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PostPosted: Fri May 05, 2017 2:13 am 
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Bonsoir!

I have been working for the past few days on coming up with a card game using the Aubedore cards as playing cards, and I think I have come up with something. Now, fair warning, I have never designed a card game before, and because of the nature of this one, I was not able to do much playtesting (I have nobody to playtest with, and this game really needs real opponents). But the limited playtesting I was able to do gave me hope that this would be a lot of fun.

This game is designed for 4 players, although 3 should work just fine, and 5 probably would. All you need is a single deck of Aubedore cards, which as I'm sure you all recall is a deck of 78 cards divided into six "realms," or suits, for card game purposes, with each card in a realm ranked from 1 (highest) to 13 (lowest). Each of the six realms represent one of the six "classes" of Foraine. The Court represents the Nobles, the Academy represents the Scholars, the Duties represents the Craftswomen, the Bestiary represents the Tradeswomen, the Ethereal represents the Mages, and the Fixtures represent the Peasants.

Thematically, the goal of the game is to make sure that your class or faction has the most "influence" at the end of the game, thus putting your own Queen on the throne of Foraine. This is accomplished by adding cards, face down, to the "Influence Deck." This is a communal deck set in the center of the play area. These are revealed all at once at the end of the game, and whichever realm has the most cards therefore has the most influence and wins. Any ties are determined by who has the highest ranked cards (lowest number) in the Influence deck.

The game has two phases: the Scheming phase, and the Call to Action. Prior to the Scheming phase, all six rank 13 cards (The Dreamer, The Spider, The Servant, The Orphan, The Woods, and The Manacles) are removed from the deck and shuffled. One card is dealt face down to each player, and the remaining are placed into the Influence deck. Whichever card the player is dealt is their class, and presumably the realm they will be trying to obtain.

As the Scheming phase begins, each player is dealt twelve cards, with the remaining cards forming a communal reserve deck. One card is placed from the reserve deck onto the Influence deck for each player in the game (therefore, the Influence deck will always have six cards in it at this point). If the reserve deck ever runs out, shuffle the discard pile to make a new reserve. The player takes the cards dealt to them into their hands without showing them to anyone else. Then, in turn order, the players decide between one of three actions. First, they can set one card aside, face down, from their hand in what is called their "scheme." Second, they can discard a card to the discard pile and move a card from the reserve deck, without looking at it, to their "scheme." Third, they may ask for a trade.

To ask for a trade, the player announces a realm (or multiple realms) from which they want a card. Any player may offer them a card of that realm in exchange for a card of any other realm. Players cannot trade multiple cards in one trade, and players may not initiate more than one trade in their turn. If both players agree to the trade, they exchange their cards, face down, and each places their new card into their "scheme" without looking at the card. Players are in no way obligated to trade the card they have claimed to trade.

Example: Nasperge is playing a game with Beryl, Aloise, and Gale. It is Nasperge's turn, and he announces that he would like a card from the Bestiary. Beryl says that she will trade him a Bestiary card for either a Court card or an Ethereal card. Nasperge says he will give her an Ethereal card, and both players agree. Nasperge selects The Statue, a card from the Fixtures realm, and slides it face down over to Beryl. Beryl selects The Thief, a card from the Duties realm, and slides it over to Nasperge. Neither look at the card, so neither knows that the other has lied, and given them a card other than what was agreed upon.

Play continues around the table until each player has no more hand, and their "scheme" has twelve cards. Because each action puts one card into the "Scheme," no player will take more than twelve turns in the Scheming round, although most will take fewer than twelve, because accepting a trade on another player's turn will get through a player's hand quicker. Once all players' hands are empty and each "Scheme" has twelve cards, the Scheming phase ends, and the game proceeds to the Call to Action.

The first thing that happens in the Call to Action is that each player takes their "Scheme" into their hands. The first player in this round is the first player who emptied their hand in the Scheming phase (if two players went out on the same trade, the tie goes to the player whose turn it was). In the Call to Action, the player has two choices. First, they can put one card, face down, into the Influence deck. Second, they can play a set.

A set is a group of three cards from the same realm. These cards are played face-up in front of the player so that every other player can see them. A set has a different effect based on which of the six realms it is from.

Set Effects
The Academy (Scholars) - Draw two cards from the reserve deck, then put two cards from your hand back in the reserve deck. Then shuffle the reserve deck.

The Bestiary (Tradeswomen) - Choose a player, and then choose two realms. That player must give you a card from one of those two realms, and you will give them one of yours. If that player cannot give you a card from either realm, flip cards over from the top of the reserve deck until you find a card of one of those realms, take it, and discard a card. If you go through the entire reserve and there is still no card from either realm, your set has no effect.

The Court (Nobles) - Each other player discards a card.

The Duties (Craftswomen) - Draw a card, then discard a card.

The Ethereal (Mages) - Look at the Influence deck and replace one card in it with a card from your "Scheme."

The Fixtures (Peasants) - Look at the Influence deck and remove a card of your choice from it. It goes face down into the discard pile.

If a player cannot play a set (does not have three cards from the realm) or does not wish to, they must put a card into the Influence deck, even if that deck does not help them. Once all players have no more cards in their "Schemes," the Call to Action ends, and each player reveals their class card. The Influence deck is then revealed. The player whose class has the most cards in the Influence deck wins. If an unrepresented faction has the most cards, all players lose.

So, what do people think? Does it sound any good? Are their any glaring logical errors you see, or things that are completely broken?


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PostPosted: Fri May 05, 2017 10:13 am 
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Well, first of all, it needs a better rulebook. I had to write it down to understand the game.


The gameplay itself is harder to comment on without playing it, but it doesn't appear to me to have any depth. The objective is pretty much:
1) Get as many of your suit into your scheme
2) Get as many sets as you can so they don't end up in the Scheme, regardless of suit (I'd guess Tradeswomen > Peasants > Craftswomen = Scholars = Mages > Blank Suit >>>>>>>>> Nobles, but it's not like you get to choose).

The Scheming phase then probably has one of two strategies, I'm not entirely sure which one is better:
• Scheme every card of your suit, then trade the rest away.
• Scheme every card of your suit, then Scheme every set of three in a suit, then trade the rest away.
Trading is marginally better because it doesn't give your opponents information, and you only get cards out of 5 of the suits. The social aspect of it is basically irrelevant since neither of you have any information to work with, and there is no incentive to be honest.

And then in the last phase you dump your suit into the Influence pile and try to get rid of the rest of your hand by playing sets so other players won't get them, which is the primary benefit they offer.

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PostPosted: Fri May 05, 2017 11:32 am 
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what's the cultural context for this? I don't know Foraine all that well, so I don't know how it fits, but this feels very modern, as games go. like the sort of thing you'd kickstart, not the sort of thing you'd learn from your grandparents.

I also have an issue with the trade mechanic. (beyond my normal, well-documented issues with all trade mechanics.) basically, there has to either be a restriction against lying or a way to catch you when you do. if neither of those exists, then telling the truth is a valueless option. if you say you're looking for Academy cards there is literally no reason for me to not claim I have them and then give you a Fixture card instead: the rules don't stop me, and by the time you find out that I lied, you have no recourse through which to punish me. (in this iteration of the game, at least, but if this is going to be any sort of serious cultural artifact then it can't rely too much on familiarity.)

I think I basically agree with Mown: I can't know for sure without playing, but the strategy seems fairly mono-directional. the skill cap is relatively low: it's possible that people will misplay in their first couple games, but a simple treatise on strategic play would likely ruin the entire game and reduce it to who got dealt the best hand.

:duel:

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PostPosted: Fri May 05, 2017 11:47 am 
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Thanks, Mown!

Having never written a rulebook for a game, I know this was probably pretty ugly. Sorry about that. Any tips would be much appreciated.

Mown wrote:
Trading is marginally better because it doesn't give your opponents information, and you only get cards out of 5 of the suits. The social aspect of it is basically irrelevant since neither of you have any information to work with, and there is no incentive to be honest.

I was thinking about this one myself after I posted. Do you think it would be better to allow players to "challenge" the trade card? Something like, "You claim that's a Noble, but I think you're lying." The card is then revealed, and if the player was lying, the card they would have received is discarded, and obviously, the challenger knows a card in their Scheme. If the trade was not lying, then the challenger's card is discarded. Do you think that would give more depth to the interaction and give people reasons not to lie, or at least to lie well?

Mown wrote:
And then in the last phase you dump your suit into the Influence pile and try to get rid of the rest of your hand by playing sets so other players won't get them, which is the primary benefit they offer.

In my (admittedly limited) playtesting, this was the interesting part (because I can't realistically duplicate the human element of the trade beyond a certain point). In the trading, you partly try to get the cards you need, but there's also a bluff element. If people know which suit you are trying to claim, they are not likely to give it to you, but if you are trying to make sets, they might if it helps them, too. In one of my playtests, I had two of the four players with two or three complete sets and a few of their own suit, whereas the other two players had more of their own suit, but no other sets, forcing them to dump cards that helped the other players into the Influence deck.

I found it was particularly fun, for instance, to play a set that included the 1 or the 2 or whatever of an opposing color, because it weakened them both by making three cards unavailable, and by weakening their chance at the tie-breaker.

Anyway, again, thanks for reading. I really appreciate it, especially since my presentation was not particularly good.


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PostPosted: Fri May 05, 2017 11:59 am 
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a challenge rule would probably make the trade mechanic more useful, yeah.

:duel:

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PostPosted: Fri May 05, 2017 12:00 pm 
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Thanks for reading, razor!

razorborne wrote:
what's the cultural context for this? I don't know Foraine all that well, so I don't know how it fits, but this feels very modern, as games go. like the sort of thing you'd kickstart, not the sort of thing you'd learn from your grandparents.

I mean, this is, I guess, more a game based on Thorneau than one I envision in Thorneau, although I think it could be played there, if we wanted it to be.

Culturally, Thorneau, and the Queendom of Foraine specifically, is stylized as a fantasy Medieval France with a matriarchal society and a penchant for wide-spread revolution. There are five classes, the nobility, the scholars, the tradeswomen, the craftswomen, and the peasantry, who sort of constantly vie for control. So this game was meant to be a sort-of representation of that struggle.

razorborne wrote:
I also have an issue with the trade mechanic. (beyond my normal, well-documented issues with all trade mechanics.) basically, there has to either be a restriction against lying or a way to catch you when you do. if neither of those exists, then telling the truth is a valueless option. if you say you're looking for Academy cards there is literally no reason for me to not claim I have them and then give you a Fixture card instead: the rules don't stop me, and by the time you find out that I lied, you have no recourse through which to punish me. (in this iteration of the game, at least, but if this is going to be any sort of serious cultural artifact then it can't rely too much on familiarity.)

What do you think of the idea of allowing either payer in the trade to challenge the veracity of the claim? It gives people a reason not to lie (while the prospect of screwing over the opponent remains a temptation to do so), and with the challenger risking their card by guessing wrong, it also prohibits people from just challenging every trade.

razorborne wrote:
I think I basically agree with Mown: I can't know for sure without playing, but the strategy seems fairly mono-directional. the skill cap is relatively low: it's possible that people will misplay in their first couple games, but a simple treatise on strategic play would likely ruin the entire game and reduce it to who got dealt the best hand.

Sure. Is there anything you would add to complicate the strategy in a way that would be fun?


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PostPosted: Fri May 05, 2017 12:24 pm 
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I don't mind throwing a few suggestions here and there, but I'm more of a "start from the ground up" kind of guy. What is the design goal of the game, what purpose does the mechanics serve, what's the pitch? I won't say that your game is unsalvageable or anything, but I don't feel that it really has a 'zing' to it, and it's easier to make a compelling when you have a marketable core to work with.

I will say that your proposed suggestion does seem to make the first part a lot more compelling though. As it currently stands, trade is pretty much a game of "If you guess the correct hand, you win", but you don't even get the immediate gratification. If I were to participate, I would probably just say "I want to trade a card", because any bluff relies entirely on other players being worse, there's no asymmetry in the situation.

and don't worry, I've probably read a lot of worse rulebooks in my life. I'll pay you back when you read my stories, so don't even think about it.
I can't really say I'm a professional rules scribe or have any concrete guidelines, and it might be partially my concentration issues getting in the way, but at least some points that came to mind:
• Firmly establish the parts of the game. e.g., I had issues keeping track at the zones. Maybe list them in the beginning, and what purpose they serve.
• Compartmentalize information. When telling me what my actions are, don't hide it at the end of a paragraph. If I want to know what the suits do, it's easy. They're all under the headline, but I have to look for what I do during the Scheming phase. During my first read-through, I didn't actually catch that I could do anything but trade.

And then there's just a few things regarding language, which ideally is precise and consistent.
• "and presumably the realm they will be trying to obtain": Yes, technically correct that they may not be trying, but instead it just makes me question if there are incentives not to.
• "all six rank 13 cards": If the highest ranked cards are the ones with the lowest number, then you can't refer to their numbers as ranks. It's highly counterintuitive to suggest that a rank 13 card has a lower rank than a rank 1 card.
• "One card is dealt face down to each player, and the remaining are placed into the Influence deck.": It doesn't actually specify at any point that you know which card you received.
I just noticed all of the examples that came to mind were from the same paragraph. neat

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PostPosted: Fri May 05, 2017 12:40 pm 
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razorborne wrote:
what's the cultural context for this? I don't know Foraine all that well, so I don't know how it fits, but this feels very modern, as games go. like the sort of thing you'd kickstart, not the sort of thing you'd learn from your grandparents.

I mean, this is, I guess, more a game based on Thorneau than one I envision in Thorneau, although I think it could be played there, if we wanted it to be.

Culturally, Thorneau, and the Queendom of Foraine specifically, is stylized as a fantasy Medieval France with a matriarchal society and a penchant for wide-spread revolution. There are five classes, the nobility, the scholars, the tradeswomen, the craftswomen, and the peasantry, who sort of constantly vie for control. So this game was meant to be a sort-of representation of that struggle.
in that case I withdraw that concern. I was assuming this was akin to, say, Drackis, or CKY's Crucible, which were meant to be cultural artifacts of the worlds. if this isn't that, then it doesn't really matter if it feels modern.

What do you think of the idea of allowing either payer in the trade to challenge the veracity of the claim? It gives people a reason not to lie (while the prospect of screwing over the opponent remains a temptation to do so), and with the challenger risking their card by guessing wrong, it also prohibits people from just challenging every trade.
I think it helps a lot. not sure if it helps enough, but it makes it so there's a reason to be honest, which means there's a reason to declare things in the first place.

Sure. Is there anything you would add to complicate the strategy in a way that would be fun?
that I'm not sure. I think the problem lies in the scheme phase: it's a lot of action but not a lot of strategy, if that makes sense. it might make sense to replace it entirely, maybe with a draft phase? dunno if you're willing to go that far, though, but it definitely seems like it needs more active decision-making there.

:duel:

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PostPosted: Fri May 05, 2017 9:31 pm 
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I think the theme and flavor of the game are very strong, but I agree that the gameplay feels like a lot of faffing about followed by a mostly random upheaval during the Call to Action. Because there's so much hidden information in the early part of the game, it's impossible to discern what everyone is trying to do.

One idea is to have cards in play that are revealed to all players, like in solitaire, which players make moves to influence. You could flavor this as the Royal Court, or the shifting political landscape of Thorneau, or some such. The goal would be to end the game with the board in a certain configuration.

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PostPosted: Fri May 05, 2017 11:49 pm 
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This reaffirms my conviction that it would be very cool to actually get an Aubedore deck printed out someday!

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PostPosted: Sat May 06, 2017 3:47 pm 
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*begins making plans*

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Solphos: Solphos | Fool's Gold | Planeswalker's Guide | The Guiding Light | The Weight of a Soul
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PostPosted: Sat May 06, 2017 8:34 pm 
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*begins making plans*



:duel:

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PostPosted: Sat May 06, 2017 11:17 pm 
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Oh, I'm getting very excited right now...

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