The Story of Espionage – Part Two: Coming Together

So here’s part two of me and Mark’s Designer Diary for our new project, Espionage. This time around, Mark takes the lead and explains exactly what our game is about… If you’ve missed Part One, click here to read it!

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As you would have noticed from previous posts here and on Michael Fox’s Little Metal Dog Show, he and I are designing a board game called Espionage.

We have been putting in a lot of time and energy into the design and are now at the point where we can begin the process of play testing. Thankfully we already have volunteers to do this and I have already sent out files to them.

Its all very exciting and frightening as we open the doors to others to have a peek! Is the game perfect? Not at all. But play testing will help us to get it into (hopefully…) a condition to interest publishers. We are confident that we have a good theme – pre-World War 1 spies in London. We also are very focused and committed that Espionage will be a gateway game, suitable to all types of gamers and non-gamers with, simple, concise rules. A game to be played in roughly 30-45 minutes. Most of all, we think it will be fun!

Main premise of Espionage

Espionage is a light-hearted team based game for 2, 4 or 6 players, set in London in the period prior to the breakout of the First World War.

The players take on the roles of German Intelligence Agents or British Counter-Intelligence Agents who carry out various “Missions” to gather or prevent the gathering of military intelligence in one of the world’s most important cities. To win the game, Players gain victory points by completing missions as described by Mission cards they collect.  There are two types of victories.

Team victory – the team with the most victory points wins

Ace of Spies – The individual with the single highest total of victory points is proclaimed Ace of Spies!

Missions are completed by traveling to different locations in London using travel cards that indicate how many locations can be travelled through in a single turn.  Players can use Intervention cards to prevent other players from accomplishing their missions.  There are only 10 rounds so the players will be under pressure to complete as many missions in their hand as possible, also knowing that any uncompleted missions will count against their victory point total.

Game Process

A game of Espionage consists of 10 Rounds where all players each take their turn

Each Round has the following steps – All players

Choose the starting player

Draw Mission/Intervention cards

Draw up to three Travel cards from the Travel Card deck

Draw FIVE Shillings for Agency Travel Expenses

Individual Players in turn order do the following

Move your Hansom Cab player token and Place Start and Finish Mission Tokens as appropriate

Players can end movement on a Special Ability space to collect a Special Ability

Other players can play Intervention cards during another player’s turn

Play then passes to next player.

Last turn is at the end of 10 Rounds when the last player completes their turn actions.

End Game Phase – All Players turn over their alignment cards to reveal which alignment will be rewarded with Mission Victory Points

The winning team has the highest total of Victory Points.

The Ace of Spies is the player with the highest total of Victory Points earned.

I’ve included some images created by Michael here of our play test, in other words, very rough draft materials to give everyone a sense of the look and feel. Of course, this will change as we move along but for now, its a prototype.

Prototype London Map

Mission Card - British players complete the green missions, German players the red.

Character card - each one has a little flavour text and start location.

So far, we are generally happy with our rules as a starting point. Its been hard work and very interesting and enjoyable. We have also managed to find how best to collaborate in terms of using our strengths, skills and experiences.It has been really a rewarding exercise and who knows, we may just have something here!

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Michael here again!

So, this is pretty much the sum of what we’ve been working on these past few months. Obviously both Mark and myself have full time jobs so this is something we’re plugging away with in our spare time. There’s been lots of early mornings, especially at the weekends, where I’ve dragged myself out of bed and huddled over the computer armed only with coffee and BBC Radio 5 Live attempting to get things rolling.

As you can tell from the images above, graphic design is far from my strong point. The basic look that you see is actually much better than the first shambling attempts I made – these are at least legible. However, every time I do something different on Photoshop, it’s a learning experience – slow learning admittedly, but I’m making progress nonetheless. I’m quite sure that other stuff is being forgotten as I make room for these new skills, but that’s the tradeoff I make!

Mark has been amazing. The idea originally came from him and the rules are kind of his responsibility, so blame him if they’re broken! Seriously though, he’s rewritten and rejigged them more times than you know. The original ruleset has, through our regular discussions, morphed into something that actually feels like a solid engine – but now the fun begins: playtesting. Frankly I’m bleedin’ terrified. I get worried enough about sending each episode of the show out into the ether, so having people check out something real and solid that I’ve had a hand in creating is utterly horrifying… Here’s hoping the feedback is OK. If you see a copy of Espionage around and you get to try it, please be constructive!

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