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"Two-tiered guilds" model

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jwarrend
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I’d like to use this thread to sketch out some thoughts I had about fleshing out my interpretation of David’s game idea. I’m basically going to set aside most of the structure of his game for the time being, because it may or may not be essential for this "new" idea.

As I mentioned, the core concept involves a “two-tier production model”. The idea is that the “lower tier” [guilds/production facilities/whatever] take raw materials from the game system itself and convert them into either sellable low-value goods or Components of high-value goods. The “higher tier” guilds take these Components and combine them into high-value sellable goods. For both the low-value and high-value goods, players would be selling to the game system. The Components would be sold between players.

And that’s basically it. But to this simple outline, several systems must be added. Here are a couple of ideas that could be used to flesh things out:

Perhaps there are different regions of the board, each of which produce one or more of the raw materials, and each of which have spaces for the players' "factories". Perhaps depending on how far one’s “factory” is from the resource-producing region, one has to pay to “import” the material. But maybe there’s also a “merchant”, like Scurra’s idea, only his power would be that he can travel the roads for free. Thus, he can buy resources cheaply and then sell them to the other players at a markup. Presumably he could do the same thing with low and high valued goods.

I’m envisioning a system whereby each turn, next to each of a player’s “factories” the player will place two tiles, representing a good/resource he is willing to buy and a good he is willing to sell.

And then, some market economic model kicks in to determine the price, demand, etc. I envision a system of “contract” cards that are drawn at the start of the turn and revealed, maybe one per region, representing “finished goods” that people are willing to buy. I like Fanaka66’s economic model from “Fad Factory”, but I am sure it’s possible to invent something equally robust here.

Those are some preliminary thoughts. Feel free to chime in with impressions, comments, ideas, whatever!

-Jeff

sedjtroll
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"Two-tiered guilds" model

So the players will be deciding for each good they produce- do they want to sell it (presumably for VPs), or will they want to combine it for a higher reward?

Maybe the Tier 1 goods are sold for money but the Tier 2 goods are sold for VPs... So you've got some resources- do you use them to get money (which you'll need for various tings, including getting more resources), or do you start putting them toward your score?

In a model without the 'apprentice' aspect this could probably work just fine. If we wanted to add that aspect, then players could partake in the actual conversion of these commodities/components to VPs- maybe a player can somehow own part of a tier 2 guild, and when a tier 2 good is made, all players with ownership in that guild are rewarded or something like that.

Frankly, I don't know if I see the apprentice/journeyman/master thing working here, but I do see the Guild thing working here- perhaps each player represents a particular guild, which means they've got a specific ability (variable player powers) and perhaps they earn VPs when their guild is used for stuff.

OR, the guilds could be like Role cards in PR and could either relate to an action or a product, so you choose which guild to use for the turn and that defines which actions you can take or else which goods you can produce.

I think this is a good start, lets keep working on it.

As for the marketplace, I too liked Fad Factory's economic model. Scurra's reminds me of something I read before... Maybe if we ask nice Darkehorse will fill us in on what he'd thought about for Wreck Ashore's marketplace...

- Seth

Scurra
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"Two-tiered guilds" model

It's certainly got noth... er, very little in common with my design :-)

Having said that, there are some aspects that resemble concepts I sketched out and then didn't pursue because it was more of an economic sim than I really wanted (I wanted to stick with the Guild Advancement idea, although it seems that the other stuff is probably the wrong track for that particular game. Indeed, the other original driving force for the game is no longer present in this version at all!

The original conception was to use different currencies (a la Alhambra), with the different Guilds and Towns using them to buy and sell stuff. So a town would buy and sell stuff only using the Yellow currency, but they would also have an exchange rate with, say, the Blue currency, so you could buy stuff with Blue at a worse price. But once I'd added the production component to the game as well, then having multiple currencies made the game ludicrously complicated to administer. (I think that'll make a great game some day, but not this one.)

I still think your "two-tier" model is what I was trying to do but deliberately split to make comprehension easier (especially since I am using a "three-tier" model as well!) And selling "to the game system" is almost certainly the solution - what my model introduced was the idea that as you sold, the price went down for subsequent players. but that the merchant could then use this to their advantage by buying the cheaper things and selling them (usually in the City once the price had fallen far enough.) But this then becomes far too unwieldy; it would be much more fun to have demand for goods changing, rather than a fluctuating price model.

I do like Seth's "tier one=gold, tier two=VPs" idea; that's a classic tipping point game element, although it's possible that PR has colonized that space a little too effectively...

jwarrend
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"Two-tiered guilds" model

Quote:

Maybe the Tier 1 goods are sold for money but the Tier 2 goods are sold for VPs... So you've got some resources- do you use them to get money (which you'll need for various tings, including getting more resources), or do you start putting them toward your score?

I think this would be perfectly fine, but I’m afraid it would result in a rather well-trodden path with respect to where the tension in the game would come from. In that sense, I was aiming more, I think, at forcing players to decide where in the “food chain” to place themselves. The point of emphasis you suggest would really lead to a narrative flow that would go like “Early in the game, I cash in resources for money, but late in the game, I cash in resources for VPs”, which again is perfectly fine but maybe too familiar.

The key in making an economy of the sort I’m advocating seems to be that different things must have different value to different people. From this, one begins to see the wisdom of secret contracts. If you know perfectly how much a widget is worth to me, you can make me really pay for it; secret contracts cloud that somewhat. But I still like “broadcasted” contracts better. Clearly, then, the source of tension would have to come from supply-demand tension.

What I think I have in mind is something whereby perhaps there are two levels of “contracts” -- for the “high tier” goods, there are contracts that promise a certain payout. In contrast, for the “low tier” goods, there is some sort of market economy with fluctuating demand and with competition between the players.

Quote:

In a model without the 'apprentice' aspect this could probably work just fine. If we wanted to add that aspect, then players could partake in the actual conversion of these commodities/components to VPs- maybe a player can somehow own part of a tier 2 guild, and when a tier 2 good is made, all players with ownership in that guild are rewarded or something like that.

Frankly, I don't know if I see the apprentice/journeyman/master thing working here, but I do see the Guild thing working here- perhaps each player represents a particular guild, which means they've got a specific ability (variable player powers) and perhaps they earn VPs when their guild is used for stuff.

Yes, there’s definitely a question of representation here -- are players guild members, guild owners, factory owners, whatever? Certainly something that will have to be defined at some point. I agree that, to me, I’m already ready to leave the Apprentice construct behind for now, and only add it if the mechanics demand it; currently, it seems like it would be force-fitting it in to this particular system.

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OR, the guilds could be like Role cards in PR and could either relate to an action or a product, so you choose which guild to use for the turn and that defines which actions you can take or else which goods you can produce.

This might be a nice way to have several different guilds and to not force a player to adopt one or two guilds and stick with them the whole game. (Because that would be more appropriate for an “advancement” game, but not necessarily so for a “market” game, which I think this is becoming.) Maybe we could incorporate the “advancement” concept by modifying role selection to be that you can hang on to your role card between turns, in which case it becomes more powerful, but you must give it up at some point if you hope to diversify. (Maybe the role cards would be two-sided, with one side saying “Apprentice” and one side saying “Master”)

I don't think I see this as a role selection game, but maybe it's worth at least thinking about it...

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As for the marketplace, I too liked Fad Factory's economic model. Scurra's reminds me of something I read before... Maybe if we ask nice Darkehorse will fill us in on what he'd thought about for Wreck Ashore's marketplace...

I also quite like David’s market model, however there’s an additional level here that must be accomodated, namely, how do players interact with each other with respect to the intermediate level goods.

Scurra wrote:

Indeed, the other original driving force for the game is no longer present in this version at all!

Yes, this is definitely not meant to be a simple reworking of your game, but a completely new game from whole cloth. (although, it obviously owes a tremendous debt to your game)

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The original conception was to use different currencies (a la Alhambra), with the different Guilds and Towns using them to buy and sell stuff.

I still haven't managed to play Alhambra, but a game about exchange rates sounds like it could be interesting, but I agree, adding resource production could complicate things a lot.

Quote:
I still think your "two-tier" model is what I was trying to do but deliberately split to make comprehension easier (especially since I am using a "three-tier" model as well!)

But of course, my model has three tiers as well; it's just that the lowest tier, raw materials, comes from the game system rather than from the players. And this creates, I claim, a fundamental difference between our two models. In mine, the "low tier" guilds can get their resources from the game; the "high tier" guilds must get them from low tier guilds. And, crucially, the high tier guilds aren't just "advanced versions" of the low tier guilds, but unique entities. Drop the guilds for simplicity and think of them as factories; a "paper mill" might be a low-tier facility, and a "printer" might be a high-tier facility. The point of interest in the game becomes which type of business you'll run -- one where your supply problems are easy but demand is lower, or one where supply chain issues will be troublesome but demand is high? It focuses in on a very specific (and I think, interesting) economic question.

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And selling "to the game system" is almost certainly the solution - what my model introduced was the idea that as you sold, the price went down for subsequent players.

I like your economic model very much, although I might modify it for this game to be an "all at once" deal where the amount sold by all players fixes the price (if only to avoid the "price setting" complexity that Fanaka is experiencing in Fad Factory). e.g., if I am the only seller, the price is X, but if two of us sell, the price is X-1, etc, or something like this.

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but that the merchant could then use this to their advantage by buying the cheaper things and selling them (usually in the City once the price had fallen far enough.) But this then becomes far too unwieldy; it would be much more fun to have demand for goods changing, rather than a fluctuating price model.

I also like the idea of the merchant being a "middleman", and I think a mechanic like that could work here; as I mentioned, I think the way to pull it off is to have delivery of goods have a non-zero cost for people other than the merchant, so the merchant can turn a little profit on acting as an intermediary. (For example, maybe there's demand for Books; so rather than letting the book-producers compete for that market, the merchant could go around buying up all the books, then parcel them out in a way in which only he benefits. Just a silly example, but I do think there's possibly a role for a merchant mechanic here...)

-Jeff

sedjtroll
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"Two-tiered guilds" model

jwarrend wrote:
I also like the idea of the merchant being a "middleman", and I think a mechanic like that could work here; as I mentioned, I think the way to pull it off is to have delivery of goods have a non-zero cost for people other than the merchant, so the merchant can turn a little profit on acting as an intermediary. (For example, maybe there's demand for Books; so rather than letting the book-producers compete for that market, the merchant could go around buying up all the books, then parcel them out in a way in which only he benefits. Just a silly example, but I do think there's possibly a role for a merchant mechanic here...)

I imagine that what you mean here is that a player could choose to be a Merchanct instead of a Blacksmith or a Carpenter or whatever, and as such he would get the benefit of being a merchant.

This could work in either of 2 ways- in a 'static role' system where there are different roles and players can assume whichever they want (there could be 3 Merchants for example, and no Blacksmiths), or a 'variable role' system where players aren't tied to any particular role, but choose one each turn/round in order to produce a specific resource or product or to get the benefit conferred by the role.

I'll attempt an off the cuff example of each...
Let's say a Printer is a tier 2 facility which makes Books. Books are a Luxury for which there are high-payoff (VP) contracts. In order to make Books, the Printer needs Paper, a commodity from the Mill, which also makes the pruduct Lumber. In addition to Paper, the Printer also needs Ink, a commodity from the [can't think of what it's called], which also produces [something else].

Static Roles:
Player 1 makes a decision early to be a Printer. Player 2 makes a decision early to operate a Mill. Player 3 makes a decision to be a Merchant. Based on whatever else happens in the game, P2 ends up with some Lumber and some Paper. P1 wants to buy the paper (as well as Ink) in order to create Books. P2 could sell paper to P1 directly for a price whch is somehow determined (maybe by the player selling it), and there could be a delivery cost involved. P3 could purchase the Paper from P2 with no delivery cost, and sell it to P1 with no delivery cost, at whatever price the players agree on.

There could be other tier 1 and tier 2 businesses which are not controlled by players, which produce and sell things at a particular rate (a player operating a facility would be more efficient than the standard npc system) and players could buy things and sell things to the NPCs at a standard rate. So P2 could sell his Lumber to the Carpenter (who builds Furniture for contracts)- again either directly (at a set rate) or via P3 (at a negotiated rate). P3 could then sell the lumber to the Carpenter at a set rate.

The economics could be interesting if the set rates changed with sales and with time (each round that the Carpenter goes without Lumber his demand for it increases and he's willing to pay more).

Variable Roles:
P1 wants to get a Book in order to fulfill a high-payoff (VP) contract. If the Mill has no Paper currently, P1 might choose the Mill this round to ensure that Paper is produced. Some paper token is placed on the Mill, along with any Lumber tokens that the Mill has produced but not sold. That same round, the [I can't think of what it's called] already has some Dye tokens on it, so P2 decides to choose the Merchant role, selling the Dye to the Printer (could have sold it to the Painter instead) and turning a profit. P3 also chooses Merchant in order to get Lumber tokens from the Mill over to the Carpenter (and make some money).

Next round, P1 chooses Merchant to get Paper over to the Printer. Now the Printer has both paper and dye (for ink) and can produce a Book. Perhaps the value of the book depends on how many Paper tokens and how many Dye tokens go into it, and perhaps someone would have to choose the Printer role in order to convert any number of tokens into a book (or a specific number of tokens into a book). P2 chooses the Merchant again, only this time drawing a Contract card rather than making a transaction [*shrug* I dunno, sounded good at the time]. P3 Chooses the Carpenter to turn the Lumber he had delivered last round into a piece of furniture.

These final products- Furniture, Books, etc- could come from a 'menu', like Settlemenst and Cities in Settlers. For 2 Paper and 3 Dye you can make a Book, and for 4 Paper and 2 Dye you could make a Newspaper.

Note that multiple players could choose the same 'role', and in fact, if 2 players both want a Book, then one could attempt to steal by choosing a Merchant to fulfil a contract with book in a round that they suspect the other player (before them in turn order) to create the book. If they are wrong, then they have to do some other Merchant action as there is no Book.

What do you think?

sedjtroll
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"Two-tiered guilds" model

Simultaneous Role Selection:
Each player has a set of roles, and selects one simultaneously. They are revealed and resolved in a particular order:

1. Merchant
2. Tier 1 facilities
3. Merchant
4. Tier 2 facilities
5. Merchant

Note, a player choosing Merchant may only act once in the round, but it can be before or after either set of facilities.

jwarrend
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"Two-tiered guilds" model

Seth,

I think your ideas are very much in line with how I could see the game working, but to me, they just highlight the need to make some decisions about the scope of the game early on or else risk laying a lot of superfluous groundwork for a system that we won’t ultimately end up using.

Instead of trying to decide which role selection model we use (a decision I'd rather postpone), I propose some further attention be paid to the demand model we’ll use. I think that my remarks to David really captured the heart of this idea: the “low tier” guilds are supply-unlimited, demand-limited. The “high-tier” guilds are supply-limited, demand-unlimited.

In that sense, I propose adopting a different demand model for the two different kinds of products. For the “high tier” products, there should be some sort of “contract” cards revealed each turn representing a payout amount for goods of a certain type. That payout should probably be fixed, and the number of people who can claim it should probably be unlimited (because again, the “problem” presented to high tier players is not market competition, but rather, supply chain competition; adding market competition would be an extra layer of complexity). As I already mentioned, the “low tier” guilds of course can provide components to high tier players, and there will have to be some procedure by which those two can interact and choose a fair price. But as I’ve mentioned, I think that there should also be a low-tier product that can be sold to the game system. I propose also using “contract” cards for that, but with a twist. The contracts would have a price per good depending on the total number of goods sold by all players.

So, let’s say for example that the mid-level product from the Blacksmith is “horseshoes”. Perhaps the payout is:
1-3 shoes being sold by all players: $6 per shoe
4-6: $5 per shoe
7-10: $3 per shoe
11+: $1 per shoe

(these are toy numbers, don't worry too much about how the math works out...)

So it isn’t just a matter of competing with other players; the price also goes down if you try to flood the market all by yourself.

Perhaps, for continuity, the “high tier” contract cards could have a similar payout schedule, except that the high tier contract schedule applies to the number of goods sold by each player whereas the low tier contract payout schedule applies to the number of goods sold by all players. So you still can't flood the market with a high-tier product, but the idea is that demand for high-tier products is sufficient that players don't have to compete with each other to be able to sell.

And again, for whatever reason, I continue to gravitate to a turn sequence that involves a player laying out two tiles (or cards, or whatever) representing a good he wants to buy, and a good he wants to sell. I envision that first other players get to attempt to provide the goods he wants/buy the goods he’s selling, after which the game system would kick in and sell goods and buy goods in accordance with a market model like the one I’ve articulated above. But I think the restriction of only being able to buy and sell one type of good per turn would be something that could streamline the negotiations (although it would also necessitate making the production model simple enough to accomodate the restricted flow of resources that players would have...) Maybe a player should somehow be allowed to buy more types of resources than what he’s indicated he’s buying (e.g., if other players are selling something he wants). I guess I’m not yet sure how this idea should play out, it just seems like something that could work out well. It’s kind of like the game Res Publica, I guess.

I also agree with Seth that some sort of NPC model may be needed to fill the role of the guilds/factories/whatever that aren’t being used by any player.

Just my latest thoughts...

-Jeff

Scurra
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"Two-tiered guilds" model

Re: marketplace model. I was trying to stay away from a "simultaneous marketplace" for my Guilds game, because I'm exploring that idea in another design in which it's working out really well, thank-you very much, and I wasn't going to blab about it in public ;-))

Essentially the model works as follows:
Each commodity has a price which is determined by how much of it is available in the market, calculated as being 6 minus how much there is.
So if there is one counter there, that one counter is valued at 5. But if there are six (or more!) counters there, each one is only worth 1.
Players send their goods to market simultaneously, choosing how much they wish to send.
The price model is then adjusted. Firstly, the price rises for each player that didn't send the good - one counter is removed for each (it's scarce, so the price naturally rises.)
Then you divide the total number of counters sent by 3 (rounding up) and add that many counters to the market.
And then everyone gets paid for what they sent at the new market price.
(There is one final wrinkle, which is that if you only sent one counter of a good and anyone else sends more than one, then you only get 1 cash back regardless of the actual price. This stops people trying to "sting" the market for the best price.)

It sounds horrid, but after one round everyone seems to be able to work it all out (it's quicker than the sums in Goldbrau certainly :-)

But what it actually does is completely screw with your head as you try to work out who will send what, and how much you should send, and can you remember how much player X produced etc.

There are other factors too: you need to use goods to pay for buildings that help your future game, and there are bonuses for keeping goods back etc. so it isn't just a case of "send everything to market every time" And sending everything is generally a bad idea if you don't want the price to crash anyway!

The downside to this system is that the buying has to implemented separately. It works (you can only buy in player order, which is variable, and you can only buy two things at a time anyway, which stops too much market grabbing) but it feels slightly disjointed.

---

I really don't think that role-selection is a good idea for this sort of game. As I said in the thread about "immersion", I find that the whole concept behind Puerto Rico to be completely bizarre (there's a new Governor every round? I'm the Builder this year? etc.) I know everyone gets to do all the roles but even so...

One of the things I was trying to do was to force the players to commit to a certain career and stick with it for the rest of the game. That career path can evolve in various directions, but it basically stays the same throughout (once you've decided to train to be a carpenter, then you're a carpenter. You can't suddenly become a miller for a turn because the supply and demand is better...)

This design is moving away from that, but as a result it's turning into Puerto Rico but with a different way of generating VPs... (combining your barrels instead of shipping them :-)

That's not to say it isn't interesting, and I like the whole "I propose to produce this and sell that" concept, although I sttrongly think that you should do one or the other, not both.
In other words, it feels more like a simultaneous action selection mechanic (do I produce, sell, merchant etc.?) than role selection.

jwarrend
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"Two-tiered guilds" model

Quote:
Essentially the model works as follows:

Yowsa! That sounds pretty formidable, although I’m sure it becomes comprehensible quickly enough. I think that in this game, I’m looking to remove all decisions of “how much will I sell” and “how much will I charge for what I’m selling”. I think, then, that you’ll just have to sell everything that you have in the commodity you’ve chosen to sell.

Quote:

I really don't think that role-selection is a good idea for this sort of game. As I said in the thread about "immersion", I find that the whole concept behind Puerto Rico to be completely bizarre (there's a new Governor every round? I'm the Builder this year? etc.) I know everyone gets to do all the roles but even so...

Actually, I’ve never been bothered by that mechanic in PR. I’ve always thought of it as, “each of us is going to bring a character to the island, and then all players will be able to benefit from that character’s services while he’s on the island”. The switching governor mechanic could be accomodated by simply viewing each turn as an appropriately long period of time -- a few years or so (which of course begs the question why crops are harvested so infrequently, but anyway...)

Quote:

One of the things I was trying to do was to force the players to commit to a certain career and stick with it for the rest of the game. That career path can evolve in various directions, but it basically stays the same throughout (once you've decided to train to be a carpenter, then you're a carpenter. You can't suddenly become a miller for a turn because the supply and demand is better...)

And I think something perfectly analogous could work here; it's just, again, that in this model, there are two distinct "tracks" that you can start in, as opposed to "City and Guilds" in which you "work your way up" to the advanced goods. Just a different way of doing things, nothing more or less.

Quote:

This design is moving away from that, but as a result it's turning into Puerto Rico but with a different way of generating VPs... (combining your barrels instead of shipping them :-)

I don’t necessarily think that’s where we’re heading. I’m certainly not committing to a PR-style role selection mechanic at this point; I’m much more interested in trying to formulate the game’s economic model (at least conceptually). I do think that Seth’s ideas are helpful as a way to look at the kinds of interactions that can occur, and how they could happen, but I don’t think it’s anything more than that at this point...

Quote:
That's not to say it isn't interesting, and I like the whole "I propose to produce this and sell that" concept, although I sttrongly think that you should do one or the other, not both.

Yeah, it’s not clear where that idea will end up; it was simply meant as a way to impose some restrictions, so the buying and selling between players doesn’t occur without any boundaries.

-J

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"Two-tiered guilds" model

jwarrend wrote:
...need to make some decisions about the scope of the game early on or else risk laying a lot of superfluous groundwork for a system that we won’t ultimately end up using.

Would that really be so bad? Any framework that doesn't make the cut may as well have not been there in the first place, however it's better to have it and cut it then to not have it at all. If nothing else, any good ideas cut from one game can be used at a future date in another game.

Quote:
Instead of trying to decide which role selection model we use (a decision I'd rather postpone), I propose some further attention be paid to the demand model we’ll use.

I didn't mean to say "this definitely needs to be a Role Selection game!" Rather I meant to say that it COULD be, and here's 2 different ways it could work if it were.

I also don't think having or not having Role Selection as a mechanic precludes the demand model you are talking about. So if you want to talk about Demand, by all means lets talk about Demand. Persoanlly I like the direction the 'simultaneous action selection' or 'simultaneous role selection' thing was going (more on that in a sec), and I also think that we can't fully talk about a demand madel while ignoring the rest of the game. I think we can look at the game compartmentally, but we ought to keep a holistic outlook so that we don't end up with this great demand model and that great main mechanic and they can't be used together because they don't mesh well.

Quote:
I think that my remarks to David really captured the heart of this idea: the “low tier” guilds are supply-unlimited, demand-limited. The “high-tier” guilds are supply-limited, demand-unlimited.

This sounds good. It seems doabble with thses Contract cards you guys have mentioned. One question that will come up- shoudl the Contract cards be face up- where any player can complete any contract- or should players have a 'hand' of contract cards, so for example you don't know if your opponent will use the Paper and Dye at the Print shop to make a Book, or if you have time to collect more paper for your Book (which might require different numbers of components)

Quote:
In that sense, I propose adopting a different demand model for the two different kinds of products.

Sounds good as well. In fact, over time as the high tier contracts are not fulfilled, extra VP coutners (or money counters, or whatever) could be added to the contracts (as the demand only increases) until such time as the contract is fulfilled (eventually someone will jump on it), or perhaps after a certain amount of time the buyers get pissed off and no longer want the item (card goes away)

Quote:
As I already mentioned, the “low tier” guilds of course can provide components to high tier players

The thing I don't like about having 'high tier players' and 'low tier players' is that it seems to me that's a big decision to make right at the beginning of the game, which has a huge impact on the way your game goes, but really the rest of the decisions are probably mechanical. And if either one is obviously better than the other then everyone will choose it. If instead players are dealt their position (high tier or low tier), then it could be tough to balance the two.

Now, I understand you're thinking of this in the context of players buying and selling goods in the way you described (one of each per turn). This sounds kinda like Settlers of Catan, with one player only allowed to build Settlements and Cities and another player only allowed to build Roads and Dev cards, if you see what I mean.

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and there will have to be some procedure by which those two can interact and choose a fair price.

I imagine that would be open negotiation.

Quote:
there should also be a low-tier product that can be sold to the game system. I propose also using “contract” cards for that, but with a twist. The contracts would have a price per good depending on the total number of goods sold by all players.

This sounds decent. Scurra said something about everyone secretly deciding how much and what goods to bring to market, then the price depends on how much everyone brings. This sounds like what Darkehorse had for Wreck Ashore, if you happen to have seen that... I don't know how far he got with that. It soudns like it would work to me, although Scurra's description sounded a little fiddley.

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So it isn’t just a matter of competing with other players; the price also goes down if you try to flood the market all by yourself.

Sounds like a good check/balance. In this case I don't think we'd need Contract cards. Maybe each player would be somehow limited in what type goods they get to sell (one type each?) to make it interesting. In my 'simultaneous role selection' model this could be accomplished by saying that when you choose Merchant, you can pick a facility and one of the things you can do is sell any or all of one type of thing at that facility- so at the Mill you could sell Lumber to the game system, based on some price schedule. I have another idea or two regarding demand n this model (which probably relates to pricing), which I'll articulate in another post.

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So you still can't flood the market with a high-tier product, but the idea is that demand for high-tier products is sufficient that players don't have to compete with each other to be able to sell.

I thought the idea here was to have Contract cards for the high tier products, thus limiting the demand I guess. You can't flood the market if the market is only looking to buy 1 item ;)

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And again, for whatever reason, I continue to gravitate to a turn sequence that involves a player laying out two tiles representing a good he wants to buy, and a good he wants to sell.

This sounds very interesting, but to me it soudns like a different game. This is probably because I'm thinking in the context of the role selection thing.

- Seth

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"Two-tiered guilds" model

Scurra wrote:
I really don't think that role-selection is a good idea for this sort of game. As I said in the thread about "immersion", I find that the whole concept behind Puerto Rico to be completely bizarre

I'm pretty much a Mechanics guy. I tink of things in terms of the mechanics that might be involved in making them work, or that might be interesting. I'm usually concerned with mechanics that match the theme, but ironically this time I'm interested in a mechanic (the role selection) that does not work thematically.

Maybe thinking about it like this would help: Players aren't associated with any particular facility, guild, or job. Rather they are interested in all of the workings of the system, though in any given turn their attention is on one area more than another. It would work better thematically if the whole operation occured within a company and the players were managers, attending to different departments to make sure the deadlines are being met.

At any rate, what I'd like to mention now is a view of limited demand within the system. Keep in mind this is still related to the idea that players are not tied to a particular facility (even if not using the role selection mechanic). Here are some slightly disjointed or disorganized thoughts (sorry, at work- no time to organize thoughts!)

In this model there are Tier 1 facilities which 'produce' Resources from the game system (either every turn, or when players decree it, or whatever). There are Tier 2 facilities which produce Goods based on an input of Resources- the Reources produced by Tier 1. I believe this is what was suggested in Jeff's initial comment.

I envision a board with each facility pictured, and each facility would have a number of 'slots' which can be filled with resources. So a Mill can store so much lumber, or a blacksmith can store so many horseshoes, or whatever. Furthermore, the Tier 2 facilities would have slots as well. So a Printer could hold only so much Paper and Dye before they have to get rid of some (by turning it into Books). That is to say you can't sell Paper to a Printer who's full up, they won't buy it.

As for supply and demand and pricing, it is easy to say that there are X units of Lumber on the board, and that's the Supply. The price of Lumber is based on X such that the more Lumber available, the less people (like the Carpenter) will pay for it.

If you want another layer, the demand could also be determined in this model- in a number of ways:
- In a system where there are face-up contract cards, the number of Resources needed by the contract cards could indicate demand.
- In a system where there are face-down contract cards, the number of open slots at facilities which buy Lumber could determine the demand for Lumber. This might be funky with limited slots though, as selling Nails to the Carpenter would reduce the demand for Lumber...

As for demand for Tier 2 goods, there could be a flat rate at which items are sold (indicaed by the contract card perhaps). In a face-up contract system there could be added demand over time as I mentioned- which could be good since players are all interested in completing the same contracts- however as Scurra and I found when thinking about face up, community missions for X-Men, if all the players want to do the same thing, then there is a problem- unless they're not all ABLE to do the same thing... something to watch for.

In the case where each player has a hidden contract card (or more than one), then you make moves which you expect will help you but might also help an opponent (this feels like All For One to me).

I'll think about tit some more and post something more coherent later.

- Seth

jwarrend
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"Two-tiered guilds" model

Seth wrote:
jeff wrote:

...need to make some decisions about the scope of the game early on or else risk laying a lot of superfluous groundwork for a system that we won’t ultimately end up using.

Would that really be so bad? Any framework that doesn't make the cut may as well have not been there in the first place, however it's better to have it and cut it then to not have it at all. If nothing else, any good ideas cut from one game can be used at a future date in another game.

Depends on how you’re looking at it. I just want to avoid the situation where we must consider a huge tree of possible ramifications of each change in a given mechanic to accomodate all of the possible ways that it could play out for each of the different systems we’ve concocted.

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I also don't think having or not having Role Selection as a mechanic precludes the demand model you are talking about. So if you want to talk about Demand, by all means lets talk about Demand. Persoanlly I like the direction the 'simultaneous action selection' or 'simultaneous role selection' thing was going (more on that in a sec), and I also think that we can't fully talk about a demand madel while ignoring the rest of the game. I think we can look at the game compartmentally, but we ought to keep a holistic outlook so that we don't end up with this great demand model and that great main mechanic and they can't be used together because they don't mesh well.

I agree, it’s hard if not impossible to look at a mechanic in isolation. But I do think that in this case, it’s possible to talk about the mathematical model of demand (without plugging in actual numbers, of course), and that doing so will help make decisions about how actions in the game are actually taken. I think so, anyway.

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One question that will come up- shoudl the Contract cards be face up- where any player can complete any contract- or should players have a 'hand' of contract cards, so for example you don't know if your opponent will use the Paper and Dye at the Print shop to make a Book, or if you have time to collect more paper for your Book (which might require different numbers of components)

I think Contracts have to be fully public. (perhaps there could be a way to get private contracts). There does have to be some level of secret information somewhere, but I don’t think the contracts should be it.

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Sounds good as well. In fact, over time as the high tier contracts are not fulfilled, extra VP coutners (or money counters, or whatever) could be added to the contracts (as the demand only increases) until such time as the contract is fulfilled (eventually someone will jump on it), or perhaps after a certain amount of time the buyers get pissed off and no longer want the item (card goes away)

I could see it going either way -- “Vinci/PR”-style where the longer contracts go, they become more attractive; or “me”-style; I had a mechanic for a different game where at any time, there are 4 slots for “contracts”, numbered 1-4, with the numbers representing the value of the contract (although in this case it could represent a bonus). Each turn that the contracts remain unfulfilled, they slide to the left, into less valuable slots. (Of course, the slots could be numbered in a non-linear way; maybe they initially become more valuable, then wane in value).

Or here’s a cool idea: there could be 4 lines on the contract card, each representing a payout per item. And then the slot that the card is in tells you which line to read from to determine the payout of the item should the contract be fulfilled. So, some items could retain their payout quite well over time, whereas others could diminish with time.

Actually, this might be a better mechanic for the supply side of things than the demand; might be a nice way to simulate “spoilage” or something like that; a nail, for example, might retain a high payout for 3 turns, after which it rusts and becomes almost worthless; a pie might drop off in value after only one turn; a board might drop only slightly for 4 turns; etc. Not sure if it fits in this game or not. Maybe it does; maybe instead of “this is the item I want to sell”, you could produce one item each turn, putting it in “Slot 4”, and sliding the others to the left. Of course, it changes the whole demand model because it sets the payout value intrinsic to the item itself rather than in the demand of the market. Can these be reconciled?

Perhaps you could have a payout that’s a combo of the two; then there’s a somewhat nice asymmetry in that people with older pies and newer pies can both try to sell to the market, but the newer pies would pay out better (or maybe would sell first, or whatever). There’s definitely something in this idea...

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The thing I don't like about having 'high tier players' and 'low tier players' is that it seems to me that's a big decision to make right at the beginning of the game, which has a huge impact on the way your game goes, but really the rest of the decisions are probably mechanical. And if either one is obviously better than the other then everyone will choose it. If instead players are dealt their position (high tier or low tier), then it could be tough to balance the two.

I don’t disagree that it’s too much to ask players to lock in early on; I’m more using it as a conceptual device to explain my thoughts on the demand, rather than as a point I insist on. My vision for the game is more that players are placing “production facilities”, and can place whatever factories they want -- some could be high-tier, some could be low-tier. Maybe you start with one or two and can add more as the game goes on.

Now, I understand you're thinking of this in the context of players buying and selling goods in the way you described (one of each per turn). This sounds kinda like Settlers of Catan, with one player only allowed to build Settlements and Cities and another player only allowed to build Roads and Dev cards, if you see what I mean.

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and there will have to be some procedure by which those two can interact and choose a fair price.

I imagine that would be open negotiation.

Maybe; but it might have to be bounded in some way. Not sure what yet.

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This sounds decent. Scurra said something about everyone secretly deciding how much and what goods to bring to market, then the price depends on how much everyone brings. This sounds like what Darkehorse had for Wreck Ashore, if you happen to have seen that... I don't know how far he got with that.

I looked at WA briefly; it looked a little more complicated than what I’m proposing.

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Sounds like a good check/balance. In this case I don't think we'd need Contract cards.

I was envisioning the Contract cards for low-tier goods as a way of having fluctuating payout for goods from turn to turn, as a way to motivate what goods you want to sell.

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Maybe each player would be somehow limited in what type goods they get to sell (one type each?) to make it interesting. In my 'simultaneous role selection' model this could be accomplished by saying that when you choose Merchant, you can pick a facility and one of the things you can do is sell any or all of one type of thing at that facility- so at the Mill you could sell Lumber to the game system, based on some price schedule. I have another idea or two regarding demand n this model (which probably relates to pricing), which I'll articulate in another post.

Not a bad thought; but I do worry that David is right; that the Merchant becomes just an analogue of the Captain; forcing a player to “join the Merchant guild” on a long term basis (or even having an NPC merchant) might prevent “PR lookalike syndrome”...

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So you still can't flood the market with a high-tier product, but the idea is that demand for high-tier products is sufficient that players don't have to compete with each other to be able to sell.

I thought the idea here was to have Contract cards for the high tier products, thus limiting the demand I guess. You can't flood the market if the market is only looking to buy 1 item ;)

Well, the market would want to buy different kinds of items. But let’s say one of the items the market wants to buy is “chairs”. The idea is that anyone who wants to sell chairs can do so, but you can’t sell infinitely many chairs to the market; if you try to sell 20 chairs, you’ll get a low payout per chair.

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And again, for whatever reason, I continue to gravitate to a turn sequence that involves a player laying out two tiles representing a good he wants to buy, and a good he wants to sell.

This sounds very interesting, but to me it soudns like a different game. This is probably because I'm thinking in the context of the role selection thing.

Yeah, it’s rather similar to “Res Publica”, which is really a deal-making set collection game. Each turn you say either what you want to receive, or what you want to give in a trade, then others can make deals with you for that kind of card. It works pretty well as a way of restricted deal making, and I like it for that here.

-Jeff

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jwarrend wrote:
I just want to avoid the situation where we must consider a huge tree of possible ramifications of each change in a given mechanic to accomodate all of the possible ways that it could play out for each of the different systems we’ve concocted.

Avoid it? Heh. I prefer it :)

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it’s possible to talk about the mathematical model of demand (without plugging in actual numbers, of course), and that doing so will help make decisions about how actions in the game are actually taken.

I agree, but it's important to note that the mechanics for buying and selling have a direct impact on the market pricing...

For example, I'm suggesting that there be set facilities on the board, and that goods go from a supply pile, to one of the facilities on the board, to another facility on the board, and back to the supply pile (through a series of turns and processes, with byproducts being that players make money/VPs, etc). You seem to be suggesting that there are not necessarily set facilities, but players put them on the board, and that the goods or resources do not go to the board, but from the supply to the players and from player to player.

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I think Contracts have to be fully public. (perhaps there could be a way to get private contracts).

In my model the resources available are common to all players, so I suggested that the contracts be hidden. In yours, the resources would be hidden (or at least owned by the players) and therefore you suggested that the contracts be open. With open contracts any player can fulfill the contract but they'd have to have the right resources in hand. With closed contracts, only the player with the contract can fulfill it, ubt all players have access to the available resources.

Hmm... I wonder if we could include both. Some contracts are open and must be fulfilled by resources in hand, and some are closed and must be fulfilled with resources on the board. In my 'role' model, the Merchant role would give you the ability to buy resources from the board which would go to your hand (like buying Lumber from the Mill). That would be seperate from another ability that would be facilitating a sale from one facility to another (like getting Lumber from the Mill to the Carpenter).

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I could see it going either way -- “Vinci/PR”-style where the longer contracts go, they become more attractive; or...

Those are all very good ideas, but mechanically I don't know about the contracts getting less valuable over time. If there wasn;t enough incentive before, making them less valuable will just insure that they get ignored, won't it? It's less thematic to say the demand keeps increasing until the contract is fulfilled, but I suspect it will streamline the game better (and it's not wildly innacurate). The possible caveat to things getting 'worth too much' is that if they get a certain number of bonus counters on them then the buyer gets fed up and doesn't want it anymore. This works a little thematically in Fad Factory, but maybe not here...

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My vision for the game is more that players are placing “production facilities”, and can place whatever factories they want -- some could be high-tier, some could be low-tier. Maybe you start with one or two and can add more as the game goes on.

Ah, I see. I was thinking more along the lines of all the facilities being 'on the board' already. It might be interesting to place them though, as that might make the game different every time... might be tough to coordinate the contracts though- if some nobleman wants a self portrait, but there's no Painter then what happens?

I guess you're saying that players (between them) would have to play a Painter (tier 2 facility) to the board, as well as each of the tier 1 facilities that supply the painter (canvas and dye/ink perhaps?). Then they would 'produce' the canvas and dye resources via whatever method, then they would fulfill the contract. This might take multiple players producing the resources and trading between them, then trading with the player that played the Painter so the Painter can fulfill the contract.

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I looked at WA briefly; it looked a little more complicated than what I’m proposing.

I agree, I just noticed that it sounded the same as what Scurra was proposing.

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I was envisioning the Contract cards for low-tier goods as a way of having fluctuating payout for goods from turn to turn, as a way to motivate what goods you want to sell.

Taking a note from what Scurra (and WA) had to offer... instead of contract cards, there could be a Marketplace, and the value of each good sold at the marketplace could be relative to the number of that good being sold. This might work if each player had hidden ownership of resources and noone knew exactly waht was being brought... this might also work if resources were known but contracts were not, so you don't know which goods your opponent needs, and if you bring say Lumber to the Market then your opponent could buy it from you because they have a contract for Chairs that they want to fulfill.

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Not a bad thought; but I do worry that David is right; that the Merchant becomes just an analogue of the Captain; forcing a player to “join the Merchant guild” on a long term basis (or even having an NPC merchant) might prevent “PR lookalike syndrome”...

I don't see the merchant as a PR analogue at all. For one thing, the roles I'm suggesting are NOT PR roles wehre everyone gets to do them, maybe I wasn't clear about that. The intention was that YOU get to do the action on the role you choose (more like Citadels than PR), and if YOU choose Merchant then YOU get to do one of a number of things... Transfer any amount of 1 type of good from one facility to another, buy any amount of one type of good from one facility, or fulfill a 'closed' contract by demonstrating that the appropriate resources are at the appropriate facility (and removing them from the game) or an 'open' contract by discarding the appropriate resources. Those were the rough draft actions anyway- and I added the 'buy resources' action which I mentioned above relative to having both open and closed contracts.

So the Merchant in my model is a little like the Captain in PR in that you choose that role to 'do things with goods,' but in that respect it's also like Trader and whatever else. The alternative would be to choose a Facility 'role' (instead of Merchant) in which case the available actions would be 'produce' resources of the types that facility deals with (probably a set number and you choose the combination, or maybe you choose which type and it gets a set number of that type) or sell resources on that facility to a tier 2 facility (and pay a 'transport fee').

Reading what I just wrote, I see no reason to choose a facility in order to move goods around because the Merchant is strictly better... so maybe restructure so that either you can do both in one shot/turn (produce and move) or switch it so instead of PAYING a fee you actually GET money from the transaction (the T2 facility buys it from you), or else nerf the Merchant so his ability is a little different (maybe he can only transport a limited number of resources at a time).

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Well, the market would want to buy different kinds of items. But let’s say one of the items the market wants to buy is “chairs”. The idea is that anyone who wants to sell chairs can do so, but you can’t sell infinitely many chairs to the market; if you try to sell 20 chairs, you’ll get a low payout per chair.

Aha, this may be the main difference between our ideas. In my model there are only so many resources,and they're all available to everyone, and only one Chair contract could be fulfilled by combining them. In your model players accumulate goods (both tier 1 goods and tier 2 goods) and when there's a Chair contract then everyone can sell Chairs- however many they can or want to sell, and the price is determined by the number sold. This is similar to the marketplace idea like Scurra was talking about.

So your advocating a game where players buy and sell things from and to each other- there's not really a board necessary (i.e. this could be a card game, with the facilities on cards). Maybe each player starts with a facility card or 2, but they can 'build' others later by paying 'money' (which is probably VPs). I don't know exactly how resources would enter the game- you said people with T1 facilities could buy them from the game system, but with what money? I guess you can start with some. I'm not sure how this model would go.

I'm advocating a model which more closely resembles Settlers or PR where the player-to-game interface is through a board and there's a positional aspect of where things are on the board which has a part of the game.

Actually I think the fundamental difference between our two models is common resources vs individual resources.

jwarrend
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For example, I'm suggesting that there be set facilities on the board, and that goods go from a supply pile, to one of the facilities on the board, to another facility on the board, and back to the supply pile (through a series of turns and processes, with byproducts being that players make money/VPs, etc). You seem to be suggesting that there are not necessarily set facilities, but players put them on the board, and that the goods or resources do not go to the board, but from the supply to the players and from player to player.

A better way of expressing this would be to say that I am advocating direct player ownership of production facilities, as opposed to the players “utilizing” production facilities. In that sense, I would say that I haven’t yet made the turn mechanic precise for my game, whereas yours appears to demand some sort of “role selection” system (in which you choose which facilities you'll use on a given turn).

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Hmm... I wonder if we could include both. Some contracts are open and must be fulfilled by resources in hand, and some are closed and must be fulfilled with resources on the board. In my 'role' model, the Merchant role would give you the ability to buy resources from the board which would go to your hand (like buying Lumber from the Mill). That would be seperate from another ability that would be facilitating a sale from one facility to another (like getting Lumber from the Mill to the Carpenter).

As I mentioned in IM, I don’t favor the idea of both open and closed contracts, and in this game, I don’t favor the idea of closed contracts period -- or at least, not yet. The whole question is why closed contracts are needed in the first place. The best reason I can think of is to make deal making somewhat resistant to exact calculation, to give the game an “aha!” factor. But there are other ways to achieve this kind of secrecy element. One way was the “I’m buying this/I’m selling that” model; so you have a sense for what the other players are capable of producing/selling, and what the potential payouts the market can accomodate, and then it’s just a question of whether you succeed in outmaneuvering everyone to corner the market in the commodities you want to sell.

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Those are all very good ideas, but mechanically I don't know about the contracts getting less valuable over time. If there wasn;t enough incentive before, making them less valuable will just insure that they get ignored, won't it?

Perhaps; but it also presupposes that there’s some reason that every contract needs to be filled in some interest of fairness or completeness or whatever; why couldn't a contract just evaporate if it's not filled?

I think more interesting, potentially, is the idea I mentioned where the goods themselves decrease in value as time goes on -- a “spoilage” effect. I don’t know if it works here, but there could be an interesting game built around it. Maybe just a simple card game or something. Maybe the “San Juan” to this game’s “Puerto Rico”!

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Ah, I see. I was thinking more along the lines of all the facilities being 'on the board' already. It might be interesting to place them though, as that might make the game different every time... might be tough to coordinate the contracts though- if some nobleman wants a self portrait, but there's no Painter then what happens?

Yes, this is the exact detail that I’ve been sweeping under the rug thus far -- if each player chooses to run a couple of production facilities, what do you do about the facilities that aren’t currently placed on the board, but that players would depend on to supply components to, or buy components from, their own facilities? I haven't attempted to answer this yet.

I think that to a certain extent, you can let the market take care of this. Particularly if we used the “PR” approach of contracts increasing in value with time -- a contract that keeps getting more valuable will be strong incentive for a player to start a production facility to fill that contract. The bigger concern I have is the risk of opening a 2nd-tier factory without a corresponding 1st-tier facility providing its component materials; could that player buy “from the game”? If not, then it seems like it might be all too common for players to start the game by building 1st tier facilities and then work up to 2nd tier facilities. This might not be a bad thing. Conversely, it could just be that each player starts with >0 1st tier facilities and >0 2nd tier facilities. Perhaps, also, the total number of kinds of facilities needs to be restricted: maybe just 3 types of 1st tier and 3 types of 2nd tier; maybe we could go up to 4 of each type, but not much more than that.

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I guess you're saying that players (between them) would have to play a Painter (tier 2 facility) to the board, as well as each of the tier 1 facilities that supply the painter (canvas and dye/ink perhaps?). Then they would 'produce' the canvas and dye resources via whatever method, then they would fulfill the contract. This might take multiple players producing the resources and trading between them, then trading with the player that played the Painter so the Painter can fulfill the contract.

Yes, that’s what I had in mind.

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I was envisioning the Contract cards for low-tier goods as a way of having fluctuating payout for goods from turn to turn, as a way to motivate what goods you want to sell.

Taking a note from what Scurra (and WA) had to offer... instead of contract cards, there could be a Marketplace, and the value of each good sold at the marketplace could be relative to the number of that good being sold.

This is pretty much what I was advocating as well for the low-tier goods (in which the numbers on the contract cards would relate to the total number of goods sold by all players) and similar for the high-tier goods (except now the number relates to the number of goods being sold by any one player). The difference is, I think, that the market in Scurra’s game is relatively static -- it is determined by the track. Perfectly valid way to do things. But with the contract cards, you can have some variation in the value of different goods from turn to turn in a way that could drive trading and deal-making in an interesting way. Perhaps there could be a deck of “contract” cards that are not good-specific at all, and each turn, next to a board icon for each kind of sellable good, is placed a contract card, which card details the payouts depending on how many total goods are sold.

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This might work if each player had hidden ownership of resources and noone knew exactly waht was being brought... this might also work if resources were known but contracts were not, so you don't know which goods your opponent needs, and if you bring say Lumber to the Market then your opponent could buy it from you because they have a contract for Chairs that they want to fulfill.

Or, if you had the potential to sell several different goods, but were restricted in how many you could sell.

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The intention was that YOU get to do the action on the role you choose (more like Citadels than PR), and if YOU choose Merchant then YOU get to do one of a number of things...

That’s fine. I guess I don’t have a sense yet for what role, if any, the merchant should play in the game, and whether it should be “permanent”, like a factory/guild/whatever, or if it could change hands each turn. To me, the key to making a merchant meaningful is having multiple locations. In that sense, maybe a different contract card could be revealed in each town. Then, you still want to sell your chairs, if you have them, but the costs associated with traveling might encourage you to want to commission a merchant (or maybe, if you’re going to travel to sell your wares, it decreases the number of actions you can take/goods you can sell/whatever.)

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Aha, this may be the main difference between our ideas. In my model there are only so many resources,and they're all available to everyone, and only one Chair contract could be fulfilled by combining them. In your model players accumulate goods (both tier 1 goods and tier 2 goods) and when there's a Chair contract then everyone can sell Chairs- however many they can or want to sell, and the price is determined by the number sold. This is similar to the marketplace idea like Scurra was talking about.

Yes, this is what I’m advocating.

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So your advocating a game where players buy and sell things from and to each other- there's not really a board necessary (i.e. this could be a card game, with the facilities on cards). Maybe each player starts with a facility card or 2, but they can 'build' others later by paying 'money' (which is probably VPs). I don't know exactly how resources would enter the game- you said people with T1 facilities could buy them from the game system, but with what money? I guess you can start with some. I'm not sure how this model would go.

Yes, it’s not fleshed out. There could very well be a board; as I’ve mentioned, I envision the board consisting of several “towns”, with the merchant ability being powerful because of his ability to travel in between towns. But the board isn’t strictly necessary, it’s true.

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I'm advocating a model which more closely resembles Settlers or PR where the player-to-game interface is through a board and there's a positional aspect of where things are on the board which has a part of the game.

I don’t think there’s any reason “my” version couldn’t incorporate such a positional aspect. I’m just advocating a higher level of ownership than you are. I agree with David, I don’t think it would work as well to have the revolve around having access to all the different facilities on the board; rather, I’m more interested in something where you have some facilities under your supervision, and you have to maximize the profit of *those* facilities specifically.

sedjtroll
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My main concern is this: why on earth would I trade or sell you the item you need to score your VPs (if you're the Carpenter and I'm the Mill owner and there's someone paying a good price for Chairs)?

I see the theory, assuming there's only 1 Carpenter building to be had and you have control of it, then you buy lumber from me and then sell chairs. You also have to buy nails from the smith. So in your model the question is how much will you give me for lumber based on how much you (a) will make from chairs and (b) have to pay for nails? But if I see how much you will make for the chairs, we negotiate a price so that we both make some money (this is how the real world works, no?), but how do you simultaneously negotiate a deal with the smith? And do chairs just give you money? Or is there some other form of VP? I think it is just money that you're talking about, and the game is about making money by selling stuff- either to each other or to the game.

I am starting to understand your point of view better, however...

finally figured out my problem with your system:
So if I have lumber and I can either sell lumber to the system, or I can sell it to you to make chairs which you can sell to the system, why would I choose to sell it to you? Even if you offered more money, I can take less money from the game and you can't sell any chairs then I win, don't I? Is it possible for another player to make a Mill and produce lumber to sell you? If so then why wouldn' t you do that instead of buying it from me?

jwarrend wrote:
A better way of expressing this would be to say that I am advocating direct player ownership of production facilities, as opposed to the players “utilizing” production facilities.

Which is about the same as the difference between players 'owning' resources or having 'common' resources.

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In that sense, I would say that I haven’t yet made the turn mechanic precise for my game, whereas yours appears to demand some sort of “role selection” system (in which you choose which facilities you'll use on a given turn).

Suppose in my 'model' everyone were just a merchant and that the facilities produced stuff on their own. There'd have to be some way to determine how many of each resource a facility produces- maybe a static number, maybe based on a die roll, maybe based on the number demanded on all current contract cards... whatever. Then instead of 'choosing a role' everyone's 'role' would be Merchant and you would do one (or some) of the actions I'm talking about (move goods around, sell goods, combine goods).

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I don’t favor the idea of closed contracts period -- or at least, not yet. The whole question is why closed contracts are needed in the first place.

Well, like I said before- Closed contracts make sense if everyone has access to the same resources, Open resources make sense if everyone owns their own resourecs (and I'd argue it's work better if you don't know what resources other people have).

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The best reason I can think of is to make deal making somewhat resistant to exact calculation

I guess you could call it that- I think people will be more likely to trade/deal if they don't know for sure that they are handing points to others... imagine playing Settlers with your hand face up. That would suck, right?

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there are other ways to achieve this kind of secrecy element. One way was the “I’m buying this/I’m selling that” model; so you have a sense for what the other players are capable of producing/selling, and what the potential payouts the market can accomodate, and then it’s just a question of whether you succeed in outmaneuvering everyone to corner the market in the commodities you want to sell.

This makes some sense EITHER with closed contracts, OR maybe if you don't know what resources people have. If you DO know what resources they have, AND you can see which ones they need, then what's the big secret?

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why couldn't a contract just evaporate if it's not filled?

It could. I thik I mentioned that as one way to go. The other way is to just let it get jucier and jucier until someone takes it. What is bad is if a contract that is 'not worth it' just sits there all game continuing to be 'not worth it'.

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Yes, this is the exact detail that I’ve been sweeping under the rug thus far -- if each player chooses to run a couple of production facilities, what do you do about the facilities that aren’t currently placed on the board, but that players would depend on to supply components to, or buy components from, their own facilities? I haven't attempted to answer this yet.

This is pretty much why I don't like the idea of owning the facilities and went the other way with it. I'd rather see all the facilities in play all the time, even if they only produce at the whim of the player. This might be similar to saying that a player could go start a Painter, and the 2 buildingst hat supply the Painter, when the need for Portraits arises. But that seems like a lot of steps compared to just spending a turn (or part of a turn) ensuring the appropriate resources are in play. I'm afraid people wouldn't want to go through all that work for 1 contract, which means the contract will be ignored. I realize you suggested it get more and more lucrative, but if it takes several turns to become lucrative enough, then a couple more turns to set up to fulfill it, then the game could be over by the time you get it done- probaboy more efficient to work on other contracts.

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Seth wrote:
instead of contract cards, there could be a Marketplace, and the value of each good sold at the marketplace could be relative to the number of that good being sold...

This might work if each player had hidden ownership of resources and noone knew exactly waht was being brought. This might also work if resources were known but contracts were not, so you don't know which goods your opponent needs, and if you bring say Lumber to the Market then your opponent could buy it from you because they have a contract for Chairs that they want to fulfill.

Or, if you had the potential to sell several different goods, but were restricted in how many you could sell.

Hmm... I guess that may be true... that boils down to not knowing what your opponents have. You know what they have but you don't know which they're bringing to market. Technically, with hidden ownership of resources you COULD know what people have if you pay attention to what they produce. So see? Same thing.

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That’s fine. I guess I don’t have a sense yet for what role, if any, the merchant should play in the game, and whether it should be “permanent”, like a factory/guild/whatever, or if it could change hands each turn.

I was thinking not that it would change hands, but that it would be a category of actions you can take. In my role selection model I basically said that players have several action lists to choose from, they simltaneously choose a list, then on their turn they choose actions from that list. The Merchant would just be a list that has actions to do with moving goods around and buying/selling. The facilities would have actions to do with that facility and the resources it produces/needs.

But now I'm wondering if all the players should just have 1 action list, the Merchant, and let the game automatically do some of the other stuff (like produce). I think I still like the original idea better...

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To me, the key to making a merchant meaningful is having multiple locations.

I agree, and in my model the different locations are the different facilities.
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Seth wrote:

the main difference between our ideas. In my model there are only so many resources,and they're all available to everyone, and only one Chair contract could be fulfilled by combining them. In your model players accumulate goods (both tier 1 goods and tier 2 goods) and when there's a Chair contract then everyone can sell Chairs- however many they can or want to sell, and the price is determined by the number sold. This is similar to the marketplace idea like Scurra was talking about.

Yes, this is what I’m advocating.
But in your model you're only going to have 1 player making chairs... I suppose he could trade chairs for other resources, but I don't see much point if the only thing you can do with chairs is sell them to the contract.

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I don’t think there’s any reason “my” version couldn’t incorporate such a positional aspect.

I was talking about a positional aspect of "where are the resources" while you are talking about a positional aspect of "where are the players" (because in your model the resources are at the players, or the players are at the facilities, or whatever).

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I’m just advocating a higher level of ownership than you are.

I maintain that it comes down to weather the resources are shared and available to all players, or if each player has their own resources.

jwarrend
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Joined: 08/03/2008
"Two-tiered guilds" model

sedjtroll wrote:
My main concern is this: why on earth would I trade or sell you the item you need to score your VPs (if you're the Carpenter and I'm the Mill owner and there's someone paying a good price for Chairs)?

Again, this presupposes that I only have one tier 2 facility and that you only have one tier 1 facility. Maybe we both have one of each, and striking a deal with me this time will grease the wheels next time. I don't know yet. I don't claim that I've fully fleshed out a scheme in which deals are properly motivated. My only claim is that you can probably rely on the market economy to solve many of these sorts of problems (just like in real life) -- but perhaps not all. It's those cases that the market doesn't take care of that you need rules to legislate.

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I see the theory, assuming there's only 1 Carpenter building to be had and you have control of it,

Careful, I never said this; there could be multiple instances of a given type of tier 2 facility. (or tier one facilities).

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then you buy lumber from me and then sell chairs. You also have to buy nails from the smith. So in your model the question is how much will you give me for lumber based on how much you (a) will make from chairs and (b) have to pay for nails? But if I see how much you will make for the chairs, we negotiate a price so that we both make some money (this is how the real world works, no?), but how do you simultaneously negotiate a deal with the smith?

I don't have the negotiation system conceptualized yet, but again, this is part of the reason I advocated the "I'm selling X/I'm buying Y" construct, as it helps to answer these questions somewhat.

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And do chairs just give you money? Or is there some other form of VP? I think it is just money that you're talking about, and the game is about making money by selling stuff- either to each other or to the game.

I assume this will be what I consider a "cash acquisition" game; cash is the currency and the VP commodity. Because there will be a heavy amount of deal making, it shouldn't have a serious runaway leader problem like many such games.

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finally figured out my problem with your system:
So if I have lumber and I can either sell lumber to the system, or I can sell it to you to make chairs which you can sell to the system, why would I choose to sell it to you?

No, this is important -- you can either make, say, "paper", which you can sell to the system, or "lumber", which you can sell to me. So the low tier players are deciding whether they're going to make a consumer good or a good that they'll sell to other players. That said, it's quite possible that this consumer good idea won't work, and low-tier players will only be able to produce goods for the high-tier facilities. You may be right.

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Even if you offered more money, I can take less money from the game and you can't sell any chairs then I win, don't I? Is it possible for another player to make a Mill and produce lumber to sell you? If so then why wouldn' t you do that instead of buying it from me?

Yes, there could be more than one mill. I think that we may have to restrict a single player's ability to create a "matched set" of tier 1 and tier 2 factories; perhaps simply by forbidding you from placing more than one facility in a town. Thus, to "sell to yourself", you'll still need to pay "shipping costs", which may incentivize you either using the merchant or buying from a local supplier.

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jwarrend wrote:
A better way of expressing this would be to say that I am advocating direct player ownership of production facilities, as opposed to the players “utilizing” production facilities.

Which is about the same as the difference between players 'owning' resources or having 'common' resources.

But it's not exactly the same; you could not own the facility but gain ownership of the item the facility produces for you. It's possible you're lumping the facilities in as "resources". While technically accurate, I think it's unhelpful to use that kind of language; let's consider "resources" to be things that can be expressed as little wooden cubes -- items that are bought and sold, and combined to produce "goods". Means of production, be they "guilds" or whatever, should be considered to be a separate entity.

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Suppose in my 'model' everyone were just a merchant and that the facilities produced stuff on their own. There'd have to be some way to determine how many of each resource a facility produces- maybe a static number, maybe based on a die roll, maybe based on the number demanded on all current contract cards... whatever. Then instead of 'choosing a role' everyone's 'role' would be Merchant and you would do one (or some) of the actions I'm talking about (move goods around, sell goods, combine goods).

It's a different game from what I have in mind. And I bet there might already be a game like this out there, although perhaps not. I think it would work, but it's not the game I have in mind.

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The best reason I can think of is to make deal making somewhat resistant to exact calculation

I guess you could call it that- I think people will be more likely to trade/deal if they don't know for sure that they are handing points to others... imagine playing Settlers with your hand face up. That would suck, right?

I have heard, though I don't know if it's true, that expert Settlers players are pretty good card counters, so they pretty much know what everyone is holding at any one time. It's not the information that adds secrecy -- it's the difficulty of forecasting the actions of others when many options are available but only a few can be chosen. Again, gravitating to my "buying this/selling that" model, if we can each only sell one thing, and selling has a variable payout depending on how many total items are sold, then knowing what resources you have available to sell doesn't necessarily make the calculation of what you're actually going to sell easy. I don't think the game needs uncertainty with respect to what players have or what possible payouts are -- there is plenty of uncertainty that comes from the dual-problem of (a) I can only sell 1 item and (b) I don't know exactly which items you'll choose to sell, since we all choose that simultaneously.

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This makes some sense EITHER with closed contracts, OR maybe if you don't know what resources people have. If you DO know what resources they have, AND you can see which ones they need, then what's the big secret?

See above. It's not a "secrecy" effect so much as a "resistant to 100% accurate calculation" effect.

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This is pretty much why I don't like the idea of owning the facilities and went the other way with it. I'd rather see all the facilities in play all the time, even if they only produce at the whim of the player. This might be similar to saying that a player could go start a Painter, and the 2 buildingst hat supply the Painter, when the need for Portraits arises. But that seems like a lot of steps compared to just spending a turn (or part of a turn) ensuring the appropriate resources are in play. I'm afraid people wouldn't want to go through all that work for 1 contract, which means the contract will be ignored. I realize you suggested it get more and more lucrative, but if it takes several turns to become lucrative enough, then a couple more turns to set up to fulfill it, then the game could be over by the time you get it done- probaboy more efficient to work on other contracts.

Your concerns are quite valid, but again, keep in mind that I'm advocating a fairly limited number of kinds of facilities -- possibly as few as 3 or 4 in each tier. I don't deny that the potential problem of nonexistant facilities. I do think that it's solvable. What if, for example, there are 4 types of tier 1 facilities, and 4 types of tier 2 facilities, and at the start of the game, each player gets dealt one facility of each type. (And during the game, you can add more facilities). That would be the beginning of a solution to this dilemma, perhaps.

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Or, if you had the potential to sell several different goods, but were restricted in how many you could sell.

Hmm... I guess that may be true... that boils down to not knowing what your opponents have. You know what they have but you don't know which they're bringing to market.

Yes, exactly! You're seeing it now...

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Technically, with hidden ownership of resources you COULD know what people have if you pay attention to what they produce. So see? Same thing.

What do you mean by "hidden ownership of resources"? Are you advocating "public information that becomes hidden", a la shares in Acquire? I don't mind elements like this in games, but I do try to avoid them unless necessary in designing. I think that the murkiness of "what will he choose to sell" could be more satisfying than "what is he likely to produce, based on how well I can remember what he's holding"?

...skipping most of the "merchant" issues for now...

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But in your model you're only going to have 1 player making chairs... I suppose he could trade chairs for other resources, but I don't see much point if the only thing you can do with chairs is sell them to the contract.

Again, there could be more than one player making chairs. Perhaps it's a "Fad Factory" situation where you make more chairs than you can sell, but you hold onto them hoping to sell them again later. This is another case where the "spoilage" effect could be really interesting. But I continue to suspect that will have to go in a different game.

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I was talking about a positional aspect of "where are the resources"

I don't rule this out; in my head, I see a board with 4 (or so) towns, each of which produces one kind of raw material and each of which has spaces for 4-5 production facilities. (and each of which will get a demand card each turn, maybe) So, if you don't have your mill in a town that supplies wood, you'll need to pay to "import" it. This is where the "merchant" could come in; one of his abilities could be to more cheaply supply you with wood for your mill than if you had to pay "shipping costs". Maybe...

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I’m just advocating a higher level of ownership than you are.

I maintain that it comes down to weather the resources are shared and available to all players, or if each player has their own resources.

That's fine, but I have to say that I agree with David, that a game where any player can use any production facility is going to end up being very much like Puerto Rico in scope and feel. No doubt a game in "my" model will end up being like some other game, though I haven't figured out what yet. But I adamantly prefer a model where players own their own facilities. Should we agree to disagree and work on separate games then compare notes and see how similar ideas sparked two different games?

(It's possible I could be persuaded to a model where players are guild members and have access to multiple facilities *within that guild*. But a game where any player can use any facility probably only makes sense thematically if you push it all the way to the players simply being merchants, transporting goods to sites where they can be combined. And for reasons I've already mentioned, this idea, while valid, holds less appeal for me.)

-J

sedjtroll
sedjtroll's picture
Offline
Joined: 07/21/2008
"Two-tiered guilds" model

jwarrend wrote:
this presupposes that I only have one tier 2 facility and that you only have one tier 1 facility. Maybe we both have one of each, and striking a deal with me this time will grease the wheels next time.

Could be. Or the next time might be the same situation- if the only good reason to trade with you last tim was so you'd be willing to trade with me this time, it's likely that a lot of the time neitehr of us will want to or need to trade at all.

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I don't claim that I've fully fleshed out a scheme in which deals are properly motivated.

Earlier you talked about laying a lot of superfluous groundwork for a system that we won’t ultimately end up using. To me, without context of how these deals can work, we're "laying superfluous groundwork."

It would appear that you and I approach designs not just from different directions, but from opposite directions! Which leads me to believe that if we ever agreed on anything we'd be a great team ;) As it stands the things that either of us see as necessary to consider amountt o 'superfluous groundwork' to the other.

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My only claim is that you can probably rely on the market economy to solve many of these sorts of problems (just like in real life)

I agree. I think I mentioned (somewhere in the last couple avalanches of text) that what I understood you to be saying was [mirror of real life market economy] and that it would probably work fine. I still think that's true, but the rest of the game has to conform to it.

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but perhaps not all. It's those cases that the market doesn't take care of that you need rules to legislate.

If this becomes true, if extra rules are necessary because the model simply doesn't always work, then my recommendation would be to find a better model (rather than patch one up with extra rules).

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Seth wrote:

I see the theory, assuming there's only 1 Carpenter building to be had and you have control of it,

Careful, I never said this; there could be multiple instances of a given type of tier 2 facility. (or tier one facilities).
The reason I assumed that was because the alternative seemed to me to make the game trivial. Why should I buy from your Mill when I can build a Mill of my own? Now if you start placeing additional restrictions- like there can only be 1 Mill per town, and a player can't own a T1 facility in the same town as a T2 facility (these odd sounding restrictions are the kind of thing that to me indicate something's wrong with the system), then that could add reasons for me to just buy resources from you instead of bypassing you and playing the game solo.

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Seth wrote:
I see how much you will make for the chairs, we negotiate a price so that we both make some money (this is how the real world works, no?), but how do you simultaneously negotiate a deal with the smith?

I don't have the negotiation system conceptualized yet, but again, this is part of the reason I advocated the "I'm selling X/I'm buying Y" construct, as it helps to answer these questions somewhat.
Um... If I'm the player with the T2 facility, what am I gong to sell? After a while I might have chairs (or whatever), but not always. I guess you're saying thateach player will have at least 1 T1 facility and therefore always have resources to sell, and hopefully for the player each of the resources will be in demand...

If I'm the guy selling Lumber and there's no t2 facility or no contracts requiring lumber, then my "I'm buying X, I'm selling Lumber" is fine but I'm screwed because noone needs lumber. Maybe they'll buy it for later use (in real life that might happen, I'd probably have to sel it cheap, and tho we wouldn't have to model it, the buyer would have to store it somewhere). So by luck of the draw, my resources are worth less than other players'...

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Seth wrote:
So if I have lumber and I can either sell lumber to the system, or I can sell it to you to make chairs which you can sell to the system, why would I choose to sell it to you?

No, this is important -- you can either make, say, "paper", which you can sell to the system, or "lumber", which you can sell to me. So the low tier players are deciding whether they're going to make a consumer good or a good that they'll sell to other players. That said, it's quite possible that this consumer good idea won't work, and low-tier players will only be able to produce goods for the high-tier facilities. You may be right.
My mistake, but the argument is still valid. Why make Lumber you need when I can make paper and sell it. I suppose a facility could produce some of each, in which case I'll end up with lumber anyway, but that still isn't necessarily reason enough for me to sell it to.

It's probably important to note that this kind of stuf DOES work in real life, so there must be some way to model it. Just need to be sure the model we come up with doesn't break the 'system' and kill the real life motivations.

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Yes, there could be more than one mill. I think that we may have to restrict a single player's ability to create a "matched set" of tier 1 and tier 2 factories; perhaps simply by forbidding you from placing more than one facility in a town. Thus, to "sell to yourself", you'll still need to pay "shipping costs", which may incentivize you either using the merchant or buying from a local supplier.

Now this sounds feasible. It also sounds like adding rules to preserve a mechanic, which I believe you usually argue means the mechanic might not be worth preserving...

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Seth wrote:
Which is about the same as the difference between players 'owning' resources or having 'common' resources.

But it's not exactly the same; you could not own the facility but gain ownership of the item the facility produces for you.
Ok, I was agreeing with you here. Let's not argue semantics ;) If resources are common then ownership of the facility has little meaning, at least with respect to how either of us have been talking about it.

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It's possible you're lumping the facilities in as "resources". While technically accurate, I think it's unhelpful to use that kind of language; let's consider "resources" to be things that can be expressed as little wooden cubes -- items that are bought and sold, and combined to produce "goods". Means of production, be they "guilds" or whatever, should be considered to be a separate entity.

Yes, that's how I am thinking of "resources"... as cubes or cards (like settlers).

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Suppose in my model everyone were just a merchant and that the facilities produced stuff on their own. Then instead of choosing a role everyone's role would be Merchant and you would do one (or some) of the actions I'm talking about (move goods around, sell goods, combine goods).

It's a different game from what I have in mind. And I bet there might already be a game like this out there, although perhaps not. I think it would work, but it's not the game I have in mind.
Clearly it's not the game you have in mind. It's the game *I* have in mind- or a variation of it. There could well be a game like it already, but that's true of anything. You say yourself (about 6 paragraphs down) that there's likely a game just like your model as well. I don't thin it's helpful to say "there might be something like that already." As you probably already know, I don't think it matters if there's game we know of that's like an idea we're considering, although I will note that it's good to identify it.

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I have heard, though I don't know if it's true, that expert Settlers players are pretty good card counters, so they pretty much know what everyone is holding at any one time.

Right. And expert poker players are also good card counters, so maybe they should play the World Series of Poker with their hands face up.

Expert coutners can know, in theory, everyone's hand in Settlers, or bridge, or VPs in PR. And yet, each of those games specifically has hidden information. Most notably may be Settlers- where the information could be all open and probably not change the game... except if you ask anyone who's played Setllers they'll probably say it DOES change the game- significantly.

My point is that hiding people's resources does not just make a game more difficult or annoying for those with weaker memory, which seems to be what you are implying here. If a player pays attention then they might know what people are holding, but just like in Settlers people don't know other people's hands.

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It's not the information that adds secrecy -- it's the difficulty of forecasting the actions of others when many options are available but only a few can be chosen.

On the one hand I agree with you. Knowing what you hold but not what you will bring to market is functionally equivalent to not knowing what you hold (as I described before), and therefore they have relatively equal potential in my eyes. On the other hand, depending on what decisions drive the "what do I bring to market" question, the ambiguity might not really be there. If I can tell as well as you can by looking at the board which item you should be selling, then there is no difficulty forecasting. If contracts and holdings are open, then that info is available to me, and either (a) I can tell what you will bring, or (b) you will have multiple possibilities and it's a crap shoot if I guess right which one you take.

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Again, gravitating to my "buying this/selling that" model, if we can each only sell one thing, and selling has a variable payout depending on how many total items are sold, then knowing what resources you have available to sell doesn't necessarily make the calculation of what you're actually going to sell easy.

See my last statement about that calculation. The "buying this/selling that" model is interesting, but I think it belongs in a different game- even if we are looking at your model of facilities and resources rather than mine.

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I don't think the game needs uncertainty with respect to what players have or what possible payouts are -- there is plenty of uncertainty that comes from the dual-problem of (a) I can only sell 1 item and (b) I don't know exactly which items you'll choose to sell, since we all choose that simultaneously.

True, but only if I can't determine what you want to do. With all info open, I'm afraid it might be too easy to tell what your opponent's play is going to be.

Seth wrote:
This makes some sense EITHER with closed contracts, OR maybe if you don't know what resources people have. If you DO know what resources they have, AND you can see which ones they need, then what's the big secret?

I guess I could have just repeated this comment for the last one :)

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See above. It's not a "secrecy" effect so much as a "resistant to 100% accurate calculation" effect.

See above. "Resistance to accurate calculation" might depend on "secrecy" of some kind.

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Your concerns are quite valid, but again, keep in mind that I'm advocating a fairly limited number of kinds of facilities -- possibly as few as 3 or 4 in each tier.

So am I. In fact, I was thinign 3 in each for starters- but that's the kind of thing I'd like to just pick a low number and try it to see if the mechanics work. More can be added later if need be.

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I don't deny that the potential problem of nonexistant facilities. I do think that it's solvable. What if, for example, there are 4 types of tier 1 facilities, and 4 types of tier 2 facilities, and at the start of the game, each player gets dealt one facility of each type. (And during the game, you can add more facilities). That would be the beginning of a solution to this dilemma, perhaps

Now you're talkin'... possible ways to acheive what you want to acheive. Now we can see if it's feasible. I like the idea of people starting with a random facility of each tier. If a town is predetermined to supply a certain resource then the T1 facilities probably ought to go in the towns where their resource is generated- it doesn't make sense to have to ship raw materials to your T1 facility- you'd just build the facility in the right spot.

Players could be restricted in that they can only own 1 facility per town like you mentioned. But, if they place their T2 facility themselves then many of them will be in the same place as their required resource- however since they need 2 that might be ok. If the T2 facilities are placed randomly then this only happens sometimes and could be considered luck of the draw.

In fact, since 2 resources are required, players probably don't need to be restricted to 1 facility per town. Maybe 1 T1 facility per town, but not just 1 facility.

So the game could begin with players getting dealt a T1 and a T2, and placing both in the appropriate location (determined by the T1).

If that doesn't sound like too many rules/restrictions, or likeit conflicts with anything else, then maybe that's a good start.

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Seth wrote:
Technically, with hidden ownership of resources you COULD know what people have if you pay attention to what they produce. So see? Same thing.

What do you mean by "hidden ownership of resources"? Are you advocating "public information that becomes hidden", a la shares in Acquire?

I don't know about Acquire. What I was talking about is like resourecs in Settlers. You can see who produces what, butyou can't see wo holds what.

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I don't mind elements like this in games, but I do try to avoid them unless necessary in designing. I think that the murkiness of "what will he choose to sell" could be more satisfying than "what is he likely to produce, based on how well I can remember what he's holding"?

More like "what is he likely to be holding based on what I know he can produce." Kind of the opposite, and a significant difference I think. Don't you?

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there could be more than one player making chairs. Perhaps it's a "Fad Factory" situation where you make more chairs than you can sell, but you hold onto them hoping to sell them again later.

Well, if you have a chair factory, I don't see why you wouldn't crap out chairs as fast as you can afford to do so. what else are you going to do? You will divide your mony up between supporting each of your T2 facilities and you will produce their products as efficiently as possible.

UNLESS- each T2 can produce more than 1 item... like a Carpenter can make Chairs or Tables. then you have a reason not to make too many Chairs (you want some Tables too)... This could be interesting in any model.

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I see a board with 4 (or so) towns, each of which produces one kind of raw material and each of which has spaces for 4-5 production facilities. (and each of which will get a demand card each turn, maybe) So, if you don't have your mill in a town that supplies wood, you'll need to pay to "import" it. This is where the "merchant" could come in; one of his abilities could be to more cheaply supply you with wood for your mill than if you had to pay "shipping costs".

This sounds reasonable.

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I have to say that I agree with David, that a game where any player can use any production facility is going to end up being very much like Puerto Rico in scope and feel.

I'm not sure where this sentiment comes from, but I hope it's not simply because I mentioned role selection as a means to decide which actions to take. I got the feeling that was the case, and I gravitated away from a role selection mechanic in my model and suggested other things, like players just being merchants. However I am getting the feeling that my idea is getting artificially confused by comparing it to PR. I don't see how anything I've suggested is remotely like PR, with the exception of a role selection mechanic, which was even implimented in a different way than PR and therefore is dissimilar.

Nobody's required to like my ideas, but I'd prefer if they were disliked for being sub-optimal or uninteresting (which they may be), and not because they are artificially similar to PR (which I contend they are not).

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But I adamantly prefer a model where players own their own facilities. Should we agree to disagree and work on separate games then compare notes and see how similar ideas sparked two different games?

It's pretty clear that you prefer the player-owned facilities/resources model. I don't deny that your model can work, it just hasn't clicked for me yet. The other model, which is more about moving resources to where they need to be (probably for set costs) than haggling over the cost of doing so DOES click for me.

I have been trying to understand your model better and see if I can make it click, because it's so much easier and faster to work on a design via discussion with another person than on one's own. Perhaps we should do what you suggested- write up a description (if not a rules outline) and compare notes. Maybe make suggestions to each other. I am planning on doing that for 'my version'... I thnk it's fair to say that these are really 2 diferent games than 2 versions of the same game.

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It's possible I could be persuaded to a model where players are guild members and have access to multiple facilities *within that guild*.

With respect to what we've been discussing, I don't even see what this might mean.

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But a game where any player can use any facility probably only makes sense thematically if you push it all the way to the players simply being merchants, transporting goods to sites where they can be combined.

I'm not sure what you mean by 'simply' being merchants. I envision the action list for the merchant to be extensive enough for a game... moving resources (limited), buying resources off the board (limited), completing contracts (hidden or open), obtaining new contracts (hidden or open). That, with the possibility of also havnig a say in the production of resources, and the combination of resources, sounds like more thn enough of a list, from which a player will prbably be allowed only 2 per turn.

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And for reasons I've already mentioned, this idea, while valid, holds less appeal for me.

That's fine. Bargaining for prices at which to sell, and frankly the whole "try and determine demand to set prices in a marketplace" idea holds little appeal to me.

For what it's worth, I'll try and post a more fleshed out version of my idea this weekend. It might be that ni fleshing it out I find that it's not interesting enough and I'll turn to working on what we've been talking about for your model and see if I can make that click for me.

jwarrend
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"Two-tiered guilds" model

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Earlier you talked about laying a lot of superfluous groundwork for a system that we won’t ultimately end up using. To me, without context of how these deals can work, we're "laying superfluous groundwork."

I disagree; the economic model is the system around which the deal-making system will be erected. What I’m saying is that I’m not committed to any particular model of interaction between players. That such a model can be realized, I’m very confident.

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It would appear that you and I approach designs not just from different directions, but from opposite directions!

Perhaps; it certainly seems to be the case here, though it’s hard to say whether it’s a generally true statement. The key point of disagreement seems to be the sources of tension that we feel the game should emphasize.

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but perhaps not all. It's those cases that the market doesn't take care of that you need rules to legislate.

If this becomes true, if extra rules are necessary because the model simply doesn't always work, then my recommendation would be to find a better model (rather than patch one up with extra rules).

But again, this is a bridge that can be crossed when it’s actually reached.

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The reason I assumed that was because the alternative seemed to me to make the game trivial. Why should I buy from your Mill when I can build a Mill of my own?

This really isn’t that difficult. Presumably, you simply can’t afford to build every production facility you might happen to want, so you have to make choices about which you’ll actually build. Given the choice of dealing with me for wood or investing in a Mill of your own, it may not be trivial at all.

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Now if you start placeing additional restrictions- like there can only be 1 Mill per town, and a player can't own a T1 facility in the same town as a T2 facility , then that could add reasons for me to just buy resources from you instead of bypassing you and playing the game solo.
(these odd sounding restrictions are the kind of thing that to me indicate something's wrong with the system)

Or rather, that’s the way you’ve chosen to see it; to me, the system isn’t by any means fleshed out enough to be able to say “something’s wrong” here. "Odd - sounding"? "You can only build one facility per town" is really not that troublesome; it's just a rule. It's like the rule in Carcassonne that "you can only place meeples on the tile you just placed." Every game depends on certain restrictions like this in order to work.

Again, I keep trying to talk about the economic model, and you come up with all these “yeah, buts” and I try to give examples of ways these could be resolved and you come up with “yeah, buts” for those. I’m afraid this conversation is becoming less helpful from my perspective. Not only are we not finding common ground, but we’re starting to denigrate each other’s ideas. I think it may be high time to part ways on this one.

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Um... If I'm the player with the T2 facility, what am I gong to sell? After a while I might have chairs (or whatever), but not always. I guess you're saying thateach player will have at least 1 T1 facility and therefore always have resources to sell, and hopefully for the player each of the resources will be in demand...

Not hopefully -- you know what is in demand, contract-wise, before you choose what to sell. And yes, it’s key that you don’t have just one kind of facility.

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If I'm the guy selling Lumber and there's no t2 facility or no contracts requiring lumber, then my "I'm buying X, I'm selling Lumber" is fine but I'm screwed because noone needs lumber.

Then, in that case, you probably wouldn’t sell Lumber. But again, in the example I suggested below, the game will start with every kind of facility in existence.

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My mistake, but the argument is still valid. Why make Lumber you need when I can make paper and sell it.

Because it’s not a 2-player game. In many games, making a deal that helps one other player in addition to yourself is a valid move if by making the deal you come out ahead of the other players who aren't involved in the deal. Let’s say, e.g, that “paper” has a low potential payout -- maybe $2 per unit, whereas there’s a very lucrative “chairs” contract that would give you $12 per chair, and for which you need "lumber" from me. So perhaps I can deal with you for, say, $4 per unit of lumber. I’m $2 ahead of where I’d be if I sold paper, and even if you come out slightly ahead in the deal (which depends on what you paid for the other components of the chair, etc), I come out ahead of other players.

You could level the same kind of complaint about any deal-making game. The key is that deals are made with an eye towards helping you relative to the non-involved players, and hopefully coming out close to even with the other involved players. I see no reason to think this kind of motivation for decisions couldn’t happen here.

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Now this sounds feasible. It also sounds like adding rules to preserve a mechanic, which I believe you usually argue means the mechanic might not be worth preserving...

My point is more that it’s usually not good to prop up a superfluous subsystem by adding additional subsystems. Adding rules and restrictions, on the other hand, are present in all games, because they’re essential to the game working. The rule in Carcassonne that forbids me from placing a farmer in a field that you own is an extra rule that’s essential to the working of the farmer mechanic. There are always going to need to be restrictions to make the game work. I don’t see why “you can only own one facility” per town or the like could possibly be construed as unnecessary or unreasonable.

And incidentally, I find the rhetorical device of trying to diminish a position by using one’s own words against one in this way to be irritating. Better, I think, to an assail an argument directly than to attempt to neutralize it by appealing to some contradiction with some prior statement by the speaker in a completely different conversation and context. It’s “gotcha!” argumentation; possibly valid, but more the purview of someone who wants to argue than someone who wants to reason.

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As you probably already know, I don't think it matters if there's game we know of that's like an idea we're considering, although I will note that it's good to identify it.

And as you probably know about me, I don’t like working on a project for which there’s a close analogue already on the market. It’s just a matter of personal preference.

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I have heard, though I don't know if it's true, that expert Settlers players are pretty good card counters, so they pretty much know what everyone is holding at any one time.

Right. And expert poker players are also good card counters, so maybe they should play the World Series of Poker with their hands face up.

Come on -- poker is a completely different animal. In Settlers, you see what commodities people have drawn -- there’s no secret card drawing like in Poker. Furthermore, you can get some indication based on the kinds of deals people are attempting to make what they are holding.

I’m sorry, but I just don’t see any place for a “hidden resource” mechanic in this game. If resources are supposed to be on cards that are then taken into the hand and then become “hidden”, I’m afraid I just can’t support that idea at all. To me, it’s a shallow source of uncertainty, for reasons I’ve already explained.

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On the other hand, depending on what decisions drive the "what do I bring to market" question, the ambiguity might not really be there. If I can tell as well as you can by looking at the board which item you should be selling, then there is no difficulty forecasting.

But the crux of what makes playing German games interesting is that people don’t always behave in a predictable fashion. And again, I claim there isn’t an element of “should”-ness, if the contracts are graded by number sold. So I can see, if you have 10 paper, that you might *want* to try to fill the paper contract, but you may not choose to do so because of Bill’s stack of 6 paper that could saturate the market and cut your payoff; you may do something else instead. If you have two equivalent tier one facilities, it might not be obvious at all which you'd try to emphasize.

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If contracts and holdings are open, then that info is available to me, and either (a) I can tell what you will bring, or (b) you will have multiple possibilities and it's a crap shoot if I guess right which one you take.

(b) is what I worry about more, that it might be an “I think that he thinks that I think” situation.

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True, but only if I can't determine what you want to do. With all info open, I'm afraid it might be too easy to tell what your opponent's play is going to be.

It’s certainly possible. But again, the contract payouts are variable and depend on what players choose to sell. So it matters a lot what others choose to do as to what payouts you might be able to get. This might cause you to want to do something “unpredictable”.

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I don't know about Acquire. What I was talking about is like resourecs in Settlers. You can see who produces what, butyou can't see wo holds what.

Ok, I see that now. I don’t like it. Is that an impasse?

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I don't mind elements like this in games, but I do try to avoid them unless necessary in designing. I think that the murkiness of "what will he choose to sell" could be more satisfying than "what is he likely to produce, based on how well I can remember what he's holding"?

More like "what is he likely to be holding based on what I know he can produce." Kind of the opposite, and a significant difference I think. Don't you?

I don’t follow this; are “production” actions being done secretly? If not, then I knew at one point what you were holding (either by having drawn them or by producing them); it’s just a question of whether I can remember.

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UNLESS- each T2 can produce more than 1 item... like a Carpenter can make Chairs or Tables. then you have a reason not to make too many Chairs (you want some Tables too)... This could be interesting in any model.

Yes, this is certainly a possibility.

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However I am getting the feeling that my idea is getting artificially confused by comparing it to PR. I don't see how anything I've suggested is remotely like PR, with the exception of a role selection mechanic, which was even implimented in a different way than PR and therefore is dissimilar.

It’s like PR, to me, in the sense that all players have access to all of the different kinds of resources and production facilities at any time (in principle, anyway). In PR, it works thematically because you are managing all aspects of a plantation’s operation. In this game, it doesn’t work thematically, because no one can on one day be a miller, then a carpenter, then a printer. That’s why I said that it probably needs to be pushed all the way to a model where a player is a “merchant”, to save thematic integrity. But my concern there is that it becomes a fairly standard pick-up-and-deliver game.

Again, the crux of the tension I’m hoping for this game to create is the deal-making tension between producers of two different kinds of goods -- those that come from raw materials, and those that come from intermediate products. You’re talking about tension coming from having to navigate an economy that consists of two kinds of facilities. But in your model, the interaction between owners of different kinds of facilities is either non-existant, or else a complete afterthought -- you yourself can utilize any facility on the board. Whereas in my model, each player controls only a finite corner of the market, and must interact with the other players to negotiate and navigate the economy. In that sense, I see the game as being more of a deal-making game, and you see it as more of a pick-up-and-deliver game. I think both could be fine games. I don’t see much hope for reconciling them, since they’re quite different points of emphasis.

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Perhaps we should do what you suggested- write up a description (if not a rules outline) and compare notes. Maybe make suggestions to each other. I am planning on doing that for 'my version'...

I’ll try to whip something up.

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It's possible I could be persuaded to a model where players are guild members and have access to multiple facilities *within that guild*.

With respect to what we've been discussing, I don't even see what this might mean.

I mean that there might be multiple mills in different towns, and you, as a member of the mill guild, can use any of them -- but you can’t use the “carpentry” facility, as you could in your model. It would be basically the same as David’s game, but with a different guild structure and economic model.

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I'm not sure what you mean by 'simply' being merchants.

I mean that the point of the game is no longer to try to make favorable deals with owners of other production facilities who either supply or purchase goods that you’re interested in buying or selling. Instead, it would be an excercise in manipulating the state of the board to your greatest pesonal advantage. Not saying the game would be “simplistic”, but rather, that it lacks the key element that inspired me to come up with this economic model in the first place.

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And for reasons I've already mentioned, this idea, while valid, holds less appeal for me.

That's fine. Bargaining for prices at which to sell, and frankly the whole "try and determine demand to set prices in a marketplace" idea holds little appeal to me.

Fair enough. Let’s call it quits, then, rather than trying to make two fundamentally unlike ideas fit together.

sedjtroll
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"Two-tiered guilds" model

jwarrend wrote:
Fair enough. Let’s call it quits, then, rather than trying to make two fundamentally unlike ideas fit together.

How about instead, I'll think about the pickup/deliver idea I was advocating on my own or some other time, and we can work together on this economic model you've been advocating. For one thing I think it's a lot easier and more helpful to work with another person on a design than to go it alone, and for another thing, since we've been discussing it, your model is starting to 'click' with me (finally).

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Presumably, you simply can’t afford to build every production facility you might happen to want, so you have to make choices about which you’ll actually build.

Point taken.
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sej wrote:
each player will have at least 1 T1 facility and therefore always have resources to sell, and hopefully for the player each of the resources will be in demand...

Not hopefully -- you know what is in demand, contract-wise, before you choose what to sell. And yes, it’s key that you don’t have just one kind of facility.

I meant hopefully the resources that are in demand are the ones that player can produce. The concer here is that there will be times when the resources you can produce just aren't needed (for contracts), and therefore you lose out on money. You may be the only one selling, but in the real world anyway you would get a low price.

HOWEVER- those instances are probably few and far between, or at least they won't last very long. What do you see as the turnover rate for contracts? Are there new ones each turn/round? Each 'Marketplace Phase' (which wouldn't necessarily have to happen every round)? Or are contracts replaced only when fulfilled? I just noticed that I almost confused the 'contracts for T1 goods' with 'contracts for T2 goods'. To distinguish I'll refer to T1 goods as "goods" and T2 goods as "products" from here on out.

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sej wrote:

My mistake, but the argument is still valid. Why make Lumber you need when I can make paper and sell it.

Because it’s not a 2-player game.
True enough. I never intended to say that it wouldn't work, I was just articulating my thought process when playing games like this... but just because it's not my cup of tea doesn't mean I should never consider designing them, and furthermore maybe designing a market-style game will help me understand it better and then I can do better in those kinds of games.

Aside: I actually played Princes of Florence last night, and thought I wouldn't like it because of the bidding... but it was more fun that I thought, and I actually got 2nd place by 4 points (and identified a mistake I made which would easily have made up that difference).

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You could level the same kind of complaint about any deal-making game.

And I often do ;)

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And as you probably know about me, I don’t like working on a project for which there’s a close analogue already on the market. It’s just a matter of personal preference.

If there's a specific game that you know of, which is a good game in and of itself and is not obscure or out of date, and our game starts turning into that game, then it's a valid point to say "this is too close to [X]," I'll give you that. But let's not say things like "I bet there's a game like that out already" (that could be said about any idea), especially when followed by "There's probably something out there like my idea and I just don't know what" (which is arguing against yourself). Instead, lets just try and flesh out this idea and make it into a decent game. Can we agree on that?

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To me, [having resources that are hidden but trackable]’s a shallow source of uncertainty, for reasons I’ve already explained.

Just to make sure I know what you are saying, a mechanic like Settlers wherein players get resources in a public fashion but the resources themselves are hidden information, is shallow because if people pay close enough attention then it's not really hidden information at all. And as I recall you (or it might have been someone else on the boards) said you don't like that kind of thing because you're not the kind of person who can remember all the resources people are holding. Is that accurate? There's the potential for another player to remember that information and therefore have an advantage.

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sej wrote:
On the other hand, depending on what decisions drive the "what do I bring to market" question, the ambiguity might not really be there. If I can tell as well as you can by looking at the board which item you should be selling, then there is no difficulty forecasting.

But the crux of what makes playing German games interesting is that people don’t always behave in a predictable fashion. And again, I claim there isn’t an element of “should”-ness, if the contracts are graded by number sold. So I can see, if you have 10 paper, that you might *want* to try to fill the paper contract, but you may not choose to do so because of Bill’s stack of 6 paper that could saturate the market and cut your payoff; you may do something else instead. If you have two equivalent tier one facilities, it might not be obvious at all which you'd try to emphasize.
My concern was that either (a) the ambiguity would not really be ambiguous (or "ambiguitous" as I almost typed :) OR (b) if as you say there are two equivalent T1 facilities then it might come down to "did I guess right which of the 2 equivalent goods you wanted to sell".

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sej wrote:
If contracts and holdings are open, then that info is available to me, and either (a) I can tell what you will bring, or (b) you will have multiple possibilities and it's a crap shoot if I guess right which one you take.

(b) is what I worry about more, that it might be an “I think that he thinks that I think” situation.
Right, I see we've already covered this as a possibility :) So we'll have to watch out for that then.

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sej wrote:
Jeff wrote:

I think that the murkiness of "what will he choose to sell" could be more satisfying than "what is he likely to produce, based on how well I can remember what he's holding"?

More like "what is he likely to be holding based on what I know he can produce." Kind of the opposite, and a significant difference I think. Don't you?

I don’t follow this; are “production” actions being done secretly? If not, then I knew at one point what you were holding (either by having drawn them or by producing them); it’s just a question of whether I can remember.
I see that you have a hang-up on 'hidden information' since it's not "really" hidden. I have an idea that might be interesting about that, but first I'm very curious to know what you think about Settlers of Catan, which has hidden resources that are gathered publicly. Also Puerto Rico and Tigris & Euphrates, which each have hidden scoring where the VPs are collected publicly. All three of those are well renouned games in which a player able to track people's resources or VPs can arguably have an advantage over other players.

Regarding actual hidden information... maybe not in this game, but in a game where there's production and hidden resources- what if you choose the Production action, and you draw from a facedown deck so noone knows what you produced (maybe not even you until you get it)? Or if you want control over what you get, you could pick up a face down deck and get X cards from it... as an analogy, in our game there could be a Mill deck of "paper and lumber" and when producing you could either case 1: draw at random from the mill deck, or case 2: pick up the mill deck and produce either paper or lumber or some combination. Then your holdings are in fact hidden. Is that any less shallow of a mechanic?

sedjtroll
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"Two-tiered guilds" model

jwarrend wrote:
For the “high tier” products, there should be some sort of “contract” cards revealed each turn representing a payout amount for goods of a certain type. That payout should probably be fixed, and the number of people who can claim it should probably be unlimited (because again, the “problem” presented to high tier players is not market competition, but rather, supply chain competition; adding market competition would be an extra layer of complexity). As I already mentioned, the “low tier” guilds of course can provide components to high tier players, and there will have to be some procedure by which those two can interact and choose a fair price. But as I’ve mentioned, I think that there should also be a low-tier product that can be sold to the game system. I propose also using “contract” cards for that, but with a twist. The contracts would have a price per good depending on the total number of goods sold by all players...

Perhaps, for continuity, the “high tier” contract cards could have a similar payout schedule, except that the high tier contract schedule applies to the number of goods sold by each player whereas the low tier contract payout schedule applies to the number of goods sold by all players. So you still can't flood the market with a high-tier product, but the idea is that demand for high-tier products is sufficient that players don't have to compete with each other to be able to sell.

I was re-reading this thread and trying to remember what the proposed market mechanic was all about. I don't recall what I was thinking at the time, but it certainly sounds reasonable to have the two-tier model as you have described, and allow players to basically try and decide what to buy and what to sell such that they come out ahead of other players.

However, the things I don't see working (yet) are as follows:
1. What keeps everyone from wanting the same goods at the same time? I see this being a problem with open contract cards. It sounds good to say that the cost of each low-level good depends on how many people are trying to sell it, and the cost of the hig-level good depends on how many YOU want to sell... but it still seems to me that everyone's actions will be the same. Maybe this isn't a problem, and it just becomes a matter of who's willing to pay the most for them, and who picks the right price at which to give up on it - like a PoF auction for example.

2. How do people get the low-level goods to sell?Presumably this has to do with the Factories mentioned briefly in the beginning, but I'm curious how that will work. Will all players have access to all goods to produce/sell? That seems dull. How will it be decided who has access to which goods? COULD each player somehow 'control' the same Factory type and end up with the same goods? Does it break the game if they do? This is sort of peripheral to the economic model, but I think parts of the model will depend on how you get the goods in the first place. For example, if it's easier to build a Mill than to buy Paper, then who will buy paper?

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for whatever reason, I continue to gravitate to a turn sequence that involves a player laying out two tiles (or cards, or whatever) representing a good he wants to buy, and a good he wants to sell. I envision that first other players get to attempt to provide the goods he wants/buy the goods he’s selling, after which the game system would kick in and sell goods and buy goods in accordance with a market model like the one I’ve articulated above. But I think the restriction of only being able to buy and sell one type of good per turn would be something that could streamline the negotiations (although it would also necessitate making the production model simple enough to accomodate the restricted flow of resources that players would have...) Maybe a player should somehow be allowed to buy more types of resources than what he’s indicated he’s buying (e.g., if other players are selling something he wants).

Perhaps better would be that you contribute only what you intend to sell. The restriction of only 1 type of good is interesting (if not thematic). So players would (secretly) determine which good and how many to put out there, then players would go around buying whatever they want that people are offering- via some method, like direct purchase at a price determined by the game system, or via some negotiation by the players, or whatever.

Then after all the players buy what they want, the game system buys the rest. Maybe here is where the 'transport cost' comes in- players buying from each other have to pay more than the game system pays. So you'd rather your opponents buy from you so you get more money, but that means you're helping your opponents. If there's a Merchant in the game somehow then he could help defray the cost of buying from a player (you'd pay the same as the Game does).

Now I'll finish reading the thread and see where this discussion went :)

- Seth

sedjtroll
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"Two-tiered guilds" model

jwarrend wrote:
I think that in this game, I’m looking to remove all decisions of “how much will I sell” and “how much will I charge for what I’m selling”. I think, then, that you’ll just have to sell everything that you have in the commodity you’ve chosen to sell.

Yes, that would remove the decision of how much to sell, certainly :)
Would there ever be a reason to NOT sell a particular good then? I think perhaps there ought to be another use for the goods, especially if selling a type means all-out selling of the type. Maybe the goods can be used to um.. I don't know... upgrade (or upkeep) a building, so if you get a lot of Lumber and decide to sell it, then you'll have ZERO lumber left. If you could use Lumber for something interesting it makes the choice to sell it less of a no-brainer.

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I’ve never been bothered by that mechanic in PR.

Me neither. One of the big complaints about All For One is that people seem to want to identify with a particular character, they don't want to step back and control the game system, they prefer to feel like they're in the game system. I never understood that, because I'm the opposite. The theme is more amusing or bonus to me.

As such, I have no qualms about spitting out ideas which make it ambiguous who or what the players represent :)

jwarrend wrote:
Regarding his game that started this discussion, Scurra wrote:
One of the things I was trying to do was to force the players to commit to a certain career and stick with it for the rest of the game. That career path can evolve in various directions, but it basically stays the same throughout (once you've decided to train to be a carpenter, then you're a carpenter. You can't suddenly become a miller for a turn because the supply and demand is better...)

And I think something perfectly analogous could work here; it's just, again, that in this model, there are two distinct "tracks" that you can start in, as opposed to "City and Guilds" in which you "work your way up" to the advanced goods. Just a different way of doing things, nothing more or less.
I actually think if this game is to focus on the economy that the players shoudl not be forced to choose a career and stick to it. Unless that's how you differentiate who has access to which goods- in which case that's more akin to Variable Player Powers than it is to any kind of Career thing- and we've already decided not to persue a career advancement model for this...

- Seth

jwarrend
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"Two-tiered guilds" model

I haven't been thinking about this one very actively, so I'll have to read this thread again myself, but here are some thoughts I have about how I think the game could/should work; some of this may contradict some of what I've said before.

Two-tiered guilds There are two kinds of guilds/production facilities/whatever. The "low-level" facilities convert raw materials, which are acquired from the game, into mid-level materials, which are required as inputs for the "high-tier" facilities. The "high-tier" facilities take the mid-level resources, supplied by low-tier facilities, and convert them into sellable products, which are bought by the game system.

This, I think, is the very crux of this game design, and always has been. In that sense, I no longer think that low-tier guilds should be able to produce sellable products. The whole decision making tension relates to whether you want to interact with the other players on the supply side or the demand side. (or both, if you have multiple production facilities, as you probably will).

Selling How will players sell to one another? A promising solution to this comes from the "caravan" idea I had for SoT. How it would work here would be that the caravan's path would be laid out by some algorithm, then , as it traversed its path, you could place items for sale on the caravan, or buy items from the caravan. Perhaps you can also place orders for raw materials in some way or other. The caravan, I think, is very promising as a mechanic for indirect deal-making, which I think could be attractive in that it could prevent the long times associated with deal-making. I'm curious to see how the mechanic will work in Sands; I think it could work well here, also.

Presumably, decisions about what to produce are made in between the revealing of the caravan's route and the actual movement. So, if you know the caravan will pass through towns that contain both yours and Joe's mills, and end up in the town contain Frank's "carpenter", you have to decide whether you want to produce lumber in the hopes to sell to Frank, or paper to sell to a printer somewhere else (or perhaps each factory can only produce one kind of good, period, and you must choose which will actually produce...)

Contracts I think that the only contracts should be for the "high-tier" products. I think that contracts should probably be town-specific. Beyond that, I'm no longer sure how they should work, or rather, I'm not committed to any particular model of how they should work.

As I said, I'm not sure how these change the previous vision of the game I was advocating, but I think they lean towards an overall simplification of the system, and hopefully, an emphasization (?) of the guild model, which will be the centerpiece of the game.

-Jeff

jwarrend
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"Resource tree"

Here's a possible "resource tree" for the game.

There are three raw materials: Wood, Wool, and Pigment.

The three "low-tier" guilds do the following: (X -> Y means the facility takes X and converts it to Y)

Mill:
Wood -> Paper
Wood -> Boards

Dyer:
Pigment -> Ink
Pigment -> Dye

Weaver:
Wool -> Cloth
Wool -> Upholstery

The upper tier facilities:

Carpenter:
Boards + Upholstery -> Furniture

Seamstress:
Cloth + Dye -> Clothing

Printer:
Paper + Ink -> Books

I welcome any alternative models...

-J

sedjtroll
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"Two-tiered guilds" model

jwarrend wrote:
Two-tiered guilds There are two kinds of guilds/production facilities/whatever. The "low-level" facilities convert raw materials, which are acquired from the game, into mid-level materials, which are required as inputs for the "high-tier" facilities. The "high-tier" facilities take the mid-level resources, supplied by low-tier facilities, and convert them into sellable products, which are bought by the game system.

This, I think, is the very crux of this game design, and always has been. In that sense, I no longer think that low-tier guilds should be able to produce sellable products. The whole decision making tension relates to whether you want to interact with the other players on the supply side or the demand side. (or both, if you have multiple production facilities, as you probably will).
Yes, I agree thet this is the structure that we are (and should be) starting from. I think you're right that the decisions will stem from either the supply side of the game or the demand side, possibly both. I think we may find that if players can do both, then they don't need each other- which I'd suggest is bad. But maybe it's good enough that they can't do both at the same time to keep the interaction happening.

Quote:
Selling How will players sell to one another? A promising solution to this comes from the "caravan" idea I had for SoT. How it would work here would be that the caravan's path would be laid out by some algorithm, then , as it traversed its path, you could place items for sale on the caravan, or buy items from the caravan. Perhaps you can also place orders for raw materials in some way or other. The caravan, I think, is very promising as a mechanic for indirect deal-making, which I think could be attractive in that it could prevent the long times associated with deal-making. I'm curious to see how the mechanic will work in Sands; I think it could work well here, also.

I can see this idea working out allright, or not at all. Obviously it depends how it's handled... in that respect, with a caravan model for limited dealmaking (and I think limiting the dealmaking would be a good idea for sure) I think the 'putting in orders' should just be talking amongst players. So I guess what I'm suggesting is a bit of unrestricted dealmaking... but since it's not actually a deal, just trying to influence a decision, maybe that would work out? Or maybe that would devolve into people going back and forth "Load ~this into the caravan!" "No, load ~that!". What do you think?

Quote:
Presumably, decisions about what to produce are made in between the revealing of the caravan's route and the actual movement.

A big question about the caravan will be what determines it's path? It's also a question as to the makeup of the baord. If I remember right we were working along the lines of a board with some towns or areas, some rich with one resource, some rich with another.

If using a caravan model, rather than an open marketplace where everyone just brings what they want to the market for other people to buy, then the spatial relationships become really important. This could be good if the economic model isn't enough for a game on it's own, but perhaps it's too much otherwise...

In other words, do we need a caravan mechanic? Or would an open market do?

Quote:
So, if you know the caravan will pass through towns that contain both yours and Joe's mills, and end up in the town contain Frank's "carpenter", you have to decide whether you want to produce lumber in the hopes to sell to Frank, or paper to sell to a printer somewhere else (or perhaps each factory can only produce one kind of good, period, and you must choose which will actually produce...)

This use of the caravan might be the real reason to use it- a variable route so that the goods aren't 'worth' the same on a given turn. Loading up your Lumber doesn't do you much good if the Carpenter isn't en route.

Quote:
Contracts I think that the only contracts should be for the "high-tier" products. I think that contracts should probably be town-specific. Beyond that, I'm no longer sure how they should work, or rather, I'm not committed to any particular model of how they should work.

I agree with you here. I think this aspect can be deferred until we know what's being produced, at that time we can examine what we want the motivation to be for producing them (exactly). I mean, the obvious motivation is profit ($ or VPs).

Quote:
an emphasization (?)

"emphasis" ;)

- Seth

sedjtroll
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Re: "Resource tree"

jwarrend wrote:
Here's a possible "resource tree" for the game.

this is very close to what I was envisioning for the game. Only I had 2 outputs per 'factory' (tier 1) and 2 outputs per Facility (tier 2)- each with 2 different inputs...

I wonder if I said that right. So something like this:
(note, at home somewhere I wrote down different combinations that I thought worked... but I don't recall them now. So these might not make perfect thematic sense)

Factories:
Mill:
Wood -> Paper
Wood -> Boards

Dyer:
Pigment -> Ink
Pigment -> Dye

Weaver:
Wool -> Cloth
Wool -> Upholstery

Facilities:
Carpenter:
Boards + Upholstery -> Furniture
Boards + Cloth -> Sail (?)

Artist:
Cloth + Ink -> Tapestry
Boards + Dye -> Statue

Printer:
Paper + Ink -> Books
Paper + Dye -> Painting

... Something like that- where different combinations can be used... the distribution isn't what I'd like in the above example, but the idea is that any good produced could potentially be sold to 2 different Facilities.

Does that make sense?

- Seth

FastLearner
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"Two-tiered guilds" model

I wish you luck with the combination model. The single most time-consuming part of Elvencraft was coming up with the right mix of merchants (raw materials, in your model) to create the right items (tier 1 products in your model) to combine into the right tasks (tier 2 products). Easy on a spreadsheet, shockingly hard to come up with decent "real world" things that combine in the right ways (don't want to make, say, wood too valuable compared to everything else). I think I spent 30 hours revamping my tasks (tier 2 products) so there were no overlaps, and now I have to revamp my items (tier 1) from scratch due to some mistakes I made with items early-on. Which will mean revamping the tasks (tier 2) again, too. Blech.

(Obviously not suggesting you don't do this: just a warning that if you get too many different things going on, the "realistic" + "balanced" might turn out to be quite a challenge, more than you'd expect.)

-- Matthew

sedjtroll
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"Two-tiered guilds" model

FastLearner wrote:
Easy on a spreadsheet, shockingly hard to come up with decent "real world" things that combine in the right ways (don't want to make, say, wood too valuable compared to everything else).

Hmm... I see how this could become a very real problem.

Unless...

If the players all had access to whichever resources they wanted, then the resources wouldn't have to be balanced- wood COULD be better than everything else.

- Seth

jwarrend
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"Two-tiered guilds" model

sedjtroll wrote:
I think we may find that if players can do both, then they don't need each other- which I'd suggest is bad. But maybe it's good enough that they can't do both at the same time to keep the interaction happening.

Right, clearly, the game hangs on the players interacting. At this point, whether that should be cultivated by restrictions in what facilities they can build, or in how many facilities can produce per turn, seems like it's still an open question, and should probably remain so for now.

Quote:

I can see this idea working out allright, or not at all. Obviously it depends how it's handled... in that respect, with a caravan model for limited dealmaking (and I think limiting the dealmaking would be a good idea for sure) I think the 'putting in orders' should just be talking amongst players. So I guess what I'm suggesting is a bit of unrestricted dealmaking... but since it's not actually a deal, just trying to influence a decision, maybe that would work out? Or maybe that would devolve into people going back and forth "Load ~this into the caravan!" "No, load ~that!". What do you think?

Sure, I think it could be fine. I'm mainly trying to avoid the "complete free-for-all" model, of games like Chinatown (which I like, but just not what this game should be); instead, I'm envisioning something restricted, like Bohnanza (not that we need to use Bohnanza's deal-making model, just that it should be restricted).

Quote:

A big question about the caravan will be what determines it's path? It's also a question as to the makeup of the baord. If I remember right we were working along the lines of a board with some towns or areas, some rich with one resource, some rich with another.

If using a caravan model, rather than an open marketplace where everyone just brings what they want to the market for other people to buy, then the spatial relationships become really important. This could be good if the economic model isn't enough for a game on it's own, but perhaps it's too much otherwise...

In other words, do we need a caravan mechanic? Or would an open market do?

I'm not sure; I think the caravan only makes sense in a game where the spatial elements of the different towns are important for some reason. Perhaps, for example, there's a region where lumber is plentiful, but which is connected less to the other towns, therefore it will be visited less by the caravans. This kind of stuff. Mainly, the caravan gives an easy way to answer the question "what am I selling?" But whether it also needs to "travel", is TBD.

Quote:

This use of the caravan might be the real reason to use it- a variable route so that the goods aren't 'worth' the same on a given turn. Loading up your Lumber doesn't do you much good if the Carpenter isn't en route.

Right, this was my thinking.

Quote:

an emphasization (?)

"emphasis" ;)

No, I meant "emphasization" -- the act of putting emphasis on something. Is there a noun that captures this? I can't think of one.

Quote:
... Something like that- where different combinations can be used... the distribution isn't what I'd like in the above example, but the idea is that any good produced could potentially be sold to 2 different Facilities.

Yes, this could be an equally valid way to go. The reason I advocated the model I did was primarily symmetry -- the game system sells 3 goods (Wood, Pigment, Wool) and buys 3 (Furniture, Books, Cloth). I think it also has the advantage of streamlining the decision process. Say you're a miller: you only have two "target" end products in mind -- Books, or Furniture. Which path will be more lucrative for you to pursue this turn? Once you've decided, you produce accordingly. Whereas, if each good you produce could potentially go to two different end products, this might make the decisions more complex without making them more interesting. It remains to be seen...

FastLearner wrote:
I wish you luck with the combination model. The single most time-consuming part of Elvencraft was coming up with the right mix of merchants (raw materials, in your model) to create the right items (tier 1 products in your model) to combine into the right tasks (tier 2 products). Easy on a spreadsheet, shockingly hard to come up with decent "real world" things that combine in the right ways (don't want to make, say, wood too valuable compared to everything else). I think I spent 30 hours revamping my tasks (tier 2 products) so there were no overlaps, and now I have to revamp my items (tier 1) from scratch due to some mistakes I made with items early-on. Which will mean revamping the tasks (tier 2) again, too. Blech.

Hey, this reads a little like a subtle "cease and desist" order! One thing I can say is that I know nothing about Elvencraft, so any similarities between this and your game are 100% coincidental.

I think that what should make this one easier to handle is that, in my mind at least, we're going to start with a fully symmetric resource tree. As opposed to something like Settlers, e.g., which is asymmetric; Wood+Brick -> Road, but there aren't a dozen other equivalent two-resource combos that lead to a product. Of course, it could be that some asymmetry is needed to spice the game up a bit, but the advantage of this model is that the asymmetry need not come from the resource tree; it could come from the supply side (one raw material is more plentiful, eg) or from the demand side (one high tier good is more lucrative, eg).

But yeah, coming up with "real world" stuff is hard. I have no idea what the correct name for a "dyer" is. The resource tree I came up with would likely only survive the playtesting stage; presumably the ad wizards would come up with something more compelling were this to ever get to the point where plausibility was going to be important!

-Jeff

sedjtroll
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"Two-tiered guilds" model

jwarrend wrote:

Seth wrote:
Jeff wrote:

an emphasization (?)

"emphasis" ;)

No, I meant "emphasization" -- the act of putting emphasis on something. Is there a noun that captures this? I can't think of one.
I think "emphasis" works in the sentance, and I can't think of another word that would.

Quote:
Hey, this reads a little like a subtle "cease and desist" order! One thing I can say is that I know nothing about Elvencraft, so any similarities between this and your game are 100% coincidental.

I don't think that's what he was saying.

I'm going to let this idea stew, and look for my notes at home, and then I'll reply with something worthwhile (I guess this post was kind of a waste.. sorry)

- Seth

FastLearner
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Joined: 12/31/1969
"Two-tiered guilds" model

jwarrend wrote:
Hey, this reads a little like a subtle "cease and desist" order! One thing I can say is that I know nothing about Elvencraft, so any similarities between this and your game are 100% coincidental.

Oh gads no! Please, go ahead! I didn't mean it that way at all. (And the games are very, very different. They just have that raw->T1->T2 thing in common.)

It really was just a friendly "give yourself lots of time to work something out" word of advice. I know that I was just surprised by the amount ot time it took to work through all of that -- it all seemed so straightforward.

In my case, though, I made it pretty rough on myself, so you may not have as hard a time. I had 18 "raw materials" that needed to create 36 "tier 1 items" which needed to combine to form 27 "tier 2 items," so as you can guess, the possibilities were so huge that it was all I could do to come up with even slightly reasonable stuff (what the heck is a "Magic Whistle," why don't you need the Bard to help create it, and why would you want it at a wedding?).

I'd never try to "cease and desist" something just because it had similar ideas to mine. Well, I mean, I guess if it was a near-direct copy of the two games I've posted here. But heck, even they're so very different now that it probably wouldn't matter. :)

-- Matthew

jwarrend
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Joined: 08/03/2008
"Two-tiered guilds" model

FastLearner wrote:

In my case, though, I made it pretty rough on myself, so you may not have as hard a time. I had 18 "raw materials" that needed to create 36 "tier 1 items" which needed to combine to form 27 "tier 2 items," so as you can guess, the possibilities were so huge that it was all I could do to come up with even slightly reasonable stuff

Holy canoli, 81 different items? Now I have to play this game at PowWow, if only to see how you managed to pull this off; my mind is knee-jerking "WAY too much complexity. WAY too much complexity".

At any rate, I think that this game will be considerably less complex: 3 raw materials, 6 first tier items, and 3 or 6 second tier items. It should be much easier to close the loop, I hope!

-Jeff

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