Jessica and I were tasked with creating a board game that included the mechanic of worker placement. According to game designer Friedemann Friese, worker placement is a “mechanism requires players to draft individual actions from a set that is available to all players. In a given round, drafting is done one-at-a-time and in turn order until all players have had a chance to draft individual actions.” Although we were a bit confused by this mechanism at first, we began to conduct research and start brainstorming. I found it easier to start brainstorming by thinking of possible themes/ stories to base the game off of. I immediately came up with the idea of a zoo because it has so many parts that contribute to its success. We then listed the different the different roles or people that work at zoo. Among many, there are zoo managers, animal traders, veterinarians and public relations managers. From there we developed the story that evolved into the game: how does the combination of zoo workers and animals contribute to the success of the zoo (how many people visit it). Then, Crowd the Zoo, a game to get people to your zoo, came to be. Crowd the Zoo went through many stages of iterations.


We conducted the first playtest with the expectations of figuring out if the basis of the game and the rules were understandable and playable. Although we were at the very first stages of creating the game, this playtest was crucial because we realized that as it was, Crowd the Zoo was very unbalanced. The action that could be taken by the 4 different role cards was the main thing contributing to this. Originally the role cards were:

· Trader can choose one extra animal to add to their zoo

· Vet can save one animal

· PR Manager gives the player +1 people for the round

· Zoo manager gives the player +$300 for the round

This setup gave the Trader way too much power because it gave the player with the role the opportunity to get any animal from any tier, making the third tier animals too easy to gain. We also realized that the vet role had no real purpose because the animals only died if it came up in a chance card. The players also gave us feedback about the resource cards. We originally had it that the in order to buy animals, the players had to buy resources. The players advised use that this component was overcomplicating the game and unnecessary. In addition, the players were running out of money very quickly. So for the next playtest we decided to re-do the role cards, remove the resource cards and added the rule that each player gets $200 at the begging of each round.


This round was dedicated to finding ways to make the rules simpler. During the first playtest, the rules were divided into 4 parts: role phase, action phase, buy phase and chance phase. After observing the playtest, we realized that the action and buy phase could be combined into a single action stage. Thus, in the action phase, players would first perform the action based on the role chosen and then continue to buy animals. Also, during this play test, the reasoning behind the different animal tiers was questioned. As of this point, the only reason for the different tiers was the price and the amount of people it brought to the zoo. But it was recommended to add a factor that would increase choice and strategy. In response, we decided to add sets to the animals such as: jungle, forest, aquatic and Asia. If players get 4 animals of the same set, they get 4 extra people.


With all the previous iterations, the third time around ran a bit more smoothly. The changes gave players some more choice and strategy of the game. But we did notice that the players were able to win the game too quickly. In response, we increased the number of tour groups needed to win from 10 to 20. We also changed some of the positive chance cards to be less powerful. Some of them gave too much money or too many people to the player. I think conducting at least one more playtest would have beneficial to test if the changes mentioned above worked to increase play time.

Overall, the main challenge of designing the game was finding a way to make it simple but still include enough strategy and choice. I think that if we were to continue designing game, the focus would be on increasing the strategy and decision-making even more. Also, the game would be branded and more visual appealing and the design would look something like this:


Nevertheless, conducting the playtests and making the changes to the game allowed us to create a fun and exciting board game.

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