Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The Designer's Rules

In the beginning there was darkness over the land and all the world was Candyland.

And God said, "Let there be choice!" And there was choice, and each player now had two pawns, such that when they flipped a card, that player had to choose which pawn to move. And God saw that Candyland was now suitable for creatures with greater than low-grade intelligence.

And God saw that the change was simple and elegant, and was pleased. But the people were still bored.

So God said, "Give each player a hand of three cards. And each turn, the player must choose which card to play and then draw back up to three. And furthermore, the player can choose two cards of the same type to use as a wild. And the double cards will function as a double wild when combined with a single card of the same color." And the people asked God "What is this, Web of Power?" And God shuffled his feet, for the people complained so.

And God had a grand hangover from the people's complaints, yet still the people told him, "Not good enough, oh Big Fat One." And God was cranky (and I blame him not, for so would you be having to deal with such people), so God answered thus, "Let each player start his three pawns on any space of the board that they so desire, such that there be at least six spaces between each of his own pawns. Furthermore, let the last space of the board be a transporter space that can move your piece to any space on the board, except one that is occupied already by another piece of any color. Otherwise, if the pawn would continue past the end of the track not landing on this transporter space, let it continue again from the beginning. The object of the game is now to land on your opponent's pieces. Each player still has a hand of three cards, as I said before. The double cards, in contradiction to what I said before, may now be used to move backwards or forwards a single length, but two cards of the same color are still wild. The last person with a piece remaining wins. Oh, and you can play a card on your opponent's piece to make him land on a lose a turn square." And the people scratched their head and got to work figuring this mess out.

But God had not finished, because something was in his morning brownie other than chocolate. "Whenever a player lands on his own color, he may draw four more cards and discard four. And each piece color will have a name, ... uh: Grinchly Green, Baby Blue, Radical Red, and Yippeeyi Yellow. Yes. And each color will furthermore have special abilities. GG always draws back up to four cards instead of three. BB can discard his hand at the end of his turn and get a new one. RR eliminates your pawn if it lands next to your piece, not just on it. And YY can discard a card to run away if you land upon his piece if he discards a card of the same color upon which his piece is standing. Choose your color at the start of the game, or pick at random, I don't care."

And God slumped in his chair and called for a beer. And the people pushed their pawns around and so forth. Yet still they were not satisfied. And God told them to put on a tutu and work on that come-hither look. "Not that kind of dissatisfied!" they said. "This game is still half-baked!"

And God rolled up his sleeves, with an angry look in his eye. And then the people were afraid, lest they had gone too far.

"Tryest thou this," he snarled, with a mad gleam in his eye. "Further to the game as I have already described, divide the cards equally before the game starts among each player, such that each player has an equal number of each type of card. Cards played go into your discard pile. Whenever you land on a space of the same color as another player, you engage in battle with that player. If a piece is also on that space, that piece's player is automatically an ally of the defender. If that piece is the same color as the defender, that player will lose his piece if he loses the battle. Each player may invite allies. After allies have been declared, each player and ally places a card on the table face down. Flip all cards. An orange card counts as red+yellow, a purple as red+blue, and a green as blue+yellow. Colors that are duplicated an even number of times are removed from the challenge. For instance, if blue, green, and orange cards have been played, the blue cancels out the blue from the green leaving yellow. The yellow cancels out the yellow from the orange, leaving red. For another example, if three blues are played, two would cancel, leaving a blue.

"If the result is no color, the defender wins. If the result is a color, the player whose color it is wins. If no color of any player in the battle is represented, the attacker wins. If the attacker wins, the attacker and all of his allies gain a point (keep a scorepad), and the defender loses a point, if he has any. The defender's allies lose nothing. If the defender wins, the attacker loses a point and the attacker's allies lose nothing, but the defender and all allies gain two cards from the deck.

"Pink cards may only be played by the attacker or defender. If only one of them plays a pink card, that player loses, but gets the other player's hand. If both play a pink card, the allies get nothing, each of them gets a point, may move one of their pieces to any location on the board, and may discard their hands and pick back up to three cards.

"When a player needs to pick from his deck and there are no cards, shuffle his discard pile to make a new deck.

"Also, instead of either moving and/or attacking during his turn, a player may instead place a combination of two cards down in front of him. A player may only have two combinations of such cards in front of him at any time in such a manner. During a player's turn, they may play this card combination at the appropriate time, in addition to taking their turn. Once played, the cards are discarded. The combinations are as follows:

RR - Add a red to the attack after cards are revealed.
RB - Play another card this turn.
RY - Switch two pieces on the board.
RG - Switch hands with any player.
RO - Nuke. Drop one of these cards from a height of at least two feet off the board. Any pieces hit are eliminated from the game. Leave the card on the table. Spaces covered are out of the game.
RP - Return one of your pieces eliminated from the game to play.
RPi - Change your opponent's card to a pink before cards are revealed.

BB - Add a blue to the attack after cards are revealed.
BY - Skip your turn. Take two turns next time it is your turn.
BG - Place the green card on the board next to any one space, under any pieces. Pieces in this area are in a safe zone until it is your turn again.
BO - Look at any player's hand before starting your turn.
BP - Force an alliance.
BPi - Change your own card to a pink before cards are revealed.

YY - Add a yellow to the attack after cards are revealed.
YG - Mix together everyone's hands and return to each player the same number of cards.
YO - Return a player's pawn to the start square.
YP - Switch the card you played with one from your hand after cards are revealed.
YPi - Change both player's cards to pink before cards are revealed.

GG - Add a green to the attack after cards are revealed.
GO - Place both of the cards across the path in two different locations without distrubing any pieces. No player may cross this point until any one player discards a card of the same color.
GP - Force a player to change his played card after cards have been revealed with another card from his hand.
GPi - All players must discard all pink cards.

OO - Add an orange to the attack after cards are revealed.
OP - Return all pieces eliminated from the game to the start location.
OPi - All players must play pink cards, if they are able.

PP - Add a purple to the attack after cards are revealed.
PPi - Search through every player's discard pile, take a pink card into your hand, replacing it with the purple.

PiPi - Gain a point."

And God looked at what he had done, laughed evilly, and went off to his game group. And thus it was proved that every game can be improved [some versions say: mangled] to look like Cosmic Encounter.



Sean McCarthy said...

Hehe. That was pretty good.

Coldfoot said...

Yehuda 5:24 And the Lord spaketh, "Yehuda is wise. He who heeds him not, heeds me not. Let him who will not heed Yehuda be forever cast out of my sight and be damned to play Solitaire for an eternity with a deck containing no red sevens."

ekted said...

Funny. But I don't think this is very far from the truth in some games. You can see places where randomness was mitigated by hands of cards and face up draw piles, and where luck was added to reduce AP and make the game less pre-programmed. In fact, it's rare to find a game where some mechanic doesn't feel like a "fix".