Blog Game Design Games Lingua Franca

Lingua Franca design journal (Mar 8, 2022)

Major update to Lingua Franca!

After reviewing feedback from playtests performed by myself and others, I’ve made an update to Lingua Franca to add more zest to the gameplay while preserving the theme and spirit of the game. The base idea is the same: People work together to pick out the correct mission and achieve 3 successes while avoiding 3 failures using only Language Cards as clues.

PnP files: Download the Lingua Franca PnP
Digital version:

Changes to the game include:
• It’s now a 2-4 player game (Formally, only a 2-player game)
• Illustrated Mission Cards with more robust mission depictions (No more icons, which makes for a more challenging experience)
• Improvements to layout and general design (Card backs are closer to the final design)
• A digital version available on to play for free!

Blog Game Design Games Lingua Franca

Lingua Franca design journal (Jan 24, 2022)

With Lingua Franca 1.1, I’ve made adjustments to allow for more icon cards. There are now 24 icon cards, with an expanded grid of 12 icon cards in play at a time. I’ve also made a Google Sheet of all the words. This helped me eliminate duplicates and randomize the words that appear on the cards a bit more. The rules have been updated with a new “locator” card mechanic. Also, I added card backs, although everything is still low res as I work through iterations.

I’d like to thank @kevinplaysgames for the locator card idea. With that, I was able to finally make use of the icon card backs and increase the number of icon cards in play. Neat!

Full disclosure, I haven’t had a lot of time to do full playtests on this. With the additional icons in play, I don’t know how difficult it’s going to be. I’ll be looking to tweak the word cards quite a bit to make the game balanced while still offering a challenge.

Blog Game Design Games Lingua Franca

Lingua Franca design journal (Jan 18, 2022)

The concept of Lingua Franca started when I got into social deduction and party games a few years ago. I had an idea for something that imbued the spirit of Mysterium but had a bit of the word association of Codenames.

I initially wanted to add a deck-building element where you can play words in interesting combos. This contest was the excuse I needed to try something like that out. It didn’t work. Cards were too busy and players were hamstrung by not having the right suit to play certain words. A week ago, I got rid of the deck-building elements and stuck with a simple limited communication concept. Someone draws an icon card and they have to get their ally to guess the matching icon card by communicating through word cards. A word card has three words on it, and the player can only tell their ally how many of those words relate to the icon card but they’re not allowed to state which ones.

I playtested that version, which is the version available right now. It worked! Most importantly: It was fun!

My next steps are to turn the “icon cards” into “illustration cards” and improve the graphic design and artwork of the cards across the board. I also have some ideas for how this game can be played competitively with teams or still cooperatively with an increased player count. I’m also itching to playtest a variant where players take turns: One draws an icon card and the other guesses the matching card, then they switch roles next round.

Blog Game Design Games Nine Muses

Nine Muses design journal (Mar 10, 2022)

Balance tweaks have come to Nine Muses!
After a few playtests, some problems arose:
• Some players noted that it was difficult to see some iconography due to a lack of contrast between icons and background art
• There were some instances where a Muse couldn’t be released as players couldn’t get the proper resource
• There wasn’t enough distinction between resources (Why do I care about craft vs science vs ethics?)
• There was at least one instance where I had accidentally created an “infinite loop” of stealing that could only be broken by players doing something that wasn’t to their benefit to break the loop for everyone
• Some Muses were too highly favored over others due to their market gains
• It was missing a certain “je ne sais quoi?” that could take it from a good game to a great game

So how did I solve these issues?
• Special abilities! Poetesses don’t just give you victory points! Each Poetess has one unique ability that players can take advantage of as long as they have the Science
• I carved out some mechanical importance for each resource: Craft is best for changing the board up but VP turn in is low; Science is the only way to use Poetess abilities and has decent VP turn in, but it’s harder to hold on to; Ethics is the rarest resource but has a HIGH VP turn in compared to the others.
• I added a white stroke to the icons to make them stand out more against the background
• Slight tweaks to each Muse’s marketplace to ensure that players can get Craft with every Muse

Both the PnP & Digital have been updated. Let me know how these changes fare as you call upon the muses!

PNP Files room

Blog Game Design Games Nine Muses

Nine Muses design journal (Mar 1, 2022)

Let there be art! I’ve added art and improved the overall graphic design of the Nine Muses cards. Also finally have a banner. (Displayed as featured image.) No changes to core gameplay. Art has been added to both the PNP and the versions of the game. I’ll keep improving the art over time. Mainly, adding more detail to the clothing with patterns and such.

PNP Files room