The game of mine that got the most playtests while I was at Protospiel last weekend was King of Danger. While I was happy enough with it as it was — a super-tight little trick-taker about building and tearing down castles — it was wound a little too tight. There was no room to breath or make a bad play, and — as my buddy Chevee Dodd put it after playing it with him and a friend at his house — there was no room to be clever or coy in how you played.
As a result, I felt it needed improvement, and removed the print-and-play links and took it out of the TGC shop until I could nail down what I wanted it to be. Before leaving Chevee’s place, we brainstormed a little bit and found that if it wasn’t quite as strict about following suit, allowing you to follow suit OR play a King, it loosened things up a bit. This felt better, so I tweaked the rules and brought it with me for testing.
The first tests showed that one change wasn’t enough to coax the game to where it needed to be. So, I thought on it some more, tweaked it a bit more and got it back on the table. As happens at a protospiel event, everyone around the table gave great advice on what they were seeing — how the flow of the game felt, what sort of decisions (or lack thereof) they were seeing, how the scoring was working, what they’d like to see instead. The best session of my weekend was one where we’d play just a few hands, then stop and discuss. We’d adjust a rule and play a few more hands. And we did this 3 or 4 times around.
I came away with what I think the game has been missing. So, I’m planning the following changes:
More Cards: I’m going to up the card count a little bit. I heard a number of times that there were too few cards, with each player having a hand of 5 cards. I’m actually okay with the hands being smallish, compared to most trick-taking games, as long as you can do something worthwhile with the cards you have. And some of the ideas I’ll be listing here will be better with slightly bigger hands. I’ll be upping hands by just 1, but also allowing up to 6 players. This takes the game from 26 cards to 36, which will be made up of 3 suits of 10 cards and 6 Leader cards that have special win conditions, actions or scoring adjustments to them. The Walls and Cannons suits will have cards that gain or lose the trick powers around building your castle or tearing down others’ … I’ll have more on this later, in its own post.
More Special Cards: Each suit still has its King that wins if any card of that suit is played, but the 1 has now become the Assassin, which takes the place of the King whenever they are played on the same suit. The Wizards are now a trump suit, taking any trick they are played on that isn’t won by a King or other Leader.
The new Leaders will be as follows (so far anyway):
- Queen – Wins the trick if any King (including the King of Danger) is played on it
- Builder – Doubles your Wall power for the trick
- Engineer – Doubles your Cannon power for the trick
- Noble – Shares in the Wall power of the trick without winning the trick
- Spy – You select 1 card from the trick and use its Wall or Cannon power … the trick winner gets the rest
Return of Flags & Partner Play: Originally, the game was going to have a partner element to it that involved secret Flag cards. I nixed it as I cut the game back, but I really do like partner-based trick-taking games. It lets you do *something* with bad hands that you aren’t able to take tricks with. So, with these changes, I think I can add them back in. I’ll have a future post explaining how the partner play will work.
This will take the deck up to 54 total cards (36 main cards, 6 Flags, 12 Castle Trackers).
That’s all I have for now. I need to get the cards and rules updated and then I’ll have a new print-and-play available and will be looking for testers. If you’re interested in testing, please send a message my way! 🙂