I have been thinking about Supply Sergeant for several months now and have never been satisfied enough to actually create a prototype. That changed a couple of weeks ago when I was discussing the idea with another designer after a game design night at a local board game cafe (The Adventurers Guild in Kitchener). As I started to describe it, he made about trading surplus supplies. I felt so stupid. In my previous thinking about the game, I had been concentrating solely on the idea of trading luxury items to satisfy the demands of a unit’s soldiers. But what if players had to make sure that the basic needs of their camp were taken care of before they could satisfy demands for luxury? This gave me enough to want to finally create a prototype.
Having just decided to attend Protospiel Minnesota (January 29-31, 2016), I wanted to have the prototype ready to playtest there. So after some thought, I decided on a game with four necessities (Fuel, Equipment, Rations, and Clothing) and five luxuries (Scotch, Cigars, Comic Books, Candy, and Fresh Meat). The deck would also contain demand cards (for example, “Colonel Joyner wants Scotch”) and some SNAFU cards (random negative events like “Rats in Supply Tent”). The premise would be that the army was doing a bad job of getting the right supplies to the right camp, so each turn, each player would receive a number of cards representing the latest supply delivery. They would then have to trade with each other and the Black Market to obtain a complete set of the four necessities and try to satisfy any demand cards that were also in their hands. The trading mechanism was loosely based on the trading rules from Avalon Hill’s — you needed to trade at least three cards and must be truthful about the first two cards you mention — including the ability to trade SNAFU cards to other players.
I finished the prototype on the Thursday night before flying out to Minneapolis on Friday morning for Protospiel. To make a long story short, I did manage to get the game to the table during the weekend and while I think the basics of the game worked, there were clearly changes needed. So, in short, after I came home from Minnesota, I created a new version of the prototype. Changes in the new prototype include:
- No trading of SNAFU cards and an overall simplification of trading rules. Players liked the trading, but they didn’t like trading SNAFU cards and preferred being able to trade any number of cards.
- More luxuries — there are now seven luxuries (Scotch, Cigars, Wine, Paperbacks, Beer, Comic Books, and Candy). Players can now also satisfy a demand with a single card and the points for satisfying with multiple cards have been increased.
- Demand cards were made a separate deck and more demands were added. Players would now also have two demand cards at all times that they could try to satisfy. The demands cards would be kept face down in front of the player. This not only ensures that all players have regular demands to try and satisfy but it ensures that players would get only supply (luxury and necessity) cards from the supply deck.
- At the suggestion of one of my playtesters, players can now turn in multiple sets of necessities for more points. This gives players another way to score rather than just satisfying demand cards.
The game still needs work, but I’m pretty happy with it and so I’m going to make a print and play version available here for players to take a look at and give me feedback. In addition to the cards and score tracker included in the PDFs in the supply_sergeant.zip archive, you will also need wooden cubes (or something similar) in different colors (one for each player) as well as a similar marker for the turn track.
Note: The print and play version that was attached here is no longer available. It was a very old version. Future posts should clarify the current state of this game.