Starting considerations


Looking around on the net I’ve found very few attempts to create the rules for this game.
The first and most obvious objection is “Is too complex as per Iain M.Banks describe it in the novel and there are not enough detailed indication about the rules. Is just a fictional game! Moreover is so complex that will be totally unplayable. You took your whole life to learn to play the game !”

All true, but consider this just other games …

“Starfleet Battles”
Is a well known strategic board game based on the Star Trek universe.
Actually is composed of several thousand pages of rules and expansions books. The players are a so huge group that there are tournament all around the globe.

And what about “Advanced Dungeons & Dragons” ?

Maybe You already known about this HUGE board game, spanning four decades of development. And You guess how many pages of rules and expansion book are available today ? Well I don’t know but take a look at the picture and You get the idea !

OK and so ?

This examples are just to demonstrate that despite the incredible complexity of these games and the incredible effort to properly master them, there are plenty of player.

So i really don’t think that “AZAD” will be so different, instead I think that Banks was suggesting that AZAD is a game that You are able to learn even if extremely complex, but You need your whole life to master it at the highest level.

Think to the chess, few easy rule that You can learn in hour or so, but a whole life of study and practice to master it.

If You agree with my point view than the AZAD game became much more manageable and thus there are chanches to create a playable game.

OK and what do we do now ?

What if you read and reread in a very inquisitive manner the novel ?

Despite the only few directly mentioned game mechanics there are dozens of phrases and description that let you speculate on the rules of the game itself.
Not only some of the rules can be inferred from a direct reference but also from indirect reference.

Let’s try with an example. This is a quote from the book :

“The priest looked at him expectantly, as though waiting for the stupid human to finally give up,
but Gurgeh smiled over at the apex, selected the strongest cards from his dwindling supply,
deposited them with the Adjudicator, and made his next move.
All he was banking on, it turned out, was the rest being too concerned with winning the game quickly.
It was obvious that some sort of deal had been arranged which would let the priest win,
and Gurgeh guessed that the others wouldn’t be playing at their best when they were competing
for somebody else; it would not be their victory.”

In this quote I see a lot of rules embedded.

  1. stupid human to finally give up – This mean that is possible to resign from the game.
  2. selected the strongest cards – This mean that cards have different value or power.
  3. from his dwindling supply – So the cards are used across the game, then are expended and your supply can be exhausted. So you start with an defined number of cards that have their own power.
  4. deposited them with the Adjudicator – Why deposit a card ? Maybe you can use at a later stage of the game like some sort of jolly ? Need more investigation.
  5. and made his next move – Move ? So it’s not only a card game there are some pieces to move (we know it already).
  6. too concerned with winning the game quickly – Quickly ? How ? Need more investigation.
  7. some sort of deal had been arranged which would let the priest win – So allegiance between player is possible. How this affect the game itself ? Playing with rotating shifts or something else ?
  8. which would let the priest win – If there is only one winner what earn the others who were part in the alliance? There are maybe a points distribution related to their performances or placement ?

As you can see if you pay some attention in the reading, many rules mechanic come to life. This represent a good starting point !

What do you think ?
Have you read the book in this way ?
Do you believe is possible to define the rules ?

Let me know !

Just for You that are reading this post … I’ve already write down more than twenty pages of rules using the approach that I’ve just explained.
Not Bad !

4 thoughts on “Starting considerations

  1. play some Go, and then come back to trying to design games at the limen of human mental ability


  2. Move could refer to ‘take his turn’ so a turn based game rather than simultaneous play.


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