Tony Duran
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Game: Royal Ruin

Overview: This game uses a standard deck of playing cards to pit two groups of heroes against one another in a battle involving melee, spells and thievery. If you are familiar with fantasy role-playing games then you will immediately recognize many of the game’s concepts. In this game the three court cards - the King, Queen, and Jack - become the Knight, the Witch, and the Thief. Each hero type has it’s own unique strengths and abilities.

Number of Players: 2

Playing Time: Approximately 30 minutes

Status of Game: Complete and playtested with family and friends. Could use some “outside” testing.

Components: A deck of 52 playing cards. Optional: The battle boards in the link below.

Files:
Royal Ruin rules
Battle Boards (Working Draft. Graphical version forthcoming.)
Battle Boards Instructions

BGG thread wherein this name got it's final name!

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New graphical Battle Board and Player Board design...

WARNING: This boards are very black ink intensive, you might want to stick to the orginal mock-ups above until I can make nice ink-friendly versions.

RUIN Battle Board

RUIN Player Board

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todd sanders
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just read through your rules. nicely written and i find them clear. interesting use of a standard card deck as well

i like the positional aspect of the heroes, reminds me of rpg melee/ranged attacks as well as games like Coppertwaddle

i could see this game very easily adapted to a designed deck with heroes and resources
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dumarest123 wrote:
just read through your rules. nicely written and i find them clear. interesting use of a standard card deck as well

i like the positional aspect of the heroes, reminds me of rpg melee/ranged attacks as well as games like Coppertwaddle

i could see this game very easily adapted to a designed deck with heroes and resources


Thanks for the kind words. I have been waiting to hear some kind of feedback on whether the rules are written clearly enough.

Yes, my intention was to create a card game that had the feel of melee and ranged attacks similar to RPGs. Glad to see I may have succeeded. cool

I have never heard of Coppertwaddle but I will look into it to see how similar it is. Sounds interesting.
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I made a gameplay video of the game. It's pretty rough, but bear in mind that we filmed that in one take and with no editing afterwards!

Hope the video makes it clear how to play the game. If not please read the rules and/or ask me if you have any questions.

Enjoy!

How to play the card game Royal Ruin
(recently moved from Dropbox to YouTube.)
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Durantony wrote:
I made a gameplay video of the game. It's pretty rough, but bear in mind that we filmed that in one take and with no editing afterwards!

Hope the video makes it clear how to play the game. If not please read the rules and/or ask me if you have any questions.

Enjoy!

Video - How to play Royal Ruin

FYI: If you watch a video on Dropbox you are cut off after 15 minutes. To watch the whole thing (27 mins) you must download it. Sorry about that.



Ahhh. I could not get it to stream. The video is +2GB. Better put something on Youtube.
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ex1st wrote:

Ahhh. I could not get it to stream. The video is +2GB. Better put something on Youtube.


Bummer. Yes I will put it on YouTube soon as I can. In the meantime, downloading it would be best for now. soblue
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Video is now on YouTube!

How to play the card game Royal Ruin

I will update the link above as well.
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Charles Ward
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Durantony wrote:
Video it now on YouTube!

How to play the card game Royal Ruin

I will update the link above as well.


Hahaha, ninja sly Queen and Jack switch, busted.
There is quite a lot to it. I hope to rule book has PLENTY of examples.
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James Robertson
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Played it when the power went out in my area. Had a blast.

I'm not sure how I feel about the melee10/20 split or how hands are handled, but aside from that everything is absolutely brilliant. I'll probably toy around with those at some point.
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ex1st wrote:
Durantony wrote:
Video it now on YouTube!

How to play the card game Royal Ruin

I will update the link above as well.


Hahaha, ninja sly Queen and Jack switch, busted.
There is quite a lot to it. I hope to rule book has PLENTY of examples.


Ha, yeah my son was paying more attention than I expected. But really, it was a demo game for Pete's sake... who cares if I switched cards?! I wonder where he got that competitive attitude from? whistle

Regarding the fact that there is a lot to the game, I am hoping that if the rules are clear enough, and it all makes sense from a role-playing game point of view, that they are easy to learn. For instance its not hard to remember that a thief can steal things, and knights fight better up close, etc. Also the phases of the game are all pulled directly from RPGs so people familiar with them should pick it up quickly I think. Here's hoping!


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Arseface wrote:
Played it when the power went out in my area. Had a blast.

I'm not sure how I feel about the melee10/20 split or how hands are handled, but aside from that everything is absolutely brilliant. I'll probably toy around with those at some point.


Thanks for the kind words and glad you enjoyed it!

Regarding the couple of rules you mentioned, allow me to explain some of my thinking on those. The following is the sort of stuff I want to eventually mention in the Design Notes section of the rules so it helps me to type it up now. Bear with me please...

Let me start by saying that the game has been playtested a LOT and the rules represent years of tweaking. Back in '95, after playing around with the rules in my head for awhile, I decided to write a Palm Pilot program that allowed me to playtest the game.

I did that and played the game over and over again, all the while tweaking the rules. I was actually addicted to playing, and coding, that little Palm Pilot game for a long time.

For laughs, here is a screenshot of that PalmPilot game. (Note the original name of the game back in the 90's was "Melee".)



Anyway, I digress, so let me address the benefits I discovered of the rules you mentioned...

The two-step battle system

- Makes the battles more exciting. I didn't want players to just play a couple of cards, compare them, and then the battle ends. By playing multiple cards in stages there is a feeling of give and take, attack and defense, all part of a good melee.

- Draws out the battles and makes the attack phase the center of the game. This is where heroes die, so lets make it interesting.

- Gives the battle a more rpg feeling wherein first you try to hit the opponent and then you roll damage. When looked at that way, melee10 can be a to hit roll and melee20 can be a damage roll or a saving throw, particularly since 20 is a nod to the D20s used in rpgs.

Melee10

- This is the step where the position of the heroes really becomes important since it determines if they can play one or two assets.

- The max 10 cap allows a defender who gets only one card a chance to rebuff the attack. So even if the attacker gets two cards its still possible for one card to tie or beat it.

- If a defender wins melee10 there is no need to go to melee20. This makes the melee20 step even more exciting since it doesn't happen on every attack. When "melee20" is called out, the defender usually gets nervous and the attacker starts smelling blood.

- Gives low-numbered cards more value, which is fun and unique. A 2 card for instance is great since you can pretty much play it with another card and still be under 10. Most times it's better to play a 2 + 8 instead of a single 10 card, for various strategic reasons.

- During play I think it's fun to look in your inventory for two cards of the same suit that add up to 10 or less. When I find them I start thinking how to maneuver my heroes to make use of those cards.

- The cards played on melee10 stay on the table for melee20, and they are very useful there since, being assets, they can be used to "make an opening" if need be.

Melee20

- Gives a defender who doesn't have any assets a chance to survive the battle. In early versions of the game there was no melee20, and believe me, it was no fun when you had no cards to defend with and the battle was over just like that, with the attacker playing a single card. Booooo.

- The blackjack-like play style has a push your luck element to it, while still being unique enough from blackjack due to the additional rules.

- Bottom line is I think it draws out the attack, in a good way, and makes it more interesting. Hopefully the more people play it, and get a feel for it, they will agree.

RE: "How hands are handled."
What did you mean by this? Maybe it's something I can address for you as well.

Thanks for letting me ramble!

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James Robertson
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My issue with the split is less that it's two stage and more how the differences are handled with aces.

The way aces are handled in melee 10 and 20 are very different. I feel like there's probably a better way to merge the way they work to make it more grokkable. I don't know how, it's just my intuition bugging me.


As for hands, drawing when you have less than 6 cards at any point really diminishes hand management. I completely understand how not having cards to defend or attack with sucks, but I feel like there are better ways of handling it than just doling out lots of free cards.

I'll probably toy with "draw 6 when you run out" and "experience phase: draw one card for each opposing hero" for starters.


These are minor nitpicks though. The game works wonderfully as-is and that's how I'll present it to people when I play with them.
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Ghislain LEVEQUE
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I've watche the video, I will try the game with my friend tonight, I'll let you know how it plays
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courtjus wrote:
I've watche the video, I will try the game with my friend tonight, I'll let you know how it plays


Sounds good, Ghislain. But please don't go by the video alone to play the game. That is more of an introduction and I missed a rule here and there. Before you play the game you should read the rulebook.

Hope you like it!
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I've played and just refered to the rulebook when needed.

My feeling is that it's a little too random. I suggest that players draft the armies instead of just drawing 4 at random. Maybe the initial hands should be drafted too...
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courtjus wrote:
I've played and just refered to the rulebook when needed.

My feeling is that it's a little too random. I suggest that players draft the armies instead of just drawing 4 at random. Maybe the initial hands should be drafted too...

I have always enjoyed the random parties that are generated. It's fun to see what you get and it makes every game different. I fear that if the players are somehow allowed to choose their teams, then every party will be composed of two knights in front and a witch and thief in back, all with different suit types. That seems to be the optimal configuration.

There have been great games of Ruin where one player gets something less than optimal -like the three witches I was dealt in the training video! - and still manages a victory. You get a good sense of pride and some bragging rights when you do that.

"Ha! My three thieves made fools out of your knights and witches." cool

Consider the game of Catan. You could play every game with the same island layout, but it's more fun to play on a different setup every game. Even if sometimes the hexes and numbers fall into weird positions you just go with it and come up with new strategies to compensate.

Also from a practical point of view I do want to keep the basic game as simple as possible. The meat of the rulebook is already four pages long and drafting rules would add more to it. For now, I would like to make the game as inviting as possible.

However, having said all that, you did give me a good idea. In the last page of the rulebook I mentioned the possibility of tournament rules. I think your party drafting might work out very well in a tournament situation! In fact, you now have me thinking of putting some tournament rules together.

One idea I have been playing around with is a "Campaign" tournament where the surviving heroes move on to the next match, and no new heroes are dealt to the party. I bet by the end of the tournament the winner will have given names to all his surviving heroes.

Thanks for trying the game out and for giving me an honest review. I now have new options to think about.
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Arseface wrote:
My issue with the split is less that it's two stage and more how the differences are handled with aces.

The way aces are handled in melee 10 and 20 are very different. I feel like there's probably a better way to merge the way they work to make it more grokkable. I don't know how, it's just my intuition bugging me.


As for hands, drawing when you have less than 6 cards at any point really diminishes hand management. I completely understand how not having cards to defend or attack with sucks, but I feel like there are better ways of handling it than just doling out lots of free cards.

I'll probably toy with "draw 6 when you run out" and "experience phase: draw one card for each opposing hero" for starters.


These are minor nitpicks though. The game works wonderfully as-is and that's how I'll present it to people when I play with them.


Yes, I have played around with different inventory sizes and replenish rates. For instance at one time the hand size was 4 plus the number of heroes in the party.

Another time only the experience phase gave you cards. But then the player going second in the initiative order was at a great disadvantage. They might spent all their good cards in defense and then have nothing to attack with.

Also consider that witches and thieves both remove resources from the opposing party. Without a minimum inventory size, this might make the battle phase a little bare in some circumstances.

So ultimately it worked out better with the players getting fresh cards constantly. You will see why the first time the Initiative Phase produces 2 or 3 ties in a row... it's happened! If the players didn't have a minimum hand size they would have played the round with small inventories.

In the long run, giving the players a minimum hand size worked best. But I do encourage you to try different hand sizes and replenish rates. If you do find something you enjoy better please let me know! And again, thanks for the kind words.
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I have listened to the feedback and in response I added a new variant rules section to the latest rules document.

Here is a preview:

~~~~~~~~~~~

VARIANT RULES

Single-stage Combat

Instead of using the melee10 and melee20 combat steps, the following streamlined combat rules can be used.

After the attack is announced the attacker places his attack cards (1 or 2 assets, plus an Artifact) on the table all at once. There is no restriction on the total of all cards played. The attacker then plays according to the melee20 step. After that the defender does the same using his defense cards, if any. The attacker must have at least one asset to start the attack, but the defender can still defend with no assets as is usual for the melee20 step.

This style of combat has not been tested. Although it would make combat somewhat faster and simpler, it may make attackers too powerful. Not only can attackers now start with high totals but it’s possible for them to play a “10”, a “9” , and an Ace all at once. That’s a perfect 20 score! The poor defender better get real lucky. Single-stage combat will also lessen the capabilities of the Artifacts since they can no longer be used for probing attacks efficiently.

Non-assets in Combat

Currently all cards played in the melee10 step must be assets to the heroes in combat. If the players decide that this greatly limits the options in their inventories, this variant can be used.

When the attacker or the defender is allowed two cards in combat, the second card does not need to be an asset but it must still match the color of the hero, such as red or black. Only asset artifacts get any special abilities.

This variant makes thieves more useful since they can steal cards matching their color. It also makes heroes in strong attack positions even more powerful since playing two cards can now happen more often. If you also add in the single-stage combat rule, strong attackers will be very dangerous! All this may or may not be good for game balance.

Witches in Melee

If the players do not want the possibilities of a tie game, or they just wish to see a witch on the front lines have more options, here is a way to handle that.

A witch in the front rank can attack the opponent’s front rank with one asset, but the defender must be on the same file she is on. The “Witch May Escape!” rules are not used.

This means the witch can only attack directly in front of her; no diagonal attacks allowed. This is due to the very short range of her melee weapons, such as daggers and poisoned finger jewelry. This rule might create interesting situations during the Initiative phase. For instance a witch might want to lose initiative in order to move second and get into position for an attack without the defender running away.

~~~~~~~~~~~

The rules above will be found in the v1.6 rules document.

Next I will add rules for the Cleric, update the BGG page, and make new ink-friendly battle boards.

Thanks for the input everyone and looking forward to opinions on the new rules.
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James Robertson
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I played a bit using an alternate ruleset that turned out very well.

I used your non-assets in combat rule and made these changes.

Draw 6 at the beginning of the game.
Draw 1 card for each opposing adventurer during the experience stage.
Draw 6 cards if you have 0 cards at the end of any stage.
Witches also allow you to discard without redrawing.
No refocus action.

It lead to much more interesting hand management. Large hands make it easy to play cards and but hard to redraw bad hands. Small hands allow for easy redraws but make it easy for opponents to steal or destroy key cards.


I haven't tried the single stage rule yet. I'm looking forward to it!
 
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Hi James, last night we played the game with your Draw 6 rules and non-assets in combat just like you did.

Draw 6 was interesting! But since you didn't say if we should max out at 8 cards, the experience phase was loading us up with big inventories. There were turns we started with 8, 9, or 10 cards! In fact, there was only one time in the entire game where the zero-card rule kicked in at the end of a phase and I picked up 6 cards, which I was very grateful for. Because...

One thing I didn't like was since I was winning and could only pick up 1 or 2 cards in the experience phase, I had once had to start a round with only 4 cards. Not good for me, but my son loved it since he was losing. If the intent of Draw 6 is to add more handicaps to the winning player, mission accomplished. Ha! But as it is it seemed like some rounds we had lots of cards and others we were starving for cards. Well, the winning player was starving anyway. What was your experience with these rules?

Also using Non-assets in combat created both good and bad situations, since usually the attacker can choose a two-card attack position most battles would up going to melee20 instead of the usual 50% (or so) of the attacks.

One thing I would not want to do is non-assets and one-stage combat because I noticed there were situations where I would have able to play a 19 or 20, bang, right off the bat to start an attack. The defender would have been in BIG trouble.

Thanks for your continued interest in the game and for suggesting the new rules. We will try them some more (with and without other variants) and perhaps add them to the variant page in the game document.

 
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The hand-management rules James suggested got me thinking when we played a game using his rules. One thing I noticed is how once certain cards are used it could be a while before the same cards can come up again. This created situations were a hero was very strong one round, and then can be expected to not be so strong the next and usually be a weak target for attacks. Here is variant rule to handle this:

VARIANT RULE

Experience Phase Reshuffle

In the Experience Phase, pick up the two initiative cards on the table, and the Discard deck, and the Resource Deck, and then shuffle them all together to create a new Resource Deck. Then players pick up their free experience cards.


This will put back all the resources used in a round and make them all available again, making it harder to predict which heroes will be weak or strong in the next round. Each round will start with a fresh resource deck.
 
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