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Subject: Teaching script rss

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King of All Simians — Not a Mere Diplomat
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So, tonight will be my maiden voyage into piratical play. I've read the rules, hovered over the boards, and played several rounds of a solitaire game. I think I'm ready to teach it!

For such a sprawling rule set, I want to make sure my ducks are well in a row before we sit down. Nothing worse than a guy teaching a game who's constantly flipping through the rule set, eh? So, here's the script I've got worked out.

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The object of the game is to score victory points, as kept track of on the VP track. When you retire one of your pirates, you get 2VP per notoriety point, and 1VP per 100 doubloons of net worth. Net worth is money that you've taken from your piratical activities and socked away, and notoriety points are earned for the commission of said acts, with bonus points awarded for sadism. You also get VPS for pirates who are sunk or hanged, one VP per notoriety and nothing for net worth: you can't take it with you! As well, you get VPs for killing other players' pirates as a King's Commissioner. More on that, later.

The game is conducted in player turns, also called a pirate turn. All of the other players are said to be, then, in an anti-pirate turn; more on that after we finish the basic pirate stuff. On your turn, you'll draw your hand back up to four cards, playing any "play immediately" cards on the spot. Then, you'll make sure that there are at least eight merchants on the map. If there aren't, you'll roll the d66 and place the merchant accordingly. Then, you'll play event cards. You may play any amount of events in your hand, and one card may be played for actions. It's very normal to play only a single card, since many cards will be AP cards you can't use on your active turn. Each card has an event and an action number. If you play the card for actions, you can't use the event (unless the card says AND). The events are varied; some are good things like gun upgrades, and some are offensive cards that you'll use to hassle your opponent.

Playing cards for actions is where the meat of the game is. One basic use of action points is to move: move your ship from one sea space to the next, or into and out of a transit box, which is how you get from one sea to the next. Others are to find and loot ships, sack ports, all of this stuff on the list. Take a look at the list to get an idea of what your options are.

You earn money primarily by looting merchant ships. To loot a merchant ship, you first have to find it. You must have a pirate in the sea area adjoining the port (Bermuda is the only port on two areas). You perform a find action: if the sum of a d6 plus your pirate's ability level is seven or more, you find the merchant. Then, you perform a loot action. Looting will give you money, notoriety, hostages, and make your crew like you more. You use hostages either to hold for ransom, or to torture for information, making it easier to attack the port they came from. Your crew likes it more if you torture them, and your notoriety will rise. After you loot a ship, you can take it as your pirate ship by spending another action.

Once you have your ship's stores full of booty, you need to fence it and convert it to wealth. Spend an action to move into a port, and then another to take in port activities. As part of one in port activities action, you can ransom hostages, convert booty to net worth, repair your ship, bribe the governor for safe haven status, or have some debauchery and revelry. By invoking D&R, you make your crew like you, but open yourself up to other players performing a dread booty grab on you, stealing some of your booty. Hopefully you've already converted to net worth!

Would that it were all so smooth an operation!

On the other side of the table, the other players may act as anti-pirate players to disrupt the active player. Usually, they'll use cards from their hands as anti-pirate actions. They can use any warships that are on the board as a result of playing AP cards. They can also deploy a King's Commissioner, a special ship that hunts pirates, or use a KC already on the board. If you kill a pirate with a KC, you get half of the killed pirate's notoriety as VPs . The dead pirate's player also gets points for his notoriety, but nobody gets points for the decedent's net worth.

The game ends when the "General Pardon" card is drawn for the third time. At that point, the game is over immediately and final scoring for extant pirates is calculated. Pirates still in play at the end of the game are worth 1VP per notoriety point. The only time net worth is converted to VP is if you retire a pirate!


I'm teaching this to some pretty hardcore gamers, folks who cut their teeth on AH games, so I haven't worried too much about basic mechanics. I tried to focus on the "what" and "why", leaving "how" for in-game explanations. I think I hit on the stuff that a player should know before they start their first turn, without getting bogged down in minutiae that they won't remember until they perform the action a couple of times.

So, have I missed anything that seems essential at the outset?
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Steve Boone
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The only thing I saw that needed changing (keeping in mind what you said about the target audience) is in the second paragraph. -Rule 4.4B If there are fewer than 5 merchants on the board, the pirate player needs to draw to 6 and place....change "make sure there are at least eight merchants" to six. (eight is only for the setup)

Also, it should be worth mentioning the various pro-pirate, neutral, and anti-pirate ports and their significance. (It plays to strategy.) Probably in the same place you mention fencing the booty.

Beside that quibble, I think it's a great script. I hope you don't mind that I use it as a basis for what I'll put together for my own uses.

-Steve
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King of All Simians — Not a Mere Diplomat
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Excellent correction and addition! That's why I keep you people around.

Of course I don't mind if you use this in any way. We're all in this together, eh?
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King of All Simians — Not a Mere Diplomat
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OK, we played last night, and I think the script worked well! Reading over the rules this morning, I don't see anything that we out-and-out played incorrectly, though there were some aspects that didn't come into play this time around.

We sat five people, and the game lasted about three hours, including teaching the game. It felt like a great amount of time for a Wednesday night, but felt way too short on the board.

Because of the way I taught the game, the first player turn didn't have any AP actions; people were concentrating on the pirate actions. I was OK with that, 'cos it enabled everybody to absorb the basic actions of movement, finding merchants, and looting. The second time around, there was a scurvy card played (on me!), and that opened up a torrent of AP actions. There was cardplay a-plenty and warships were on-station in several sea areas by the end of the third trip around the table.

Nobody rolled in a KC until toward the end of the game; again, I thought that was OK. I could have explained the rules more thoroughly at the outset, and we'd have seen more varied actions out of the gate. But I though it was a fair trade-off, to be playing the game after ten minutes of set-up and explanation. Doing it this way, too, allowed folks to wrap their heads around the core concepts before adding in other elements.

Ports were never attacked and governors were never bribed in our game. This was partly due to the graduated learning curve that my teaching choice engendered, but it was partly because the game whipped by before folks had a chance to take either of those actions. In a five-player game, we tore through the events deck pretty quickly; if folks were playing AP cards more aggressively in the early game, it woulda gone even quicker.

As it was, I don't think each player had more than seven turns, maybe eight. Most pirate turns will have two actions generated, it seems; most of the cards will give two, and the ones and threes even out. So each player had about 16 or 17 actions in the entire game. If their two pirates take four ships between them, that's about ten of the actions right there (four "find" actions, four lootings, plus another couple for converting a ship or trying multiple times to find a merchant). So you've only got six or seven more actions to move, take in-port actions, and (hopefully) retire. Who has time for sacking ports?

If the game woulda gone on longer, ports would surely have been burnt and governors bribed. Folks had their eye on those actions, but never had the chance to execute. I think that, when we play again on a weeknight, I'd try to hold the seats to four. It'd slow the deck down, and each pirate would get more actions. We'll also be more in the swing of playing AP actions, though I found the game was plenty deadly as it was!

The end scoring was pretty tight, though the one player who managed to retire a pirate successfully was the winner. I would have taken the game, had my dear Captain England not been double-crossed and hanged (it's kinda frustrating to build up some booty and notoriety, and then have you pirate's fate decided by a single die roll, but pirating is a dangerous undertaking, I reckon). If you don't retire a pirate, you're pretty hosed.

The game was a definite hit; we all enjoyed it and we're gonna do a long game some afternoon in the near future.
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Gerit Driessen
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Holmes! wrote:
...though I found the game was plenty deadly as it was!


Glad to hear it... devil I keep reading here that the pirates have an easy life, with no KC even the beginning of thread to them.



 
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Neil Randall
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The script is a great idea - if you make any changes to it, please post it again so that we can all use it.

I'm beginning to think that I should include a one-page "teaching script" with every game I develop or design. Really good idea.
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King of All Simians — Not a Mere Diplomat
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I've uploaded my RTF file to the files section; it's currently awaiting approval. I uploaded the file 'cos I've bolded certain phrases so that my eye could scan the page more quickly and pull out the relevant bits.
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Richard Berg
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I used to do something similar in my designs, calling it a General Course of Play. Somehow it got dropped from my rules "template" . . . probably from an urge to keep the rules short(er).

Nice work, though . . . would be nice to know who you are. Geeknames are not much help . . . it's like doing business with masked men.

RHB
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King of All Simians — Not a Mere Diplomat
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BROG wrote:
Nice work, though . . . would be nice to know who you are. Geeknames are not much help . . . it's like doing business with masked men.

No masks, here. I go by Holmes! in my internet endeavors (http://www.barnaclepress.com) and in real life. Even my wife calls me by my last name.
 
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Paul Szilagyi
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Holmes! wrote:
I think that, when we play again on a weeknight, I'd try to hold the seats to four. It'd slow the deck down, and each pirate would get more actions. We'll also be more in the swing of playing AP actions, though I found the game was plenty deadly as it was!


There's always the "Long Game" option from the rules that withholds the General Pardon card from the first play-through of the Event Deck.

For a five-player game (in which the cards fly) this may be the way to go. I'd be willing to bet it's a pretty variable thing, and that line of "This game will take 4-5 hours to play" from the rules ain't necessarily so.
 
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ZeroZilla wrote:
There's always the "Long Game" option from the rules that withholds the General Pardon card from the first play-through of the Event Deck.

I agree, and I look forward to playing a long game this weekend. A five-man double-decker on a Wednesday? I've gotta go to work in the morning, yo!

In other news, the script RTF was approved, and is available now.
 
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Neil Randall
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The Long Game is an excellent option, IMO.
 
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Gerit Driessen
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May we look forward to a session report Holmes?
 
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Gerit wrote:
May we look forward to a session report Holmes?

Yeah, I reckon that should happen. I'll have to bring a pad of paper along to remember the details. I thought about writing one up for our last game, but my memory isn't as robust as it could be.
 
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Gerit Driessen
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Good! As I still wait in agony until my copy arrives, your reports are very welcome. As are pictures...
 
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Not a session report, 'cos I'm too disgusted.

In last night's game, I spent the first four or five turns trying and repeatedly failing to find a merchant; I even burned all of one pirate's cunning just trying to find something, to no avail. Dice can truly be a bitch.

Then, I drew the Mal de Mer card.

The General Pardon card was drawn for the second time, and my pirates didn't have a single point of notoriety or a single doubloon. angry

Then, in the last two turns of the game, I finally looted a merchant and attacked a port, securing enough VP for a solid last-place finish. The End.

It was still a good time, but pretty damn frustrating.
 
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