Guild vs Houses: 2-player co-op for Splendor

SplendorHere at ihobo, we rather enjoy a quick game of Splendor, and we're always looking for new ways to play. Since we also love co-op games, it did not take us too long to experiment with a co-operative version of the game.

Guilds vs Houses is a variant for the popular boardgame in which 2 players (the Houses) attempt to defeat an automated opponent (the Guild), who plays by a unique set of rules, described below.

 

Rules of Play

  1. Set up the game exactly as you would for 3 players (i.e. remove two chips from each stack except the gold). Set up the turn sequence so that both of the Houses (human players) take their turns before the Guild.
  2. When the Guild takes its turn, it acts according to the rules described below.
  3. Players combine their victory points and compete against the Guild to be the first to reach 20 victory points.

 

The Guild

The following rules govern the Guild's actions:

  1. Splendor SequencePurchase Highest Development Card: The Guild purchases the highest positioned development card it can afford (counting top left Rank III card as the top position - marked 1 in the diagram, left - and the bottom right Rank I card - marked 12 - as the lowest position, i.e.top left, to bottom right)
  2. Else, One of Each Gem Token: If the Guild cannot purchase any development cards, it takes one gem token of each kind. If any stacks have run out, the Guild takes one gold token for each gem it would otherwise have received.
  3. Or, All the Gold Tokens: If the Guild already has one of every kind of gem token it takes all the remaining gold tokens instead. Count solely gem tokens for this rule - development cards that contribute gem values do not count. (This will guarantee it can make a powerful acquisition next turn.)
  4. Flip After Three: Once the Guild has three development cards of the same kind, turn one of the zero victory point cards of that kind face down and place it over the other two - this indicates that the Guild may no longer purchase Rank 1 development cards i.e. slots 9 to 12. (This will mean it picks up tokens more frequently, accelerating its buying power.) In the unlikely event that the Guild has no zero victory point cards when it gets three of a particular kind, the lowest value card is flipped over, and its victory points no longer count towards the Guild's score.

The Guild's buying power massively exceeds that of the Houses, but its automated purchasing help balance its performance against the players' collective intelligence, as it seldom makes the 'best' purchase. If the players manage to co-operate, victory is attainable - but it does not take long for the Guild to build up substantial resources if it is left unchecked... The game is especially difficult if all the Noble tiles have similar requirements, and easiest when the Nobles have more distinct requirements. Good luck!

The variant might work with more than 2 players, but it has not been balanced for this - let us know in the comments if you try any variations!


Games and Theatre

You never quite know what's going to pick up momentum on social media - ihobo founder Chris Bateman's tweet about the advice he gives to people wanting to improve their game writing and narrative design skills was just an offhand remark, but it seemed to resonate with a lot of people working in the games industry!


Game and Theatre


A Tale of Two Walking Simulators

FirewatchOver at Only a Game, ihobo founder Chris Bateman continues his intermittent correspondence with US critic Jed Pressgrove, this time sparring over the 'walking simulator' in a two-part blog letter entitled A Tale of Two Walking Simulators. The two parts discuss the 2016 game Firewatch and the 2015 game Everybody's Gone to the Rapture. Here's an extract:

If we put side to side the artgame achievements of the walking simulator, broadly construed, it marks bold new possibilities for the media that share the name ‘videogame’, new paths that in no way invalidate (and indeed, help illuminate) our more familiar player practices. 2005’s The Endless Forest – Tale of Tales’ landmark ‘massively multiplayer screensaver’ – not only led to thatgamecompany’s Journey but revealed new potential for the encounter play that had been inherent in table top-role playing games but had struggled to find expression in any visual form. Ed Key and David Kanaga’s Proteus, perhaps my favourite game of this century, turns walking into a magical experience using only the tricks of the nature documentary and a cunning alliance of sound and vision. But it is perhaps The Chinese Room’s Dear Esther that especially helps shed light on contemporary games by being built upon the skeleton of an FPS yet stripped of its guns and violence. It delivers a wondrous ghost story whose thin play seemed to open the door to new narrative possibilities in videogames by denying the necessity of challenge – for which it had to be ostracized as ‘not a game’ by legions of aesthetically conservative players.

The letter is mostly concerned with videogames as an aesthetic and artistic medium, and not as a commercial medium, but if you have an interest in the walking simulator genre, or either of the two games discussed, you should definitely check it out! 


Retro Gamer's 200th Issue

Retro Gamer 200The tenacious videogame print magazine, Retro Gamer, has a special 200th issue this month, with a fantastic set of articles covering the history of games. International Hobo's founder Chris Bateman was interviewed for a piece on the origins and legacy of the open world genre, a topic Chris has extensively researched. Here's an extract:

"The genesis of the open world happens entirely in the United Kingdom in two key years, 1984 and 1985," explains Chris Bateman, founder of ihobo, the studio behind Silk, an open world game inspired by games like The Lords of MidnightEye of the Beholder, and The Bards Tale. "EliteThe Lords of MidnightParadroid, and Mercenary all laid out ways of giving the player maximum agency with the relatively minimal resources of the ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64, and Amstrad." Chris points out that Elite "directly inspired DMA in making the GTA franchise.".

Retro Gamer #200 is in all good newsagents now.


Silk - Out Now!

Screenshot 2019-10-11 13.30.00International Hobo is proud to announce the release of its game Silk on Switch and Steam today. In development for fourteen months, backed by a successful Kickstarter, and published by the Kings of Neo-Retro at Huey Games, Silk is the first game from new developer ihobo games, a spin off from the award-winning consultancy, which is celebrating its twentieth year of trading.

Enter the biggest handcrafted open world of all time, fifty times larger than Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall! Explore three million square miles of uncharted terrain from Roman Damascus to Three Kingdoms China in an exploration RPG that transports you onto the Ancient Silk Road of 200AD.

Silk is out now on Switch and Steam.