I'm happy to report that I did get The Knights Templar played once at
Sasquatch... a 4 player game with myself, Brian Frahm, Irwin
Dolobowski, and Aaron Curtis.
This test went OK. I used 250 vp tokens (50 + 50/player) and the game lasted about 70 minutes. Scores ranged from 87 (Aaron) down to 61 (Brian). We were able to play the game to completion, but I'm not sure that multiple strategies were really coming through. There were some comments that the Rondel was forcing everyone to do the same things.
I think I know how to kick this game up a notch, separate strategies, and make the game more interesting. Basically, I think what I've got might have been interesting enough 2 years ago, but now that other games have been exploring the mancala mechanism I feel like there needs to be more to it. I like how in my game, each player has their own personal rondel, but I think that will become more interesting if players gert a chance to personalize or modify their rondel, modifying the actions on it in some way. Things like...
* "you may use Travel as [X] action"
* the ability to replace or augment the action spaces in some other way
* add bits to the rondel
A thought I'd had before was simply to turn the Travel spaces into Travel+Build and Travel+Crusade (I think I'd mentioned that before). If not a standard, that may be the kind of thing players could upgrade to.
I figure these upgrades could be done via the Build action, with basic upgrades costing 3 to build, and other more potent upgrades costing 5, and/or requiring an earlier upgrade of some kind.
In addition to this type of personalization of your rondel, I think the game needs a little something to differentiate strategies from each other. My current thought on doing that is to add bomb-like effets to the 7 cost buildings which would reinforce a strategic path. Things like:
* Farm: You may use Travel actions as Crusade actions
* Bank: You may use Travel actions as Build actions
* Farm: Your knights count as troops
* Church: Put a certain type of Unique building into play
* Church: Replace one space on your rondel with another action
* Bank: Put a Level 1 (3-cost) building into play
I've got to think about this some more of course, but I think it will help make the game kick a bit more if players can personalize their rondels a little bit, and if there were more difference between one strategy and another.
* Once per turn when distributing acion tokens you may drop off 2 tokens at once
* Only distribute tokens actually used for an action - you may leave the extras behind (this may be too good)
* You may choose which direction to distribute your action tokens
I'm excited that this game is moving forward, and I look forward to being able to post about it again soon :)