Sunday, December 28, 2014

Pony Express - rules post

After fiddling with the physical prototype components and showing the game off to my friend Dan Keltner (co-designer of Isle of Trains and Bomb Squad), I decided that (a) I absolutely needed a larger board... probably more towns, but definitely bigger dimensions, and (b) my silly turn order idea wasn't likely to work out exactly right. So I made some changes to the plan, and printed a much larger board to try. Here are the rules I wrote down for the first version of The Pony Express that I'll actually play:

The Pony Express

A game of adventure in the old frontier for 2-5 Riders
by Seth Jaffee … v1.1 12/27/14

  • 5 Rider figures (1 per player)
  • 5 Travel markers (1 per player)
  • 1 Game board with Travel and Turn Order tracks
  • 60 Money tokens (15@5vp, 45@1vp)
  • 45 Auction cards
    • ...40 Parcels (4 per Town)
    • ...5 Map cards (-1 to each of 2 towns)
  • 36 Hazard tiles
    • ...9 Tumbleweeds (+0)
    • ...9 Rattlesnakes (+1 unless you have Torch)
    • ...5 Bears (+2, killed by Shotgun)
    • ...5 Bandits (+3 unless you have Peacemaker, killed by Shotgun)
    • ...4 Lost! (+2 or discard a map)
    • ...4 River Crossing (+2)
  • 44 Item tiles
    • ...10 Maps (-2 to a particular town)
    • ...4 Guides (discard to pay for a route)
    • ...4 Tips (Collect $3)
    • ...4 Parcels (Draw a Parcel card and collect $5)
    • ...4 Shotgun (Discard to kill Bear or Bandits)
    • ...3 Torch (Ignore Rattlesnakes)
    • ...3 Spurs (-1 if no Hazard)
    • ...3 Saddlebag (Hold +2 Items)
    • ...3 Saloon (Must take, discard immediately)
    • ...2 Peacemaker (Ignore Bandits)
    • ...2 Compass (-1 per route)
    • ...2 Canteen (-2 on 2-cost routes)
  • Each player receives the following in their player color:
    • ...1 Rider figure (place at Post Office)
    • ...1 Travel marker (place near Travel track)
  • Place the board in the center of the play area.
  • Shuffle the Auction cards.
  • Shuffle the Item tiles face down beside the board and place 2 of them in each Town.
  • Shuffle the Hazard tiles face down beside the board.
  • In random order, each player places their Rider onto the Turn Order track.
  • Place the Money tokens in a supply pile.
  • You are ready to begin!
Game Play

A game of The Pony Express will play out over the course of three “weeks” – each week players will first claim parcels to deliver in an Auction phase, then race to deliver them and return to the Post Office in the Delivery phase. 

Auction phase
  1. Deal each player 1 Auction card from the deck. This will be a Parcel you must deliver, or it will be a Map card which will help you ride more efficiently in the Delivery phase.
  2. Turn 2 Auction cards face up for each player in the game. In turn order, according to the Turn Order track, players will take turns being the Auctioneer.
  3. The Auctioneer chooses one of the face up Auction cards and collects $10.
  4. The Auctioneer will then start counting slowly upwards from $3 (“$3… $4… $5… $6…”) until they get to $10, or until another player claims the card.
  5. If another player claims the card, give them the card, as well as the money according to the last amount you announced. You keep the rest. Example: Dan chooses a Parcel bound for Town #3 and collects $10. After counting to $6, Seth says “I’ll take it for $6!” Dan gives Seth the Parcel as well as $6 of the $10, he keeps the rest.
  6. If nobody claims the card before you get to $10, then you keep the card – you are responsible for delivering it.
  7. The next player in turn order becomes the Auctioneer, and another card is selected.
Once all of the cards have been claimed by players, the Auction phase is over – it’s time to ride!

Delivery phase
At the beginning of the delivery phase, 1 Hazard tile is drawn from the supply and placed on each Route. Then players take turns riding from town to town to deliver parcels and collect items.

The 1st player on the Turn Order track will go first, moving their Rider figure to an adjacent town. Record the cost of that move by placing that player’s Travel marker on the corresponding space of the Travel track. The Travel track will keep track of who’s turn it is, as well as how much money each player will need to pay at the end of the Delivery phase.
Whoever has spent the least money so far will go next. While your rider is still at the Post Office, you have paid no money, so turn order is based on the Turn Order Track. When your Travel marker lands in the same space as another Travel marker, place yours on top of any already in that space. Any time two or more players have paid the same amount of money (i.e. their markers are on the same space of the Travel track), the marker on top (most recently arrived in that space) will play next.

When arriving at a town, if you have a Parcel bound for that town, you may discard it – you have made your delivery. In addition, you may claim 1 Item tile from that town. A rider may only hold 2 items, so if you have 3, then you must drop one in your current location.

Each player is required to deliver all Parcels in their hand before returning to the Post Office. When you return to the Post Office, place your Rider figure in the earliest available space in the Turn Order track. The earlier you return to the Post Office, the better your turn order will be for next round!

End Game
After 3 rounds of Auction and Delivery, the game is over. The player with the most money is the winner.

No comments: