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"On Trial" or "Trial of the Century"

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Grudunza
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Joined: 07/27/2008

I had an idea today for a 2 player board game, probably card-driven, that would be in the general style of games like 1960 or Twilight Struggle, where the players represent the prosecution and defense of a trial. Thoughts, suggestions and offers to help design (I just don't have the time to fully follow through with most of the game ideas I have) are all welcome. Here's what I'm thinking so far...

So for set up, you would shuffle the Judge Cards, and draw one. This will be the judge for the game. Judges will have different attributes/preferences/attitudes that you might need to keep in mind while presenting your case. A defendent would either be drawn or selected from a group of Defendent Cards, each having different values for likability, believability, etc.

Then you'd shuffle the Jury Cards and deal 16 of them face up. Each player chooses 2 to discard from the game, leaving a total of 12. Each jury member will have certain attitudes/inclinations and ratings for how difficult/easy they are to sway one direction or the other. Certain jury members might have special abilities for being able to sway other jury members (maybe that is not revealed initially, but is more of a random factor... so at the end of the game you reveal that whoever won over juror #3 also wins over jurors #2 and #4, if they didn't already, or at least gains ground on #2 and #4, if that makes a difference).

There could be a pool of available lawyers and each team would choose two or three of them for their team, one at a time. Some might be better at presenting evidence, or better at getting effective testimony from witnesses, or better at opening/closing arguments, etc. And picking the right type(s) of lawyers might have something to do with being a good fit with the judge that was picked and with the jury that was chosen. A flashy lawyer might be effective with a judge/jury that favors theatrics, but might do poorly with a judge/jury that is more low-key.

Then you'd shuffle the Trial Cards and deal out (a number of) Trial Cards to each player. These might include Witness Cards, Evidence Cards, Expert Testimony Cards, Tactics Cards, Objection! Cards, Leading the Witness Cards, etc. So for example, the prosecution might play a Leading the Witness Card and get some benefit from that, but if the defense is able to play an Objection! Card (and the judge allows it), then the Leading the Witness Card is canceled and the prosecution gets some kind of penalty for trying that... Maybe the defense pulls out a Surprise Witness near the end, which could swing things in a big way, but if the prosecution is able to effectively counter that witness, then it backfires on the defense. That kind of thing... Or maybe there could just be one type of card but they have multiple values/uses/events, as in 1960/TS.

The game would have a few major phases that would match a typical trial: Opening Statements, Prosecution Witnesses with Cross-Examination, Defense Witnesses with Cross Examination, Closing Arguments, Deliberation, Verdict.

So the objective would be to gain points with each of the jury members, and again, like in 1960/TS each jury member could swing one direction or the other. And with each of them being individual, there could be certain requirements or factors that affect each differently. For example, some jury members might begin the game/trial more inclined toward the prosecution, so the defense would require more effort (however that is measured) to sway them.

I'm thinking that in addition to trying to sway each jury member individually, maybe there's a bag or box that represents the jury's collective mindset, and every time one side "scores" in a certain way, they add one or more of their cubes to that bag. So at the end of the game, if there isn't a unanimous verdict, the remainder of the undecided jurists are pulled one way or the other by draws from that bag until they are all unanimous. Or maybe throughout the game certain cards can be added to a "deliberation deck", whereby the undecided jurists swing one way or another depending on which cards are drawn from that deck. Perhaps the defense didn't seem to make the best case during the trial and individually they are behind 4-8 after closing arguments, but by virtue of planting the right seed ideas (by placing the cards into the "deliberation deck") that will come out during the deliberation discussion, they might actually win by swinging enough jurists to their side. Whatever the case, the longer the deliberations go on, the more inclined things would be to swing one way or the other... or, if it goes on a certain length and at least 10 jurors aren't to one side or the other, then there ends up with a hung jury and the game is considered a tie.

Anyway, that's what I've got so far... Any thoughts??

SiddGames
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Joined: 08/02/2008
Intrigued

I like 1960/TS quite a bit, and this sounds like a great theme/direction to go in. My only initial "concern" would be the setup sounds rather much, with variable judge AND jury AND legal team, etc. On the other hand, that can really spice up the replayability of the game. Initially, I would fix most/all of those for design/development and not look at how to mix it up until the game is already solid. The focus of a card-driven game should be the card play, IMO, and not variable setup.

Rick-Holzgrafe
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Joined: 07/22/2008
This sounds like fun, a game

This sounds like fun, a game I'd really enjoy playing.

SiddGames wrote:
My only initial "concern" would be the setup sounds rather much, with variable judge AND jury AND legal team, etc. On the other hand, that can really spice up the replayability of the game. Initially, I would fix most/all of those for design/development and not look at how to mix it up until the game is already solid. The focus of a card-driven game should be the card play, IMO, and not variable setup.

Not sure I agree on this. If you are going to do this at all, you'll need to balance these elements and ensure that the variable parts can't skew the game unavoidably in favor of one player or the other. Also the setup process will take time, and you will want to gauge and adjust the game's duration with this in mind.

And I do think you should do it. These elements are very thematic!

Willi B
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Joined: 07/28/2008
Cannot reply

I would, but I have something similar on the back burner... but I am not going in the TS direction. I think your idea is better than mine on this one so far!

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