Holy Cow! Thought Process
To design our board game, Armando and I were pegged with the trading mechanic. I took the trading concept literally and tried to think about real life situations where goods are sold at a market, and farming was the first thing that came to mind. I never play games on my phone aside from once dabbling in a farming game that had not much basis other than continually watering your crops until they produced yield. Such a simple concept, but it was endlessly satisfying. And this enjoyment of farming games seems to be a relatively common phenomenon judging by the popularity of Farmville and similar games. Needless to say, these mobile farming games were the inspiration behind Holy Cow.
We first started out thinking about the board situation and if we would have one board, or if each player would have their own. We thought it would be best to separate the boards and have everyone start with an empty plot of land, separated into four sections so that everyone would be able to choose four different crops. Later we would alter this so that it would be less of a board that players would start with and instead players would choose their crops represented by different colored squares and go from there. We debated over how many crops there would be for players to choose from. With less choice, if we had just given the choice of four crops, every change in price of the crops would affect every player, but with more options, 23j
We came up with the idea of the marketplace early on as well, and the idea that there would be random events that would take place that would change the market price of the crops. We thought three increasing cards for each crop price and three decreasing cards would work well. However we decided to add more of the increasing and decreasing cards for each crop into the deck so that there would be more irregularity and one crop could have the possibility of going up a lot or dropping a lot. As far as the chores, we initially had it as a dice roll. But in the end we changed this to cards, so that everyone would be able to complete their crops. With the dice roll we found that a player would keep not rolling the number they needed and it would just be frustrating for them.
We added in the farm animals after a couple of plays because we thought the game needed a little something more. We also decided that players would be able to resell their animals at the end of the game.
In the end, I really liked the concept for the game, and thought that the basic mechanics led to an enjoyable play. However, I think there was also a lot of room for improvement. The crop growing mechanic could have been improved upon. Instead of having to choose all their crops at the start of the game, players could have instead been able to buy seeds for different crops and grow them as the game went on. This would have allowed players to gauge the market and pick crops according to that. This would make the game less based on luck. Another improvement could have been the addition of milk, eggs and goat cheese to the market place. The prices of these goods could have changed along with the other crops so that it would be more of a decision when choosing which animal to purchase.
I think that with a couple of tweaks this game could have been taken to the next level and become a lot more enjoyable. As it is I think it’s an entertaining game for a younger crowd, and a pleasant way to pass the time.