Even More Unbalanced
So funnily I'm approaching a point where I feel pretty confident with the state of version B03, which was previously the beta version. So much so that I'm now declaring it the stable build of sorts (but I'm keeping A07 around in case you prefer that simpler version, it is playable without the print and play files afterall).
B03 Change Summary
- Owl cards have 2 suits on them, for every combination of the 4 suits.
- Players win the campaign if they win a game while parliament is maxed out on their two suits.
- Unused owl cards are removed without 6 cards, those cards are instead kept in the closet.
- The most rejected player may search the closet for a card instead of the other players' rejected cards.
There was a lot of testing with a High Plume mechanic, a wild delegate that would act as a temporary parliament overflow that would factor into the win condition, but in the end I figured it was adding way too much complexity for not much payoff. Requiring a win after parliament is maxed out accomplished essentially the same thing, and so I am satisfied there.
Also, the rejected player outreach mechanic was a little too complicated, and closeting cards didn't feel particularly impactful when the same cards were getting cycled around. Players didn't feel like they had enough agency to modified their cards over a campaign, and when there was a campaign goal, the cards that were essentially removed from the game by the unused owl decks mattered a lot more. Made it harder to work towards a particular parliament state. While the game is sort of about centering that unfairness, I figured players ought to feel like they have a shot at least, and making sure all cards are in circulation, and having the most rejected player get to search them, accomplished this.
So I had a playtest today, and the players were asking why the represented card wasn't added directly to parliament, and I had a sort of surreal moment where I realized all the reasons behind that decision didn't really make much sense anymore. With the unused owl deck cards being collected into the closet, there was a precedent for unused cards to just be sitting in the center, it didn't really need to be exact for 6 owl decks anymore. There is also this sort of feeling regarding how the owls in power (diamonds) can't get more powerful, and that's not necessarily true. It also just feels really thematic to have those cards go into parliament and is sort of a very minor reduction in the positive feedback loop effect as there is slightly less cards of that suit now.
All that to say, I'm going to experiment with a new version where cards are added directly to parliament with the following changes (keyed off of version B03 above):
- Face cards are valued at 10 and aces at 1. Both are included with the number cards now.
- An owligarchy card that starts in parliament and counts as 4 diamond cards.
- To win the campaign, you need 9 cards that match your owl card in parliament.
So not going to lie, worried about this version being way too broken. I wanted an owligarchy card to replace the 4 starting diamond cards, because they are still the majority, and I don't want the deck to start with fewer diamond cards, it's a historical precedent to the setting. Plus having a card explicitly to serve this purpose will let players know that this is more of a deliberate decision. This card ensures the game starts off the same way, with diamonds starting off with a +8. But the difference is that instead of nothing happening when a diamond gets represented from a win, it gets even grimmer for all the other suits as more and more diamonds can get added to parliament for an even more obscene bonus. This takes an already broken positive feedback loop and makes it criminally powerful. It seems very likely that diamonds will just win after 5 games with them stomping out all the other suits. So, I imagine I may need to tweak these numbers.
On the plus side, this slightly reduces the positive feedback loop as fewer of those cards are now in the deck as a result of it joining parliament. I don't think this is enough to give the other suits traction, if anything it makes it even harder for the minority suits to establish power.
We'll have to see how it goes, but I'm looking forward to seeing how it tests.
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