Chestnut Lodge Wargames Group

More plastic cheese

I was due to run my fourth game test of “A Little Bit of Bread and No Cheese” (Albobanc) on the first day of the Games Weekend, on 6th October. I had been working on my design ideas on my commute and some moments snatched between marking and lesson prep over the past month. On Friday before the session, I had a day off and it was my intention to pull it all together in a proper design. That evening I printed out the game and laid it out. And it struck me… it was yet another simulation heavy design.

So I took the decision to cancel my session. And run a very brief design session.

I used a very simple – “on the back of a napkin” – method to run a game design session. I talked about my game design idea and as I did so I drew out the components on a blank sheet of paper. Later on during the discussion as we referred to these elements both I and the participants pointed to the section on the “piece of paper”. I’ve tried this at work; it also works well in lessons.

The participants were unanimous that the game should focus on the political tension between the Bailiff and his neighbours. And not between the Lord’s representative, the Steward and the villagers. Each player takes on the role of a farmer in the village and they vote for one of them to become the Bailiff.

The Bailiff is on the lowest rung of the Lord’s manorial management structure. He has to live and work with his neighbours and at the same time ensure they do their unpopular “week work” and other feudal obligations. He is answerable to the his manorial Lord, through the Steward, for the output of the manorial demesne.

There was also a call for having the Church being represented. I doubt there is a role for a player; it should be a mechanism to store pennies in heaven.

Thus there should be two conflicts in the game:

  1. The players’ desire to make money, feed their families and avoid their feudal work obligation versus the desire of the Bailiff to satisfy the Steward and his Lord, and still live with his neighbours.
  2. The pious desire to live a good life and through the ministrations of the church enter the gates of heaven.

My take away from this was that I always attempt to design this game by yet again simplifying the farming model that is necessary to have consequences for poor decision making by the players. Get it wrong, they starve, get it right they prosper. What I should do is start looking at how to create a game that enables the give and take of neighbourly in fighting and then add the farming model.

Thanks to all for assisting.



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