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Game #45: Castlegard by sedjtroll

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sedjtroll
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First off, thanks RookieDesign for presenting Homini Terra. Looks like a very deep game with a lot going for it. I hope you got some good comments from the GDW.

This week I'd like to present a game based on something I read here in the forums. A member who hasn't been around much recently, galeninjapan, posted some ideas about a Samurai themed tile laying game. I had some suggestions and I talked about it with him a bit, and asked if he wouldn't mind my making a prototype of 'my version' of his game. He said "go for it", ao I did. Here's the result. For those that followed the threads about the Samurai game, the combat system in mine is completely different- I incorporated my "simple combat mechanic" which I posted about some time ago.

Without further ado, here's a Tile Laying game which I'm calling Castlegard. All comments are appreciated, in particular on unit abilities and how to go about hiring mercenaries.

Thanks in advance,
Seth

rkalajian
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Game #45: Castlegard by sedjtroll

Wow. At first it sounded a bit similar to Carcassone but after reading through the rules it sounds like there is a good amount of depth there.

I'd love to see tiles and cards so I could actually give the game a go. It definately sounds like the type of game i'd be interested in.

Zzzzz
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Game #45: Castlegard by sedjtroll

Very interesting.... I need to review the rules again before I make comments, but it seems to be a nice game.

sedjtroll
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A few clarifications...

After a little discussion with emxibus last week, there are actually a couple small updates which I didn't get a chance to add to the rules on that link. I'll try and summarize them here (and update them online when I get a chance).

The cards: The cards will simply have 1 of the 3 main units (Farmer, Archer, Knight) depicted on them. I don't know what kind of distribution, probably something to match the supply.

Mercenaries: Mercenaries didn't really seem good enough for their cost. I liked them as they were, and I liked their cost as it was, but they didn't match. As a compromise I'm leaning toward the following: Mercenaries are hired by discarding a card (Recruitment action), as it says in the rules. They cannot be lost in combat. They leave (go back to supply) anytime you retreat from a skirmish they're involved in or lose all of your units in a skirmish they're involved in. If you win a skirmish they stick around. That makes them a little beter and (hopefully) worht the cost.

Mercenaries: Also, I don't know if I specified the number of Mercenaries to go around. I'm thinking there will be 3 total in the supply. If they're on the board already then you cannot hire them. The idea is supposed to be that they're pretty good (extra unit, extra unit type, don't need to be supported, extra combat bonus for being good fighters) but they cost a lot (fewer options during Recruit action, can only do it 2x/game), but there's some time pressure to hire them lest you not be able to hire them (until you defeat one and it goes back to the supply).

Champion: Looking for a way to make the Champion better, to incentivize getting them out on the battlefield. One suggestion is to put them on a horse (can move 1 extra- so 2, 3 along a road). Another is to give him a static ability that somehow rallies troops (maybe all troops in spaces next to him are considered involved in any skirmish the Champion is in)... something like that. I'm looking for suggestions on this one.

Number of units: Another thing I'm wrestling with is a good number of each type of unit each player should have access to. I think there needs to be Farmers = Archers + Knights, with 1 Champion. This is because you need to supply all your Archers and knights. So at first I figured 4, 4, 8, and 1 for 17 units each. Would 3, 3, 6, and 1 (13 total per player) be enough?

Thanks,
Seth

Anonymous
Game #45: Castlegard by sedjtroll

Let me just say that my comp. is acting weird, one minute I'm on this site and nothing has been posted since yesterday, the next it seems as if it time warped 24 hours into today's current posts, so I've been trying to keep up with other posts as well but I might not be able to.

Anyway this game seems to be a very simple tile laying game, I picture Drakon meets Risk in a way. The simplicity of the rules is an added bonus, giving the players more time to play than read (Which is a major problem in some of today's games). I would be interested in seeing the tile distribution because if there are several mountains that could create a problem.

When the game starts and players are placing their tiles, (dumb question but to clarify) do the player's tiles start connected (do you get what I'm saying I can't word questions very well)?

I think if I saw the unit cards this game would make a little bit more sense, but I can already see the game in my mind and I think it works very well. The alternate endings sound nice, but after a few playtests if you start to notice that one way is easier than the others (I'm thinking that if one person isn't a good player they could be taken advantage of in this game, so the alternate endings may not work) you might need to rethink how it works. Going back to my ( ) topic there, do you think there will be a problem with a novice playing this game, such as in Puerto Rico?

Not bad, actually really good. Good luck with it, and thanks for posting it I love this part of the site.

sedjtroll
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Game #45: Castlegard by sedjtroll

snipy3 wrote:
When the game starts and players are placing their tiles, (dumb question but to clarify) do the player's tiles start connected?

There's a starting tile, then the players place their 'beginning tiles' using the tile placing rules. That is to say at least 1 side must match with an existing side, and no sides can not match.

Was that not clear in the Setup section of the rules?

- Seth

Anonymous
Game #45: Castlegard by sedjtroll

I'm not sure, I was reading some parts and just skimming through others, although one thing I noticed about the way the rules were written is that some things were discussed later in the rules that were used earlier as if you had known what they were already, which creates a problem for people since they might have to go back and read that whole section again. This isn't a major problem, I think I only came across it once, but other than that everything is fine.

sedjtroll
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Game #45: Castlegard by sedjtroll

snipy3 wrote:
One thing I noticed about the way the rules were written is that some things were discussed later in the rules that were used earlier as if you had known what they were already, which creates a problem for people since they might have to go back and read that whole section again.

I have a bad habit of doing that. I'll try and revise them soon so that doesn't happen anymore.

Thanks.

- Seth

Anonymous
Game #45: Castlegard by sedjtroll

One thing that could use explicit explaination is: What does it mean to "control" a Village? I infer that it means that you have someone in that village, but it is not entirely clear from the rules text.

One note on mercenaries. Without having played the game, my first reading seemed to indicate that the reason Mercenaries are so good is that you can play them anywhere you already have a unit on the board; no need to place them at Villages or Castles.

Hopefully that is at least somewhat helpful.

Thomas

jwarrend
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Game #45: Castlegard by sedjtroll

My reactions, in no particular order:

Overall, it sounds quite good; Carcassonne with combat. It would help quite a bit to be able to see a sample setup, or at least some sample tiles, to get a better feel for the geographic aspects of the game.

“Dordogne” is one of those words that looks hard to pronounce, and looks like it would sound unpleasant even if you could pronounce it. How about “Rhineland” or something?

I don’t see a need for mercenaries; 3 unit types is plenty (4 if you count champions). The mercenaries were really being forced in by Galen in the first place, because he really wanted Ronin in his game. I don’t think you need mercenaries in your game, it seems fine without them. In that sense, I’m also not sure about the “diversification” bonus. The only gameplay justification I can see is that it keeps “peasants” from being completely worthless. But, they’re really only worth the same as a swordsman, so I don’t think they carry their weight even with diversification. The point of peasants seems to be that they have no associated maintenance cost. I don’t think adding a combat benefit to incorporating peasants into your attack should be necessary -- you need to work things so that the economic advantage is sufficient motivation to have peasants on hand. Other than that, the combat system sounds fine.

I do like the idea of needing farms to support your military units. It’s kind of similar to the concepts explored by Game of Thrones. I think that that game does a lot of the same things you’re doing here, but your game has a different “scope” to it -- an exploration component, and a randomized board. I am a bit concerned that some aspect of the game may not work smoothly in actual practice -- that losing a farm will be devastating, or that that a "best strategy" wrt villages or farms may emerge. But playtesting would show that kind of thing, so it's nothing more than a concern at this point.

This is not really an “area-majority” game. Area-majority games are about having multiple people in a region, and trying to have the most -- like Web of Power, or El Grande. This game is more about owning key spots on the board. And that goal, (particularly in tandem with the alternate goal) sounds very worthy. Nice and simple, but giving a few different strategies.

Good show!

-Jeff

sedjtroll
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Game #45: Castlegard by sedjtroll

jwarrend wrote:
My reactions, in no particular order:

Good comments, and I'd like to reply more in-depth when I have more time. Right now I'd like to quickly note a couple things about the diversification bonus.

One of the things I thought was interesting in galen's game was that he was trying to reward a diverse army. To me that means unit management. You want to have each of the unit types represented in combat, but you only have so many of each unit type. and in the case of Farmers, if they're in combat then they're probably not on a farm supporting another unit.

One thing I am worried about though is basically why have farmers and farms and support units if out of any 2 units, 1 simply sits in one place so thatyou can have the other? I suppose one could go with a Farmer strategy and simply explore with famers and the champion looking for villages rather than sitting on farms and getting military units into play- I hadn't really thought about that too much.

At any rate, regarding unit types and mercenaries- I liked the idea of adding mercs (Ronin in galen's game) because I was thinking along the lines of 'how do you get more unit types in there?' Mercenaries seemed like a good fit- expensive, temporary, but really good in combat (and even in-theme).

As for farmers in combat, they are not as good as knights (or mercenaries)- although they do add just as much toward diversification, they don't add an additional +1 like having a knight or a Mercenary does.

I'm a little suprised that you didn't like the mercenaries, but you're right, they're not strictly necessary. I just wanted another way to get a different unit type in there. It made a little more sense with galen's combat mechanic which I won't go into here (you can read the thread if you want that info).

I'll get back to the rest of your comments later. Thanks for taking the time.

- Seth

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Game #45: Castlegard by sedjtroll

I post after reading the rules, but before reading anybody else comment. If my comments match some other, guess it is a valid point.

Retreating:
At any time before a die roll any player may declare a retreat. After the die roll, the retreating player's units are moved to a friendly or unoccupied adjacent space.

I would clarify the rule to Attacker first, defender after.
Moving to an unoccupied adjacent space, could give a free move toward the castle too easily. (I still have to see the board layout to be sure about this one.)

Same issue with the move in the cleanup stage. It's a free move toward the opponents castle beyond the regular one.

What marker do you use to control 6 villages. There's none in the component list.

Is 6 village good at 2, 3 or 4 players ? I'm just raising a question.

Let's hope for some tile picture soon. I'm unclear about the archer helping in the fight.

Good work.

Anonymous
Game #45: Castlegard by sedjtroll

I agree with most of what I've read so far. It looks interesting, and I'd like to see what visual impression the pieces make. I have several questions and comments, but none will be hard to answer or fix:

State the winning condition(s) earlier in the rules. The "Control the Dordogne..." sentence is helpful, but vague.

Does capturing one opponent's castle, or defeating his champion, count for anything toward victory against other players? If not, it may be too costly to attempt. Maybe eliminating an opponent should give you control of some or all of his units and villages. (As in Bosworth?)
(By the way, do you know if it plays differently enough to have different rules for a 2-player game??)

Do you get a Melee Skill bonus for _each_ Knight or Mercenary, or just a single point for having at least one?

Does the Champion have any strength other than adding to the diversity score? If not, it seems like a chess King - moderately strong, but too risky to use outside the castle.

Is it possible to win by just placing villages behind your castle, so they can only be attacked by moving through the castle or by spending several moves placing tiles to get to your villages the long way? If this is a viable strategy, it could be a game-breaker.

The similarities to Carcassone are clear, but not a problem. It's good to be able to describe a game succinctly, and "Carcassone with combat" works well for that. If it succeeds, it will stand on its own merit. Maybe someday Carcassone will be "Castlegard without the combat" :-)

I hope this was helpful.

-- Dean

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Game #45: Castlegard by sedjtroll

RookieDesign wrote:
I post after reading the rules, but before reading anybody else comment. If my comments match some other, guess it is a valid point.

I think that's a good way to do it :)

Quote:
Retreating:..
I would clarify the rule to Attacker first, defender after.

That's probably a good idea, to keep the timing issues simple and clear.

Quote:
Moving to an unoccupied adjacent space, could give a free move toward the castle too easily...

Same issue with the move in the cleanup stage. It's a free move toward the opponents castle beyond the regular one.
I'm not concerned with this. If it turns out to be a problem then I will address it. Maybe there should be a bigger cost to retreating though. I like the 'declare before the roll' idea a lot, but maybe better would be to declare afterwards, and if you retreat your opponent gets a free shot at you.

Or a compromise, if you declare a retreat (before a roll) then you don't kill anyone with that roll no matter what, but you might lose a unit. This way you are less likely to want to use a retreat to 'gain ground', and if you do you are paying for it with blood so to speak.

What do you think?

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What marker do you use to control 6 villages. There's none in the component list.

I should put this in the rules... controlling a village just means having a unit in the smae space as the village.

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Is 6 village good at 2, 3 or 4 players?

I don't know. I hope so. I'd like to finish my prototype and try it to find out.

Quote:
Let's hope for some tile picture soon.

I will try and remember to bring it to work with me like Wednesday and take some digital pictures.

Quote:
I'm unclear about the archer helping in the fight.

The intention was that the only people involved in a skirmish are the ones that are actually in the contested square. Archers' special ability allows them to participate from a neighboring square as if they are in the combat (for purposes of diversification and outnumbering)- because they can shoot from a range with their bows.

Remember that the tiles are composed of 2 square spaces, so an archer in the 'left' space on a tile adds to a skirmish on the 'right' space of the same tile (for diversification and outnumbering).

Is that not clear from what I wrote in the rules? What should I change to make it clear?

Quote:
Good work.

Thank you :)

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Game #45: Castlegard by sedjtroll

offcenter wrote:
State the winning condition(s) earlier in the rules. The "Control the Dordogne..." sentence is helpful, but vague.

Would it help if I move it up between the first and second paragraph?

Quote:
Does capturing one opponent's castle, or defeating his champion, count for anything toward victory against other players?

Hmm... maybe you're right. This was written primarily as a 2 player game, but I'd like to keep it open to 3 or 4. It could simply be that Champion hunting is a better strategy in 2-player than it is in 3- or 4-player. Or maybe another win condition could be adopted instead... a VP win condition- where you earn a flag for each Village you control, 2 flags for killing a champion, and 3 flags for taking a castle- then you play to a certain number of flags.

Thoughts on that?

Quote:
If not, it may be too costly to attempt. Maybe eliminating an opponent should give you control of some or all of his units and villages.

I hadn't thought about that. Like I said, most of it was made with 2 players in mind. I think it would be too good to get all his units. I think as the rules are written currently, as long as they have their champion they are not eliminated (they could keep recruiting).

Maybe being knocked out is no good though, as people generally don't like that in games (elimination). Can you think of any other ideas? How did you like the scoring idea above?

What I need is a way to make using the Champion worthwhile (as it's somewhat dangerous to leave the castle with him). Maybe this scoring thing is one way (less dangerous). Is there a good ability he could have that would be worth using?

Quote:
Do you know if it plays differently enough to have different rules for a 2-player game??

I don't, but it might.

Quote:
Do you get a Melee Skill bonus for _each_ Knight or Mercenary, or just a single point for having at least one?

a single point for having at least 1 knight, and another single point for having at least 1 mercenary. I tried to clarify that in the rules... did it work? How should I word that (the question has come up a couple times)?

Quote:
Does the Champion have any strength other than adding to the diversity score? If not, it seems like a chess King - moderately strong, but too risky to use outside the castle.

I'd like him to have some abilty. That's one thing I'm hoping to get out of this GDW session. For starters he could be on a horse (extra movement), but that's not enough. Maybe some kind of ability to rally troops? I don't know what that would mean. Just att he moment he adds to diversity, and I guess that's it. He's supposed to add a +1 morality bonus, but I keep forgetting to write that in :)

Quote:
Is it possible to win by just placing villages behind your castle, so they can only be attacked by moving through the castle or by spending several moves placing tiles to get to your villages the long way?

There's no such thing as moving 'through' the castle. There's only 1 entrance, and to make it even more clear I surrounded each castle by Mountians. It IS possible to put villages behind your castle, but you have to walk over there to control them, just like anyone else would.

The similarities to Carcassone are clear, but not a problem.
It's similar in that there are tiles, and the tile edges have to match when you place them. I guess it's similar in that you place guys on the tiles as well. but asside from that it's not similar at all- the guys do different things (they move for god's sake!), the tiles have different meanings, the scoring's completely different, even the tile laying mechanism isn't the same (you don't play a tile each turn). It'd be like saying Checc and Checkers are really similar because both are played on an 8x8 board and in each you have your 'team' of pieces against your opponents, youe pieces can get promoted when they get across the board, and they both have a 'King'.

Quote:
It's good to be able to describe a game succinctly, and "Carcassone with combat" works well for that.

I agree and disagree. One of the things I've least liked to hear over the past ten years is "It's D&D with cards". If you've played Magic then you know it's not even the same category of game as D&D- all it shares is a fantasy genre.

Quote:
Maybe someday Carcassone will be "Castlegard without the combat" :-)

Cute :) Maybe...

Quote:
I hope this was helpful.

It was, and thanks for posting!

- Seth

jwarrend
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Game #45: Castlegard by sedjtroll

sedjtroll wrote:

I'm a little suprised that you didn't like the mercenaries, but you're right, they're not strictly necessary. I just wanted another way to get a different unit type in there. It made a little more sense with galen's combat mechanic which I won't go into here (you can read the thread if you want that info).

It's because they don't feel necessary that I don't "like" them; they feel like an anachronism from Galen's game, and to the extent I understood it, they always seemed to me like something Galen was forcing in for thematic reasons rather than something the game demanded. If you are looking for a quick, 45 minute romp, I don't think you can really sustain the nuance of this many different types of pieces; I just think you want to pick 3 types and go with it. To be honest, even the champion feels somewhat unnecessary, but he's only 1 piece so I guess it's ok. You have a strong terrain aspect in your game. That, with a little variety from the 3 unit types, is plenty to give you rich combat scenarios -- potentially. To me, the trick will always be whether it's possible to get forces in position to have meaningful combats, or whether it will always be one-on-one or two-on-one or whatever.

Quote:
Quote:
The similarities to Carcassone are clear, but not a problem.

It's similar in that there are tiles, and the tile edges have to match when you place them. I guess it's similar in that you place guys on the tiles as well. but asside from that it's not similar at all- the guys do different things (they move for god's sake!), the tiles have different meanings, the scoring's completely different, even the tile laying mechanism isn't the same (you don't play a tile each turn).

For better or for worse, I think that any game that involves placing tiles and then placing guys on them is going to be compared to Carcassonne, because Carcassonne was so well-received. I don't think it's a bad thing. There's very little question in my mind that Galen was heavily influenced by Carc in coming up with this game, and that if Carc didn't exist, neither would this one. The key is how you go beyond the "parent" game's concepts. Adding movement and combat, as you and Galen have, is a nice modification, and you've ended up with something different. But there's no question that Carc was foundational to this game. Not really a bad thing; it's a good game to emulate!

-J

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Game #45: Castlegard by sedjtroll

Couple of small comments :

Without knowing the exact number of each tile type (or even ratios). I am wondering if it would be possible for another player to "explore" and place tiles in such a way that another opponents castle could become "trapped". Based on the rules, there is nothing that states I could not "explore" a new location (thus laying down a tile) next to my opponents castle. Would it be possible for me to place tiles in such a way that my opponent could not move around on the board? This same issue could become amplified in a 3 or 4 (or more) person game. If everyone gangs up on the player going last, we have up to six (or eight) "Explore" actions to attempt this. Keep in mind this is all based on no knowledge of the tiles, so maybe the ratio of tile types might not allow for this to occur.

Quote:

If a space contains more than 5 units, the excess units must be moved to friendly or unoccupied adjacent spaces or lost (returned to supply). Units may not move through mountains.

Could this be abused to gain extra movement out of a basic unit? Keep your basic units together move the unit of 5, recruit as my last action and during cleanup I get to move the 1 unit to another location. So basically I did three actions (say my first action was to move into a new area with my five units). Second action was to recruit the new unit into the group of five, and last (during cleanup) I was forced to move the one unit into another area (maybe I was able to take control of another villiage).

What happens if the friendly location I want to move my extra unit already contains 5 units (along that lines what does "friendly" mean in the game?)? Do I move to that location, thus forcing another movement of a unit? Can I not move the unit to a location already occupied by 5 units?

In the bonus area you mention "Defense Only", but there is no other information about what "Defense Only" means. Additionally there is no information about any type of defense at all, so this seems to need more information stated about it in the rules.

zaiga
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Game #45: Castlegard by sedjtroll

Seth,

Some first impression comments. I haven't read other people's comments yet either.

- I would like to see for how much players the game is intended somewhere at the beginning of the rules. A game that is intended for 2 players will need different kind of comments than a game for 3-8 players, for example. From the list of components I understand that it is intended for up to 4 players. Do you want it to work with 2-4 players, or 3-4?

- Using rectangular tiles means it is possible to create unfillable "gaps". Is this what you want? Perhaps you can introduce some extra "special" 1x1 square tiles, specifically to fill such gaps (ala Tom Tube). Just an idea.

I suspect that, because of the shape of the tiles, and the fact that there are three different entities (mountains, fields, roads) that have to match, you will get a playing area that is very scattered and spread out, instead of the compact playing area you often see in Carcassonne. This also has to do with the fact that in Carcassonne there often is an incentive for players to keep the area compact, because they want to complete their cities, score points for the monasteries or simply to hinder an opponent. There not really such incentive in your game.

- Winning the game. I suspect that in a multiplayer game it will be much easier to achieve victory through controlling 6 villages than by defeating your opponents. The problem, as I see it, is that there is no real incentive for attacking other players. The attacker loses a valuable action and possibly a number of units. The only winners in that case are the players not involved in the skirmishes. They can quietly explore the land away from their opponents and grab six villages. I think such a defensive strategy could work very well in this game. This is something to watch out for when you try this game.

Other than that I don't have any comments at the moment. The game has simple rules, which is always a good thing, but I'm not really excited about it after having read the rules either. Then again there are a lot of games that don't seem much fun on paper, but actually are a lot of fun in practice. Regardless, you seem to have a decent foundation for what could turn out to be good game.

Good luck with it!

- René Wiersma

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Game #45: Castlegard by sedjtroll

Zzzzz wrote:
I am wondering if it would be possible for another player to "explore" and place tiles in such a way that another opponents castle could become "trapped".

Admittedly this is not something I thougth about directly, but frankly I think it would be difficult to cut off a castle, and even if you did, you start with 3 guys outside the castle so you could still use those guys to find a village and recruit more (remember, units enter play at your castle or a village you control).

Quote:
Castlegard wrote:
If a space contains more than 5 units, the excess units must be moved to friendly or unoccupied adjacent spaces or lost (returned to supply). Units may not move through mountains.

Could this be abused to gain extra movement out of a basic unit?

Yes, technically it could. I hadn'tt thought that this would be such an abuse that it would make a difference, but it's come up more than once in comment so it's obviously something to watch out for.

Quote:
Keep your basic units together move the unit of 5, recruit as my last action and during cleanup I get to move the 1 unit to another location.

Note that this only works if (a) your group of 5 is on a Village, or (b) your recruit action is to hire a Mercenary (which you can do a maximum of twice per game).

Quote:
(maybe I was able to take control of another villiage).

If you really tried I supopse you could move 6 guys to a space adjacent to a village, then use the cleanup step to move one of them onto the village. On the one hand, if you have 6 guys that close to the village I imagine you'll get there pretty soon anyway (how good is that extra move, really?). On the other hand I probably ought to clarify the movement rule so that you can never move into a space with 5 people already in it unless you're entering a skirmish (opponent's space).

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What happens if the friendly location I want to move my extra unit already contains 5 units

If I make the clarification above this goes away. The intention was that you can't do that.

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(along that lines what does "friendly" mean in the game?)

It means 'containing your units" as opposed to opponents' units. I should clarify that.

Quote:
In the bonus area you mention "Defense Only", but there is no other information about what "Defense Only" means. Additionally there is no information about any type of defense at all, so this seems to need more information stated about it in the rules.

Good point. Defense is intended to mean 'the player who's turn it isn't' or the player who is getting attacked, and is therefore defending. I should clarify that.

Note that I missed a +1 bonus for your Champion being there (since we're talking about bonuses)

Thanks for your good comments, I'll update the rules as soon as I can.

- Seth

Anonymous
Game #45: Castlegard by sedjtroll

I haven't made it all the way through all the comments, but I wanted to add something before I forgot it. I think it would be great to keep the game open to multiple players (3-4, possibly 5 or 6). What about allowing alliances. For example, players could hire out their units to nearby army that is in need of that particular unit type. The first player would be compensated in whatever way the two agree.

It would work to reduce the "Risk" effect where a losing player has little or no hope of recovering and essentially throws his weight against a lead player. That player would be able to build up either land or units or cards or something of value in exchange for lending units to aid another (or others).

Yes, it would not work in a 2-player game and would make a 3+ player game more complex, but since deals will probably be made to some degree anyway, you may want to consider including it in some way.

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Game #45: Castlegard by sedjtroll

sedjtroll wrote:
... (how good is that extra move, really?)....

Well the one major case would occur if you could move close enough to a village (but not into that village, no more actions so you cant move), but since you have over 5 units, you would be able to also capture the village all in the same turn. And if that village is the last you need to meet the requirements of controlling X villages, it means a lot. Since you would now win.

But I admit this is also based on the current game status. Lets say you could do this specified "free action" (free move action) as stated in the previous paragraph. If I was an opponent and on my previous turn I was also one space short of the same village, but only had 4 units. It would suck that you got to the village based on this "issue". And I guess the reason it would be an issue in this case, I as a player cannot stop you from winning as a result of this problem. If you could not do this "free move", I would at least have chance on my next turn to move into the village and defend it from you. And at least that might make your capture of the final village you need to win the game, a little harder.

I will admit this is a very picky case and may not occur and it does seem a bit extreme. But as I think about the game play, if a player figured out this "free" move" it might put more reason to use your actions to fill up at some point on units to gain these "free movement actions" during a turn. If nothing else a new player losing because someone figures out that they can "do a free movement action" might be a turn off.

Hey, as least I have you thinking about it. I would say that if real prototype playtesting seems to prove this issue to be very minimal, then at least you know it is not an issue.

sedjtroll
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Game #45: Castlegard by sedjtroll

SiskNY wrote:
What about allowing alliances. For example, players could hire out their units to nearby army that is in need of that particular unit type. The first player would be compensated in whatever way the two agree.

To tell you the truth I'm not too fond of this idea in games. The people who taught me settlers played with promises and stuff like "I'll trade you this clay and wood for your rock, if you'll hold those rock until after I roll" or "I need those two rock, I'll give you everything I produce for the next whole round for them" to avoid getting robbed or to get the resources they need. There were lots of deals like that, all the time, and frankly I think that's against the intention of the game system. In that case the rules actually state that you can only trade what's in your hand, and you can't trade something for nothing or nothing for something- but my feeling for it doesn't change.

A big part of this game is that you have a limited number of units, I don't like the idea of using other people's units. There's also the point that you'd have to keep track somehow who's unit is who's.

Quote:
It would work to reduce the "Risk" effect where a losing player has little or no hope of recovering and essentially throws his weight against a lead player. That player would be able to build up either land or units or cards or something of value in exchange for lending units to aid another (or others).

I don't know what you are saying, whether the losing player would lend out units in return for something, or if they would somehow rent units to help catch up. Neither really works in this game as is, and I'm not too interested in making changes so that either would work.

Thank you for the suggestion though.

- Seth

sedjtroll
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Game #45: Castlegard by sedjtroll

Regarding 'free extra movement' as a result of the cleanup step, I just want to point out that this requires a minimum of 6 of your 17 (or 13 if I make that change) units to be in the same place. This means that any other villages (the other 5 in your example where the player is about to win using this tactic) can't be too well defended. If all 17 units are out, then 8 of them have to be on farms (by definition), and with 6 in one place that leaves only 3 to be on Villages. 4 if you count that one of the 6 in question could be on a farm or village, assuming there's a farm/village adjacent to a village (not impossible).

I will certainly watch this in playtesting (if indeed I ever get a chance to test it), but I have a hard time believing that it will be any kind of advantage. In my opinion it's Too Much Work (TM) for the benefit of a free movement.

- Seth

Zzzzz
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Game #45: Castlegard by sedjtroll

Seth.... I feel silly now. I did not keep the total number of units in mind when I was considering this problem.

Ah, if only I could pay a little more attention to the obvious! ;)

Trickydicky
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Game #45: Castlegard by sedjtroll

I think you've got a very interesting and fun looking game here. I personally have never played Carcossone (spelling?) and think that this game whether it is an offshoot or not looks great.

Questions

In the actions section under move it says move each of your units 1 space. I take it to mean you CAN move each unit one space but don't have to. Kinda nickpicky I know, but I know some literalists also.

What exaclty is a farm? Any tile with a farmer on it? Only fields? Can a "farm" have more than 1 farmer working it at the same time?

Could someone exploit the weakness of farmers and use attacking undefended farmers as a means of eliminating tougher units without having to skirmish with them? If so I think you might end up recruiting units and using them to protect the farmers who keep them alive. Thus never being able to advance. Changing the number of units each farmer can support could help solve this.

I was confused as to where the villages came from. Maybe give a rundown of different tiles before the very end.

I think you answered this, but I'll ask more specifically. In order to be in control of the six villages to win do I have to have a unit in each of those villages? or do I have to be the last player to have had a unit in each of those villages?

Since the archer doesn't need to actually be in the skirmish to count towards diversification/outnumbering, can the same archer unit be counted toward multiple skirmishes in the same turn?

When hiring a mercenary is there any way to get your total number of recruiting cards back to 2? Possibly an action, draw recruiting card (or possibly two recruiting cards) but don't play one.

I think a brief table describing each of the units and their abilities might be helpful. Possibly over kill but I like quick reference tables when playing games with multiple units.

In response to your question about the number of units. How many skirmishes do you expect to happen on a typical turn? If only one that is good, if not then I would keep it at 4,4,8.

In regards to the Champion question. I wonder if you could make it so you don't automatically lose when your champion is killed. In order to do this you have to give the champion an ability that makes him so valuable that it is still risky to use him in combat very often. What if that ability was not combat related, i.e. only champions can convince villages to join your fiefdom (thus gaining control of them) , Champions add to the production of farmers in a given area, making it possible to support 2 units with every farmer, champions count as 2 VPs simply for keeping him alive (if you wanted to go with the VP system, which I think is a good idea), etc.

Finally, I think that switching to a VP system would be good. It would help alleviate some of the concerns about taking castles/champions versus simply finding new villages. It would also allow you to keep players in who have lost their castle/champion.

I said a lot but that is a good sign. If I thought the game stunk I probably wouldn't have been able to point out any possible problems because the whole thing would have been a problem. Good work. I would like to play it.

sedjtroll
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Game #45: Castlegard by sedjtroll

Trickydicky wrote:
In the actions section under move it says move each of your units 1 space. I take it to mean you CAN move each unit one space but don't have to.

Quite right, you don't HAVE to move units. I could clarify that, or just say 'up to 1 space (2 if along a road)'.

A better question, is the "2 if along a road" confusing anyone? It is supposed to mean that if you start your move on a road and move to another road you can move a second space- as long as it's to another road. Hmm, that sounded confusing to me. Does it make sense?

Quote:
What exaclty is a farm? Any tile with a farmer on it? Only fields? Can a "farm" have more than 1 farmer working it at the same time?

A farm is a feature of a tile space. That is to say that some tile spaces will have farms printed on them. To 'control' the farm you simply move a unit onto the space with the farm on it. Because of the skirmishes, it's not possible for more than one player to control a farm. You may have up to 5 units on a space with a farm on it, but it's the same as having only 1 unit there with respect to controlling the farm.

Quote:
Could someone exploit the weakness of farmers and use attacking undefended farmers as a means of eliminating tougher units without having to skirmish with them?

Yes.
Quote:
If so I think you might end up recruiting units and using them to protect the farmers who keep them alive. Thus never being able to advance.

This may be true. I think it will be clear in playtesting. Maybe it's possible to see an attack force coming and bring in defenses. Maybe Farms should get a +1 in combat as well as villages.

Quote:
Changing the number of units each farmer can support could help solve this.

Also true, maybe each farm could support say 2 military units, then there could be a better distribution of units, like 5-5-5 or 4-4-4 or something.

Anyone else have an opinion on this? Does it sound good? Do you have a better idea? I'll think about this a lot, it sounds pretty good to me.

Quote:
I was confused as to where the villages came from. Maybe give a rundown of different tiles before the very end.

I'll bring the tiles wth me to work and scan them to pdf, and maybe I'll take a digital photograph of the cute pawns I made from that paper miniatures site I linked.

In case you're curious, I printed the dudes on paper then put adhesive on the paper with a Xyron cold laminator, then folded the paper over the edge of some cardstock and cut out the minis. That worked ok. Then to make them thicker and sturdier I stuck the paper directly to the cardstock and then folded THAT over a pice of chipboard (backing from a pad of paper). I tried printing on colored construction paper so I could use the same figs and differentiate teams. It seems to look ok, but not great. Colored regular paper that would be better.

Quote:
I think you answered this, but I'll ask more specifically. In order to be in control of the six villages to win do I have to have a unit in each of those villages? or do I have to be the last player to have had a unit in each of those villages?

You'd have to have a unit in each village. Although marking Villages with stones to show you've taken them (maybe having to sacrifice your unit to do so or something) might be good... the number doesn't HAVE to be 6, it's 6 right now because that's half of the 12 total villages.

There's an idea I've got milling about in my head concerining 'creating' villages (by paying some resource) rather than them being on the tiles. Kinda like building a settlement in Settlers. I'm not sure how that would work though.

Quote:
Since the archer doesn't need to actually be in the skirmish to count towards diversification/outnumbering, can the same archer unit be counted toward multiple skirmishes in the same turn?

Yes.

Quote:
When hiring a mercenary is there any way to get your total number of recruiting cards back to 2? Possibly an action, draw recruiting card (or possibly two recruiting cards) but don't play one.

No. Part of the drawback to hiring a mercenary is fewer options during recruiting (admittedly this is probably no big deal), and that you can only do it twice a game.

Quote:
I think a brief table describing each of the units and their abilities might be helpful. Possibly over kill but I like quick reference tables when playing games with multiple units.

I agree and have been meaning to put one in the rules. Here's a rundown, maybe I'll get this online at some point:

Farmer: Does not need to be supoprted.
Archer: Counts for Diversification and Outnumbering in skirmishes from 1 space away.
Knight: Melee Skill +1 skirmish bonus
Champion: Morale +1 skirmish bonus. Can move 2 paces (3 if along a road)
Mercenary: Melee Skill +1 skirmish bonus. Cannot be lost in a skirmish. Leaves play if you retreat or lose all your guys in a skirmish (ionly the ones he's in)

Quote:
In response to your question about the number of units. How many skirmishes do you expect to happen on a typical turn? If only one that is good, if not then I would keep it at 4,4,8.

I'm not sure. I imagine at the outset there wouldn't be many, but later on in the game there might be a few per turn. I think I like the idea of evening them out to 4-4-4 and saying Farms can support 2 units.

Quote:
In regards to the Champion question. I wonder if you could make it so you don't automatically lose when your champion is killed. In order to do this you have to give the champion an ability that makes him so valuable that it is still risky to use him in combat very often. What if that ability was not combat related, i.e. only champions can convince villages to join your fiefdom (thus gaining control of them) , Champions add to the production of farmers in a given area, making it possible to support 2 units with every farmer, champions count as 2 VPs simply for keeping him alive (if you wanted to go with the VP system, which I think is a good idea), etc.

I think the only good way to do this is to go the VP route. Either you get vps for KILLING a Champion, or you get maybe 2 VPs for HAVING a champion alive. Then you win when you get X VPs. That sorta kills the three paths to victory though.

As for abilities, you have some interesting ideas there. Especially the one where the Champ has to visit a village to get them to join your feifdom. This would go along with the counter representing ownership... but then (a) what are the military units for? and (b) how do you take over someone else's village?

Quote:
Finally, I think that switching to a VP system would be good. It would help alleviate some of the concerns about taking castles/champions versus simply finding new villages. It would also allow you to keep players in who have lost their castle/champion.

Yeah, this is sounding really good to me. Maybe have the Champ and Castle worth 2 and 3 VPs respectively and each village worth 1VP, win when you get to 10vp? So in theory you could lose both your castle and your Champion and still control 10 villages and win. Though that would be unlikely. If you just lose your Champion then you can win with 7 villages, that sounds reasonable. The number of Villages can easily be changed if need be.

How does this sound?

Quote:
I said a lot but that is a good sign. If I thought the game stunk I probably wouldn't have been able to point out any possible problems because the whole thing would have been a problem. Good work. I would like to play it.

Thanks, I'm glad you liked it :)

zaiga
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Game #45: Castlegard by sedjtroll

Seth,

Some idea after having thought about the game a bit more...

I think it would be nice if there were less farms in the game and each farm could support more units (say three or four). This makes controlling a farm and/or stealing a farm from an opponent more important.

What happens when there are no tiles left to draw? Does the game end? If so, who wins?

I'm still not very fond of the winning conditions. Losing the game when you lose your Champion is pretty harsh, which I think will lead to people trying to keep their Champion safe, instead of putting it in the heat of the battle. A cowardly Champion is probably not what you want.

A suggestion to encourage players to use their Champion would be to award a "victory medal" whenever they win a skirmish in which their Champion was involved. If your Champion gets killed you lose a number of victory medals. Whoever has a combination of six (or whatever) victory medals and/or villages wins the game.

Better yet would be to introduce a VP model and let the game end when there are no tiles left or when there are no recruit cards left (or when the recruit card deck has run out for the Nth time). This also makes it easier to award other things, such as controlling a castle, the most farmers at end of game, etc, etc.

Finally, I suspect you may want to go with a different tile shape, because, as I said in an earlier post, the shape of the tiles and the placement restrictions will probably result in a very scattered and spread out pattern, which is not what you want I think.

- René Wiersma

Trickydicky
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Game #45: Castlegard by sedjtroll

Quote:
Also true, maybe each farm could support say 2 military units, then there could be a better distribution of units, like 5-5-5 or 4-4-4 or something.

Anyone else have an opinion on this? Does it sound good? Do you have a better idea? I'll think about this a lot, it sounds pretty good to me.

I think this would be good. If you did have to protect your farm, this way you could protect your farm with one of the two units that the farm is supporting. It would be like the agricultural revolution which, made it so fewer and fewer people had to stay on the farm, since each farm could support more people.

Quote:
You'd have to have a unit in each village. Although marking Villages with stones to show you've taken them (maybe having to sacrifice your unit to do so or something) might be good...

I like this idea. I think it would work well with the VP system

Quote:
There's an idea I've got milling about in my head concerining 'creating' villages (by paying some resource) rather than them being on the tiles. Kinda like building a settlement in Settlers. I'm not sure how that would work though

I think that switching to a VP system would be a better solution. I like the idea of the villages being somewhat random throughout the tiles. It increases the replayability and gives first time players a chance to win (or an excuse when they lose).

Quote:
I think the only good way to do this is to go the VP route. Either you get vps for KILLING a Champion, or you get maybe 2 VPs for HAVING a champion alive. Then you win when you get X VPs. That sorta kills the three paths to victory though.

I like the idea of having your champion and castle be worth points. That way you start the game with so many VPs but there is a chance of losing the ones you already have.

I think the VP system may kill the three paths to victory but it opens up a lot of other options, i.e.
Zaiga wrote

Quote:
A suggestion to encourage players to use their Champion would be to award a "victory medal" whenever they win a skirmish in which their Champion was involved.

You could have a VP card worth 2 VPs for the person with the most Victory Medals, ala "longest road" "biggest army" from Settlers. I think you could probably think of a number of other interesting routes to gain VPs. Thus opening the victory conditions back up to the three (or more) paths to victory.

Quote:
Yeah, this is sounding really good to me. Maybe have the Champ and Castle worth 2 and 3 VPs respectively and each village worth 1VP, win when you get to 10vp? So in theory you could lose both your castle and your Champion and still control 10 villages and win. Though that would be unlikely. If you just lose your Champion then you can win with 7 villages, that sounds reasonable. The number of Villages can easily be changed if need be.

I think this sounds really good! I would still think about adding other ways of getting VPs, see Zaiga's post.

Hope it helps. Kinding of thinking with my fingers.

Scurra
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Game #45: Castlegard by sedjtroll

sedjtroll wrote:
There's an idea I've got milling about in my head concerining 'creating' villages (by paying some resource) rather than them being on the tiles. Kinda like building a settlement in Settlers. I'm not sure how that would work though.

That'd be my idea then, would it? :-)
Mind you, I still haven't got an idea how to make it work either ;-)

But it still seems better than having them on the tiles, as players can then gain a slight advantage by learning the tileset (as they do in Carc, if they are sad enough to do that.)

One thing you did lose from the original was the Shrines, which offered another way of supporting troops but in a different fashion. I rather like this, but it doesn't fit your new setting.

sedjtroll
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Initial tile set for Castlegard

I have scanned the tiles to pdf and they can be viewed here.

F stands for Farm and V stands for Village. The upper right 3x2 tile with all the F's on it is the starting tile. The castle looking 3x2 tile is a typical castle (they're all the same). At the moment there are 31 Dordogne tiles, 12 of which have Villages, 15 (I think) of which have Farms, and of those 3 have both. I believe 7 have neither.

Here's what some of the player pawns ended up looking like. There are 2 archers, a knight, and a champion (from the yellow team), that's just what I happened to grab this morning.

I put some tiles out in a possible legal configuration and plopped down the bits to make a possible board. Here's an overview and a closer look. You can't tell but the Archer is sitting on a Village.

Hope that helps. I still think those bits are a little too big. Maybe 2" x 4" tiles are in order.
- Seth

Zzzzz
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Re: Initial tile set for Castlegard

sedjtroll wrote:
Hope that helps. I still think those bits are a little too big. Maybe 2" x 4" tiles are in order.

Yeah it helps, once I saw the sample overview, I realized why my previous comment about "blocking" in a players castle (using mountain area) does not apply. As always images are worth a ton of words!

As for the tile size, I agree that adding to the tile size is a good idea. Based on the bits and the potential for having 5 of one unit on any given area (actually a potential of 10 total you attack an opponent location containing 5 units).

Looking good...

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