Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Version 8 solidifying

Recently I played what I am now calling version 8 which is a bit misleading because it’s technically version 0.8.3.

I played a 4 player game where each player had a specific goal. One player’s main focus was land, one was money, one was prestige, and one was all three. Here are the rules I played:

Play Land – I really like the new rule of you collect land and money as you go. You can play up to 3 lands on your turn and you collect random lands for wood played and money for farms played.

Acquire Land – Each player gets one Acquire land token per decade. They can spend it to receive 1 land per wood and 2 per forest. This worked pretty good once we got past the first few turns. The game still starts the same. All players play wood. I am not sure if this is a bad thing.

I think I will change the rule slightly adding: If you have spent your token you may draw 3 lands from the bag. Or “You may draw three lands from the bag instead of using your Token” Then players could do it early if needed and not use their tokens until later.

Taxes – This is a lot like Acquire Land. Each player gets one Taxes token per decade. They can spend it to receive 1 pound per farm and 2 per forest. This worked pretty well. Its takes work to get lots of money. Players used to get two tokens per decade but one is better. Now with the clock you often don’t have time to do taxes. Which is good.

Donate Land – the rule was each decade the area was cleared and players could take an action to add land at the rate of 1 VP for each. They could add as much as they wanted but once it was full it stayed full until the next decade. This worked ok. It was a bit too lucrative for the land player. I am guessing that real players will not let one player do that as much. As it was this player came in second even though he managed to oten be 2nd in the Ball.

Bribe Royalty – They are 2 pounds each. You immediately get 1VP for each. You can then later redeem them for land during Acquire Land, money during Taxes, or prestige during a Ball. I still love this rule but the money focused player came in last place when it was all done. I think he should have concentrated on castles and palaces first and Bribe tokens second.

Masquerade Ball – This worked pretty well. All players return their current titles to the pool. Then in turn players place their prestige markers starting with the player with the crown, deciding right then how much bribe chits or scandal cards to add, if any. Once all have done this they go in order of high prestige to low taking from the pool the highest title they can take that is still available. Finally all players score victory points based on the title.

Castles – These now increase in cost as they decrease in quantity. They were 3/4/5/6/7 pounds each. I started each decade with the number of castle equal to the number of players minus one (N-1). Three castles per decade in this game. As it turned out someone bought a Palace before a castle was bought and I decided to try putting the displaced castle on the board reducing how much the next castle would cost. I liked this. Of course if there is no room then the castle would have to go back to the supply. Of course Castles have nothing give you once again and I need to think about that.

Palaces – I am starting to think that Palaces should be N-1 too. I think 2 will be too few in a five player game. I would not have minded 3 in my 4 player game. Now that moving the crown as extra meaning of also moving the clock Palaces are more fun than they were.

Church – These worked fine with no new changes. N churches and they get more expensive as they disappear. They give one scandal card and points during the scoring round.

Follies – These are also fairly unchanged. You need two forest to build one, two plantations to build one, two gardens two build one, and one of each to build the 4th one. They immediately pay victory points; 12 for the 1st one built, 10 for the 2nd, 8 for the 3rd, and 6 for the 4th one built.

Decade Clock – Year marker started on 2 and the first ball started as soon as the marker reached 6 and 10. After the second ball each player got one more turn and then a scoring round occurred. This worked pretty well. One decade a player played the new Outmaneuver scandal card moving the year marker back one. This gave all players an extra turn and it really felt like a luxury. I am removing the Outmaneuver card again.

Men at Arms – I started with them near each player ready to be deployed. When a castle was built they would get a turn. There were no castles played for a long time. With the clock ticking down quickly I was often absorbed into my own machinations of each of the 4 players and thought if someone disrupted this now that would really suck. So I took them back out before the first castle was played.

All in all the game worked really well. I spent three hours playing this 4 player game and often was proud of just how fun and well it was going. Until the end. Near the end of the game it was becoming clear that players were going to run out of things to do or at least run out of “useful” things to do. Interestingly the first player to run out of stuff to do also won.

So to fix this I think I will add a rule where players can trade their turn / Action for 1 victory point. This will allow them to do something meaningful at the end. Also I will slightly change the Acquire land rule to allow players to draw 3 lands when they want without using their token.

The final scores were: Prestige-Guy 79 playing land and owning the Duke from the 3 Ball on, the Lands-Guy 76 Donating land 3 times for 12, 7, and 9 points, the All-Three-Guy with 72 points had the crown most of the game, and the finally the Money-Guy with 67 points.

Other thoughts:
Maybe I will make the free draw 2 random lands or one of their choice?

Maybe Taxes can work similar. Players can Tax when they want to for 2 or 3 pounds?

There are not enough Scandal cards. I think I will try you get one with a castle. Maybe.

There are not enough lands for a 5 player game. The bag gets close to empty with a 4 player game. It seems like there should be plenty. Players play about 25 to 30 lands plus can have 10 or so behind the screen. So that’s 40 x 4 = 160. I think I have 210. I must not have 210. Anyway Scott showed me his tiles which were made of Illustration board that were thinner. They are about 60% as thick as mine, I believe. So I could have 40% more and have the same volume? I could have more.

1 comment:

Seth Jaffee said...

One reason we thought it was important to have the 'juicing' mechanism for land was that you couldn't run out of things to do. you could always draw land, then use that land to get money or something.

Note that getting money when playing land is similar to getting another Tax action, so losing one Tax token isn't REALLY losing a tax action. Well, that's not entirely true, you used to have 2 tax actions available per round, 6 total... now you have 3 total +1 more or less. In any case, I like it as you played it - though I still don't see why the Tax action isn't on the board, and limited to once or twice total per round.

I don't like the idea of perpetually drawing 3 random tiles out of the bag. I think you'll find the first play from all players will be "draw tiles" and then the second play from anyone who didn't get the kind they want will be "draw more tiles". Then people will play tiles, probably twice in a row, and maybe build a Church or a Palace before the first Ball hits.

Donate Land seems fine I guess. I did like tying it to another part of the game by limiting the amount of land donated to the value of your prestige, but that might be too many words to describe something that could be done easier.

You seem to really like the Bribed Royalty chits that get cashed in for other things, which is odd because that ties the money guy's action in with the other parts of the game - when you said you didn't like tying the Land guy's action in with the rest of the game. As for cost, I think it's a well costed action - for every $2 you pay you get 1vp and 1 [$/Land/Prestige].

I think I would miss the tug-o-war aspect of the old Masq. Ball - this doesn't seem as exciting to me. i thought the whole point was to wrestle over the titles and steal them from each other. Also, I don't think you've mentioned anything about the idea of abilities coming with the titles... did you like/dislike that idea?

I continue to think Castles coming with M@A is a good idea and Castles coming with a Scandal card is a bad idea.

Palaces could probably have a different limit - but note that the more palaces there are, the more times the crown might move.

I don't understand your comments at all about the Men at Arms. I think you need to play a game with real people, not a solo test, to see how most of these things play out.