Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Recent Noblemen thoughts

We played Noblemen at the last BGDW meeting. Here are some thoughts about how it went.

For your viewing pleasure I have provided the latest rules PDF thus:
Noblemen v0.7.46

1 - The game starts the same each time:
The problem is , at the start of the game, you should never let anyone build a Forest (4 wood in a square) before doing an Acquire land action, unless of course it is you building the Forest. If you do they will get 6 random lands from the bag and you will only get 3. Because 3 is the minimum number of lands you will retrieve from the bag.

Plus it makes sense that if you are going to do it soon you might as well do it immediately so that after you get your lands you can more better plan what actions you will want to do.

It’s already true that most of the time if someone does an Acquire Lands action that all other players are prompted to do the same. If they don’t, they will likely miss out and get no land and someone else will get 2X the land. There are rare exceptions.

So if the players are savvy the game starts the same each time with everyone doing an Acquire Lands action. All players will get two face-up lands and 3 random lands. This favors the first player and hurts the last player.

I don’t like it.

Solution #1 – This is the easiest one. Change set-up so that there are no lands in the Acquire Lands area for the first round and give all player 5 more lands to start.

Solution #2 – Give players Acquire Land Tokens and remove the Acquire Lands action area from the main board. Then Like Men-At-Arms and Taxes players would do Acquire Lands whenever they wanted. Then players that wanted to wait till after they built a Forest could do so.

If I give two tokens per player per round then I would give less starting land. Just a smidgeon less because I think people need more land.

I like this solution.

Solution #3 – Come up with a new Acquire lands “game” where on triggered events lands show up in the Acquire Land area of the main board from the bag say 1 per player. These would then allow players to take 1 to 3 Acquire land actions per round. For example it could be triggered whenever the Queens crown changes hand. Lands would show up and people could then get some.

I do not much like this solution and I really do not like the example of triggering with the Queens Crown.

2 - Palaces should cost more:
The player that won did lots of Taxes actions which is a viable strategy. He did the most someone could do plus one. And therefore he had plenty of money to build two Follies and build 3 Palaces.

I was already on the fence thinking that Palaces should cost 8 pounds instead of 7. So I will increase the cost Palaces. Should I also increase the price of Follies from 10 to 12 pounds? Not yet.

3 - Should there be a scoring track:
Part of the fun of the game was sort of sucked away because we could always see that one player was going to win. If I went back to Victory Point chits instead of a scoring track, then if you didn’t want to keep track of your opponents you could be blissfully unaware of how badly you are losing. I am still thinking about this.

BUT! This did get me wondering what would happen to the Bribe Royalty marker. The easy solution is to just build a small scoring track of twelve spaces just for this action. Boring. Wouldn’t it be more fun if Bribe Royalty was a little game? For example; lose the Bribe Marker and in its place would be 12 (or some amount) of Bribe Royalty chits. On your turn, as your action, if there were any chits available, you could buy them for 3 pounds each. You would gain 1 Victory point for each one and they would go behind your screen. THEN During Acquire Lands, Taxes, or Masquerade Ball, you could return the chits to the board for bonus lands, pounds, or Prestige! I love this idea but it has two problems.

Problem 1 – This puts a lot more emphasis on collecting pounds. This may have already had too much emphasis. Maybe I don’t care. Maybe I just compensate in other places.

Problem 2 – This is a lot like royal favors from Caylus. Not sure how much I should care about this.

Maybe we could even lose the Bribes tokens.

Other thoughts not addressed:
· Are Follies needed? I like them so yes. But if someone is asking it then maybe they can be improved.
· People need more land. I pretty much only played the land I was given. I would not mind it if somehow we started with even more maybe?
· Should there be more or different end round conditions? I am nervous that inexperienced players will not end the round and instead run themselves out of actions and then be bored.

I guess I am not finished with Noblemen after all. But I am close damn it!