Text by Simon Vincent

We launched Fly-A-Way on Kickstarter on 23 November 2020. It was the culmination of months of playtests, during which gamers often asked us about the process behind creating this game and the design choices we made. 

Here’s an overview of the various considerations we had when developing this board game on bird migration.

Map board

We knew we wanted to base the game and its events on the East Asian- Australasian Flyway. The challenge for us was fitting enough of this huge geographical space into our game map, while ensuring that the overlaying linkways were spread out enough for different routes to be created by players as they save birds.

Because the game occurs during the autumn migration season, when birds travel from North to South, we also had to consider the orientation of the map. We figured that it would be most intuitive for play if the map board were laid out vertically. 

It was a happy coincidence, after including the score track, that we discovered that the map looked liked an egg.

Links

The early prototypes of our links were wooden sticks, each cut individually, before being coloured in different batches to represent the different players.

Besides allowing us to test the different migratory routes players could create, our early links helped us to figure out just how long and thick they should be, without them interfering with the contours of the map. 

While we quite like the colours, shape and dimensions of our latest links, we might be tweaking them to a new custom design, depending on the support we get on Kickstarter.  Look out for this, when more updates are posted on our page. 

Bird cards

In Fly-A-Way, players save birds by completing migratory routes. They then get to keep the bird cards representing these birds.

Key to our considerations for gameplay was ensuring that link placement was guided not only by the points players get for saving birds but by rewards that boost strategic play.

Hence, all of our bird cards come with different powers that aid link placement and the saving of more birds. 

Fowl Play cards

While there were plenty of environmental and made-made dangers to consider when choosing the threats faced by migratory birds, we were conscious of how these threats would be experienced in the game as Fowl Play cards.

When we thought of poaching, for instance, we wanted this threat to be articulated in a palpable and immediate way. Hence, when the “Caged-bird Trade” card is drawn by a player, they will have to place it on top of one of the three birds that are up for saving. This unfortunate bird, hindered as it is on in its journey, will not be able to complete its migration until someone frees it using Wing It cards.

Wing It cards

As with most games, players are tasked with being strategic in how they achieve their objectives and deal with threats along the way. Our Wing It cards, thus, function in two ways.

First, there are cards that boost players’ efforts to place links and save birds. Second, there are special Wing It cards called Squawk cards that allow players to neutralise Fowl Play effects.

In terms of the conservation theme of our game, we were happy to also be able to show, through our Wing It cards, that it is not too late to take action to remedy the threats facing the natural world.

Bird-tastrophe cards

While the Fowl Play and Wing It cards worked well enough as balancing forces, we wanted to vary the pace and sense of danger in our game.

That’s when we started playing with the idea of separating the tiers of Fowl Play cards, according to the severity of their effects. Along the way, we thought of our Bird-tastrophe cards.

We decided that these would be especially dire events that affect all players (unlike Fowl Play cards) and would separate the Fowl Play tiers. 

What better way than this to convey the collective damage posed by a “Massive Forest Fire” and other envrionmental catastrophes.  

If you’d like to know more about the rules and gameplay of Fly-A-Way, watch our “How to Play” video and download our rule book here.  Do note, however, that changes may still be made to the game after our Kickstarter campaign.