Recommend
3 
 Thumb up
 Hide
15 Posts

Decktet» Forums » Variants

Subject: Battle of the Bards redux rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
P.D. Magnus
United States
Albany
New York
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Some time ago, Adam Blinkinsop posted a WIP game called Battle of the Bards. He said he wouldn't mind if I did some crafting on it. I've been mulling it over and, after playtesting today, wanted to share a draft of the rules.

Questions, comments, and emoticon flurries welcome.

BATTLE OF THE BARDS
When telling the story of how the Diplomat and the Huntress were swept away to a far off land where their spirits dwelled in clockwork bodies, you usually take your time elaborating their escape from the capital. The audience seems restless, though, so maybe you'll just jump to the bit when the monster attacks.

Number of players: 2

Components: a Decktet, a scorepad or score track

In this game, you and your opponent are rival bards telling epic stories to fickle listeners. Each tale within your story is represented by a line of cards. You can tell upto two tales at the same time. When you conclude one, you score points for it and can start another.

SETUP
Shuffle the deck.

Deal one card face up to represent the dominant meme.

One of the player draws four cards, picks two to start her own tales and the other two start their opponent's tales.

The other player takes the first turn.

GAME PLAY
On your turn, draw five cards without showing them to your opponent. Look at them and split them into two groups. Put one group face up and the other face down on the table.

You can make the groups two cards and three cards, or you can make them one card and four cards. You can put the larger group face up or face down. It's up to you.

Just looking at the face up group, your opponent decides which group she will take and which one you will get.

The player who gets the face up pile takes those cards and plays them one at a time, in any order. Then the player who gets the face down pile reveals them and plays them.

You play a card by adding it to one of your tales. It must share at least one suit symbol with the latest card of that tale.

Before or after playing a card, you may choose to conclude one of your tales. When concluding a tale, score points (see below) and then discard all the cards in it. You may start a new tale by playing any card.

Note that you must play all of your cards. In order to play a card that does not share suits with the last card in either of your tales, you have no choice but to conclude one of the tales.

After both you and your opponent have played your cards, it is your opponent's turn. If there are fewer than five cards left in the deck, the game is over. Otherwise, she draws five cards and take her turn.


SCORING
When you conclude a tale, add its value to your score.

In order to be worth any points, a tale must hold the audience's interest. In game terms: It must have at least one card with a rank equal or greater than the total number of cards in the tale. Aces count as 1 for this purpose, Crowns count as 10, Pawns and Courts count as zero.

Example: If 7 is the highest ranked card in a tale, then it is worth no points if it contains 8 or more cards.

A tale which holds the audience's interest can score points in two ways:

(A) 1 point for each card that matches one of the suit symbols on the dominant meme. A tale card that matches two suits on the dominant meme is worth 2 points. If you score any points this way, discard the dominant meme and deal a new one from the top of the deck.

(B) Points for cards in the tale of the same rank. A pair is worth 4 points. Three or more of a kind is worth 9 points.

THE END
When a player cannot draw five cards from the deck on their turn, the game ends.

The player who would have taken the next turn immediately concludes and scores her remaining tales. Then her opponent may score any remaining tales.

After the deck is exhausted and the dominant meme is discarded, treat the dominant meme as having no suits.

The player with the highest score wins. In the case of a tie, the player who had a tale with the Crown of Suns in it is the winner. If neither tied player had the Crown of Suns, then it's really a tie.

THE EXTENDED DECK
You could play with just the basic deck, but the game would be shorter.

Pawns and Courts follow the rules as written.

When you play the Excuse, you must immediately conclude one of your tales. Score as usual, except that you may name an additional suit to score as if it were on the dominant meme. If the Excuse is the dominant meme, you can name any one suit to match when concluding a tale.

DOUBLE DECK
The game is pretty quick with a single deck. It's more sweeping with a double deck, following the same rules.

Note that it is possible with a double deck to follow a card with the exact same card to make a pair. For example, the Crown of Moons is the only Crown which can immediately follow the Crown of Moons. This is fine, because the split-and-choose mechanism means that it isn't easy to set that up.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Adam Blinkinsop
United States
Kirkland
Washington
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Looks great! Any chance to play with these rules?
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
P.D. Magnus
United States
Albany
New York
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
blinks wrote:
Looks great! Any chance to play with these rules?


We've tried it both single and double deck. Our scores were close, but not because we were both scoring at the same rate. Instead, one of us would have fewer higher-point tales while the other had more, smaller tales.

Cristyn commented that she felt like it could be a final rule set.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Adam Blinkinsop
United States
Kirkland
Washington
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Ship it!
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
P.D. Magnus
United States
Albany
New York
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
blinks wrote:
Ship it!


I'd be happy to hear from somebody else who's tried it. At the very least, I'd like to know that the written rules are clear enough for somebody who isn't me to sit down and play it.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
P.D. Magnus
United States
Albany
New York
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Played another double-deck game today. Still seems fun.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Cursed Fly
Italy
flag msg tools
Avatar
I played a couple games with my girlfriend, and although we like the mechanism of splitting the cards and letting the other player decide, we find the game a bit awkward in a few points:
- it's a bit slow and boring to wait for the other player make the groups
- we prefer games where it's not needed to have pen and paper to keep the score; we tried using the discarded cards, but in some occasions you make more points than the available discarded cards
- we easily forgot which player made the groups last since the order of playing the cards is decided by who takes the face up cards, so that changes all the time

I think that the game has potential, but it needs some refinement at least on those points.
1 
 Thumb up
1.00
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
P.D. Magnus
United States
Albany
New York
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Thanks for trying it!

thecursedfly wrote:
I played a couple games with my girlfriend, and although we like the mechanism of splitting the cards and letting the other player decide, we find the game a bit awkward in a few points:
- it's a bit slow and boring to wait for the other player make the groups


We had this experience the first time we tried it, but later found that it went smoothly enough. I'm not sure if we got better at it or if we were just in a different mood.

I don't see any way to speed up the mechanism. It's faster with simultaneous play, but having both players split groups at the same time makes it too wild for planning to be possible.

Quote:

- we prefer games where it's not needed to have pen and paper to keep the score; we tried using the discarded cards, but in some occasions you make more points than the available discarded cards


You can track score some other way, of course: A pack of regular cards, a score track, tokens, poker chips...

Or you could keep your concluded tales in stacks in front of you. Put the dominant meme face up on the table (if you match it) and the rest of the cards from the tale face down. Tally up scores at the end of the game.

Quote:

- we easily forgot which player made the groups last since the order of playing the cards is decided by who takes the face up cards, so that changes all the time


A simpler rule would be that the player choosing a pile plays first. Then the player who made the split plays.

The idea was that this added strategy in relation to the dominant meme. If the dominant meme is good for you, choosing the face up cards for yourself guarantees you get to score it. If it's not, then choosing the face down cards means that (maybe) the other player will change it before you play your cards.

If the rule adds more confusion than genuine choice, though, it's not super important.

Alternately (or additionally) you can remove the Excuse from the deck and use it as a marker to indicate who's taking a turn.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Adam Blinkinsop
United States
Kirkland
Washington
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
pmagnus wrote:
Quote:

- we prefer games where it's not needed to have pen and paper to keep the score; we tried using the discarded cards, but in some occasions you make more points than the available discarded cards


You can track score some other way, of course: A pack of regular cards, a score track, tokens, poker chips...

Or you could keep your concluded tales in stacks in front of you. Put the dominant meme face up on the table (if you match it) and the rest of the cards from the tale face down. Tally up scores at the end of the game.

This latter option was my intention, to keep the scores partially hidden (so it isn't completely obvious who's winning when you're close).
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Cursed Fly
Italy
flag msg tools
Avatar
pmagnus wrote:

Or you could keep your concluded tales in stacks in front of you. Put the dominant meme face up on the table (if you match it) and the rest of the cards from the tale face down. Tally up scores at the end of the game.


Sounds like a good option, thanks for the suggestion. This assumes that you discard the dominant meme every time a player scores a tale, while it may happen that the dominant meme is not discarded; I guess that it's always possible to rotate the cards 90 degrees compared to the previous tale scored, or keep multiple stacks in front of you.

Quote:

A simpler rule would be that the player choosing a pile plays first. Then the player who made the split plays.

The idea was that this added strategy in relation to the dominant meme. If the dominant meme is good for you, choosing the face up cards for yourself guarantees you get to score it. If it's not, then choosing the face down cards means that (maybe) the other player will change it before you play your cards.

If the rule adds more confusion than genuine choice, though, it's not super important.

I guessed this was the reason, and came on the same solution, but thought that this possibly gives too much advantage to experienced players, so I discarded the idea.

Perhaps the following could work: the First player draws 5 cards and splits them, both groups face up; the Second player chooses which group to take and begins playing his cards only after the First player has decided whether to discard the dominant meme for a random new one or keep the current one; then the First player plays his cards. This way, the order of play is fixed and there is no confusion about which player's turn it is.

What do you think? Too much advantage to one of the two players? I cannot try it right now but may try it later today.
It would alter the characteristic face up/down groups rule in exchange for a clear turn order.
Quote:

Alternately (or additionally) you can remove the Excuse from the deck and use it as a marker to indicate who's taking a turn.

We tried this with a turn token indeed, but we keep forgetting to pass that one around as well but that's because we're not experienced players and nearly never use turn tokens; I guess that's a good solution though. Just drag the Excuse to your side as first action of your turn. And if the Excuse is used in the game, use the cards box, a coin, anything...

Also, I think this game plays well with a Double Decktet as suggested; the double Excuse also allows to each player to score one.
2 
 Thumb up
0.01
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
P.D. Magnus
United States
Albany
New York
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
thecursedfly wrote:
pmagnus wrote:

Or you could keep your concluded tales in stacks in front of you. Put the dominant meme face up on the table (if you match it) and the rest of the cards from the tale face down. Tally up scores at the end of the game.


Sounds like a good option, thanks for the suggestion. This assumes that you discard the dominant meme every time a player scores a tale, while it may happen that the dominant meme is not discarded; I guess that it's always possible to rotate the cards 90 degrees compared to the previous tale scored, or keep multiple stacks in front of you.


My thought was to keep multiple stacks, but rotating them would work too-- 'booking' them like you would for a trick-taking game.

Quote:

Quote:

A simpler rule would be that the player choosing a pile plays first. Then the player who made the split plays.

The idea was that this added strategy in relation to the dominant meme. If the dominant meme is good for you, choosing the face up cards for yourself guarantees you get to score it. If it's not, then choosing the face down cards means that (maybe) the other player will change it before you play your cards.

If the rule adds more confusion than genuine choice, though, it's not super important.

I guessed this was the reason, and came on the same solution, but thought that this possibly gives too much advantage to experienced players, so I discarded the idea.

Perhaps the following could work: the First player draws 5 cards and splits them, both groups face up; the Second player chooses which group to take and begins playing his cards only after the First player has decided whether to discard the dominant meme for a random new one or keep the current one; then the First player plays his cards. This way, the order of play is fixed and there is no confusion about which player's turn it is.

What do you think? Too much advantage to one of the two players? I cannot try it right now but may try it later today.
It would alter the characteristic face up/down groups rule in exchange for a clear turn order.


Putting both groups face-up would be bad. The temptation of the face-up cards against the unknown potential and risk of the face-down cards is most of the game. Is the other player trying to hide great cards that they want? Or are they trying to trick me into taking terrible cards?

If player order is a problem, just let the second player (who chooses which group to take) play their cards first.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Cursed Fly
Italy
flag msg tools
Avatar
pmagnus wrote:

My thought was to keep multiple stacks, but rotating them would work too-- 'booking' them like you would for a trick-taking game.

I just noticed that I misunderstood your comment; that way it would work indeed.
Quote:

Putting both groups face-up would be bad. The temptation of the face-up cards against the unknown potential and risk of the face-down cards is most of the game. Is the other player trying to hide great cards that they want? Or are they trying to trick me into taking terrible cards?

If player order is a problem, just let the second player (who chooses which group to take) play their cards first.

I thought the same, that it removes a key mechanic of the game; but it may be an option for a variant. I'll try with your suggestion (player who choses the group plays first) and report back; my girlfriend is not in the mood for games today ninja .
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Cursed Fly
Italy
flag msg tools
Avatar
A new couple clarifications in the scoring if I may ask:

1. is the dominant meme card used for checking the audience interest (so, is it considered as part of the tale)?
2. is the dominant meme card used for forming rank couples/triplets (when used together with the first scoring method)?

I think the answer is "no" to both.

Thanks
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
P.D. Magnus
United States
Albany
New York
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
thecursedfly wrote:
A new couple clarifications in the scoring if I may ask:

1. is the dominant meme card used for checking the audience interest (so, is it considered as part of the tale)?
2. is the dominant meme card used for forming rank couples/triplets (when used together with the first scoring method)?

I think the answer is "no" to both.


Correct. “No” to both.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Cursed Fly
Italy
flag msg tools
Avatar
We played the game once again yesterday with the following discussed mods:
- the player choosing a pile plays first
- points are counted only at the end
- double deck

It was better in my opinion, as it resolved some of the problems I had with it.
One more thing I would do next time is to remove the Excuse cards; as we were counting the score only at the end, we had to remember the chosen suits for the whole game (not too hard, but inconvenient).

I have to say the game was still quite slow, but that may improve in part with experience.
The slower parts were:
- choosing how to split the groups (many variables to check: useful dominant meme, which cards help/damage me and which cards help/damage the other player, how to balance the two groups)
- counting the score at the end takes some time as you don't remember the "features" of the stories (which couples for example, in a 10 cards story)
- a double deck still takes some time to go through

It may be fine to play on some slow days, but we're used to some faster card games, so we may opt for something faster more often. But who knows, Battle of the Bards may resurface at some times.
Since I know the game now, I may add an Italian translation to the wiki when I have some time.

Thanks for the rules help and for coming up with the game!
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.