Which Would You Prefer: A Concise Rulebook, or a Linked Rulebook?

edited May 2011 in Game Design Help
So, I'm working on a game called The Quiet Year. It's a map-drawing game about rebuilding a post-apocalyptic community. It uses a deck of oracle-like cards, each card opening another week in the quiet year. More info if you follow the link.

I'm thinking about production, as it's a game I'd like to sell to folks. My current ideal format is to publish it as a deck of custom cards (54, corresponding to the regular playing card deck & jokers), along with a rulebook. To minimize shipping costs, its ideal (from a production standpoint) if the rulebook is about the same dimensions as the card deck - otherwise it results in awkward packaging, yeah?

The game is simple enough to do in a tiny rulebook. I've attempted to lay out a rulebook that could fit inside a pack of cards, and found that it's possible for this game. The rulebook is, however, quite concise. There are example lists of possible Situations (and Projects, and other stuff), but there aren't actual play examples where players negotiate those things. It's a bit more sparse than In A Wicked Age is.

What would you prefer, if you were buying a game like this?:

1.) To buy a tuckbox that contains the cards and a tiny, concise rulebook.
2.) To buy a tuckbox that contains the cards, and to download a more fleshed-out rulebook in PDF form.
3.) To buy a tuckbox that contains the cards and tiny rulebook, but also be able to download a more fleshed-out version in PDF form.
4.) To buy a regular rulebook, with an Oracle sheet (like In A Wicked Age has).
5.) Other.

Comments

  • Posted By: Mcdaldno3.) To buy a tuckbox that contains the cards and tiny rulebook, but also be able to download a more fleshed-out version in PDF form.
    I really like the physicality of cards. Given I've got the cards, I'd want a little rulebook with them.

    And, then, if there's more to stuff to read, I'll skim through the PDF. (I'd ideally prefer the little rulebook to have everything, even if it's brief. But if that's not possible, I'll take the PDF.)
  • #5 - Fold out poster with the rules on one side and your Facebook Profile picture on the other side (for my wall)
    #5 - same as above but something not a cool on the otherside
  • edited May 2011
    ok i really wanted to post the picture here, but I can't so you're just all going to have to USE YOUR IMAGINATION.
  • #3 here as well
  • Definitely #3. I love having a nicely packaged physical product, but I love being able to reference the game rules on my phone/laptop if I happen to be elsewhere.
  • I like the idea of #3. You have a good set of rules to read in the PDF along with the cards and the rulebook included is enough to jog your memory about how to play. If people like the game, they'll probably shell out for a printed copy of the fleshed out PDF rules to go with the cards.
  • Alright, that seems pretty definitive, in favor of #3.

    So, my vision at current:
    The physical product comes in a tuckbox. It's the 54 cards, plus a hand-stitched little rulebook that I'll make at home.
    When you buy the physical product, you also get the PDF. The PDF rules contain the same text, but with examples and marginalia and design notes added.
    The last page of the PDF is an oracle sheet, in case you want to play without the deck on hand, or don't have the deck, or whatever.

    The PDF could also be made available independently, should folks just want to toss three bucks down on that, or whatever.
  • #3 as well!
  • edited May 2011
    #2. Fuck tiny rulebooks.

    I have tons of card games. Never used a tiny rulebook that came with them yet. (Plus, they're always errata'd anyway, so I have to print out the corrections.)
  • 3 is objectively the best answer. Tiny rulebooks are the best. THEY'RE SO TINY LOOK AT THEM DAWWWW
  • edited May 2011
    #5 Why not print the rules on cards? Like extra cards I mean.
  • Posted By: stefoid#5 Why not print the rules on cards? Like extra cards I mean.
    I thought about that one. It ups the production cost by about $1.25 per unit, and then you also have a ruleset that's more scattered to reference.
    While I originally thought it was a neat idea too, it's a lot of extra cost without any benefit that I can see.
  • edited May 2011
    i would check out other forms of packaging.

    you can do a double tuck box and get a 3.5 x 5 rule book (split the deck into two 27 card stacks, have a nice thick perfect bound book inside the box)

    a double tuck also has better self presence and more perceived value.
  • I'd go with something like a deck of oracle cards that has a more substantial book to read through. You could easily do it the size of 2 decks of cards stacked lengthwise, for something roughly square, and have the box include the rulebook, and space for 26 cards twice.
  • I love the idea of #3. Providing the basic "need to know" rules in the box, with plenty of examples, optional rules and deeper concepts in the downloadable PDF.
  • I think it makes a difference what channel you're selling these through.

    If people are mostly going to be buying them online, then hitting them up with a PDF link as soon as they order is great. They can read over the rules, and by the time the deck gets mailed to them they're ready to play.

    If people are picking them up at a table at a con and then sit down to try to play, only to discover that it's really hard to figure out what's going on without going online, they're going to feel cheated. Of course, in that case you could just have printed handouts. But then it's going to look like you screwed up the rules and had to print out a corrected copy, which comes across as pretty amateur.

    I'm strongly in favor of having the full ruleset in the box, including examples and such. If that pushes you to a double sized deck box then that's not such a bad thing.

    For those saying that a separate PDF is good, do you envision people referencing it during play through a smartphone or other device, or do you picture printing out a copy, wrapping it around the deck with a rubber band and throwing it in the gaming bag like that?
  • #3 or #5 cards.
  • If only you could get a box that fits a double-deck of cards and put the rulebook in where the other deck would go.
  • Of your given options, I prefer #3, but I like better the idea of a double tuck box, with a 3x5 rulebook in one side and the cards in two stacks on the other.
  • Posted By: TylerTyou can do a double tuck box and get a 3.5 x 5 rule book (split the deck into two 27 card stacks, have a nice thick perfect bound book inside the box)
    Cool, I'll look into this idea. But not with a perfect-bound book - I'm planning to hand-stitch and hand-bind the rulebook, using homemade paper for the cover.

    Since the amount of cards would remain the same, and the additional cost of producing the book would be negligible, I'd basically only be paying for a custom box.
    Which I can't imagine costing that much more.

    And then I can put Spring (Hearts) & Summer (Diamonds) in one side of the box, and Fall (Clubs) and Winter (Spades) in the other. Which'd be good.
  • I like 3, because it means that the game I buy is complete but that I have different ways of getting at the information.

    The gadget freak in me thinks that #5, Download it as an iPhone App, would be the coolest of all.
  • Posted By: McdaldnoSince the amount of cards would remain the same, and the additional cost of producing the book would be negligible, I'd basically only be paying for a custom box.
    Which I can't imagine costing that much more.
    many places where you can order decks of cards from offer the double tuck box already, i know Superior POD does anyway.
  • Posted By: TylerTPosted By: McdaldnoSince the amount of cards would remain the same, and the additional cost of producing the book would be negligible, I'd basically only be paying for a custom box.
    Which I can't imagine costing that much more.
    many places where you can order decks of cards from offer the double tuck box already, i know Superior POD does anyway.

    It's kind of pricey though - I've been getting That's Drama sample decks in just the shrinkwrap.
  • #3 is what Magic: the Gathering does. So, there's that. ;-)

    Seth Ben-Ezra
    Great Wolf
  • You could give different pricing options. $25: cards + tiny rulebook. $35: cards + tiny rulebook + big beautiful rulebook.
  • Posted By: jdfristromIt's kind of pricey though - I've been getting That's Drama sample decks in just the shrinkwrap.
    It looks like if you order 40+ 108-card tuckboxes, the price is $1 per.
  • I'm obviously in the minority but #1.

    I like all-in-one.
    I like concise.
    I don't want to feel like I've bought an incomplete game that I have to get online stuff for.

    I fear that allowing yourself to have a "fleshed-out" rule book online may lead to less than optimal physical book: "I can always word it better online..."

    This sounds fantastic, especially as big IAWA fan.
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