Last time, I spoke about how things were developing prior to Small Railroad Empires, and how the idea for the game was born. Now I will talk a bit about how the game itself developed.

When I first designed the game, the core mechanics were the pickup and deliver and route building. Players would gain money only (not prestige) depending on what resources they were delivering and how long their route was, much similar to what is now.

(One of our first playtest games)

We playtested with this base set of rules, and everything was going well. The mechanics worked, we were having fun trying to figure out the best routes in the game. But after a while something felt like it was missing. The games were becoming repetitive and the main drive for the players of the game was the same no matter what you did – you always had to go for the best route possible.

That concept is still here of course. You must find the best and most efficient route in order to get more profits and prestige. But as I said, something was definitely missing, so I was thinking about how we can correct this problem. Thus the Achievements were born.

(Playtesting the Achievements – cards in the back)

When we introduced the Achievement Cards, the game got to a whole new level. Now, you had a bunch of other stuff to think about while planning your most profitable routes. “Do I go there to get the most profit, but leave the Tunnel Master achievement for Boris to get? Or do I let Vladimir take that other Achievement because I know I can’t finish it this turn, and focus on another Achievement plus connecting a good route”. The Achievements introduced a great public objective system that interlocked so good with all the other components of the game. Now people were racing to complete them first before the others, and it made the game even more interesting and fun!

Soon after that, we introduced other rules that are now “core” of the game. The rule that “no more than 2 players could be in a space/city” for example opened up the game to even more strategic planning and a degree of area control. For 3-4 players this definitely is an important part to the game.

(Another playtesting session)

Next change that we made involves the goods. At first, players would deliver the good to the city and that good stayed there. We didn’t like this mainly because of two reasons:

Reason 1: Sometimes a player could easily “hate” on an opponent by simply delivering the same type of good to a city that the opponent was trying to do for several rounds. Now this may sound like “ok that player played smart against his opponent” but at the end of the day, it left bitter taste in some players mouths and they kinda felt betrayed mostly the game rule, not by the player making that kind of move. Now the rule is that even if a player delivers a type of good, another player can deliver the same good in that city, granted if they are the 2nd player to deliver a good there.

Reason 2: Placing the goods on the city simply cluttered the map, and players were not able to recognize easily which good is on factory and which on city. So we finally, decided that the delivered goods don’t stay on the board!

(Final prototype of the game)

And finally, somewhere along the way, we added the stars on the board to give a bit more sense to where players are constructing their tracks! And they can be very important for a win! So instead of making as straight and as cheapest route to the desired city as possible, the players can now make a little detour with their route to gain some very needed prestige.

Hope you liked my second Dev Diary entry everyone! Thanks for reading this and for being a part of our awesome community! 

If you still haven’t checked out the Kickstarter Campaign you can do so HERE.

Until the next station!
– Milan