Playing the Fool: Getting Rules Wrong in all the Right Ways



Yesterday morning Lyndsay Peters and I played Martian Dice via Google Hangout, which is when I discovered that I have been playing it incorrectly this whole time.

I thought if you wanted to capture humans, you had to capture them before cows and chickens. If you captured cows or chickens first, you couldn't capture humans in a later turn. However, you could capture as many cows or chickens as you liked until you busted a roll or ended your turn.

This wasn't the case at all, as it turns out. You may capture humans, cows and chickens in any order you like, but you couldn't take one type if you had done so earlier. I'm still not sure how I got that so wrong. I think it's because there was a line break in the sentence explaining that rule. But really, it's just silly how wrong I got that. Sheesh!

There are no rules so short and clear that everyone will follow them as intended. In fact, the shorter rules are just as prone to misinterpretation.

But on the bright side, this got us in a discussion of actually using my misinterpretation as the core mechanic of a new dice game. After all, I've been playing it this way for so long, I thought it was perfectly sensible. We combined with the point-dice mechanics from King of Tokyo. The basic idea was this:

  • Roll 13d6. This guarantees you'll get at least three identical results.
  • You must keep one set of three or more identical results and score their face value in points, plus 1pt for each die beyond the initial three dice in the set. (So a set of 3333 would score you 4 points.)
  • Thereafter, you can keep rolling the remaining dice and keep one set from each roll, as long as that set is of equal or greater face-value as one you've already kept. (So if you kept 333, you could not keep a 111 or 222, but you could keep another 333, 444, and so on.)
  • If your roll results in no legal sets, you get a STRIKE. Strike three times and your turn is over.

That led to still further discussion of expanding the long-term gameplay to an area control mechanic for endgame bonuses. Something with a noodle-making theme, perhaps, describing each set as a strand of noodle. That's a subject for another post. For now, I'll just remember to check my rules knowledge more often. Who knows what new games will come?
Daniel Solis
Art Director by Day. Game Designer by Night.