Archive for the ‘Game Design’ Category

On the cutting room floor

Thursday, May 14th, 2020

I came across this video today of Kurt Russell and John Carpenter commentating on the legendary 10 or so minute deleted prologue scene to Escape From New York. It’s well worth your time and their banter is really fun to listen to.

Carpenter makes a good point that this entire scene was dropped because it not only confused the audience but more importantly, it takes some of the mystery off of Snake Pliskin’s dark anti-hero aura. It humanizes him too much as well. Watch the clip and you will see why.

I have dropped design elements from my games in the past but mostly because they were too complex or too expensive to get right. So far I haven’t really dropped that many story elements from the Pilgrim’s Path series. The one big one wasn’t really dropped as much as it morphed from one thing into another. Originally I was going to have a major subplot ending with a Yueh-like betrayel (Dune) but I decided to remove that because I wanted some characters go in different directions.

I also realized that the conflict I had set up between The Council and The Hegemon was not really conducive to such types of espionage and backstabbing. The nodes of the Council are difficult to penetrate since all commerce, traffic and interaction gets cut off. The Council raids through some unprotected slip points and resonance points but mostly in treacherous places like The Shards. Maintaining an intelligence network and doing their infiltration and subversion works with targets that are unprepared or naive (Timathur and Privil’s Landing) but not against those who recognize the danger.

Anyway, the video is really interesting as is the commentary. 1981 Carpenter looking at 1997 New York is fascinating in its own right. The Atlanta subway station would still make a pretty good location for filming any police state totalitarian nightmare future.

QT3

Friday, May 8th, 2020

The best little semi secret place to enjoy games discussion.

I found this game talk gin joint dive way back before 2000 and stopped lurking in 2003. It’s like a combination of the Cheer’s bar and the Star Wars cantina in Mos Eisley. Tom Chick pretty much runs the place but he doesn’t really tend the bar. He’s off in a dark corner holding a shadow court of reviews, podcasts and streams with a witty and sarcastic style backed up by some serious intellectual heft. He’s the thinking gamer’s reviewer. At least that’s how I have always seen it.

Anyway, I note this because a patron (It wasn’t me but thanks to whoever it was) of QT3 requested a re-review type look at my second game Solium Infernum which dates back to 2010 I think. Lots of water under the bridge so it’s hard to remember. You can read it here:

Tom gives it two stars which if you are familiar with the Chick Scale, not to be confused with the Chick Parabola, you know that is a solid grade.

Not An Auspicious Omen

Wednesday, February 26th, 2020

So I entered a contest to win a free copy of the digital version of Gloomhaven on Steam. It seemed like a cinch. There were only 89 contestants in total and the top 10 vote getters would get a free game.

I got 1 vote.

To be honest things didn’t go well from the start. The task was to create a Road Event card for the game in a word document or some other similar format and upload it to their website. I came up with what I thought was a good one. Even did some research to make sure the options for the player adhered to the rules because some of my ideas were a little experimental.

But the real problem was that the voting wasn’t based on my actual card but on a text blurb that you submitted at the same time. In true Homer Simpson fashion I didn’t realize that. I did put up an extremely lazy description figuring surely my true genius would be recognized by those who then perused the card text itself. Nope.

Here was my admittedly haphazard entry:

The Loathly Lady

From the Sir Gawain era stories. Travelers come upon an ugly hag who is not really what she seems

And here was the top entry with 24 votes:

A DOWNED TRAVELER

Upon approaching a clearing you see someone sitting hunched beneath a tree. He beckons you over for help.

Without actually reading the text on the proposed card how could anybody tell if one was better than the other? Surely their staff could recognize my ability better than a bunch of game playing peasants and a cabal of their friends. I ALMOST published a board game. That has to count for something. Right? In the immortal words of Karl Wofschtagg: “This is an outrage.”

But seriously, I wish the winners well. Here is my entire entry. If I had know for certain it would be for just the physical game and not the digital I was going to work in more swap with the player to your left mechanics to be a real fun time. You would need to play test that though.

Just for the record, I’m not a very good Gloomhaven player. I don’t even own the physical game and I’m not well versed in the rules. It’s the same story for all my board game excursion nowadays. I watch a lot of youtube videos of other people playing and like to read over the rules. For a hermit like me, that’s a lot more convenient.

The Loathly Lady

You are traveling down a lonely stretch of road when you run into a patch of dense fog. Suddenly, you hear singing off to the side of the road. Entranced by the strange melody lilting on the wind you leave the road to investigate.

The mist becomes even more dense as you move toward the source of the siren-like song. You see something glowing just a short distance ahead and then the fog lifts; you find yourself in a clearing.

There is a grotesquely ugly “loathly lady” sitting on a log stirring a small pot over a fire with a large wooden spoon. You shudder in revulsion but can only think, Dear God what is that thing.

Then you get a whiff of whatever is in the pot. It makes your stomach turn. Laying on the ground at her feet is a small wooden alms bowl. You see the flash of gold coins laying within.

 “I’ve been waiting for you. Won’t you join me for some stew? You can pay with a kiss or a piece of gold.”

Option A: Each player gives a kiss to the loathly lady.

Option B: Pay a single gold piece each and consume a bowl of stew.

Option C: Steal the gold that is lying in the bowl and run.

Option D: Bow politely, then run for your life.

A. How bad could it be. You each close your eyes and give the loathly lady a peck on the lips. You taste peppermint. Brute: Gain 3 XP, Scoundrel: Gain Invisible for next 3 rounds, Cragheart: Gain Strength for next 3 rounds. Tinkerer: Gain a random item design. All Others: Heal 2.

B. You all gobble down the stew. Then you feel weird. Each player swaps a random ability card with the player on their left for the next scenario.

C. You take the money and run. You hear a voice singing softly behind you. Run, run as fast as you can. You won’t escape me, that’s not in my plans. Each player is cursed and gains 1 gold piece.

D. You careen wildly through the enshrouding mist bumping off trees and rocks. Eventually you all reach the road and begin laughing hysterically. No Effect

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Prototype

Saturday, February 21st, 2015

So if you follow the weather in the US you know that we seem to be having another mini ice age.  Cabin fever has set in big time.  But this isn’t a complaint about productivity or cannibalism.  I decided to spend a little money and move my game prototype from sleeves and paper with text to actual cards and non scrounged up tokens from my own board game tokens.

So I made mock ups of the cards in photoshop and sent them out to Printerstudio.  The cards came back and they were excellent and pretty reasonable as far as price goes.  I bought some wound tokens and other items from MeepleSource and those arrived and work great.

But while I was waiting for the cards and tokens a funny thing happened.  I just sat down and started writing out the rules for the space strategy game that I have had in the back of my mind for a long time.  And like Athena, it just sprung from my head fully formed onto the pages.  So within a day I had the rules.  Within two days I had a prototype of a scavenged pieces up and running.

So now I don’t know what to do.  I’m going to have to choose one to move forward with and it needs to be a winner.

Both games are 2-4 players and have a nice mix of conflict and solo goal based play elements.  What I mean by that is you can choose to interact with other players or try and just play the system and go after victory points.  Figuring out when to do either is part of the strategy puzzle.

One is fantasy themed with swords, magic and a really clever push your luck mechanism.  It’s got some light rpg level up mechanics in which your “character” gets stronger as you acquire weapons, skills, spells, allies etc..  So you have to balance that with actually going after the objectives that will win the game.

The other is a mini space opera game with a tile based sector map, capital ships, attack dice, pd/ew dice and space carrier dice.  It’s got lots of resource cubes and operation card piles that you have to set up and advance to have fleet battles and invade planets.  You can expand and exterminate or just trade and mine exotic resources from planets you explore and claim.  You have 2 secret objective cards that you get from your high command and if achieved give you bonus Victory Points when the end game trigger goes.

That’s just scratching the surface for both games actually.  I’m going to have to pick one to push forward on.  Having researched the production process a bit, the component list for both these games is pretty similar and will be a decent capital investment.  I’m going to keep playing and testing both before I make a decision.

Won’t be anytime soon at least.

Here is a look at what my Fantasy Strategy Card Game looks like.  It’s titled “Assassins of Vance”

Meditations On Death And Failing

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

In game design, which is really just an extension of systems engineering, death is a “fail” state. The definition of fail can be debated to some extent but in general it is a condition where the system parameters/data is in a non-preferred condition and/or the system itself may now have become unstable or non-functioning. In Armageddon Empires the Mutants might have just nuked you and it’s game over man. In Solium Infernum you just lost your stronghold…but if you are playing multiplayer with other humans the analysis can be more complex since others have game states to manage and the game does not necessarily end when you do.

Game over is the ultimate fail state in games as well in life. The problem with offering games as entertainment instead of games as a simulation is that reaching the ultimate fail state is not really “fun” unless you change the meaning of fail or add some type of meta system to the set up. And by not really fun I mean game over means game over. You can’t enjoy pushing buttons and pulling levers on the state machine if it is locked up for you. So game designers often change the meaning of fail by respawning, removing lives, penalizing a game variable or two (i.e. your stats) or just ignoring the ultimate fail completely and letting you try again. Adding a meta game is something that is often done when the system is brutal and unforgiving. Imagine a hard core rogue-like that once your character died would lock up and never let you play the game again on that or any other computer. You can get ridiculous (although there are certainly some sci-fi novels I’m sure that have explored this)taking it one step further and imagine a system where when your character dies so do you. I offer just one (not very original) observation that almost all religious concepts of afterlife or reincarnation or even nirvana seek to add some type of meta structure to what we observe as our system of reality. So the ulitmate fail state… let’s call it perma-death has to be handled carefully.

Failing is actually not a bad thing. In fact according to the design theories of guys like Raph Koster (cf a theory of fun) failing is part of the “learning and mastery” process that makes games fun. Dwarf Fortress’ failing is fun ethos works on so many levels. Failing is learning. A complex system can only be learned by failing in many cases. Each failure adds more information to the picture or map that the player forms of the game system. This might be called “progressive” failure. Small failures that while deemed one step back serve to spur the protagonist forward. Read the biography of any successful interesting hero and you will most likely find a trail of fails that shaped the hero. So as a game designer I see my objective as providing opportunities to fail that don’t frustrate the player. Failure should rather open up new vistas and opportunities. In Planescape Torment failure in the classical sense of character death was actually required to progress the storyline. I’m digressing here a bit but as I approach the design of Rogue Expedition I do so with the goal of making failure and integral part of the design.

Besides the learning and mastery component, one aspect of engineering progressive failure into a game design is the classic risk vs. reward calculus that accompanies the decisions you present the players. Offering choices to interact with the game that cover a broad spectrum of risk vs. reward can ameliorate the “frustration” felt by players when failure occurs. This is because “if you don’t make it, it’s your own damn vault.” In Rogue expedition the key mechanic will revolve around facing “encounters” by succeeding in “challenges” that are resolved based on a player’s stats, the difficulty level of the challenge, and the opportunity for the player to arrange what I will call “tiles” via “heroic actions” to claim points. Claim enough points and you succeed in the challenge. That’s all rather abstract but I will explain it in much more detail down the road. The key thing will be that when an “encounter” is presented to a player, there will be several choices along the risk reward spectrum that each define unique challenges and ultimately unique rewards.

So here are some Design Axioms:
Failing is Learning
Learning is Fun
Choosing how to fail means it’s the player’s own damn vault
Not failing is exhilarating….where the exhilaration is proportional to the cost of failure

I want to conclude with the mention of two games that are on opposite ends of the spectrum in their treatment of failure but both of which I find to contain inspirational design elements:

Demon’s Souls is worth considering for its very unique and clever way of handling failure. Failure, that is death, has consequences but it is not entirely devastating. Basically you lose all the souls that you were carrying and you become a ghost. The souls collected by slaying demons function as both a currency and experience points which let you increase attributes or buy/repair important equipment. The interesting thing is that you can do a “stain run” to go collect these lost souls which can be a lot easier said than done. There is a great risk vs. reward mechanic going on here that you are always massaging in your head….since there isn’t a soul bank you have to always consider just how many souls you want to have on you and whether you should minimize the loss risk by spending some to trim your stash down (and the risk as well) Also, if you find that you are stuck on something in the game, you need to strategize a bit on spending some souls to overcome that obstacle…..that may take you in different directions for your character than you initially intended. Failing and learning by dying is par for the Demon’s Souls course. But the game has a wonderful group of mechanics that ameliorates the frustration and rewards inventiveness and calculated risk taking.

Puzzle Quest is another game favorite of mine that sits on the other end of the spectrum for handling progressive failure. Like Demon’s Souls you cannot end up in an ultimate fail state where it is game over (although consistent high risk fails in Demon’s Souls will gimp you terribly). Puzzle Quest however will pick you up in the most loving care bear embrace, dust you off and set you on your way. I like Puzzle Quest a lot but the one thing that it is missing in my opinion is some penalty or risk vs. reward mechanic to put the fear of “falling skulls” into you. I feel like something is wrong when I can challenge the same Ogre in his tower 5 times in a row until I manage to beat him without any penalty other than by bruised self esteem. Puzzle Quest is great in that it taunts you with persistent challenges that you can fail at and then learn from to best them when you try again but it is lacking a much needed tension because you have no fear of failing. What I do like about both these games it that they each solved the fail and reload problem in unique ways much like Planescape Torment did so many years ago.

Fail

Phill Cameron Chit Chat

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

I meant to post this but my mini-crunch on 1.05b side tracked me a bit. Anyway, I did an interview with Phill for Game Set Watch/Gamasutra where I pick open the fun game price scab and also talk about future plans for SI and my new project Rogue Expedition. I’m having a lot of fun putting RE together right now. Design is always the most kick-ass part of the whole process 🙂 I hope to have some interesting posts here soon on how I am approaching this Rogue-like board game on a computer…..influences, design goals, and what I am playing right now for inspiration.

Biting Off More Than….

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

you can chew….You need to be able to admit it and moving on is sometimes the best option as bitter as it tastes to swallow that pill. I have spent a considerable amount of time over the last few weeks – on and off trying to prototype a new twist to Solium Infernum that I was going to release as a free mini expansion pack. I have dropped it once, then moved onto a more compact mini-expansion idea and then tried another stab at the “big idea” approach and now finally realized that I need to moderate my ambition….otherwise a mini-expansion pack is going to morph into a full blown expansion pack and that’s just not something I want to approach at this point. But for S & G’s documentation sake here is how the “big idea” really was too big for now.

The “big idea” actually seemed pretty simple: Let one player assume the role of avenging Angelic Hosts that launch incursions into the Infernal Pit to punish the other players. The details proved however to be rather more complicated.

My main design goal was to do a twist on the Cults of the Wastelands mini expansion pack that I offered for Armageddon Empires except this time the role of the “spoiler” would be played by a human opponent. To do this I had to overcome a couple of big hurdles….invent a resource system for the Angelic Hosts player and come up with a win condition as well. The benefits would be great if I could pull this off. Ideally the Angelic Host player would offer yet another cooperate/defect dynamic to the game that would spice things up even more. It would be in all the Archfiends interests to make sure that the Angelic Host did not “win” the game but of course having the “Angelic Host” hammer your opponents would also be in a players interest as well. Balancing that dynamic would ideally add a whole range of new decisions.

The key design issues would then be how the Angelic Host player would interact with the Archfiends. Success for the Angelic Host player would mean loss of prestige for the players and most importantly the loss needed to be distributed unevenly. My initial idea was that the Angelic Host player would first send scouting parties to a Canton and then invest effort into setting up outposts and eventually stronger fortifications. This would result in an Archfiend having a continual drain on prestige the longer the Angelic Host operated with impunity in a players domain. I won’t go into other details other than I fiddled with a bunch of different rules variations…sometimes the outposts were hidden from all the players besides the one owning the Canton etc. Weight was given to locations that would border two or more Archfiends so that both would lose prestige and be able to act….and successfully removing an incursion fortification would gain the Archfiend prestige.

I already had a good idea how I wanted to handle the resource system for the Angelic Host player. I have always loved the design idea of players actions generating “negative action points” which can be used by other players to fuel resistance and roadblocks for the “acting” player. That type of system provides an elegant negative feedback mechanism to restrain would be leaders. One of the best examples of this type of mechanic is the wonderful little card game called dungeoneer So the basic idea would be that as the Archfiends used “souls” in their turn orders, the Angelic Host would be granted points to spend to torment the Archfiends.

The last key hurdle was coming up with a Victory condition for the Angelic Host and this was something that I only partially explored. There are a lot of possibilities ranging from the Angelic Host scoring Victory points to a build up for and conquest of Pandemonium that dissolves the Conclave and wins the game for the Angelic Host. I honestly didn’t get very far into this aspect before I realized that the whole endeavor was not working out well. In the prototyping I did getting the balance right for this idea proved really difficult. Putting a “spoiler” into the mix calls for a very deliberative approach to get it right and more importantly the design is way too ambitious for 4-6 weeks worth of work which is what I had planned for the free mini-expansion pack.

So I am going to back burner this and hopefully maybe come back to it as a more major expansion to the Solium Infernum universe. In the meantime I have gone back to the idea of a less revolutionary mini-expansion pack that smooths out some of the rough edges from the game.

So here is what I have in mind right now(and remember this could all change) and it will be a free addition for players who have already purchased the game:

Curses – Direct ways to affect your opponents’ prestige. The plan is for each Discipline except Diabolism to get a unique one.

Resource Fonts – Level up in a Discipline to level 3 and you can create an “Attachment” for a place of power/stronghold that gives you the chance each turn to receive a tribute card that contains an amount of the resource associated with the Discipline (Martial Skill => Ichor, Deceit => Darkness, Prophecy => Souls, Destruction => Hellfire) If you create one then your max Diabolism Level is capped at 6 minus the number of Fonts that you have created. Also if you create a font then the next font requires one level higher in the discipline you are choosing. i.e. if you created a soul font at level 3 Prophecy then a hellfire font will require level 4 in Destruction.

Assertion of Weakness – A new diplomatic action. Make an assertion of weakness before the Conclave against an opponent who has an unoccupied border hex adjacent to your holdings. The Conclave authorizes you to move into the single canton and remain there for X turns. If your opponent cannot eject you from the Canton (and only the Canton…this is not Vendetta) in X turns then you gain the Canton and he loses prestige (and you gain some as well).

New Praetors, Artifacts and Relics

New Events

A Regular Infernal Census
every 5 tokens where 1 prestige point is generated for each Canton held

I’m going to shoot for a May/June time frame for this and I’m still trying to think up a good name. 🙂

In a Design Mood

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

I’m spending a small part of each day brainstorming possible game mechanics for my next game. I came across this article that has been in the news about the possibility of a Type Ia supernova happening a lot closer to earth than anyone had expected. You can read the article here.

I immediately thought what a great subject for a computer game this would be….and started coming up with ideas on how a player could be required to come up with solutions to avoid species extinction….maybe a Dyson shield with a Teflon coating 🙂 or an artificial black hole to warp the explosion around the planet or something on site at the white dwarf to prevent it from reaching the Chandrasekhar limit….. or maybe just a Diaspora fleet to find the lost Thirteenth Colony. And then turning to more conflict enhanced scenarios, I thought about a game map where advanced space civilizations battled it out by making stars go supernova… oh well back to more earthly pursuits.

QT3 Jason Lutes as Guest Podcast

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

Tom Chick and Jason Lutes talk about SI and AE but make sure you listen to the whole thing as the discussion of emergent narrative is absolutely awesome and thought provoking…especially the examples cited. I’m in the early game design planning stages (when I get burned out on bug fixing and AI tweaking stretches) of my next project and emergent narrative is going to be a big part of the experience that I want to provide.

Also, just to set the record straight: The writing talent on display in the flavor text is completely attributable to Russell Marsh. And Russell tells me that he has made some very subtle literary allusions throughout the texts. 🙂

The Known, The Unknown and The Unknown Unknown

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

One of the fundamental design concepts of my first game Armageddon Empires was that you had to make a smart effort to gather intelligence about what was going on out in the vast irradiated wastelands that surrounded you. Reconnaissance was a real force multiplier and identifying incoming threats and as well as important targets was a key to survival and eventual victory. In Hell however it seems that there is very little privacy. The Solium Infernum design treats the legions like chess pieces for the most part. There is a lot of “perfect information” for the players to evaluate about the game state. There are some mechanics to obscure the strength and position of agents on the board but they are few and require concerted effort. With that in mind, I thought I would enumerate the known, unknown and the unknown unknown aspects of SI.

The Known

Legion Position, Attributes and Some Attachments: The legions are the main actors/agents on the game board. They have a group of attributes that define how they interact with other agents as well as the ability to have “attachments” placed on them that enhance or increase their powers and abilities. One type of attachment is an evil artifact which is seen by all opponents. The position of a legion unless affected by a ritual is known to all players.

Public Prestige: This is an important known piece of information. It represents all the prestige points gained by the public actions of a player at any given time in the game. It’s also a good indicator of who is leading in the game.

Places of Power: These special locations are always visible as is the status of their ownership and how much prestige they generate for their owner each turn.

Territorial Boundaries: This is pretty obvious but important. Claims on territory are absolute and ownership of territory can only be transferred by following strict diplomatic protocols.

Diplomatic Stances: This is a very important set of information about players and is visible to all players. If someone makes a demand of or hurls an insult at another player, it is done in front of the entire Infernal Conclave. A demand or insult that results in Vendetta can require concentrated effort by the players to resolve especially since prestige is at stake. A player involved in a Vendetta or even engaged in demands and insults by other players is more exposed to further “diplomatic entanglements.”

Items in the Bazaar: The Bazaar provides players with legions and most of their power ups (attachments). All players have perfect information about the items for sale and the minimum bids needed to purchase them.

Public Objectives: Each player chooses a public objective as part of their avatar’s build. The public objectives conform to the seven deadly sins and generally operate in a similar theme. The Sloth public objective for example requires that you end the game never having made a demand or insult….perfect for the Archfiend who wants to turtle away in his own private corner of Hell. Of course knowledge of this aspect may signal a lot to all the other players concerning the aims, objectives and strategies that will be pursued.

Conclave Tokens: The conclave tokens function as the game clock. Depending on the number of tokens you selected when you created the game, once that number has been reached (a chance to pull a token exists each time a turn is processed) the Infernal Conclave convenes and chooses a new ruler. If you have pulled 14 of the 15 tokens then all players know that the end of the game is near and they must take action accordingly.

The Unknown

Avatar Attributes and Perks: The key aspects of each players avatar are concealed from the other players. This means that you don’t know the scope of powers and actions available to any given player. Some perks can affect the outcome of the game as well and it is essential that their possession by kept secret. Anything that is secret of course can become known. A prophecy ritual as well as some events can reveal information to players about the attributes, powers and perks of other players.

Combat Card Attachments: These are bonuses that are “attached” to legions to give them an edge in a single battle after which they are discarded. They are generally hidden from other players. Like everything else that is secret, there are conditions (rituals and events) where they can become known.

The Vault: When you acquire an artifact, relic or praetor in the Infernal Bazaar they are sent to your vault. Here they are safe and unseen by your rivals (some rare exceptions included of course). Your decision is whether to deploy them to the board where they will generally be of more use but at a greater risk to be destroyed or even stolen by another player or to keep them hidden in the vault. Additionally all your resource cards are stored in your vault and their number and quality hidden from prying eyes.

Your Orders: It goes without saying that each turn your specific orders are unkown until they are executed. This includes important things like your marching orders for legions and your initiation of rituals.

Your Ritual Chamber: Each player has access to a ritual chamber that has a maximum capacity of 5 ritual slots. Slots are gained by increasing your Prophecy power level. A ritual slot can be used to perform a ritual which is special action like damaging an enemy legion, stealing a relic from a place of power, hiding your own legions from view….. etc. A handful of unholy relics must be placed in a ritual slot to unlock a special ritual power that they can perform. In general your opponents can not see what is going on in your ritual chamber.

Deceit and Prophecy Rituals: The player performing one of these rituals is generally unkown to the target unless the player fails the “detection challenge.” Here the computer rolls two dice for each player and adds the appropriate bonuses (based on the players’ respective power levels, perks and relics owned). If the player performing the ritual exceeds the adjusted roll of the targeted player then the player is not revealed as the performer of the ritual. Players who have achieved level 5 in the Deceit discipline can attempt to frame other players for performing any ritual.

The Unknown Unknown

This is my favorite part of the evaluation of any given system. For a game designer it’s a perishable commodity akin to letting the genie out of the bottle. In my Cults of the Wastelands mini expansion pack it corresponds to the strategy theme of each of the Cults that you encounter. The joy is in the energy of first contact and the palpable sense that you get that all is not as it appears…. that your appraisal or judgments lack something for complete understanding of the situation. In Solium Infernum I’ve tried to use the event system to provide this. There are a range of events that break rules, alter mechanics or simply provide Solomonic decision making. After playing the game several times and having been exposed to their existence and implications you will have broken the seal on the booster pack so to speak but you’ll be left with calculations based on anticipation of how the event deck unfolds. Each player draws a card or cards as the role of Regent is passed around the board. At this point I haven’t decided on whether to even include a detailed listing of the events in the appendix of the manual. Discovering the deck would seem like part of the fun and challenge. If I do include it for reasons of fairness (the knowledge of the events will be fragmentary for players and dependent on playing time) then I would strongly recommend that you don’t read the appendix at first and enjoy some single player games of discovery.