In this social-strategy card game, imagine you are all members of the Empress’s inner council within the wild world of the Blazing-World. And you all have a mission. Well, many missions. You see, the Empress has given you all several tasks to complete. You will do these tasks by electing willing subjects to do the tasks for you. But there are only so many Subjects to employ and way too many tasks to complete. On top of all of that, you have your own issues to worry about. It’s up to you and your fellow council members to begin as many tasks as possible before the Empress returns from another council meeting!
Note: This game is only a concept. I have not designed every card nor have I even playtested it. I don’t have that time at the moment.
The goal of the game is to get as many points as you can both as a team and by yourself. You get points by successfully starting Tasks by using your Subjects’ Traits that are applicable to it. There are both Open Tasks and Personal Tasks to worry about, so knowing which Subjects to use to benefit the team as well as which ones will benefit yourself is key. The single council member with the overall most points is the winner!
- 2-6 Players
- ~150 Subject Cards
- ~145 Task Cards
- ~40 Simple Tasks
- ~40 Challenging Tasks
- ~40 Intense Tasks
- ~25 Personal Tasks
Each Subject Card has a picture depicting the Subject and their Top 3 Traits. These Traits can be any combination of the following types:
- Strength (S)
- Agility (A)
- Endurance (E)
- Intellect (I)
- Reason (R)
- Charisma (C)
- Grace (G)
Each Subject’s Top Traits can be used to deal with each Task. All, a couple, or just one can be used for the Task they are assigned to.
Task Cards are split into two types: Personal Tasks and Open Tasks. Open Tasks are meant to be dealt with as a team, while Personal Tasks are meant to be secretive to individual players.
Each Task will have an amount of specific Traits that need to be fulfilled. The number of Traits are same as the number of Points players get by completing them. Also, the Trait number will vary depending on the Difficulty Level: Simple (2 Traits/2 Points), Challenging (4 Traits/4 Points), and Intense (8 Traits/8 Points).
Separate all the decks into seperate, face-down piles: The Subject Cards can lay anywhere that is comfortable on the table, while all the Task Cards are separated by their respective 4 categories (Simple, Challenging, Intense, and Personal) somewhere beside each other.
Each player draws 7 Subject Cards to use as their hand. They then draw 1 Personal Card to place beside them face-down. They may look at all these cards, but they shouldn’t share them with other players.
How to Play:
The game begins with 1 card drawn from each Open Task deck (Simple, Challenging, and Intense), then placed face-up where everyone can see.
All the players will begin to discuss the Task cards and how they can each be dealt with using their selection of Subjects.
To successfully deal with a Task, the amount of Traits that are listed on the card must match the number of Traits that make up all the Subject cards that are used on it. All the players discuss what Subjects they are willing to use for the Open Tasks in front of them. Once they all have agreed which Tasks they can successfully deal with (make sure you know what Tasks you can actually deal with. You can’t lie or miscalculate how many Traits are needed for them), then each player places whatever Subjects they want to use for each Task. They can use as many or as few Subjects as they want per round.
After that, all the players will then select any Subjects they want to place face-down beside their Personal Task to count for that card. Again, they can use as many or as few as they wish.
Once all the Subjects are placed, the Tasks that have been successfully dealt with go face up somewhere next to the Task decks (you can call this the “Dealt-With Pile”). The ones that have not been dealt with stay on the play area exactly where they were. They will only be removed once they are dealt with or when the game ends. Then, all players draw as many new Subjects as they need to make a 7-card hand again.
That is the end of the round. Repeat this 2 more times to make 3 complete rounds.
Finishing the Game:
After those 3 rounds are complete, it’s time to calculate the points. Add up all the Points that are listed on the Dealt-With Pile of Open Task Cards. This amount of Points makes up the Team Score. The total of which goes to each player in the game. For example, if the Team score is 20, then each player will get 20 points.
Then each player will add the listed amount of points on their Personal Task if they completed it by the end of the game.
And of course, the player with the most points wins the game!
The concept for this game came from a question I had after reading the beginning of Margaret Cavendish’s The Blazing-World: Why were certain species of creatures assigned to certain tasks, purely based on their species. It seems like the Empress employed purely based on race, but also seemingly at random. Why are Bear-Men placed to be experimental philosophers while Bird-Men are placed to be astronomers?
With this idea, I thought it would be interesting to design a game where players have to answer these questions. Originally, I was going to have it be a Chameleon-blended-with-Cards-Against-Humanity situation where players would take on the role of one of these races, and then have to debate each other to see who would be best suited for a certain job. Beyond the idea just not being that exciting for me the more I thought about it, I also found the premise to be a bit problematic, as well. The races would only have one trait each, making them extremely limited and stereotypical.
To fix both problems I had with the concept, I ended up expanding the races to individual Subjects with a slew of personality/physical traits (at least based on the 6 D&D ability stats + 1). I also made the game more of a resource management game, while still trying to make it simplistic and social to make it stand out more. We really don’t need another CAH rip-off.
While I fixed more of the problematic issues, the concept still offers some questionable ideas. This was by design. The more prominent one is how the characters are labeled as “Subjects”. This is for two reasons. One being that it’s literally what the Empress and the Narrator call them in story, and two being that I wanted some simple commentary on how capitalistic and/or monarchical societies can make their people feel like numbers on papers, while they all have individual traits that make them unique. Here, those traits are purposefully exploited to solve a societies’ problems. It’s probably not a perfect bit of commentary, but I hope it can at least build up some discussion.
But above all of that, I really just wanted the game to be fun to play. Like I said in the intro, I didn’t have time to playtest it or anything, so I don’t know if it even is fun or not. But I think I enjoy the mechanics of having to work together as a team while also trying to figure out how to benefit yourself in the long-run. I also wanted to make sure it was simple enough to grasp just from this rule-book-type-thing. I’m a big fan of games that don’t take as long to understand as it does to play.
Overall, I was jazzed to make a game. I really enjoy making fun, exciting, and challenging experiences for others to play with. So being able to throw those passions onto this was what kept me pushing against Senioritis. I think it was also an added bonus to make something that could strike up dialogue about the text it’s based off of. I won’t say I perfected that aspect of the game, but I think it’s still there.
Games I think can be a great gateway to make players think more about the world around them, like how movies and books often do. One of the great advantages games have over other mediums of art is that it’s controlled by the player. You don’t have to be a passive viewer of an experience, you get to live in the experience. You can control how the story goes. So when players are that immersed in worlds, it’s a golden opportunity to bring up heavy discussions and force them to think critically about them.
Obviously this is easier said than done, but the opportunity is still there. I feel like a lot of triple-A video games with narratives do this really well, along with a really good campaign of D&D with a really smart DM. What makes board games and tabletop games extra potent in this idea is the social aspect. Discussions need others to bounce off of, and that’s where games like the aforementioned D&D and maybe (a more refined version of) this game can come in handy.
Btgarts. “Astral Circle.” DeviantArt, 22 Oct. 2017, https://www.deviantart.com/btgarts/art/Astral-Circle-711058714. Accessed 12 Dec. 2022.
Cavendish, Margaret. “The Blazing World (1668) – Scholarly Edition.” Digital Cavendish Project, The International Margaret Cavendish Society, 16 Apr. 2019, http://digitalcavendish.org/complete-works/the-blazing-world-1668/.
Eng, Dave. “What Makes a Good Rule Book?” University XP, 1 Oct. 2020, https://www.universityxp.com/blog/2020/10/1/what-makes-a-good-rule-book.
Olieart. “ Sketch #161 Aarakocra Druid.” DeviantArt, 3 Apr. 2016, https://www.deviantart.com/olieart/art/Sketch-161-Aarakocra-Druid-600882902. Accessed 12 Dec. 2022.
Stock Image Assets used from Pixabay