Tourist Traps is the game I’m working on the most lately. Players are the owners of rival roadside attraction shops on Route 66 circa 1960. They are competing for customers by advertising their exhibits and drawing them into their store.
It started with players bidding on exhibits. This worked ok but it didn’t sparkle. I worked on some different auction and exhibit movement mechanics. It was better but it was missing something.
Then I took it to a meeting of the Game Designers of Carolina. And it turned that corner.
I has always thought that the game should be about customers but I went in the wrong direction with it. The guys in the group immediately saw a new way to work that theme in and it vastly improved the game.
Now the auction is for the customers and feels and does what I originally intended it to be.
Now, players compete to attract customers by actually bidding on those customers. Imagine that.
Players get a hand of exhibits. They choose one to start their shop. Exhibits come in three varieties – curiosities, oddities, & relics. Relics trump oddities which trump curiosities. Each exhibit has a ad value, used as a bid in the auction, and an income value.
Customers come in many types too and they want to see certain types of exhibits. The customers are in a queue. The queue is set up for the current round and the next. So players can see what is coming up and do a bit of planning, what type of customer do they need to match up with their exhibits.
Players bid on customers by ‘advertising’ using the exhibits in their hand. The auction winner gets the first customer in line. Second place takes the second, etc.. The bid exhibit goes into the player’s shop and the customer goes onto the preceding exhibit.
A lot of the strategy of the game now involves planning your bidding so that you get the customers that match your exhibits so you can score bonus points. Now players are trying to get into each other’s minds to second guess which customers the other guys want in addition to which exhibits to play when.
There’s potentially some set collection action, special powers for shop owners, and there’s drawing stuff from a bag.
The game is coming along pretty good right now. I have bits on the way from MeepleSource and basic prototype cards made. Just need to get the rules written down and do some playtesting.