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Trojan War Game Based on the Iliad

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Joe's picture
Joined: 08/20/2008

I posted this idea in the previous forums... but now I have a first draft of rules (but no cards or pieces yet) for the game. I would love to get some feedback on it, and especially to hear what I'm missing! The concept is that each player represents a poet, their goal being to write the most lines of the epic poem about the war. The end of the game will be triggered by the burning of a number of Greek ships (the rules for which I haven't come up with yet), the sack of Troy (ditto), or some sort of other event. Without further ado, some rules:

Each player plays a full turn, consisting of all of the following phases, before moving on to the next player’s turn.

1. Play Cards
2. Movement
3. Action
4. Scoring
5. Replenish Cards

1. Play Cards
A player may play a number (to be determined) of cards from their hand for the following purposes:

a) Action Points: the number displayed on the card is the number of action points the player is allowed this turn. Each character has a points requirement (i.e. “Value”) associated with them (displayed on their reference card), and performing any number of movements and/or actions with that character depletes that number of action points from the player’s pool.

b) Special Effect: The special effects are explained on the individual cards and last through the end of the current player’s turn. Some cards allow certain hero characters to kill other hero characters, some add Lines (i.e. victory points) for performing actions with specific characters, some allow the use of gods’ powers, &c.

2. Movement
On their turn, each player may move characters who are not engaged in combat up to their maximum allowed movement in any direction or combination of directions, assuming enough Action Points are available. The base movement for a unit on foot, before any bonuses, is four (4) (or some number to be decided). For example, ‘’Achilles’’ may move up to four (4) hex grids in any direction. Facing does not matter. The only exception to the facing rule are chariots, which occupy two hexes. Chariots may only move to the immediately anterior hex or either of the hexes adjacent on the left and right of that hex, up to a maximum of eight (8) hexes (or whatever number works out).

3. Action
The action phase is subdivided into the following series of rounds (Special Effects cards are applied during the phases specified on the card):

0. Healing
Healers can heal wounded hero characters... somehow.

1. Shooting
Characters armed with bows may shoot, as long as they did not move during the movement phase and there are enough Action Points remaining.

2. Spear Throwing
Assuming the character has already moved or there are enough Action Points remaining, as long as that character is within range (normally three (3) hexes, or whatever number), a player may choose to have that character throw a spear at another, thus initiating combat. Of the two characters, as long as neither are pursuing or being pursued, the one with the higher initiative throws first, followed by the one with the lower initiative. Note that the character not initiating combat can still engage in combat, and does not consume Action Points to do so. Resolve combat as below.

3. Charging
Characters only charge if either one or both threw spears at each other in the previous player’s turn. Characters who threw spears that did not result in the defeat of one of the characters ‘’must’’ charge. The character with the higher initiative moves up to their maximum movement toward the other character, stopping immediately once they reach an adjacent hex. Note that this does not consume any additional Action Points.
[[rivers affect this somehow]]

4. Melee
After all charges have been completed, resolve combat as below for all characters engaged in combat, not just those controlled during this turn (note that this does not consume Actions Points).
4.1. Retreat
4.2 Loot Armor
Adds Lines, but reduces characters initiative to 0 for next turn.

4. Scoring
Lines (i.e. victory points) based on actions succeeded and the Value of the characters on which those actions succeeded (i.e. healing, attack, defeat, armor looting, etc.). The actions of deities do not earn the player any Lines. Include bonuses from any cards played for their Special Effect. Move the player’s poet marker along the poetry track the number of Lines earned this turn.

5. Replenish Cards
Players draw a number of cards somehow (to be determined).

Combat Resolution
Weapon Skill = WS (javelin, melee, bow)
Armor = A
Defense Skill = DS
Movement = M
Initiative = I

If at any time a hero character is currently suffering from two wounds (i.e. that character's card is rotated 180º), that character's attack and defense stages of combat are skipped.

Bow - if within range (cannot shoot if moved)
1) Attack: attacker rolls 1dn to attack; <(WS-A) hits, otherwise misses
2) Resolve:
non-hero character: if hit, remove from game; otherwise, do nothing
hero character: if hit, rotate character's card 90º clockwise; otherwise, do nothing

Spear - if within range, character with higher initiative is attacker first (bonus for initiating combat/charging)
1) Attack: attacker rolls 1dn to attack; <(WS-A) hits, otherwise misses
2) Resolve:
non-hero character: if hit, remove from game; otherwise, repeat steps 1-3 once, the defender is now the attacker
hero character: if hit, rotate character's card 90º; EITHER repeat steps 1-3 once w/ defender as attacker OR defender attempts to retreat

Melee - if within range, character with higher initiative is attacker first (bonus for initiating combat/charging)
1) Attack: attacker rolls 1dn to attack; <(WS-A) hits, otherwise misses
2) Defend: defender rolls 1dn to defend;

fecundity's picture
Joined: 07/28/2008
You say, "The concept is that

You say, "The concept is that each player represents a poet, their goal being to write the most lines of the epic poem about the war." However, that doesn't come through in the rules beyond the fact that victory points are called Lines. If the aim is to be a poet, rather than a military commander, then perhaps players should be able to control units from either side. That would mean that one side being decimated wouldn't be the crushing defeat of either player, so you could make the units more fragile and drop the Healing phase.

OK, I can't tell from your rules draft whether each player controls one side or both. If both, then (as I've said already) it seems like the rules could be streamlined.

Joe's picture
Joined: 08/20/2008
Thanks for the response!

Thanks for the response! Yes, players can control the characters of either sides. They spend their Action Points to do that. I'll make that clearer when I revise the rules. I think I'll take out the healing phase, but spell it out as an ability on the character reference card of healer hero characters (like Machaon). I strongly want to award players victory points for actions other than defeating other characters in battle.

When you say streamline, what do you mean? Cut down on the text, organize it better, or..? To streamline the rules, would it make sense to first outline what it means to "control" a character, and then go over what you can do with controlled and uncontrolled characters during each phase?

I was hoping having a limited number of Action Points for each player would limit the time it takes to play each turn, but hopefully they won't suffer analysis paralysis deciding which cards to use for APs and which for their Effects.

Thanks again!

SiddGames's picture
Joined: 08/02/2008
Shift Focus?

I feel like the combat system is more complicated than what is called for in this game. You're using action points, which feels like a more deterministic game, whereas the combat has comparison of stats plus dice rolls, which feels more chaotic.

If the game is about "making" epic events happen so that you can write about them, I think I'd enjoy it more if I could tell ahead of time who would win any given fight. For example, maybe I don't just want Achilles to go fight some random unit; I want to look and think, OK, Achilles can defeat this squad of Trojans and then charge Aeneas and slay him, all in one turn, but if I play my +2 Action Point card this turn, he could also charge the Trojan flank afterward. The "chaos" of combat would come from opponent's playing action cards during your turn. Continuing the example, I might spend my +2 AP card and start doing my Achilles actions, but an opponent plays Fighting Withdrawal on Aeneas, not only saving his life but also bringing Achilles series of actions to a halt. I think prefer that to rolling dice, within the context of trying to "create" these events that score points (are worth writing about).

I agree that the theme of writing/retelling an epic comes through right now either (granted, this is just a rules draft at this point). How, specifically, are VP scored? Instead of having cards that just say "Do X to receive Y Lines" how about adding narrative cards that are used to create the events, rather than static events?

For example, there would be static cards (such as the Hero card you have, plus generic cards for different troops), as well as Narrative cards, like this one:

* "Bravely charged the Trojan formation" - play this card if a Greek Hero or Troop charges a Trojan unit with higher printed Strength. Value +2.

I could look at the board and see I have enough AP to move a Greek Hoplite unit against a Trojan Phalanx. So I take the generic Greek Hoplite card (Base Value 1) and lay it down next to the card from my hand, like so:

"The Greek Hoplites" + "Bravely charged the Trojan formation" is worth 1 for the hoplite, 2 for the narrative card, plus 2 for the number of cards in the play, for a total of 5 lines of poetry.

Note I don't care about the result; the Hoplites die. In any case, the generic card is available for the next player, while my narrative card is discarded after scoring it. Suppose I also had these cards in hand:

* "Fought with the Grace of Athena" - play this card if a Hero or Troop gains a Strength bonus.

* "Vanquished the Invaders" - play this card if a Trojan Hero or Troop defeats a Greek Troop.

Now I have other options besides the first. If I could get the Hoplites a bonus, I could have "The Greek Hoplites + Bravely charged the Trojan formation + Fought with the Grace of Athena" scoring the third card plus a 3-card bonus instead of 2-card bonus. Or I could have the stronger Trojan unit attack the hoplites instead with "The Trojan Chariots + Vanquished the Invaders".

Hm, maybe there is some sort of open card drafting or something, some way to know a little about what cards opponents have. In that case, whether I have the Hoplites bravely charge or the Chariots vanquish the invaders might depend on if I think that will prevent you from playing some big string of narrative cards I know you've been saving up.

Just thinking out loud.

PS - if you want the narrative to really read better, maybe include a deck of "connectors" that you can draw from for 1 AP per draw. For example, there would be cards for AND, WITH, ALSO, BEFORE, AFTER. So for the example of "The Greek Hoplites" + "Bravely charged the Trojan formation", if I had one or two AP left over, I could take draws trying to get "AND" so they could "AND Fought with the Grace of Athena" Maybe even make the connector cards with a different word on top and bottom, so you got 2 options per card, to offset the fact you're spending AP to get them. I like having more things to spend AP on, so that gives even more planning options I think - trying to set up these events/encounters while also "writing" out as long a line of narrative as you can.

Joe's picture
Joined: 08/20/2008
Lots to Think About...

I'll have to think about whether or not to eliminate dice rolls entirely... Originally, I had planned the cards to serve three purposes: 1) action points, 2) awarding bonus victory points, and 3) giving "special powers" (from shrouding a hero in mist to allowing a hero to be killed in a duel). You mention scoring points for a suicidal attack; that is an option that I definitely want to leave open to players. Hmm... actually, I think I do want to eliminate dice to keep more with the theme: the players are competitively writing their version of the epic. So victory in battle will be mostly predetermined based on the values of characters (7 attack kills 2 defense, but 3 attack does not kill 4 defense), but if the values are within some range of each other (say +/- 1), then the controlling player can choose which they would have die. They have control over what happens, not chance. The chaos of other players using cards during your turn is something else I want built in.

For scoring, I had planned that you would get points based on the Value (which is based on the stats of the characters) of whatever character is the patient (as opposed to the agent, the Greek Hoplites in your example) of a successful action. So if you are controlling Hector and Hector kills Patroclus, and Patroclus has a Value of 8, you earn 8 VPs. If Hector loots Patroclus's armor, you gain extra VPs (maybe +50%), so 4 more. Let's say you played a card, "Epithet: Shepherd of the People", which gives you +3 VP every time you would have otherwise scored points for Hector, Achilles, or Agamemnon. So the total you earn for controlling Hector this turn is 15. Or if you are controlling Machaon and you successfully heal one of Menelaus's wounds, who is worth 9 VP, and you earn 50% up, you earn 5 VP for controlling Machaon. So for things like killing, looting, and healing you score points automatically. You play extra cards, like epithets, to earn more points.

Your example of playing "Bravely Charged the Trojan Formation" is right in line with what I had in mind for scoring extra points with cards. I had originally envisioned character cards more as quick references for character stats than for a card you could play... but there could be several decks from which players could draft: a character deck, a narrative deck. Perhaps an AP deck, though that could be part of the other decks, the player having to choose whether to use a card for APs or for the character/narration on the card. I definitely want drafting to give other players some, but not perfect, information about the cards in other players' hands. I'll have to think on and try different systems to settle on one.

I'm not entirely clear on what the Connector cards would do. Would they be a requisite for playing multiple narrative cards, instead of being able to play an unlimited amount?

As for spending APs to draft cards, what about getting a set number each turn, but spending APs to draft additional ones?

I like 'hm's, thinking out loud, and post-scripts, too... we might have a similar thinking style. Anyway, I'll probably be losing some more sleep thinking about this. Thanks for all the ideas and feedback!

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