BGG 24 hours game contest – May 2015 – Knight at the Inn

Follow the links below for the components and rules to my BoardGameGeek.com 24 hour game contest entry for May 2015. If you want to know about my journey in board games so far and the development of this game, then read on.

Knight at the Inn Components

Knight at the Inn Rule Book

Getting into Board Gaming

As an aspiring game designer, I have really enjoyed diving head first into the world of board games, or more specifically the side of board games known as designer games or hobby games. I have enjoyed a lot of games over the years (although even back then I had to have my arm twisted to play Monopoly or Cluedo). I guess it was inevitable that once I had a taste of games beyond the mass market stuff found in high street toy shops, I would get hooked.

For me the game that started it was Talisman, I got myself invited to a game and had a blast, it was an experience like the western RPG videogames I enjoy but on cardboard. I began learning all I could about the hobby and before I knew it I was through the looking glass, down the rabbit hole, in at the deep end and all the other clichés for getting deeply involved in something. After that my collection began to rapidly grow, I converted my girlfriend Gemma into a board-gamer as well and we have not looked back.

I think one of the things I like most about the hobby is transparency of the design in the final product. If you know where to look, there is every little obstructing the player from the designers decisions. The rules and all the components are all there for you to see and analyse in the box. And as a game designer I can’t help but try to deconstruct every element; why that number of cards? Why is that action worth that many points? Why are those dice results special and not another combination? Which makes it all the more impressive when it all comes together to make an interesting, well balanced and fun game. So having established that I have been suitably inspired, it’s my turn…

BoardGameGeek May 2015 24 hour game contest

– My Entry – Knight at the Inn

Playing Knight at the Inn

Playing Knight at the Inn

I had attempted a game or two before, and have had dozens of designs in my head. But never had I gotten past the prototype phase. So the 24 hour contest was looking like it would be a great challenge and a good incentive to get over that hump. I was a little unhappy with the theme being “Knight” I was struggling to come up with a concept that didn’t revolve around killing things with swords (I don’t like to go for the obvious choice). Inspiration struck thinking about chess pieces and knights marching across a medieval countryside. What formed in my mind was an abstract strategy game about knights returning home and staying the night at inns along the road home. And being a big Game of Thrones fan, I thought about the way that main characters traveling across the land would always end up in the same tavern.

I quickly put together a pen and paper prototype and tried It out with Gemma. I wanted it to be a tactical game of maneuvering your knights across the board whilst blocking your opponent. So I made sure there was limited space at the inns for tactical blocking and covering of pieces. And I tried to give the pieces variable abilities to allow them differing roles in gameplay for players to discover. The lone knight as an easy to move but vulnerable pieces ideal for dashing about and pinning threatening opponent pieces, the King is a difficult to move piece but can be a strong tool to muscle your way though and block pieces.

After the first play though, we realised we had had a great time. Sure new rules were implemented on the fly but it was fun, we could see clearly where we could move, who we could block, where would leave us exposed. The tension seemed to really build towards the end, just when you thought you had a handle on it and could run away with it, your opponent would get a foot hold. A happy accident of the design, that as you got more pieces to the end space, you became more vulnerable to being pinned down or blocked. Most games we have played seemed to come down to the last few pieces. I felt I was onto something good when after one play, we immediately wanted to set it up again and go another round.

Development we pretty well but I made a mistake of starting my project a few hours before I had to be in bed for work early the next day.I spent about 4 hours setting up the basic rule book and pieces before I had to call it a night. I may not have stuck strictly too the rules, but three days later all I needed to do was make some pretty pictures for the pieces and finish up the rules before making my final presentation.

Going Forward

I have had a bunch of plays of this game with Gemma. But I think the next step would definitely be to have some others play it. See whether it merits further development, I have my concerns about it and things that I like, but it’s hard to say what direction I should be taking those elements right now. So far I haven’t gotten much feedback form other people, so I will have to start going after play testers some more. That or I will just move onto the next project. One thing I know is that the rules need a little clean up.

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