A few months ago, I entered a 1-card print-and-play board game design challenge. Just as it sounds, the goal was to create a board game that uses a single, poker-sized card. Up to 16 other assets could be included with certain restrictions, such as dice, cubes, chits, and more.
There were a lot of categories to enter for the challenge: best artwork, best rulebook, best 2-, 3-, and 4-player game—and many more. I won 2nd place as best new designer. (Yay!) I realized that I had some talent with design but still had a lot to learn.
Enter: One Last Job
The game I submitted was titled One Last Job, a two-player dice battling game. Players would recruit crew members associated with a specific type of die (D4, D6, etc through D20) and roll those dice against one another to collect or steal coins with the goal to be the first to gain or buy 2 energy cubes.
One Last Job is a quick best 2-out-of-3 game of sorts that combines short-term strategy and a bit of luck. I designed every aspect of the game, from the mechanics to the gameplay to the artwork and graphics. It was a fun challenge! It motivated me to get something out there that was polished (well, mostly) and to do it fast.
What I realized, though, is that even though I placed well in the contest, I designed a game that didn’t quite fit the challenge. What I really wanted to design was a game that used more than one card. One Last Job had to evolve.
A new take
Now that the contest is over, I can expand One Last Job into something more fitting to the game’s theme. My latest iteration does away with the single card layout + player aids in lieu for a multi-card drafting table to pick from.
But I added something new.
Players take turns recruiting two outlaws each, leaving two behind as freelance. Those freelance outlaws have special abilities that can help or hurt players, adding a new dynamic to the game.
There was just one issue with this, I made the freelance abilities far too punishing. In playtests, I found that there were many moments where players couldn’t do anything that round due to being blocked by the freelancer abilities. Not fun. That’s something I’m tweaking to give players more breathing room.
I have yet to work on a new iteration but I’m keen to test some new ideas out for the game.
Potential new mechanics for One Last Job
When I look at this game, I wonder whether it can be a card-only game. Does it even need the coins or cubes? I’m thinking of something with a drafting and deck-building feel, but with a variation on the usual deck-building “collect more points” or “reduce your opponent to zero health” end game path.
What if One Last Job instead was mission-focused? Players have a mission, and they have to compete to be the first to fulfill it by drafting and taking advantage of the outlaw’s unique talents. There are a lot play opportunities for that layout. For one, I could expand the number of players from two to four or five. I could add more cards with varying abilities. I could reduce printing costs and complexity with the card-only approach. I could also add solo and co-op missions.
With all these ideas in mind, I’m off to work on a new iteration of One Last Job.
Stay tuned, Otherworldly Beings…