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Rulebook Proofreading - Heaven & Earth

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SLiV
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Joined: 10/21/2011

Hey guys. Anyone care to proofread my rulebook?

I feel like my game is settling down; I've been working on it every now and again for the last two years. I only play it with family ocassionally, so it definitely needs more playtesting. But before I start dishing out copies, I figured a solid rulebook would really help.

The game is a 2 player abstract with a light oriental theme. It's played with 28 wooden disks on a hexagon grid board. It's a bit like chess and a bit like stratego, but obviously it's better than both. (Ha!) Each piece is built from 2 disks, a body and a character. The body broadly determines how it can move and what pieces it can capture, but the character (which is hidden from your opponent) changes this drastically.

To give you an idea of what the components would look like, I've attached some graphics that I have been working on. The pieces are in this case stickers which would be put on wooden disks.

So if you're interested in proofreading, I would really appreciate it. I'm most interested in things that are not clear after reading and sentences that should be rephrased, but if you spot anything else, please let me know as well. The only thing that is currently jarring me is the word "gentle"; I put it in more as a placeholder than anything else. I'm looking for an adjective that is a bit like "tranquil", or perhaps something completely different.

Thanks in advance.

mistre
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Some ideas

Ok - read through your rulebook and I have to say that this type of game is certainly appealing to me. As a big fan of Arimaa (it is my all time favorite game), this seems to be in the same genre.

As for some ideas - your rules read fine. Perhaps use the word "Neutral" to substitute for "Gentle". The next thing I would do is to incorporate the illustrations of the pieces into the rulebook and also provide some game examples.

I was also wondering why the board has many other colored spaces on it outside the ones you mention in the rules. Another suggestion - use a simple illustration of the animal on the token with text on what it can do. (not really a big fan of just having a big letter). The text will really help new players to get into the game.

A gameplay suggestion - why not give the Emperor another power that might tempt a player to reveal it before he actually reaches his opponent's city?

Finally, some questions. How does it play? Do most games end with captured all pieces but one or the Emperor making it to the opposing city? How long does a game take?

Very interested in learning more. When you feel the design is ready, I could see this being on boardspace.net.

Mark

SLiV
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Thanks for the response

Nice to hear you're interested, that's really motivating.

Hmm, but wouldn't "neutral" suggest that they're not owned by a player? I first thought of synonyms of "peaceful", but they would all suggest that the pieces don't capture other pieces, which they do. Maybe "diplomatic"? The idea being that the crude violent pieces cannot enter the Garden, but the more cunning, diplomatic pieces, including the Empress, can.

Ah, I agree, the rulebook lacks illustrations and examples. I think especially the way the Monkey moves and the various rules of the characters can benefit from an illustration.

The extra colors are just to add flavour. The intention was of making it look like a map. I was even thinking of getting an artist to draw a full map, and then overlaying the hexes (and keeping the important tiles clearly highlighted). But perhaps a simple red-white-green or red-white-blue-green board would be more clear.

Yes, an illustration of the animal on the pieces is definitely what I am looking for. I just can't draw so I've went with letters instead, until I find an artist. But adding more text on the piece itself seems like a bad idea; it would really clutter the relatively small pieces. Players do have a reference sheet that I forgot to upload. It has a brief overview of all the pieces and their rules.

Hmm. Giving the Emperor an extra ability might be a good idea. One of the biggest flaws the game had that I noticed was the 'surprise endings'. In previous versions of the game, losing your Emperor would lose you the game, and you would sometimes accidentally leave your Emperor vulnerable and the other player would accidentally win. Quite unsatisfying.
But then again, the other player does have a Strategist that he can use to screen potential Emperors, and sometimes you can guess what the Emperor is based on the way the player protects it (then again, that can be a bluff). I'm not sure, but I like the suggestion.

The game plays a bit like a game of chess, I suppose. Depending on the level of thought you are willing to invest, turns can take 2 seconds or they can take a minute. Usually it's something like 10 seconds of contemplation. I think a game lasts around 20 to 30 minutes.

I haven't playtested it enough for my liking, so there might be ways to stalemate, but usually both players end up with 2 or 3 pieces, at which point it becomes really difficult to capture a piece. At that point, any player that has an Emperor will try and get it across. Some games end earlier because they managed to sneak an Emperor in, and some games end because at some point, one player managed to have more pieces than the other, and they exchange pieces which keeps the game in that players advantage.

Stalemates are definitely a concern, which is one of the main reasons I would love for more people to playtest it.

Stormyknight1976
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Artwork

Even though you may not do the artwork, you can do an illustrated version of the animal you are uusing. Meaning: draw an outline character of the animal or draw something aztec symbols of the animal representation.

Stormyknight1976
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Joined: 04/08/2012
A few suggestions:

I have read through your rulebook. Sounds like a fun and strategic game. You can use the word Neutral instead of gentle. It sounds better and they are neutral characters on the board. For the farmer: the rules says it has no specific traits? You can use the character to intice the opponent to come over to the opposing side and have the opposing side side or diagonal attack the persuer. Or 2 you can have the Farmer as a block (guard or pawn) the Emperor to allow him to cross the garden or have a water icon or rice or wheat icon to block the opponent momentarily from gaining access to the defending opponent?

SLiV
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Thanks.

But in what way are they "neutral"? They behave exactly the same as the other pieces, except that they can enter the Garden. I'll admit that it sounds better than gentle, though.

The Farmer is supposed to have no traits. But a Dragon Farmer is still a Dragon and therefore still a strong piece. And like you said, you could use for instance a Lotus Farmer as a 'throwaway' piece to lure or block pieces.

mistre
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Wording

Yeah, on 2nd thought, "neutral" doesn't really work in this instance. How about privileged? Those certain characters are granted privilege to enter the Garden.

SLiV
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Good suggestion

Hmm, good one. It especially makes sense that the Empress is "privileged".

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