6 January 2009

The Black Sheep Is Up To New Tricks!

2 new variants for Black Sheep

By Rob Kouba

Black Sheep Online Variant 1: Classified Corralling

This variant uses the web-published Barn Cards. 

Barn Cards (pdf, 2.5mb)

Barn Cards have three parts to them (see example to the right):

  1. Player Color - The barn color itself matches the color of the barns facing a particular player (red, yellow, purple, or blue) on the three fields.
  2. Field Color - The roof of the barn and silo correspond to the color of the barn/silo roofs on one of the three fields  (white, grey, or black).
  3. Initiative Number - This number (from 1–12) determines the order of play to a particular field (see #4 below).

During setup, each player takes the set of three Barn Cards that matches his color. Also, players arrange the fields so that the grey field is in the center.

In this variant, instead of keeping their cards hidden from each other, players keep their cards faceup in a row for all other players to see. Instead of playing animal cards to the fields in turn, all players play animal cards simultaneously.  To do so, players do the following:

  1. Each player secretly chooses which field he wants to play his cards in.
  2. Each player places his corresponding Barn Card secretly and simultaneously facedown in front of himself.
  3. The Barn Cards are flipped faceup once all players have chosen.
  4. Animal cards are then placed on the fields dictated by their owner’s Barn Card according to the rules for placing these cards. Players resolve the fields in following color order: white first, then grey, and finally black. If two (or more) players play to the same field, the player who played the Barn Card with the lowest Initiative Number at that field goes first, followed by the player who played the second lowest, etc.

Example: In the first turn of a three-player game, Mary, Scott, and James first decide secretly which field they will play to, taking into account the cards that have already been played to the fields (in this case none) and the cards faceup in front of the other players. As they each decide where to play, the players select the Barn Card with the barn/silo roof color that matches the field each wants to play to. After each player has decided and has placed his chosen Barn Card in front of himself, all players flip their chosen Barn Cards faceup. Mary has chosen to play to the white field, while both James and Scott are playing to the black field. Mary must play her cards first to the white field. Nothing happens in the grey field. Finally, Scott and James look at the Initiative Numbers on their Barn Cards to see who plays first to the black field. Scott has an Initiative Number of 3, while James has an Initiative Value of 1. Therefore, James plays to the black field first, and then Scott plays. After all cards have been played, players draw replacement cards and continue with the next turn.

Classified Corralling allows players to play their animal cards simultaneously to the fields. This allows for a deeper strategy since the players also play with their cards faceup.Black Sheep Online Variant 2: Fenced In

This variant requires one to three small markers (coins work fine) representing fences.

Players use one less fence token than there are players. So, for example, if there are four players, there will be three fence tokens used. After normal setup, players place the fence tokens in the playing area. If only one fence token is being used, one player places it on the center field. If two are being used, the players place one on each of the two outer fields. If all three fence tokens are being used, the players place one on each field.

Whoever wins a field with a fence token on it takes the fence token and places it into his play area in a spot where everyone can see. Before the active player places his animal cards to a field, a Blocking Phase occurs where each player with a fence token in his play area can use it to block that player. Each player with a fence token, starting with the player to the active player’s left, has the opportunity to place a fence token. However, only one fence token can be placed during the active player’s turn. A fence token may not be placed on a field that is the only remaining field the active player can play on.

To use a fence token, the player using it declares that he is using it and places it on one of the barns of the active player’s color on one of the fields. The active player cannot play to that field this turn.

After the active player’s turn ends but before the next player’s turn begins, the active player removes any fence token used against him and places it in his play area. He can now use it against the other players!Fenced In rewards players with fence tokens that can be used to block players throughout the game. Watch out since the player who was blocked receives the fence and can block you right back!

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