Monday, October 26, 2020

Robbers' Roost: Revising Interrupt Design

As I've been evaluating my Robbers' Roost proof and rulebook, I've been thinking more critically about the design and rules of the cards, particularly as relates to the interrupts. The windups I consider pretty solid and easy to understand, while the interrupts have these giant walls of text, and understanding when they can be played is less immediately discerned. They also introduce multiple new gameplay concepts, which I should seek to simplify or remove the number introduced.

As a result, I've been working on redesigning the content of these cards, so that they are more intuitive, within BANG!'s pre-existing symbolic language. I will need to add a couple new symbols (as I had with the line of fire concept) to best adopt the language. Here are some of the reworks I'm envisioning:

You can see on the left the originals, and on the right hand side the modified cards. The right side cards have a top text area, which indicates the condition on which an interrupt can be played out of turn. The bottom area describes what happens by playing this card when the condition is met. I think this reads much better to the eye.

Unfortunately, there are ramifications to using the symbolic language. This is because the BANG! symbol does not equate to a BANG! card. With abilities contingent on a BANG! card being played, this ability is lost when leveraging the interrupt (think Slab the Killer's). There really are only 3 options here:

a. Ditch the symbols.
b. Keep the symbols and add text that clarifies these count as BANG! (adding to text clutter)
c. Modify the original intent of the cards so that they no longer are BANG! cards and so do not trigger player abilities.

I'm leaning towards c, simply for the simplicity that it adds to understanding the cards.

Along those lines, I am enjoying the work I did to align Join Arms with the Buffalo Rifle's discard card cost, as a way to circumvent distance. I personally think I should nix distance restraints on all other interrupts, and just include that as a cost for executing on the ability. This change would then remove the need for noting distance modifications for a card or other limited constaints. This balances the lack of distance constraint, while also furthering the original intent of the cards (team work), which is essential in larger games where distance is all the more problematic. It's frustrating, for instance, that it is harder to help a team mate with Toss because they have a Mustang.

Other examples of changes:

I think these are look much cleaner -- these don't show the originals, but just the modified cards. Hit Me and Bleed Out are the only cards that completely align with the prior cards. Here are some of the challenges I have with these cards:

1. Bandages: Symbology is equivalent to Tequila, but there's a problem: in the original you can't play it on yourself, while Tequila you can. This reads as give 1 player a life point, while I need "give any player but yourself 1 life point." Ways to solve for this are:

a. Add clarificatory text (creates extra text, which is a downside).
b. Create a new symbol (I should only do this where needed; the "anyone else but you" concept is not often used)
c. Change original intent to align with symbol clarity, so you can play it on yourself.

I'm inclined, once more to side with C for simplicity.

2. Confiscate: This loses the notion that you are able to put the card yourself into play upon confiscation. I'm trying to determine if that is worth it. In this case, it probably is. I'll need to add, "that player's card in play. Put it into play."

3. Hit Me is good.

4. Bleed Out: I can't tell if I'd need to note "draw!" in the bottom area or not. I feel like it's intuitive Barrel, Jail, etc. I think I'll add just rulebook explanatory text. I added the lost health symbol (which I used for Moonshine before) that I think is clear. I'm not certain about the crown symbol for royals, as royals are not a suit, they are a subset of any suit. I probably either need to scratch any suit symbol and just create a "J-A" text, or create a pan-suit symbol to mean any type that value. I'll experiment with both.

Next example of how this is evolving. Quick Draw in particularly has proven tricky. One of the problems with the original Quick Draw is the concept of "using" a card. Green cards are discarded to use their effect, which is what this was intended to block. But discarding to use is different from using in general. Would this apply to a gun card already in play (i.e. a Volcanic)? To what else? I found this "use" concept as not clear enough to really put in place. Playing a card is clearer -- it happens when a card is put in play or played from the hand and discarded, so I've made that the new condition. I recognize the conceptual difference of how this now really only hinders defensive green cards, versus offensive ones (they're already disabled until their next turn anyway), but for the gameplay clarity, I consider that sacrifice worth it.

Beyond the playing condition, there is the effect of playing it which could also use rebalancing. I think it was too weak before -- It at best discards a BANG!, or delays use of a card for a turn. In addition, I think the card contributing to a card limit while disable, if a hand card, is an extra layer of complication that is unnecessary to manage/explain. I've tried to simplify it in the 3 examples (top left is original). 

1 - Top right is the simplest -- make it a straight discard the card played. It adds a card cost for that definitive removal. This makes the hand limit issue no consideration. However, one of the challenges for this and option 3 (bottom right) is that discarding a one-time use card may seem non-intuitive, as it is already naturally being discarded. What is really going on is a discard of a card put in play or a cancellation of a one-time use card played. Cancellation and discard are similar but not equivalent concepts. The discard card symbol may not carry that concept. I may need to put "(or cancel) that card." This is my current preferred option.

2 - Top left is closest to the original. It is more powerful in not allow a BANG! alternative; the targeted card will be disabled. For that, it requires a discard card cost. Frankly, this is weak enough that it should need no discard cost. The main challenge here is disabling is a new concept, and how it interacts with hand limits needs to be accounted for. It's probably best to just through disabling in a wastebin.

3 - Bottom right is a nice halfway point. It allows a BANG! to be played to avoid the discard, but if not, it's a true discard. It still has the problem with cancellation/discard, so this might end up even wordier: "They must discard a BANG!, or that card is discarded/cancelled." The symbol here is more flavor than standing in for a word, which is less stylistically consistent.

If I encounter other challenging one's, I'll note them here. I'll be tackling this as well: the whole concept of substitution as relates to the roles and role revelation. I received some criticism here, and I think there's some validity to the criticism, at least in going against the "spirit" of the game, even though any reasonably good BANG! player can infer roles extremely easily by the time that substitution would come into effect. I also have concerns about interrupts and impacts on the hand limit.


  1. These days, I'm working on simplifying the texts. I found that if I add the Italian text together, the original English text should be reduced about to 3 lines in playing cards and 4 lines in characters. That's a real trouble ^^;;

  2. Agreed. I don't really care about making it bilingual, partially for that reason. If you want it in another language, then translate it. I also don't know Italian, so why give myself that headache?

    1. Well, Italian translation is not the main problem. You know, characters in Robbers' Roost includes too much text, and so is mine.
      The shorter the better.

  3. Take a look!
    pw is PaNInArO

    That's pretty cool.