Why did the game designers do what they did? Why did they make the game choices as they are? What were some of the steps they went through in the design process? Many of us wonder these sorts of things about the games we play. Well, if you're wondering about Dead Reckoning that way, you can find some of the answers as the game's designer, John Clair, has posted up part 1 of a Design Diary about his work on the game.
From the post:
From the very beginning of the design through its final rule set, it’s been hard to say “Dead Reckoning is like X, Y or Z game”. It’s thematically like Merchants and Marauders in that you have a boat and you can do merchant-ish things and marauder-ish things; kinda sandboxy in that respect. It’s like Dominion (i.e. a deckbuilder) I guess, in that you have a deck and you make it better; though with card-crafting and card-leveling, the deckbuilding in Dead Reckoning is several degrees removed Dominion style deckbuilding. It’s like Scythe (i.e. area control/exploitation games) in that you compete for control of territory and resources are produced at those territories; but the similarity is really only at the conceptual level.
Not to sully the point, but Scythe is actually the one game that really did inspire a system in Dead Reckoning, if only toward the end of the design process. For much of the design, even for a time after Ian O’Toole had started working on the art, the game-end-trigger was simply based on the coin resource being depleted. In the end that was changed to an achievement-based system reminiscent of Scythe. Also, later, working on the campaign rules, I leaned into some things I thought the Rise of Fenris campaign did well.