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Kings & Chronicles Game Development Update

Posted November 12th, 2011 at 01:23 AM by jbbnbsmith
So I may have given this game a name; "Kings & Chronicles". I kind of like it because it summarizes the nature of the game (the chronicles of the various Kings of Israel, Judah, and the surrounding nations), it is the name of the two Biblical books in which this period of Israel's history is discussed, and it has a nice alliteration to it.

Speaking of chronicles, I have been spending a good bit of time working out the chronology of the game. I want to keep the basic flow of the history, but at the same time I want the players to both be able to rewrite history and not be able to predict what is about to happen in the game.

One solution related to the King Decks is an idea I've borrowed from Pandemic. There are two decks of cards which contain all the Kings of both Israel and Judah. Various game activities and events are dictated by the current Kings. I did not want players to be able to memorize and thus predict the order of these events as this would lead to very "gamey" play by experienced players. But I also did not want to completely randomize the Kings' chronology as this could lead to some very bizzare history (such as Assyria invading Israel in 900 BC). My borrowed solution is to divide each King Deck into sections, shuffle each section, but then pile the sections back in order. For example, there are 12 Judah King Cards. These cards will be placed in chronological order (the cards are labeled 1-12), with #1 on top of the deck. The first four cards are removed to form the top sections, the next four form the middle section, and the final four form the bottom section. Each section is shuffled and then restacked in top to bottom order. Since the Israel King deck is larger, it is divided into four sections, but the same procedure is used.

This way, there is some randomness and players won't know exactly what will happen next (though I guess they will know what each fourth card will be???Maybe I'll change it such that the deck is divided into approximate sections so you don't know exactly how many cards are in each section), yet the basic flow of history remains somewhat stable.

My current challenge is dealing with the various Assyrian invasions, how they are triggered, how the Assyrian army strength is determined, and the general game flow of these invasions.

Historically, the five most important events are:
Shalmanezer III's attempted invasion and defeat at Qarqar in 853 BC
Shalmanezer's conquest of Damascus in 824 BC
Tiglath-Pileser III's conquest of the Palestinian land bridge in about 727 BC. This placed made Israel a vassal state, though Judah remained independent.
Shalmanezer V's siege of Samaria when Israel revolted
Sargon II's destruction of Samaria and the end of the northern kingdom of Israel.

I want to create the game flow such that these are possibilities, but not absolute certainties. If the Nations Player plays well, Samaria may fall early. If the Kingdoms Player plays well, Samaria may fend off each invasion.

Presently I am working out the interplay of the King Cards, the Event Deck, and the Favor of God Track which combined will influence the advance of the Assyrian Invasion track, and determine the current strength of the Assyrian army available for invasion. This is proving to be a delicate balance that will require a lot of play testing to get right.

On a completely different front, I have settled on components. I have been using 6 sided dice to represent the various armies. Each army is a different color to denote the corresponding nation. The number on top of the die is the strength of the army. This work very well and makes both building armies and taking losses a quick procedure of just turning the die.

I have cut 3/4" squares of craft foam to serve as control markers (red for the Nations Player and blue for the Kingdom Player). This was a very cheap solution, but the thickness and the texture of the foam make these very easy to handle.

For fortifications I found nylon cup washer that work very well. They are white at the moment, but I may paint them or use stickers to dress them up a bit. But they work very well.

Finally I have been using pony beads as markers for the various tracks (Favor of God, Assyrian Invasion, Political Tracks, etc)

So nothing terribly fancy, yet the game looks pretty good even at this early stage.

To be continued....
Total Comments 10


Good luck...sounds like you are making wonderful progress
Posted November 12th, 2011 at 12:46 PM by Onacara Onacara is offline
Mossman's Avatar
Good luck with it!
Posted November 12th, 2011 at 03:30 PM by Mossman Mossman is offline
The Doctor's Avatar
keep up the good work!
Posted November 12th, 2011 at 05:05 PM by The Doctor The Doctor is offline
ZBeeblebrox's Avatar
Good Luck, sounds intriguing.
Posted November 13th, 2011 at 09:50 PM by ZBeeblebrox ZBeeblebrox is offline
Super Bogue's Avatar
I've got an idea to help you smooth out the Kings Deck. In Seven Wonders there are three decks of Age card. Each round you use a progressive Age deck. You could do the same thing here. Have your first set of kings as the first age, the next set as the second age, etc.
Posted November 15th, 2011 at 11:20 AM by Super Bogue Super Bogue is offline
chas's Avatar
My favorite Jewish Joke:

"Is it true the Jews run everything?"
"No, and by the way, you're fired!"

My second favorite Jewish Joke:

"Lord, is it true that we are the Chosen People."
"Well then, as a representitive of all the other Jews down on Earth, we'd like to ask you a a question. Would you mind chosing somebody else for a change?"

As a person of both British and Eastern European Jewish descent, I'm amazed that the Nation of Israel is still awaiting its first published game. This should bes a cause for embarrassment among old gamers, I would think;an emotional state in which many Jews live full time. Well, look at our mothers.

As for the British, they should be embarassed about how they screwed up the geopolitics of the Palestine region when they still had something to say about it! My grandfather was a British secret agent in the area just before WWI, so I guess he helped.

***Well, if you want to come up here to NYC, the Jewish capital of the world, we'll be happy to playtest your game... Its the least we could do. OY!***
Posted November 19th, 2011 at 08:00 AM by chas chas is offline
Updated November 19th, 2011 at 08:06 AM by chas
jbbnbsmith's Avatar
Did you convert to Judaism just for the jokes? (Seinfeld reference.)

When I finally reach that point I would be more than happy to include you, and all your Jewish friends and family, in some playtesting.
Posted November 19th, 2011 at 09:18 PM by jbbnbsmith jbbnbsmith is offline
jbbnbsmith's Avatar
Thanks for the suggestion SuperBogue. That's sort of what I was trying to explain, but may be a cleaner execution. I'm still playing around with different options.
Posted November 19th, 2011 at 09:22 PM by jbbnbsmith jbbnbsmith is offline
dok's Avatar
Dentists? Who needs 'em?

If the Nations player plays extremely well (or the Kingdoms player plays extremely poorly), is it possible that Judah falls as well?
Posted November 19th, 2011 at 10:56 PM by dok dok is offline
jbbnbsmith's Avatar
You anti-dentite!

Yes, Judah can fall as well. Since this is a very asymmetrical game, I'm still working out victory conditions. Currently I am thinking that if either player does better than the historical result, they win. This would ne capturing both Samaria and Judah by nations player, or the kingdom player maintaining control over both. Thee are also sudden victory conditions that I'm still working out. An early capture of Jerusalm of Jerusalem or Samaria, or kingdom player conquering a certain number of capitals of the nations player.
Posted November 20th, 2011 at 06:00 PM by jbbnbsmith jbbnbsmith is offline
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