Belle of the Ball Playtest Notes

InProgress
After a couple weeks of playtests, this is the most recent draft of Belle of the Ball card game. Above, you see some images that show how the game works in play. See the rules below. It's not quite ready for public beta, but this gives you a sense of how much the game has evolved since the last post.

THE CARDS
Each card represents either a guest at a party or the Belles hosting the party.

Guests are members of one of six noble families. Each guest may be flirting, snubbing, or neither; and eating, drinking, dancing, or neither. Each guest may also attract or repel other guests who are doing one of those activities. Each guest is worth a certain number of popularity points. Lastly, a few guests have special powers that trigger when they're invited, others have powers that trigger at the end of a round.

The Belles host lavish parties for their own amusement. Each Belle changes the popularity of cliques they join, so an unpopular group of guests may suddenly be much more posh when the right Belle joins them. See each Belle for the effects she has when invited and at the end of the round.

THE GOAL
To gather the most popular clique at the party.

SETUP
1. Shuffle all the cards into a face-down draw deck.
2. Deal 5 cards to each player (from 2-5 players).
3. Draw five cards and line them up in a row beside the draw deck. These are the mingling guests at the party.
4. Choose a player to go first.

ON YOUR TURN
1. Invite a guest or Belle to the party.

To invite a guest, take the card from your hand and lay the card face-up in front of you. Over time, you'll have a row of guests called your clique.

To invite a Belle, lay the card beside your clique. You may only have one Belle in play at a time. If you play a new BELLE, place the old one in the discard pile.

1a. Optional: Resolve any invitation powers: Some guests have a special effect on the game as soon as they're invited. See the guest for details.

Couples
1b. Optional: Coupling:When you invite a guest, you may place it face-up on top of another guest to make both guests a couple. Couples behave as a single unit, with the attributes of the top card. Any guests not part of a couple are called single.

1c. Optional: Bringing a Gift: In addition to inviting a guest, you can place another card from your hand face-down on a couple in your clique. This represents a gift that the couple is bringing to the party. You may only place one gift in a turn. A couple may carry up to two gifts.

2. Attract or Repel: When you invite a guest or belle, they will attract or repel other guests based on specific attributes.

Attraction
When your guest attracts, choose a single guest card that is outside of your clique and has one of the noted symbols. This may be in another player's clique or among the mingling guests. Bring that card into your clique. Guests cannot attract couples. If no matching guests are available to attract, then ignore this power and continue with your turn as normal.

Repulsion
When your guest repels, choose a single guest that is in your clique and has one of the noted symbols. Place that card in another player's clique or place it in the discard pile. Guests cannot repel couples. If no matching guests are available to repel, then ignore this power and continue with your turn as normal.

Belles will attract couples from another player's clique, based on criteria listed on the Belle's card.

Note: Only a newly invited guest or Belle will attract other guests in this way. The attraction or repulsion does not persist after this turn.

2a. Replacement Guest: If you take a guest from another player's clique, they may immediately replace that guest with a card from their hand. If you happen to take a couple, then they may replace that couple with two cards from their hand, placed as a couple. They may draw back up to their full hand of five cards.

3. Refill your hand. Draw back up to your full hand of five cards. If the draw deck runs out of cards during this step, the round and game are over.

4. Minglers drift out of the party. If there are five guests, discard the guest farthest from the draw deck. Move the minglers one space farther, to make room for a newly drawn guest from the deck. If there are fewer than five guests, draw enough guests from the deck to bring it back up to five. If the draw deck runs out of cards during this step, the round and game are over.

END OF ROUND
1. The round ends when there are too many couples or when the deck runs out. If there are two players, the round ends when there are five or more couples in play. For three players, the round ends when there are six or more couples in play. For four players, seven or more couples. For five players, eight or more couples.

Scoring Cheat Sheet
2. Add up the scores for your clique. First, add up the face value of each single guest in your clique. For couples, add the face value of the top card. Add one point for any gifts. Lastly, take note of any bonuses from guest or Belle powers and add those points, too. Add this total to the score from any previous rounds.

3. Discard all hands, cliques and minglers in play. Do NOT shuffle the discard deck back into the draw deck.

4. Refresh the party. Deal five new cards to each player. Draw and place five new mingling guests beside the draw deck. If the draw deck runs out of cards at any point during this step, the game is over.

END OF GAME
The game ends when the draw deck runs out of cards. The player with the highest score total across all rounds wins.

UPDATE:
If you're curious, here are the cards used in the current draft.
Daniel Solis
Art Director by Day. Game Designer by Night.