Considering Out of Turn Actions (And Other Updates)

One suggestion given at UKGE for A Taste for the King was to give players a list of actions they can do out of their turn, limited perhaps to once per game. I have seen this suggestion a couple of times and I was never against it but it seemed impractical due to part count constraints so I never really worked on it, however I tend to try and look at feedback more fully if I receive the same feedback multiple times and I’d say this has hit its threshold for investigation.


One common issue raised with the game is that there is a lot of downtime between turns, especially with larger player counts. If you have been following the blog, you will know I have been attempting to address this for a long time. People feel that actions you can do out of your turn, even if limited to once per game would take some of that downtime away. I’ve never really felt like the downtime is a huge issue, I’m happy to see what people do on their turn and laugh when they fall on their face or cheer when they pull off the improbable. But I’m also the designer, I have a different perspective on watching the game being played than other people do. It’s also a bit of a difficult thing to tackle as some people genuinely love the grandstanding nature of turn taking in A Taste for the King. While they have been in the majority to actually say so, I feel like this sentiment is somewhat shared during most players’ turns, just not when it isn’t their turn.

One player recently confirmed through their feedback that this game is most fun when played with the right group of people (I suspect mainly a core group of friends or family), something I have felt for most of the game’s development. While I feel like this isn’t necessarily a problem, it would be a shame to not try and balance the game so that it’s fun to play even when in a sub-optimal group.

Potential Actions

Sleight of Hand – Steal a dish from the table

Sabotage – Add a poison to the deck

Panic – Reshuffle the remaining cards in the deck

Assassination – End the player’s turn, take over, continuing their deck

Devil’s Delight – Look at the top 3 (or more) cards of the deck and offer the player something in exchange for this information

My concern with these actions is they require some way of tracking their usage and depending on implementation, this requires at least 1 extra card, if not 1 per player, this is a difficult thing to tackle as the game is currently at a specific limit as far as card count goes and I can’t really go over this without significantly increasing cost and/or introducing waste into the manufacturing process. That said, I am considering removing Gluttony from the game as there has been mixed reception. It is intended as a partial interaction mechanic but also to add a small amount of rubber banding into the game but people recently have felt it just feels wasted as they usually only end up with 1 card using that mechanic.

I would be a little sad to see Gluttony go, I feel like it adds a little something to the game, allowing the reintroduction of the taunting mechanic that had been a large part of earlier versions of the game. It’s also a little hard to say if it really is a problem mechanic as in the last few tests players seem to have been playing a LOT more conservatively than in previous tests, discarding less cards per hand but taking less hands before stopping. I don’t know if this is just a “luck” thing or if something has intrinsically changed with the game to encourage more cautious play. Perhaps the fact that other players can potentially score off of your discarded dishes makes the prospect less appealing. Perhaps the addition of a fixed round count and no hard goal to win makes them feel they can push harder later, once the playing field has been set up. All this said, if Gluttony were removed, this would free up one slot for a tracking card in the deck.

Tracking the Actions

The first option would be to add an action tracker to the players’ menu cards. With just 12 dishes on the card this may be possible but it will re-introduce clutter to these cards.

The second option would be to add a single card that tracks all players use of each action. This may be possible but the layout would have to be carefully crafted to make it clear that each player only gets one use of each action, ticking their slot off as they use it.

Recent Minor Changes

I recently tried adding a new tweak to the rules. Each player has a menu with 12 items on it, however you only need to score 2 items from each course (a total of 8). While this feels a little awkward to remember (at least with the current design of the menus) it does seem to significantly speed up the game. This, tied with Royal Decision that sees you able to trade in 3 dishes for 1 you need should make the game a lot faster.

Originally Royal Decision required you trade in 3 dishes from a course but I feel like this limits the way players might play the game, forcing them to always target specific courses and punishing them for their instance of luck so I’m trying it so that you can trade in any 3 dishes in front of you.

Replacing Negative Actions with Out of Turn Actions

The game recently had negative actions removed from the game, however I could try implementing some of the above actions as cards drawn from the deck. This may allow for the actions to be performed more frequently (and fairly), however it reduces a lot of the out of action play agency which is the main reason to add them to the game. There are some pros and cons to both approaches. What you lose in player agency and a “need” to pay attention to the game is offset by the fact that these actions would likely trigger more often and if a player fears triggering them they will likely play shorter turns, reducing the downtime between turns. I feel like limiting the actions use to once per turn would likely result in people losing interest outside of their turn once they use all their abilities. It’s a difficult balance to hit.

Ultimately, the game will need testing with these things in mind. I do feel like out of turn actions could address some of the downtime, perhaps even enough to keep until the final version of the game but this remains to be seen.

If you would like to play test the game in its current state, feel free to join the official Drentsoft Games Discord server or hit me up during a Twitch stream and we can test it. In fact bring some friends and we can try to break it with as many people as possible!

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