In the last developer blog I talked about the core concept, driving the open road and making all your deliveries to earn points all while avoiding Johnny Law and any weather issues. Now, I’d like to spend some time talking about what you can haul…the resources.
In hauler, there are five types of resources in the game, and they are produced all over the map. Certain geographical areas account for more of a specific resource, but a player should never have to drive more than 2 days to pick up a load of one particular type of resource, depending on scarcity of course! The resource types in the game are represented by colored cubes that the players pick up and place on their Hauler mat when taking a shipment. Grain is found primarily in the midwest and plains states, and is represented by yellow cubes, while crops are found just about everywhere except the northeast and southwest and are green cubes on the board. Meat is supplied in major markets and other selected areas in the plains and western United States and are red cubes. Black cubes are raw materials, like wood or steel and can be found in the Northwest, Northeast and production markets all over the country. Finally, goods are represented by blue cubes and are found in large cities all over the US that create goods from materials.
As a player moves his truck around the map, he can load up to two resources from each city he stops at along the way in an effort to build the best load possible. Represented graphically to the left, the valuation of each shipment configuration is tied directly to the amount of time it takes to assemble the resources. Anyone can go to three towns and pick up a pair of goods, but if you make the extra turn count and truck over to Chicago to pick up the meat to go with your three grain out of Oklahoma City, well you have yourself three extra victory points and you can immediately load another resource in Chicago before you head to the Northeast for materials or goods. There will be no single way to play this game, and the random elements of weather make this more appealing to the simulationist while still appealing to the family board gamer.
When planning on how to start the game, I made the decision to seed resources on the board to allow each player to formulate a plan of attack. Of course this all goes out the window as soon as the player in New York and the player in Chicago both book it to Cleveland, but that is part of the intrigue and strategy. Always have an alternate plan, bottom line! The mechanic I chose to replenish resources is a card draw from the deck of resource cards. Randomly, cards are dealt on the north side of the board, and a die is rolled to determine the resource mix placed on the city in question. Depending on the number of players, there may be more or less resources available for a given city, but this will be indicated on the card. Once the resources are placed, the other cards are also examined to see if there are any weather or earthquakes that have occurred. If so, the die result rolled for resource placement will also determine the city on the card affected by weather.
The resource replenishment rates have been chosen to gradually introduce scarcity, and make the endgame choices a little harder. It also will accelerate the need to take chances, speed and wreck an opponent’s plan with a well timed drive through Atlanta.
So what is a typical turn? Simple, plan your route, move your truck while tallying your travel time, pick up resources and/or deliver shipments, and repeat for the next truck you have in service. Seems easy enough until you see that red cube in Kansas City, you are in Indianapolis and a hitch hiker comes up from Chicago to Las Vegas, right in line with where you are trucking to. Do you spend the extra time in Chicago and take the chance you won’t make it to KC to get the meat, or go for the green stamp grab and 15 big ones for the hitcher? You plan the route and see that you will have to speed on one of the legs to get there, and you do exactly that. You go from Indy to Chicago in 3 hours, pick up the hitcher, head to St Louis in 5 hours and speed to Kansas City. You roll a 6. Darn. Ticket for you, it is your third of the game and costs you 4 green stamps as a fine, but you arrive in KC and pick up the meat you needed for the rainbow shipment. You spent the time to get the hitcher, got a ticket, then got robbed by the hitcher, but you still net 6 green stamps for making the trip. It all depends on what resources lie between Kansas City and Vegas on the route you want to take.
So what can you do with the green stamps? Well, you need them to win the game! But, more importantly, you have to pay to maintain your truck, pay for tickets, repair your truck after an accident and most importantly, buy ownership in your trucking company. This sets the stage for the endgame condition, and will be the topic of the third installment of the Hauler Dev Blog. Until then, keep it in the lines!