Kodrek rules, version 1.0

The 1.0 rules of Kodrek are complete! I’ll be sending boards out to all the Kodrek-level Kickstarter backers just as soon as printing is complete.

The timing means that I’ll also be entering the game in the 1000 Year Game Challenge. It’s got some stiff competition!

Kodrek is a game with a funny background. It comes from an actual game of Human Contact. Because HC is about cultures and their expressions in contrast with other cultures, we needed a game that summed up the part of the culture we were soaking in during a particular scene. In this case, it was an Academic (a bit of a dick, that guy) who was gambling. Now, keep in mind, the Academy doesn’t have money; its members trade in ideas because of their post-scarcity environment. So the guy was gambling with money that he was manufacturing. But he considered all the marines and pirates around him murderers, so he figured it all came out it the wash.

My specification was that it be a three-way game with shifting alliances. Vincent wanted it to be a game where you committed to plans in secret and then revealed them to each other, then dealt with the consequences. You can actually see the scene in Human Contact on page 84. We described the triangular board, the move-slapping, and that was about it.

After the game, Rob had to go home and Vincent and I went for a walk. We kept going back to the board game idea and rough-sketched play. I’ve thought about it for a few months and have come up with these final rules.

The game has a lot of variables and the rules discuss some of the things you might do differently if you lived with a different clan. I look forward to seeing the variants that players come up with!

I’m considering publishing the game. For the time being, it’s Creative Commons, Attribution, Noncommercial, Share-Alike though I might loosen it up a little bit, allowing commerical products and derivatives once I’ve decided.

Download the rules here!

10 thoughts on “Kodrek rules, version 1.0”

  1. Joshua, the game sounds very fun, and you hit a soft spot because I simply love abstract strategy games. I’ll definitely try it 🙂

    On the other hand, I’d suggest you to ditch the NC part of the CC license. I’ve been having this conversation with friends, and what emerges is that the NC clause is rather redundant, and brings definition problems (there is no legal definition of “commercial”, so that makes it a subjective definition). A very thorough explanation can be found here: http://freedomdefined.org/NC

    Besides, the SA clause alone is enough to make sure that the purpose of the CC license is met: people must share whatever they derive from your work in the same way as you shared it. It already has all the desirable effects that the NC would provide (hence the redundancy), without the undesirable effects (people contacting you asking whether the use they want to make of your work is “non commercial”, etc.).

    Hope this helps!

  2. I’ll almost certainly drop the NC clause when I make a decision about publishing the game. I just don’t want to be surprised by someone beating me to market in my own creation.

    The game, it turns out, is fun! Play it in a rowdy room with food, drink, and other people waiting to play who will give “advice” to the current players or make side bets.

    It takes about 20 minutes to play most of the time; when youve been playing for a while it will go even faster.

  3. So I enlarged the board in the rules and printed it out. I’m using small Icehouse ‘mids for all three pawns (they stack nicely, look evocative, fit the triangle them, and it makes it easy to just leapfrog them instead of having to move all three every round) and pennies for toleks. So far I’ve just played by myself to get a handle on the rules, and I have some questions.

    1) the “2 intersections in” starting point isn’t clear. It looks like Speakers start on the first intersection between the orange and white areas, is that correct?

    2) Does the orange zone have any function?

    3) So far every game has ended on turn 2, with the side that played all Pulls both turns picking someone and flinging them inexorably off the board without any trouble. Am I doing something wrong?

    4) It’s not clear whether each Pull has to be spent individually, or whether I can spend all my Pulls on both adversaries each round. Is it “I have 2 Pulls, I’ll spend one on red and one on blue” or “I have 2 Pulls, I’ll pull red 1 and pull blue 2”?

    I have a hard time imagining a game getting further than 3 or 4 turns without the One Turn to Escape the Grey Zone optional rule active… but clearly I must be missing something, yes?

  4. Hey, Dave! Awesome!

    My first comment is that, if you’re playing by yourself, you’re missing the central element of the game, which is that moves are secret.

    My second comment is that Icehouse pieces are a great idea. I wish I’d thought of it. That might solve one of my publication challenges.

    1) You are correct.

    2) It’s meant as a “Look out! The edge is here!” marker. Outside that triangle, you’re out. I didn’t want a little fine line marking the edge, but I couldn’t have the line be centered on the real boundary, or it would confuse “inside” and “outside” because of its width. So the whole stripe is inside, and “outside” is where your craft is lost.

    3) Almost every game I’ve played has lasted between 5 and 7 toleks (that is, 6-7 turns). Remember that there’s a social aspect; it’s not just a choice of moves. Also, if someone’s being pulled off the board, why the hell aren’t they hitting the brakes at the beginning of turn 2?

    4) That should be clear; it’s stated in the rules. You may split your pulls between both of your opponents. Unfortunately, it’s a way to make enemies of them both, though in certain instances you might be saving one to be your teammate in a followup game while sending the other guy flying.

    In my experience, “Always pull” is a weak strategy; it immediately raises your opponents’ ire and gets you chucked off the board right quick. On the other hand, “Always thrust”, while it might honk off your opponents, really requires them to coordinate to throw you out. Often they can’t agree and throw each other out instead while you sit back and watch. The time limit of 9 toleks is there to add some risk to that strategy; if you all sit on your hands for 8 turns, you all lose and have to spend your money buying each other space beer.

  5. I solved the secret moves with randomization. For opening moves, I just flipped all the coins and then laid them out.

    Okay, so the orange zone is exactly what I thought- a cosmetic “danger” warning.

    The “player” who got pulled off went all-Push every time (by chance at first, and then because I wanted to try to save it). Possibly the…. oh, you know what? I know what I was doing wrong.

    I got confused about who was pulling and kept moving the Red Speakers toward the Blue for both Blue and Green’s Pulls. So, yeah. I need to start over from scratch.

    It’s not clear in the rules how the Pulls work out, or I wouldn’t have asked =P It’s probably clear to YOU because you know what you meant. I have that problem with rules text a lot myself =

    I’m planning an excursion into the city to try to get some Jank Cast members to playtest stuff with me, some time this month. Todd wants to interview me for his sociology paper, although I’m not sure why, and I want to check out the boffer scene on the lakeside. So with any luck I’ll get to try it with the requisite number of players. I’m guessing a variant of the old Martian Chess axiom applies to Kodrek- the hardest part of learning the game is finding a fourth (or in this case a third).

  6. Oh! Also, just to make sure I’m doing turn orders correctly,

    Starting from Green (which is misspelled in the rules, btw), go around until you find the most Heads, and start Pushes with that player, proceeding clockwise from there.

    THEN, starting from Green, go around until you find the most Tails, and start Pulls with THAT player, proceeding clockwise from there.

    Is that correct? And the actual movement phase doesn’t matter turnwise, as far as I can tell.

    What happens when ships or Speakers overlap? Stacking them is no problem with the ‘mids, and there don’t appear to be any collision rules, except the “closer ships exert more gravity” clause which I will probably forget the first five or six times I play.

  7. That’s not quite turn order, no. And it’s hard to explain this, so I’m not surprised I didn’t quite convey it.
    The deal is, turn order is from most to least. When there’s a tie, Blue goes before Red and Green goes before Blue. It’s a disadvantage to go first, which is why the most experienced player takes Green.

    Nothing happens in a collision because I couldn’t figure out anything appropriate. I’d love to see what collision rules people come up with. Please keep in mind that you can’t steal toleks from each other; it would mess up the pacing mechanism. If you figure out a good way to make them bounce, that would be good.

  8. Ah, from most to least, with the clockwise thing only as a tiebreaker, got it.

    Hm. The most obvious bouncing mechanic that comes to mind is that whatever Move remains at the point of impact gets either 1) imparted on the collidee, or 2) divided evenly between the collider and collidee, alternating one step at a time beginning with the collidee (just in case it’s an odd number)

    Oh, wait, that’s actually not about stacking at all, that’s about collision, which I assume is currently handled by simple pass-through? Hm. As tempting as bouncy wackiness is, I think it’s rare enough and not interesting enough to override the clean simplicity of the rules as they stand.

    As for landing “on” an occupied spot… hm, there’d be no “Move” left over. You could just “shove” the occupier away an equal distance that you just traveled. Or an arbitrary “standard” distance (1?). Or just rule both ships destroyed… but they aren’t *really* representing ships, right? That’s just an abstraction, they really represent socioeconomic forces, which never really mutually destroy one another.

    Hm. I dunno. Maybe I’ll think of something while actually *playing* the game =P

  9. Since the ‘mids do stack so nicely, what’s wrong with just stacking?

    Hm… maybe stacked craft/speakers must be moved as a unit?

    Or maybe they just don’t interact except as stacked placeholders on the board. That seems a perfectly fine solution as well.

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