Game Title : Life on Mars
Publisher : to be self-published
This game is planned to be self-published in Game-Market 2009 in Tokyo.
Game Designer : Kossetsu-games
Kossetsu-games is the most important and famous self-publishing boardgame-designer in Japan. He started game-designing during his hospital admission because of Kossetsu (broken bone). This is the source of his brand-name.
The most important aspect of his designes is originality.
Game Thema : colony development on Mars in near (?) future
Tiles which show variety of facilities, such as spaceport, Martian Congress, warehouse for each player, nanotech-factories, banks, special laboratories.
Product tokens which show 4 colors of product each has different value from 1 to 4.
Player token which show tube transportation among tiles.
Player counters which show player’s labor on the map.
Victory point tiles which show accumulated VPs for players.
The game is composed of 3 rounds.
Each round is composed of 3 phases as below
Characteristic game mechanics
Basically, players will try to get the maximum VPs from actions.
In short, players must produce products and transport them into his warehouse and only after then he can sell the products from his warehouse to appropriate facility.
In this game, player can sell the product to bank for money, or sell them to spaceport and/or shoppingmaul for VP. Though the final purpose is only VP, players needs money to do their actions during the game. Actually, he needs money even for the production. So that, during early stage of the game player must earn money for future actions. The critical point is when and how much amount of money you earn before changing his outcome from money to VPs.
Also, since you only have 3 actions each turn, thus you only have 9 actions during the whole game period.
Since even the simplest business needs 2 actions (ie. Produce / Sell), it is very important to plan furthur from the very start of the game into the final action in the 3rd round. Because of this characteristic dilemma, this game is very hard for newbies and thus is really a gamer’s-game.
As a flavor, there is a special laboratory tile in the game. In this tile, you can purchase unknown invention. You must fullfill the condition to make a invention, usually the condition is specific combination of products you must have simultaneously and the invention is usually VPs.
During each turn, all player make the map by placing one tile clockwise and put one of his tube between tiles. During actions, if you can move your labor via transportation tube only. Though you can use other player’s tube, you must pay the fare to the player. So, you must plan what action you need this turn and have concrete plan of movement to minimize transportation cost. Also, sometimes it is very good business to have important tube between some really necessary tile for other players.
In each action, you must select one of unused your labor and move him to the destination tile and do action on that tile. On factories, you can produce products of that color. But, you must pay the production cost for each product you produce. On bank, you can sell your products to earn money. On spaceport and/or shopping maul, you can sell your products to earn VPs. On shopping maul, you can sell each product for its current price. Current price equalles current cost. So, basically you produce and sell each product for the same price. But, this price can be changed by the action on Martian Congress. In this action, you select one color which price drops to the bottom price 1. By this dropping, every other color’s price is pushed up by 1 to fill up the vacated price. The price is 1 to 4 for each color in order.
This price mechanics gives players many dilemma. Usually player who produce the product change the price order just before his production to minimize his cost. If you see some other player place his labor on both factory and the Congress, you can see he will change the color of the factory into 1 and thus other color’s price will increase by 1. As you can see from this context, this is a business chance.
Another dilemma is a tricky limitation of production. The price is not only the production cost and selling price, but also is a limit of production number on one action. That is when the price is 1 you can produce it with the minimum cost 1 but the number of production is limited only 1 piece. If you’d like to produce more numbers of that product, you must do more actions on that tile. This makes a dilemma between low-cost production and mass-procution. You must invest some money and some labors to the production, but the balance between these 2 factors are difficult and important and can be changed by other players’ Congress actions.
Challenge for players
This game is really challenging for players.
As I wrote in above, you must have a long-term plan. And in each turn, accroding to your long-term plan, you must concretely plan what actions you will make and plot the tiles and place your labors. Every decision is important for your plan, such as tile placement, labor placement and actions. In each decision, you are revealing your plan to other players. On the other hand, you can have some clue what other players think in long-term and also in short term.
In this game, short term means 1 action or 1 turn. On the other hand, long-term means the whole game equals 9 actions in set. Since the whole game is composed of only 9 actions, these two aspects are strongly connected to each other. You must be very careful to your comitment. The game is very very tense and each decision is always heavy for players who have a real plan. This is quite a strategic and tactical game of monagement.
And I think there’s no fat in this game-designing.
I have played many of Kossetsu-games. But, definitely thi is the best of Kossetsu-game so far. I believe this game will be very successful once published. And I hope this game could be published not only via self-publishe but also licensed to a professional maker in near future. I’m quite sure that this game can be successful worldwide. I’m very happy if I can help English-rule in case it comes true.