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Game History

3 years ago I had the idea for a tile-laying game, that was conceptionated as a pure cardgame. In the core there should have been 2 different displays: One central at which all players can place their cards and one personal, where only the one Player could place his cards. The cards showed a number of 1 to 3 "torches" (for points) and other symbols for the amount of new cards to draw. If you place a card in your personal display, you draw new cards and if you place a card central, you are allowed to face down card(s) of your own display to get points every round. The double bind: if you face down too many cards minimizes good choices to play any future cards; if you face down only few cards, you will be too late in getting enough points before the game ends.

From the first idea until the firsts few tests with myself, I was very euphoric to test the game in a real gaming-group. But those first tests with real gamers weren't really good and diappointed me a lot: First the players only put cards in their own display to get many new cards - that was really boring and after that the run for points startet and ended the game too fast. I tried to fix this Problems, but the core-problems were not solved. The other thing was: I had to change nearly everything that stands for Palmyra in this period. After a few more tests, I put the game back in the bottom drawer.

Maybe a year later I reminded that there is a cool game that needs some more work. I gave it another try to solve everything. I remembered, that the display was much too big with the cards. So before changing anything else, I adapted the whole game from cards to tiles! Besides this I wanted to move away from the ordinary squared shape without using the boring hexagons (is this game like the Settlers?). I remembered a game that was a flop in our group, but I really loved the landscape: Krone und Schwert. With the change of smaller squared and larger octagonal spaces. That allows more tactical moves and gives an interesting landscape.

While adapted the cards to tiles, I also changed the old system: first there were 4 colors with 4 features (street, building...). I reduced it to only 3 types of landscape with 3 sorts of Feature. In this time every tile shows a feature and there still were the 2 different displays. More tests provided, that the problems are reduced, but still there. We had no other Materials besides the tiles, but I tried to add some wooden figures, with which the players move onto the new placed tile... One figure for the personal display and one for the fisplay in the center of the table.

To count the points there was a big stack of point-chits. If the stack is exhausted the game ends. You still face down tiles in your personal display (= points) after adding a tile to the center display and moving your figure onto this tile. And you draw new tiles for adding a tile to your personal display and moving your figure onto this tile. This was much better now, but the interaction still lacks.

Again the game came back in the lower drawer, but this time only for months. After another test, Hartmut Kommerell had the idea to have only one center display with all figures at. First I thought that this couldn't work... no chance to flip over the tiles to get the points every round. But after my brain worked very intensively, I found the choice to flip over some of the collected tiles to get points. This was the end of the „development-brake“. It goes hit after hit: the blank tiles (without a feature) were born, and so the possibility to play more than only one tile a turn. You could pass to reorganize your figures. Many neccessary new things that brought the game to another, much better level. In this period you got the bonus points every time you moved the "point"-figure. I noticed that this was much too much. For build up everything in a good time and then finishing the game within 2 rounds of points like 12 or 14 a turn. This was changed in the Last development-phase of the game.

Normally I wanted to show Palmyra to a publisher, but I was so stunned by the game that I wanted to release it by myself. Originally I wanted to release Pandora Titania in 2013, but many problems in this game weren't solved in March/April 2013 and I said to myself: Move this game back for 2014 for having a much better game then, so I took Palmyra before.

The next Problem was: where to get an artist that has enough free time, to realize this game within a very few months. Luckily Klemens Franz finished Palmyra within 2 months and I'm very thankful for that!

The last work to do were the rules. First I thought that this is not that much, but a good rule is total neccessary for the success of the game – I saw this back in 2011 with the rules of Pergamemnon – nearly no one gets into that game in the way I wanted... and that's the major thing to have fun with that game.

The last fine grindings gone with the question how many tiles you are allowed to play in one turn with giving many choices, but not allowing endless "monster-moves". I think with the final rules this balance is succeeded not that bad. Another thing that I added in the end-development-phase of the game wat Caesar! First I wanted to integrated him fully in the game, but I saw that it's easier to start the game fast without him and adding the caesar-rules later. I think after 2 games you won't play without caesar. Uff – and now the game was ready really close before the game fair.

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Bernd Eisenstein - Palmyra - Irongames
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