Saturday, August 23, 2008

The game is back and theres gonna be trouble

Woo I have the game back in great shape from Seth! I played a four player game trying some of the newly face-lifted rules. Some worked and some the jury is still out.

The biggest problem was the game clock. At first I tried my idea that clock would not start running until someone earned the crown. When a player first earns the crown the clock marker was placed on 1. Then when a player starts his turn with the crown the clock moves one. This enables the players to prolong the game because you could steal the crown in the middle of your turn and all players would have one more turn before the clock moved again. Which I thought was a good thing. It had another effect too but I will talk about that in a minute.

Quickly it was clear this was going to make the first round too long. Players don’t play ponds in the beginning but farms and wood. So people didn’t create gardens as right away and no crown.

So then I moved the clock to where it would have been and adjusted the scoring for the player that would have had it from the beginning. The decade still moved too slowly.

The other idea I started with was that after the first Ball the marker only move when the player with the crown started his turn. The decade track would look like this:

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / BALL / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10 / BALL + SCORING ROUND

The idea was that a decade would last a little longer. Silly me. I only played one decade but it felt like I had played a whole game. Players were running out of things to do, three of the follies were bought, players played about 21 lands each, most had 2 castles surrounded, all the churches were gone. It wasn’t a race. There was no urgency.

The other effect I didn’t like was you did not have enough control over when the Ball would start. If the player to your left had the crown when a ball started you may get screwed on the Prestige placement which doesn’t make sense to me. If I am working toward being Duke I want more control to race the other players to be the one to start a Ball.

Next game I will try someone gets the crown from the beginning. Then I will try players receive a VP and the clock moves at the end of their turn. Also I will use a decade track that doesn’t have a BALL. I will go back to the old way where players will have two opportunities to Throw a Ball per decade but will have to use a turn to do so.

If I need a little more time per decade I can allow the players to place the marker on the one on the first crown instead of starting there. Also I can make the 10 be the end where a scoring round would start immediately or I could make it happen the next time the players turn ends with a crown potentially giving players more time.

I feel Seth was right about more subtleties than I have wanted to admit. For example I now agree the Noble title ladder needs to be narrower. We had discussed this and I think he feels it should be N / N-2 / N - 3 / 1 / 1 for the Baron, Viscount, Earl, Marquess, and Duke respectively. Where N is equal to the number of players. So in a 5 player game it would be 5/3/2/1/1. In a 4 player game it would be 4/2/1/1/1 and in a three player game it would be 3/1/1/1/1.

I liked the N-1 castles to start a decade.

I didn’t play with them but I think maybe the Outmaneuver Scandal cards are too powerful. I have no fix for them yet. The Tariff Scandal card is potentially too valuable. I will change it to be a fixed amount of 4 or 5 pounds collected.

I didn’t like the new Men-at-Arms rule. Their strength is greatly reduced. I like the timing of them but since they are much less frequent they need to do more. I think I will try letting players play both of their men-at-arms when they play a castle. Even then I need to think of a reason to play one on a Forest.

Since there was not enough urgency to decade I don’t have a good feeling for the new Acquire Land ideas of Seth’s. What I am hoping is that there will not be a need to limit how many times the lands are “juiced”. That since time will go by faster players will spend their time doing other things.

I played where each player got one TAXES token per decade and that seemed to work pretty well.

I was encouraged by the scores at the end. Three of the players were within 2 points of each other. One player was about 7 points behind 3rd place.

That’s all for now.


Seth Jaffee said...

I was afraid of that - that moving the game clock at the beginning of the turn would prolong the game too much. I really liked how it worked when moving the game clock happened at the end of the turn, because it gives players the chance to rush the game end by taking the crown, which is OK by itself, but not as lucrative as some plays. It only gives you 1vp and 1 Prestige, but it also lets you trigger the Balls and stuff.

Speaking of triggering Balls - I really liked that a lot better when we played than the player triggered Ball. I think it worked better thematically, and I like how it worked in the game too - you have a limited amount of time to bolster your Prestige if you are going for a title.

I think it's not too important to have exactly 10 rounds to call it a decade. It could be any number of rounds, and you just /call/ it a decade. Better to pick a number that works well with the mechanic you want to use. It might be cool to not move the game clock until someone takes the crown, but my first inclination is to start someone with the crown. Your idea might make the mechanic work better with a 10 turn Decade though.

As for Men at Arms, when we played we thought they were fine with just playing one when building a castle. It makes sense, and we didn't think they really needed to happen more often than that. Remember, we weren't huge fans of them to begin with. The way we played, they seemed to happen a good amount of times and they seemed useful enough. I don't feel like they are (or need to be) a big part of the game... it's not a war game or anything. They are (and should be) peripheral. I think 1 M@A action per Castle build is on par with grabbing the crown or with drawing a Scandal card (actually, drawing a card is better, but it's harder to score with a Church, so it's cool that the Church comes with a better benefit.

Dwight Sullivan said...

Moving the clock at the end is ok. I do too like that there is extra weight to the action you took. You moved the clock putting pressure on everyone to hurry.

It only gives one prestige if you still have it when the Ball starts.

I really do not like the Ball triggering on a random persons turn.

Plus it MAKES PERFECT SENSE to have the players throw the Ball. You are throwing a party to invite other nobles and encourage them to wed someone in your family so you can add their power to yours. The time and the nobles were VERY incestuous!

I agree I don’t have to have 10 rounds per decade. All that is important is creating a sense of urgency. I have a plan to try next so stay tuned. If that plan doesn’t work I will reduce it.

As I said I am fine with the decreased frequency of Men-at-arms actions I just think they need to make to have some more teeth. If they are not fun then they should go out of the game. I played a game where you got to place two and it was ok. In this game I gave players AL tokens too so MAAs had a reason to be on a Forest.

Seth Jaffee said...

Re: AL tokens (and Tax tokens)... Out of curiosity, why give that to players rather than having a limited number of them on the board?

Dwight Sullivan said...

A limited number on the board is the old rule. Then players will have to folow suite or be left out of the land grabbing.

I think taxes would be the same.

- Dwight