For those of us who love everything equine, horses and games make a great entertainment combination. Creating a horse-themed card game is hard work and requires a lot of careful consideration. This article talks about the early days of discovery for the developers at Funleague Games as they embarked upon the journey of designing their very first card game called “Perfect Stride: Cross-Country!” Naturally, as with many things, the game started out as an idea. We wanted to create a fun horse game that was fanciful and stylized, yet still stayed somewhat true to the experience of riding a horse. Representing the idea of racing at high speed across country on horseback through a card game presented its share of challenges. We experimented with a lot of ideas and several times we experienced moments of “aha! This is it!” and away we’d go full-steam…only to discover a problem. The gameplay logistics were the main sticking points. We were cutting some new ground with this card game; it wasn’t closely based on any other specific game so we didn’t have a tried-and-true template to work from. Rather, we referenced bits and pieces of gameplay elements from other games we’d played and from our own vision of how we thought things should work considering the experience we were trying to emulate. Two other resources that have definitely been invaluable are Board Game Geek and Board Game Designer’s Forum. Thanks to everyone there who has posted such excellent info! Here are some examples of things we had a tough time figuring out: Our card game is essentially a race across country on horseback. You jump obstacles along the way…how do you represent that? Do you use tiles? Do you lay the cards out all at once, or one at a time? Face-up? Face-down? That kind of thing. Another element we struggled with was how the rider order was represented during the course of the race.
If you were in first, but then dropped back to third, how would you know? We tried a bunch of things such as using charts, placing a token amongst the jump cards, etc. After a lot of trial and error, we eventually figured out a system that wasn’t confusing (unlike our earlier versions). We also struggled with trying to inject some strategy into the gameplay. We definitely didn’t want this game to be all about “luck of the draw”. We wanted the players to have to evaluate each situation and choose a best course of action. Strategy does add depth to a game, but on the flip side of this, a bit of chance can really spice things up and keep you wondering as you draw that next card. As this was a racing game, we didn’t want the players to get too bogged down pondering their options. That would detract from the idea that you were all moving at high speed over terrain in a dash for the finish line. Those were just some of the many things we needed to figure out as we developed our initial idea into something fun, functional and richly thematic. After emerging from the idea phase, we entered a stage of development where we needed to examine more practical business considerations: How big should the deck be?