Unlocked – The Mansion of Mana

Wait… did the name of these diaries change? You bet they did. Like all ideas, they evolve. Unlocked began as a simple sequential set collection card game but an artist came along and changed everything. The inspiration I got from her artwork infused my game with purpose. But it brought about challenges as well. It was now time to fuse the two together. But how? Magic!

No… literally magic. The theme was once a mechanical mansion beset in a steampunk universe. But why was I so stuck in that thought? Steampunk is the generic answer to abstract games because it is both everything and nothing. Want pirates with technology? Steampunk. Want a mansion with locks and keys? Steampunk. But it didn’t have to be. What if each card still had a sequence of symbols to match? Through my various mythos that use incantations it was not much of a leap to say that runic incantations would summon an object to your being. So I would draw on the popular mythos of The Name of the Wind, The Magicians, Harry Potter, Locke and Key, Fairy Tail, and so many more.

But with the new theme, I could change more… like the goal. Previously, the purpose of the game was to acquire points. With magic there should be some objective. Immediately I laid out all the keys I had to think it through. And what I saw was beautiful. A varying array of dazzling keys. Why would you only want to see some of these at a time? These keys were made to be laid out. So I did just that. Organizing the keys into columns, I saw that the game could be a race; a race for keys. A race through the mansion.

And with a race through the mansion I could do some fun visualizations. Below you can see a few prototypes of that.

laser cut acrylic

laser cut acrylic2

Each player would get a trail of components that would following players through the mansion. The mechanics of which reminded me a little of String Rails, where how you lay out your path would affect gameplay. But upon further development the implementation was clunky and clever players that are obsessed on the layout would win over players who were more interested in enjoying the game. That was not the culture I wanted to cultivate in this game. So I end up striking the acrylic pieces early on in development.

But man was it cool looking…

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Board Game Designer. Board Game Reviewer. Award winning Brewer & Oenologist. Purveyor of Nerdery and Shenanigans.

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