Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The story of Wild Fun West

No matter what others are saying, I believe that behind each game invention there is some personal reason, why that particular way was chosen as a solution to solve mechanics problems, theme etc. The main idea behind Wild Fun West was back stabbing! Well, this is not a personal input for this game, but... just hang on for a while to this thought.  In the circle of events, you are influenced by one person and in that second by all means you feel that there is absolutely nothing you can do to stop it. Frustrating, isn't it? But what if I tell you that there is a way? 


One day Vlad said he want to have a game in which he will back-stab you and you will not be able to retaliate! Well, I believe that Vlad meant this for gaming purposes only and soon we witnessed how from idea we went all the way to the game. The first version of Wild Fun West (at that time it was called The City We Built) was just a handmade prototype with Vlad's MS Paint drawings nicely colored by me and my pencils.

Building Card (v0.5)
Profession Card (v0.5)


After we prepared the first deck of cards, we discovered that the game is pretty flat. You bid for the cards out in open or secretly... but the cards were missing something. The first deck contained more than 100 Objective cards, and 50 Professions and way too many Buildings. The game did not work the way we wanted it to. There was no incentive in the game to bid for anything, the only way to win was to really badly hurt a player on your left, as his income depended on your cards. The only way to influence your income, hence the amount of money you could bid, was to influence a chain of all players, in a circle - to the left, to the left, and the next person on the left, etc. You had to use your negotiation skills and any other skill you may find useful to get through X number of players, until the final one, who is sitting on your right. There was of course much more to it, for example if you did not like influencing and/or manipulating people, you could always try to make a deal with your the guy on your right by helping him in building a Building of his choice. Ha! And here was the trick, as we had an amount of objectives easily covering a 20-player game, there was a thin chance that you would have the same objective as the player on your right. Then why would you even consider helping your opponent winning the game? 

Objective Card (v0.5)
Just in case, not many of you know why you need Buildings and why they are written on the Objective cards, a few words of explanation is needed. To win Wild Fun West you have to build in the town 4 out of 6 objectives which are listed on the Objective Card. The objective cards from the first version wary from the one you will find in the final box. But I will talk about that changes a little bit later.

Keeping this thought in mind, we had to come up with another option to 'influence' the other players,making it easier to influence players who were not sitting on your left. I call the version 0.5 of the Wild Fun West "MASHED POTATOES" as it was kind of a mess. Of course we play-tested it anyway, and even worse things happened. One of the players had been left empty handed. He was simply excluded from the game because of lack of any income. This was the moment when we were seriously considering abandoning the idea of the back stabbing game of Wild West. I will be honest with you, after several months of scratching our brains with hope it will increase our imagination and creativity, we found ourselves in the same point. As many people, as many ideas, unfortunately none of them was successful at that moment.


Brain storming was the only hope. There is a saying that "two heads are better than one". Can you imagine how much better eight heads are? The result of the brain storming was incredible! We came up with lots of minor changes and on major one. This is the moment when we decided to implement the synergies between cards. Thanks to all the players around the globe who played-tested the game, we gather an amazing feedback on which we based our changes to Wild Fun West.

We were hoping that version 0.6 (I have to mention here that our V0.5 got to V0.5.11) of Wild Fun West will be the final one. O! We were so naive! Let me tell you what were the major changes we've implemented in V0.6.

First, we changed the name from The City We Built to Wild Wild West. Of course we were so focused and excited on the theme that we forgot about possible financial and legal consequences, after all we were using this famous (or infamous) movie title. The Board Game Geek community made us understand and convinced us to re-think our choice for the name. Of course, the decision came really fast, we went for Wild Fun West, as we wanted to keep an Old American West theme and emphasize even more what type of the game players will have on their gaming table.

Building Card (v0.6/0.7)
The second change was pretty difficult to implement. We had to find a different, balanced way of mixing the objectives on the Objective Cards. One thing was sure, we had to have common objectives between players. Well, in Wild Fun West V0.6 we decreased the number of Objective Cards, what made us also to taking out some of the Buildings Cards. We also changed the victory conditions, a player had to build 3 out of 5 buildings from his objectives to win. Now we know that our way of thinking was correct, however we missed one thing, which is the different number of players.

The third change was made after we played a few times in three. We all agreed that the Wild Fun West is not so fun anymore in less than 4 players. To keep the replay-ability and the 'happiness' coefficient high we increased the number of players, from a minimum of 4 to maximum of 8. I would love to make this game for even more than 8 players. I am the one who believes in crowds - the more, the merrier!

The fourth and one of the biggest changes was taking out the minimum cost of buildings. This small but  highly influential change really sped up the game and opened a new door for bluffing and bidding even more.

Profession Card (v0.7)
Profession Card (v0.7)
Let's not forget about implementing synergies between cards. From now, all the Profession cards had  special abilities. We can count  forbidding other Professions from being in the play, doubling their bid on a specific Building or getting additional income from other Buildings or Professions.


I will jump now a little bit in the future, by leaving version 0.7 without discussing it. What would you say if I told you that now, in the version 0.8 of Wild Fun West we added one more thing. For the sake of the conversation let's assume that the version 0.7 was just a re-painted version 0.6. Now, in the latest Wild Fun West, we added Character Cards. You can choose who you want to play, from a wide range of characters like Buffalo Bill, Jesse James, Wild Bill Hickok or Belle Star. There are 12 Character Cards in Wild Fun West. Each of them will provide players with his/her default income per turn.

You're probably wondering why did we choose an American Old West theme. Let me tell you why I cannot think of any other theme for this game. When I was 8 years old, every Sunday there was a Western movie on TV. In those times, when there were only two TV channels in Poland, watching a good movie was a real challenge. Especially when you are just 8, you're parents will make sure you do not watch any violence or blood on TV. Western movies were the only exception. My sister and I were waiting all week for Sunday to come and watch Western movies. At that time, my sister and I were calling Sundays - Bonanza. So, every Bonanza we were rushing with our dinner and bath, just to be ready to watch Rio Bravo with John Wayne, Star in the Dust with Clint Eastwood and many more. Amazing memories! I think you can see how much I am in love with the Old American West. Now I can put this childish flashes of memory into beautiful card game design and hope that whoever will play it will start gathering their own wonderful memories.

Here it comes!

And now I will share with you the logo design for Wild Fun West. This is just the draft, but it will give you an idea how the final game logo will looks like. I would love to hear your opinions, what do you think and like about it. Leave a comment and be part of the creation of Wild Fun West. The fun starts right here, right now! :)

Wild Fun West logo (draft)

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