death, revisited

On Monday, I posted about a breakthrough I had over a nagging issue in LXIX: The Year of Four Emperors. I tested the changes with some folks at Madison Board Games & Beer Tuesday night and I’m very pleased by the results. I’m play testing again tonight with a designer buddy and a couple of heavy strategy game lovers. We’ll see how that goes!

LXIX at Board Games & Beer
LXIX at Board Games & Beer

The cards were always numbered 1 through 9 in six suits. Each time you played a card, before executing an action, you advanced the date marker on the calendar track a number of days equal to the number on the card played. The calendar had three spaces that granted bonus actions if you hit their number exactly.  That has been part of the card design and play mechanism since the very beginning. The problem was, it was easy to forget to advance the calendar, especially if you weren’t going to get a bonus anyway.

The problem was, it was easy to forget to advance the calendar, especially if you weren’t going to get a bonus anyway.

I’ve always felt the bonus actions were interesting, even if they weren’t an integral part of the game. They added an extra decision point during play: do you play card A for it’s effect or card B for a possibly-lesser effect, but hit a bonus action space? Additionally, the bonus actions can help make up for a less-than-ideal hand of cards.

I’ve taken the numbers off the current cards, leaving me with a 54 card deck in 6 suits with 9 cards in each suit. Within each suit there are 3 ranks of cards, with 3 cards appearing in each rank.

I added 9 icons to the deck, evenly distributed, such that each icon appears once per suit and an even number of times within each rank across all suits.

In play, when you match an icon you previously played, you get a bonus. The icons are distributed such that a match must be in a different suit and is 2/3 likely to be a different rank. You need not pay attention to what the previous player played, and if you forget it, it doesn’t affect anyone else. It enhances the effects of the bonus actions on “bad” hands, too, as you can only get the bonus if you’re playing cards in multiple suits. You’re no longer rewarded for playing in your strongest suit, as could happen with the calendar system.

I really think this is the solution I’ve been looking for.

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