Further Feedback and Changes for Belle of the Ball

Wow, I'm so pleased to see the feedback for Belle of the Ball so far. I've got feedback from Fred Hicks and Jason Innes (designer of Empyrean, Inc.) Here are some findings:
  • It's Fun: Response has been really good from a mixture of gamers. The mechanics fit the theme and it's lots of fun to build clever combos of guests, then see how they stack up later in the game. There are some edits that could be made to make it a little more accessible, case in point...
  • Edit for Clarity: There is some wording that could be a little bit more clear, such as "a single guest's powers may not be activated, it must be in a group." Whenever I run into those issues in a rules document, my impulse is to just remove that rule rather than re-write it for clarity. This will be the case in the next draft, so "You can activate the powers of any guest in one group, in any order." I'm also going to restrict the "Mingle" power to a your own clique.
  • Adjust Power Distribution: When you're lucky enough to draw guests with high popularity, it's overkill if that guest also has a useful power. So, I'm redistributing the powers so that they mostly go with guests who have low or negative popularity.
  • Broaden the Friend Bonus: The Friend bonus counts for each other guest in the group. So, yes, it does stack. 
  • Remove the First Player Token: This is a tentative change. I introduced the First Player token in an earlier prototype when the threat of dueling made any singleton very vulnerable. Thus, turn order was very important. Now, the token may not be as necessary, especially in a two-player game.
  • Increase Power Density: A lot of the game's fun comes from building clever synergistic combos, so I'm adding some more powers and making them much more common in the deck. These include:
  • Reject: Discard your whole hand.
  • Shove: Move one guest from your clique to your opponent's clique.
  • Breakup: Remove one or more of your guests from one of your groups.
  • Befriend: Combine two or more of your guests to form a group.
  • Peek: Draw the top three cards from the draw deck, re-arrange them as you wish and return them to the top of the deck.
  • More extra invites.
And that's about it! If you want to test out the game and offer your feedback, please check out the links here. Soon, I will export a new set of cards and get them printed out along with a new rules doc.


  1. "The friend bonus applies to each other guest in a group" is probably better than saying "The friend bonus applies to every guest in the group".

  2. The First Player Token is still important -- you need to know on whom a round starts, and on whom it ends. It just wouldn't be passed. :)

  3. Ah, fair point. So I'll nix rotation in the next iteration. Actually, this could be a new power!

    "Preen: Take the first player token. You will be the first player in the next round."

  4. Consider it done.

  5. I'm nervous about that for reasons I can't quickly quantify. Maybe hold that one for a later revision cycle / expansion.

  6. Alrighty. In any case, if first-player position doesn't rotate, I think I can get by without a token.

  7. Maybe! But depending on how many cards per sheet work for a given printer (not the same from mfr to mfr), you might have a few spare slots to fill; having a first player card in there would use up one of those neatly.

  8. Presently, the first-player token is the 108th card. (I removed the sword ribbon to make room for it.)

  9. How about this as a new power:

    "Peek: Draw the top five cards from the draw deck, re-arrange them as you wish and return them to the top of the deck."

    That could be combo-ed with the draw powers or just used offensively to prevent an opponent from claiming a ribbon.

  10. Yeah, that's cute. Five may be overkill, though. Assume its use as a single power in a 4-player game where folks are only drawing one at a time, mucking up the order of the top 5 affects more than one full round's worth. I'd probably angle for more like top 3.

  11. Okay, here's a controversial idea: Remove dueling as a normal player-action. Instead, it's a power that behaves much more intuitively.

    Duel: Choose one of your guests and one of your opponent's guests. These guests are dueling. Each player pulls a card from his hand and reveals it. Add the popularity from your drawn card to the popularity of your dueling guest. The player with the higher total wins the duel. The losing player must discard their dueling guest. The drawn cards are also discarded.

  12. I am not necessarily into it. While we didn't use it much, I think that's part of why the scores ended up so lopsided. Dueling is an important tool for busting up the opposition's groupings, depriving them of group bonuses and strong power combos. And having it available to anyone with a singleton in play means that the underdog has a shot at messing up the top dog's day.

    If you get rid of it or powerize it, you need to figure out a way -- possibly multiple ways -- of enabling one player to mess up the groupings of another. Otherwise you risk some real steamrollering.

  13. Hm. Alright, I'll backpedal on that then. I think there's enough powers here so that all the guests worth up to three popularity has a power and no one worth four or more gets any.

  14. I'll be interested to hear how a more power-dense Belle tests out. :)

  15. Regarding Friend Bonus: Currently it's randomly distributed. You think it always ought to be inversely proportional to the actual popularity, so if a -1 guest has a friend bonus, that bonus always ought to be +6?

  16. I'd regard friend bonuses as their own kind of power. The ones that don't have a county requirement are extra potent.

    Maybe think about assigning (in the back end -- just for your designing, not for exposure to the players) a "build point" value for each card element -- popularity, group bonus (count county requirements as only half value), and power, and see how things are spread out across your cards. Maybe you have a particular build point total all cards are made out of, maybe you have a range you want them to fall in; but it may pop out to you that some cards have too many build points spent on them, while others have too few -- the ones outside of that range. It may be a good lens for understanding what your outliers are, and asking yourself whether they *should* be.

  17. Funny you should mention that. I just unpacked the build values underlying the Quests in Lords of Waterdeep. The engineering under those is really well done.

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