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Subject: Winterfest Feedback on Bella Rosarum Intro Version rss

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Greg Sarnecki
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A bit delayed, here is the feedback and rule suggestions I got from the playtesters I managed to drag away from the other games at the recent Winterfest gaming mini-convention in Sandusky OH.

In no particular order, for the Introductory Rules:
1. Events DO pull nobles & the king from anywhere, even abroad, unless at sea. (In the Advanced Rules, the foreign power holding boxes will be safe havens though - just as they were historically.)
2. The king can take nobles if he is summoned by an event; and nobles can take the king and other accompanying nobles with him. Richard Duke of York is treated like the king for the purpose of this rule (he gets summoned like a noble in the new Event Deck).
3. No fighting each other on the 1st turn of the game - a la King's Peace after Parliament. You can besiege neutral castles though.
4. Royal counters need to list the order of succession on them, as well as better differentiate Yorkists from Lancastrians. (My counters just used their heraldic symbols, which made it hard for most to tell the difference between e.g. Prince Edward and George, Duke of Clarence. This was easily fixed with an ad hoc red background for the Lancastrian counters.)
5. Treat all FMHs (Fortified Manor Houses) as Castles.
6. Have to include boats for Captain of Calais and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.
7. Follow the office restrictions just like the Advanced Rules. e.g. need to be a Baron or higher to be Constable of the Tower. Still a MAX of one Great Office of State per noble though.
8. Use the 4-1 column to resolve sieges.
9. Certain 'D' results lead to attacker casualties. Furthermore, the Event Deck combat results need modifying to reduce the number of casualties.
10. Royalty who are represented by a card can receive offices and other cards. (Just like before?)
11. Keep any card that you can retain as secret, i.e. do not declare what it is when you pick it up. (Did your opponent just get a Writ card or a Free Move for one stack?)
12. At Parliament, all alliances must be cemented before Parliament doles out the cards in order of highest to lowest influence. ie no reforming alliances card by card.
13. (Clarification?) Ships can leave neutral harbours.
13. The new map needs a grid to reference all locations - not everyone knows where all the new castles are now (or even where the old ones are)!
14. Need larger, more readable font for place names, ie a larger map.
15. Everyone loved the round noble counters that used dimes as the backing. Nice metallic clink every time armies clashed!
16. The new Influence rules were well received, including their use to gain access to neutral castles.

Advanced Rules Suggestions (didn't have time to play this version)
1. You can combine road, land and sea movement in one turn. (Introductory Rules retain unlimited road movement, so no combining it with other forms of movement.)
2. Reaction move will include moving to an adjacent space along an unblocked road.

Of course, it would help if everyone at BGG had a copy of at least the Introductory Rules we used for the playtest games. I did try to post them on Feb 4th, but they never appeared. I will try reposting them here again, complete with the modifications above, sometime this week.

As a memento, some of the playtesters were presented with the counter for a noble of their choice: I now need to reprint Somerset, Salisbury and Northumberland. Good choices guys!

Meantime, I am now working on redoing the map from scratch at a higher resolution (and possibly using Arial bold for all names for easier reading). This way my friends of poor eye-sight can play on an outsized board, whereas others who are space-constrained instead can shrink the map down to a manageable size. I will also likely take the opportunity to produce both an Introductory Map and an Advanced Map, with the former just having the features needed for the Introductory Rules. If printed out correctly, the two boards could be on opposite sides of the mounting medium (e.g. thick cardboard), so you just have to flip the board over for the other map.
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Rood Bird
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I haven't played tested Bella Rosarum but if it attracts more people to the delights of this fantastic game I'm all for it. I've been playing this game since I was a child and although it now doesn't hit the table as often as it did in the late 1980s, early 1990s (My university years with so much spare time, friends always on hand etc have long since gone shake) I thought I'd add my 2 pence to the above suggestions.

1. Keeping the king abroad was a tactic that did produce stalemate on a number of occasions. Disallowing immunity from event cards would perhaps solve this issue. However my group came up with a different solution and house ruled as follows: First off, if there was another king (from the other royal house) in play they would benefit from all the powers of a sole King whilst they were the only king present in the mainland country. Secondly, if there was only the one king then the player controlling the heir to the throne could crown him (or her) regent by following the usual coronation rules but with the addition of 1 extra bishop/archbishop. Once crowned and as long as the rightful king is abroad or at sea the regent has all powers of the king except requires 2 writ cards to summon parliament.

2. Whilst the king can take any and or all accompanying nobles and a noble can take any and or all accompanying royal pieces as a result of an event summons I don't think nobles should take accompanying nobles. This is one of the crucial points of the game. Armies are never united for long and strong factions must strike while they can or leave themselves vulnerable to defeat piecemeal.

3. I don't see the need for 1 turn of peace. Attacking is not without its risks so a quick strike against a weak, unprepared opponent is not always advisable. Also, since no player is ever eliminated and will always draw more cards from the crown pack, there is plenty of time for a player to get back from a 1st turn reverse. It is no worse than having a weak initial hand of cards.

4. As Brits with a good sense of English history the people I play/have played with never had a problem with this but I'm all for making the game as accessible as possible. (Don't ask me to name the first 5 US presidents in order!)

5. I've no idea what you are talking about. I guess it's a Bella Rosarum thing.

6. I never had a problem with only 6 ships in the game and trying to get the use of one is all part of the negotiation. Sure it'd be useful for the Captain of Calais to get to and from that town but I've played many a game where the player controlling Stanley has been forced into an early alliance just to get him into play.

7. see my answer to 5

8. The siege combat rules were always a little unsatisfactory. Once a noble has built up even a meagre following there seems little point in staying in towns or castles and risking plague or defeat by a much smaller army than would be required to win in open combat. Our group solved this issue by halving the size of each garrison and then treating sieges the same way as open combat. I'm not sure what 'use the 4-1 column' means but the resolution of sieges needs to be addressed.

9. see my answers to 5 and 7

10. The only royalty who has a card is Beaufort and is treated like any other noble except he can also become king. His ability to hold office and have his own private army shouldn't be negated just because the throne falls into his lap. The point of this game is to show that the various claiments to the throne were mere pawns in the struggle. The real power lay with the noble families. This is shown by the fact that the civil wars were brought to a close with the demise of the Plantagenets and the arrival of Henry Tudor (Henry VII)- represented in the game by the Beaufort card since his mother was Margaret Beaufort.

11. Sure, why not. Anything that adds a little uncertainty between opponents is good in my book. It relies on trusting people (e.g. exposing a plague card that wipes out half their forces) but who wants to play with cheats anyway?

12. Not sure I understand this one. The one major power of the king (or Chancellor in the event of 2 kings) is in doling out the cards from the chancery. Alliances are irrelevant. If Bella Rosarum has a different mechanic for parliament then we are starting to move too far from Kingmaker in my book.

13. Yes ships can leave neutral harbours or if not they should be able.

13. see my answer to 4 but substitute history for geography.

14. Can't comment for definite but as I'm now closer to my pension than my school days I find space to be less of a problem than eyesight.

15. I like the idea of this. The sound of sword on shield. Fantastic.

16. see my answers to 5,7 and 9


As I say, I haven't played Bella Rosarum and in principle I like the idea of Kingmaker 2.0 Just wary of throwing out the baby with the bath water.


RB
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Greg Sarnecki
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Thanks RB. The more the merrier. This project of mine was borne out of a love of Kingmaker and a desire to get the history and geography right. Or at least more right(er-er).

Actually, on #2, I re-read my hand-written notes from the mini-convention and my post should have read: king can take nobles and a noble can take the king with him [like RAW, right?]. Duke of York if summoned is treated like the king ie he can take (stacked) nobles with him.
Helps if I read my notes correctly.

So, yes, nobles taking the king plus more nobles is not the feedback I got. Only the Duke of York deviates from the old version, since he is in between a royal and a noble in many ways.

I'll try and post just my variant rules this week. Maybe my mega-sized crown and event deck pdf files choked the system last time. The word file for the rules is tiny by comparison.

On #12, you must be playing ye olde rules (ah, the 1974 edition, I knew it well). I think a lot of people moved on from there with the AH edition's parliament rules. I didn't much like them though, being a bit of a traditionalist like yourself, and I considered them too complicated, what with two sets of voting being required. Thus, I pared things down to a single Influence rating for each noble, office, cleric card, etc. I then expanded the use of this Influence to take care of the historically ludicrous situation one often has at the start of the game, where one has to besiege castles to get royals. This never happened! I'm sorry, but a game that forces players to behave in weird ahistorical ways, from the get-go, is in need of a little help. If only I had never read any WotR history books, my ignorance would have been bliss! That's not to say we want a dry simulation of history, but I think the Influence rules gives a more accurate feel to proceedings and stops the early siege madness.

I'll quote the rule here, to avoid further unposted-rules frustration:
A.5. Influence for gaining access to neutral castles
A stack may temporarily enter any un-owned castle, if it has the necessary combined Influence to do so:
Major cities require 30 Influence; fortresses 25; cities 20; noble castles 10.
This greatly facilitates ‘capture’ of royal counters. Essentially, an unaligned royal person allies themselves with any stack with sufficient Influence.
There's a few more paragraphs than this to clarify things further, but I hope you get the gist of it.

Intrigued by your crown regent rules under point #1b - I'll have to ponder that one. I agree with your #1a two kings, one of them abroad rule, although this does essentially make an appearance in my Advanced Rules, with the incorporation of Foreign Power holding boxes / safe havens. You can't rule England if you're living life abroad in exile!
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Rood Bird
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Forgive me if this post is a little long. Like you I love this game and am very interested in the period. If I may, I'd like to give you a few more thoughts on what you have said and Kingmaker in general. I'd love to give Bella Rosarum a go so please upload your rule set.

Yes. I own an Ariel copy. None of those AH or Gibson upstarts for me!

I don't like the sound of the parliament rules very much. Voting? in parliament? Sounds far too American to me. We'll be making the office of king democratic at that rate.

Ok, to be serious, I think your system of influence is interesting in relation to neutral castles/towns. I'll have to think about them. Although, since all the royal pieces except Margaret and Richard of Gloucester are in towns belonging to crown pack cards or an open town I never had a problem with sometimes having to lay sieges to get hold of a royal piece. I see such towns and castles as 'yet to declare' rather than being strictly neutral. So besieging Coventry and grabbing Edward, for example, is a pre-emptive strike before that town announces its declaration for an opponent or, in the event that I subsequently pick up the Coventry card, allegiance was gained at the point of a sword.

I have, however, always been uncomfortable with the siege rules in general. Even our house rule (see previous post) didn't seem quite right. Perhaps this is because, as you point out, they're pretty ahistorical. There weren't many sieges in the period. Probably because the English were so useless at them! The French eventually won the Hundred Years War once they realised that rather than attempting, and failing, to stand up to the English archers in open battle they could effectively defeat the English by remaining in their castles and letting hunger and disease do their work for them. So perhaps using your rules and the original rules (which discourages sieges in the middle game anyway) is a good idea.


I'm interested that only Richard of York is treated as a sort of noble-royal piece. Is this in the later editions of Kingmaker or Bella Rosarum? I know the idea that the royals as pawns is the crux of Kingmaker and one I re-iterated above. While it was evidently true in the case of Henry VI and probably true of Clarence, I'm not so sure about the others. It is a bit rich for us children of the 20th/21st century to dismiss as mere pawns men who died leading their troops in battle (Richard of York, Richard III, Edward of Lancaster Prince of Wales) or gathered many to fight for their cause (Edward IV, Margaret of Anjou)! I see that you have cards for many of these characters in the Bella Rosarum crown pack. Are the royals less pawn like in your version?

My set came with a few event deck blank cards and so many years ago my friends and I came up with a few alternative cards. We kept to the same format of battle resolution and events on the same cards.

We decided to include a few minority victory cards. They had odds of 4/5, 2/3 and 1/2 on them to avoid situations where a small army could beat a massively superior force. There weren't enough to encourage an attack with a smaller army but it did mean that there was a chance the usual aggressor would come unstuck.

The events we had included: Any ship currently at sea lost with all hands (cards returned to crown pack, office ships remained out of play until a new Admiral/Warden appointed);
Separate cards for each of the various mercenaries (Burgundian, Scots, Saxons, Flemish) to desert (i.e. return to crown pack) in addition if drawn to resolve a battle any specified mercenaries were to desert before drawing another card to resolve battle;
Temporary mercenary cards of 100 and 150 value;
A card enabling a player to 'buy off' one mercenary card or noble from an opponent, even after battle is declared.*


*While this one seems particularly devastating it is very thematic. On a number of occasions during the Wars of the Roses nobles switched sides after battles commenced (e.g. Richard III was convinced Stanley was going to fight on his side at Bosworth Field). The effect of this card was mitigated a little since we also had a rule that you couldn't steal the 'leader' of an opponents faction. A leader was nominated for each faction at the beginning of the game. The leader could only be changed in the event of the incumbent's death.

Sorry to rattle on. I hope you aren't too bored by it.

Keep up the good work Greg. What you have done with the cards is incredible. I look forward to reading the Bella Rosarum rules.


RB







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Greg Sarnecki
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Sure. If BGG will let me! I have almost finished the edits in the file. Will upload once they're done. NB the cards and map have been enhanced quite a bit since the ones that you can see here at BGG. Shouldn't affect the rules though.

I can't say for sure, but I get the feeling that most people at BGG have the more modern versions of the game, with the Parliament rules. I grew up with the old Ariel games 1974 version, but currently own the Gibson Games version.

I really like my Influence rules (of course I would say that!), but the biggest change is the recruiting rules. My son came up with the kernel of the idea when he would always hide at Calais as the Captain and the game came to a grinding halt. Who would ever go there when he had 300 extra troop? Why would he ever leave if he lost 300 troops? Simple fix - he takes the troops when he leaves, but uses them up after one battle, forcing him to return to Calais to recruit them again. Much closer to how they did it in the real WotR as well.

In the later versions of Kingmaker, there is a Plantagenet card for the Yorkists and one for the Lancastrians that converts the leading claimant for that house into a noble as well, giving him the chance to own offices, ships, cities, etc. I have kept this in my rules (and expanded it in the Advanced Rules, allowing a player e.g. to have March and Gloucester lead separate contingents of troops at the same battle, like they did at Barnet and Tewkesbury).

You seem to have developed rules akin to ones in the newer versions/ expansion packs that you can find here at BGG:
lost at sea
mercenaries go home
treachery
I have expanded on the latter, with Treachery (in my Advanced Rules) allowing a variety of game effects to occur, as well as the ability to create larger treacheries. You'll see what I mean when I post the Advanced Rules someday. And I totally agree that treachery was a key factor in the WotR - indeed it affected almost 1/2 the major battles! (Blore Heath, Ludford Bridge, Northampton, Wakefield, Barnet, Bosworth)
Any game that purports to cover the WotR HAS to have the option of some kind of last minute treachery built in there somewhere.

Your minority victory cards sound intriguing. Am I right in thinking it means you could attack with more troops, but actually lose the battle? The AH version introduced the idea of being able to win at less than 5:4 odds, but never this!

And I am never bored talking Kingmaker!
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Dave de Vil
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I agree with Roodbird about a King who is anywhere other than in mainland England not counting as King for any purpose; e.g. if the Lancastrian King is at sea, on an island, in Wales or abroad then the leading Yorkist heir if Crowned should be considered sole King.

This could even lead to a situation where, for example, King Edward is in exile in Burgundy, and a player controlling George of Clarence can crown him George I. If Edward returns from exile he must eliminate Clarence (or capture him) to resume the Yorkist seniority.

This all discourages players from hiding out with a crowned heir rather than seeking victory in battle.

I start all heirs in Royal castles (Duchy of York & Lancaster castles are considered Royal.)

Henry: Windsor
Margaret: Kenilworth
Edward: Carnarvon
Exeter: Launceston
Somerset: Carisbrooke (owned by somerset in 1453)

York: Sandal
March: Ludlow
Rutland: Fotheringhay
Clarence: Trim
Gloucester: Hammes

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Greg Sarnecki
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We're pretty close then in our placements.
In Bella Rosarum Intro version, I've plumped for:

Henry: The Tower
Margaret: Windsor
Edward: Kenilworth
all of these are fortresses needing 25 Influence to gain access if neutral

York: Ludlow
March: Fotheringhay
Rutland (if used): Sandal
Clarence: Carrickfergus
Gloucester: Middleham
Ludlow and Carrickfergus are fortresses; the others are noble-level castles, requiring only 10 Influence to gain access to the royal. Note, Gloucester starts in one of Salisbury's castles - after all he did grow up there, albeit because Salisbury was a Yorkist.

I guess I tried a balance of 'historical' versus what Kingmaker uses.

I see your placement is similar-ish geographically to Kingmaker:

Henry: Windsor vs London (pretty close)
Margaret: Kenilworth vs Fotheringhay/Coventry (/very close)
Edward: Carnarvon vs Coventry/Kenilworth (a bit different here)

York: Sandal vs York (pretty close)
March: Ludlow vs Harlech (close-ish)
Rutland: Fotheringhay vs -/Ireland (a bit different here)
Clarence: Trim vs Cardigan (a bit different here)
Gloucester: Hammes vs Calais (very close)

Of course, you have Exeter and Somerset as possible Lancastrian heirs, which I don't doubt has great genealogical merit. I guess the other dukes, Norfolk, Suffolk and Buckingham, as well as Bourchier could also then be in the mix.

In my Optional Rules I even have the younger heirs growing up as it were, and only appearing starting in certain years (there's a year counter that helps end the game if players are taking way too long): March, Rutland, Prince of Wales, Clarence, Gloucester all show up as the game progresses. Placement can get a bit fiddly, so it's just an optional rule.
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Dave de Vil
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I roll for heir(s) whenever a character dies, so you don't find out if a noble or heir has a direct successor until he's dead.

There are a few exceptions in regard to Royal heirs and the Salisbury/Warwick line; but for example if George of Clarence dies a roll which produces a direct heir/heiresse(s) redraws the lines of succession.

An alternative set up is the one where everyone starts with a Royal heir but no nobles, and the heir goes round recruiting nobles to his cause.
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Ken Vreeman
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Great stuff Greg.

Noticed on your Crown Deck Great Offices, you have the Arch-Bishops as #1 and #3. Confused as what I have seen on-line, they are not listed as Great Offices and I don't remember the original rules listing them as such. I could easily be wrong. Curious how this came up for you. Correct me if I am wrong, it is possible then for a players Earl to be an Arch-Bishop and have a Great Office?
I noticed you don't have a lot of mercenaries. What was your reasoning there?
I like your idea of the Commission of Array and am including some in my Event Deck (similar to Writs or Free Move) because I have a included Local Levy cards (like Mercenaries). Except a faction can only play one card unless they have a Commission card, where they can then play up to 3 Levy cards. Levy cards are playable for one battle only, then discarded.
Lastly, the Duchy of Lancaster in the South & Wales, again unfamiliar with these offices. Could you help me with history of these?

Just trying to understand your concept better. I find anything done differently in a game as tantalizing and like to know more. Thanks for stirring my interest.
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Ken Vreeman
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ok I stand corrected on the Great Offices of England.
I found a sight listing them in order of importance in present time.
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Greg Sarnecki
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To be fair, I can't find a historical record listing the order of precedence at the actual time of the Wars of the Roses, so I had to assume things hadn't really changed much on this front in the intervening years. This is probably a reasonable assumption.

Then again, it is known that the order of precedence of the dukes and earls was malleable, depending to some degree on who was in favour with the current king. Seems this order of precedence was a big deal to the nobles involved.

As to your slightly earlier post:
1. Yes, archbishoprics are not actually Great Offices, so you can have multiple offices, archbishoprics, etc assigned to one noble. Note that no noble was ever a bishop as such: really, these cards represent relatives or close allies who could be relied upon to act in that noble's name. e.g. George Neville, A/B of York.

1b. I may have to relax the Great Office restriction even more. There seems to be more examples of one noble holding multiple offices at once. Possibly just keep the top three (LC, LHT and LPS) exclusive.

2. I thought I had plenty of mercenaries: 10 in total. I did try to make them as historical as possible, whilst trying to retain some of the flavour of original KM: the Knight's of St. John are a bit of a stretch, but add a nice bit of spice to proceedings.
Upon more playtesting, I decided I might relax the recruitment restrictions for the top four ones (Schwartz, Aubigny, de Breze, Pikemen); they rely too heavily on having the correct alliance and mercenary card simultaneously, such that they rarely appear together in a game.
One has to strike a balance between historical accuracy and fun!
Possibly instead restrict these top mercenaries from fighting an army with the corresponding Foreign Alliance army, e.g. no Garde Ecossaise allowed to fight versus a French-backed army.

3. Yes, Commissions of Array seemingly became more important as the wars progressed. Glad to see others have drawn the same conclusion.

4. The whole D-of-L office was an interesting development in Bella Rosarum. The original KM totally messes up by placing the extra troops in North West Wales, despite there being no significant D-of-L holdings there!
After much research, I figured out that this was a hugely important office with massive amounts of castles and lands (and thus tenants), so much so that I had to split the office up to make it more manageable - I couldn't fit all the castles on one card!
Well, it turns out the administration of the Duchy of Lancaster was split up, pretty much along the lines I came up with independently, e.g. "The post of chief steward of the duchy of Lancaster estates north of the Trent..." from http://www.historyofparliamentonline.org/volume/1386-1421/me...
North and South of the Trent seemed to be a typical division. I split off the Welsh estates and castles similarly. In a way, C-of-D-of-L in Wales (as well as High Sheriff of Cardiganshire) also represent the Justiciar of South Wales, an office I had to cut, since there are already a lot of extra cards. (The North Wales Justiciar was also cut: CCPC sort of makes up for this.)

Thanks for the feedback. Glad I am stirring some interest.

PS Anyone read Hicks' 'Wars of the Roses'. Seems to be a pretty selective reading of the history and very much a Lancastrian apologist perspective.
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Ken Vreeman
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Thanks for elaborating and explaining. It makes more sense to me now.

I finished my Crown Deck, 300 cards. A bit much!? I plan on players starting with 20 or so and drawing 2 a turn. But include a couple of Event cards, Like Treachery, that have them lose one also.

I did notice that your Mercenary Captains were pretty dependent on having the right Alliance card. I took your idea of Captains and made them worth 10 alone or double the corresponding Mercenary card.

Respect what your trying to accomplish.
 
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