Thursday, November 11, 2021

Rolling Realms - Jaffee Realms update

About a year and a half ago, Jamey Stegmaier created a roll & write game called Rolling Realms for people to play over zoom during the pandemic. I loved it and thought it might actually be his best design to date, and I made some realms based on games I had worked on.

For the most part, my realms were more complicated than the ones he'd made, and I haven't gone back and revisited them at all. Since then, Rolling Realms was so popular that Jamey has made a full production copy. That has inspired me to revisit the realms I had done for my games, Crusaders and Eminent Domain 

Here's what I had from before, and some new versions that are potentially more in line with the published versions of Jamey's realms:

Crusaders Realm

Here's what I had back in April 2020 for Crusaders:

Crusaders Realm - 4/2020

I liked this because it encapsulated all the major actions in the game (Crusade, Build, and Influence), and they all seemed to sort of fit. It turned out to be a bit confusing for people though, especially if they weren't familiar with the Crusaders game.

However, this version did not refer to the driving Rondcala mechanism at all. So I thought I might be able to make the realm more straightforward, utilizing the Rondcala at the heart of Crusaders. Here's an attempt at that:

Crusaders Realm - 11/2021

I don't think there was room to fully explain the idea here. I'm not sure how much space there is on the official cards vs this mock-up either, and I'm not sure if the card needs to contain the explanation or if it can be written elsewhere. Here's what I had in mind for this version:

When you assign a die to this realm, resolve the corresponding wedge. It must have at least 1 pip in it. Depending on how man pips there are, you get 1, 2, or 3 of the pictured item:

1-3 pips: 1 of the pictured item  |  4-5 pips: 2 of the pictured items  |  6+ pips: 3 of the pictured items

Then, you cross off all the pips in that wedge (remember how many there were), and draw a new pip on each of the next wedges, one at a time in clockwise order, until you've drawn that many. Thus, you add pips to the wedges in the same way you'd add tokens when you distribute them in the board game.

I have not tried this yet, but it seems straightforward to me, so long as the rules are explained.

[Edit: maybe an even simpler version is to collect 1 resource per pip for the odd numbers, and 1 star per 2 pips for the even numbers. Sure, that's potentially a bunch more resources, but so what?]

Eminent Domain Realm

Here's what I had a year and a half ago for Eminent Domain:

EmDo Realm - 4/2020

I thought this was OK, you mostly Trade for resources (which rewards 1 of each planet type), or Research for stars, and you could either just get a couple planets, or get a bunch (though there's no actual reward or incentive for that.

Here's a very similar idea that I think might read a LITTLE better:

EmDo Realm - 11/2021

In this version, you still get more resources if you have dissimilar planets, and you need similar planets to get tech. But this time the tech gets crossed out when you get it, so you can't get the same reward box twice. I also added stars for getting complete rows or columns of planets. You kind of already want to do that for other benefits, but this seemed like a fair thing to add so you can use planet flipping as a strategy.

I guess this ignores the main mechanism of Eminent Domain, but it maintains the dynamic of needing a few planets to get anything done. If this doesn't work, I'll probably do something super simple that just rewards you for having done the same action before (the first time you do an action, mark a box and get nothing or very little, 2nd time get more, 3rd time get even more).

[Edit: I wonder if the old version isn't actually a bit simpler... I like the symmetry of the Trade and Research actions in it (1/2/3 dissimilar planets for trade, 1/2/3 similar planets for research)]

What do you think?

I'm curious to know how confusing or complicated these end up being, especially in comparison to Jamey's published Rolling Realms. I haven't tried either one, but I'd love to get a wide berth of playtest data. I'd really like to see them come down to the level that the published version of Rolling Realms. So if you give these a go, please comment below with your thoughts!

[Edit: I tried them once, and they seemed OK - got a really low score though! I'd still really like to know what people think of them]


Seth Jaffee said...

Edit: for Crusaders, probably just collect 1 resource per pip for the odd numbers, and 1 star per 2 pips for the even numbers. Pretty similar, and probably easier to explain.

Seth Jaffee said...

Actually, I feel like this new EmDo version is less good than the original one, so I went back to that, but added stars for completing a row or column in the planet grid

Then I played the Pendulum realm and found that it's basically an exact distillation of this EmDo realm, and done well. So I am trying an altogether different approach now, once where once you use a number in the realm, using that same number is better for you.