Designer Journal: The Hunt Below


As I was working on my design for UnderQuest, I stumbled upon a completely new design. Sometimes this happens. I quickly made a crude prototype (index cards, pen, and colored pencils) and the first playtest was a success. This is rarely the case with my designs. I am sure I am not the only one. I think the key to it being successful was that the core mechanics were well-tested and often used. This is not to say there is nothing new here, but the separate parts that make up the whole just seem to always work well. Let’s take a delve shall we?

0-render7The concept is that each player is in control of a small city in a fantasy world. Perhaps you are Barons or Mayors. I have not gotten that far yet, but you do have control over the five main guilds which are; The Thieves’ Guild, The Laborer’s Guild, The Merchant’s Guild, The Mage’s Guild, & The Knight’s Guild.

Each round of the game is made up of five bidding rounds in which cards from the Quest Deck are revealed equal to the number of players. Each player studies the available cards and must decide which Guild they want to send out. Each Guild has a set value (Thieves’ (1), Laborer’s (2), Merchant’s (3), Mage’s (4), & Knight’s (5)). The Thieves’ and laborer’s have some special powers that make up for their low status, but basically the player the blindly bids the highest valued Guild gets to pick a card first, and then the rest of the players take turns selecting cards in order of the value of the card they played.


Each player also starts off with a City Card which indicates the power of the city begins at twelve. What does this mean? We will address that in a moment. The card also gives all players the incentive to collect sets of each goods type in order to gain 5vp at the end of the game. There are many types of cards you can bid on but they all have a power value indicated in the red square. When a player gains a card they place it in front of them, and any additional cards may be added to previous cards on either side as you build a row of cards. You will always have two options for placing an additional card. At any point, after gaining a new card and before new cards are revealed for bidding, you may declare you are ending your quest. If you ever take a card that makes the sum of all your cards greater than that of your cities power, you bust. Think Black Jack.

0-render4The types of cards you can get fall into two distinct categories, cards you keep (buildings) and cards you discard (monsters and treasures). If you successfully end a quest before going bust, you deal with the cards in the following way.

Buildings are added to your city card, on side of your choice. It does not matter were. Buildings add to the power of your city, meaning that you can likely obtain more cards on future quests. Many of them also add demand for certain types of goods and this will give you an incentive to go after particular cards later in order to gain more points at the end of the game.

0-render5Monsters are the creatures the dwell in the places where the goods are residing. They also often are holding onto gold which is indicated in the yellow square on the card. At the bottom of the card you will see two halves of two goods. The card by itself will not gain the player any goods, but place it next to another card you have already gained, making the icons match up, and you will gain that good type, if you successfully end your quest.

0-render3Treasures gain the player gold. For every two gold the player has at the end of the game they gain one point. Whenever a Traveling Merchant Card is drawn from the Quest Deck, all players may buy goods with their gold for the indicated prices on the card.

After four rounds (20 total bidding rounds) the game ends. The player with the most points wins. More to come.

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