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"Campaigns of Esfah"

 
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dburkley
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 11, 2011 11:11 am GMT    Post subject: "Campaigns of Esfah" Reply with quote

At the 2011 DEXCON, DREAMATION, and GenCon conventions, I've been hosting playtest sessions for a boardgame version of Dragon Dice™ that I've been working on for three years (and lobbying SFR to embrace as a new product). It's had a few nicknames during the course of its development (such as Dragons' Pass), but currently is called "Campaigns of Esfah".

I'll give a general description of the boardgame, which is based on the following concepts:

The Board – each area represents a territory. Depending on the scenario, most territories belong to one of the starting races, while others may be independents or impassible/uninhabitable. The "board" itself could be a mapboard (as used for the playtest sessions at DREAMATION) or assembled from tiles (as demonstrated at DEXCON XIV and GenCon 2011).

How big is a "territory"? Relative to the standard Dragon Dice™ game that uses three terrains, a territory might be considered to represent one of those terrains, but I envision it as being being the same size as all three terrain dice.

Each territory has a specific name and is color-coded similar to a terrain die and also features an 8th Face symbol, which represents the dominant features of the territory. I've used many of the names cited in the short stories and Chill Wind novel, and a couple of the scenarios are based on some of the storylines.

Force Pool – For random games and many scenarios, each player has an equivalent sized Force Pool that represents the potential maximum strength of his force. These are indicated by scenario (or by mutual agreement of all players for a random game). The composition of the Force Pool could be symmetrical and balanced (Example: Each player might start with a “standard” force pool composed of: 1 of each rare die, 2 of each uncommon die, and 5 of each common die), or more random (such as the armies in a 2-player starter).

So what do the dice represent? There are a couple of different interpretations that have equal merit. For an army-level game, the commons could represent squads or platoons (10-50), uncommons could represent companies (25-100), and rares a battalion or brigade (50-200).
Alternatively, they could represent smaller numbers of characters, with commons representing 1st-3rd level characters, uncommons representing 4th-6th level characters, and rares representing 7th-9th level characters.
Monsters (4-health) are still monsters.

Objective - Most scenarios require one side to capture a substantial majority of the territories (such as 2/3rds to 3/4ths). All games playtested at the conventions were 2-player or 2-sides, which were often concluded within 120-150 minutes. ("Free-for-alls" are significantly longer games.)

Set Up - For a random game, players take turns placing one of their dice from their starting army (a typical starting army is 36 health) and placing it in a territory (like RISK). Players continue to place their dice until all are on the board.

Sequence of Play (Basic Game)

1. Determine Build Points per area controlled (all players) – Calculate build points. Each friendly controlled territory generates a one-health build point.

2. Determine Builds – Determine forces you will build from your Force pool. These are set aside and brought into the game at step 8.

3. Initiative - By random determination, one side is chosen to be the "1st player(s)".

4. 1st Player(s) Army Movement – Similar to the original Dragon Dice™, each active player gets two Marches. The player chooses one of his territories that contains any of his dice to activate for the "First March". The order that players of a side choose to activate does not matter, but each activation must be completed before another activation is started. All of that player’s dice (as well as any allied dice) are rolled for Maneuver results. Each Maneuver result permits one of the player’s dice (any size) to move to an adjacent territory. Execute any movement, moving dice (up to the number of maneuvers rolled) from the activated territory into one or more adjacent territories. A maximum of 8 dice (Basic Game) can be in any one territory (per side). For the "Second March", the player chooses another territory (which must be different than the one chosen for the First March) to activate and rolls his dice for Maneuver results. Each Maneuver result permits one die to move 1 area (territory). Execute any movement. An "activated" marker may be placed on the territory selected as a reminder for players. After all area movement has been completed, proceed to step 5. (Team Movement: In “team” games, dice from members of the same team can be in the same territory, but are subject to the 8 dice limit. When the territory is activated, both teammates roll their dice, but each player’s maneuvers can only be used to move their own dice, not their teammate’s dice.)

(The Advanced Game permits the option of rolling for magic, instead of rolling for movement.)

5. 1st Player(s) Combat – Resolve combat in any areas where opposing dice are present. A combat round consists of three actions conducted in this order: Magic, Missile, and Melee. After the combat round is completed, the attacker can choose to withdraw. If the attacker stays, the defender can choose to withdraw. If neither withdraw, another round of combat follows. If the defender has not been driven out or eliminated by the third round of combat, the attacker must withdraw. Place a control marker in a newly won territory. If dice from allies are also present, control is awarded to the player of the winning side that entered the territory first.

6. 2nd Player(s) Army Movement – The side that lost Initiative now gets to move. The player chooses one of his territories that contains any of his dice to activate for the "First March". The order that players of a side choose to activate does not matter, but each activation must be completed before another activation is started. All of that player’s dice (as well as any allied dice) are rolled for Maneuver results. Each Maneuver result permits one of the player’s dice (any size) to move to an adjacent territory. Execute any movement, moving dice (up to the number of maneuvers rolled) from the activated territory into one or more adjacent territories. A maximum of 8 dice (Basic Game) can be in any one territory (per side). For the "Second March", the player chooses another territory (which must be different than the one chosen for the First March) to activate and rolls his dice for Maneuver results. Each Maneuver result permits one die to move 1 area (territory). Execute any movement. An "activated" marker may be placed on the territory selected as a reminder for players. After all area movement has been completed, proceed to step 7. (Team Movement: In “team” games, dice from members of the same team can be in the same territory, but are subject to the 8 dice limit. When the territory is activated, both teammates roll their dice, but each player’s maneuvers can only be used to move their own dice, not their teammate’s dice.)

7. 2nd Player(s) Combat – Resolve combat in any areas where opposing dice are present. A combat round consists of three actions conducted in this order: Magic, Missile, and Melee. After the combat round is completed, the attacker can choose to withdraw. If the attacker stays, the defender can choose to withdraw. If neither withdraw, another round of combat follows. If the defender has not been driven out or eliminated by the third round of combat, the attacker must withdraw. Place a control marker in a newly won territory. If dice from allies are also present, control is awarded to the player of the winning side that entered the territory first.

8. Place Reinforcements – Players place their builds in any friendly territory you had at the start of the turn, one die at a time, starting with the players that had Initiative.

That wraps up one complete turn.

Spells and SAI's: Spells and SAI's are used in the boardgame, and while most are based on the Dragon Dice™ spell list, quite a few had to be "re-made" to work in the boardgame environment. Example: there is no "Reserve" in the boardgame, so any spell (or SAI) that referenced or sent units to Reserve either needed to be redefined or not included (if a spell).

Feedback was solicited at all the playtest sessions. The majority of the comments concerned the spell lists. One of the black spells (Pestilence) was considered too potent for its spell cost. Another (Summon Monster) was considered obsolete for its cost in the presence of the other spell options. One suggestion was to include a color code or symbol in the spell chart to indicate which spells could be cast during combat (or outside of combat).
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Daniel Burkley
US National Champion (DEXCON 2007, 2009, 2010)
World Champion (GENCON 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2014)
Battlefest Champion (DEXCON 2008, GENCON 2009, 2011, co-champion GENCON 2010, DEXCON 2011)
"No Magicians" (GENCON 2008)
"Single Race" (DEXCON 2008, GENCON 2010, 2011, co-champion 2014)
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dburkley
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2012 11:50 pm GMT    Post subject: Re: "Campaigns of Esfah" Reply with quote

dburkley wrote:
The Board – each area represents a territory. Depending on the scenario, most territories belong to one of the starting races, while others may be independents or impassible/uninhabitable. The "board" itself could be a mapboard (as used for the playtest sessions at DREAMATION) or assembled from tiles (as demonstrated at DEXCON XIV and GenCon 2011).

Each territory has a specific name and is color-coded similar to a terrain die and also features an 8th Face symbol, which represents the dominant features of the territory.


Example of a "2nd Generation" Tile:

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Daniel Burkley
US National Champion (DEXCON 2007, 2009, 2010)
World Champion (GENCON 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2014)
Battlefest Champion (DEXCON 2008, GENCON 2009, 2011, co-champion GENCON 2010, DEXCON 2011)
"No Magicians" (GENCON 2008)
"Single Race" (DEXCON 2008, GENCON 2010, 2011, co-champion 2014)
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dburkley
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PostPosted: Mon May 21, 2012 10:38 pm GMT    Post subject: Campaigns of Esfah Reply with quote

This project has evolved a bit since its origin. This is what the "Basic Game" is currently.

The Campaigns of Esfah is a boardgame that expands the concepts used in Dragon Dice™. Players become commanders who direct their army to conquer territories. The dice now represent combat formations instead of individuals, but the icons are still used for maneuver, missile, melee, and magic actions. Players have a limited force to start with, but can build to expand their armies up to the limit of their Force Pool. When opposing dice are in the same territory, a battle occurs and continues until one player's force is destroyed or retreated. When one player conquers a certain number of territories (or vanquishes all foes' dice), the game ends and that player is crowned King.

COMPONENTS
The Board – The “board” is assembled with tiles. Each tile represents a territory (or area). Depending on the scenario, some territories belong to one of the starting races, while others are independents. Some terrain types allow a specific advantage to a particular race. Each of the four structure icons (city, tower, temple, or standing stone) confers a specific advantage to the player that owns the territory. A territory can hold a maximum of 6 dice at the end of a turn (Basic Game), but may have up to 8 dice during the turn.

Each territory is represented by a tile that is color-coded and has one or more icon symbols. The color code represents a specific terrain type: blue/green = Coastland; blue/yellow = Flatland; red/yellow = Highland; green/yellow = Swampland). The icons represent:

City - An army defending a City may promote one die, if possible, before combat resolution.

Standing Stones - Each die that rolls a Magic icon (not ID) adds an additional +1 Magic result during a Magic action.

Temple - An army defending a Temple cannot be targeted by Black spells.

Tower - An army defending a Tower adds +1 missile result to each die that rolls a Missile icon (but not an ID icon).

The Dice – Only official Dragon Dice™™ are used in the game, which come in a variety of sizes and shapes: small D6 (common) = 1-health, medium D6 (uncommon) = 2-health, large D6 (rare) = 3-health, D10 (monster) = 4 health, D12 (dragon) = 5-health

Force Pool – Each player has an equivalent sized Force Pool that represents the potential maximum strength of his force. These are indicated by scenario or by mutual agreement of all players, and are a symmetrical, balanced, composition (Example: Each player might start with a “standard” force pool composed of: 1 of each rare, 3 of each uncommon die, and 5 of each common die.)

CAMPAIGNS “BASIC GAME” RULES

Basic Game Sequence of Play

1. Determine Build Points per area controlled (Mutual Phase) – Both sides calculate build points. Each friendly controlled territory generates a one-health build point. Use control markers to show control of territories where allies are present (to help with Steps 4, 6 and 7).

2. Determine Builds (Mutual Phase) – Both sides determine forces you will build from your Force pool.

3. Determine Player (or Team) Sequence (Mutual Phase) – For 2 players or 2 teams, the determination of which player (or team) that goes first for steps 4, 5, and 6, can be decided randomly (such as a coin toss, card draw, or dice off). For multi-player games: a “player deck” should be assembled with a player represented by one card. Randomize the deck and draw the top card to determine who goes first. After that player has completed his sequence, draw the next card to determine who goes next after step 6 (and so on).

4. Army Movement (Side A) – Each player gets two March Phases (similar to the original Dragon DiceTM). On the First March Phase the player chooses one of his territories that contains any of his dice to activate (either a magic activation or movement activation).

4a. Magic Activation - All of that player’s dice (including allied players’ dice) are rolled for Magic points. Only dice that roll magic symbols or ID icons count for magic, and the color of the dice indicate the possible color(s) of magic points that can be used (Exception: Amazons use the colors of the territory they are in). The player consults the Spell Chart to determine how he will spend his magic points. A spell cost of “3+IA” is 3 plus 1 point for each Intervening Area between the casting army and the target – so if the target is in an adjacent area to the casting army, the cost is 3+1 or 4 spell points. A spell cost of “2X” costs twice the health of the target or effect - so if the target is a monster, the spell will cost 8 points and if the effect is 3 health or 3 damage, the spell will cost 6 points.
4b. Movement Activation - All of that player’s dice (including mercenary and allied players’ dice) are rolled for Maneuver results for movement. Each Maneuver result permits any one of the player’s dice (any size) to move 1 area (territory), but a die that shows X maneuver icons (or an X-sized die that roll an ID icon) may be moved X consecutive areas, at the owner’s option. Execute any movement, moving dice (up to the number of maneuvers rolled) from the activated territory into an adjacent territory. A player may have up to 8 dice in a territory during the turn, but a maximum of 6 dice of any size can be in any one territory (per side) at the end of the turn. Place a control marker on any territory vacated by the moving player that has no dice present (including the active player and /or allies). (Activation of a Territory Containing Allied Dice: In “team” games, dice from members of the same team can be in the same territory, but are subject to the 6 dice limit. When the territory is activated by either player, both teammates roll their dice, using the combined maneuvers rolled to move any of the dice.)

5. Combat (Side A) – Resolve combat in any areas where opposing dice are present. A combat round consists of three actions conducted in this order: Magic, Missile, and Melee. Initiative (which determines which side will do its action first for the current combat round) is determined by opposing sides rolling for maneuvers, with the highest total winning the initiative. The combat can last up to 3 rounds. The sequence is explained in further detail below, after the Sequence of Play.

6. Reserve Move (Side A) – After all combats has been resolved, a Reserve Move is permitted by the active player (or team). One territory that has not been previously activated this turn may be selected for a Reserve Move. Any or all of the player’s units that have not moved this turn (but not Allied units) in the territory selected for the Reserve Move may move to one or more adjacent empty or friendly territories. For a team, each teammate selects one territory to move only that teammate’s units to any adjacent friendly territory. Teammates may select the same territory for their Reserve Move.

7. Side B's Turn for Activation, Combat, Reserve Move – The next player or side follows steps 4, 5, and 6.

8. Place Reinforcements and Check Dice Limit (Mutual Phase) – Place your builds (from Step 2) in any friendly territory you had at the start of the turn. Players/teams place reinforcements in order of player sequence for this turn. Any territory that has more than 6 dice must remove excess dice to bring the total down to 6 dice. Excess dice are returned to the Force pool. If placing reinforcements would exceed the 6 dice/territory limit, then after placement any excess dice will have to be eliminated. The owning player chooses which dice are returned to the Force Pool.

9. Check for Control of All Territories – Any territory that has only a Control Marker, but no dice present is considered abandoned. Remove the Control Marker. (PLAY TIP: If you decide to move all your units out of a territory during the First March or Second March, be certain to move at least one die back into during a Reserve Move, or place a die there during the Reinforcement Phase to retain control.)

Basic Game Combat Sequence – Each territory that contains opposing forces (including summoned enemy Dragons) will result in combat. Combat is resolved in 3 rounds or less. Each round includes a Magic Action, Missile Action, and Melee Action, after which the Attacker decides to withdraw or stay. If the Attacker stays, then the Defender decides to withdraw or stay. Combat between opposing units is resolved in this sequence: Magic Action, Missile Action, Melee Action. Initiative (which determines which side will do its action first for the current combat round) is determined by opposing sides rolling for maneuvers, with the highest total winning the initiative. (Teams: If teammates have dice in the same territory during Combat, each player rolls their own dice during each phase. Losses can be negotiated between teammates, but must be satisfied, if possible.)

5A. Initiative – Both sides roll for Maneuver results, with players on the same side rolling their own dice (and adding any bonus or penalty from spells). The side with the highest total has the Initiative and becomes the 1st Player for the combat phase shown on the Terrain Die. The 1st Player gets to resolve his actions during that phase prior to the other player (representing a tactical advantage or surprise attack). A tie results in a re-roll for the initiative (unless someone’s Racial Ability states otherwise), but if a second tie results, the Defender becomes the 1st Player.

5B. Magic Action Phase – The side with initiative rolls all their dice in the battle for magic. Count 1 magic point for each magic icon rolled, and ID icons from any die count 1 magic point per health-equivalent. If the territory contains Standing Stones, each side adds +1 magic point to any die rolled that shows a Magic icon (but not an ID icon) that applies to a Magic Action. Magic points are used to cast spells (see Spell Chart for each race). After all spells have been determined and resolved, the side without initiative does their magic action.

5C. Missile Action Phase – The side with initiative rolls all their dice in the battle for missiles. Count 1 missile point for each missile icon rolled, and ID icons from any die count 1 missile point per health-equivalent. If the territory contains the Tower, the defending side adds +1 missile point to any die rolled that shows a missile icon (but not an ID icon) that applies to a Missile Action. Resolve any Special Action Icons (SAIs) that apply during a Missile Action. Then apply any normal damage against the opposing army, which rolls for saves versus the normal damage. Any hits not saved against are taken as losses. All losses must be satisfied, if possible – but a player cannot remove dice that are greater than the losses to be satisfied. The side without initiative then does their Missile Action.

5D. Melee Action Phase – The side with initiative rolls all their dice in the battle for melee. Count 1 missile point for each melee icon rolled, and ID icons from any die count 1 melee point per health-equivalent. Resolve any Special Action Icons (SAIs) that apply during a Melee Action. Then apply any normal damage against the opposing army, which rolls for saves versus the normal damage. Any hits not saved against are taken as losses. All losses must be satisfied, if possible – but a player cannot remove dice that are greater than the losses to be satisfied. The side without initiative then does their Melee Action.

5E. Attacker’s Option to Withdraw – The Attacker may choose to withdraw all or none of his units (but after the third round, the Attacker must withdraw if any defending units are still present). If the Attacker withdraws, this will leave the Defender in control of the territory. When withdrawing, the Attacker rolls for Maneuvers (adding any leftover Maneuvers from spell effects). Each maneuver result allows him to place a withdrawing die into an adjacent friendly territory of his choice. Any dice not selected by the Attacker are retreated by the Defender into any adjacent territory that is friendly to the Attacker (within the 8 dice stacking limit, if possible), and then the Attacker retreats the dice he has selected to withdraw to any friendly territory (within the 8 dice stacking limit, if possible). Any territory retreated into that exceeds the 8 dice limit must be reduced to 8 dice by the owning player. Any dice removed are returned to the Force Pool.

5F. Defender’s Option to Withdraw – If the Attacker has not withdrawn, the Defender may withdraw all or none of his units. If the Defender withdraws, this will leave the Attacker in control of the territory. When withdrawing, the Defender rolls for Maneuvers (adding any leftover Maneuvers from spell effects). Each maneuver result allows him to place a withdrawing die into an adjacent friendly territory of his choice. Any dice not selected by the Defender are then placed by the Attacker into an adjacent friendly territory (within end-of-turn stacking limits, if possible), and then the Defender retreats the dice he had selected to withdraw to any friendly territory. Any territory retreated into that exceeds the end-of-turn stacking limit of 6 dice must be reduced to 6 dice by the owning player. Any dice removed are returned to the Force Pool.

5G. Start a new Combat Round if both sides are still present (ie: go back to Step 1).

5H. End of Combat – When one side has been eliminated or withdraws, any surviving units now control the disputed territory. During the third round of combat, if the Attacker has not eliminated the Defender, the Attacker must withdraw in step 4. Place control markers on any newly conquered territories.

RACIAL ABILITIES – Each race has certain abilities relating to their home terrains. These abilities apply only to a player’s race (ie: they do not apply to Mercenaries or Undead).
Amazons: Up to two Amazon units at a Flatlands territory may count Maneuver results as if they were Missile results during a missile action. Amazons may only cast spells based on the color of the territory they are in.
Coral Elves: Up to two Coral Elf dice may count their maneuver icons as save results during combat in a Coastlands territory, and up to two Coral Elf dice in any other territory with the green (water) element may count their ship maneuver icons as save results.
Dwarves: Up to two Dwarven dice may double their maneuvers when rolling for a movement activation in a Highlands territory. A Dwarven army wins ties for Initiative in a Highlands territory (Advanced Game only).
Feral: After builds have been determined, but prior to activating any armies for magic or movement, select one Feral unit in any territory and promote it to the next highest die right now.
Firewalkers: When retreating from combat in any territory with a blue color, FireWalkers may elect to teleport to any friendly territory with a blue color instead of moving to an adjacent friendly area. During a Melee Action, up to two FireWalker dice may choose to count Save icons as Melee results.
Frostwings: Up to two Frostwing magician dice may roll for counter-magic during an opponent’s magic phase in any combat in any territory. For each Frostwing magic point rolled, the opponent subtracts one magic point. Frostwings ignore terrain icons and cannot benefit from them.
Goblins: Up to two Goblin dice may double their maneuvers when rolling a movement activation in a Swamplands territory. A Goblin army wins ties for Initiative in a Swamplands territory (Advanced Game only).
Lava Elves: Up to two Lava Elf dice may count their maneuver icons as save results in a Highlands territory.
Scalders: When Scalder units roll for saves during a Melee Action, up to two units that rolled one or more non-ID icon saves also causes one point of damage against the attacking army per save result (only magical saves can prevent this damage). When Scalder units roll for saves during a Missile Action, up to two dice generates one automatic save against any normal Missile damage.
Swampstalkers: Up to two Swampstalkers may count their maneuver icons as save results in a Swamplands territory. At the conclusion of any combat that the Swampstalkers win, if the Swampstalkers lost a 1-health unit and the opposing army lost at least a single 1-health unit, the Swampstalkers may return one lost 1-health unit to the victorious army.
Treefolk: Up to two Treefolk dice may double their maneuvers when rolling for Initiative in combat in any territory with the green (water) or yellow (earth) elements. After reinforcements have been placed, the Treefolk player may exchange one die (any size) of Treefolk from one territory with a die of the same size in the Force Pool.

Each player controls one race, and there is a one-page summary sheet for each race that lists (and explains) all the spells that race is capable of casting, racial abilities, normal action icons, and all the special action icons that race couls have on any of its dice (and what they do, which could be significantly different than than in Dragon Dice™).

Another one-page summary explains all the terrain icons.
_________________
Daniel Burkley
US National Champion (DEXCON 2007, 2009, 2010)
World Champion (GENCON 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2014)
Battlefest Champion (DEXCON 2008, GENCON 2009, 2011, co-champion GENCON 2010, DEXCON 2011)
"No Magicians" (GENCON 2008)
"Single Race" (DEXCON 2008, GENCON 2010, 2011, co-champion 2014)


Last edited by dburkley on Wed May 23, 2012 9:42 pm GMT; edited 2 times in total
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Denimwizard
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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2012 4:49 am GMT    Post subject: Reply with quote

It really seems you guys have this version of the game down. It would be awesome to see this come to life. Perhaps this is something you could use Kick starter for. It would be awesome to see this game sold on the shelves with all the other board games.
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2012 7:23 am GMT    Post subject: Reply with quote

Denimwizard wrote:
It really seems you guys have this version of the game down. It would be awesome to see this come to life. Perhaps this is something you could use Kick starter for. It would be awesome to see this game sold on the shelves with all the other board games.


I couldn't agree more. A kickstarter would be fantastic help for something like this, or heck any SFR product that is launching!
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dburkley
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2012 10:15 pm GMT    Post subject: Campaigns of Esfah Reply with quote

While the mechanics are now well-defined and demonstrated to work, there have been quite a number of details that have to be addressed. The spell list has seen the most iterations since the initial concept, and converting some SAI effects to be applicable to the boardgame has been challenging, but entertaining as well (especially after seeing how players use them).

Writing rules for mass consumption is no easy task, no matter how well you know them (and having a separate pair of eyes reviewing them has been such a good thing). And then there is the subject of "logistics"...

It's been a long process, but I'm encouraged by the progress.
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Daniel Burkley
US National Champion (DEXCON 2007, 2009, 2010)
World Champion (GENCON 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2014)
Battlefest Champion (DEXCON 2008, GENCON 2009, 2011, co-champion GENCON 2010, DEXCON 2011)
"No Magicians" (GENCON 2008)
"Single Race" (DEXCON 2008, GENCON 2010, 2011, co-champion 2014)
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dburkley
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 18, 2013 11:08 pm GMT    Post subject: Campaigns of Esfah Reply with quote

The three novice "Campaigns of Esfah" events at GenCon 2013 went well. The event listed as a boardgame event was sold out, although only 4 players showed up for the event.

All events used the "Nature vs Death" scenario (ie: a team of non-black races vs a team of black races). All ended in draws after 2 full hours of play. In each game, one side came very close to victory, prompting a "do or die" response to counter the bid for victory or die trying.

Thursday 11 AM Event
Anthony Jauregal - Frostwings
Jonathan Berran - Selumari™

Friday 4 PM Event
Danny Chan - Selumari™
Shaun Couden - Swampstalkers
Stephanie Wireman - Dwarves
Matthew Wireman - Morehl™

Saturday 10 AM
Andrew Phelps - Goblins
Chris Wood - Dwarves
Tucker Morris - Selumari™
(Daniel Burkley - Morehl™) to make two teams of two players.

Frostwings and Swampstalkers, two races that have not seen the tabletop a lot, were used in some of the events (races were pulled at random) and appeared to play just as effectively as the CE, LE, DW, GO, FE, FW, and TF. No issues arose with the use of spells or the resolution of SAIs during battle.
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Daniel Burkley
US National Champion (DEXCON 2007, 2009, 2010)
World Champion (GENCON 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2014)
Battlefest Champion (DEXCON 2008, GENCON 2009, 2011, co-champion GENCON 2010, DEXCON 2011)
"No Magicians" (GENCON 2008)
"Single Race" (DEXCON 2008, GENCON 2010, 2011, co-champion 2014)
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 11, 2015 12:43 am GMT    Post subject: Campaigns of Esfah Reply with quote

At DEXCON 18, two interesting 3-player games gave a rare opportunity to see how the boardgame fares with 3 players. The game mechanics are well-defined at this stage, including magic & spell-casting, for team play - but 3-player games have not been playtested very much.

The first game used 19 tiles, including one that was impassable to give a symmetric layout. A larger Force Pool (84-health) was used with 3 players (a typical 4 or 6 player game use a 60-health Force Pool or a 66-health Force Pool). Each player started with 6 territories and a starting Force Pool of 60-health (the equivalent of a what is in a 2-player starter), with a 12-health addition to the Force Pool on Turn 1, and a 12-health addition to the Force Pool on Turn 2 (same distribution as a kicker). Starting forces were 36 health selected from the Force Pool. Victory conditions were to be the first player to start their turn with 9 territories.

Player sequence was determined randomly each turn, which is a key element for trying to get an advantage and press the opportunity when it presents itself. Player dynamics is significantly different than team games, as politics encourages the two losing players cooperate to stop the leading player and take back a territory or two.

Politics worked very efficiently, as each time a player got 7 or 8 territories, the other two players were very successful and knocking that player back to 6 territories. After two hours, everyone was still at 6 territories. A contributing factor may have been the increase in Force Pool, as all players were able to build up their armies and have most of their territories close to full capacity.

Magic plays a significant role in the game, but is not overly dominating. One wrinkle not encountered with team games is the possibility of a defending player casting magic that affects the unengaged third player, such as summoning a dragon. While that did not occur, that needs to be better defined or disallowed.

The second 3-player game used 15 tiles and the typical 60-health force pool. Each player started with 6 territories and a starting Force Pool of 36-health (the equivalent of a what is in a 2-player starter), with a 15-health addition to the Force Pool on Turn 1, and a 15-health addition to the Force Pool on Turn 2 (same distribution as a kicker). Starting forces were 25 health selected from the Force Pool. Monsters could be built, but could not be part of the initial starting forces. (Monsters can be summoned through spells, as well, but disappear at the end of the combat.) Victory conditions were set at being the first player to start their turn with 8 territories.

The Force Pool size versus the number of territories in play appeared to be better balanced, and while the politics played its usual role, the game moved along quite well, with territories being exchanged frequently, as well as the occasional "heroic stance", where one or two badly outnumbered units took out most of an attacking force. (Had the game been scored by most enemies killed, Russ would have won that hands down, as I lost at least three armies trying to take what looked like easy pickings.)

All players marshalled a magical force at a Standing Stones to cast spells to support an attacking army, or send a dragon as a spoiling attack to a territory in the rear to wipe out a small garrison, leaving it unoccupied.

The player turn sequence was random each turn, so the player going last could examine the board to see if they could make a run at capturing enough territories to try to get to 8, and then see if they would be lucky enough to be the first player in the following turn to clinch the win. Each of us had our shots, but could not make it happen. There are times being the 1st player can be an advantage as well.

This particular playtest had a lot of memorable plays. I lost lots of troops, but I was also mustering the most reinforcements during the Build Phase, as I had most or all of the Cities on the board (each of which give you an extra build point). Attacking an opponent's magician army at a Standing Stones can be almost as bad as bringing a knife to a gunfight, since the defender can select the "standard" combat round, consisting of a magic action, a missile action, and a melee action - in that order. Although there is no magic doubling, a unit that roll normal action icons add +1 at a Standing Stones, so getting 12-14 magic is not that difficult (but not a guarantee, as any player of Dragon Dice™ knows), and that can get you 2 monsters or 2 dragons to join the magicians. (Summoned dragons fight for their summoners and last the balance of the turn, before disappearing.)

Russ and Steve often teamed up to keep me from reaching 8 territories, but Steve got to 7 territories at one time, so Russ found it necessary to switch sides to keep Steve in check. The game was played to a successful conclusion, after making many very aggressive attacks into 5 territories (which was possible by rolling multiple units and getting maneuver faces with 2 or more maneuver icons, as one option of movement is to move a unit that rolled 2 or 3 maneuvers that many spaces). Several attacks were 1-on-1 or 2-on-2 attacks. 4 of the 5 attacks succeeded, knocking Russ out of the game and giving me 10 territories. Steve was the first player in the following turn, but couldn't take enough to stop me from winning.

The 3-player games uncovered some aspects of spell-casting that had not been thought of before, such as a defending non-active player casting magic against the other non-active player, but only exist in a 3-player environment. (So much for the old adage: "The enemy of my enemy is my friend".) I'll need to assess what might be good about it and what might be bad about it (such as introducing non-active player vs non-active player interactions) and add some 3-player special rules to address it.
_________________
Daniel Burkley
US National Champion (DEXCON 2007, 2009, 2010)
World Champion (GENCON 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2014)
Battlefest Champion (DEXCON 2008, GENCON 2009, 2011, co-champion GENCON 2010, DEXCON 2011)
"No Magicians" (GENCON 2008)
"Single Race" (DEXCON 2008, GENCON 2010, 2011, co-champion 2014)
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 22, 2017 11:42 pm GMT    Post subject: Campaigns of Esfah Reply with quote

I could not attend or run events at DEXCON in 2016, and didn't make it to GENCON 2016, either - but I ran some "Campaigns of Esfah" events at DREAMATION 2017. The rules have evolved a bit, so I'll provide a summary of the Sequence of Events:

Campaigns of Esfah Sequence of Play (Advanced Rules)
1. Determine Build Points per area controlled (all players) – Calculate build points, based on the following:
a. 1 build point for each friendly controlled territory.
b. 1 build point for each friendly controlled territory with a City icon.
c. 1 build point to create a Magic Item if a Magician unit is present, for each controlled territory with a Standing Stones icon.
d. 1 build point to build Acolytes of one of that faction’s colors, for each friendly controlled territory with a Temple icon.
e. 1 build point to build mercenaries, as determined by the scenario, for each friendly controlled territory with a Tower icon.
f. For some scenarios, 1 build point that can only be used to create Dragonkin for each territory with a Dragon’s Lair icon. For other scenarios, each friendly controlled territory with a Dragon’s Lair icon generates no additional build point (but will summon a Dragon matching one of the colors of the territory during a magic activation).
2. Determining Builds (all players) – Determine forces you will build from your Force pool and place the reinforcements off to the side until placement in Step 7. Dragons cannot be built, unless permitted by the scenario, or using Hybrid Dragons (optional rule). Build-points generated from territories or Cities can be used to build any unit from your force-pool. Build-points from other sources have restrictions on what types of units can be built (Standing Stones – Magic Items, Temple – Acolytes, Tower – Mercenaries, refer to the scenario for any specific details). A die can only be placed in a territory that is capable of generating the build point type(s) for that particular unit.
3. Determine Player (or Team) Sequence
4. Army Movement or Magic – On the First March Phase the player chooses one of his territories that contains any of his dice to activate (either a magic activation or movement activation).
a. Magic Activation - All of the team’s dice are rolled for Magic points. Only dice that roll magic symbols or ID icons count for magic, and the color of the dice indicate the possible color(s) of magic points that can be used (Exception: Amazons use the colors of the territory they are in). The player consults the Spell Chart to determine how he will spend his magic points. A spell cost of “3+IA” is 3 plus 1 point for each Intervening Area between the casting army and the target – so if the target is in an adjacent area to the casting army, the cost is 3+1 or 4 spell points. A spell cost of “2X” costs twice the health of the target or effect - so if the target is a monster, the spell will cost 8 points.
a. Movement Activation - All of the team’s dice are rolled for Maneuver results for movement. Each Maneuver result permits any one of the player’s dice (any size) to move 1 area (territory), but a die that shows X maneuver icons (or an X-sized die that roll an ID icon) may be moved up to X consecutive areas, at the owner’s option. Execute any movement, moving dice from the activated territory into an adjacent territory. A player may have up to 10 dice or scenario limit +2) in a territory during the turn, but a maximum of 8 dice (or scenario limit) of any size can be in any one territory at the end of the turn. Place a control marker on any territory vacated by the moving player that has no dice present .
Activation with Allied Dice: In “team” games, dice from members of the same team can be in the same territory, but are subject to the 8 dice limit. When the territory is activated by either player (but not both, as a territory can only be activated once per turn), both teammates roll their dice, using the combined maneuvers rolled to move any of the dice. During a magic activation, teammates’ dice may be combined to cast spells of a common color, but cannot be combined to cast a racial spell.

On the Second March Phase, the player chooses a different territory from the one chosen for the First March to activate and rolls his dice for Magic or Maneuver results (but any dice that were moved during the First March that happen to be in this territory are not rolled). Execute a magic activation as per 4A above, or movement activation as per 4b above. After all area movement has been completed, proceed to step 5.

5. Combat – Each territory that contains opposing forces (including summoned enemy Dragons) will result in combat. Combat is resolved in 3 rounds or less. Combat is resolved in this sequence: Magic Action, Missile Action, Melee Action.
A. Defender’s Battle Options – The normal sequence for combat is Magic, Missile, Melee. The Defender has the option to accept battle under the normal sequence, or may elect to roll a Terrain Die that matches the territory the battle will be fought in with the appropriate 8th face to possibly change the sequence of combat (or possibly even withdraw). The Defender rolls the die, to determine the phase that will go first, which is dictated by the icon rolled. An “8” is the Defender’s choice, or the defender can elect to withdraw immediately (go to step H)!
B. Initiative – Both sides roll for Maneuver results (adding any bonus or penalty from spells). The side with the highest total becomes the 1st Player for the combat phase. A tie results in a re-roll for the initiative, but if a second tie results, the Defender becomes the 1st Player.
C. Combat – The normal sequence of combat is: Magic Phase, Missile Phase, Melee Phase – but the icon shown on the Terrain Die rolled by the defender in step A becomes the first phase, with the 1st Player going first. Follow section 5D for the Magic Action Phase. Follow section 5E for a Missile Action Phase. Follow section 5F for a melee Action Phase. The other phases follow in normal sequence.
D. Magic Action Phase – The 1st player rolls for Magic. All of that team’s dice are rolled for Magic points. Resolve any Special Action Icons (SAIs) that apply during a Magic Action. Only dice that roll magic icons or ID icons count for magic, and the color of the dice indicate the possible color(s) of magic points that can be used (Exception: Amazons use the colors of the territory they are in). Add 1 Magic Point for each Magic icon rolled, and ID icons from any die add 1 magic point per health-equivalent. If the territory contains Standing Stones, the player adds +1 magic point to any unit (but not a Magic Item) rolled that shows a Magic icon (but not an ID icon or SAI) for this Magic Action. (NOTE: Frostwings may perform an “anti-magic roll” during an opponent’s Magic Action. See the Frostwings racial ability on their reference sheet for details.) Magic points are used to cast spells (see separate chart on spell options and costs).

Consult the Spell Chart on their reference sheet to determine how magic points are spent. (NOTE: The last column on the spell chart describes Racial Spells, which can only be cast with points generated by that race, except Amazons) All spells must be determined before resolving any. Unused magic points are lost.
The 1st Player resolves any spells cast, and places any spell-cards or markers that resolve their effects at a later time.
If any spells target the “2nd player’s” armies, and monster(s) capable of rolling a “Dispel Magic” icon are present, those dice are rolled at this time. If a “Dispel Magic” icon appears, all the spells that targeted the “2nd player’s” army are cancelled.

The 2nd player rolls for Magic. Add 1 Magic Point for each Magic icon rolled, and ID icons from any die add 1 magic point per health-equivalent. Resolve the second player’s spells, and place any spell-cards that resolve their effects at a later time. If any spells target the 1st Player’s armies, and there are one or more monsters capable of rolling a “Dispel Magic” icon, those dice are rolled at this time. If a “Dispel Magic” icon appears, all the spells that targeted the 1st player’s army are cancelled.

E. Missile Action Phase – The 1st player rolls his dice for Missile results (modified by any spell effects). Resolve any Special Action Icons rolled that apply to a Missile Action, followed by any required responses as indicated by the SAI(s). Count 1 missile point for each missile icon rolled, and ID icons from any die count 1 missile point per health-equivalent. If the territory contains the Tower, the defending side adds +1 missile point to any die rolled that shows a missile icon (but not an ID icon) that applies to a Missile Action. Add up the total of normal missile damage. Then apply any normal damage against the opposing army, which rolls for saves versus the normal damage. Any hits not saved against are taken as losses. All losses must be satisfied, if possible – but a player cannot remove dice that are greater than the losses to be satisfied.

Surviving units of the 2nd player now roll for Missile hits. Resolve any Special Action Icons rolled that apply to a Missile Action, followed by any required responses as indicated by the SAI(s). Add up the total of normal missile damage, then apply any normal damage against the opposing army, which rolls for saves versus the normal damage. Any hits not saved against are taken as losses. All losses must be satisfied, if possible.

F. Melee Action Phase – The 1st Player rolls all their dice in the battle for melee. Resolve any Special Action Icons (SAIs) that apply during a Melee Action, followed by any required responses as indicated by each SAI. Count 1 melee point for each melee icon rolled, and ID icons from any die count 1 melee point per health-equivalent (modified by any spells). Then apply any normal damage against the opposing army, which rolls for saves versus the normal damage. Any hits not saved against are taken as losses. All losses must be satisfied, if possible – but a player cannot remove dice that are greater than the losses to be satisfied.

Surviving units of the 2nd player now roll for Melee results. Resolve any Special Action Icons rolled that apply to a Melee Action, followed by any required responses as indicated by the SAI(s). Add up the total of normal melee damage, with the second player rolling for saves vs normal missile damage (and modified by any spell effects). Any damage not saved against is taken as losses. All losses must be satisfied, if possible.

G. Attacker’s Option to Withdraw – The Attacker may choose to withdraw all or none of his units (but must withdraw after three rounds of combat, if any surviving opposing units are still present). See section J on how to retreat / withdraw.
H. Defender Withdraw – If the Attacker has not withdrawn, the Defender may withdraw all or none of his units. If the Defender withdraws, this will leave the Attacker in control of the territory. See section J on how to retreat / withdraw.
I. How to Retreat / Withdraw - Any instance where an army must retreat or withdraw some or all of its dice follows this procedure: The retreating/withdrawing dice roll for maneuvers to determine how many dice the owning player can choose to move into adjacent friendly territories, after which the player selects those dice, which will be retreated after the opposing player decides where any remaining dice of the retreating/withdrawing will move to. All retreats must be into one or more adjacent territories friendly to the retreating/withdrawing player without exceeding the end-of-turn dice limit, if possible. If any hex exceeds the dice limit, the owning player removes dice until within the limit. (NOTE: Unlike a movement activation, withdrawing units cannot move more than one area – regardless of the number of maneuvers rolled on any die).
J. Start a new Combat Round - If both sides are still present and three rounds of combat have not been completed, go back to section 5A to start the next round of combat. If three rounds of combat have been completed, the Attacker must withdraw (see section 5G).
6. Reserve Move – After all combats are resolved, a Reserve Move is permitted by the active player (or team). One territory that has not been previously activated this turn may be selected for a Reserve Move. Any or all of the player’s units that have not moved this turn (but not Allied units) in the territory selected for the Reserve Move may move to one or more adjacent empty or friendly territories. For a team, each teammate selects one territory to move only that teammate’s units to any adjacent friendly territory. All territories must conform to the 8-dice limit (or scenario limit) after each Reserve Phase.
7. Next Player’s Turn for Activation, Combat, Reserve Move – The next player or side follows steps 4, 5, and 6.
8. Check for Control of All Territories – Any territory that has only a Control Marker, but no dice present is considered abandoned. Remove the Control Marker. (PLAY TIP: If you decide to move all your units out of a territory during the First March or Second March, be certain to move at least one die back into during a Reserve Move.)
9. Place Reinforcements (all players) and Dice Limits – Using the same player sequence for movement, each player places one unit of their builds into an eligible territory that they controlled at the beginning of the turn. Continue placement using the same sequence until all builds have been placed. Magic items must be placed at a Standing Stones with a magician unit. Mercenaries must be placed at a Tower, Acolytes must be placed at a Temple. Dice that cannot be placed are lost.

Any territory that has more than 8 dice (or the scenario limit) must remove excess dice to bring the total down to the limit. Excess dice are returned to the Force pool. If placing reinforcements would exceed the dice limit, then after placement any excess dice will have to be eliminated. The owning player chooses which dice are returned to the Force Pool.

All the "Campaign of Esfah" events were attended by 4 players, which was a very convenient number. The scenario was the same for all events (primarily because of the number of players present). The players formed two teams. One team used the "black" races (ie: races that had the black element), while the other team used "non-black" races (often called the "good guys").

Starting Force Pools for all players was 36-health (2 different monsters, 2 different rares, 6 uncommons (5 different), and 10 commons (2 of each type). For these games, monsters could not be built, but could be summoned. (NOTE: Promotions are only permitted by the D6 units, meaning you cannot promote a rare to a monster. There is a black spell that permits polymorphing a rare into a monster as a permanent effect.)

Players also have two separate bags of dice for use as reinforcements to their Force Pools (representing mobilization of each army's potential manpower). Each has one rare (different from the first two), 2 uncommons, and 5 commons (all different). The 1st bag comes into play on Turn 2. The 2nd bag comes into play on Turn 5.

Separate from each player's Force Pool are a limited amount of Acolytes, Magic Items, and Mercenaries that can be recruited at Temples, Standing Stones, and Towers, respectively. There are 5 one-health Acolytes of one color to match each player's race. There are 10 one-health Mercenaries (Amazons for the "good guys", Undead for the "bad guys"). Often used as fodder, the one wrinkle with these dice is that they always have to be present with a "sponsor" (ie: a die of the player's race). If they find themselves without a "sponsor" at the end of combat or the end of the turn, they disband.

Dragonkin are also available for summoning. Like the Acolytes & Mercenaries, if they find themselves without a "sponsor", they will disband at the end of the combat round or turn.

19 tiles were used for set-up: 4 Coastlands, 4 Flatlands, 4 Highlands, 4 Swamplands, and 3 impassable tiles (2 seas and a glacier).

Victory Conditions: If one team starts their turn controlling 12 tiles, that team wins.

Each player started with 20-health from their starting Force Pool. Players alternated placing one unit at a time on the tiles. The empty tiles are typically occupied first, and then tiles are reinforced until all players have placed all their units. Play then begins.

One thing common with all the games at DREAMATION was a steady back and forth conquest, leaving both sides with 8 territories at the end of the turn, but after 2-3 turns, one side gets an edge and manages to get and keep a territory, hoping to keep the momentum and steal another one each turn - and this is what happened during the first game.

The second event saw one player on each side trying to mass their magicians at a Standing Stones to conjure a Dragon or two to send off to reinforce an army or just cause mayhem in a territory ill-prepared to deal with a dragon.
Summoned Dragons last until the end of the turn, but are friendly to your side and will fight with the army. A lone dragon is not considered an army by themselves (meaning they cannot claim territory on your behalf, and cannot act as a "sponsor"), but they can kill off your enemies and leave the territory uncontrolled. Both players were successful in accomplishing this.

Having a Dragon present is a significant advantage in combat. A Dragon is a 5-health die that rolls like any other unit in the army. The icons are modified a bit for the boardgame: Breath functions only during Missile and Melee rounds, Bellies are saves, Wings function as the Fly SAI, Claws count as 3 melee or maneuvers, Tail counts as 2 melee & roll again (if a melee round).

But Dragons don't guarantee victory, as a few players found out, and there were a couple of instances where both sides had Dragons present.

There was only one "controversy" during game play, thanks to years of playtesting that resulted in the current Sequence of Play, but the spell list has changed and evolved the most since designing the game in 2008. It's probably still not perfect, but the current lists have been steady for the last 3 years.

For three events, it was a fairly even split:
1. Dwarves & Coral Elves lost a tough fight versus Goblins and Lava Elves.
2. Treefolk and Scalders took an unlikely victory against Swampstalkers and Goblins. Things started bad, but a pivotal battle defending a Tower redressed the balance and proved to be the turning point.
3. Firewalkers and Dwarves won a close fight against Swampstalkers and Goblins. A "political" fallout between the Swampstalker and Goblin players occurred when the Goblin player left his teammate in the lurch by sending in only two commons to help out two uncommon Swampstalkers attacking a Dwarven army of one rare and 2 commons. The Goblin player had 2 uncommons available to attack with, but moved them to a friendly territory instead, despite appeals by the Swampstalker player to send them in as well.
The Dwarves were defending a City, and got a promotion before the start of battle, making it a 6-health vs 6-health combat, and the Dwarves beat-up the intruders. That generated lingering distrust that prevented some opportune moments from being realized.
_________________
Daniel Burkley
US National Champion (DEXCON 2007, 2009, 2010)
World Champion (GENCON 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2014)
Battlefest Champion (DEXCON 2008, GENCON 2009, 2011, co-champion GENCON 2010, DEXCON 2011)
"No Magicians" (GENCON 2008)
"Single Race" (DEXCON 2008, GENCON 2010, 2011, co-champion 2014)
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