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I've been working on reaching a satisfactory combination of Under the Shadow of the Dragon, Return of the Heroes, and Helden in der Unterwelt that allows for asymmetric starting positions and goals based on the results of the feeder games. The tricky part has been melding Helden with the other two- alone, it is a much denser game and since I'm starting the folk who should be at a disadvantage in the underworld, I have to get their impediments just right so that their chance of victory is less than the others. So, I've come to the point in my thinking where it will be helpful to get my ideas in a semi-solid format. This is subject to change, but will be helpful to the process.
Winner is the first to get two of a possible three tickets (one corresponding to each game's boss.)
* The winners of the feeder games begin as agents of the Dragon and the Nameless.
* They begin with their respective boss's ticket and four cubes. Their home is their master's home. These map tiles are set in the upper left and right corners of the map configuration.
* They are immune to their master's effects (guards of the Nameless, Dragon attacks, etc.)
* The dragon takes all gold it steals back to its cave. The dragon's champion may come claim that gold as can someone who defeats the dragon.
* Champions may duel any player and any player may duel them.
* Champions may steal normally disallowed items if they are part of the path to defeating their master. Such items are put back into the bag (or the supply in the case of the respectable stone.) Do such items become "up for grabs" if they return to the map? Or does the whole involved quest restart?
* Top tier middle-folk (there are two of them) begin with three cubes. Bottom tier (also two) begin with one cube.
* I'm debating set-up. Shall it be totally random and use the standard house placement, or is it semi-random with the kingdom, portal, locations of the dragon's weapon scrolls and the middle-folk houses all located in the central area of the map configuration?
* Middle-folk may not duel each other but may duel all other players at will.
* The losers begin in the underworld on two separate tiles- the nice magic island and the pale sad flower tile. These tiles are three or four tiles apart.
* When losers die they are eliminated.
* They may duel anyone in the underworld but may not initiate a duel, except against the champions, in the overworld.
* They may not get the Damned One's ticket via lesser victory. That is, if the underworld collapses due to the Damned one getting 13 cubes, they are both simply eliminated if still in the underworld.
* A hero loses all shadow cubes when one enters the overworld.
* Hypnos may not be used until the gate to the overworld is opened.
* The way to the overworld is opened when either the Styx tile or the Lethe tile are found.
* Obtaining the lesser victory by anyone other than the losers, gives them Champion status.
* Weapons in the underworld are not useful against the Dragon or the Nameless.
* Cursed weapons may not exist in the overworld except if wielded by the Damned One's champion. The Damned One's champion may also gain and keep shadow cubes in the overworld.
* Because Helden in der Unterwelt de-emphasizes cubes in its entire structure, cubes are not useful in standard dueling. This puts overworld characters at a disadvantage. Thus, the change is tentatively in place:
* For every die above two a character would normally roll for a given skill test, add one to that skill for the purposes of duel instead.
*Characters still roll two dice only for a duel and use the modifier chart as normal.
In the Shadow of the Emperor has been a lot of fun thus far. Having a hard time finding time to play/film, but hopefully tomorrow...
Meanwhile, I've had Animal Farm on my secondary table- trying to work out the rules. Overall, I think the game has a lot of potential. The way American Megafauna and Origins: How We Became Human go together adds an extra layer to everything and it excites me. The notion of domesticating the other players also excites me. However, there seem to be a lot of ambiguities and holes in the rules that need to be addressed. I've posted a number of questions and have yet to receive an answer.
So, I'm putting that game on hold in favor of Helden in der Unterwelt. The current plan is to play Betrayal at the House on the Hill next followed by Helden in der Unterwelt and then Labyrinth. If I haven't gotten the Animal Farm rules clarified by the end of Labyrinth, I'm going to have to replace it in the tournament with Origins: How We Became Human.
Wed Nov 16, 2011 11:19 pm
I took a two week hiatus from the The Real People Multi-Game Solitaire Mega Tournament in order to try to make some ground on my video to-do list. I got a good jump on figuring Animal Farm out and finished the lyrics, recording, taping, and editing of the Master Labyrinth video. Looking back, that doesn't seem like a lot (I don't think it really moved anything down the list) but it's chunky stuff and there's a lot of chunky stuff coming up.
From the fate deck, Calandale is in the process of taking care of Warrior Knights. If I had my druthers, he'd get Imperium Romanum II out of the way instead since it'll take me a long time to figure out and I've actually played Warrior Knights with an experienced player, but I'll take what I can get. There's still the small matter of getting Empire: Make History On Your Living Room Floor up the list for review. If I make an exception for that game, there'd be a mass of four games open and easy in the Omega Bracket- none of which I'd have to learn.
I opted to resume the tournament with In The Shadow of the Emperor. It got me thinking again about how Return of the Heroes and company will be structured and I think I have a simple working solution. I was going to do something complicated involving points- players would have different point values they'd gain and lose based on different happenings; primarily involving the protection and slaughter of the three boss enemies. That would require play-testing to get the point values right and, thus, a lot of time.
Yesterday, I happened on the much simpler idea of tickets. Each boss has a ticket- obtain two and you win. The most frequent Emperor of In the Shadow of the Emperor and the Sauron player of Middle-Earth Quest each get a ticket to start with. Killing the ticket's associated boss (the Dragon and the Nameless respectively) will grant the killer the ticket. Same with the boss of the underworld (only no one starts with that ticket.) Players begin with a number of experience cubes equal to their ending score (0-4, the score is divided in In the Shadow of the Emperor by a divisor which will ensure the highest score becomes 4). The two "dark" players (the ones that begin with tickets) start with shadow cubes.
It will be fun to see how this plays out and I don't think it will require testing beforehand.
I need to clean up the list in regards to Careers and Outdoor Survival. Currently they're listed as a part of the Alpha Bracket, but my vision has changed. The winner of Careers will still be the English. However, I'd like to add a space option. Anyone taking the space career track will play Space Alert and, either die, or be the missing race in Time Agent (I don't remember which one is absent off the top of my head). First one to survive gets it.
So, players who make it through Outdoor Survival are going to have two paths to advancement in Careers. They can either achieve their goals as is standard and go on to become Englishmen or they can go for the glory or possible death via Space Alert. Should be exciting.
I'm on the lookout for more Careers boards. I feel that the one I have is limited. I'd like to have several boards so that players can choose. It'll be fun to try to link up all the career paths with other games.
So, Omega Bracket is open to two more sessions before I'm blocked by a wall of reviews- compared to four open games in the Alpha Bracket. Alternating between game and review as is traditional, that means there is a glut of 6 or so reviews in between Khronos (the current front runner in terms of Omega Bracket games slated for review) and the top of the list. I'll need to either change the traditional alternating pattern, skip Mega Tournament items ahead, or hope that the situation- either via other reviewers taking on the games on my list or Mega Tournament games moving up on the list via comments or thumbs. Although the latter option is ideal, I'd rather change the ratio than break the order the rules have created to favor the Mega Tournament games.
Unfortunately, some of the games are monsters and will take some time- notably Imperium Romanum II and Animal Farm. There are others- Ambush! and Alien Contact that draw on a tradition and way of communication that I am less familiar with. Those will all take more work to understand. Fortunately, I have some background with Animal Farm due to my work with Origins. I think it'll be best if, after Android, I take care of all the Origins related instructionals and a couple of reviews (Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation and Techno Witches) before I start the next Mega Tournament game. Once I've done those reviews and the instructionals, I'll need to start actively studying either Ambush! or American Megafauna. It may be a good idea to have something fun to do while that's going on, although that might be a distraction. First thing's first, I guess. I've thought enough to know my next step.
One of the things The Real People Multi-Game Solitaire Mega Tournament affords me is something to think about when I desire some entertaining thoughts. This thinking is almost always oriented towards the future of the tournament and beyond.
As far as this tournament goes, I foresee some blocks to progress coming up in relation to my rules involving reviews:
1. Reviews are determined primarily by thumbs/comments on my To Review list.
2. Games cannot be played in the tournament until they have a video review (not necessarily by me.)
So, looking at the Alpha bracket, that leaves open for my next choice:
In the Shadow of the Emperor and Battlestar Galactica- both of which have already been reviewed and Animal Farm, which is far up enough on my to do list that I feel I can review it as soon as I'm ready. (It has it's own blocks, however- a lengthy series of instructional videos on its component games.) Also in the Alpha bracket I have the duel between Red Tomato and Moony to consider. I'm debating between Duel of Ages and Lord of the Rings: The Search. The former would likely be more fun and could be done at any time, while the latter would fit the Middle-Earth Quest thing a bit better and also require me to review it first. I'm kicking that decision down the road given there are plenty of viable options as to what to do next.
The Omega bracket has me more worried. I have only two viable candidates- Betrayal at the House on the Hill and Labyrinth: The War on Terror 2001-?. The other possible options of what's next- Empire: Make History on Your Living Room Floor and Khronos both require reviews and both are pretty far up the list.
Oop! Baby crying! More thoughts later.
Since last I posted, I completed Gheos/Conquest of Planet Earth: The Space Alien Game and am almost finished with Android. The Gheos/Conquest of Planet Earth: The Space Alien Game merger was a first for the tournament in a couple of ways. Foremost was that it was the first of several game blendings that I have slated for the tournament. Mixing games together is something I have done before and something I will do again. I don't know why I do it, but it is fun for me. I like to stretch the boundaries of contained games. It gives me a sensation of movement that others perhaps get by improving their play. I'm not super competitive, and I don't feel all that motivated to get better- it feels like work. I can see the pleasure in that, but I don't always gravitate towards it naturally. Instead, I gravitate towards changing and melding together rule sets.
I think it was a success. Play felt different, but not clunky or, really, unnatural. I think I naturally focused on Conquest of Planet Earth: The Space Alien Game- it's the more visually appealing and more suited to multi-player solitaire, but Gheos added some interesting aspects. The slight change in scoring added a nice dimension to play with. The combined game became more about the timing of Gheos scoring opportunities in relation to how well someone was doing in Conquest of Planet Earth: The Space Alien Game- almost like an investment game in which world destruction is the companies' goal.
The other addition/first was the use of a soundtrack. Conquest of Planet Earth: The Space Alien Game comes with a soundtrack, which, as an advocate for games as experiential recipes, I think is great. I had the music a bit loud for some, but I enjoyed the effect (although I didn't sit through the whole thing.
The last scene of the series was fun for me. The spontaneous panning and close-ups while imagining Captain Fantastic's theme was great fun and the music, as I suspected, happened to go with it quite nicely. Juxtaposition is magic. No planning is necessary.
Android is still in progress- one video to go, and it has been great fun. People who like Android really like it and so a lot more people have been watching than in prior videos. Thus, I have made many many more rules errors. Despite that and the length, I've been really enjoying the game- I feel a little bad that some of my mistakes may've cost one player or another the tournament, but I have to be okay with it.
I had thought that the rules problems I've been having should prompt me to be more careful in the future, but on second thought I don't think so. It is the exception, I think, that games of any complexity are played 100% according to plan- especially in an environment where people play many games. This is not to say that I should not try to get the rules right, and I do, rather that it is a better simulation of actual play when I do not stress beforehand in fear of mistakes. Games are rarely played with such preparation in my experience. Further, of all the different video types I'm engaged in making for games, The Real People Multi-Game Solitaire Mega Tournament is the one motivated most by pure fun. It is my thoughtless activity in the video realm and my stress reliever at the end of a long day.
That typed, I look forward to playing Android in future tournaments and hope that I will remember better from this experience and play truer to the designer's original intent. I think I need to pay more attention to the characters' suspicions of each other's hunches in future plays also.
I managed to squeeze in Ideology: The War of Ideas over Labor Day weekend. I had expected to have more time to film than I did- I had vacation the week prior. Domestic things kept coming up, however, and making it difficult to get enough solid blocks of time. So, I filmed the game, for the most part, in bits.
It turned out alright. After I tried the game out a couple of times, I wasn't super excited to be filming it for the Tournament beyond my excitement for continuing the tournament. It looked like a tough game for me to get a story out of. After the first video, I had to make a decision whether I was going to slough it off and do the whole thing quickly as I could or give it the time and attention to attempt to make it something watchable. I chose to attempt the latter and view it as a challenge. I could've done better, like any video. I could've done a lot better on this one, however. It's not horrible, and I'm glad I didn't give up on it, but my linear method- always moving ahead when I can, has its drawbacks. If I'd waited a few days, I may've had the time and attention to make a better video. Or maybe I would've lost momentum. I can't say. It was a fun experience, overall. No Middle-Earth Quest, but I didn't really expect it to be either.
Now, I get to move on! Something from the Alpha bracket- about ready to do another review, I like these moments of possibility. Ideology felt like something I had to get done. I will try next to do something I find more exciting.
On another note, I had a thought today about containment versus uncontainment in games and what effect these things might have in terms of imagination. I developed a quick hypothesis today involving balance, and I'd like to type it out so I can see what it looks like.
The mind seems to strive for a certain balancing point. That point can change, but perception is something like a teeter-totter we stand on with one side being the interesting and the overwhelming and the other containing the dull and the reassuring. I've noticed in uncontained games that there is often a move toward cliche in terms of characterization and story- reference to other ideas that balance, perhaps, the unrestrained nature of the game. In the contained world, I wonder if the reverse isn't true, or else, possible, if the purpose of the game becomes to tell a story or have an experience rather than to work mechanics for the sake of competition.
I've finished the Gheos Review and Calandale has assured me that Ideology is next up on his agenda. There's no way I'll get to Ideology before he does unless he stops doing videos for some reason. So, I figured I'd type in both lists- of games to play and reviews to make and just how well they alternate given the current informations.
In the Shadow of the Emperor
Once Upon A Time
The Secret Door
US Patent No. 1
Betrayal at House on the Hill
Outdoor Survival (several iterations)
Return of the Heroes
Conquest of Planet Earth
Here I Stand
R:In The Shadow of the Emperor
T:In The Shadow of the Emperor
T:Betrayal at House on the Hill
R:Once Upon A Time
T:Return of the Heroes
I got as far as Dungeon before things got clogged up. US Patent should've been next, but I won't have reviewed it yet by that time. This could be fixed by shifting the order a bit, or I could simply make an exception to the rule that I review first.
It looks like I'm clear for awhile, however, so I can worry about the ordering problem a year or two from now.
Along with the videos I'm creating for The Real People Multi-Player Solitaire Mega Tournament, I also create videos for a series of reviews for games that don't have reviews. This other series is different than the Mega Tournament and they have very little effect on each other beyond their use of my free time with one exception. If a game on the tournament docket is slated for review, it must be reviewed first.
Because of how the reviews are decided- by thumbs on the list- that takes some of the games out of the running for the next game played until, either they get enough thumbs so that they move to the bottom of the list, or I've reviewed enough games so that all games are fair game for tournament play. The thing is, reviews take a lot more time than Multi-Game Solitaire session videos. So, unless the votes work out, there could be a traffic jam that require a string of subsequent reviews that may slow the tournament (in general, I try to alternate review and tournament.)
Hence, this post, to focus my thinking as to what the tentative schedule of tournament sessions/reviews might be. An large unknown factor (dwarfing all the other unknown factors in both its weight of mystery and chronological proximity) is the impending Special Project with Rocking Horse Dreams. I have no idea how long that's going to take up my game table. While it's going on, I think I'll be able to work with some smaller games to learn and for review, but no Mega Tournament until it's done.
Below is a tentative schedule without specific times
Special Duel of Ages Set 1: Worldspanner Project with Rocking Horse Dreams/Review of Gheos
After the special project, there are several options as to what game can come next. I will base it first on thumbs on the main tournament list, and then on whim (if there is a tie, which is the current situation.) Here are the projected options at that point in time, along with my current thought as to their prospects of being next:
Betrayal at the House on the Hill- This one has been an almost next one every single time so far. I see no reason it couldn't be next.
Android- Doubtful. I just did a big Fantasy Flight game and it'd be nice for the sake of variety to do something else.
Shogun- Also doubtful. I did a series on Shogun pre-tournament and I'd like to wait at least a year before doing another one. It is my assumption the tournament will last at least that long.
Battlestar Galactica- Again, there is doubt. This one will be a challenge. I need to design a system of player interaction. If I get that done, then the prospects for Battlestar will increase, but not to the level of Betrayal unless I'm energized by the act of creating the system.
Return of the Heroes- Possible, but it may be nice to take a break from the good versus evil sword and sorcery theme.
Gheos- Possible. There are two things that are dissuading me here. One is that when I sessioned Imperial 2030 right after review, I fear I was a little weary of the game by that point which may've decreased the quality of the session. The other is that Gheos is not a particularly fun solo game. I'll need to design something to add some spice before I video it. It is possible that that something will come to me while preparing for the review (my preparation consists of thinking about the game a lot.)
From the above list, it looks like Betrayal will follow the special project. I believe I've thought Betrayal was coming up before, however. Still, betrayal was one of the themes in Middle-Earth Quest, so perhaps it'd be a good follow-up.
Tentative schedule (guessing at review votes based on current tallies and degree of personal preparation):
Special Project/Gheos Review
Betrayal at the House on the Hill
Review of Shapeshifters
Review of Ideology (if Calandale hasn't done it yet) or In The Shadow of the Emperor
Review of In the Shadow of the Emperor or Insula
In the Shadow of the Emperor Sessions
Review of Insula or Princess
Review of Princess or Once Upon A Time
Outdoor Survival Session 1
Return of the Heroes Sessions
Games I'm worried may be held up due to review backlog:
US Patent No. 1
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