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Game Preview: Fealty

Chris Cieslik
United States
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Fealty, designed by R. Eric Reuss and illustrated by Sarah Farooqi, is an territory control game being released by my company, Asmadi Games, that plays in a short amount of time, while packing a solid strategic punch and game-to-game variety.

Players are vying for control of a region, which is divided into multiple boards called Duchies – which are worth way more than three points! Each player has available to him the same group of nine units to place, and he must outmaneuver his opponents' placements in order to claim the most influence. Every individual piece has a different footprint of area over which it can exert control, with some pieces being restricted to certain terrain types such as forests. The example card shown below, the Ranger, can place influence on any forest squares within three spaces during scoring at the end of the game. The Ranger also has a special ability that occurs when he is played, allowing another of your pieces to move. Many of the pieces have such abilities, and using them effectively is critical to victory.

The central mechanism of the game is the speed of each piece. In the top left is a number ranging from 10 to 99, which is different for each card. (The base set contains cards 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 and so on up to 95.) Influence isn't placed on the board until the end of the game after all pieces have been placed. Pieces claim area in speed order, starting from the lowest numbers on the board and going up. Thus, a low-numbered piece that claims only one space in each direction can block a high-numbered piece that would otherwise claim three or four spaces. Managing this interaction between different types of pieces is central to having a successful strategy.

The speed of each piece also affects the choices available of where to place them. The game lasts eight turns, and on a turn each player secretly chooses a card to play (representing one of their available pieces). The fastest card gets to place first that turn, which is important because each Duchy can be placed into by only one player each turn. You are also restricted by your existing pieces; you cannot place a piece in a row or column where you've previously played. As the game goes on, your available placements dwindle if you haven't planned well!

After all eight turns (in a standard game, players place eight of their nine units; in a short game six of nine), influence is placed as described above. Low pieces go first, high pieces last. Each square is worth only a single influence, except for the cities which are worth two. The player who has the most influence on the board wins! This picture above was taken after the final scoring on one of our prototypes. Here's a more detailed example of how scoring works, using only two pieces to simplify the situation. (Note: The starburst and four-diamond patterns flanking the large numbers are aides for the colorblind.)

Fealty's full release will come in Q4 2011. For now, Asmadi Games is producing 100 copies of a short run Limited Edition for $45, which will be hand assembled by us. The pieces will be wooden discs, with plastic chips for influence markers. Purchasers of the Limited Edition will receive a copy of the finished version this fall for the cost of shipping. (Boston-area buyers are welcome to pick up directly from us!) Fifty copies will be available for sale online, and fifty for sale at Origins 2011 at the GPA Showcase booth. Orders will ship before we leave for Origins. Orders for the Limited Edition are being handled on the Asmadi Games website.
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