After playing Euphoria recently, and after reading a blog post about worker placement games, I decided to see how quickly could come up with a worker placement game and create a first draft. I was able to come up with a unique mechanic (to me) as well as a theme that can utilize it. Actually, I came up with two mechanics that I have not yet seen in a board game.
The game is called, for lack of anything better right now: “Factory”. The game is about workers in a factory building a product. Unlike real life, each player represents a team of workers who are competing to earn the biggest bonuses. In the real world, people seldom try to help a co-worker get promoted; But in the game, that is one of the main mechanics. To get a promotion for a worker, a player places their worker on a training space and pays the cost of the training. This is where the workers work as a team because only the player controls the money and it is used by the entire theme in whatever way the player wants. Once on a training space, the player must advance and pay more for the training over a series of turns. If the player can’t pay the cost to advance the worker, they fail the training class and get kicked out. Once the worker token gets to the end of the training, the token is exchanged for a “better” token to signify the promotion. Some board spaces are only available to regular workers or to expert workers. Workers cannot be placed on spaces above their pay grade.
The other mechanic in the game is movement of a product token through the factory. There are arrows on the board that have a worker placement location attached. A worker on one of these spaces will cause the product to move from one space before the arrow to the other space after the arrow. I have not decided if these spaces can be hoarded, if a worker is placed there but mist be removed on the players next turn, or if the worker can just be bumped and the space can be held for a while but is never locked to a worker who is placed there.
I plan on using the training mechanic for a loading dock area of the board. If a player wants 1 metal, they can go to the warehouse and pick up a metal. If they want 4 metal, they can spend 3 turns on loading dock spaces, progressing each turn, to get that bonus metal! It will be interesting to see if locking workers into an action, like training or loading, has a variable effect on the game where doing it right leads to winning and doing it wrong, like having all workers locked in place, leads to a loss.
Up near the top of this post is a picture of one stage of the factory assembly line. The idea with the “stage” is to have a limit of 1 product marker in each stage at a time. If the line ever gets full, all players might lose some pay due to their failure to keep the factory running.
That’s it. I have 3 or 4 ideas that seem unique and a theme that seems to fit well with those ideas. Now to figure out the hard parts like what materials are used for manufacturing (wood, metal, glass, plastic, uranium, plasma) and what are the requirements for each space on the board and what are the payouts for those spaces. I’m thinking that moving the product from one stage to another should yield some non-monetary benefit – a by-product, – just to keep the game from seeming stale on that part of the board. Just earning money seems weak.
Oh, and the plan is to use money as the victory points and to end the game once X number of product markers move through the line and get delivered. We’ll see how it goes once I print up a board.