Kelv's Random Collection

A random collection of my contributions to the world.

Diary: Scenario Guide – Update 2

Posted by kelvSYC on 6-18-2017

It’s been quite a bit of work on the Scenario Guide.  Most of the text in the core scenarios (basically, everything that isn’t the bonus section) is outlined, but none of the setup diagrams are at this point.  Even then, it’s just over 200 pages in length, so I would imagine that the completed Guide should clock in at 300-350 pages.  (I blame one of the new scenarios in the Guide – you know, that new one with 37 diagrams – for making me do more and more diagrams.)

So here’s an update on what we have going on in the 2017-1 version of the Guide:

  • The section on “The First Island” is completely rewritten, with a whole new section on the game frame, and a write-up on certain key aspects of the base game rules.  This is actually quite a bit of work, going by how many pages of scratch paper I’ve used to do some trig calculations.  There are some portions that I have not yet rewritten from r13 (or my draft r14), such as the “fixed hexes” and such, but that’s relatively low on my priority list.
  • The section of the Guide on “First Islands of A Different Kind” is something I’m considering dropping, since it’s more of a spinoff showcase rather than something you can play with the core game components.  If anyone wants me to keep it, then I might consider re-adding it down the road.
  • Most sections of the Guide now have a sizeable writeup on the new equipment introduced in the specific scenario.  For example, the section on “Cloth for Catan” has a section on the original special hexes that were part of its original presentation, but was dropped when it was adapted for Seafarers.  Other things include a short section on the trade hexes in “Traders & Barbarians”, and so on.
  • Each section has a larger “section overview” which details equipment that is common to multiple scenarios.  For example, the Traders & Barbarians section overview contains the general rules for gold pieces.  In general, you’ll see a lot more cross-referencing in the new edition, which is a distinct change from r13 (where the rules were written so as to have individual scenarios be entirely self-contained).  The reason for this is the fact that scenario combinations were, for me, incredibly difficult for me to write up, and the fact that Explorers & Pirates is presented in a way that makes copying and pasting things not worth it.  (Right now, the longest writeup is for “Barbarian Attack”.  “Traders & Barbarians” had that title, but that was before I ultimately decided to separate out the base scenario from XL and Ultimate, since Ultimate plays nothing like the base “Traders & Barbarians” or even BA+TB.)
  • As a result, a lot of the “rules proper” sections are reduced by a great deal, and in most cases I can’t justify splitting the setup notes from the rules proper anymore…
  • Oh yeah, there are a lot of corrections to some of the sections in the Guide.  I don’t have an exact changelog, but one of the most egregious is “Transport Settlers”, in which the rules wouldn’t make any sense if you also considered the entries on it in the official FAQ.
  • I’ve also consolidated a few things – for example, “Atlantis” is presented in only one place in the Guide now.  I’ve also moved a few of the early “pre-Seafarers” stuff (“Seas for the Poor”, “Catan-Plus”) to the section on “The Second Islands” for a bit of a better flow.
  • More diagrams!  There are a few places in r13 where the wording wasn’t so hot, so a few rules diagrams would help.
  • I’ve decided to drop some of the inline images that I’ve used for resource costs and number tokens.  It’s not that I don’t like them, but it’s because my computer’s starting to strain from adding so much inline graphics.  (There is a reason r9 was split across multiple documents…)  If I ever revisit the live version, I’d definitely be using inline graphics for that.

There are a couple of things that I haven’t fully decided on in the Guide just yet:

  • Whether I should have actual photos of game components (for example, a comparison between traditional and Viking wood pieces), or other graphics that I did not come up with originally (for example, cropped images from Catan-News)
  • Whether I should have setup diagrams in the “correct” orientation (the Guide has long presented most setups on its side, so that the two-column setup layout would work without shrinking down the longest setup diagrams)
  • Whether the Bonus Section will return or not.  I have to double check if there will be new additions to the Bonus Section, or if I have to refine the criteria for inclusion of the Bonus Section at the moment.

Any input on some of the changes is definitely appreciated.  The 2017-1 version of the Guide is, so far, I’d say about 30% complete (the graphics take some time).  Again, I don’t expect that the final version of 2017-1 will be done before the release of Legend of the Sea Robber or the 2017 promotional scenarios.  There are still a number of places where my personal Catan collection has noticeable gaps, where I have to rely on second-hand sources for the information needed in the Guide.

While I am at it, I do have some special requests for the Guide.  Here are the Guide’s most requested things at this point:

  • Copy-editors.  I’m the first to admit that I don’t have consistent language in the write-ups, and a second set of eyes would be able to see things that can possibly be refactored.
  • A good templating engine.  This is more for the live version than anything, but may be useful down the road.  It is becoming more of an effort to compose the Guide, and I have been mulling over the live version’s backend more than anything.  Right now, most of the writing is there so that I can reuse most of what I write in the live version, where the benefit of things like hyperlinks can be useful.
  • In terms of me completing my collection: rare English versions of the German promotional maps, stuff that used to be on sale at the English Catan shop but not anymore, and a few other things.  (For one, I still don’t have a 4th or 5th edition Seafarers, as my Catan collection is 3rd edition vintage.  I do have a few German things, like frame piece extensions, but lack an actual German frame.)
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