Wears the Crown fleshed out.
While this is a minor design journal, we hope that you find these improvements to be interesting and show that we are getting closer to start the release process.