Ridere, ludere, hoc est vivere.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Getting serious about East India Company

I've had some time over the last few days to start really stepping out on my plan for "East India Company."  I've completed a survey of candidate publishers.  I've decided that I should have a second prototype in hand ready to ship in the event that I get a positive response from a submission letter.  So my current effort is geared toward making a second prototype that reflects the lessons I've learned from my first printing foray and from the playtesting I've done with it.

Black border intended
to reduce confusion
Is this a black tile or
a red tile?
One thing I learned is that there was some confusion in the terms "red side" and "black side" of the colony commodity tiles.  I've been using the colors red and black for two different purposes.  Black text corresponds to a commodity that a colony produces (e.g. "West Africa produces tobacco"); red text corresponds to a commodity that a colony buys, e.g. "North America buys tea").  Almost all tiles have a black text "production" side and a red text "buy" side.  That's what I mean in the rules when I refer to placing a tile "black side up" or "red side up."  But I also use six different colors in the borders for the clip art icons that represent the six different commodities - brown for timber, green for tea, etc.  The icon border color for spice is black, and the icon border color for tobacco is red.  So the confusing tiles are those that involve buying spice or producing tobacco.  For example, "South America buys spice" has red text but includes a spice icon that has a black border.  Likewise, "Caribbean produces tobacco" has black text but includes a tobacco icon that has a red border.  So the second prototype tiles will have strong red or black outer borders in addition to the text.  Those borders will intuitively match up with the borders of the spaces on the board where they are placed, so I am hoping that these newer tile designs will reduce confusion.

I've also realized that some of my one-way shipping routes do nothing to change the gameplay, ever since I
Two red one-way routes from
West Africa to the New World
sped up all ships to make the game move faster.  So to simplify movement, I made all sailing routes two-way routes except for two - from West Africa to the Caribbean, and from West Africa to North America.  Those one-way routes represent the equatorial current and have the desired effect on movement without significantly complicating gameplay.

I recently changed the European purchase prices of tea and spice to reduce some runaway strategies that turned up.  On my first prototype, I simply pen-and-inked the changes right on the board.  The second prototype will have the correct values printed properly on the European market spaces.

Finally, a lesson learned about printing:  My printing company had recommended that I make sure I had art that overlapped the bleed area of the template so that any printing slippage wouldn't leave a white border.  Unfortunately, I overdid it in my first prototype, and overlapped so much of my gameboard into the bleed area that the shipping routes on the two gameboard sections don't align.  So I'll be a little smarter about it this time (I hope).


  1. So, is the route from N. America to Europe 2-way now? No modelling of the Gulf Stream?

  2. Yes, you can go directly from Europe to North America now. But since all ships move at least two spaces, you could already do that by moving via West Africa. So the one-way arrow from North America to Europe made no difference in gameplay. I decided to make it a two-way arrow just to clean up the board a little, and to eliminate the rather silly action of moving a ship two spaces unnecessarily.

  3. Make it 3 prototypes...one for a publisher and two for conventions. You can leave a board and game implements out near your actual gameplay copy to recruit the next set of players. Let me know the cost of a prototype; I'd LOVE to own one!

  4. Craig, that's an interesting idea. Multiple prototypes ... hadn't thought about that. And I can certainly build an extra for you, too!

  5. Alternative: consider using a non-red-black color for the borders for the clip art?

  6. I suppose that would have made the distinction less prone to confusion. I was actually worried about introducing too many different colors into the palette, from a visual effect standpoint.