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by GM Dave

Hauler Developer Blog Part 5 – Playtest Results and Alterations

December 22, 2013 in Developer Blog

hauler_logoI was fortunate to play the game with a game designer and several folks at D/FW Nerd Night and found a number of items that were either not clear in the rules, or just did not work the way I envisioned them working, so I have a list of changes to the base game that I want to discuss today.

First big change is that the concept of pollution was called out as a mirror image of a mechanic in another game, so I am altering that a bit and calling the card “Maintenance”.  Maintenance will represent the wear and tear on your fleet as you move around the board.  If at any time you draw three maintenance cards into your hand at the same time, you must spend your action that turn to place the maintenance cards back in the maintenance deck, no choice, it just means a truck broke down and you are not moving that turn.

Second big change is that the choice to move trucks or deckbuild was not a choice at all.  It was far easier to move around the board and speed and deliver routes than I anticipated, so everyone did that and hardly anyone used their turn to deckbuild unless they had a hand full of only truck cards.  So, the choice is gone, and every turn will start with deckbuilding.  Draw 5 cards from your pile, then play action cards that you can or must play, then buy cards with available green stamps.  If you have cards that grant you extra actions or buys, resolve the actions first, then perform the number of buys that you can.

Performing the buys last also lets us keep the idea of bonuses for quick delivery intact.  During the playtest, we allowed buys at any time and players were buying route cards and then using their action to move.  It made for a quick score in some cases, but in other cases the buy happened last and the player had to waste 12 hours when they never moved, so this will level the playing field.

The other main gripe was that the game felt euro but there was this hauler die and limited player interaction.  Although the players liked “Trains”, another deckbuilding transportation themed game, they wanted more player interaction out of that game, so I settled on adding a few mechanics to help that along as the third change to the game.

To increase player interaction, more highway segments in the game will start as a normal segment, meaning there are fewer speed traps.  After a player speeds through a zone, they will alert the local bears, and that road will become a speed trap.  Players may still speed through speed traps, but it will mean they get a ticket when they do so.  This will mean that speeding has just become a real choice in the game, as it costs you victory points when you do so.  The ticket mechanic has also been tweaked so that a player only gets 3 before the counter resets, but they may not take a movement action on their next turn, representing them being “detained” for too many tickets.  Aside from the mandatory speed traps, if a player speeds through a speed trap they can remove the speed trap token because the bears got their man and headed back to the donut shop.

Next, a construction action card is being added to the decks.  When a player plays this card, the action it gives allows the player to place a construction token on a road segment, which makes that segment slower than usual, adding 2 hours to the normal time, and not allowing speeding.  This is a key way to slow your opponents and adds an interesting player interaction point to the game.  Once a player encounters the construction, the token is removed.

Finally, the third point of player interaction is the operations center.  The ops center will not only serve as a place for the players to deploy new trucks to the game, but it also serves as a “union headquarters” for the player.  This means that the unions control the loading docks and any player that wishes to start or end a route in that city must pay the player to use his union labor to load or unload in that city.  The player that loads or unloads loses a victory point and the player that owns the union shop gains that victory point.

All these changes will be in effect for the next public playtest on Saturday, December 28, at Madness Comics and Games.  The fun starts at 3pm.

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