Belle of the Ball - Prototype O


» Current Beta Rules PDF [Prototype O]
» Download the Print-and-Play Cards PDF

It's been a while since the last public release of a Belle of the Ball prototype. This is by far the most streamlined and elegant its ever been thanks to the excellent feedback of a diverse playtester cadre. In particular, it solves some of the production challenges introduced in Prototype N. That's less relevant for actual play, but very relevant for getting this game published. Here's an overview of the cards and changes.

You don't see the back of the Belle cards except when they are in someone else's hands. So, the back shows the Belle herself, holding a hand of cards and about to play one.

Belle cards show different things the Belle is doing to the party, such as moving guests around or changing how groups are scored. Because the Belle is now just one character, that left a big space for a diagram to help explain how each card works. I really tried to keep iconography simple and bold so it was readable from a distance or up close. The first line of text shows how to play this card. The second, larger block of text explains the card's effect.

Throughout the game, all guest cards are face-up. In the beginning of the game, some guest cards are removed from the deck and kept face-down. These cards are bribes, not guests, so they always stay face-down. The back design is meant to resemble a kind of currency.

Each guest has a unique combination of three interests, noted by the large icons. Each guest also has a Title and a Country, but those will be used in expansions or variants. Those icons are a little garish at the moment and I'd like them to be more subtle in a final production.

Some guests are lords or ladies and have a white border around their interests. Again, this information will be used in expansions or variants.

Now here are some rule changes.
  • The Belle of the Ball is now just one character, which leaves a lot more room on the front of the Belle card to depict a diagram of play.
  • The guest deck is now just 60 cards. I removed one of the rare interests and redistributed the remaining 12 interests.
  • You use face-down guest cards instead of chips. Chips are now replaced with these face-down cards called "BRIBES."
  • The game begins with three bribes per player and that remains for the whole game. Bribes are never added or removed from the economy and they do not count as points until the end of the game.
  • Bribes always stay bribe-side-up and never ever get flipped. This solves two problems in one: We remove guest cards from the deck to add unpredictability AND we render moot the need for separate cardboard chits.
  • Belles and Guests are shuffled together in the same deck. Players do NOT start with Belles in their hand. When you take a Guest card from the line, it goes into your party. When you take a Belle card from the line, it goes in your hand.
  • Players begin with a starting party of one guest in each group, dealt at random. This is a nice way to speed up play and remind everyone that a party has room for four groups.
  • At the end of the game, you score one bonus point per bribe in your possession, one bonus point per Belle in hand, and one bonus point for every two cards in your party. This was a way to at least make your unfinished groups worth something.
Now, there are surely some balance tweaks that need to be done to the Belle cards, but I'm keeping Prototype O in stasis while I send out prototypes to publishers. Don't expect another prototype any time soon. Hopefully the next time you see this game, it'll actually be for sale!

» Current Beta Rules PDF [Prototype O]
» Download the Print-and-Play Cards PDF
Daniel Solis
Art Director by Day. Game Designer by Night.