After having the game exist in the form of draft rules, sketches and smaller sets of cards for (what feels like) weeks on end, I finally have a fully playable prototype of Jobs & Growth! This version includes 36 cards (12 Assets, 12 Commodities, 6 Pollies and 6 Issues) as well as a basic Growth & Turn counter, paper chits representing currency and 18 3D-printed Meeples to represent Jobs.
As indicated in the above photos, even after four iterations of rules, the sheet I brough with me still didn’t make sense to a new player – I found myself having to step in and help. This is partially due to the rulesheet itself still reading very much like a draft – there is very little flavour, and explanations of components & goals are lumped in with mechanical explanations, making for a very convoluted read. It’s not that the rules themselves were hard to understand – they were just illogically laid out.
Playtesting itself was extraordinarily successful – the game’s central loop runs like clockwork, although some tinkering with doubling of actions will be necessary. Despite each player being given one action per turn, both myself and the players started playing Jobs on the same turn as building Assets. This impacts the difficulty substantially, and this rule will need to be reinforced.
A more pressing concern is the difficulty of the game itself. I’ve been undecided as to whether Growth should be a one-off boost or a per-turn, constant rate. We played twice, one with each of these rates in place, and the one-off boost option forced players to compromise much more. Additionally, the Issue cards supplied very little in the way of an actual challenge – by turn 9, the growth rate of the game was already above 10% per turn. More extreme penalties will be the solution – getting this right will prove challenging.
A final decision to reflect upon is the game’s narrative flavour – at this stage, the game’s satirical dimension exists purely in the form of card captions. However, with the help of some heavily distorted images, as well as an elaboration upon the setting at the beginning of the rules, I intend to put Australian politics in the crosshairs as the butt of the game’s joke.