Calvin’s Commentaries: 11:59
Such is the case with 11:59, a nifty little head-to-head game that reflects on themes such as the Doomsday Clock, and nuclear war.
“Nuclear War is imminent. Your president, still clinging to a dwindling hope of diplomacy and deep underground with you and a lucky few shakes with anticipation. They all look to you. Kill or be killed. Survive. Roll the dice and hope you have what it takes to defend a nation, your country, your home,” detailed the designer on boardgamegeek.com
11:59 is a two-player micro dice game that requires lightning-quick decisions, dexterity, and stamina.
“As a decorated General on the verge of war, your mission is to either succeed through diplomacy or destroy your enemy’s bunker and VIPs before your enemy beats you to it. Each General controls two dice and a missile silo full of nuclear warheads while hidden in a bunker. Launch nukes, employ propaganda and fortify your bunker to become victorious. Do you have what it takes to win?” details the background.
To be victorious, knock off your opponent’s VIPs or collect five diplomacy gems.
You start the game with two VIP meeples, two chevron bunkers (stacked) and one nuke in the unloaded position (laying on the side).
The diplomacy gems and extra chevron bunkers are set in the center of the table within reach.
The fun is you will roll two dice simultaneously and continuously (in real-time) with your enemy until you complete your mission.
If you roll seven you may either earn one diplomacy gem or rebuild your bunker (add one chevron to your bunker stack) at the cost of one diplomacy gem (send one gem back to the table).
If you roll Doubles you may load your nuke (place your nuke in the upright position), launch your nuke (lay your nuke on its side) to remove 1 enemy chevron bunker (send the chevron bunker to the table) or VIP (remove the VIP from play) if no chevron bunkers remain, or employ propaganda (send 1 of your enemy’s diplomacy gems to the table).
Continue rolling until one of you has achieved a win condition.
It’s quick. It’s compact. It’s easy. It’s fun.
But, what was the germ of an idea which led to the game’s creation?
“The inspiration of our mint tin series started a few years back while out to dinner with a few fellow game designers,” offered designer Christopher Rossetti. “One of those designers, David Miller from Subquark games (well known for his mint tin games), brought a mint tin mini-apocalypse (a real-time dice game) to dinner. I was impressed by the amount of game that fit into such a small package and thought that a mint tin game was a very unique design constraint.
“It took about a year, but I managed to develop my own real-time mint tin game, Brace for Impact! I launched it on Kickstarter and it was a hit! However, I still thought I could improve the mechanic.
“After another year or so of development 11:59 was born, a quicker, more strategic real-time mint tin game that improved almost every aspect of Brace for Impact.”
Of course, the key is to keep such a game ultra-compact.
“With our mint tin games we try to fit an intense gaming experience into the smallest package possible,” said Rossetti. “We wanted a very quick playing, immersive, tense game that fits in your pocket! The theme conveys urgency, and the mechanic delivers. It almost feels like you are at war!
“We also wanted 11:59 to be affordable, and for less than $10, we think we’ve achieved the mark.”
The game engine took about a year to get right with Brace for Impact!
“Improving that engine, developing a new theme, and choosing the correct components for 11:59 took about another year,” said Rossetti. “A great aspect about a three-minute game is that playtesting is quick. Playing 100 games to perfect a mechanic doesn’t actually take that long.”
So what was the most difficult aspect of designing the game?
“The greatest challenge was actually the aesthetics of the game,” said Rossetti. “Choosing the correct components is just as important as the game engine.
“How the dice feel, how the pieces stack and slide, and how the rules are condensed onto a single business card is critical to success.
“The sticker art also needs to be catchy but not overwhelming, as well as capture the theme.
“The hardest of these challenges was fitting the rules on a business card.”
So in Rossetti’s mind as a designer what is the best element of the game?
“The real-time mechanic,” he said. “Eliminating turns greatly heighten urgency, intensity, and focus. It also greatly shortens gameplay time, which actually creates an addicting quality. You’ll want to play again and again.
“Whenever I play 11:59, it’s never over after one game.”
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