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Dead Man's Draw Development Notes.
Hello Friends, Daniel Peterson here, Lead Game Developer of Mayday Games. Today I wanted to talk about some of the development behind Dead Man's Draw. I played Dead Man's Draw on my iPad and I really enjoyed the game. When Stardock Entertainment announced the kickstarter, I thought, "how are they going to write the rule book?" The app slowly taught players the Suit Abilities through a series of games. I was curious how that would happen on the tabletop. The Kickstarter project by Stardock Entertainment did not meet the funding goals and Seth told me that Mayday Games worked out a deal with Stardock Entertainment to relaunch it.. Seth handed me a copy of Dead Man's Draw and asked me to look over the rules. The original rule book from Stardock Entertainment read: "The game starts with the lowest value of each suit in a separate pile (face down) from the main deck. During each players' turn he/she draws cards from the main deck. As a card is drawn, the card's ability is activated upon entering the board.* *The only exception is the key/chest combo, whose abilities are only activated upon collection , gaining random cards from the bust pile equal to the number of cards that were collected from the board that turn. However, if a player draws two of the same suit in a turn, or if a card's ability causes the board to have two cards of the same suit, he/she busts and discards all cards drawn that turn into the bust pile.* *The only exception is if an anchor is drawn, causing all cards drawn before the anchor that turn to be collected by the player even if a later drawn card would cause a bust. (The anchor itself is not protected and must be discarded upon bust. Each player's collected cards are organized into stacks of the same suit, resulting in a possible max of ten suit stacks per player. Important: only the HIGHEST valued card (always the top card) of each suit stack counts towards the player's total score. For example, a cannon suit stack with values 7, 4, and 3 will contribute 7 points to your total score NOT 14 points. The game ends when the main deck has been drawn out. Each player adds up the top value card of each suit stack and the player with the highest score wins." I was familiar with the app and I understood the rules. What about a player that has never played the app? I did not think the above rules were sufficient for a new player. The rules in the app are, "Tap deck to draw or tap cards to collect. Collect cards to get the highest score only your HIGHEST card from each suit adds to your score. Draw as many as you Dare! But draw the same suit twice, and your turn ends. There are 10 suits, each suit has cards 2-7. Cards have special abilities when you draw, play or steal them." The computer is programmed to manage everything else! It was a challenge to get "everything else" that the computer was programmed to manage into the rule book. I quickly learned that a rule book has to accomplish more than just teaching players how to play a game. The rule book also teaches players how to MANAGE a game. The above rules are excellent for teaching players how to play Dead Man's Draw but it does not teach players how to manage Dead Man's Draw. I began writing a new rule book. Seth introduced me to Chris Bray at Stardock Entertainment and he answered my many questions. It was an odd project, I played countless games on my iPad and observed the game and asked Chris any questions that I could not figure out from playing the app. I had a difficult time learning how the computer was programmed to manage the discard pile. At the start of a game, I know that all the "2"s and "4" of mermaid are in the discard. I am counting cards and keeping track of exactly which cards are in the discard pile. Things did not add up, cards would not appear when I drew a map that I knew were in the discard pile. Finally, I had to ask Chris about the discard pile. He answered, "One difference with the digital version is that the discard pile will never give you a card that can bust you (so if that's all that is left in it, it won't give you a card at all). We did the same with Swords & Hooks in the digital version as players would be confused and frustrated when a card that was usually good would put them into a situation where they were forced to be busted. In the physical version it can be a lot of fun though, as you get big peaks of emotion when a player thinks they just made a great combo and end up busting themselves. It also makes the maps more of a risk as you always have a chance of only getting cards that will bust you." I quickly learned that the tabletop version of Dead Man's Draw is not the same as the digital version. Not only did the Map play nice on the digital version, but the Hook and Sword were also programmed to play nice on the digital version. It is fun to watch the play through video created by Stardock Entertainment. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BcH8sXFwKpg Around the 6 minute mark the players joke with each other as Chris will bust by activating the anchor suit ability, he also has the trait that he must play two cards if he draws the anchor. But he chooses to use a map first which causes a bust. I agree with Chris Bray, " In the physical version it can be a lot of fun though, as you get big peaks of emotion when a player thinks they just made a great combo and end up busting themselves. It also makes the maps more of a risk as you always have a chance of only getting cards that will bust you." I have information direct from Stardock Entertainment. I have the iOS and Steam version of Dead Man's Draw. I'm also reading what Malkie13 (Joe S) is doing with the print and play files on Board Game Geek. I'm literally looking at four different versions of one game! My head was spinning at this point. What made it more difficult is that the words were not consistent. The area that players place cards is called, the river, the board. The place where players store their cards is called the bank, suit stacks, the hand. The amount of information, game terms and differences were staggering! After sifting through all this information, I had to determine some solid game terms for the tabletop version. Bank, Play Area etc. I also had to determine which version will be played on the tabletop. I chose to go with the original Stardock Entertainment version that they played. Yes, Maps, Swords and Anchors cause busts!! Players can play the tabletop version exactly like the app using Malkie13 rule set https://www.boardgamegeek.com/filepage/100743/dead-mans-draw-rules-booklet. Players can play the iOS version and Steam version here http://www.deadmansdrawgame.com/ Steam version has the Mermaid Variant. If you want the original experience developed by Stardock Entertainment. I'm talking the "bare knuckled, not nice" version then pick up Dead Man's Draw from Mayday Games here https://maydaygames.com/card-games/dead-mans-draw.html We also include bonus cards so that players may play the Mermaid variant on the tabletop. Almost a year has passed since these events occurred. Dead Man's Draw has been translated into Italian, Spanish, French, German and Russian. Also we have released an Interntaional Tabletop Day version. We have had many flaws and errors with the rule book. Most of the employees currently at Mayday were new at this point. We made many mistakes. We had so many different copies of this rule book floating around and each version had different errors. We honestly did not which one was the most current or correct. I would be asked to edit parts that I have never seen nor written, it was a mess. The feed back of players has assisted us to fix many errors in later printings. The version posted on BGG at https://www.boardgamegeek.com/filepage/105958/dead-mans-draw-card-game-rulebook-mayday-v-10 is not the same rule book that was shipped with the game. We have had many company meetings and have put many processes in place to mitigate the errors that can spawn from one version to the next. We only have one rule book now for the games we are currently working on. Even with all these errors, I feel really good about the rule book and I really appreciate the amazing game created by Chris Bray, Derek Paxton and Leo Li. It was an honor to work with Stardock Entertainment. It was neat to see how the video game industry worked vs. the board game industry. I am so jealous that they can write a condensed version of the rules and the computer will take care of everything else. I am grateful for all the kickstarter backers to make Dead Man's Draw a reality. Without you this game would not be on my tabletop! Daniel