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Tribbles Royale: All Kinds of Troubles

by Charlie Plaine, Chairman

24th July 2015

Tribbles Royale is out today! While you download, print, and read over the new cards, I thought it would be fun to share some behind the scenes information that shaped the design of the new trouble cards. Please enjoy the following article, which sheds light on the different kinds of troubles that exist, not only now, but in the future! And don't forget to download Tribbles Royale! ... In the Computer Core

When we were originally fleshing out the trouble mechanic for Tribbles Royale, it was very organically. We made a list of powers and decks that were very good and might need some discouragement, some decks that could use some encouragement, and some fun an interesting effects that probably wouldn't work on a traditional tribble card. Our initial drafts for testing were based on these ideas and didn't have a lot of intentional structure behind them. However, we noticed that there was some structure introduced via instinct - different groups of powers that behaved similarly (or very nearly).

Towards the end of development, we decided to sit down and build a design document of the different types of troubles and how they were intended to work. Part of that design document was a matrix of all the troubles available, so we could evenly spread the miss shift numbers, the action shifts, and the source series. You should noticed, when Tribbles Royale releases, that there are three (3) troubles that shift on each number and a fairly even spread of source material for the trouble images.

I thought it might be interesting to share the different types of troubles we've laid out and talk a little bit about how they work in Tribbles Royale, and how they might be developed in the future. This is a bit of an experimental article, so please share your thoughts about it in the comments on the forums!

There are seven (7) different types of troubles we've imagined, and there's at least one of each type in Tribbles Royale to use as an example.

The purpose of an acceleration trouble, as the name suggestions, is to help speed the game up. This is a tricky area to design into because you risk creating games that are too fast. Nobody wants to have players go out in a single turn, but you also don't want every game pushing up against the one hour limit. Acceleration troubles are meant to help nudge the games along a little more quickly without allowing players to go out immediately. "... On the Bridge" is an example of an acceleration trouble, as it serves as a free Time Warp for all players; fewer cards in hand, in theory, means a shorter round. Typically, acceleration troubles have a low action cost to shift.

... In the Ready Room

Bomb troubles are troubles that give everyone a piece of a power tribble ability. "... In the Ready Room" is a bomb trouble that gives everyone the use of a Discard tribble. These are some of the strongest "sticks," against particularly troublesome powers, and are designed to be "fire and forget" troubles. You'll notice all the bomb troubles will have a power shift identical to the power they're targeting, i.e. "... In the Ready Room" shifts on Discard. As they are intended to be harsh, they have a high action cost to shift.

As you might expect, a catch-up trouble is meant to help keep games closer, or to help the players with lower scores catch-up to those in the lead. Ideally, we'd like all tribbles games to be close and finish in less than an hour. It's these goals that inspired both the acceleration and the catch-up types of troubles. Catch-up troubles are potentially very powerful, and thus there is only one - "... In the Mess Hall" - in Tribbles Royale. They will have power shifts triggered on rarer tribble powers, and will generally have a low action cost to shift.

Handicap troubles are the most common type and are the easiest to design, as they are intended to turn off tribble powers while active. "... In the Astrometrics Lab" is a handicap trouble because it limits the Replay deck by turning off the Replay power. This is the easiest type of trouble to create. The power shift on handicap troubles will be a power that's related to the targeted power, and they will have average or medium action costs to shift.

My personal favorite type, the helper trouble, is designed to provide an extra tool to a deck that has a lot of issues or just needs a little extra. Helper troubles provide an additional power for those decks, but since their power shift is the primary tribble power of the deck they are helping, are one-use effects. "... In the Holodeck" is a helper trouble for the Dance deck, allowing a Dance player to reorder their play pile (and thus trigger the Dance). Because they are meant to help decks that need it, their action cost to shift is high.

... In the Cloning Lab

Utility troubles are designed to provide a little something extra to specific tribble powers, usually once that have a bit of a control element to them. "...In the Computer Core" is a utility trouble that gives an extra choice for Copy players - the ability to "Go" instead of anything that is face up. However, like the bomb and helper trouble types, these are one-use only, and will shift when the power being helped is played. Utility troubles will have average action costs to shift.

The last category is the hardest to define - weird troubles. This is really a catch all category for anything we want to do that doesn't neatly fit into any of the previous six categories. There's only one weird trouble in Tribbles Royale, "... In the Cloning Lab." While this trouble is active, the "chain" of play is reversed. So if the player in front of you plays a 10,000, you'll be playing a 1,000 instead of a 100,000. That qualifies as weird, doesn't it? Because there isn't really a defined purpose for these types of troubles, for now, they will have low action costs to shift. But I suspect we'll eventually see more of this type of trouble, and if any type is going to break its own rules, I'd put money on the weird type.

Well, that's the seven (7) different types of troubles that will make up the eighteen (18) you'll see in Tribbles Royale. Which type of trouble do you think is the most interesting? Which one do you think has the most design space for future expansions? Do you think these categories make sense? Are there any categories missing? Let us know your thoughts in comments on the message boards!

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