Adding Interaction Through Wagers
One longstanding issue with A Taste for the King has been the relative lack of interaction between players. Interaction comes through roleplaying and banter between the players and a couple of action cards. Now in the right group, such as close friends, this isn’t a problem but you can’t guarantee this dynamic for every group. There might be games where people don’t know each other that well, relying on a couple of linked connections etc. In these scenarios the lack of anything for players to do outside of their turn is a problem, especially given how short YOUR turn could be and how long everyone else’s turn is likely to be. By this I mean a player can easily be wiped out for the round on their first or second hand but others might go through the whole deck on theirs. In an 8 player game this could lead to 30 seconds of play on your turn and maybe 20 minutes of waiting until your next go.
As mentioned in a previous post, to try and address this, following feedback suggestions I have implemented a wager mechanic into the game. My first attempt was to create a single wager card that all the players pass round at the start of a turn. On the card are four possible wagers.
The first wager allows any player to guess a unique number of cards that will be on the table at the end of the turn, rewarding the winning player with extra scored dishes. The second allows plaers to guess the total new cards scored this turn
I had concerns with the playability of this card. My first concern is that keeping track of how many cards the player has scored this turn might be tricky because it’s an ever changing goal-post, if you lose count there’s no easy way to guarantee a re-count. Secondly, the spaces are quite small, making writing the guesses a challenge. Finally, this requires 3 additional cards to add to the deck which I will discuss below.
Now adding a wager card throws a bit of a spanner into the production of the game in the form of extra cards. A single wager card pushes the card count over onto a new sheet for print on demand production, this leaves another 17 cards worth of sheet unused. Thankfully this is somewhat addressed by the extra three cards needed for the rewards but this still leaves 14 extra cards unused. While this isn’t strictly a problem as the print on demand manufacturer uses any spare unprinted cards as spares for development work it’s still a little wasteful from a production and cost standpoint, I’m still paying for an extra sheet per game just for 1-4 extra cards. One solution was to take unused mechanics/cards and try to add them back into the game to bring the card count back to a full sheet.
One additional note on card counts. The print on demand manufacturer uses sheets of 18 cards so the game at the original 36 card count used exactly two sheets. This said, offset printers such as the large manufacturers based in China use the more standard 54 card sheets. As you can see, the game in its original state would “waste” 18 cards for every copy produced at an offset printer.
It turns out this isn’t a huge problem, however, as playtesting revealed this form of wager card didn’t go down too well.
Wagers Mk 2
The second iteration of the wagers mechanic uses a lottery ticket style card where players try to guess the first 5 cards or courses that come out of the deck, receiving immediate rewards after 3 correct guesses, 4 correct guess and 5 correct guesses. The rewards are simpler and don’t require additional cards, which is good because in this version, every player needs their own card to make their wagers. This somewhat solves the additional card issue as it uses 8 of the additional 18 card sheet slots, leaving room for a lot less additional cards needing to be added to the play deck. My concern with this iteration is that it will be very unlikely that players manage to guess the correct combination, rendering the wagers and the time players took to set them up fairly useless most of the time. Perhaps to counter this the wagers could be set once per round and players can reap the rewards for as many times as they are triggered in that round, sort of like how some people play the same lottery numbers every time they play. There is also the risk that 5 cards might not come out in a player’s turn, though this is unlikely as it would require the player to play a very small number of hands (1-2 hands with some discards) or discard the full amount of cards per hand and then stop at 4 hands.
The third iteration of the wager mechanic takes the rewards from the second, keeping their simplicity and the card count of the multiple wager cards and takes some of the wagers from the first iteration, cutting the total down to 3 choices instead of 4. This also allows for easier writing of the wager guesses as the boxes are larger. Overall I like this design, however, as with all the designs this may require additional pens in the box or risk slowing play too much. Now given how accessible dry erase markers are, both in availability and cost, this may not be a problem as players could easily provide extras themselves (you can even get the same kind as supplied by the manufacturers on Amazon in large packs) though they may not want to cart extras around when they bring them to game nights if they are the standard size.
Ultimatelty I do feel like wagers could solve the interaction problem for gaming sessions where all the players aren’t close friends or don’t have that spark. However it is up to playtesting to see if they need further tweaks. My thinking is that the rewards will need to be a bit more strategic in their nature and an extra pen might be called for. This will of course increase the cost of the game but the extra cards are doing this anyway and let’s face it, it’s better for the game to cost a little extra if it’s a lot more playable and fun!
Feel free to join our Discord if you have any suggestions or would like to playtest the game.
The game is also available in early access print and play on itch.io. If you would like to support development of the game, consider ordering a copy.
Support This Site
If you enjoyed this content consider giving a tip on Ko-fi to help us keep producing content alongside our products.