Design Diary 6/7/2017: Prototyping Player Aids

Currently working on the components necessary to run a demo scenario.  We decided that the best way to determine if we are on the right track with CLL is to just rush things to a single scenario, blind playtest and then iterate from there.


From Game Design Concepts by Ian Schrieber

I think this is a good tactic for us to start off with as we are still finding our legs as game designers.  The small design loops have the benefit of giving us fast feedback from players, which we can use to determine if we need to pivot the project into a new direction early in the design phases.



Using components pirated from other games, note cards, and cut up cereal boxes is enough for a designer to start bringing their vision to the table.  But, we’ve seen Kickstarter projects fail because their prototyped game is less than a perfect representation of the final product.  People want to know what they are paying for, though I’ve heard Publishers are more forgiving.

I believe that a “bad” looking prototype would hold my playtesters back from being able to give feedback on the aspect I care most about: is this even fun?  I am sinking some time into creating workable prototype materials using mostly copyrighted art and my legally acquired copy of photoshop.

The test scenario will feature a simple skirmish encounter with some marines attacking the party’s ship.  Rather than continue developing more character classes, we developed our strongest 3 for the party to use. Chef as the tank, Rogue as the DPS, and Navigator for support.

Here Are The Player Aids I’m Working On:


Hp is still undecided for all characters, there is still room for more reminder icons along the portraits.  Not included on any aids yet, that definitely needs to be added is something I created called “Critical Consequences”.  Rather than have “critical” hits deal more damage, players will suffer character specific consequences when hit critically by enemies.


There is not quite enough room on the 6×10 boards I started with for all of the stuff I wanted to add, but when you are playing chef, you need to focus on where your next puzzle piece is going to go, so I need to work all of the symbol abilities into here somehow.


Hayden’s board has room for 5 combo cards to be played, this definitely needs to just go to 3 cards. I don’t think I need to implement 5 card combos, I would go insane if I had to design 117 rogue combos.  The current board gives us some room to mess around with different ways to stack rogue cards than we currently use though.

Here is what the prototype rogue cards look like:




Don’t ask why I made sneak red instead of blue.  The only relevant things about the cards are the type of card (for combos) what the card does when played, and what happens when you choose to discard it from hand. A final draft of these cards very easily leaves me room to cool artwork all over it because the text and icons would use so little space when formatted nicely.

Although, the over-sized, “building block” style of these simple cards building into powerful effects might be something that makes it through to the end.



I decided early that the players would be using these similarly sized player boards (currently 10×6) which would contain the most important information for playing their character.  At this stage components needed for each player are:

1x Player Aid Board

1x Player Reference Guide

?x dual sided tokens for marking damage and threat on enemies

1 set of class specific components (Tiles for Chef, Dice for Navigator, and Cards for Rogue)

1x Figure/Standee/Token to represent the character on the map during skirmishes

?x Equipment Cards representing weapons/gear/items (everyone has a starting weapon)

The reference guide would contain rules reference information, and clarifications related to that character class, as well as listing the effects for things like the rogues 36 combos.

I am a little on the fence about having to create a series of rulebooks for this game, but I think it will serve the players better in our asymmetrical game.  Additionally, I need some way for players to track their characters progression with some of the ideas I have for the story elements of the game.

Component overload is my biggest fear for this game, I am definitely looking for ways to streamline things and eliminate clutter at the table.  My favorite games are the ones using minimal components and simple rules.


– Chill84


2 thoughts on “Design Diary 6/7/2017: Prototyping Player Aids

  1. Definitely used to minimal components here too – normally it’s just a stack of cards, it’s been quite the learning experience making that board game of mine lol – got a whole tray of tokens, chips, coins etc lll

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think some people enjoy having a lot of components in their games, maybe the perceived value is higher. Ads for games usually feature long component lists to show what you are getting in the box.

    Scythe has the slots on its board to help manage its components, there is something to be said for spending time to make your players setup go faster.


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