Five Families – genesis
I am a huge fan of Legacy: testament of duke de Crecy. I believed in the game from the very first play. I remember this game exactly, we were in the office, me, Greg and Lucas, I remember my excitement and surprise that this prototype is actually so fun. I remember long months of very hard work on developing the game, all those tiny details we changed to improve the game play. I remember Essen fair, release of the game and wonderful feedback we received.
Believe it or not, trust me on this or think that this is some kind of marketing bullshit, but the truth is – my kids love the game. We play it once a while on weekends and each time we have a blast.
I am so proud to be publisher of this extremely thematic and fun euro game. And I was so sad we have no expansion for the game, no boost for players to play it again, no new cards and additional replaybility.
At some point this year, after meeting with Portal Games fans at Portalkon I decided that this is it. The game deserves amazing expansion.
If I could point out any problems with the base game, that would be lack of interaction. So many people asked to have a chance to connect their families with different players, make alliances and connections.
It took me some time to figure it out how we can make it happen.
Then it all just clicked. With some small bumps here and there, the expansion was ready in a few days. Then we only needed to play test it, balance it, polish it.
I designed deck of spouse cards that would represent cousins of a player. And then I let players trade them. It worked from the very first play test. Player have cousins in their hand and try to convince other players to marry those people.
'Here is my aunt. She is pretty, she is a promising diplomat and as far as I know, she might get you a mission from the king…’
'Here is my nephew. He is stubborn bastard, but trust me, this is best scientist in the Paris. And his father is rich. I mean, really rich. Your family gain lots of money if you marry your daughter with him.’
'Here is Ann, my wife sister. Amazing women. She lives in Spain and she has a very wide connections there. I strongly recommend you set a date with her and your son…’
Matchmaking phase was a blast. From the very first game. It was funny, it was engaging, it was like a core of Legacy, both thematic and strategic. If other player takes your cousin card, he is welcome you for a help. You gain favor tokens. Collect them.
One day, one round you will use them…
So we have a new board with special actions. Spending favor tokens you can use space blocked by other player. He owns you a favor, he won’t block the action. Spending favor tokens, you can ask other player for money. He owns you a favor. Spending favor tokens you can get additional action pawn. Somebody helps you. He owned you a favor…
We put different value on cousin cards. Some are very powerful and will bring you many favor tokens. Some are weak, but you’ll get only one favor token.
The euro game begins. Build on thematic construction, build on thematic fundaments, we designed euro mechanism. Trade powerful cards that will help other players, but will provide you with many favor tokens? Trade crap so your opponents don’t get advantage, but forget about special actions activated for favor tokens?
Think. Make decisions. Play to win.
And when it all worked and made a perfect sense, we made this families like factions. Just like most of Portal Games games. You have a house of diplomats with really nasty, mean cards. Think of dark elves. Think of Egyptians. You have a house of merchants, with no prestige at all, but rich like a king. We have house of architects who change ordinary mansions into amazing buildings with special skills.
Now you play a house of… Now you play an unique family. Now you adopt your strategy to the deck of cards you start with. You play differently if you play with diplomats, you play differently if you play with scientists…
Theme meets euro mechanism. Again…
There is more in the expansion and I will talk about this in the next article. Let me just tell you today the same thing I tell you about every game we put. I am proud of this design. I believe in this design. I sacrificed many weekends, nights, afternoons working on this stuff. And I can not wait for you to play it. Because I know we did a hell of a job with my team. Again.