Design Diary: AlphaDraft

I'm a big fan of word games and have been itching to design my own for quite some time -- they are interesting to me because they require a very distinct skill, quite different from most tabletop games. This makes them perfect for people who don't normally play board and card games. Some recent plays of Alphabear on iOS, flexing my word game muscles, gave me the final push that I needed to put something together.

AlphaDraft is a word game which uses card drafting as a central mechanic, so players must first build their hand and then use their hand, combined with a central shared pool, to play the most impressive word possible.

One aspect I have tried to incorporate into this game is that their should be many meaningful decisions. Firstly, card drafting is a very powerful mechanic, which allows you to both improve your own lot as well as affect other players around you - do you take the high scoring but difficult letters to deny your opponent, or try to starve them of vowels? It is also occasionally deliciously frustrating!

Next, after each round, the players with the highest scoring words, take a number of cards from the game into their score area. The cards they take will not be available in future rounds, so again, a meaningful decision is presented.

Lastly, and possibly most importantly, the final round is played with the cards which players have scored throughout the game. So players who have won earlier rounds have had the opportunity to lace their final hand with cards that can work well together. But the overall winner is determined only by this final round, so players who have collected cards without much thought will be harshly punished.

I'm quite proud of this design, which has worked well from it's earliest prototype. If you would like to try and print-n-play, just check this link. If you get to play it, please send me your feedback!