Decktet Game #2: Oligarch

I wrote that last post in order to write this one 🙂

Let’s call it Oligarch. I suspect it’s for 2-4 players.

You will need:
1 36-card base decktet deck
A bunch of counters or scratch paper. Think poker chips, you’ll probably want a few denominations.
Time. Dunno how much.

You’re one of the oligarchs of a little country. You are picking the ministers with whom you curry favor and utilize to ensure control over the provinces of the empire as a whole. The winner is the player who, at the end of the game, has amassed the most points of influence.

Lay each of the 8 base decktet pure Location cards (except the event-location cards, Origin, Market and End — those function as per events) out face up. These form the Board — they’re the provinces over which you set your ministers to govern in order to gain influence. Their placement doesn’t matter.

Lay a deck of base decktet Personalities out, and deal the top 5 out in a row (like the Small Worlds river of races). These are always kept sorted first by rank (lowest rank first), and then by order revealed, and are refilled back to 5 whenever necessary from the deck, which can shuffle. These are the ministers which you, as oligarch, are attempting to curry favor with.

Shuffle the base decktet events into an Event deck. Stick the six aces at the bottom of this deck (for timing). These are the various eventualities which are besetting the empire — current events, uncovered new lands, etc. It also has a river, refilled back to 3 whenever necessary — you can slightly predict the future, seeing which events are coming. This river is also kept sorted.

Read crowns as “10”, and aces have rank 0.

Give each player 5 “influence” tokens to start.

On your turn, do each in order:

  1. Exhale, inhale: You must untap all cards you control and score influence for them:
    1. For each of the six suits, gain 1 influence if you control cards (personalities, aces, locations, event-locations) such that you control 2 instances of the symbol, or you control one such symbol and there is an event with that symbol (or a claimed event-location with that symbol) in play.
  2. Event: You must play the lowest ranked event from the event river, and then refill it to 3. If it’s empty, shuffle the event discard the first time; don’t the second time. It’ll apply to everyone as long as it’s showing.
    1. Discard all unclaimed events (event-locations, aces, etc) sharing a suit with the event. This causes their sequestered cards, see below, to discard.
    2. Each player chooses one:
      1. Discard an ace (of any suit).
        1. Get one victory point.
      2. Sequester all (remaining) location and personality cards sharing a suit with the new event. Sequestering means you get one token per discarded card, and place each of them beneath the new event, until it is claimed (if appropriate) or discarded.
        1. Claimed aces are immune to sequestering, they just stick with their owner.
        2. Event-locations sequester by discarding.
        3. The owner gets a victory point if the sequestered card was of higher rank than the event.
  3. Employ: You may claim one personality from the river of visible personalities and move it to your play area.
    1. Fill the river back up to 5 cards from its deck, ranked in order, if necessary.
    2. The lowest-ranked card costs 0 influence.
    3. You must place 1 influence on each card below the one you want to take (like Small World), so the the second-lowest rank card showing requires placing 1 influence on the single-lowest rank card, third-lowest on both of those, fourth-lowest on all three below it, etc.
      1. When you take a personality with influence on it, you take the influence.
    4. You must discard any personalities you have which share a suit with it.
      1. Aces are immune, and don’t cause this discard.
  4. Exchange: You may trade goods with other player’s locations. Despite the name, this is not optional for the other players; think Magic the Gathering fighting mechanics, a little.
    1. The active player is the buyer, and declares one or more location cards which are buying, and from which player they are buying.
    2. For each player being bought from, their untapped cards are their potential sellers. The selling player temporarily associates each buying card with one or more of their sellers. Selling cards must share a suit with the buyer.
    3. For each 1 buyer/n sellers set:
      1. If there are no sellers of the same suits as the buyer’s card, the buyer gets 3 victory points.
      2. If there are sellers of the same suits, but the sum of their ranks is less than the rank of the buyer’s card, the buyer gets 2 victory points.
      3. If there are sellers of the same suit and the sum of ranks is higher than the buyer, no victory points are gained.
  5. Exploit: You may claim a number of location cards from the board and move them to your play area.
    1. Tap one or more personalities (or aces). Each tapped personality gives you one of each of its suit symbols.
    2. You may also purchase a suit symbol from an unclaimed event (including the one just revealed), at a rate of 3 victory points to 1 suit symbol.
    3. Take any number of locations such that the total number of locations is fewer than the number of suit symbols.
    4. If you tapped a total of ranks of personalities higher than the total of ranks of locations claimed, take 1 influence.
      1. Crowns contribute 10 towards this.
      2. Aces contribute 0 towards this.

When you can’t draw an event, shuffle the event discard the first time.

The second time you can’t draw an event, the game ends once the river is empty; the player with the highest victory points wins.

Authors Notes:

The “decks” are the source of randomness here, there’s no hidden information.

You’re building a little engine, subject to frequent disruption from events, which set your strategy: which suit(s) to concentrate upon, and how much, compared to your opponent?

Your engine is personalities, which are defensive and allow purchase of locations, and the locations you can buy with them, which drive scoring per round in a heavy way, since the depth of locations you can bring to bear is worth a lot of points.

The events encourage diversity, while the exchange mechanism encourages depth within a stack.

I kind of wonder whether inverting the Board and the River (so that the ministers are all visible and are bought with locations, and the locations are ranked and purchased with influence) would be more fun.


About lackhand

I was born in 1984 and am still playing games, programming computers, and living in New York City. View all posts by lackhand

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