The Great Heartland Hauling Co – Pick up and deliver

The Great Heartland Hauling Co. is a new card game presently up on Kickstarter from Jason Kotarski (the game designer) and Dice Hate Me Games (CarnivalVivaJava) which takes the pick-up-and deliver mechanics from train games and applies them to trucking. However, instead of simply building routes between locations, The Great Heartland Hauling Co. has you build a modular map from cards (which each card providing and buying certain goods at different prices) and then driving your truck around the map as efficiently as possible. Here’s the catch: You have to move every turn (or, if you can’t, return to the Depot) in The Great Heartland Hauling Co., which brings a different spatial dynamic that most pick-up-and-deliver games don’t have (at least none that I am familiar with). It’s also got a really nice design, with cards that are easy to identify quickly, on top of the nice twist on a known mechanic. You can check out the Kickstarter, as well as Dice Hate Me Games’ official page for more information. Jason Kotarski was gracious enough to answer a few questions regarding The Great Heartland Hauling Co., how it was designed, design challenges, and what sets the game apart.

How did the idea for The Great Heartland Hauling Co. come about?

I had wanted to create a game for a while but I couldn’t come up with any original ideas. But one day, while working at my church, I was talking with a truck driver who told me about trying to find work and how sometimes you have to lose money hauling a load so you can set your self up in a better position to make money for the trip back. He lost money coming to us but would make money on his way back South after he picked up a load from another town in the area. His comments were the spark of inspiration I needed. I knew there was a game somewhere in his story. I went home and started manipulating some games bits and decks of cards until I had a working prototype. I tested with friends and family, took it to a game design contest where I got some great feedback, and started looking for publishers. Eventually, I landed with Dice Hate Me Games and the game is on [Kickstarter now].

What do you think sets The Great Heartland Hauling Co. apart from other games currently on the market?

I think the theme is familiar in the real world yet unique in the game space. When I started researching for the game, I only found a couple of games with trucking themes so I saw it as something that hadn’t been overdone. I also think it’s a lot of game in a little box. It’s easy to learn, portable, has a lot of replay-ability with the modular board made of cards, and plays in a reasonable 30-60 minutes. I think it works for a wide audience of people, too. My non-gaming family and friends seem to like it and my hardcore gamer friends have had fun with it, too. It also really works great as a two-player game which is important to me because it can be tough to find great games for couples to play and my main gaming partner is my wife.

What is the key to winning in the game?

I don’t think there is one key to winning. I like to say it’s an experience of balancing risk versus reward and making the most of what you’ve been dealt. A little bit of luck, tactical decision making, and some strategic planning are involved.

Were there any rules that you had difficulty in getting to work the way you hoped, or rules that did not function like you expected?

The biggest challenge for me was balancing the game by creating the card distribution and setting the prices and locations for the goods that are being transported around the Heartland. This is a hugely important part of any game design. It’s not always the most fun part but it’s something that has to be done. I just stuck it out and kept playing with the numbers until it felt right and then sought the feedback of others who are smarter than me. Sometimes you run into walls but if you don’t make mistakes along the way you miss the opportunity to learn something. I figure if you keep running into the same wall it’s time to sit down and reevaluate. You either have to keep at it or find another way around. If you stick it out you’ll get where you are going in the long run.

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About Michael

Michael is an enthusiast about a lot of things, including indie games, roleplaying games, board games, and comic books that wanted to help create a place where he could bring things to the attention of those with similar interests. Futile Position is a true labor of labor, which he hopes continues to grow through the support of the great readers who have come upon this page.

03. August 2012 by Michael
Categories: Board Games | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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