Designer Update: For the Joy of being alive and Steaming. Part 1.
Ladies and Gentlemen!
With over 3000 backers, Snowdonia Deluxe Master Sethas become the most popular Kickstarted game in NSKN Games's history - and it is truly an amazing feeling. To celebrate this we convinced Mr. Tony Boydell himself to write a special text we could offer as an update to all of you.
However, before we jump into the history of Snowdonia design, let's learn a bit more Welsh, shall we?
And now, without further ado, let's hear it from Mr. Boydell himself:
For the Joy of being alive and Steaming. Part 1.
Snowdonia was always designed to have bolt-on scenarios; at the time of publishing, the two ‘basic edition’ railways (Mt Snowdon and Blaenau Ffestiniog) were joined by mock-ups of what would become the Jungfraubahn and an entire game in its own right: Darjeeling. I suppose the reason for two initial scenarios was down to Uwe Rosenberg’s Ora Et Labora which came with the Ireland and France decks – two ways of playing the core game to add a little thematic and mechanical variety.
As scenarios go, Snowdon and Blaenau are very different in play style - ie. you can’t win one railway by applying your play style from the other – and this is where my informal design guide for Snowdonia was born: build on the core system by adding some - but not too many! – wrinkles.
Given that the majority of components for a scenario are ‘just cards’ (around the outside of, or over the action spaces on, the board), this made scenarios extraordinarily cheap to produce and outrageously good value for money for the players: typically TWO new ways of playing for about five euros!
As with any game that runs a central system with thematic extensions – Power Grid, Concordia, Age of Steam etc – a designer is only limited by time and the continued connection to their game. Snowdonia was the catalyst for a fast-growing obsession with railway history; the more I researched my local Town, or the heritage railways I passed on my working-in-Wales travels, the more ideas for scenarios grew!
The year after Snowdonia’s first release, the 2nd edition was published with three expansions (two ‘official’ and one crowdfunding exclusive), I was selling the 750 copies of The Daffodil Line (my local railway) and I’d gifted Lookout Games with a German language-only Bayerische Zugspitzbahn deck. For the fresh-faced Snowdonia addict, 2013 was an Essen Spiel of chasing around the halls trying to source all five!
The Daffodil Line runs from the town of Ledbury, through my home town of Newent and on to the rail-and-sail distribution hub that was Gloucester. Much of the line was built over the route of the prior Herefordshire canal system which, immediately, suggested I flip the need to ‘empty’ track cards in to the need to ‘fill them in’. The collection of sets (bunches) of Daffodils comes from the charming backstory to the line’s naming: the growing and transportation of narcissi. To support the need to ‘fill them in’, given the limited initial supply of rubble cubes, I introduced the Works alt-action of smashing stone into rubble and an expansion fell fully-formed from the page to the printing press.
The Bayerische Zugspitzbahn was born of a lengthy Wikipedia/Google search marathon and was a more seat-of-the-pants design. It’s really an extension of the Blaenau Ffestiniog requirement for a surveyor to be in the right place to allow building, with a cable car added on for good (thematic) measure! It’s also the first scenario with building space bonuses be something other than straight points – something that I would return to again-and-again to add some real spice the humble [E] action.
Mount Washington and Jungfraubahn are about snow and, the latter, about blowing things up! The Cog (Mount Washington) was a last minute addition to the 2nd edition campaign – with an American company taking the strain, I wanted an American-themed railway to be included. It’s a fairly vanilla scenario that offers plenty of choice for players who like to build; the thematic wrinkle involves the end-of-game ‘slide down the mountain’ performed by the Surveyors which is a direct homage to the workers on The Cog who ended their day by free-wheeling down the mountain on home-made trolleys.
Jungfraubahn is a heavier addition with it’s mystery cards that need to be dynamite-ed to reveal the number of track cards between stations AND the fun of atomizing rubble with explosives for points, or digging it out the old-fashioned way for points and resources! Jungfraubahn is a favourite of many players who prefer a meatier scenario because of the need to consider how to split the excavation work rate, the timing of setting dynamite, exploiting snow showers and grabbing lucrative build spaces.
To be concluded...
Once again, thank you all for being with us, and just before we wrap this up, let's learn a phrase most useful in a fan-favourite scenario mentioned above:
Now we're ready to chuck some dynamite!
Have a great day!