Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Of Feast & Famine - part 1

I just did a quick search for what my last comments were on Of Feast & Famine in the blog and they were from quite a while.  I said something like: The game didn't work.  Well, I think I'm out of that level of despair!  :)  It's far from being done, but I wouldn't say the game doesn't work anymore. 

I don't remember exactly how the game was played when I said that, so I'll just give an overview on the mechanics as they are now (with a few question marks thrown in as well).  Ok, from the top...

Of Feast & Famine is the third game in the Altero Series (E.g. Of Power & Glory and Of Pride & Policy).  Unlike the other two, it's a cooperative game.  Each player represents a minister for King Cheshire.  They are in charge of keeping the Kingdom running in spite of wars, plagues, poverty, feasts and famines.  The game board has a numbered track going around the outside... it goes from 0 to 50.  This is used to track the amount of 4 different resources: Gold, Food, Medicine and Stone.  The game is won if you build the castle.  The game is lost if you can't meet the needs for one of the resources or if the population drops to zero. 

There are 12 pawns which represent to workers (population).  They are color coded: 2 each of Black, White, Red, Yellow, Green and Blue.  The colors are arbitrary, but not unimportant.  You start the game with one worker of each color available (others will become available later).

There's a circle on the board (called the calendar) that indicates the current season.  The rest of the board is map of the kingdom with several locations that workers can go (usually to work).  The game is played in rounds and each round is a season.  At the start of each round, one player is the "lead minister" (I'm sure there's a word for that...  "Chandler" I think, but I'll find out for sure).  The lead role moves to the left each round.  The Lead minister takes one event card for each player, looks at them and assigns them to each player face down (including one for himself).  

Quick note:  This has the potential for being a really cool mechanic.  One of the issues I hear that people have with cooperative games is that one person tends to take over and tell people what to do.  This mechanic (at least partially) forces that power to be distributed among all the players.  Anyway, back to the rules.

Each player can look at their own event card, but it can be shown to everyone else until the start of their turn.  On your turn, you take one action and then resolve the event (almost all the events are bad by the way).  The actions that you an take usually involve taking some number of workers from town (that's where they start at the beginning of each round (well...  almost always)) and assigning them to a location on the map.  Workers are not all equal.  When you assign a worker to an area, you have the opportunity to give them a ring that corresponds to that work location.  Each worker can have up to 3 rings (they can all be the same, all different or whatever).  The actual work done in any location is a factor of the number of matching rings in a location... not the number of workers.  Thus two workers with 1 ring each is as good as one worker with 2 rings.  Their are a few actions which differ form this pattern a bit. 

Taxing:  You can tax the population to gain 5 gold and then one worker goes into poverty (placed on the Church).  Workers in poverty can not be used for any other purpose until they're freed.  Freeing workers (I need a good term for that) means moving some number of Workers from the Church to the Town (and paying 1 gold each). 

Raising funds:  You can also simply use your action to move the gold up by one.  This is kind of a "I don't have anything else to do" action.  I hope it's not needed much.  I don't mind if it happens 2 or 3 times a game, but if players are having to do this every round, that's an issue.

Adding Workers:  Remember how I said there were other workers that got added later... this is how.  But you don't just add the workers to town, you add them to the calendar 3 seasons in the future.... you've got to educated them!  You can add 1 or 2 workers to any one season.  When that season rolls around, they are added to town.

Ok, so those were the slightly exceptional actions, but I didn't really talk about the more normal ones.  There are 7 locations that you can add workers:  3 barracks, the quarry, the castle site, the hospital and the farm.  Note that here are only 4 types of rings:  Military (used at all 3 barracks), Masonry (used at the quarry and castle site), Medicine (used at the hospital), Agriculture (used at the farm).

Ok, I'm running out of time, so this will have to be a part 1 blog.  Next time, I'll need to talk about events...  that will probably eat up a whole blog and that might do it.

No comments:

Post a Comment