Showing posts with label Rules. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rules. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Rules writing tips

Some good advice here from a reviewer - somebody who likely reads a good many more rules documents than your typical game designer.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Rules-writing guidelines

Michael Keller over at has some notes from a GenCon seminar by a Hasbro executive named Mike Gray about writing effective and useful rules documents for your game. The notes and tips are interesting and very specific - I wish I'd been able to attend the seminar. Definitely worth a look, and includes a copy of a summary handout from the seminar which is also concise and useful.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Writing Rules

There's an interesting discussion on what makes rules good over at BGG.  Lots of good ideas and useful observations there for people writing rules for their own games.  Also some differences of opinion - a lot of people seem to like Settlers of Catan's rules, which have an alphabetical section discussing various topics in the middle after the main rules.  I'm not opposed to a glossary or something like that, but the way Catan has it set up, I often find myself trying to remember what term a particular rule is listed under, which means I have to flip around through the alphabetical section to find the rule.  I'd much prefer to have all the rules listed in a structured way, where they relate to the part of the game being discussed, rather than alphabetically.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Hercules: The Later Years - Rules

The following is my entry for the BGDF design showdown for October.  Enjoy...

Hercules: The Later Years


After his labors, Hercules rested on his laurels. Literally – he had a whole pile of laurels upon which to rest. But over time, his fame faded, and he’s now badly in need of drachmas to support his lavish demigod lifestyle. You are Hercules’ new agent, trying to find him some paying gigs that fit his skillset.


  • 108 cards
  • Starter pawn
  • Game Board
  • 30 coins per player


Give each player 10 coins. Place the other coins in reserve. Place the game board in the center of the table. Shuffle the cards and place them in a pile face down. The player most likely to have been sired by Zeus takes the starter pawn.


Each turn has two phases described below.

Phase I: Card Auction

Draw one card from the deck per player in the game. All but one of these should be placed face up; the last should be face down and hidden from all players. So, if there are four players, turn three cards face up and place the fourth face down. These are the cards up for bid.
The player with the starter pawn bids first by placing as many coins as she wishes on top of one of the cards. Only one bid may be placed at a time, and a player may not refuse to bid. Bidding progresses around the table to the left. Each subsequent player may either bid on an unbid card or add coins to an already-bid card. For example, if Andromeda bids two coins on a Conquer card, and Antigone adds a coin to that card, Antigone’s total bid is three coins, and Andromeda’s bid is no longer valid.
Bidding continues until each card is allocated to a player. Players cannot change their bid amounts or switch cards unless outbid. When outbid, a player may request that her coins be refunded and replaced by the higher bidder.
When bids are resolved, each player must pay the total amount they bid to collect their card. Unused coins are returned to their owners.
Deadbeat Rule: If a player bids more coins than she has, the auction is cancelled and then repeated without the deadbeat player participating. The extra unbid card is discarded.

Phase II: Playing Cards

Beginning with the starting player and moving left, players may play their cards as follows:
Draw Cards: The player discards the draw card and takes the indicated number of new cards.
Object and Action cards: If a player has both an action (Conquer, Capture, Clean Out, Endorse) and an object (Used Chariot Dealership, Temple, Hydra, Politician), she may play them to make Hercules complete a task. The player discards the cards, takes a new coin of her color from the reserve, and places it on the game board at the appropriate spot for the action and the object.
Fees: Each action and object has a value associated with it. To determine the fee paid for the task, multiply the cards. For example, Capture has value 3 and Temple has value 2, so capturing the temple is worth 3x2=6 coins. A player who captures the temple collects a fee of 6 coins. Fees are printed on the board task spaces.
Repeating a task: The first time a task is completed, it requires only one action and one object card. Each subsequent time, the task costs one more of each. For example, the second time someone endorses a politician, it takes two Endorse cards and two Politician cards. The fee remains the same regardless of how often the task is completed. The player’s coin is placed on the board on top of any previous coins. Players may repeat tasks they’ve completed.
Bonus cards: Some action and object cards are marked double or triple. This means that they may count as more than one card when completing a task. The fee paid for the task remains the same. Players may “overpay” for a task.
Players may make as many plays as they wish. When all players have had one chance to play cards, the starter pawn goes to the next player, and a new Card Auction phase begins.


The game ends when there are not enough cards in the deck for a full card auction. At that point, the game is scored as follows:
  • Each task completed – 1 point.
  • Most unspent coins – 2 points.
  • Each chain of coins across the board – 3 points. A chain is any unbroken string of coins which connects opposite sides of the board. The coins in a chain must be adjacent. Each individual coin may only be used in one chain.
The highest scoring player wins. For tiebreakers, use the most unspent coins and then the most unplayed cards.

    Thursday, April 1, 2010

    Most ignored game rule of all time?

    Maybe it's just my experience, but nearly nobody I've ever played Monopoly with has used the property auction rule, stated as follows:
    Whenever you land on an unowned property you may buy that property from the Bank at its printed price. You receive the Title Deed card showing ownership. Place the title deed card face up in front of you. If you do not wish to buy the property, the Bank sells it at through an auction to the highest bidder. The high bidder pays the Bank the amount of the bid in cash and receives the Title Deed card for that property.
    Any player, including the one who declined the option to buy it at the printed price, may bid. Bidding may start at any price.
    I think I've gotten people to play that way maybe once. The thing is, it makes the game much better, because
    • It gets the properties sold earlier, especially the more expensive ones 
    • Some of the properties are more expensive than they're worth at regular price. I'm looking at you, Pacific Avenue.
    • It balances the game better. It's pretty common that a player may spend a bunch of turns early in the game landing on Chance, Community Chest, Jail, etc., without getting to buy properties. If this happens to you, then you're sitting on a pile of cash, and you're pretty much screwed, because other players will get all the monopolies, and you've got nothing to trade.
    • It adds some true skill to the game - you're actually calculating the value of the property to you, and also the value of other people not having it, and engaging in a fun bid war.
    So, why do people not use it? I think it's probably because people mostly play this game with kids, and kids don't understand the strategy or the process of bidding very well. They're having enough trouble dealing with the dice and the money and the cards; properly assessing the auction value of a property would be too hard (although maybe not for a 10-12 year old).

    It's still weird, though. This is arguably America's favorite boardgame, and most of us play it wrong. The game would be much more appealing to adults (although the outcome would still probably be mostly determined by luck) if this skill-based aspect were included. Ironically, leaving it out to make the game playable by kids ensures that adults won't want to play it later, because to them, it's just for kids, while if they added the auction back in, it would seem like a much better, more sophisticated game. I've enjoyed playing Monopoly with a group of adults, and it would have been even better if we played with the auction rule.

    And don't get me started on the frequent (and wrong!) $500 in the middle for free parking. What a travesty.