Max Seidman
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TABULA RASA



A resonym entry to the 2019 Wargame Print and Play Contest.

The capital of Minervia has been destroyed.

Compete with the other prominent factions of the nation to fill the power vacuum and reconquer the land in this randomly generated*, single-sheet, fight-and-write area control war game.


Download the tutorial board
Download the full board

*random generator is a work in progress

Players: 2-3
Duration: 45 minutes (full board)/10 minutes (tutorial board)
Ages: 12+
Assembly: 0 minutes, 1 sheet, color printing recommended.
                                          

About the game:
Tabula Rasa is a single sheet print and play war game set in the Monarch universe that takes no assembly! Simply print the board, grab some markers, and you're ready to play! I have provided 1 tutorial board and 1 full board at the link above.

Expand to capture territory, Build to set up outposts, Improve your outposts, and Ruin your opponents' territories. Each time you take one of the core actions, you make progress towards unlocking upgrades to another core action. Try to lock your opponents out of the best upgrades while capturing the most territory to win!

Instructions are included on the back of each board. The game has been tested a bunch, but the instructions have NOT been tested, so feel free to ask clarifying questions.

Tabula Rasa was inspired by my entry to the 2017 2-Player PnP Contest, Continental Drift.

Components:
1 Printed board
2-3 Different color markers (1/player)

                                          
Rules FAQ:
What do trees do? Nothing, they're just aesthetic.
How do Upgrades work? You check the box of the same color of the action you took, which makes progress towards upgrade the action to its RIGHT. Whenever you take an action, if all of the checkboxes pointing to one of the same-color upgrades are filled and you filled at least one of them, you do the upgrade after doing the base action!
What do trees do? Nothing, they're just aesthetic.
                                          

Credits:
Designed by Resonym: Max Seidman, Mary Flanagan, Emma Hobday, and Rachel Billings
Art by Spring Yu

Competition Categories:
Best Art
Best Rules
Most Original Concept
Best 2+ player
Best Easy to Build Game
Best game with this year's theme: Post-Antiquity (approximately 500 AD - 1500 AD)
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Mark Perry
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Re: [WIP] Tabula Rasa - 2019 Wargame Print and Play Contest [PnP Ready | Components Phase]
Looks interesting!

Question: Is this a Wargame? Maybe it should be entered in the roll and wrote contest ? It seems to be batter fit there. (I am not sure all 4X themes = wargames).
Maybe if you removed the alternate universe setting, and added some more chrome so that it could be firmly placed into a historical setting, and the phases could be firmly rooted in some element of war from that epoch. This get just appears too light or without a heavy enough theme for a wargame.

Just my two cents.

 
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Tom Mitchell
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Re: [WIP] Tabula Rasa - 2019 Wargame Print and Play Contest [PnP Ready | Components Phase]
I’m not sure this is a wargame, either; it lacks the direct confrontation of a wargame. Maybe if there was a way to attack or take over an opponent’s previously marked territory.

I do like the concept of a roll and write wargame. And without all the counters, it’s certainly easier to make!
 
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Mark Perry
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Re: [WIP] Tabula Rasa - 2019 Wargame Print and Play Contest [PnP Ready | Components Phase]
Alternatively, you could enter it into the current 2-player PNP contest, instead of the wargame contest, which your previous game was a part.
 
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Max Seidman
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Re: [WIP] Tabula Rasa - 2019 Wargame Print and Play Contest [PnP Ready | Components Phase]
OldTymer wrote:
I’m not sure this is a wargame, either; it lacks the direct confrontation of a wargame. Maybe if there was a way to attack or take over an opponent’s previously marked territory.

I do like the concept of a roll and write wargame. And without all the counters, it’s certainly easier to make!

I agree that it's less hardcore war themed and not an actual historical war like most of the other games in the contest, but you can and do attack your opponents. The "Ruin" action could be called "Attack." It's used to cross off your opponent's territories and flags.

The game is definitely not a roll and write (no rolling). I didn't submit it to the 2p contest because it actually plays better at 3 players : (
 
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Tom Mitchell
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Re: [WIP] Tabula Rasa - 2019 Wargame Print and Play Contest [PnP Ready | Components Phase]
Ramenhotep wrote:
OldTymer wrote:
I’m not sure this is a wargame, either; it lacks the direct confrontation of a wargame. Maybe if there was a way to attack or take over an opponent’s previously marked territory.

I do like the concept of a roll and write wargame. And without all the counters, it’s certainly easier to make!

The "Ruin" action could be called "Attack." It's used to cross off your opponent's territories and flags.

Fair point. I didn’t pick up on that in my first read of the rules. (My fault. whistle)

Of course, if your opponent does that back to you, you have (might I say) a war on your hands!
 
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Re: [WIP] Tabula Rasa - 2019 Wargame Print and Play Contest [PnP Ready | Components Phase]
OldTymer wrote:
Of course, if your opponent does that back to you, you have (might I say) a war on your hands!

Yep!

Currently the boards are balanced so that you're not fighting every turn (particularly in 2 players; I'm testing a board shrinking mechanic to force the small player counts into more conflict). Other boards will feature more emphasis on combat, with terrain-based Ruin upgrades. I'm going to try to get one of those ready in in time for judging.

 
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Hrvoje Butkovic
South Africa
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Re: [WIP] Tabula Rasa - 2019 Wargame Print and Play Contest [PnP Ready | Components Phase]
I wanted to play a game yesterday, but after completing the tutorial, I wasn’t confident that I was interpreting the rules correctly, so I thought I better clarify them before continuing.

The last scoring items instructs to check terrain scoring rules. I take it that this refers specifically to bandits? I couldn’t find any other scoring rules that weren’t explicitly listed in the scoring bullet points. If so, I think that scoring would be easier to follow if bandits were listed there explicitly as well.

The setup instructs to fill in checkboxes that contain a number higher than the number of players, and then proceeds to give an example with two players. It looks to me like this is the only example that could be given, i.e. no other number of players leads to checkboxes being filled in. The same seems to be true for Upper Galata. If this is indeed the case, why make a general rule out of it? Is it to cater for future maps?

I wasn’t sure what taking the action upgrades meant. Is it just noting that you can use them going forward? Also, at most one upgrade is available per action, so this should really be worded in singular. Since this section is written for the player currently playing a turn, when do other players get to claim the action upgrade that the current player has just unlocked? I assumed that it was at the same time, but I wasn’t sure.

I found the explanation of how action upgrades are unlocked difficult to follow. I wasn’t sure what the swoop was. It was quite clear which upgrade went with which action – the wording of an upgrade explicitly mentioned the action it applied to, and they had the same colour. The question for me was which upgrade does an action help unlock? The first bullet point under Action Upgrades (the part before the brackets) clearly said that it was the adjacent action. My confusion arose from seeing no reason for the usage of one action to upgrade another; it made obvious sense that the action being used should be the one being upgraded. The part in brackets only added to my confusion, I think because it assumed that I understood the part that I wasn’t sure about (which upgrade is unlocked) to clarify the part that I was sure about (which upgrade goes with which action). This could well just be my blind spot; I wouldn’t reword the instructions unless other people have the same difficulty. However, an example would definitely help. Simply saying that taking the Expand action helps unlock the upgrade for the Ruin action would make it very clear.

The description of the Expand action explains what to do with unclaimed flags. However, there are no flags in the tutorial. They are only introduced in Upper Galata.

The usage of the word anywhere in action descriptions seems inconsistent:
• Ruin action places a pennant anywhere (action description below the map)
• Ruin action claims 1 empty territory anywhere (upgrade description below the map)
• Build action builds a bridge anywhere (action description below the map)
• Ruin action places a pennant in any of your territories (action description in Gameplay section)
So when placing pennants, anywhere refers only to your territories. I don’t think the same can be true for ruining territories since this would be self-defeating, so presumably this anywhere means anywhere on the map, including your opponents’ territories (though it would be odd that you could reach them like that). What does anywhere mean when building bridges?

In this instruction: “When unlocked, Ruin claims 1 empty territory anywhere”, the usage of the word claim is problematic because the game assigns specific meaning to it that is associated with the Expand action, and that is the opposite of what the Ruin action does.

I think it would be better to present the actions in the same order in both places – below the map and in the Gameplay section.

Which tile improvements can coexist on the same tile? The map shows a bridge sharing a tile with a pennant. Can a bridge also share a tile with an outpost? Can a pennant share a tile with an outpost?

Phew, that was more nitpicking than I expected! I definitely want to try out Upper Galata, but I’ll wait for rule clarification before taking it on. The tutorial that I played wasn’t enough to get a solid sense of strategy, though it does seem like pursuing upgrades is more important than how one goes about claiming the map.
 
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Re: [WIP] Tabula Rasa - 2019 Wargame Print and Play Contest [PnP Ready | Components Phase]
Thanks for playing and thanks for the in depth feedback! 90% of the problems you caught are because I didn't spend a lot of time adapting the tutorial rules from the basic rules, or to cater to future maps (almost all boards are going to be like the Galata board). Answers below!


HrvojeButkovic wrote:

The last scoring items instructs to check terrain scoring rules. I take it that this refers specifically to bandits? I couldn’t find any other scoring rules that weren’t explicitly listed in the scoring bullet points. If so, I think that scoring would be easier to follow if bandits were listed there explicitly as well.

Correct. In the future some boards will not have invaders/bandits and some will have lots of other special terrain based scoring


HrvojeButkovic wrote:
The setup instructs to fill in checkboxes that contain a number higher than the number of players, and then proceeds to give an example with two players. It looks to me like this is the only example that could be given, i.e. no other number of players leads to checkboxes being filled in. The same seems to be true for Upper Galata. If this is indeed the case, why make a general rule out of it? Is it to cater for future maps?

This one is catering to future player counts. I think things will change a bit when we make the game go to 4 players.


HrvojeButkovic wrote:
I wasn’t sure what taking the action upgrades meant. Is it just noting that you can use them going forward? Also, at most one upgrade is available per action, so this should really be worded in singular. Since this section is written for the player currently playing a turn, when do other players get to claim the action upgrade that the current player has just unlocked? I assumed that it was at the same time, but I wasn’t sure.

Yes, this section is just noting that ONCE you have unlocked one, this is the time that you'll be able to do it. Other players can do the action upgrade when THEY take the appropriate action on their turn. You're correct that it should be singular for the tutorial. I'll fix that!


HrvojeButkovic wrote:
I found the explanation of how action upgrades are unlocked difficult to follow. I wasn’t sure what the swoop was. It was quite clear which upgrade went with which action – the wording of an upgrade explicitly mentioned the action it applied to, and they had the same colour. The question for me was which upgrade does an action help unlock? The first bullet point under Action Upgrades (the part before the brackets) clearly said that it was the adjacent action. My confusion arose from seeing no reason for the usage of one action to upgrade another; it made obvious sense that the action being used should be the one being upgraded. The part in brackets only added to my confusion, I think because it assumed that I understood the part that I wasn’t sure about (which upgrade is unlocked) to clarify the part that I was sure about (which upgrade goes with which action). This could well just be my blind spot; I wouldn’t reword the instructions unless other people have the same difficulty. However, an example would definitely help. Simply saying that taking the Expand action helps unlock the upgrade for the Ruin action would make it very clear.

This is the hardest part to convey of the game so we're still wrestling with how to phrase it. The important part is: Taking an action makes progress towards upgrading the action to its right. Thematically it doesn't make a ton of sense, but mechanically it's nice because if you're going a Ruin strategy, you'll need to expand to make your Ruins better, etc.

Example (2 player tutorial game):
1. I expand: I check the first box in the green section, then do the expand base action.
2. You expand: you check the second box in the green section, then take the expand action.

Because all 3 boxes are filled (3rd box is blacked out because it's a 2 player game), the "+ empty anywhere" upgrade for Ruin is now unlocked. This is because the 3 checkboxes under Expand point to the Ruin upgrade.

3. I ruin: I check the first box in the Ruin action, then I do the ruin base action, crossing off some bandits probably. THEN I get to claim an empty territory anywhere because all 3 checkboxes in the green section are filled (and I checked one of them).

4. You expand: you check a supply depletion box (because the 3 boxes in the green section are filled), and then take the expand action. You do NOT get an additional territory next to the expand because nobody has built yet, and building is what unlocks the expand upgrade.



HrvojeButkovic wrote:
The description of the Expand action explains what to do with unclaimed flags. However, there are no flags in the tutorial. They are only introduced in Upper Galata.

You're correct, this should say "Pennant" (or potentially "Pennant or Flag")


HrvojeButkovic wrote:
The usage of the word anywhere in action descriptions seems inconsistent:
• Ruin action places a pennant anywhere (action description below the map)
• Ruin action claims 1 empty territory anywhere (upgrade description below the map)
• Build action builds a bridge anywhere (action description below the map)
• Ruin action places a pennant in any of your territories (action description in Gameplay section)
So when placing pennants, anywhere refers only to your territories. I don’t think the same can be true for ruining territories since this would be self-defeating, so presumably this anywhere means anywhere on the map, including your opponents’ territories (though it would be odd that you could reach them like that). What does anywhere mean when building bridges?

You're also correct here. We need to standardize what anywhere means. Generally you can treat it as anywhere on the map. It's rare that you'd want to place a Pennant anywhere but in your territory, though.


HrvojeButkovic wrote:
In this instruction: “When unlocked, Ruin claims 1 empty territory anywhere”, the usage of the word claim is problematic because the game assigns specific meaning to it that is associated with the Expand action, and that is the opposite of what the Ruin action does.

This one is actually phrased correctly. The Ruin upgrade actually lets you claim an extra empty territory (nothing in it, not already claimed).


HrvojeButkovic wrote:
I think it would be better to present the actions in the same order in both places – below the map and in the Gameplay section.

I agree. The plan is for the action order to be randomized. I will make sure to have the order of actions on the instructions match the randomization on the front.

HrvojeButkovic wrote:
Which tile improvements can coexist on the same tile? The map shows a bridge sharing a tile with a pennant. Can a bridge also share a tile with an outpost? Can a pennant share a tile with an outpost?

This is another good clarification. In general, there can never be 2 things on the same territory. The only exceptions are bridges, which can coexist (because they're actually on the line, not the territory itself), and bountiful territories which you'll see in Upper Galata, and specify that they can be built on.


HrvojeButkovic wrote:
The tutorial that I played wasn’t enough to get a solid sense of strategy, though it does seem like pursuing upgrades is more important than how one goes about claiming the map.

Yes the tutorial is much more about learning the mechanics than learning the strategy. Generally upgrades are important. The decision we want players to have to make each turn is:

"Do I take action B because that's the action I want, or action A because it will [help me] unlock an upgrade for action B, or action C so my opponents don't lock me out of the upgrade for action D that I might eventually want."
 
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Charles Ward
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Re: [WIP] Tabula Rasa - 2019 Wargame Print and Play Contest [PnP Ready | Components Phase]
Looks great. Best of luck with the game. Got future plans for it?
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Hrvoje Butkovic
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Re: [WIP] Tabula Rasa - 2019 Wargame Print and Play Contest [PnP Ready | Components Phase]
I’ve just completed a game on the Upper Galata map. It was a 4-player game where I played for all of the players (sadly, my family isn’t into board games). The scores were 50, 36, 36, 32. No obvious pattern of actions stood out for the winning player, which tells me that they are fairly well balanced. I like how map compensates for first player advantage, making expansion more difficult.

More questions:
• What do you mean by “bountiful territories can be built upon”? Is it just a clarification in case people assume that they are different from regular empty territories in this regard?
• What is the significance of trees on the map?
• Can bridges be ruined?
• Can mountains be ruined?
• Do other players’ buildings contribute to one’s temple score?
• Does the game end immediately as the last supply depletion box is checked, or only at the end of that turn?

The visual explanation of the second Build upgrade doesn’t match the explanation in brackets. I prefer the visual explanation as it’s more original and requires more planning to pull off.

I assumed that, once the upper action upgrade boxes were filled, I should just continue with the lower ones, before checking the supply depletion boxes. It might be an idea, though, to let players choose the action upgrade box to colour in. This way they can choose between speeding up the first upgrade and having access to both upgrades.

Something that I struggled with was taking advantage of Expand action upgrades. Ruining didn’t strike me as useful early in the game, but that’s what’s required to unlock the upgrades. As a result, by the time I unlocked them later in the game, there wasn’t much expanding left to do and it came with the penalty of having to check supply depletion boxes.

Apart from that, I like how the game is playing. After two games, I can’t see an obvious dominant strategy. I imagine that, over time, one might emerge for each starting location, but that’s where new maps help to keep the game fresh.
 
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Max Seidman
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Okay! I just modified the instructions in response to the previous bout of feedback. the setup rules also are now different, starting Lower player counts with more territory to encourage conflict. With this, I think my changes for the contest are done.

Thanks for the new notes! On my phone now but I’ll respond and make some clarifications when I get to a computer

@Charles: thanks! If we can get the generator making interesting future maps we might publish a book of them!
 
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Charles Ward
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Ramenhotep wrote:
@Charles: thanks! If we can get the generator making interesting future maps we might publish a book of them!

Well, since the board looks like a SUDOKU board, with 9 9x9 grids. Could you make 9 cards, double sided, that you can arrange in any order/side/rotation to form the large square board you have?

Things to consider: Does the river have to connect? Can you illustrate "top down" views of the buildings? Can you replace the "write" with placing tokens?

Again best of luck!
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ex1st wrote:
Ramenhotep wrote:
@Charles: thanks! If we can get the generator making interesting future maps we might publish a book of them!

Well, since the board looks like a SUDOKU board, with 9 9x9 grids. Could you make 9 cards, double sided, that you can arrange in any order/side/rotation to form the large square board you have?

Things to consider: Does the river have to connect? Can you illustrate "top down" views of the buildings? Can you replace the "write" with placing tokens?

Again best of luck!

It could be done as a traditional board game, but I think part of the appeal will be its high variability from the map generator, instructions being relatively light weight (since they only will include the elements you need to know per board), and the extremely portable nature! (also the added benefit of the generator being able to balance very powerful different elements on the map)
 
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Yay! Thanks again for testing! Replies below

HrvojeButkovic wrote:
I’ve just completed a game on the Upper Galata map. It was a 4-player game where I played for all of the players (sadly, my family isn’t into board games). The scores were 50, 36, 36, 32. No obvious pattern of actions stood out for the winning player, which tells me that they are fairly well balanced. I like how map compensates for first player advantage, making expansion more difficult.


HrvojeButkovic wrote:
What do you mean by “bountiful territories can be built upon”? Is it just a clarification in case people assume that they are different from regular empty territories in this regard?
Yes! Normally if there's something in a territory you can't build there. Bountiful territories are an exception.

HrvojeButkovic wrote:
What is the significance of trees on the map?
Just aesthetic!

HrvojeButkovic wrote:
Can bridges be ruined?
No, because they're not in a square, they are between. You can ruin a square that connects to a bridge, making it useless. The bridge still counts for a point though.

HrvojeButkovic wrote:
Can mountains be ruined?
Has little effect, but yes!

HrvojeButkovic wrote:
Do other players’ buildings contribute to one’s temple score?
No, only yours. Ran out of space to say that.

HrvojeButkovic wrote:
Does the game end immediately as the last supply depletion box is checked, or only at the end of that turn?
End of that turn.

HrvojeButkovic wrote:
The visual explanation of the second Build upgrade doesn’t match the explanation in brackets. I prefer the visual explanation as it’s more original and requires more planning to pull off.
Oops that's a typo, nice catch--I'll fix it when my computer gets out of the shop. The visual description is correct. It's supposed to be "Choose one of your flags/pennants and claim all territory next to it."

HrvojeButkovic wrote:
I assumed that, once the upper action upgrade boxes were filled, I should just continue with the lower ones, before checking the supply depletion boxes. It might be an idea, though, to let players choose the action upgrade box to colour in. This way they can choose between speeding up the first upgrade and having access to both upgrades.
I like that! I'll try letting players choose. The second Upgrade is supposed to be more powerful than the first, so you still wouldn't get the second upgrade until the first is unlocked.

HrvojeButkovic wrote:
Something that I struggled with was taking advantage of Expand action upgrades. Ruining didn’t strike me as useful early in the game, but that’s what’s required to unlock the upgrades. As a result, by the time I unlocked them later in the game, there wasn’t much expanding left to do and it came with the penalty of having to check supply depletion boxes.
This was fairly intentional—in early playtests Expand was just too powerful, and the game got boring because everyone just expanded. The current vision is that Build, Improve, and Ruin are all strategies while Expand is just a thing you do. The other element here is that the action order will be randomized, so on some boards Build might be what upgrades Expand, which would make it come into play sooner.
 
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Ramenhotep wrote:

Components:
1 Printed board
2-3 Different color markers (1/player)
Question - does it matter if the markers are made from wood or plastic (I assume not) and what size/colors are best?
 
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Probably the very best are felt tipped pens. Standard size washable markers are also fine, as are fine tipped. Be careful of sharpie bleed. If you're playing 3 player, I'd recommend a light blue, red/pink, and a dark green.

Hope that helps!
 
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Ramenhotep wrote:
Probably the very best are felt tipped pens. Standard size washable markers are also fine, as are fine tipped.
Oh, marker pens - sorry, that was not obvious from the quick read.
 
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gamesbook wrote:
Ramenhotep wrote:
Probably the very best are felt tipped pens. Standard size washable markers are also fine, as are fine tipped.
Oh, marker pens - sorry, that was not obvious from the quick read.

I honestly don't know the difference laugh—full size markers are fine. If you're a little more artistically inclined, finer tips might serve you better.

Here's my ranking of the possible tools to use:
1 Fine tip markers or felt tip pens
2 Standard markers
3 Ball point pens (they work, just not ideal)
4 Single color pencil or pen. Use a unique symbol in place of dotting the center of each square as you claim it. Use your symbol in checkboxes too. (This isn't ideal, but in an emergency can work)
 
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Ramenhotep wrote:
gamesbook wrote:
Ramenhotep wrote:
Probably the very best are felt tipped pens. Standard size washable markers are also fine, as are fine tipped.
Oh, marker pens - sorry, that was not obvious from the quick read.
I honestly don't know the difference laugh—full size markers are fine.
I meant - I thought a "marker" was some kind of object that you had to use e.g. a counter or cube.
 
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gamesbook wrote:
I meant - I thought a "marker" was some kind of object that you had to use e.g. a counter or cube.

Oh that's amazing! It did NOT occur to me, but that makes complete sense lol. Yes, a regular drawing marker
 
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Okay! I've fixed the text in the full game board's Build second upgrade to actually reflect what it's supposed to do!

I also changed the setup rules to start players with a little more territory in 3p, and a lot more in 2p. I expect this to result in more Ruining as players get towards the end of the game!
 
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Robin David
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Lovely game! I like the attempt to bring writing on a sheet into a wargame genre.

I did have a few points of confusion about the rules. What do campsites do? Do you get any starting territories when playing with 4 players? The third bullet point refers to pennants or flags - are they different things? I suspect you've tried really hard to fit the rules on one sheet, but I was craving a little more detail, TBH.

Good luck with the contest!
 
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robindavid wrote:
Lovely game! I like the attempt to bring writing on a sheet into a wargame genre.

I suspect you've tried really hard to fit the rules on one sheet, but I was craving a little more detail, TBH.

Good luck with the contest!

Thanks! Yeah the instructions are a bit squished because we're trying to do a single page. I think eventually we'll do a more in-depth instructions glossary, and then a summary on the back. As for specific questions:

Quote:
What do campsites do?
You're probably talking about bandits/invaders. They can't be claimed, but are worth points when ruined.

Quote:
Do you get any starting territories when playing with 4 players?
The game is currently for 2-3 players. For 4 players, you can try starting with 1 adjacent territory, but it's totally untested!

Quote:
The third bullet point refers to pennants or flags - are they different things?
Flags are the rectangular ones, pennants are the triangular ones. They are functionally identical, except pennants are worth 2 points and flags are worth 4. The tutorial board doesn't have flags.
 
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