Tuesday, August 16, 2011

High Noon: Designer's Notes

This post follows up on posts I have done on the history and design of Dodge City and BANG!. Today, I will be covering Sciarra's account of how he designed his High Noon expansion. Frequent bloggers will remember how much I hate the event card expansions to BANG!, but reading Sciarra's account of his restrictions on making an expansion softens my criticism. DaVinci games asked Sciarra to design a light expansion for BANG!, which could have "no more than 32 cards, no new characters, few new symbols, and, if possible, no text on the cards. Moreover, the expansion cards could not be shuffled together with the old ones." With these restrictions, it is no surprise that Sciarra had to develop a superstructure to the existing game mechanics for the new cards.

Sciarra toyed around with exploiting the poker symbols on the cards, but this movement slowed down the game. It is interesting to note that Death Mesa, which originally utilized card values and suits intensely, shifted to using just the colors of the suits due to the same problem. Another clever idea Sciarra came up with (captured in the image of the handwritten note above) was to have 24 different cards which corresponded to the hours of the day. While Sciarra doesn't state this, it would have been neat to have event cards that remained for the whole hour it corresponded with, and only shifted in real time. Thus, when you played BANG! could drastically affect rules. Of course, the cards would have to have been different than those which actually came out in High Noon. Eventually, Sciarra narrowed down the cards to 12, and gave each a distinct global effect. To make these cards more varied, he made them all with written text.

The cards had different inspirations, some from friends' suggestions. Sciarra noted how the High Noon card itself (the one having each player lose 1 life point at the beginning of his turn) was derived from the "Armageddon Clock Rule" utilized in Magic tournaments to stop lengthy matches. With the 12 best cards nailed down, 3000 prints were made of the small expansion, and it was sold for 2-3 euros! Sciarra noted how it was often given away free at conventions to anyone who bought BANG!. It was amazingly successful, selling out soon after, and sought obsessively for until reintroduced in The Bullet. High Noon cards received a new border in the Bullet edition.
Read the full article on the design of High Noon.

Found this article interesting? Read the history of the development of BANG!, Dodge City, and A Fistful of Cards.


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