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Game #77: The Queen's Shepherd

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Chad
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Joined: 12/31/1969

Hi All,

Jeff has given me the go-ahead to post about my first game The Queens Shepherd. Rules: http://www.ookytentacles.com/Queens_Shepherd.pdf

In it players are shepherds competing to breed the greatest flock of sheep, the first one to breed 12 sheep wins. It has tile-laying, card management and resource/economic aspects.
The Queen’s overseer travels around the board scoring players for wool, paying them coins which they need to breed more sheep. Space is limited, so players must manoeuvre their own sheep, and the inevitable black sheep that result from some bleedings (but score nothing) to try and hinder other players from scoring, whilst maximising their own profits.

Recently added, has been role selection in the form of special Items; Key, Purse, Bucket and Shepherds staff which give players a special advantage. This addition is busy being tested but looks pretty promising. I have included 2 possible selection options in the rules set - I would love to know which you prefer. I also have a 5th Special Item called The Quill, which I have not added, as it seems problematic and needs to be polished. Perhaps in this thread I can put forward my ideas for it and the problems it poses - any thoughts or suggestions would be very welcome.

The rules PDF also includes the game art. I am a designer/illustrator by trade and probably will more thoroughly work on all the art when/if it goes into production - put its fun and pretty serviceable right now I think.

Looking forward to your feedback,
Chad

OutsideLime
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Game #77: The Queen's Shepherd

Hello,

I read your PDF from the other post last night and I have to say that I am loving your visual style for The Queen's Shepherd. So charming and appropriate, beautiful pastoral colour palette, and the iconography is clear and intuitive. Great work!

~Josh

Epigone
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Game #77: The Queen's Shepherd

Comments and Questions:

If I have 2 sheep and my opponent has 2 sheep on a pond, can I spend 1 AP, 1 Hay, and 2 coins to breed twice?

If I have 1 sheep and my opponent has 2 sheep on a pond, can I spend 2 AP, 2 Hay, and 3 coins to breed three times?

If I breed 2 sheep in a rocky pasture and get twins, does one die?

Do I keep the resource card I drew during breeding?

When I bump another player's sheep, are they killed or relocated? If relocated, to where?

Do I need a shepherd/sheepdog to bump?

At the beginning of the game, in which order do we place sheep? I guess with no starting gold, it probably doesn't matter.

I like the AP cost much more than the "in reverse order of scoring". I'm worried about a "I never need gates or sheepdogs, *ever*" strat being optimal.

How much Dip is there? If it's 20/84 of the deck, it seems like Mange is pretty silly.

I really like the buy resource mechanic. It, I think, is the main impetus for trying to get the extra gold coins. Getting a black sheep instead of twins would probably cost the game.

Can I use your sheepdog to protect me from wolves?

Chad
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Game #77: The Queen's Shepherd

Thanks Josh! :) Have you checked out the new Special Item cards? Im not sure if they were in there when I posted the other night.

Hi Epigone,
Thanks for having a read through, and the questions!

Epigone wrote:
Comments and Questions:

If I have 2 sheep and my opponent has 2 sheep on a pond, can I spend 1 AP, 1 Hay, and 2 coins to breed twice?

No, in order to breed you spend 1AP, 1 Hay, 1 coin per breeding. So if you spend 2AP,2Hay,2coins you can indeed breed twice because a pond takes up to 7 sheep.

Epigone wrote:

If I have 1 sheep and my opponent has 2 sheep on a pond, can I spend 2 AP, 2 Hay, and 3 coins to breed three times?

No, same as before. I am curious if your question is about the breeding cost, or about which sheep you are allowed to breed? You may always breed as long as one of the sheep is yours - the cost always 1ap,1hay,1coin per breeding.
Epigone wrote:

If I breed 2 sheep in a rocky pasture and get twins, does one die?

LOL, no it is bumped to an adjacent pasture. I must mention that the twin cards are pretty rare.
Epigone wrote:

Do I keep the resource card I drew during breeding?

Definitely, however at the end of the season - everyone checks their hand limit (number of pastures owned) and discards what they dont want.
Epigone wrote:

When I bump another player's sheep, are they killed or relocated? If relocated, to where?

They are relocated to any adjacent pasture with space of his choice.
Epigone wrote:

Do I need a shepherd/sheepdog to bump?

Only a shepherd may perform a bump.
Epigone wrote:

At the beginning of the game, in which order do we place sheep? I guess with no starting gold, it probably doesn't matter.

No, not really - you can however put you sheep in a foolish place, causing yourself to spend more AP than is optimal in the following season.
Epigone wrote:

I like the AP cost much more than the "in reverse order of scoring".

You do? I do rather like it myself as well, I must admit. Although I am starting to think that the reverse scoring mechanism is more balanced. It will also cut out down time during the action phase - people freeze up trying to think if they should swop items with someone. And during the action phase everyone is so focussed on the game it can become a pain.
Epigone wrote:

I'm worried about a "I never need gates or sheepdogs, *ever*" strat being optimal.

Well, I think once your opponent starts making money off his gates and saving AP with the sheepdog, you might change your mind...
One of my game group hated the idea of gates when I introduced it, and then quickly went on to gating everywhere he could. Not only was he making money off them, everyone was spending an extra AP every turn to try and get round them!
Epigone wrote:

How much Dip is there? If it's 20/84 of the deck, it seems like Mange is pretty silly.

Where did you get that number? There are 4 dip cards and 2 Mange. And let me tell you Mange is rather tense, when it hits as it threatens everyone. Also when it does hit, and a player who is infected, or doesnt have an adjacent pasture to the infected pasture, is the only one whit a dip card - it become very, very valuable.
Epigone wrote:

I really like the buy resource mechanic. It, I think, is the main impetus for trying to get the extra gold coins.

Thanks!
Epigone wrote:
Getting a black sheep instead of twins would probably cost the game.

Twins are pretty rare, black twins even rarer. So if it hits you at the critical moment you have pretty bad luck. Also, although black sheep dont have scoring value they are pretty useful.
Epigone wrote:

Can I use your sheepdog to protect me from wolves?

Sheepdog is the only protection from wolves. And remember you get to choose the sheep which get eaten by the wolf. Any sheep, including black or another players. Same with mange you may choose the hex, as long as you have a sheep there - so these cards have an (albeit risky) strategic function.

Thanks for these questions - very helpful. I can see from your questions where I need to be more specific or elaborate on a mechanic.

Best,
Chad

Epigone
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Game #77: The Queen's Shepherd

Chad wrote:
No, in order to breed you spend 1AP, 1 Hay, 1 coin per breeding. So if you spend 2AP,2Hay,2coins you can indeed breed twice because a pond takes up to 7 sheep.

I am curious if your question is about the breeding cost, or about which sheep you are allowed to breed?
The first question was about breeding cost - whether it was 1AP, 1 Hay, (1 coin per breeding). The second question was of a more "what's possible" nature... try this one. With 1 sheep and 1 opponent sheep on a pond, can I spend 4 AP, 4 Hay, and 4 coins to: have the sheep breed, then have the first sheep breed again or its baby breed, then have them breed again, then have them breed *again*? The current breeding rules are pretty trim, but that situation is pretty absurd...

Chad wrote:
LOL, no it is bumped to an adjacent pasture. I must mention that the twin cards are pretty rare ... They are relocated to any adjacent pasture with space of his choice.

Okay, sounds good. And maybe something like "if all adjacent pastures are full, to the resource hex", though I doubt that would ever come up in a game.
Chad wrote:
Epigone wrote:
How much Dip is there? If it's 20/84 of the deck, it seems like Mange is pretty silly.

Where did you get that number? There are 4 dip cards and 2 Mange.

Well, the components said "Water, Hay, Wood, Dip (80)". This would be cleared up immediately upon perusing the actual cards, though. :)

Chad
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Game #77: The Queen's Shepherd

Epigone wrote:
try this one. With 1 sheep and 1 opponent sheep on a pond, can I spend 4 AP, 4 Hay, and 4 coins to: have the sheep breed, then have the first sheep breed again or its baby breed, then have them breed again, then have them breed *again*? The current breeding rules are pretty trim, but that situation is pretty absurd...

You know this has got me thinking; and although as you say its pretty absurd (going to be tough to line up that many hay cards for successive breedings)

It is a bit clumsy that this is possible at all - do you think an escalating breed cost might be a good idea? Say, 1 coin, 1hay for the first and second, then 2hay, 1 coin for the following?

Epigone
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Game #77: The Queen's Shepherd

Chad wrote:
do you think an escalating breed cost might be a good idea? Say, 1 coin, 1hay for the first and second, then 2hay, 1 coin for the following?

Might as well just say something like "only preexisting sheep may breed, and your sheep may only breed once per season". That still allows your two sheep and one opponent's sheep to breed twice (what a stud!). I think I'd only add an escalating cost if you find that lots of games have people taking 3-4 breeding actions in a single turn at some point, *and* if you don't like that they're able to do so.

Me, I'd rather the game get tense as soon as anyone has 8 sheep, 3 cards, and 3 coins at the end of a turn. Probably.

Chad
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Game #77: The Queen's Shepherd

Ah, OK. Pehaps a good way of wording it might be "a sheep may only breed once per season - new born lambs may not breed until the following season.". Will try that out and see how the adjustment plays.

Thanks!

Gogolski
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Game #77: The Queen's Shepherd

First of all, I think this game looks very promissing. I like both the theme and the art, congratulations!

Chad wrote:
I have included 2 possible selection options in the rules set - I would love to know which you prefer.
I definately like the AP-cost better. This way, an item stays with a player till a player spends 2AP and swaps his item with another player, instead of every season/round the items change owners.

Chad wrote:
I also have a 5th Special Item called The Quill, which I have not added, as it seems problematic and needs to be polished. Perhaps in this thread I can put forward my ideas for it and the problems it poses - any thoughts or suggestions would be very welcome.
This morning, Chad and I talked in chat about this "Quill"-item. We came up with interesting ideas, here's in short what we said:
In the chatroom Chad wrote:
The Quill: The Quill allows a player to move the overseer to any tile with a higher number than that one the overseer is currently on.
Chad pointed out that this item was quite powerful and also that it removed some of the strategy because the tile the overseer was going to became very unpredictable.

Folowing suggestions were made during the discussion:
- Only skip one or two higher-numbered tiles, instead of 'to any higher-numbered tile'.
- You can only use the quill once, then you discard it, and you are left with no item (= a no-item-card). You can regain an item if you spend another 2AP.

From this second idea followed more ideas:
- You use the quill out of your turn during phase 3 when the overseer moves.
=> So if a player has the quill, other players know that one or two tiles may be skipped. This means +/- guaranteed high income for the player with the quill, but also that that player has the no-item-card, unless he spends half his actionpoints next round.
- If a player has used the quill in a previous round and has the no-item-card, he can spend 2AP to gain a new item. If he chooses an item currently owned by another player, that player will get the no-item-card. At the end of the round, that player automaticly gets the quill that he can use in the next round (without AP-cost, but also with one round/season without an item). A player also has the option to choose another item-card at the end of that season to be used in the next round
- To get the quill, you must first end a season with the no-item-card in your possession. So the quill can only come into play every two rounds.

Cheese!

[EDIT]
Here is a text-file of the discussion...
[/EDIT]

Chad
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Game #77: The Queen's Shepherd

Thanks for that synopsis Gogolski, and for the brainstorm session the other day - it was very productive.
I have been thinking a bit and as much as I like the no-item card for its tactical uses (and might well use it) what might be a simpler solution to the problem of the Quill has come to the fore in my last play-test.
When a player takes the Quill he may elect any higher pasture number than the current position of the Overseer - for the end of the NEXT season. That gives players 2 or at the very least 1 whole game turn of play to adapt their strategies to the change in route, whilst still offering the Quill holder advantage. What’s more, is, that there is still time for someone else to take the Quill and change the route to suit themselves - for the next game turn. The overseer always goes to the last requested position. Obviously, if you only invite him in the Next game turn, he will go to the new position only in the following turn. How does that sound?

I will test the no-item vs this idea to see what flows better.

I also have been thinking, and my play-testers agree that 2 AP out of 4 might be a tad too high for the swop especially when it can cost you a scoring round to get to a card. We were holding on to the item we had for fear of losing a scoring opportunity. I am going to shift in to 1AP to swop an item and see how that feels.
Cheers,
C

Gogolski
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Game #77: The Queen's Shepherd

Chad wrote:
When a player takes the Quill he may elect any higher pasture number than the current position of the Overseer - for the end of the NEXT season.
That sounds like a good solution for the unpredictability-factor.

In this thread, I wrote:

Gogolski wrote:
...Let players buy that advantage for -let's say- 2 actionpoints. They can then use the advantage every turn they posess the item.
This was a thread about how to auction off the item-cards. I suggested no auctioning, but instead using 2 action-points to get/change item.

The 2AP was just an idea, but if it seems too much to have item-cards rotate a lot, then you should certainly lower it to 1 AP.

The thing about swopping item-cards is that you can use the ability of your card, then swop it and use the new ability in the same turn.
Because moving your shepherd consumes 1AP and is nessecary for quite a number of actions, it will often be impossible to perform two other actions related to the two item-cards that you have in your possession during one turn when swop item-cards.

Cheese!

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