So we set out with the intention of getting the community to design a boardgame via popular vote on the ATGN Facebook page. First we’re going to start off with a summary of how the voting went down.
Week one, we decided on the Theme, and BEES! won by a landslide (Though some accused me of rigging it with the punctuation) And knowing I had to make a game about Bees stand out amongst the great many that were released recently, I decided to show off some of my research into the other games here.
Once we had our theme, we needed to think of a few mechanics that could match BEES! but could also be able to be created in a way that was within the project scope, and we came up with this list.
Fortunately the mechanic Survival was chosen over the others, which matches nicely with Bees being that the latest discussion is about how their numbers are dwindling. So that has some nice synergy and gives us a direction to work in, but what is the mechanic survival? That’s pretty vague, right?
Well we needed to know what our parameters were for determining survival, is it the last Bee standing? Do all the Bees stand together or fall together? that’s what lead us into our next vote:
Last Bee Standing would’ve been the easiest choice, as you design the game around some player versus player interaction, but it doesn’t fit nicely with the theme and the togetherness of the hive dynamic in the same way that co-operative does. However Betrayer would’ve been neat, would’ve been so easy to sneak wasps into the hive and make every one try and deduce who’s the wasp, but I’ve just finished making a bunch of Social Deduction games; why not do something different?
Co-operative defines our survival mechanic as the we all win or we all lose, which means our Victory condition is already set. It fits nicely with our Theme, and we’re all set to get designing!
Building the cards
So I actually designed this game is reverse, I started out with shopping for all of the art assets I wanted, and then built a few early versions of the cards to give myself inspiration for how the game was going to go.
This is from a Humble Bundle design pack for online TCG’s. I colourshifted it, and reshaped some of the layout to match how I wanted it to come across. I also had some honeycombs set up along the bottom, but it ended up looking too busy, so I dropped it.
Then next we needed to find some interesting looking backgrounds, and I remembered I had scrapped a project with some gorgeous historical art drawings of flowers, that I could use.
The story for the game
So the game is about that specific moment where a few Bees have returned to the hive, and their doing their funky dance which tells the other Bees the locations of the flowers nearby. You the players are all Bees that have just returned from a flight, and are trying to communicate to the others where the good nectar source is; where the dangers are and everywhere else which is just a waste of time.
Here’s the trick though, the game works similar to Too Many Cooks and that one weird caveman game where you can only say unga bunga and club each other, in that you can only communicate as a Bee would. You can make all the buzzing noises you like, angrily, happily or what-not, or dance about if you’re so inclined. Each player has their own secret role, and flower that they’re are trying to each convince the other players of; or steer them away from.
So we’ve talked about the co-operative element, but lets cover that survival element. The game uses a deck of flower cards, as above, and as you’re trying to play through the game, the different flower cards are drawn and played by the players into a central tableau with the aim of getting the ‘Bee saviour’ (one of the roles) secret flower to be the one represented in the tableau with all three copies. As each player is slowly doing this there’s two main factors that can immediately cause the extinction of the Bees.
The essential flower for victory is covered over by another flower due to a miscommunication amongst the bees. This means that flower is considered lost, and the Bees cannot find it.
The deck of flowers runs out, meaning you all wasted too much time and weren’t able to go and harvest the nectar needed to survive winter. This is made even harder by the two non-victory secret roles, which remove cards from the deck.
So the stakes are very high, and the players must do their absolute buzziest for the hive so that they are able to get to the flowers without any of the chaotic distractions and dangers of the outside.
I’m hope you’re curious by the game, and that you enjoyed participating in it! Comment below if you’d like to see another design event like this one!
You can download Plan Bee early by supporting ATGN on Patreon, or keep an eye out for it to become a free download in the coming weeks!
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