Recently we played Noblemen at the local board game design meeting the guys of the group and I discussed the game a bit.
The next day I went to lunch with Mark a board game friend / colleague and we discussed different thoughts about the Noblemen. Some good ideas came out of this discussion.
Soon after this I boxed up my one prototype up and sent it to an acquaintance of mine from the Board Game Designers Forum. Seth. Before I sent Seth the game I sent him a PDF of the rules. He read them and I was amazed at how well he understood the game. He had a good understanding of the games strengths, weaknesses and most importantly he knew what I am trying to do with the game.
He has played the game and we have been able to talk about the game fairly intelligently. We have discussed many ways to improve some of the games short-comings.
All these talks have made me do LOTS of thinking about the game. So much so, it has even stopped me from falling asleep some nights and I even wake up thinking about the game. Most of the new ideas for the game have come from discussions with Seth. They are ideas that he and I have tossed around. To be honest most of the ideas I had thought of at one point or another he helped me see which of the ideas were better and why.
Noblemen at its core is about simultaneous races that the players have to choose which to concentrate on. It has three different commodities; lands, pounds, and prestige. Players divide their time between building their estate to collect these three and using them after they have been collected.
The last set of rules did all of this adequately. Sure there were a couple things that needed to be improved and or balanced. Once that was done the game would have been complete. Done. Finished. I could then put it on the shelve and move on.
Finished is no longer the goal anymore. I think that with all these new ideas I could change the game to be a really good game.
First idea I really loved was the new Bribe Royalty idea. Of course I have not played it yet. This idea though changes a fundamental part of the game. In the old rules, yesterday, you had one main action to make use each of the three different commodities. Each of those actions were of the type where all players participate. The new Bribe Royalty idea wasn’t like this so maybe none should be? If all actions were single player actions this would support and promote the simultaneous racing motif.
So to this end the Donate land and Masquerade Ball actions may also change.
Donate Land would now work like this: Players on their turn could take a Donate action and donate as much land as they want as long as there was still room in the donate land area of the board. Donated lands stay in the donate land area until there are 5 lands of each type. Players receive one victory point for each land donated. There would no longer be Donate land tokens.
This is a fairly subtle change.
Masquerade Ball would now work like this: At all times players prestige markers would be on the prestige track. They would start at zero. Each time a player played a pond they would move up one. Each time they created a garden they would move up three. When they build a Palace they would move up two on the track. Also during a turn when players moved on the track they could also use scandal cards to add to their prestige, redeem the queens crown, or redeem bribe chits.
A Masquerade Ball would begin when any player reached the end of the track. Balls also happen at the start of any scoring round.
During a Ball players with high prestige would advance in noble peerage.
Then players would score their rank.
After the Ball all markers would move back to match the level of their title. For example if after a ball you were now an Earl and scored 8 Victory Points you would move your prestige marker to 8 on the prestige track.