DESIGNER DIARY
by Rick Heli
I thought it might be fun to write something about my game design projects, something I've never tried before.

August 24, 2017







Unfortunately, it has been well over a year since I have provided any updates here. In the meantime though, I have been very busy publishing other games, including, in order:

The good news for followers of the Athens project is that I have at last completed a printed prototype. It now has a real board, 216 cards, 56 large counters and 112 small chits. There are also a fair number of cubes, the exact number to be determined.

When this arrives I'll subject it to healthy doses of playtesting and see what we have.

For now I have decided that the entire project as I originally conceived it was just too large. Consequently, I have lopped off the first (Oligarchy and Tyranny) and the last (the coming of Alexander the Great) eras. With it I have removed all the rules and components necessary for changes in government type. The good news is that the game is already fun and interesting enough without these features. But never fear; I will make them available as a separate expansion kit for any who may want them.

Meanwhile, I want to discuss briefly some of the new wrinkles in the The Republic of Rome™ system.
Factions
Reflecting Athenian society of the time, each Statesman belongs to one of three classes, and these are all historical, as far as I can determine, anyway. Aristocrats live in the city, but have extensive wealth, land holdings and followers. Merchants/Artisans tend to live on the coast and are either traders or practice a craft. Farmers live on the land, growing wheat, olives, figs and sheep. Each player takes a faction of a particular type. In a six-player outing there are two players for each type. Each faction consists of characters of that type only. Players may only draft characters from their own class, but can persuade characters of any type. Which could come in handy if you've picked up an income card that doesn't work with your type.

Persuasion
For a while now I've thought that persuasion is too easy. You can decide you want to ask someone to join your faction and bang! the persuasion party starts right up. In real life wouldn't it be a more gradual process? You would express your interest. They would think about it. You would think more about it. And then you would see. This kind of "pre-persuasion" is in the game now. When you want to persuade someone, you start the process one turn in advance. This affords the target faction some form of early response, including making the target the faction leader. At which point you may switch targets. But the target faction may regret changing their faction leader. And in any case, if players feel the need to pick on a leader, they can only protect one character in this way.

Aging
We don't have birth years for most of the characters in the game. Thus I am using relative ages. The at-start characters are all the oldest – assigned in round-robin fashion – and as new characters enter, they place their chits in line behind the youngest one. The entire queue is actually implemented as a loop so you never need to slide chits around. There are no family cards either. Each character is himself only; once dead he is out of play forever.

Next Time
I was going to talk about Changes to Government Type and Countering a Tyrant, but as this has probably gone on far enough, I will save them for next time. They are only in the expansion kit anyway. I still want to discuss other topics such as event handling, dealing with the huge Persian forces and the appetite of the thetes for war.

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