Vienna Boardgame Idea – Hoping for input and help


Possibly through the transperambulations of pseudo-cosmic anti-matter, your video game mysteriously transformed into a persona-changing time machine in the middle of the video game night you had arranged with your friends! And just as you were winning, too!

Now, you and your friends find yourself trapped inside the bodies of great people in Roman Vienna, thousands of years before the video game (or the time machine) was even invented!

Luckily, there seems to be a way to get back, but the road back home will be tricky…

Okay, so I had this dream a few days ago where me and some people (don’t remember who) were chased throughout some unknown city by something unknown (but fiercely dangerous!). The twist was that we were always changing the era we were in, from Roman times to modern times and back to some sort of Middle Ages. We also constantly changed who we were, from Caesar to Beethoven and so on. I have been thinking about this a lot ever since, and thought that maybe there is a boardgame in there somewhere.

I think it might be a good idea, but I desperately need help developing it from the embryonic state it is in now, to some sort of coherent game. Therefore, I give you what I have written down, and hope for constructive comments, criticism, and offers to help developing this and perhaps even make a working copy one day for game testing (and if so, I would of course appreciate help with game testing…). Here’s what I’ve got so far:


Players (3-6?) move around Vienna in seven different eras (Roman, Crusades, Imperial, Congress, Fin de Siècle, Modern, Future). They can move between ages in both directions, but only through a time hole, which has a tendency to move around all the time. All players begin in the Roman era.

However, the players are also trapped inside the bodies of famous people who happen to be in Vienna, and these people have needs and urges of their own. Preventing them from acting as they historically did will undoubtedly have an impact on history.

These famous people all belong to six classes (Scientist, Philosopher, Artist, Officer, Merchant, and Politician), all of which have special class-based talents as well as individual talents. Each era has five of each class, based on real historical characters, who may or may not have been in Vienna, or even lived, at the same time.

Goal of the game:

The goal of the game is to get all players to the Modern era at the same time. When this happens, the person who has made the least Historical Impact wins the game.

The ideal is to have this as a very cooperative game, rather than strictly competitive. Everyone must at some point help someone else, or the game will never end.

The “Ika i Rutan” rule

The Swedish kids’ show “Ika i Rutan” has a sketch where Ika explains the rules of Super-Chess (I think). One of the rules is, “You can’t go on playing for too long because then it just gets boring”. This is the best rule ever, and should be included in all games. Therefore, I think it should be a rule that if someone is unhelpful and through his/her unhelpfulness makes the game drag on for ages, that person has obviously not understood the basic theme of the game. That person is therefore, if all other players agree, declared the Great Fat Loser of this and any subsequent games, and everyone else is the winner. This rule only comes into effect if someone is actively trying to sabotage the fun of the game, though (think Alsgren).

Setup of the game:

I imagine there would be a pretty big board featuring a map of Vienna overlain by hexagons. All hexagons would be named to enable tracking of goals, the time hole and so on. All hexagons will have a colored border, which represents during which eras they are developed:
– Black: Developed only in Modern era
– Yellow: Developed Fin de Siècle and all subsequent eras.
– Red: Developed in Congress and all subsequent eras
– Blue: Developed in Imperial and all subsequent eras.
– Green: Developed in Crusades and all subsequent eras.
– Purple: Developed in Roman and all subsequent eras.

Each player should have a coloured piece to represent himself, but there should be different shapes in the same colour to represent which era the player is in. For instance, Crusade era could be represented by a cross, Imperial with a crown, and Fin de Siècle with a top hat. Or something.

There would also be several sets of cards. One Event set per era, which is drawn from at the beginning of each player’s turn and which sets conditions for that era. For instance, a Congress era Event card may read:

“All Politicians in this era must rush to the Hofburg for the Royal Ball. The Royal Ball will end in three rounds [that is, until the player who drew that card has had two more turns], or until all Politicians have visited the Hofburg”

Failure to follow the instructions of the Event card will give the player Impact points. There is no effect, or a slight positive effect, if the player follows the instructions.

There must also be a stack of cards which include Persona cards and Equipment cards, randomly mixed. Possibly also other kinds of cards. Each player, at the beginning of his/her round, should draw a card from both the Persona/Equipment stack and the Event stack.

There should be a set of cards representing all hexagons, the Time Hole card set. This both determines where players start (by random drawing of cards) and where the time hole is, both at the beginning of the game and every time it moves. Potentially, Event cards could also refer to a randomly drawn Time Hole card (e.g., “All Scientists must immediately gather at [Time Card] for a demonstration of the new electric light, or they will fail to keep up with modern innovations, giving them 3 Era Impact points”).

Lastly, there should be a Changing History set of cards, which are the unpleasant things that follow from making too much impact on history.

Moving around:

Players would perhaps have two movement points per round, with movement between two adjacent hexagons costing one point in cities, and two points into hexagons that weren’t developed in the era the player is in.

Two players can be in the same hexagon only if they are in different eras.

Equipment cards:

I imagine equipment cards would be things like “horse and cart” (adding movement points) and so on. They should add a small modifier to something, and could possibly be modified by Event cards.

It should be possible to pass Equipment cards to other players, under two conditions:
– The players are in the same or adjacent hexagons;
– The receiver is in a later era than the giver.

The latter condition is the whole justification; the giver leaves the Equipment card in that square as an “artefact” for the receiver to discover. Naturally, some objects (such as horses) cannot be traded in this way.

Objects must be picked up the next time it is the receiver’s turn, and not immediately. This means that if the receiver is called away and cannot pick up the card (because it is in a adjacent hexagon; it is always possible to pick up items that are in the same hexagon), the card is forfeited and returns to the trash pile.

Persona cards:

Persona cards should ideally have a picture of the person, his/her birth- and death dates (if known), and perhaps some small fact about them, or some witticism they are guilty of.

Persona cards come in six classes, all of which have class-specific abilities.

Scientists are so smart, that they can operate a time hole on their own, without the assistance of another player.
– No one expects Philosophers to live in the same world as the rest of us – they are too caught up in contemplating other possible worlds. Therefore, once per visit to an era, a Philosopher may choose to ignore an Event card without suffering any negative consequences.
Artists are unpredictable; you never know what they are up to. Therefore, their Era Impact Scale has thirteen steps, rather than ten.
Officers are used to campaigning and can send their soldiers to clear the way in undeveloped lands, and therefore suffer no movement penalties in undeveloped areas.
Merchants can “teleport” to a hexagon of their choice once per visit to an era by using their company chariot or whatever they have. This teleportation eats up their entire movement.
Politicians, being able to affect our lives in such a profound way, can once per visit to an era draw two Event cards instead of one, and choose which one they want to activate.

Each Persona also has a Persona-specific ability. ?????

In the Modern era, players play “themselves”, with no special modifications.

It is only possible to change Persona by travelling in time. At the time travel event, the player chooses what Persona he/she will be in the new era, and has to stick with that until he/she travels in time again.

Time travel:

All players can move freely backwards and forwards in time as many times as they want. However, there is a restriction: Only the scientist can use a time hole on his/her own. For all other classes, it requires two players – one standing in the hexagon with the time hole, and one standing in an adjacent hexagon – for one of them to use the time hole. Naturally, these players must be in the same era.

That is, the game is fundamentally one of cooperation, apart from disagreeable bastards who chose to play Scientist all the time…

Once the time hole has been used, it moves randomly to another hexagon, as dictated by the Time Hole cards.

The time hole is the same for all eras, so it might pay to plan collectively how to use it, so that no one gathers up too many Impact points…


Impact is gathered by changing history in some way. A player gains Impact from:
– Not following instructions on Event cards.
– From Changing History Cards
– …

These Impact points are transferred to the Era Impact Scale, which has ten steps (thirteen for Artists). Impact from a single untoward event will vary between one and five. Once a player reaches ten Era Impact points, two things happen:

– One point is added to that players Historical Impact Scale.
– The player has to draw a card from the Changing History stack.

Historical Impact points determine who ultimately wins the game once all players are back in the Modern era. The player with the lowest amount of Historical Impact points wins. If there is a tie, both players win.

Era Impact is reset to zero every time a player travels through time, so a good way to get rid of Era Impact when you are approaching ten is to travel to a new era. Other players should be encouraged to help you do that, as a Changing History Card will have negative effects for everyone, and the goal should be to have to draw as few as possible of those.

Changing History cards should affect ALL eras subsequent to that in which the player who drew the card is. An example would be:

“A time traveller has changed history! As a result, speculation about what will happen in the Future is all the rage, and makes a marked impact on the collective consciousness of the Western World. From now on, the following changes will apply:
Roman: Seeing where the wind is blowing, local authorities seal off the town to prevent it from falling to the raging hordes of barbarians. It is therefore impossible for any player to enter areas that are not developed in this era. Players already in such areas have two rounds to make it into town, or they will be arrested and have to spend two rounds in the Town Jail. This does not apply to Officers;
Crusades: The King believes the Crusades will drag on for ages, and everything that can be used to shorten the war must be pressed into service to the Holy Cross. No Equipment cards can be used in this era until the end of the game. This does not apply to Merchants, who can simply smuggle things in from outside the city.
Imperial: Anticipating the Thirty Years war, the Pope puts strict limits on all artistic expression in Christianity. It is no longer possible to be an Artist in this era, and all players who are Artists must immediately change class to one of their choice from their hand or, if they have no other Imperial Persona cards, look through the draw pile and take the first non-Artist Persona card they find. The draw pile is then reshuffled.
Congress: There is much speculation about how well the Post-Napoleonic era will develop, and the Emperor doesn’t want to take any chances. All movement in this era is therefore reduced by one, due to frequent police controls. Keep your papers in order! This does not apply to Politicians;
Fin de Siècle: It is no longer possible to travel directly from this era to the Modern era. Instead, the players wishing to do so must travel from this era to the Future Era, and from there to the Modern era. Players continue to play as the same Persona Class as they had before they travelled to the future. This does not apply to Scientists;
Modern …”

Effects of Changing History Cards will last throughout the rest of the game, and are stackable. However, they should only effect eras after the one in which it was obtained, so there’s a need for a system to keep track of that…


It is normally not possible to travel to the Future era, but Changing History Cards may enable it. All areas are developed, the players play the same Persona class as the one they played in the last era they visited. Thus, if they are not Scientists, they will have to be rescued by a Scientist before the game can end. On the plus side, time travel has become more advanced in the Future, so a player travelling from the Future can choose which era he/she wants to travel to.

Suggestions? Comments? Criticism? Undying love? Please interact!

Are you generally unimaginative? Don’t fret, you can help even if you are a dullard! I would especially welcome suggestions for Persona cards. They don’t have to live at the same time (“Imperial”, after all, stretches from the Dark Ages to the Congress of Vienna…), and they don’t have to ever have been in Vienna (though that is preferred), as long as they are famous for something. Suggestions for these could easily be gathered by simply opening a book, or perhaps just thinking very hard.

So far I have:

Karl Marx, Congress

Ludwig van Beethoven, Congress
Gustav Klimt, Fin de Siècle
Otto Wagner, Fin de Siècle
Arnold Schönberg, Fin de Siècle

Johann Tserclaes, Count de Tilly, Imperial

Jeanetto de Tassis, Imperial
Jakob Fugger, Imperial

Klemens von Metternich, Congress
Maurice de Talleyrand, Congress

So there are lots of gaps…


2 responses »

  1. Cool. I think the hexagons should in atleast some way relate to the districts. Also, make the changing history cards bad for everyone, but let them affect different guilds differently. (eg. one card might be really bad for Politicians (anrachism, huzzah!) but only moderately bad for artists etc.) It seems like a rather complicated rule set for a light-hearted game, caution is advised so that it doesn’t turn into another Android…

    I’ll get back to you with more comments when I’ve thought about it, maybe. Cheers!

  2. Perhaps in the future, Philosophers will redeem the timetravelers, arguing that, from a strictly post-vanburenist perspective, many of the paradoxes cannot be said to be paradoxes at all, thus deducting Impact from the player successfully presenting a thesis on the matter?

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