Simultaneous Play

By Steve Hatherley

The games I’ve been playing lately, such as Dominion, Carcassonne and Ticket to Ride, have a very different gameplay to INWO. In those games you generally do one or two moves, and then play passes to the next player. So you’re rarely hanging around waiting for something to happen, and you often want to do more things than you’re allowed to.

I want to bring that to INWO. INWO can suffer from long periods of player inaction, particularly when there are lots of players. I don’t like such inaction - when I’m playing a game I want to play the game.

So this is Simultaneous Play INWO, which needs a better name. The basic idea of it is that everyone draws plots and groups together, and then during the main phase everyone does one “thing” (a move) before letting the next player do one thing.

I’ve played it a couple of times and it’s rather good.

Variant

Phase 1: Planning - During this phase all players do the following (in this order)

  • Spend action tokens to draw plots
  • Draw one plot card
  • Draw one group card
  • Place action tokens on groups and resources

If you’re using an NWO deck (NWO Madness), flip over one NWO for each player.

If you're using an OWE deck, flip over one group card for each player.

Phase 2: World Domination - Starting with the new starting player, each person does one “active move” or knocks. Then the next player makes a move or knocks. If each player knocks consecutively, then the WDH phase is over.

If a player knocks, they can still do a move later in the turn (unless everyone has knocked, in which case the turn is over).

Phase 3: Victory - The game now ends if someone has declared victory and they are still able to meet the goals.

Phase 4: End of Turn - Do the following in this order:

  • Everyone discards down to 5 cards
  • Bermuda Triangle reorganises
  • Effects that last until end of turn end.
  • The only cards that may be played are those that say End of Turn.
  • The next player then becomes the new starting player.

Active and Reactive Moves

Active moves are those moves that initiate action, or start something. Active moves include:

  • Making an automatic takeover (note this means that your ato doesn’t get action tokens)
  • Making an attack
  • Playing a plot card that initiates something
  • Using an ability that initiates something
  • Moving a group (including to another player)
  • Moving or amending a link
  • Spending an Illuminati action token to take over a resource
  • Spending an Illuminati action token to buy a Group card
  • Buying Plot cards with action tokens
  • Declaring victory (you cannot win if you do not declare victory as a move)
  • Giving a Plot card to another player
  • Making a trade with another player

Reactive moves react to other moves. Reactive moves include:

  • Cancelling.
  • Changing the result of the dice roll.
  • Cards or abilities that react to other moves - such as Crop Circles.

Cards and abilities may only be played during the World Domination Phase unless they specifically say that they can be played during other phases, or are reactive moves.

Abilities can be active, reactive or passive. Passive abilities are things that are "always on" like immunity or bonuses to attack - and can’t be cancelled. Ever. Some abilities are good for the group, some are bad for the group. They are all abilities. Use your common sense.

Timing Rules

With the active/reactive moves, the timing rules need a slight fix. (These are based on the simplifications proposed by Martin Laerkes in Fixing INWO.)

Cards or abilities take effect in the order they are played. A card or ability takes effect before the next one can be played. The exceptions are:

  • Reactive cards and abilities must take place before the next active move.
  • Cards or abilities that either change a die-roll or explicitly cancel events must be played immediately after the roll or event that they are intended to affect, and take effect before the original event, preventing it from happening. They must also be played before other reactive cards or abilities. (If several players are all reacting to the same play, then attempts to manipulate rolls or cancel take priority over any other kind of play, since any new play would render the manipulation or cancellation too late.)

If two cards really are played simultaneously (two players want to steal the same card with Stealing the Plans), then roll the dice to decide who plays first.

Here’s an example:

  • Shangri-La plays Kinder and Gentler as an active move.
  • Shangri-La also plays March on Washington to power the Kinder and Gentler.
  • Bavaria then tries to play Stealing the Plans on March on Washington.
  • However, The Gnomes of Zurich also want to Hoax Shangri-La’s Kinder and Gentler. As they are playing a cancelling card, they get priority.
  • Bavaria then gets to play Stealing the Plans - and instead steals the Hoax. (Bavaria could have stolen any of the cards played from Kinder and Gentler onwards.)

Note that if Bavaria then wanted to play the Hoax, the only card it could cancel is it’s own Stealing the Plans. If Bavaria had wanted to cancel the Gnomes’ Hoax, it would have had to do it before playing Stealing the Plans (because cancelling takes priority).

Issues

Shared victories become very likely as everyone will be at roughly the same stage. A couple of ideas that I've not tried:

  • Victory may only be shared by half of the players - rounded down. (So for 3 players, there are no shared victories. For a four player game, 2 players could share victory.)
  • One of the groups you use to win must have been in a rival's power structure.

If an attempt to take over a group/resource fails (or is cancelled), then the card is available to everyone until the end of the current round. (Or just goes into the uncontrolled area)

Note that what I’ve named “passive” abilities can no longer be cancelled. This makes things simpler and removes all those issues about “restrictions” and what AWHFY can and can’t cancel. Perhaps it’s not as sneaky as the original, but it’s much simpler.

Potential Card Ideas

This option creates potential card ideas:

  • An Illuminati that gets two “moves” in a row each time.
  • A group or resource that allows two moves in a row, providing an action token is spent.
  • A NWO that gives everyone two moves in a row.

Cards

This affects a number of cards, in a number of ways. (I will add to this as I come across the cards.)

  • Are We Having Fun Yet: Delete “or special ability use” as it’s now only actions that can be cancelled.
  • Power Grab: Change to “[A] Spend an Illuminati action to make an automatic takeover of a group or resource. You may do this only once each turn.” (Thought about making it so that only knocking was the only move that could be made, but then it got complicated during an attack. As the essence of the card is to let you take over another group, then just let it do that - but cost an Illuminati action to prevent abuse.)
  • Reach Out: No longer makes any sense. Don’t use it.
  • Repent: No longer makes sense. Don't use it.
  • Resistance is Useless: May only be played as a move. (I considered rewriting it so that it can be played with an attack, but I’m resisting unnecessary errata.)
  • Seize the Time: Really doesn't work - don't use it.
  • SLAK: We play SLAK so that it gets a number of action tokens each turn equal to the number of players in the game.
  • The World Ends Tomorrow and You May Die!: Don't use it.

If I was starting over with INWO, I’d mark each ability with an icon representing the following:

  • [A] Active - can be played as an active move during the World Domination Phase
  • [R] Reactive - can be played as a reaction.
  • [X] Attack - can be played during an attack. (Without this icon, the card cannot be played during an attack.)
  • Passive abilities wouldn't need an icon.

You can either choose not to use these cards, or errata them. (I plan to errata them, in ink…)

Ideas for cards

  • Resource: [A] Spend this Resource’s action to give yourself two additional consecutive moves.
  • NWO: Each player takes two moves consecutively.

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