Deal out from the deck, until seven (cybernetically enhanced, there's no names or pictures yet though) kittens / houses-kittens live in are visible. Any dogs that flip out are placed to one side and redrawn.
Purchasing Round: Starting with the current mog-father and moving round, players bid on having first pick.
One everyone has passed out (remembering the mog-father, or one with him to their left, breaks ties if no-one bids)
The winner takes the card of their choice, either as a kitten or as a location, representing a contract.
They also execute any special actions at this point - specials mainly let them swap out for another pick.
And lastly, they contribute to the mog-father's retirement fund (as sinisterly as they like)
Bidding then resumes, at whatever the bid was (that is - second place usually gets next pick, but people can overbid)
After the purchasing round:
Whoever put most into the mog-father gains his favour.
Refill the supply of cats.
Simultaneously, everyone uses their kittens to fulfil their contract and take the rewards. Short-contracts trash the houses, long ones return to the supply if unfulfilled.
Current system - each cat contributes some level of paws/tail/cunning and each house requires it supplied from one or more cats, no change given.
Ending condition: If dogs = number_of_players + 2 then there is one extra mogfather contribute-favour round and game over. (That is - everyone dumps their remaining money into their mogfather fund)
Winner is the player who contributed the most to the the fund over the whole game.
Otherwise, go around again.
Things I'm not so sure about: I currently have attack special actions which operate like netrunner link. I'm not sure that works best. (And defence cats give +2 to each link spend) I want there to BE that direct-attack dimension, for it to be ignorable - but I'm not sure this isn't a subsystem too far.
Long-term - should they go back the instant they fail? Should you instead get an opportunity to retain them at some cost? I've currently got the mogfather letting you keep one.
Should (some) cats have an upkeep of some kind?
I'd like some form of geography. Perhaps a kitten who trashes a house fulfilling a contract can only move to a neighbouring house?
Not SURE that mogfather shouldn't move immediately after the bidding for him - I do like that last-pick gets best chance at him though, that works.
I'm also very much not proud of having not a single original idea in here. The final component was 'hell rails' for merging the kittens and the houses. The others are.. modern-art (and powergrid) for the bid system, gheos for the ending condition, that-game-like-bohnanza for the profit-making bit, netrunner I already mentioned...
First playtests. General impressions varied - First one didn't work so hot, second one (where the only rule change adopted was that copycats trashed on use) did. Alex really liked it, despite it being a 'nothing but bidding' game.
The dog ending condition seemed to come a little too quickly in all the games - perhaps increase it to dogs+3.
The faction card. What is it really for? Why let it give BOTH +2 and be a wild?
Need somewhere to indicate the piles of money (your rolling-bid, the retirement fund this turn, the retirement total, petty-cash)
Keeping track of current bids is fiddly.
Do use the backs of the cards. (The pile being a card-in-play works fine)
Dissing the mogfather should be bad. Some penalty for someone who puts in zero? For whoeevr put in least? For whoever is on least total?
Copycat blocks the supply. Make it trash instead of swap. (Rule adopted)
The mogfather doesn't seem very strong (though Alex did win an otherwise drawn game because of it)
Having the most in the mog should be good mid-game somehow. Too many players just put it all-in on the last turn.
People often forget the 'feed the mog' part of their pick. Suggested a second go-round in pick order (pick order has some subtle effects on his movement) - but that's fiddly too. I personally favour 'you forgot to fee him, tough cookies' approach.
Cards not variable enough - often stuck with no good picks. (Copycat trashing helps here too)
Final scores were usually in the 30-40 region, and relatively close (with maybe one player in the 20s) The balance seems roughly right, though it needs a lot of tweaking.
Ok, changes for the next playtest:
Double sides cards. The top of the deck is considered to be in-play.
You need one extra dog to end the game (so num_players+3)
I'm tempted to try attack+defence cats. So I will. I don't think that, as written, they will matter much though.
I'm also tempted to say that you can't contribute to mogfather after the last dog shows up - the dogs would end the game immediately. But I won't.
To remind people to pay the mogfather - if you forget to pay him, you can't use any special cats. Equivalently, you have to contribute in order to use special cats, or using special cats reminds you to pay him.
The cards will have lots of flavour, honest.
And I think you'll just have TWO faction cards, showing your evil-lair and your head-of-corporation so as to get around the confusion of them working differently to every other card out there. It also gives me more spaces for people to keep their money on.
And I do want to print up some money tokens. I'm thinking milk for singles and blind-mice for triples.
A first draft of the full rules:
The syndicat. A Shadowy organisation that rules the world. And not just any world-ruling shadowy, yet kitten-filled organisation; It is YOUR world-ruling shadowy, yet kitten-filled organisation.
Or it soon will be. The infamous Mog-Father will be retiring soon (whether he knows it or not) and you fully intend to be his paw-picked successor.
So go forth and show your prowess! Hire cybernetically-enhanced kittens to trash the houses of your opponents. Use their persuadotronic-purr to brainwash the unsuspecting humans!
And you shall rule the world! .. or at least this street. .. at least until the dogs arrive.
Each player takes one of the shadow kittens and one of the secret lairs and places them in front of them to form their initial organisation. They take 5 cash.
The mogfather moves as little as possible from his ending position last game, to be added to one of the players organisations.
Now your spies reveal some likely locations/kittens/other stuff.
Shuffle the deck and deal out (to the supply) as many cards as there are players. Then go ahead and deal out another one. And the top card of the deck? That's in play too.
Any dogs revealed this way are set aside and redrawn.
1. Starting with the mogfather (who almost certainly bids zero), players bid for the right to have first pick of the revealed cards. Set your bids aside in the designated spot - even if you are outbid you won't be getting that back. The bidding goes round clockwise.
If you pass, you can't bid again in this round of bidding. You can still bid for a later pick.
The mogfather wins ties - the player with the mogfather's support only need to equal the best bid in order to win, others have to outbid.
2. The player who has gotten the first pick can do three things, in this order: 2a. They can contribute to the mogfather's retirement fund. 2b. They can activate any of the special abilities on cats in their organisation - but only if they contributed at least 1 to the mogfather this turn. 2c. They can take a card from the supply and add it, as either a cat or a contract (flip it either way up), to their organisation.
Their spent bid then goes to the supply.
3. Now the bidding continues for second pick etc. - continuing where the bidding left off. Yes, this means that the cost of second-pick could be higher than the cost for first, if the first pick doesn't take the cat that everyone expects them to.
4. Once everyone has had their pick, refill the supply from the deck - as before, any dogs revealed are set aside and redrawn.
5. The mogfather moves to support whoever put the most into his fund this turn. Everyone moves their 'this turn' fund into their total fund.
6. Every player, simultaneously, arranges their cats into their houses (each cat goes in a single house, but each house can have as many cats as you like) For each house, you then have to do one of four things: 6a. If you have enough cat-power to fill the long-term contract, take that much money from the supply. 6b. If they have enough cat-power to trash the house, they can do so - move it to the discards and take that amount of money. 6c. If they have the mogfather, well, he tells this story about how you made a promise and how a promise made by one of his boys is a promise made by the mogfather himself - and the mogfather never breaks a contract, you understand? And how this is a very sad thing, and of course because there's been some problem he won't be taking your money, no no, he won't hear of it. Nothing happens. 6d. You don't have the muscle OR the mogfather? The house escapes from your control and returns to the supply.
To 'fill' a contract - you simply need to have cats in that house that have at least as many symbols, in the right colours, as the contract needs. Grey symbols on cats can provide (one of) any desired colour each turn, whilst grey circles on contracts are happy with any colour they get given. Spare symbols, however, are wasted and can't be used towards other thouses.
Each turn, each of your cats can supply only one house with their tail and purring and clawing needs.
7. If There are as many dogs set aside as there are players, and three more dogs on top of that (that is - for 3 players - 6 dogs, for 4 players - 7 dogs, for 5 players - all eight dogs) - then this is the very last turn ever.
8. Add your entire ready-cash to your retirement fund. The winner is the player who put in the most - with the mogfather breaking ties.
The mogfather's favour, and tie-breaking power, rests with the player who paid him the most last turn - but in a case where the mogfather is not present: a) If there's an attacker - they win the tie against the defender. Yes, that makes spending zero on an attack cruel and evil and quite a good idea. b) Otherwise, the mogfathers favour goes round in the same order as bidding - clockwise. The player closest to the mogfather, in that order, wins the tie.
You do not HAVE to use a special ability at all.
You may kill the top cat of the deck (take the top card off the deck and put it in the discards). And if you do, then the next card becomes available (and if a dog is set aside and the next one etc. etc.)
After that, you may then trash the next card in the same way. But then it stops.
You can't use another cat's special ability in between your trashes, nor can you look at the cards that will come up before you use the ability.
The copy cat effectively lets you delay your pick from one round to the next. The copycat goes to the discards, the replacement card can be any available and goes into your organisation just as though you had picked it.
Choose which card you want to attack from any organisation (NOT the supply). If it is one of yours then even if you have defenders, you win automatically. (You might want to do this to avoid losing a house that you can't fill this turn) Otherwise, both you and the defending player choose a number of money to spend (hide the tokens in your evil little paws) and then reveal it. The winner is whoever spent more, or in the case of a tie whoever is the mogfather - or if that's neither of you then it's the attacker. Proximity to the mogfather doens't count here. If you win (remembering that if they have defence cats each one adds 2 to their number) then that card is knocked out for this turn. Set it to one side, they can't use it. The money spent by either side is spent, back to the supply.
Defence is used outside of your turn - you don't need to do anything for it. Not even pay the mogfather (since you might well get attacked before your pick this turn)
It will add two no matter how much you spend in the attack - even zero.
Yarn Balls operate collectively. It doesn't matter what colours they are - they only care about the total number of yarn balls.
So, with 1 blue and 1 green ball of yarn you will have 1 card producing '2 blue' and one producing '2 green'. Add a third, and they will all produce 3 - and so forth.
Duh. The attack and defence cards should be double sided, so when you purchase, they can be whichever you prefer. Duh. Why didn't I think of that sooner?
Done. And cards are printed and kinda cut out and glued together. --Vitenka
TODO: Fix up the cards, the numbers, especially, are hard to read. TODO: France is wrong. Fix it. TODO: The dogs need names. And pictures.
Ok - several things were suggested and talked about. The mogfather isn't quite right - it's perhaps slightly too weak, it should perhaps be worth slightly more to invest in it mid-game. It's perhaps slightly too fiddly. But SOMETHING needs to break ties, and that something needs to move, and its influence on the bidding is fun.
The yarn are just plain too weak. And fiddly. And also there are too many special cards clogging the supply (even with the puerto-rico solution, which may make a comeback) Fix? Remove the yarn. Completely. Forget them as a bad plan. Also remove half the attack/defence (so 4 in deck) and ALSO also implement "Unbought special cards in the supply (not on top of deck) are TRASHED" This does open up conceptual space for a new special action, though I like keeping the total number down.
TODO: 'Trash' 'Discard' 'Kill' 'Remove' ... this all needs tightening in the rules, and the difference between 'trash for money' and 'trash to kill' needs to be made distinct.
Attacks seemed fun, but underutilised.
Douglas found a way to make one thing I thought was purely mechanical (mogfather bids initial zero) interesting - bidding one to force players to pay up!
The dogs need to be made more interesting, and more controlled. Game end depending upon dogs vs mogfather total was mooted, and whilst I like the flavour I dislike the fiddliness. Ditto mogfather contributions being boosted by more the fewer dogs there are.
Something does need to be done here.
Playtested with smaller deck, without attack/defence, without yarn - with only two players. Game worked unexpectedly well, short-term was not the only viable play, and curiosity and copy-cat were a strong third option. Also tried a variant with no dogs - game ends on last four cats (so all cats except two got played/trashed) and that was interesting, I quite like it as a variant -but was also long. Curiosity was VERY powerful in that game.
Another playtest, generally positive. Worries that the game may become too fast.
Attack and Defence still seem to be too weak to pick - but then, they've only been tried once! Want to try at least one game in which they DO get picked before removing them completely.
As a partial fix to the general "Special cards too weak" - all special cards can now be traded in as though they were a copycat.
Also, really need to get off my butt and customise the starting cats and lairs. Need a moonbase, Spectre's meeting room, Blofelds white cat etc. etc. Also mechanical customisation, and I think I'll continue the trend of flippable cards. So one side will stay as is - but the other side will trade in (part of) the benefit for some special. I'm thinking +grey becomes +colour and an available r->attack / b->defence / g->curiosity. Make the colour themes a little more explicit. I'd also like to make the +2 into a +less+something_else but I'm not sure what. And I don't want to reduce the +2 too much, because the "Ok, I lock you down forever" was again worked out. Mogfathers second ability might actually be an interesting power to give away to a lair - it doesn't get USED much on the mogfather, because it's a big risk. But if one player has it forever it might give them some options.
Also suggested another cycle of cats - there's room for one, both in terms of cards (now the yarn is gone) and conceptually. We were thinking territories that are hard to trash, harder than they are to keep longterm. They will be: C:+CD* T:RGB->7,K:CCDD->10
Add a small benefit for keeping the mogfathe: If you have the mogfather, then everyone donates one to your mogfather fund (your total, after working out who has it this round)
Did I mention that "Forget the dogs, play the whole deck" should be an official variant? It should.
Ok, so. Attacks and yarn have gone, some more cats have been added. More play happens.
The early acquisition of the mogfather is not seen as sufficiently important. I think that when I get player-specific abilities in that will become more important, there'll be more actions to power. I might want to make it that you only use special abilities if you have the mogfather - but that changes the timing a lot and makes copycat much less good.
Playing for an early end is seen as cheap metagaming, and the curiosity not strong enough to support it. (given you lose a buy to do it) The randomness of the dogs does prevent turn counting, but is disliked. Not sure how to address that best. Bringing back turn counting is not an option I like.
It's still fun. And LATE acquisition of the mogfather works.
Bugfix required: Copy cat either must explicitly permit or deny using more than one copy in a turn. It didn't ome up, but it nearly did.