TONEWOODS (formely named Luthiers) - First update in years
I'm not gonna lie, I completely forgot about this blog for a while. For more than two years to be precise.
I have not stopped working on my projects; I continued designing Luthiers (which has since then been renamed to Tonewoods since Paverson Games announced "Luthier") and started working on new concepts as well. In all transparency, I had lost motivation for a while, it was really hard for me to hear about a new game on the market with the same name and a similar theme. Luthiers, I mean... Tonewoods... is my baby. Not only I have been working on this game since 2019, but I have a particular love for this theme due to my personnal background as a luthier myself. That being said, Dave Beck and I have talked, and we both were not aware of eachother's game. Both games are very different in their weight, mechanisms, and how the theme is handled. I also had the chance to talk with Maxime Tardif that was in the same situation with Earth when Ark Nova was announced, and seeing the success Earth had despite that really gave me hope again.
I have not read all the old blog posts about my game design. This is probably super cringe and filled with unnecessary details. I was unexperienced as a designer and clearly underestimated how much the game would change and evolve during playtesting, and probably focussed on the wrong things. I am lucky enough that the main core mechanisms stayed the same, but a lot of changes and improvements were slowly integrated since I started playtesting the game more than 3 years ago; thanks to all my awesome playtesters for breaking the game and for their great ideas. What really motivates me is that they want to play it again and again !
One of the big changes is obviously the visual aspect of the game. Even though this is only a prototype and I have no intention of publishing this game myself, I decided to redo the whole graphic design of the game. This does not change much to the gameplay, but this is worth mentionning.
The list of improvements through the years is long. To summarize the biggest ones :
The game is not asymetrical anymore. This is the biggest change that should have happened since the beginning. Players are not bounded to a starting location anymore (which created obvious balancing issues). Instead, the game has a variable turn order determined by when players pass. At the beginning of each round, players choose their starting location in the new turn order. Even though the different locations/districts have been balanced and balanced, this acts as a catch-up mechanism but can also can reward players with incredible efficiency in the game;
Starting resources / initial turn order : Before the game starts, each player receives 4 cards with resources printed on them. They keep 2 cards and gain the starting resources. Each card has a number on it. The sum of the two cards of each player determines the initial turn order (somes cards are better than others but make the player play later in the turn order). Some wood tiles also come already "flipped", which accelerates the early-game;
Each play has 3x endgame objectives for more variability, which also added layers of set-collection. Some are more individual objectives and some add more tension between players, so the interaction can be tuned;
Each play has 3x mid-game objectives. Some of the tiles act as a catch-up mechanism so the tightness of the game can be adjusted depending on the group;
Completed contracts now worth VP (yup, it is obvious, but that feature was not there). Contracts that give less reward during the game give more VP at the end and vice-versa;
Money is 5:1 VP instead of 1:1;
Upgrades were broken. They now have a Reputation threshold, meaning that you need to grind your Reputation in order to unlock more Upgrades;
Bigger Repairs also have Reputation thresholds;
Skill tiles have been improved and balanced, a lot;
When gaining a Skill, you place the tile on one of the available one-time bonus on your playerboard;
When taking a Loan, the Loan tile blocks a Skill space and its bonus; meaning that you need to pay your loans before gaining a new Skill, and cannot take a new Loan if you have all of your three Skills;
Filling all your three Skill slots gives your +1 Reputation;
Some action changed district for balancing purposes;
I added a track to count how many Repairs each player has completed. The player with the most completed Repairs at any time has a temporary +1 Reputation bonus for acquiring new contracts. The player with the most completed Repairs at the end of the game gains a card that counts as an additionnal completed contract to help them complete an endgame objective;
The whole Inspiration tile mechanism has changed; they now have one of three possible icons. Some contracts require specific icons. When used, the tiles are placed in a 3x3 grid (each row is for a specific icon). When completing a row (so when using 3 times the same icon in the game), you gain +1 Reputation. When completing a column (so when using 3 different icons), you gain a reward. Each column has a different reward and players choose which column to complete first. These rewards allow combos, but managing which tiles to use also becomes super important. If you use these tiles too quickly in order to gain the rewards as early as possible, you may not have any slot left for more tiles to help you complete bigger contracts at the end of the game. Wild tiles can also be gained during the game.
I have also worked on solo modes, and a dummy player deck of cards that can be added to two-player games.
I have also started working on the rulebook as well as punchboards. I may be doing overquality (knowing that this is only a prototype that I want to pitch), but that's what motivates me ! Hopefully I can make a first physical copy of the game by the end of 2023.
Thank you for your support and let me know if you want to playtest it on Tabletopia !