Jorge Zhang

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Rulebook Preview 2 (Catapult Kingdoms, Ballad of the Pistolero, Makiavelia, Too Many Poops)

Hey everyone! Today I have another set of rulebook previews for you. The point of this series is to highlight tabletop games that you may have not heard of before. It is important to note that I haven’t actually played any of these games: most of the time, they have not yet been released, and I have simply reviewed the rulebook (hence Rulebook Preview). Anyway, without further ado:

Catapult Kingdoms

A game of launching boulders at your opponents’ castle

Catapult Kingdoms is the kind of game that I wish I had as a kid. In Catapult Kingdoms, you are playing either the British or the French, and are trying to knock over all of your opponents’ troops with your catapult. Think of it as Angry Birds, but in a board game. In the first phase of the game, you build your castle by following a few of the build rules (such as not being allowed to place bricks back-to-back). This is really neat since as soon as you finish proudly constructing your castle, your opponent gets to tear it down!

The official rules have players take turns choosing one of two actions: moving a catapult/troops, or repairing a broken catapult. They then fire their catapult, and then draw a card. This structure allows the game to appeal to an older audience, as it’s not just complete chaos. That being said, I can definitely imagine 9 year old me skipping the rulebook entirely and making it up as I went along (which is exactly what I did with Heroscape).

Rulebook: The rulebook was excellently graphically designed, and was a hilarious read. One of my favorite lines in the rules was “Fire at Will*! *Unless your opponent is actually called Will then please, just fire at his troops instead!” I wish that the rulebook came with more photos of the game, as it looks amazing and would help explain the set up a bit more. I also wonder if it would make sense to try and trim the rulebook to make it more approachable to a younger audience. Overall though, it was a solid rulebook that looked very clean and polished. Nice work! You can see the rulebook here:

Ballad of the Pistolero

A western RPG

Ballad of the Pistolero is a fantastically well-written RPG. It’s set in the wild west, but you don’t have to play as a cowboy. One of the first things the rulebook says is the following:

“Oh but history says…bully that.
History says many a thing, and not all of
them are good stories. We are here to
tell stories and have fun. So when you
are coming up with your game don’t feel
the need to be beholden to what actually

I really appreciate that section, since it opens up the creative door for the Game Master to create all sorts of interesting situations. It is also more inclusive to all players. Yes, maybe your campaign won’t be 100% historically accurate… but who cares? You’re there to have fun. That’s a great message to put out at the start of a game, and major props to the designer for putting that in there.

I’ll be the first to admit that my RPG experience basically boils down to some Dungeons and Dragons, and a dabble into a couple of other systems. That being said, I’m pretty sure that the combat in Ballad of the Pistolero is completely new and unique (at least it was to me). It’s seriously awesome. You are given 3 Action Points each turn, which can be used to take as many actions as you want from 8 different actions (and additional actions based on special abilities). You don’t have to use all 3 Action Points though! You can save them and end your turn early, which is advisable because that will let you have AP to spend on an opponents’ turn to attempt to dodge if they try and shoot you. It also means you’ll have more flexibility on your next turn (you can store up to 10 AP). However, maybe you want to just go for it and try and end the duel early? That will make you more vulnerable if you miss since you’ll have exhausted all of your actions.

That makes the combat so much more tactical and interesting in my opinion. One of the downsides to other RPGs is that it is basically just a numbers game, and you roll dice until you can hit the right numbers and win the encounter. Here, it is so much more about what actions you take that determine the outcome. It’s hard to get a feeling for how the combat all plays out without having actually played the game, but I was impressed by how well thought-out and strategical it seemed.

Rulebook: In terms of RPG rulebooks, this one was absolutely fantastic. The entire RPG is covered in the scope of 36 pages, with each page packed with information. I believe there might be a larger rulebook with more rules, but I really appreciate the base rulebook being easy, simple, and clean. Too often, I find that RPGs tend to drown you in rules upon rules that only serve as a barrier to actually bringing the game out and playing. Ballad of the Pistolero, on the other hand, is beautifully organized in a way that is very natural and easy to understand. Other RPG creators take note! You can read the rulebook here:


A card game with diplomacy and heavy player interaction? Sign me up!

Makiavelia is the type of game I would probably enjoy very much. In fact, after reading the rulebook I was itching to play a game. The goal of the game is to have the most money, though it seems that most of the time money is less currency and more like victory points. The game ends once the deck (called the market) runs out. On your turn, you get to take 2 of three actions: Draw a card, play a card, and attack a player. Playing cards will give you strength, which is extremely important.

Once all players have taken a turn, people enter the negotiation phase. This is absolutely my favorite phase of the game. All players total their strength, and the player with the most strength gets all of the coins. But wait, there’s more! Players can agree to create coalitions, which will cause them to add their strength together. However, in order to form a coalition, a distribution of coins in the case that they win is necessary.

Negotiation phase in Makiavelia

On top of that, on your turn, you can trade basically anything: coins, cards, or the promise of doing something in the future. And if you take the attack option, you get to use your strength to roll dice and deal the appropriate amount of wounds to an opponent. Their units don’t die yet though: which means that on their turn they could potentially vengefully strike back! That’s exactly the kind of game that I really enjoy because it promotes a high level of social interaction. It also makes my tolerance for imbalance a lot higher, since even if you get screwed over by the card draw, you can gang up on the leader and come out on top. And actually, often times games like this benefit the player in last place as you’ll rarely get picked on, and can aim for a sneak victory.

Rulebook: The rulebook is short and solid, and I really didn’t have many comments. It did a fantastic job of describing the game in an easy-to-understand way. One comment I did have was that because the game is from 3-8 players, there are several different changes to the set-up and coin payment during the negotiation phase. It would be nice to have this printed on the back of the rulebook or somewhere else so that it would be easy to reference. Not much else I’d change about the rules, which you can read here:

Too Many Poops

The poops are called “pooples”

Too Many Poops recently had a very successful Kickstarter, and for good reason. The theme is hilarious, and the game is very flexible with 2-6 players. The premise is that you are trying to get 10 points without getting 10 poops: if you get 10 poop, you lose. You get points for playing cats: you have to be careful though as these cats can generate poop. Also, if 2 rival cats are in the same house, they only give poops instead of points! So one strategy could be to play a cat on your opponent so that they can’t win and are more likely to have too much poop.

On your turn, you draw up to 6 cards from either the cat or item deck, and then play 1 cat and 2 items (You can also draw one of 3 face-up cards). One thing that stood out to me about this was how even though you are just drawing and playing cards, the flexibility of it all leads to a lot of strategical depth. While losing due to too many poops is player elimination it usually is entirely avoidable. However, without taking risks, you won’t be able to win! This creates some very interesting trade-offs.

Rulebook: The rulebook was very short, and did all the right things for a game this size. The graphic design is fantastic as well. Some of the organization at first seemed confusing, but after talking to the creator the pamphlet will be folded, which is the main reason behind some of the two-column switches. You can read it here:

What are your first impressions on these games? Would you be interested in playing any of them? Let me know in the comments below! Thanks for reading.

© 2020 Jorge Zhang