Vanilla is a game I worked on last year. It was inspired by my wife telling me about Vanilla production. It was a design that I created and iterated quickly, going through several versions in a few weeks before Metatopia last year. It changed a few times during Metatopia and I was still working on it for a few months. Then I moved away from it to focus on other projects.
My friend Derek, who is also working on Comic Auction with me, recently asked me about it. It was another design of mine he was interested in from his plays and he wanted to help me with it. This was the inspiration I needed to get it back out.
But I didn’t have the time to really work on it. Most of my focus has been on drastic changes to Plutocracy, but Vanilla has been in the back of my mind begging for attention.
I did manage one conceptual update for it. Where I potentially solved some issues the game had, but I haven’t had a chance to build or test it. Derek is working on graphic design for it and helping with design now. Having another person around to occasionally mention it helps keep it in mind.
For those that don’t know, Vanilla is a game about producing Vanilla which is a very delicate process. There are several steps and each has the potential to make the vanilla worse. Vanilla is represented by 6-sided dice. With the pips representing the quality of the vanilla. You have to manage your workers and equipment to produce vanilla, but the more you try to produce the lower quality your vanilla will be. So it’s a balance of producing the best or the most vanilla for the changing market.
Previous versions never rolled the dice, they were just used to track quality. In the newest revision I added a dice roll at the start of the process to give players a more varied puzzle each round. There are a few ways to mitigate the randomness by buying more land so you roll more dice, hiring expert workers to improve the quality, or buying equipment to make production easier.
I still need to figure out a market system that I like for the game. The major problems with earlier versions were that all information was calculable, so players would take a long time planning. And many times there was an obvious best choice, so the game played itself.
I really need to get some time to focus on this game. Even with its many flaws it has always gotten people’s attention and I think it has great potential to be a unique dice based economic euro.