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How the game works

Here's a brief summary of what to expect in a game of TBK and how it works.

"To Be King" is played with up to 6 players, each having a deck of cards. The player's starting decks consist of a set of travel cards (used to travel to specific locations like merchants), 3 player confrontation cards (that can be used to leap frog to another player's locations and potentially confront them in an effort to take some of their cards), racial talent cards (abilities based on the race a player has chosen to be), a couple of talent cards (additional skills and abilities), a random collectible (a weapon, companion, magical item, etc.), and possibly a spell or two.

At the beginning of each round, players draw 8 random cards from their deck. During the course of a round the player may play as many of those cards as they like if applicable. They may also have the opportunity to collect more cards either through purchase from the merchants, random discovery, or by taking them from other players. After everyone has a turn, the round ends with the Discard and Draw phase in which players decide to discard any cards they don't want in their hands and draw new cards to replace them up to their starting round count of 8 cards for the next round. Players may also have cards "in play" that would allow them to have more than 8 cards in their hands to start a round with ...a hiker's pack or donkey, for example.

Cards that are discarded go into the player's discard deck. When a player's draw deck empties out, the discard deck replaces the draw deck, So, cards that are discarded are cycled through the decks and, eventually will reappear in their hand. The idea is to try and have the cards you need in your hand when you need them and to keep the unwanted cards (known as clutter) out of your hand when they don't need them. The number of cards you have in your draw deck and discard deck is known at all times and collectibles may be taken by other players so proper card management is the real key to success.

During the course of a player's turn, usually the first thing a player will do is travel. They can either go to a specific location by playing a travel card or they can travel randomly. A travel tracker is used to keep track of all of the player's progress. The location a player moves to will be of a specific type of terrain with a number of movement point credits and a number of potential events. An event could be anything from finding a nice item, gold, or a gem, to occurrences that can effect everyone, like adverse weather conditions, to running into some bad ass creatures ...and more. Virtually anything can happen as a random event. After a player has resolved their turn, play passes to the next player. The player turn order during the course of a round is randomly determined by the game.

The game has several regions, split up between two islands, that a player will have to pass through on their quest. Two of those regions are Laurica's Palace and the Catacombs and there is a region called the Waterway which players will have to sail across to get from one island to the other.

The basic object of the game is to travel through the Mariah Lowlands to get to the Mariah Midlands and eventually to Zerox the Kingmaker. He's the one that gives the player a quest to find a specific object in Laurica's Palace. The player must now make their way back to the Mariah Lowlands coast, secure a boat, and travel the waterway over to Breene Island. Traveling through the Breene Coastal and Breene Inland regions will eventually bring them to the Palace Grounds where they will be severely tested and have to face the Palace Guard to get into the palace. Once in the palace, they'll have to search it room by room until they find the object of their quest. They then return to Zerox, either going back the way they came or by cutting through the Catacombs if they had found a Catacombs Doorway somewhere in the palace. But that's tricky. The Catacombs may allow a player to get through very quickly or they may get lost and wander around in them aimlessly until it becomes their tomb.

Once a player returns the object to Zerox, he grants the player the Mystic Knowledge which will allow the player to enter the Mystic Realms. The player then travels through the Wastelands to eventually get to the Mystic Realms and, if they're lucky enough to get through the realms, they'll make it to the Great Throne. They may then begin to slowly kill off their rivals and the only way to stop them is for another player to enter the throne room and fight them in a battle to the death. The last player to sit upon the throne when all other players die, wins.

As the players pass from one region to the next, they change their travel status. The game is set to present events based upon a player's travel status. In other words, the higher the status, the more dangerous the environment becomes ...as well as the strength of the various creatures.

Players have 5 major attributes in the game: Power (for physical combat and when strength is needed), Psychic (for psionic combat and when psychic or spiritual skills are needed), Swift (for speed, running from combat, and physical combat and travel enhancements), Skill (for intelligence, spell casting success, finding things, stealth and psionic combat enhancements), and Social (for attracting and stealing companions and for dickering with the merchants). Players gain experience points at 1 point per round and also through combat. 10 experience points equals a flex point which is a point that may be added to any major attribute.

The game uses a sophisticated combat system that takes power/psychic, stealth, initiative, armor, running, bonus terrain and special circumstances into consideration and has a combat computer to assist with die rolls in that respect. Even the lowliest being has a chance of beating a much more powerful creature with this system so players should never get to comfortable or confident ...things can get awfully ugly very quickly.

The interface is pretty simple to use. Nearly every command is done by right-clicking a card or component. Cards have standard command like "Play" which sends it to the card table, "Discard" which sends it to a player's discard deck, "Place in Hand" to do just that, "Trash" to get rid of the card completely ...to name a few. Many cards have a "Get Information" command which will display card information which may include special right-click commands specific to that card and what will happen when you use them. I call the game semi-automated as some stats and things will be updated automatically when certain events occur and some will have to be taken care of manually simply because the player may have cards that could alter events. But, for the most part, the game interface is pretty easy to use and with the game taking care of all of the percentage and combat statistics, players don't have to spend half their time figuring out what percentage is needed to perform a certain task or updating stats when major attribute change, etc.

If you have any other questions about the game, either post a note on the forum, send me an E-mail or IM me on Skype and I'll be glad to answer them for you. 

2015 Rich Johnston. All rights reserved.