Designer’s Notes #3 – Victory Points

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Designer’s Notes #3 – Victory Points

Today I will tell you why we changed the way Victory Points (VP) are counted and displayed in the mobile version of Brass.

VP counting
In the original board game the rules specify that the VPs should be counted at the end of an era. This is a convenient and elegant solution for a traditional board game. It minimizes the amount of tedious bookkeeping during the game. In the mobile version of Brass, we do not have to worry about bookkeeping since it is handled by software. This opens new possibilities that we wanted to exploit.

The most important thing we wanted to change is to count VPs immediately when a building is flipped. This is very important from a game design perspective, as this reinforces and closes the main game loop in Brass. You should see the VPs immediately after flipping the building as this is the reward for your correct actions. Without scoring VPs immediately, the industry flip procedure feels confusing, especially for beginners who never played the paper version of Brass. This change will make the game feel more comfortable and natural to play in the electronic setting.

VPs for connections
Another thing you can notice in the paper version of Brass is that the gold circles (VP markers) are always visible on the board. They are present on the border regions, they are in small cities (Blackpool, Southport, Northwich), and they are on every industry tile that is flipped. This is necessary so that players can count the values and check which location will give them more VPs when they build a connection there.

In the mobile version of Brass, we can improve this significantly by exploiting the digital game environment.
The first advantage is that we can change what is displayed on the board contextually. The gold circles are only meaningful during a connection action. That is why we only display them when they are needed. This allows us to have a clean, unobstructed, nice-looking board for most of the time, while displaying the additional information only when it is needed.
The second thing we could do is to sum up all the gold circles for each connection. Players no longer have to add them manually, as we present the amount of VP for each connection. This allows players to quickly see the best place to build a connection.

The changes we made in the way VPs are counted help both novice and expert Brass players. They give a better understanding of the game and relieve players from tedious bookkeeping tasks, so they can concentrate on game strategy. Here is the final build connection procedure:

1. The river that we want to convert to a canal:

2. We started a “build connection” action. Now all available building slots will be displayed:

3. After a moment, the icon changes to a VP indicator. We can get 2 VP now, with a possible maximum of 4VP if the two remaining Cotton Mills will flip.

4. We confirm the action and the canal is built, with an icon showing the owner.


Brass development team.