I am (co)designing a pickup-and-deliver strategy game.

Extensive playtesting has revealed what I believe to be a slightly broken aspect of the endgame (basically, there comes a point when everyone can visualize the rest of the game, and there's nothing to be done to change the outcome/winner). The first 45 minutes of the game play smoothly and are quite enjoyable; it's only the last couple minutes that get stale when the end is in sight.

Knowing that "KC" will likely be submitted to an established publisher - and expecting their developers to take over - we have only taken the theme, artwork, and rulebook so far.

Will a publisher accept games that have slightly broken aspects to them, or is the designer responsible for having a mechanically polished game at the start of the submission process?


Consider Settlers, but without development cards (and also without longest road, as those points are temporary). This hypothetical game would be "broken" in the same way that mine is - not to mention missing out on what is a great aspect of the game.

There would be no hidden information. A king would rise, and at some point everyone would be able to see the same writing on the wall: if something extremely unlucky doesn't happen, the final victory position of each player will remain unchanged.

So in terms of this hypothetical Setllers game, my original question might be reworded:

Have any games been submitted to publishers with noticeable problems that were subsequently fixed by the developer's addition of a new mechanic? (If so, what are they, and who are the publishers?!)

Edit 2: I believe the solution to lie in an alternative scoring mechanism that introduces hidden information and (more) variance/randomness. Rather than advancing a certain number on the VP track for completing certain tasks, basically players will take a tile corresponding to the task they completed. The tiles will have various VP's on them with a certain distribution (think Jaipur bonus tiles).

A simple example: Ticket to Ride. In TtR, you immediately score 15/10/7 etc. for claiming routes of length 6/5/4. If, instead of scoring this immediately, players took tiles from the 6/5/4 "stack" upon completion of corresponding routes, this would be like my game. The tiles for a "6" route would probably range from 14-17 VP each, "5"s would range from 9-11, etc.

The larger issue remains (for future games of mine and of others): how much should the designer do before submitting to a publisher?

  • Soooo, why not fix it? Is the basic issue that you don't have a fix in mind and hope the developer will?
    – mattdm
    Commented Jan 7, 2013 at 21:18
  • @mattdm, Trust me: the co-designer and I are dedicating our creative energies to fixing this! With all the unknowns (for me, at least) surrounding how much a publisher can/will change, I thought it pertinent to ask if this is even something worth doing. Commented Jan 7, 2013 at 21:25

1 Answer 1


You should fix it before submitting the game.

The developer will have plenty of work to do anyway, from working on issues you're not even aware of, to tweaking factors to bring the game closer into line with the publisher's target audience. The better your game is before you submit it, the more likely that first play will be fun enough to make the publisher take interest.

  • Thanks for your input. At what point does a (perceived) issue switch from being something minor that the developer will handle, to being something major that I need to fix beforehand? The game is fun (I have to say that, but publishers that saw it at last year's BGG-CON could see the enjoyment even before the setup/explanation was finished)... it's just that there is a chance for players to "lose the wind in their sails" in the last 1-5 minutes. Commented Jan 7, 2013 at 18:00
  • 1
    I would say it's the point at which you are no longer convinced that the proposed change is an improvement at all. To use your Catan example in the OP: The game would be incomplete and need improvement without the devo cards. But perhaps a developer tweaked the distribution. Maybe there were originally fewer Soldier cards, but the developers felt that the power cards drew too much of the game's focus, so more were added to water down the big specials and VPs. Maybe some playtesters liked the powerful devo cards, but the developers felt the game would appeal to more players without them.
    – sitnaltax
    Commented Jan 8, 2013 at 5:16
  • 1
    Here's an example, based on my own published game ( boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/107834/montana ). As sent to the publisher, the game included Straights and Flushes of length 3 and 4, but no short Straight Flushes. The game was balanced fine, since those hands are rare, but in playtesting, the players kept asking "where are the short straight flushes?" So the developer added them and that seems to satisfy people's sense of symmetry.
    – sitnaltax
    Commented Jan 8, 2013 at 5:19
  • Inspired by Condottiere, eh? I'll have to check this out :) Commented Jan 8, 2013 at 6:02

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