Isaac Shalev
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Rules

Totally still in Alpha, no diagrams or anything, but hey, the rules exist. I'm sure they'll be changing too.

Rules for Joshua's Conquest

Vision

Joshua’s Conquest is a Euro-style war game, heavily influenced by such games as A Game of Thrones, War of the Ring, and Endeavor. It is also a semi-cooperative game, drawing inspiration from Battlestar Galactica, Pandemic, and many others. Players each play one of the Tribe of Israel and cooperatively attempt to conquer the land of Canaan, even as they compete among themselves to own the choicest cities and High Places, to control the Ark of the Covenant, and to enjoy the most Divine Favor. Though all the Israelites can lose collectively to the Canaanites, only one Tribe can be the winner.

Vital Stats

Joshua’s Conquest is for 2-4 players ages 10+
I hope it plays in 90-120 minutes, but we're still in design phase!
The primary mechanics are auction, worker placement, area control, card/hand management, and resource management.

Description

The object of Joshua's Conquest is to score Victory Points (VPs) by conquering and controlling Canaanite cities, destroying the Canaanite High Places, securing the most Divine Favor and taking possession of the Ark of the Covenant.

Players each control an Israelite tribe composed of Tribesman, Warriors and Levites, and must divide their attention between the economic, military, and ritual aspects of conquest in the ancient world. Players will grow wheat and raise sheep to buy units and to sacrifice to the God of the Israelites to gain Divine Favor. Levites will call upon mighty Yahweh to strike down the Canaanites, topple the walls of their cities, and raze the altars on their High Places. Warriors will siege the cities, storm the walls, and conquer Canaan from the native inhabitants.

Each turn, players will select sheep from their herds to sacrifice for Divine Favor, which is used as a currency for buying and using cards, competing for High Places, and competing for the Ark of the Covenant. Wheat and sheep can be spent to purchase new units. These new units can be committed to laying siege to Canaanite cities, or challenging the Canaanite gods at the High Places scattered throughout the land, or set to work as herdsmen and farmers. Levites compete to control the Ark of the Covenant too. Players may also access Divine powers by purchasing cards whose power can be unlocked by Levites, and these cards reflect the power of the Ark of the Covenant, the Israelite general Joshua, and the power of the Promised Land itself. Canaanite cities are strong and will require cooperation by the Israelites to overcome, but the Israelites are also competing among themselves to be the most powerful of the tribes of Israel.

Key Dynamics
Ok, so this is a VP game, and there are multiple paths to victory. The game ends when one of three conditions is reached: either all the High Places (6) are destroyed by the Israelites, or all the cities (10) are conquered by the Isralites, or the Israelites have spent all their cards (~50 and in which case the Israelites lose to the Canaanites).

Practically, this means that you can go for a religious victory, focusing on Levites, High Places, and the Ark of the Covenant (early game), or a military victory focusing on Warriors, Joshua, and conquering cities (mid game) or an economic victory, focusing on Tribesmen, Divine Favor, the Promised Land (late game).

There's a cooperative dynamic to conquering cities, but conquering High Places is very difficult to do if players compete extensively for the same places. The use of Joshua, Ark and Promised Land cards is critical for success, but if you exhaust those decks and haven't achieved one of the victory conditions, the Canaanites win!

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I'd love to hear from folks, and I know I'm just giving the bare-bones taste here. I will post more updates here, and at the design blog

Joshua's Conquest

So far I've got a ruleset, a map, cards, tokens, and so forth good enough for some playtesting, and I'll post some of that stuff up soon.
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R.J.
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Re: [WIP] Joshua's Conquest
Sorry you haven't had any responses to this post yet... hope it wasn't discouraging.

I personally love semi-cooperative (competitive cooperative) games. This one definitely seems interesting.

In a 4p game, how may tribes have to work together to conquer a city? In a 3p?

What are the major mechanics that drive the game (even the boring ones)?

Since conquering the cities is a requirement for winning, wouldnt someone going for a religious or economic victory directly lead to a higher chance of everyone losing?

Will all 4 tribes be available for picking (or randomly handing out)... will they be generic, or have different gifts/powers/benefits/weaknesses?

I'd be interested in seeing some of the art.

I am definitely intrigued!
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Nate K
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Re: [WIP] Joshua's Conquest
Intriguing. I'd definitely play a game like this.

Are you going to include all twelve tribes and, if so, will they be given abilities that help differentiate them? It's probably not, strictly speaking, necessary, but it may help encourage people to take the lesser-known tribes like Gad or Naphtali, rather than the more-familiar tribes like Judah, Ephraim, or Benjamin. It would also be rather instructive for those who might not have studied the Hebrew Bible.
 
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Jason D. Kingsley
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Re: [WIP] Joshua's Conquest
Sounds promising ninja! I've had competitive coops on the mind lately. Really looking forward to seeing more.
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R.J.
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Re: [WIP] Joshua's Conquest
Spindrift: Check out Musketeers... it's a quick filler game, where you all work together to beat the guards, and whoever contributes the most when you beat the guards gets a bonus, or whoever contributes the least when you lose against the guards, gets a penalty. It's cheap, and quick fun for a competitive coop game.
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Isaac Shalev
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Re: [WIP] Joshua's Conquest
Thanks for the feedback and questions, they're great!

Regarding the tribes, for now I haven't differentiated them at all, which also leads to the unfortunate outcome that there's no real point in offering all twelve. I'm not yet actively developing this idea, but I was thinking of being able to select any of the twelve, but having them grouped so that some are more about war, some favor the religion route to victory, and others lean to economy. I'd like to balance the core mechanics first, and then experiment with that layer. I think the game needs to offer the tribes... maybe unique tribe roles could be an expansion!

Quote:
In a 4p game, how may tribes have to work together to conquer a city? In a 3p?


It's possible, though difficult for a single tribe to conquer a city. Basically, each city has a defense value, and attackers have an attack strength. You need to beat the defense strength to take the city. THere's only a limited number of units that can attack a city, shown by the city's siege track, which is printed on the map next to the city. Warriors are worth two points of attack strength, tribesmen one, and Levites none - but you can only buff your forces with cards if you have a Levite present at the siege. The way the defense values are worked out, a single tribe that stacks the entire siege track with warriors and a Levite or two, and then plays strong cards, can win a city on its own.

When more than one tribe participates, there is a cooperation bonus of a few attack strength points, and more than one tribe can collect the rewards from conquering a city, in both victory points and loot. So it would be relatively rare for a single tribe to conquer a city on its own.

Quote:

What are the major mechanics that drive the game (even the boring ones)?

Here's some, I'm going to post rules soon too.

There's resource management: how many sheep do slaughter to buy new units, how many do you slaughter for Divine Favor points that enable you to play cards, or purchase additional actions, and how many do you keep around, since you also need live sheep, espeically to compete for the Ark of the Covenant and High Places.

There's worker placement: Do you assign tribesmen to herd sheep, to farm, or to attack cities? DO you use your Levites to race for the Ark, to support city sieges, or to contend for High Places?

Each turn you get three actions for free - actions like placing a unit, or playing a card, or drawing a card. Additional actions cost Divine Favor. But you also need Divine Favor to cast cards, and to bid for initiative. Or do you save it all - the player with the most DF at the beginning of each round gets a free card.

Hand management: Your cards have different uses. Though all can be used for the point value in a siege or high place challenge, the cards also have 'event' effects, some of which are related to combat, or challenges, or economic development. So, do you use your The Desert Blooms card to gain some free wheat, or do you hold it to play for it's 4 attack stength in combat? Do you save your Walls of Jericho card to use when the Jericho siege resolves, or do you use it against a different city now, even though it's not as powerful?

Quote:

Since conquering the cities is a requirement for winning, wouldnt someone going for a religious or economic victory directly lead to a higher chance of everyone losing?


Conquering all the cities is one ending condition. The game ends when any of the three happen: all cities conquered OR all High Places conquered, OR when the Israelite card decks are exhausted. In the last case, the Israelites all lose. This creates a ticking time bomb - you really have to cooperate with others if you're going to destroy all the Canaanite cities without running out of cards. Just a couple of failed sieges where you waste cards will be deadly to the Israelites hopes. But taking High Places is not a cooperative act. In fact, the more tribes competing for a High Place, the harder it gets. In the early game, it will be a viable strategy to try and race to resolve all the High Places - one that other tribes can only stop by also contesting the High Places, even as it distracts everyone from conquering the cities themselves.

Quote:

I'd be interested in seeing some of the art.


So would I! What I've got so far is a reasonable representation, but I'm not a graphics wizard, so it's more functional than beautiful.

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Isaac Shalev
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Re: [WIP] Joshua's Conquest
After some fun with NanDeck and Excel, I printed up the Joshua, Ark, and Promised Land decks! You can read more about the process at the design diary. Thanks also to the NanDeck community for helping me out!

I'll continue to post updates on this thread as we go.
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Isaac Shalev
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Re: [WIP] Joshua's Conquest - Updated with Rules Link
I've added a link to the rules, would love feedback. It's just text right now, apologies in advance for no diagrams. You can see what the board looks like though:

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Isaac Shalev
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Re: [WIP] Joshua's Conquest - New Map!
Been working steadily on this project. You can check out some more updates at the design blog, http://joshuasconquest.wordpress.com

Check out the latest board image!


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Nate K
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Gorgeous.

Is there a reason that Bethlehem was split into two lines when all the other city names fit onto a single line?

What was the reasoning behind (apparently) giving Judah, Benjamin, Ephraim, and Dan the same abilities? If anyone gets the same ability, I would think it would be Ephraim and Manasseh, since they were practically the same tribe.
 
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Isaac Shalev
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Thanks! Bethlehem was split in two for two reasons. First, the name of the city in Hebrew is actually two words: Beth - the House of, and Lechem - Bread. In the Hebrew Bible it is written as two separate Hebrew words. You'll notice that Beth-El is the same deal (House of God).

But really if I put it all on one line, the transparent box would have to grow wider, and that would look odd as compared to all the others, so I opted to keep it tight on the sides instead.

As to Judah, Benjamin, Ephraim and Dan having the same abilities, those are the tribes that players actually get to play as, so their abilities are symmetrical. Only the Judah player can access the action spaces in Judah (you'll notice that those tribe names are in italics to help indicate that).

The Ephraim and Mannasseh issue was a tough one. The three tribes that settled east of the Jordan, Reuben, Gad and (half of) Manasseh are the only tribes that allow you to gain both wheat and sheep - actually it's the only way to get sheep at all. This is thematic, since in the Bible, those tribes had laready conquered their territory before the rest of the the tribes fought for the lands west of the Jordan. Those three tribes are described as building sheep pens for their flocks before going off to battle. I that sense, even though Manasseh and Ephraim were really both descendant from Joseph, they had a very different experience in conquering Canaan, and that's reflected in the game play.
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Nate K
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Righto. As long as there's logic behind it, I'm happy.
 
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