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Subject: [WIP] Catacombs of Mu (Travel Game Contest) rss

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George Jaros
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Catacombs of Mu
1-4 players
60 minutes
Solo, Competitive, & Coop Variants
Ages 8+

For the Travel Games Contest - 1000+GG & physical prizes!

In Catacombs of Mu each player takes on the role of a character exploring the mysterious labyrinth that is the Catacombs. Buried deep within the winding passages are ancient relics from the prehistoric lost continent of Mu. Players race to discover these priceless treasures and escape to the surface. But without a map the treacherous journey may result in you getting lost forever!

The game is played on 4 square boards that are each divided into 6x6 grids. 145 square tiles are used throughout the game (drawn from a draw bag) to create paths through the catacombs and to represent relics, items, encounters, and more. 4 pawns are used to represent each player's character. 33 tokens are used to track health and ammunition on character boards.

I have been designing and testing the game on larger components (1.25" tiles and a 20"x20" game board), but it was designed with scaling down to a 10"x10" playing area (4 5"x5" boards clipped together). Also, only a few components are on the board at any time, so hopefully it'll work well with magnetic components.

Print and Play Components can be downloaded at the following links. The rules may change, but the other components likely will not (character cards would be the most likely components to change, but hopefully not). These are for the full size game, using 1.25" square tiles and a 20"x20" game board.

Rules (14x pages) - http://georgejaros.com/Files/Catacombs-of-Mu-Rules.pdf (version: 03.30.2015)
Tiles (3x pages) - http://georgejaros.com/Files/Catacombs-of-Mu-Tiles.pdf
Game Board (4x 11"x17" pages) - http://georgejaros.com/Files/Catacombs-of-Mu-Board.pdf
Characters (3x pages) - http://georgejaros.com/Files/Catacombs-of-Mu-Characters.pdf
Reference Cards (1x page) - http://georgejaros.com/Files/Catacombs-of-Mu-Reference-Cards...

Recommended assembly instructions:

Tiles:
1. Print the 3 pages of Tiles on full size label paper.
2. Stick the label paper to matboard.
3. Cut the 111 tiles into squares.
4. Cut the 33 tokens (hearts and bullets) into circles (1" circles are recommended) or .75" squares.

Boards:
1. Print the 4 pages of boards on 11"x17" paper.
2. Cut out a 20"x20" foamcore board.
3. Cut out the 4 boards, using the registration marks in the corners.
4. Paste the 4 boards onto the foamcore so that the passageways match up.
5. Optionally, cut the foamcore so it folds.

Characters:
1. Print the 3 pages of character cards.
2. Cut each page in half to form 2 character boards per page.
3. Optionally, laminate the 6 character boards.

Reference Cards:
1. Print the 1 page of reference cards. (You may want to print this twice.)
2. Cut the page in half to form 2 reference cards.
3. Optionally, laminate the reference cards.

Also needed:
- 4x Player Pawns

Now you are ready to play! Print the rules if you like, or reference the PDF.

Here's a picture of the very first playtest without the nice components:

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Jake Staines
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This is definitely taking the Freestyle category by the horns!

Can you tell us a little more about the mechanics?
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George Jaros
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Sure, a quick overview of mechanics...

There are 4 types of tiles in the draw bag:

- Passage Tiles
- Item Tiles
- Encounter Tiles
- Special Tiles

The Special Tiles have instructions, like Draw 2 More Tiles, etc.

On a player's turn they complete a few steps:

1. Draw a Tile
2. Take One Action:
a. Resolve Encounter
OR
b. Play Tiles
OR
c. Discard and Draw New Tiles
OR
d. Move One Relic Tile
OR
e. Pass
3. Move Monsters (if playing with Monsters)
4. Discard Down to 3 Tiles
5. Discard Vacated Passage Tiles
6. Return Discards to the Draw Bag

If a drawn tile is an Encounter that has to be resolved immediately and that is the one action the player takes. Encounters can be things like encountering beasts or traps or finding a path market that'll help the player get through the catacombs a little quicker.

Playing Tiles allows a player to add an item into their inventory or play any number of passage tiles to move their character forward through the catacombs. Items include things like ammunition, first aid kits, pick axes, kayaks, and other items that can help a character when encountering a beast, trap, or obstacle. Passage tiles include L, T, I, and X passages (for the direction of the passage and any intersections) as well as two types of dead ends that can either be played on your own passage (i.e. they are dead tiles that add fluff to your hand and are good to discard) or on an opponent's passage (to potentially mess with their strategy). Obstacle tiles include gulches, floods, cave ins, and slides. Different items can help with traversing these obstacles, or health can be expended to cross them.

Or a player can choose to discard tiles from their hand and draw new tiles if they don't like what their hand contains.

Or a player can move one of the relics that are being searched for. This can be in an attempt to move it closer to their character or further from an opponent.

After a player takes his actions then if any monsters are in the game (a variant that can add to the difficulty) there is a phase to move the monsters according to some rules.

The last three phases are mainly cleanup. Players can only have 3 tiles in their hand at the end of their turn, so anything extra is discarded. Then any tiles on the game board that aren't adjacent to a character are discarded. This ensures that the passages are constantly changing. Then all the discarded tiles from this turn are returned to the draw bag. That way there aren't tons of discarded tiles sitting around to get lost under a car seat =)

There are also rules for things like stealing items from opponents, etc.

Players must maneuver their character through the twisting passages of the catacombs, acquire relics, and then escape. In the coop version players must collect all the relics without any players perishing. In competitive versions players must collect two relics, but if one player perishes they can come back as a new character (there are 6 characters with different powers). In Solo versions a player must collect as many relics as they add to the board without perishing. For Solo and Coop variants the more relics added to the board the more challenging the game. For all variants 1-6 monsters can be added to the game to increase the challenge.

I'm finishing up the graphics and tweaking a few details in the rules, but should hopefully have PnP files up soon!
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George Jaros
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So I now have the game printed with nice components. I'll add PnP files to the top post in the thread shortly (just cleaning up the rules), but wanted to add pictures.

Yesterday I played the first full game and got to use the nice components (other games were played with my quickly printed pieces and were never completed). I found that the game moves slower than I'd like. I'd like the game to clock in at an hour +- 20 minutes, but my game with the boys lasted nearly 3 hours. The good thing is that the mechanics worked for the most part for the whole game and, despite having the attention spans of a 5 and 8 year old, both boys were mostly into the game right up to the end. And actually the game got more exciting toward the end and was a very close game, which is great!

So I'm tweaking the rules a little to hopefully make the game move a little quicker. Instead of having a hand of 3 tiles you'll have a hand of 5 tiles. And also draw 2 tiles per turn instead of 1. I may also let players add passage tiles to opponent passages, but only if necessary. I want to play with the additional tiles in hand first.

So overall I'm happy with the first full playtest! It went really well! Here's some pictures of the game set up for 4 players and then in progress with 3 players...








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Gideon Scott
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The board aesthetic looks pretty slick! Looking forward to the finished rules.
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George Jaros
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I updated the first post with links to the PnP files and assembly instructions. You can also find out more here: http://georgejaros.com/MU
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Jake Staines
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You've done a nice job of the artwork! Dungeoning is obviously an old-favourite theme, so I'm looking forward to seeing the game materials for this one.

I guess I'll find out once you post the rules, but I'm curious - what are the arrows on the boards for? [EDIT: OK, fine, I'll go and look for myself. ;-)]

Without knowing the rules of the game yet, my first thought towards shortening the game time would be to consider reducing the size of the board? Games moving slower than I'd like is a perennial problem for me, hitting a particular target play time/speed is pretty difficult!



Regarding the contest theme, my main concern for this one is travelability - the board is obviously doable, but unless the players stick their 'hand' of tiles to their player boards (and thus make them public - I'm guessing from the face-down tiles in the picture they're not supposed to be?) are they going to be able to hold everything at once?
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George Jaros
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There will only be 5 tiles in a hand, so hopefully that'll be manageable. However when I played my sons they played with tiles face up and it really didn't seem to affect the game at all. So whatever's easier.

I considered making the board smaller, but with the mechanics of maneuvering around in a constantly shifting board I think the sweet spot is the 4 6x6 grids. any smaller grids and there's not enough room to maneuver around the board without things being pretty crowded. I think upping the hand limit from 3 to 5 and then drawing 2 tiles per turn instead of 1 will move the game along quicker.
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George Jaros
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Another playtest tonight. Will be making a few more adjustments. Movement around the board was increased, but now the items are much less useful, so I'll be changing things so that you can add as many items as you want/are able to the character's equipment as one Action instead of just one.
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George Jaros
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Updated the rules with a few adjustments after tonight's playtest. Reference cards will need to be updated also (just to say any number of Items can be added to Equipment instead of 1 Item).
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