Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Knights Templar - inaugural ride

I've posted before about my Knights Templar game, using a Rond-Cala mechanism sort of opposite the way Trajan works. I've had trouble getting this prototype to the table because I have struggled to make a board for it. I find that is a weak point in my skill set.

Long ago I found a map online that I figured would make a good basis for a game board, but I haven't been able to get that into a proper game board. The other day I posted it to twitter and asked if anyone was bored, if they could overlay a hex grid... Twitter follower @johnlonnie -- who I met at Kublacon playing Bomb Squad and his game Galaxagos -- came through with the following:

So today I printed that out and set up the prototype, and John and I gave it a go.

Like any first play, it was not perfect, but I'm happy to report that as first plays go, it worked pretty well!

I started with a pool of 50 VP tokens, but quickly decided that wouldn't be enough, so I added another 50. After that 100 points was gone we ended the game, finishing out the round so that each  of us had the same number of turns. In the end I feel like that wasn't enough - it felt like we were still in the midgame, not quite making late game plays. For 2 players I might try 140 or 150 points next time.

I also felt like we had developed in much the same way. That's one of the potential problems I foresaw about the Rondel mechanism: by it's very nature it might just make everyone do the all the actions and maybe work against player differentiation. But I'm not giving up on it yet - I think the timing and order of the actions will make the game action vary enough player to player and game to game.

In our game John scored 54 points during the game (erecting buildings, crusading, and spreading influence) to my 50 points. End game scoring favored John, 11-5, for a total score of 65-55.

John built: Bank, Church, Bank, Castle, Farm, Castle

I built: Church, Castle, Bank, Farm, Castle

John immediately ran to the far side of the board while I built some buildings closer to Paris - which I suppose is the obvious thing to do. I'm not sure I liked that, as I had envisioned players fighting their way across the board. I want players to be able to get to the type of enemy they want to fight though, so my plan is to modify the movement rule such that it costs an extra point of travel to leave a space that's occupied (by an enemy token). That way it should be harder to get across the board without doing some crusading.

Another thing I might alter is the number of troops you can house without building a Farm. Currently that number is 3... but if it were fewer then you'd have to build farms in order to house enough troops to really help you crusade a lot. Next game I might reduce to 2, but I wonder if just 1 might be enough, or if perhaps you should have to build a farm before you can hold any troop tokens at all.

I started each enemy out at 2 strength, but perhaps I should up that to 3.

This morning I was thinking about the possibility of turning the Travel actions into Travel+Build (at the top of the rondel) and Travel+Crusade (at the bottom). In these cases, you'd have to use the cubes in the action bin for both traveling and building/crusading, but it means that (a) there'd be 2 options for each of those on your rondel, and (b) if you have enough cubes, you could move to a location that an opponent just cleared out with a crusade and build there, or where an opponent just moved, and snipe their crusade. I don't think I'll try this just yet, but I think it might be an interesting dynamic, so I'll try to keep it in mind.

I look forward to playing this again. I'll probably bring it with me to Sasquatch this week.

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