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"Two-tiered guilds" model

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sedjtroll
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"Two-tiered guilds" model

jwarrend wrote:
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!
I think you're confusing variety with complexity. Elvencraft has all those inputs and outputs because if it didn't, then all the tasks would be the same. That is what I think might happen here as well. There isn't any more complexity having more inputs and outputs- the mechanics are the same either way.

Just so we're not having a semantics arguement all of a sudden, what I'm saying is that the gameplay gets more complex with more inputs and outputs (which is good) while the mechanics don't (which is also good). I would still recommend using only a minimum to try it out though, but I imagine the number might have to increase or the game will be dull.

- Seth

FastLearner
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"Two-tiered guilds" model

jwarrend wrote:
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".

I look forward to your feedback on it. It's not nearly as complex as it seems.

In fact, it was funny, at the Gathering I played it with Andera Meyer and a few other people the first time. When I said the game was 90 minutes she just laughed. After 30 minutes she said, "Ok, I see how this can be 90 minutes," and sure enough, it was exactly 90 minutes with 5 players.

It's not actually complex -- it just sounds that way in this design-basis discussion. It's not unlike me saying that there are 8 rows and 8 columns on a checkerboard and you saying, "Holy cow, 64 different places for your pieces? Sounds complex." I mean, yeah, if you look at it that way, it's complex. But when you play you never have to consider 64 things, and so it ends up much more simple that you'd think by the description.

Your model sounds nice and clean, though, and it doesn't sound like my experience will match yours at all. Which is good. :)

-- Matthew

jwarrend
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"Two-tiered guilds" model

FastLearner wrote:

It's not actually complex -- it just sounds that way in this design-basis discussion. It's not unlike me saying that there are 8 rows and 8 columns on a checkerboard and you saying, "Holy cow, 64 different places for your pieces? Sounds complex." I mean, yeah, if you look at it that way, it's complex. But when you play you never have to consider 64 things, and so it ends up much more simple that you'd think by the description.

I guess my concern, complexity-wise, was the relative ease with which you can "reverse engineer" the top tier goods. For example, if there's a "contract" card indicating that in Dwarfville, they're buying Magic Whistles, how easy is it to know what tier 1 goods are needed to make a magic whistle, and how easy is it to know what resources are needed to make the needed tier 1 goods?

If this stuff isn't fully internalizable in a relatively few number of turns, 1 game max, I consider that to be "too much complexity". And I'd generally be worried that with 81 items, it would be tough to internalize those kinds of relationships.

On the other hand, it's quite possible/probable that the mechanics of your game don't require any of this kind of internalization, in which case it's fine.

As I say, I'll just have to play it and see!

-Jeff

sedjtroll
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jwarrend wrote:
my concern, complexity-wise, was the relative ease with which you can "reverse engineer" the top tier goods. For example, if there's a "contract" card indicating that in Dwarfville, they're buying Magic Whistles, how easy is it to know what tier 1 goods are needed to make a magic whistle, and how easy is it to know what resources are needed to make the needed tier 1 goods?

If I remember correctly, it says rigt on the card which goods are needed to make the Whistle. So to create the whistle, you show that you can trace a path to each of the suppliers of the inputs, you pay people if that path uses their routes, then you get your income for selling the Whistle.

Quote:
If this stuff isn't fully internalizable in a relatively few number of turns, 1 game max, I consider that to be "too much complexity". And I'd generally be worried that with 81 items, it would be tough to internalize those kinds of relationships.
This doesn't really make sense to me, but maybe that's because we're not talking about the same thing... in Settlers there's a menu of stuff to buy, and it's only got a few things on it. In Magic there are thousands of 'tier 2 goods' (cards) to 'sell' (play), but only 5 different inputs. In both games you know what it takes to produce the final product, and either you have the resources (or can get them) or you don't. It's not a complexity to 'internalize' your ability to 'produce the goods'. So I don't know what you mean by that.

I suppose if in Magic, you didn't play Land cards to the table to be reused, but instead discarded them (and had to draw them to play them in the first place), then it would be more questionable if you could play your cards or not- is that what you mean? Even so, it's not like you don't know the cost.

Quote:
On the other hand, it's quite possible/probable that the mechanics of your game don't require any of this kind of internalization, in which case it's fine.

Right, and my question to you is, in the 'two tier model' we're discussing, what do you mean by "this kind of internalization"? It sounds to me like the tier 2 products have a 'cost' (in tier 1 products), and tier 1 products have a cost (in resources)... you know the costs and either you can pay them or you can't- and you know what you have to do to get to the point where you can pay them.

- Confused in Colorado
(except I'm not in Colorado, but I wanted the alliteration)

Scurra
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"Two-tiered guilds" model

FastLearner wrote:
In fact, it was funny, at the Gathering I played it with Andera Meyer and a few other people the first time. When I said the game was 90 minutes she just laughed. After 30 minutes she said, "Ok, I see how this can be 90 minutes," and sure enough, it was exactly 90 minutes with 5 players.

Wow, I'm impressed. I've certainly got most of my middleweight games to clock in at under 90 minutes pretty reliably now, but as soon as I step up a level, the game length increases horrendously; indeed, the last time we "simplified" one, the next version took longer! It was unquestionably way better, but now I'm stuck with a streamlined game that still takes too long :-(

Anyway, this is somewhat OT. You may be interested to know that my original City & Guilds game has now been essentially sliced in half, and bits of it have been combined with other projects (Jeff, you remember I sent you "Cash on Delivery" sometime last year? Well the bits that worked in that are proving useful!)
And yes, one of them is also following the multi-tier production model; indeed, it sounds alarmingly as though I've ended up with something more akin to Matthew's model rather than the one being outlined here - then again, there aren't that many different options!
Anyway, I may well stick my oar in again now that this thread has come back to life ;-))

jwarrend
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"Two-tiered guilds" model

sedjtroll wrote:

If I remember correctly, it says rigt on the card which goods are needed to make the Whistle. So to create the whistle, you show that you can trace a path to each of the suppliers of the inputs, you pay people if that path uses their routes, then you get your income for selling the Whistle.

Keep in mind that not everyone is privy to the same info as you. I don't know how Elvencraft works.

My question is more "does the demand card that calls for the whistle tell you how the whistle is produced?" It doesn't matter if that's not actually how Elvencraft works; my concern about complexity relates to the idea, in this game, that there will be contract cards, which call for a specific item. If there were 81 different items, it would be very hard to go from the demand card and formulate an action plan.

Quote:
This doesn't really make sense to me, but maybe that's because we're not talking about the same thing... in Settlers there's a menu of stuff to buy, and it's only got a few things on it.

Yes, Settlers is easily internalizable -- you can memorize the inputs and outputs very quickly ( a few turns or so) because it's such a simple list.

Quote:

In Magic there are thousands of 'tier 2 goods' (cards) to 'sell' (play), but only 5 different inputs.

I haven't played Magic, but I suspect it's a highly "non-internalizable" game -- you can't memorize every single card out there (well, normal people can't, anyway, I bet). But as you say, since there are only 5 possible inputs, the end product being simple makes it easy to play, and it's not necessary to internalize the possible input/output combos.

Quote:

In both games you know what it takes to produce the final product, and either you have the resources (or can get them) or you don't. It's not a complexity to 'internalize' your ability to 'produce the goods'. So I don't know what you mean by that.

But it could be complicated to know what goods lead to what products. For example, maybe I drew a card that says "resin". Well, what can I do with resin? Is it easy to know, or not? Often, the cards can clarify this by simply saying right on the card, but I'm looking, as a start, for a model that doesn't lean on this crutch: I'd like a resource model that's so simple, you can pick the whole thing up in a few turns.

Quote:

Right, and my question to you is, in the 'two tier model' we're discussing, what do you mean by "this kind of internalization"?

I mean "memorizing the entire production tree -- every possible set of inputs and outputs". If the game doesn't require/reward this, it's a moot point, but the reason I thought that EC could be "way too complex" was because I was thinking in terms of a context where you would want to be able to learn the whole thing. (and I know that some games have reference cards to handle this, but I think that most good games, it should be possible to memorize everything. A possible exception is Princes of Florence, but that just proves the rule -- you spend way more time than you should have to trying to figure out what other Role cards go with the Landscapes and Freedoms that you have...)

Quote:
you know the costs and either you can pay them or you can't- and you know what you have to do to get to the point where you can pay them.

The question I'm raising is how you know how you get to the point where you can pay the costs -- can you memorize this, or do you have to keep consulting lookup charts? My sense is that the answer in EC is "neither of these". But for this game, I want the answer to be "you can memorize it". I think.

-Jeff

FastLearner
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"Two-tiered guilds" model

Excellent point, Jeff, and in fact it was one of the game's earliest problems -- if you knew how things ultimately connected, you had a substantial advantage over those who didn't.

I struggled for quite a while trying to resolve it. The step from Tier 0 (resources/merchants) to Tier 1 was reasonably clear after some playtest revisions: the Tier 1 cards had the "recipes" right on them, and the Tier 0 items indicated those that were most intimately associated with each other. However, at Tier 2 it became more complex. Most recently the Tier 2 cards showed the Tier 1 "recipes" right next to the names of the Tier 1 "ingredients." However, while it worked ok, it makes for a pretty busy card.

Recent revisions have made it much less necessary to understand which Tier 0 "ingredients" ultimately make Tier 2 results. It's becoming largely incidental knowledge (though not entirely). I'm considering a revision now that simply lists the Tier 1 items required to make the Tier 2 products on the Tier 2 cards, eliminating the Tier 0 information. It turns out that, with a slight (but powerful) gameplay change, it's just not that important to you anymore, and someone who knows the full recipe tree would only be at a very slight advantage over someone who didn't.

A real challenge, though, coming to this point. I'm pleased as punch that I seem to have found a way, though, as it was one of the major concerns I had about the game engine.

And David, just in case my words were misleading, when I said "first time" on my Gathering Elvencraft story, I meant only that it was the first time for those players, not that it was a miracle that occurred the first time I playtested it. :)

-- Matthew

jwarrend
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"Two-tiered guilds" model

FastLearner wrote:
It turns out that, with a slight (but powerful) gameplay change, it's just not that important to you anymore, and someone who knows the full recipe tree would only be at a very slight advantage over someone who didn't.

Just to clarify even further, my specific concern was probably as much about playability as strategic advantage. I was mainly envisioning a game like, say, Sid Meier's Civ, which has a very complicated tech tree, which you probably could never actually memorize (or maybe you could...). I think that's less ideal; I think that the elements of a game should be something that players can learn without having to constantly refer to a lookup table. I'm interested to see your solution!

-Jeff

FastLearner
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"Two-tiered guilds" model

I'm right there with you on lookup charts!

-- Matthew

sedjtroll
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"Two-tiered guilds" model

Ok, I tihnk I see what you're saying now...

jwarrend wrote:
sedjtroll wrote:

If I remember correctly, it says rigt on the card which goods are needed to make the Whistle. So to create the whistle, you show that you can trace a path to each of the suppliers of the inputs, you pay people if that path uses their routes, then you get your income for selling the Whistle.

Keep in mind that not everyone is privy to the same info as you. I don't know how Elvencraft works.
Right, which is why I described it above. BUt moving on...

Quote:
My question is more "does the demand card that calls for the whistle tell you how the whistle is produced?" It doesn't matter if that's not actually how Elvencraft works; my concern about complexity relates to the idea, in this game, that there will be contract cards, which call for a specific item. If there were 81 different items, it would be very hard to go from the demand card and formulate an action plan.

I see the difference now. In Elvencraft, the answer is yes- the demand card tells you what goes into making the whistle. The reason I brought up Settlers and Magic was good then (though you're not very familiar with Magic, I think it'll still work)- the difference there is:

Settlers: 4 or 5 things to produce (depending on expansion, sometimes a couple more)
Magic: MANY cards to 'produce'

In Settlers you can easily memorize the costs for everything, and they are listed on a reference card in case you need it. In Magic you can't, but you don't really have to because the cost is printed on each card.

One could argue that to be a really good tournament Magic player, one would need to memorize all the cards (or all the useful ones) such that they could look at an opponents available resources and know all their possible options, but it's not absolutely necessary.

Quote:
I haven't played Magic, but I suspect it's a highly "non-internalizable" game -- you can't memorize every single card out there (well, normal people can't, anyway, I bet). But as you say, since there are only 5 possible inputs, the end product being simple makes it easy to play, and it's not necessary to internalize the possible input/output combos.

Right. If you play a lot then the cards you see a lot ou will remember the costs of. But if you forgot every time then you could still play the game. You might not know which cards you're opponent can't play (because he hasn't got the right resources available), but you can still play the game.

Quote:
But it could be complicated to know what goods lead to what products. For example, maybe I drew a card that says "resin". Well, what can I do with resin? Is it easy to know, or not? Often, the cards can clarify this by simply saying right on the card, but I'm looking, as a start, for a model that doesn't lean on this crutch: I'd like a resource model that's so simple, you can pick the whole thing up in a few turns.

Herin lies the seed of the confusion. I'm not sure in what way it's a crutch to indicate on the order what goes into a 'chair' (wood + upholstry). In fact, it allows for more thematic chrome, as "wood + upholstry" could make a 'chair' (worth A) or a 'couch' (worth B).

In your example above, if Resin is a resource, then it would be used to make some tier 1 good. probably 1 of 2 (or more?) tier 1 goods. Which good(s) it can make would probably depend on the Factory... in other words, you wouldn't have a physical representation for Resources in the game...

If Resin is a Tier 1 good, then it would be used to make 1 of X tier 2 goods. Which ones, maybe you know them all, maybe you don't... but the currently demanded ones would say so (or could).

It seems you'd prefer to have few enough Tier 2 goods in the game that you can easily remember every possible tier 2 good that uses Resin... perhaps so you'd have an idea which other tier one goods to collect (in case that contract comes up)?

Quote:
I mean "memorizing the entire production tree -- every possible set of inputs and outputs". If the game doesn't require/reward this, it's a moot point

I don't see this as a necessary part of a design. One could argue that remembering things like that can give a player an advantage, and therefore it should be easy to remember it so all players get that advantage... but then how easy is easy? I personally don't think designers need to build things into games to ensure that people will be good at them. As a designer I want to provide an input and an output for various things... as a player if you want to remember which inputs go with which outputs, more power to you.

Quote:
the reason I thought that EC could be "way too complex" was because I was thinking in terms of a context where you would want to be able to learn the whole thing.

So if one player wants to try and remember which inputs go with which outputs, and another doesn't, does that mean it's too complex?

Quote:
I know that some games have reference cards to handle this, but I think that most good games, it should be possible to memorize everything. A possible exception is Princes of Florence, but that just proves the rule --

I was about to mention PoF myself... A reference card (like the list on the PoF player mat or the lists of cards in the rulebook) are provided so people don't have to study the game to know what is possible. I always thought the 1-of-each-card and draw-5-choose-1 rules were pretty fiddley in PoF personally, but I bet a lot of people would argue with me if I called it a design flaw.

Quote:
you spend way more time than you should have to trying to figure out what other Role cards go with the Landscapes and Freedoms that you have...

Who spends more time than they should..? It's written on your player mat, and there are only a few roles to look at...

Quote:
Seth wrote:
you know the costs and either you can pay them or you can't- and you know what you have to do to get to the point where you can pay them.

The question I'm raising is how you know how you get to the point where you can pay the costs -- can you memorize this, or do you have to keep consulting lookup charts?

presumably because you've read the rules to the game, and/or it's printed on the card/board/reference/wherever.

Quote:
My sense is that the answer in EC is "neither of these". But for this game, I want the answer to be "you can memorize it". I think.

In the case of Elvencraft, "required inputs printed on the card, and their locations are printed on the board." In the case of this game, as in any game, of course you could memorize it... but it should never be that you have to. And if you don't have to that means it's referenced. And if it's referenced then there's a choice we'd have to make as designers:

If it's referenced on the individual demand cards then it doesn't have to be a small tree at all.

If it's referenced on a reference card then it probably ought to be a small tree so you don't have to keep looking at the chart.

I recommend printing the inputs on the demand cards so that we're not so restricted when making the demand cards (thematically, as well as mechanically) or the rest of the game.

- Seth

jwarrend
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"Two-tiered guilds" model

I've decided to revisit this game a bit. I've whipped up a mock board and a simple ruleset to start crystallizing some ideas. Here they are if anyone is interested:

Rules
Board
Sample tiles

The gameplay is basically built around two things: (1) production facility tiles of two "tiers", low-tier facilities that convert resource cubes into "components", and high-tier facilities that convert components into "commercial goods"; facilities are added to various villages on the board, and (2) a single traveling "merchant" pawn, which controls where deals can be made, and a separate "merchant" area of the board from which components and commercial goods are bought and sold. At present, it's a relatively simple system; perhaps too simple, it may need a couple of additional mechanics.

Take a look if you're at all interested in my latest thinking on this one. It's likely some things may be updated over the next few days as I reread what I typed somewhat hastily today!

-Jeff

FastLearner
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"Two-tiered guilds" model

Unfortunately I'm too swamped to look at games now (even my own, mostly).

FWIW, though, since this thread has been revived, I'll note that I've eliminated by tier 2 items in Elvencraft. I was able to effect the same gameplay "drive" in a much simpler way that's not only easier for players to understand and track but also "fires" more often, making it more meaningful. The simple substitute was set collection of tier 1 items (which is a super-simple form of having tier 2 items, I suppose).

-- Matthew

jwarrend
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"Two-tiered guilds" model

Do you have an Elvencraft rulebook I could check out? I'm still trying to figure out what points of similarity and difference the two games share. I think it is likely that the 3-tier economy (resources, components, and commercial items) is more "forgivable" here because there are so few items in each level. I'm pretty sure that the 3 tiers are essential for what I'm looking to do, which is to have the lower tier = "buying from the game, selling to players" and the upper tier = "buying from players, selling to the game".

It's possible I could get rid of the "resource" tier, though, simply making it a configurational aspect; eg, instead of forcing you to explicitly acquire a resource cube to use as an input, I could just allow players to pay the "shipping cost" of the cube, given by the distance from the resource site to the production facility; but I'm not sure this would actually make things easier, since input => output is pretty intuitive.

-J

FastLearner
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"Two-tiered guilds" model

No Elvecraft rulebook yet. I'm one of those designers who does that last instead of first. I suspect, though, that they no longer have anything in common, really.

-- Matthew

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