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Subject: Tides of Time: In Arms variant (madness mechanism) rss

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Rickard Örtegren
Sweden
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Tides of Time: In Arms variant
A thematic implementation of the Madness mechanism from Tides of Madness to Tides of Time.

There seems to be a demand for a way to implement the Madness mechanism from Times of Madness in to Tides of Time. Here is my take on it, feel free to playtest, leave comments and suggestions! Since I’m not a native English speaker, I’d appreciate any feedback on language on the cards as well.

If you just want the content you need to get started, just download and print the pdf below, grab some tokens of any sort (20 will do) and you will have everything you need to play. The pdf is self-contained and requires no knowledge of the Madness mechanism.

* No card alterations needed
* Player aides for printing
* All explained thematically
* Increases complexity enough to make it interesting for gamers, while still keeping it simple enough for casual gamers.
* Helps keep "hate drafting" down

Tides of Time: In Arms
Tides_of_time_in_arms_variant_v_1 .pdf



::: Below, designer notes on process. Not required reading ::::


1. Why implement the Madness mechanism?
As I see it, there are three strong reasons, of which the order is different for different people.

1. With the mechanism, the complexity of the game increases just enough to make it more interesting for serious gamers, without being a turn of for casual gamers.

2. The mechanism helps with the issue of “hate drafting” that a lot of people are put of by. In ToT, players consider two things: “Does drafting this card help me?” and second “Does drafting this card mess with my opponent?” The Madness mechanism gives you another priority: “Does drafting this card make me take on to much, or not enough, madness?” This helps you not focus to much on your opponent.

3. Last but not least, a lot of people really love the art of ToT, others have difficulty connecting to the Cathullu-theme of ToM, many feel both.


2. Design principles
I decided it was only wort doing if I could find ways to:

* Do it without content from ToM
* Do it without permanently marking cards
* Do it in harmony with, or as an elaboration of, the native ToT theme

I see a variant as an homage to a game and as such it should be respectful to the original games intent. Also, since I don’t want to alter the cards, it’s even more important the rules feel intuitive enough to be learned.

From this point, we will simply consider the Madness a trait that some cards will have. When I refer to it’s use in ToT, I will type it as [madness] until/if we should find a better theme for the mechanic (spoiler: we will!).

So, I made a list of issues to solve:
1. Deciding what cards are best suited to carry the [madness] trait to:
a. be balanced roughly as in ToM
b. be visually apparent, without marking any cards
c. make sure it is not to random to fit in to a theme of some sort.
2. Find a thematically solid equivalent to “Madness”.

I then realized that there were two cards in ToM that specifically refrenced the Madness trait in their scoring conditions, so I added:

3. Deciding what cards in ToT are best suited to carry the two card effects
in ToM that reference the Madness trait to:
a. be balanced roughly as in ToM
b. be visually apparent, without marking any cards.
c. make thematic sense
4. Find suitable tokens, and decide on any printed content.

3. What ToT cards are suitable to carry the [madness] trait?

This was really the break point. Issues of visual representation (how do you see what cards have the trait?) balance (is it balanced?) and thematic sense (why these cards and not others?) had to be addressed and click with each other. So before even thinking about theme, this had to be addressed.

There are eighteen cards in both ToT and ToM. Six suits with three cards each. Eight cards in ToM has the Madness trait; two of the suits have two cards, the rest one card.

So I started to look for something on the ToT cards, some rule that would group them similarly. I looked at a lot of different things: Cards that show sky paired with some theme about acid rains? Quickly abandoned that as the art was to vague to use as a reference. Wordings such as “each” or “majority”? No, to technical and game-oriented instead of thematic.

Apart from that, most rules I tried became either 12–15 cards (or 3–6 if reversed) and we need about 8.

I realized that the printed victory points gave me most dynamic ways to group them. Numbers are also easy to remember; theme would have to come later.

Here is a break down of the Madness cards in ToM by printed VP-value:

Cards with Madness Trait in ToM
Suit, Card 1 VP, Card 2 VP
None: 4 (for each majority)
Gold: 7 (for majority in red)
Green: 1 (for each madness), 7(for majority in gold)
Blue: 7 (for majority in purple)
Purple: 6 (for each set of blue+green), 7 (for majority in green)
Red: 7 (for majority in blue)

Summary: 8 cards with 46/80 VP:s = 57,5%

So, that is 8 cards with a total of 46 printed VP:s (out of 80). There are for patterns that draws our attention.
1. Balance between suits didn’t seem to be all to important (range: 4 to 13; where the 13 could have been a 9 if the purple 3 would have been used instead of the 7 )
2. They seem to center around mid values, 7.
3. All of the "for majority" is used, although this is perhaps a consequence of the pattern of mid ranges (Thanks to BGG user Patronux for pointing this out!)
4. 46 of 80 is roughly 50% of the total VP.

I understand that the VP % is not such easy statistic: you need to look at other things, like how hard it is to meet the conditions to get them, but as they are, they are a clue to the thinking of the designers: they focus on roughly half the printed VP:s, comprised mainly by middle value cards, and that balance between suits doesn’t seem to be a priority.

So, I set out to see if I could find some combination that would get me to roughly the same result in ToT. Of course, this could be done by saying like: “all the 3:s, and all the 7:s except for the green and purple” but it needed to be a general rule that could be learned.

After much testing, I realized that it was easy to group them by 7 cards or 9, but I think the most important for balance was that the number of cards needed to be 8. So I made that the priority and finally found an easy enough rule that got them to 8, be comprised mainly of middle value cards, and total roughly half the total printed VP-value.

Rule: “Any card with a printed VP-value of 5-8 increases your [madness] by 1”

Cards with [madness] Trait in ToT
Suit, Card 1 VP, Card 2 VP
None: 8 (for scoring highest with a single card), 8 (Double the amount of your most numerous suit(s))
Gold: 7 (for majority in red)
Green: 7(for majority in gold)
Blue: 7 (for majority in purple)
Purple: 5 (for each set of blue+green), 7 (for majority in green)
Red: 7 (for majority in blue)

Summary: 8 cards with 56/96 VP:s = 62,2%

Edit: In addition to this coming close to the number of cards and their VPs in ToM six out of eight share the same text, which is a good sign (Thanks to BGG user Patronux).

In the next section, we’ll look at if these cards can be justified thematically (spoiler: they can!)

4. Theming the mechanism: what to use instead of madness
First, let’s look at the preambles of the two games:

In Tides of Madness, players are investigators, searching for ancient knowledge, sometimes beyond the grasp of the human mind. Players are rewarded if they dare to press on and acquire the most of the maddening knowledge, but press to far – and they may loose their mind.

In Tides of Time, players are playing ancient civilizations/kingdoms as they prosper and collapse through time. Building monuments, fortifications and amassing vast knowledge as the ages pass.

So, the concept of madness must be translated into something that a civilization, as a whole, needs/wants to take on to be able to prosper – but are also weary of taking on too much of, as this could lead to it’s fall.

It’s also apparent that while ToM is told from an individual perspective, ToT is held on a much more distanced perspective, so it would have to be something grand, that would be carried over generations, and noted by historians.

I pretty soon landed on some sort of military power (don’t worry, it’s not going to get ameritrashy, remember the perspective in ToT is very macro). Let’s see how it holds up to the theme of ToT, in my view: It’s good for a civilization to have a big army: you win conflicts and can deter attackers and preserve peace within the civilization. But if you build to large an army, you may suddenly find you can no longer control it, and internal conflicts may turn in to devastating civil wars, causing a collapse of the entire civilization.

There are five named suits in ToT: Palaces, Strongholds, Librarys, Temples and Gardens. Can we see the theme above in them?

As the civilization grows and expands in to new territory, it also assimilates various regions and tribes, were some are more skilled warriors than others. It also produces knowledge that can lead to advancement is weaponry and military tactics, engineering and so on. In the course of a civilizations rise and fall, various militaristic religious groups may have influence at different times.

It’s really the Gardens that are a bit off, tough you wouldn’t notice playing as the only Gardens Card we are going to use as a Military inducing card, has a large somewhat ominous castle/temple on it.

So, how can we justify using the cards with a VP of 5-8 (middle values: below are a lot of 3:s and above is a 9 and a 13)? Although I don’t think it would be questioned in this type of game, here’s a crack at making it fit: One could argue that the middle cards represent the groups that are strong enough to aspire to rise in the civilization. Below 5 VP are to weak and have to much to loose on being aggressive, above 8 VP represents the aristocracy or establishment who feel protected by their standings with the political leadership in the civilization, and thus don’t priorities military strength.

Next step was to see how it aligned with the Madness rules from ToM.
in ToM, the Madness mechanism states that at the end of every round, players see who has the most madness that round, and that player gets to choose between an award of 4 VP:s or to heal one Madness (return one token). If any player ever reaches 9 Madness tokens, they loose their mind and loose the game.

In ToT, after every round, players compare the state of their civilizations. I think it makes thematic sense that they also compare the military power (or rather, it symbolizes an armed conflict between them) and the one with the most military win and gains 4VP – or, they realize that their military power is more autonomous and harder to control than they thought, and decide to reduce it and its influence by one.


5. What cards are suitable to take on the effects that references Madness in ToM?
In addition to being a trait on eight cards, there are two cards in ToM that references Madness in some way (one of which also has the trait).
Let’s see if we can transfer those effects to ToT in an intuitive and somewhat balanced way.

The main problem here is what to use as a visual clue to remind us. A quick glance at the ToT-cards shows us that there are exactly 2 cards that doesn’t have any VP on them, let’s see if we can pin the effects to them and use theme to help us remember what each card does.

Card A

ToM: ”This card has a wild suit. Additionally, take one Madness from your opponent.”

ToT: ”Win all ties. Also, you must take on 1 Military from opponent.”

Note: The wording “must take on” is to stress that you do not benefit from this, since cards are resolved after Military (they add to your game total, not to your round total for wich you may score).

Balance: these cards are roughly the same” value” i would think.

Theme: it makes good thematic sense that if you ”win all ties” you are stronger then your opponents civilization, so you get one Military and they loose one.

Card B

ToM: For each Madness, gain 1 VP

ToT: Double the size of your most numerous suit(s). Or receive 1 VP per Military acquired this round.

Balance: The gain on the card is really powerful, it would be to OP to simply add the 1 VP per Military effect. But I think it would give interesting game play if you get to choose, right? “It’s the beginning of the round, should I try to get many numerous suits – or should I try to get more military?”

Theme: I look at the card art and name: ”The roof of the world”. Perhaps if one has such a fortified castle, at such high vantage point, they are a bit more at ease: they have a good spot for overview, easy to defend and feel more secure. So they relax and start to put up their army for hire, thus earning extra income (VP:s)

6. Printed materials and tokens
Printed material
I see a need for the following:
* A reminder that cards with a printed value of 5-8 give you one Military.
* A reminder of the new text for card A and B.
* And a way for both players so be able to glance at this information is preferable.

So, I am making a rulebook and small player aide that can be printed and sleeved to two double sided cards (regular card size, fits in standard clear sleeve)

Rule “book”
Page 1: Thematic explanation. Page 2: Rules summary and large “5–8”-reminder, to have visible on the table during play.

Player aides (one each)
Page 3: Scoring summary. Page 4: Added Card Text

Tokens
Not much of a problem. Just use any 18-20 small items of your choice. I would use black or grey (as in the madness tokens) to not confuse them with any other suit colors.

7. End note
If you made it all the way here, I want to thank you for your time and patience! Please feel free to comment on the process or anything else.
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Paulo C. Ponze
Peru
Arequipa
Arequipa
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This was really great! I was hoping for some way to mix the new cards and new mechanic from ToM into ToT. Thank you!

I would like to help a little bit with the balance on the cards with the [madness] trait in ToT, could you specify which cards on ToM have the Madness trait? I mean, what is their VP condition?

Also, I have some minor corrections to your PDF file:

Page with number "2" of the card:

First paragraph: "When a player ad...a printed VP...emedietely" should be "Whenever a player adds...a printed VP value...immediately".
Second paragraph: "Player who...4 VP:s" should be "The player who...4 VPs".
Fourth paragraph: "....You loose" should be "....You lose"

Page with number "1" of the same card:

First paragraph: ",...it's" should be ",...its".
Second paragraph, first line: "...in to" should be "...into". Second line: ",...were" should be ",...where".
Third paragraph, fourth line: "...than" should be "...that".

Page with number "4" below:

I think the added text to Kings Nest should be something like "Also, take 1 Military from your/the opponent". Don't forget the comma.

Page with number "3" on the same card:

First line: "...player aide" should be "...player aid".
Also, check for every "VP:s" and change them to "VPs".
Point 4: "you loose the game" should be "you lose the game".

I have not checked the rules on the right side of the cards .
 
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Rickard Örtegren
Sweden
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Thanks Patronux!

I've just uploaded an updated version of the pdf to the file section, thanks a lot for that.

I've also updated the post above to include the card text of the cards i specified in the matrix. It does show that six out of the eight cards I propose to use in ToT have the exact same text on them in ToM. That's a good sign i suppose I should have noted it in the original post, but I focused more on the VPs as I intended to use them as reminders.

Thanks a lot, I've put your user name in for credit in the updated file description and in an edit in the post where the card text similarities are mentioned.

However, this variant does not propose to mix and match the cards from the two games, just a way to play ToT with an added version of the madness mechanism (no cards from ToM). I suppose it is possible, to do so and have to look out for both madness and military.

I am such a theme junkie though, so I would want to find a story to go with it. The problem with that is that ToT plays out over a large time span, where as ToM plays out during only a year or so, of one person trying to gather knowledge. But If you're not that heavy on theme I suppose it wouldn't matter as much

Thanks again, happy gaming!
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