Nightlancer has been largely very stable between iterations for the past year and has not required many revisions. This is precisely the reason that I consider it worth publishing – it has reached stability in development and no major changes are needed to improve it.
Recently I’ve been considering one major change. I’m reluctant about it since Nightlancer is at a point where it is stable. Going back on that may result in months to do the development work integrating this change properly and balancing it.
I know what I want to do here, I want to make the change, I think the benefits are worth it and I want to make Nightlancer as good as I can. I want to make great games.
But I’m curious what you Nightlancer fans will think of it, so I’m going to explain what I have in mind.
The change I have in mind is regarding the Streets phase in Nightlancer.
This is how the Streets phase currently works, and is how everyone but a handful of private playtesters have experienced the game:
Players take it in turns taking actions. They can buy from the Black Market, buy Prospects, complete Opportunities, take Loans or pass. The Streets phase ends when all players pass consecutively. There is no limit to the number of actions you can perform, beside the amount you have resources for.
The alternative method I’m considering is this:
Each player gets 4 action tokens. They take it in turns placing action tokens on available action spaces. The action spaces allow actions such as buy from the Black Market, buy Prospects, complete Opportunities, take Loans, draw Contacts, recover Health/Resolve or take KC. The Streets phase ends when all players have used all of their action tokens.
You can see that the range of available actions is mostly the same. The new method will allow the extra options of drawing Contact cards, recovering Health/Resolve or taking KC. The change isn’t that big mechanically – open-ended turn taking replaced by action placement while the available actions are mostly the same. I’m confident that fine-tuning the balance for this change will be fairly easy.
The fixed number of actions, combined with these extra action options, guarantee that every player will be able to perform multiple actions in each Streets phase. This is one of the reasons I want this change – it means there is never going to be a situation where a player has no actions to perform in the Streets phase and so a danger of player downtime. It’s rare but it could potentially happen in the current system.
The fixed number of action tokens clearly highlights that each player has multiple actions. This is something that some players overlooked while playing the game before with the current Streets phase method, they thought that each player only got one action during the Streets phase. I think the rules and summary card are quite clear on this, but for some reason it has been missed on a number of occasions. I don’t know if this is a result of context, player expectations or something else. Whatever the reason, this oversight is happening and as designer I always want to make the game as easy to learn as I can. If I can do something about this without compromising the game, I will. This new action placement mechanic solves this problem, you can’t miss that you get multiple actions.
The downside of this new technique is it will require an action placement area on the game board. I expect this will result in the game taking up a bigger space on the table and potentially require a larger game board. It will also require action tokens. This may, in turn, result in the price of the game going up. It will also take longer to develop and the worst case scenario is this may push back the launch date of Nightlancer to next year.