1.2: Dead omen cards discarded, bridges placed along edges and may connect
1.1: Changed from 3-6 players to 3-4 players
1.0: First edition
The complete rules are available in the PDF file to the right. In the following sections, I will describe how they came
An omen should give a hint about what will happen, not exactly what will happen. This is accomplished by three mechanisms.
The first is the coordinate system, where the combination of two or more coordinates determine what will happen. With only one coordinate, the players will know which range of squares or hexes that may be hit but not exactly which squares or hexes in that range. Apokalypsis implements this through areas ("pies" of the island) and cataclysms (inner, middle or outer rings of the island).
The second is the drawing of two cards at the time. This allows you not only to choose which omen that best suits your current position but also which omen you would like to delay by returning it to the bottom of the pile.
The third is fact that there are two copies of each omen. Even if you have seen an omen or if you have returned an omen to the bottom of the pile, the odds are that that position is safer now but you cannot be absolutely sure.
All this forces the players to deduce which omens the other players have seen from their moves while at the same time move in a way that doesn't give away to much information to the other players.
The color selection
Since only two omens are needed for tiles starting to disappear, there is a risk that player 3 and up lose a meeple before even starting the game. One way to mitigate this first-mover advantage would be not to disclose any omens until all players have had a turn. However, this would create a last-player advantage instead, as the last player may observe the first players' moves, deduce their omens and move to safety. Also, this solution doesn't scale very well 5 and 6 player games will mean 5 or 6 omens to be revealed at the same time, potentially causing half of the island to disappear already in the first round.
A more interesting option was to let the players choose colors in their first turns. The advantage of the first players to choose early is then mitigated by the advantage of the last players to choose surviving colors. Since a 5th and 6th players wouldn't have much choices left, I simply allowed them to return 1 and 2 meeples in their first turns. The turn order will still not give all players equal opportunities but it will be fair and give variation - not a bad trade-off.
The image of people running to safety/away from unsafety contains elements of running, pushing and crowding. The 2 meeples per hex rule combined with the push rule covers all this. A meeple isn't blocked as easy as it would with a 1 meeple per hex rule but can still be blocked if both surrounding hexes and hexes adjacent to surrounding hexes are full.
The extra cost to push meeples was logical (you basically move 2 meeples at the same time) but also mechanically necessary. Without the extra cost, the game would be too chaotic as meeples freely push each others back and forth. Without the push, the game would be too static and lose a fun take that mechanism. An extra cost was a good balance, forcing the players to weigh the cost versus the benefit.
With parts of the island eventually being seperated, it gets harder for the meeples to move. To make it a bit easier, bridges were added to keep the movement flexibility through the mid-game as well.
The end game condition
A survival game implies player elimination, an element that games generally try to avoid. A simple solution is to let the game end when the first player gets eliminated. An equally simple tie breaker was to use turn order to encourage players to eliminate each other and be in turn when ties are broken.
If all players play the game perfectly, no penalties are needed. But what happens if a player accidentally
reveal omen cards that shouldn't have been revealed or do not reveal omen cards that should have been revealed?
In the first case, the player next in turn will have
information that lets her decide exactly where the next apocalypse takes place. In the second case,
the apocalypse will include more omens than it should and be more devastating.
To just let it happen is not a good option. Not only does it disrupt the game balance but
players may also deliberately play wrong. To penalize them by forcing them to remove a meeple should
prevent this. Another (unintended) penalty is the fact that if the next player in turn uses the
information to end the game quicker than otherwise, the player playing wrong will be the last in
turn in case of a tie.
Another alternative would have been to use a game master or let an app check the apocalypses,
similar to how it is done in Alchemists,
but to keep the game as a "pure" boardgame, this was simplest and most elegant solution.
... and Rejected Rules
There are of course also ideas that will be rejected and here I will explain why.