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War Maze: Iterated Sessions Variant

July 8, 2011

Through the ages countless game go through countless variation, between cultural differences, rule sets being transmitted in intercontinental games of telephone, and ever-present “house rules” it’s amazing so many games have stayed in tact for as long as they have. While variants rarely stand the test of time as well as the core game, occasionally they provide rules that fill certain needs.

War Maze: Iterated Sessions Variant

This variant puts players through three rounds of play and institutes a scoring system. Each session is played until only one player remains with a princess or a player  has placed a spell token on all four corners. The player with the highest score at the end of three rounds, wins.

Scoring

A player gets:

  • 1 Point for Devouring a Princess
  • 2 Points for placing a Spell Token (Does not apply to tokens placed at setup)
  • 1 Point for being the Last Player with a Princess
  • 1 Point for having a Spell Token on every Nexus Point

What this Does to the Game

Placing Spells on Nexus points becomes far more important than devouring Princesses, but also allows Lone Predators to meaningfully participate in a round. Furthermore, when only two Princesses remain, those players have the opportunity to score huge points if the game lasts long enough for them to place additional spell token; this adds tension and conflict for the Lone Predator players. It emphasizes shifting alliances and crafty playing.

Why a Variant and Not Part of the Core Game

The variant makes the game more fun and competitive, and if those were the only elements of the game I focused on, this a would be part of the core rule set. There are two major reasons why this variant was not included. First is simplicity. A three round iterated session game with points is not as easy to learn as a simple block pushing game. Additional some manner of score keeping must be employed, either pen and paper or tokens, keeping the scoring system optional streamlines the base game and minimizes necessary pieces. The second reason applies to theme and purpose, three rounds does not fit with the narrative of the game, princesses escaping a labrynth. Additionally, giving Lone Predator no means to win is part of my original concept, creating a game with emotional impact. In the core game, when a predator loses the princess, they lose the game, but must still participate. When a player loses, they can leave the table and dismiss the emotional impact. By keeping a certain amount of presence of the game, players must confront a certain modicum of loss. While not “fun”, I entertain the idea that–like movies, film, and books– board games can use negative emotion and drama to confront players with miniturized versions of feelings they may encounter in real life and that they come away stronger from the encounter. The variant emphasises competitiveness and deemphasives the feeling of loss, which is not neccesarily bad–certainly it makes the game more enjoyable– but is not in line wuth the core game’s goal.

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