The basics were simple. Roll dice. Get resources. Make a choice – spend them to build a building and gain special ability or spend them to gain Victory Points.
The game was short. Buildings and abilities were tempting, but you knew, if you spend too many rounds investing in your village and constructing new buildings, you will end up with a ton of awesome abilities and no points whatsoever.
We had a good time with it, we were playing with different sets of buildings to see which ones offer the biggest replayability and fun.
Everything was working nice and smooth.
And yet, something was missing.
I asked Asia to come to my office and I said: “The game is ready, it may go to print, we are happy with the result. But…”
“But?” she asked.
“I don’t know. Play with it. Do whatever you want. Something is missing here.”
“OK” she said and took the prototype.
She needed less than two days.
“I added to each building Tetris shape,” she said showing me the boards. “When you score here on Empire sheet, as the game progresses you create a large area of crossed out spaces. You could use this area to draw these Tetris shapes. They would make the particular building stronger. Now, when the game progresses, you decide which buildings to boost by drawing these shapes.”
She found it.
The missing piece.
To the basic choice, I created in the game – the standard engine building game choice – spend resources on Victory Points or continue to invest in your engine and build new buildings, she added another layer, another simple but meaningful choice.
It’s no longer only which building you build. It is now which one you build, and then, which one of the built ones, to upgrade.
Simple game, and yet interesting choices. Do you upgrade the one that gives you 1 free Apple, to get 2 free Apples or even 3 free Apples, or you go after the one that lets you Harvest +1, and then when boosted +2, or +3 Resources from your Field…
There are only 6 buildings in the base game. There are only 4 of them that have abilities you can upgrade. And yet, there is so much fun.