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Card-based action mechanic

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jwarrend
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I'm working on a new "action selection" mechanic for a new game, and I'm interested in what people think in terms of its complexity.

The idea is this: the game has Action Cards which have a Symbol and a Number. The symbol denotes one of several different kinds of actions you can take, (e.g. "Move", "Build", etc). On your turn, you indicate which action you want to take by paying one card with a Symbol in the corresponding category. You disregard the number on that card.

Then, you have a base score to take that action based on the number of followers you have in the territory. You can supplement that base score by adding other cards, in which case you consider the number. In the event that a supplemental card has a symbol matching the action that you're attempting to perform, you get a +1 bonus.

So here's an example. You want to build something that costs 8. So, you pay a "Build/1" card indicating that you want to "Build". The 1 is ignored. Now, you have two guys in the territory, so your base ability is 2; you need to come up with 6 more points. So, to do this, you could play a "Move/3" card which would add 3 points, and a "Build/2" card which would also add 3 points (2 + 1 because the symbols match), giving you 8.

The idea I'm going for here is somewhat "San Juan"-ish; you can either use a card to select an action, or to help pay for another action. I think it's meant to mitigate luck of the draw somewhat, since you don't necessarily have to draw a "Build 3" to get 3 points of building power. But it's slightly counter-intuitive because you have to use 2 cards (or maybe more) to pay for each action, and the number on the card that you're using to "indicate" the action is ignored.

Any observations/impressions?

Thanks,

Jeff

Scurra
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Card-based action mechanic

The symbol matching thing sounds too complicated.
The general premise is fine but I don't see why you wouldn't just look at the numbers to make up your required total. Worrying about matching symbols as well will just slow people down.

The actual basic premise seems interesting.

jwarrend
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Card-based action mechanic

Thanks for the feedback! Just one quick clarification, each card will only have one number and one symbol. So the idea would be, for the first card I play, I pay attention to the symbol (or icon, or whatever one wants to call it). The symbol tells what kind of action I'll be taking. For supplemental cards, I pay attention to the number, BUT if one of the supplemental cards has the same symbol as the action I've selected, I get a little boost from that.

I think the reason this "boost" may be needed/desirable is it makes low-valued cards a little more valuable than without it, albeit only in one category.

As for "why not just look at the numbers as well", well...there's no big reason not to, I guess. I don't at the moment have a justification for that aspect; I'll see if I can think of one. The only thing that pops into my mind is I like the potential tension of having, say, only one Build card in my hand, and it's a "Build/10", and having to choose whether to use its powerful number to supplement a different kind of action, or having to sacrifice it to be able to Build (which, perhaps, I really want to do). But there might be other factors that would render those kinds of decisions meaningless. Have to think about it some more, I guess...

Thanks for your thoughts...

-J

Anonymous
Card-based action mechanic

I like the concept of what you're attempting to accomplish. You provide players with an interesting choice between the value of the card's number or the card's function. Very interesting, especially in the scenario you mentioned (the 10 point Build card).

I agree with Scurra that the matching card bonus seems overly complicated, but not so much so that it would need to be scrapped (I would need to see it in context of the ruleset).

I don't think it would be counter-intuitive to use 2 or more cards for a function as you mentioned in your original post. That seems more intuitive to me than the "matching" rule.

It seems to me that the luck factor would still be heavy, since a player could get a string of bad draws and not have a desired action specified on any card. There seems to me to be 2 good ways of dealing with that, either introduce trading among players ("I'll trade you my Move/7 for any Build of your choice)" or to use a "multiple draw" option.

The first is pretty self explanatory, but the second could be utilized in a number of ways. If a player's holdings are meant to be strictly private, then a player could draw a card plus 1 for every card they discard (or some similar cost). Or possibly discard to draw a bonus card but have to choose only one of them.

Another variant could be something similar to the Emporium card from Bang!, where a number of cards are exposed. Players could then bid on them or otherwise choose from them at some cost.

GamesOnTheBrain
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Card-based action mechanic

I, too, have become absolutely fascinated with the San Juan mechanic of using cards to pay for the play of other cards. I think your idea is a good one, but I agree with Scurra. The bonus for playing a matching symbol card is too complicated.

Another way to make the small value cards more valuable would be to make it so you have to pay the *exact* cost of the action.

For example, say your hand includes cards with the following numbers:

6 - 3 - 4 - 2 - 1

... and you want to build something that costs 8.

All of the sudden, since you *have* to pay the exact cost, the lower valued cards become much more valuable. Without the 2 or the 1 card, you cannot build something that costs 8 because there is no way to sum 6, 3, and/or 4 to come up with 8.

Consider adding a trade mechanic as mentioned above, and voila, I think you might have something really nice.

FastLearner
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Card-based action mechanic

GamesOnTheBrain wrote:
Another way to make the small value cards more valuable would be to make it so you have to pay the *exact* cost of the action.

For example, say your hand includes cards with the following numbers:

6 - 3 - 4 - 2 - 1

... and you want to build something that costs 8.

All of the sudden, since you *have* to pay the exact cost, the lower valued cards become much more valuable. Without the 2 or the 1 card, you cannot build something that costs 8 because there is no way to sum 6, 3, and/or 4 to come up with 8.
As a point of reference, Alhambra uses a similar mechanic, though in its case you may overpay if you wish, but you don't receive the bonus for exact payment.

-- Matthew

sedjtroll
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Card-based action mechanic

I was going to say that I thought that first card was unnecessary, just choose your action and cards that help that action get the bonus. But I see your point about haveing to 'invest' in which action to take. If you don't have any low-valued cards in hand then it really costs you to take an action more than if you do have...

Can you trade the cards in this game? So if you want to build and have no Build cards you could trade a high valued move card or something? This reminds me of settlers- imagine playing Settlers where each card had a value of 1, and it cost Wheat-1, sheep-1, clay-1, and wood-1 to build a settlement, and if you don't have clay-1 you could spend wheat-4 instead... knowwhatImean?

- Seth

GeminiWeb
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Card-based action mechanic

jwarrend,

I like the idea as I'm generally a fan of multiple uses for cards (and your general idea intrigues me ... quick - put it up on GDW, I feel the need to brainstorm!).

If the symbols are perfectly aligned with the actions, I think it might work okay. After all, that's just thensame as saying +1 for using a card which matches the action.

... but I'd be tempted to enforce a play sequence of:

- play action enabling card
- pay cost
- base score from no. followers
- balance paid by additional cards

As part of this, I think you could get a lot of benefit from designing the cards appropriately. For example, split the card in two with a diagonal line between opposing corners, colour the two portions differently ... top left is always the action enabler, bottom right is always the cost (with the sybol, matched to the action type). I suspect this would help separate the functions in the players mind.

For what it's worth anyway ...

- GeminiWeb

sedjtroll
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Card-based action mechanic

So, if there are 4 actions, then this can easily be represented with a standard deck of playing cards, with each suit relating to an action. If later when it gets more sophisticated you want additional actions, it's easy enough to make a custom deck at that time.

So for a simplistic game that has this kind of mechanism, say each player has a hand of 5 cards, and on your turn you flip over the top card from the deck. You have to 'build' that card by first playing a card that matches the suit, then by playing cards that total up to the rank of that card (I liked the idea that it had to be exact). You could even say that cards in the right suit count as +1, I don't see how that's at all complicated.

Another way to look at it is to say you have some cards in hand (probably more, like 7) and you do some trading and then try to 'build' a card from your hand. So if you want to build the 9 of hearts, you play the 9 of hearts (that'd be the card that indicates the suit), then you play other cards that total 9, and it's still easy to say that any heart in this case is worth +1.

In fact, if you have to be exact, maybe hearts should be +/- 1 ..?

- Seth

sedjtroll
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Extending the mechanic

Now, jwarrend implied (or flat out said) that the 'suits' each correspond to a different action. Therefore another layer can be added by some effect occuring once you've satisfied the conditions... in San Juan you play a card (there's only 1 suit) then you discard other cards to pay for it, then you get it's benefit for the rest of the game.

Like lets say you mix this mechanic with Monopoly (just for example). Instead of dice, in order to move around the board you need to 'build spades'. So you play a 7Spade, then discard 7 worth of cards (with Spades being worth +/-1, then you move 7 spaces.

If you want to build a house on a property maybe that's Hearts, and you can build a Level 1, Level 2, Level 3 house or a hotel- depending on which card you play. Pretend your deck has a bunch of A,2,3,4 and no 5-K in Hearts for example. So you play your 2H card then discard 2 worth of other cards and you get a level 2 house.

Say you land on someone else's property, you might have to give them cards as rent. Or maybe you fight... the fight action could be Clubs. So you land on their Lvl 3 house, you play a 3C and discard enough cards and you don't have to pay rent. Maybe under some circumstances you actually steal control of the property.

And then I don't know, maybe Diamonds are VPs with no game effect. If you 'build' a 5D then it will be worth 5vps at the end of the game. Then houses and properties can be worth vps as well.

Just some rambling thoughts- stream of consciousness style.

- Seth

jwarrend
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Card-based action mechanic

Many thanks to all for your excellent comments!

SiskNY wrote:

It seems to me that the luck factor would still be heavy, since a player could get a string of bad draws and not have a desired action specified on any card. There seems to me to be 2 good ways of dealing with that, either introduce trading among players ("I'll trade you my Move/7 for any Build of your choice)" or to use a "multiple draw" option.

Yes, this is certainly something to think about. What I think I might do is go with a separate draw piles for each category, kind of like in Disciples (which would be fitting, since this game is the successor to Disciples!) However, unlike the "face-up" draw piles in that one, these will, I think, be face down, and I'll probably have the additional restriction that you must draw from all piles before you can pull a 2nd card from any one pile. Not sure. Your other suggestions about mitigating this factor are good, though! Maybe just 3 or 4 face up draw piles, but not sorted by category...

GamesontheBrain wrote:
Another way to make the small value cards more valuable would be to make it so you have to pay the *exact* cost of the action.

That's a good idea to increase the importance of small cards; my only fear is that it makes luck of the draw more signficant. The additional complication is that the actions in this game will probably have fluctuating costs, rather than fixed costs, so having to hit a "target" that keeps moving could be too difficult. Certainly a good idea, though.

Quote:
The bonus for playing a matching symbol card is too complicated

I think it sounds worse than it is, but I'll have to playtest it and see. It may be one of those rules that "always gets forgotten", and those are the worst kind!

sedjtroll wrote:
Can you trade the cards in this game?

Not currently, no. It may not be a bad thing to introduce some interaction, which I think the game might sort of lack otherwise...

GeminiWeb wrote:
I like the idea as I'm generally a fan of multiple uses for cards

Me too, I love making cards do "double duty" as I think it's a great way to introduce interesting decisions. One of my earlier GDW games had a mechanic whereby you're given 10 cards, which you must use in 3 different phases, and the cards have a different function in each phase. It's not quite the same idea as what I'm articulating here, but the same principal -- viewing the cards as a resource and restricting the avenues in which the players can jump with that resource.

GeminiWeb wrote:
As part of this, I think you could get a lot of benefit from designing the cards appropriately. For example, split the card in two with a diagonal line between opposing corners, colour the two portions differently ... top left is always the action enabler, bottom right is always the cost (with the sybol, matched to the action type). I suspect this would help separate the functions in the players mind.

Interesting, this is exactly what I was envisioning for the cards; I even made a mock-up card that looked exactly what you're describing. Hmm...I'd better check your IP address and make sure you're not really me!

sedjtroll wrote:
So, if there are 4 actions, then this can easily be represented with a standard deck of playing cards, with each suit relating to an action.

Making a game with standard components! Argggh! I can't hear you! My fingers are in my ears...I'm not listening!

sedjtroll wrote:
Another way to look at it is to say you have some cards in hand (probably more, like 7) and you do some trading and then try to 'build' a card from your hand. So if you want to build the 9 of hearts, you play the 9 of hearts (that'd be the card that indicates the suit), then you play other cards that total 9, and it's still easy to say that any heart in this case is worth +1.

This is cute. I'm not sure it works in the specific context of this game, but I think it shows that this mechanic may have some legs to go well beyond this specific game.

Quote:
In fact, if you have to be exact, maybe hearts should be +/- 1 ..?

This is a great solution to make "GamesontheBrain"'s suggestion work. Nice!

A few other thoughts I've had. First, I am thinking that instead of followers contributing to your base score, the number of followers determine how many cards you're allowed to play. (e.g if 3 followers are in a territory, you can use up to 3 supplemental cards to boost your ability in that area).

What I'm trying to get at with the followers is two possible approaches whereby you either keep your followers close to you (there's a piece that represents "you") to beef up your abilities, or spread them out to give you influence in more areas. The problem I was having with "followers provide a flat increase to your ability" is that it seemed like the cost of moving followers overruled the benefit of having them around. But now, the followers add enough functionality that it's worth keeping them with you. Of course, the drawback is that now it may be too hard to function without followers. We'll have to strike a balance between the two.

One thing that this system may do is further devalue low-numbered cards. Of course, it makes high-value cards that much harder to let go of, so maybe it works ok.

Another option might be that the number on the "activator" card could indicate how many supplemental cards you're allowed to play. This might be a nice source of tension wrt the "high number cards", since now you really want to use them to activate actions (but doing so reduces the "power" of your hand to perform other expensive actions).

Just some more brainstorming on this simple but apparently somewhat interesting mechanic. Glad it's gotten you guys thinking. Thanks for your thoughts!

Scurra
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Card-based action mechanic

jwarrend wrote:

Another option might be that the number on the "activator" card could indicate how many supplemental cards you're allowed to play. This might be a nice source of tension wrt the "high number cards", since now you really want to use them to activate actions (but doing so reduces the "power" of your hand to perform other expensive actions).

I like this one, since it makes the number on the activator card relevant but in a different way - which means you aren't simply ignoring it. This is much less complex than trying to match the symbol for a minor bonus.
I suspect it would actually shift the tension to the "middling" cards, rather than the high cards (as you'd be unlikely to use a high card as an activator unless you had no other choice.) Then again, I don't know the range of cards you are planning to use :-)

Verseboy
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Card-based action mechanic

GamesOnTheBrain wrote:
Another way to make the small value cards more valuable would be to make it so you have to pay the *exact* cost of the action.

For example, say your hand includes cards with the following numbers:

6 - 3 - 4 - 2 - 1

... and you want to build something that costs 8.

All of the sudden, since you *have* to pay the exact cost, the lower valued cards become much more valuable. Without the 2 or the 1 card, you cannot build something that costs 8 because there is no way to sum 6, 3, and/or 4 to come up with 8.

Another way to make the low number cards more valuable would be to make them the only ones that also carry an action. In other words the "8" card just says "8" and it's only value is as a high number. The "3" card also says "Build" or "Move" or whatever.

That's just a quick gut-level reaction. I think your mechanic sounds like an interesting idea. I'm sure between your brilliance and the incomparable genius of this list, you'll find a way to use it effectively. Good luck.

Steve

Anonymous
Card-based action mechanic

This is not quite what you describe, but take a look at Wallenstein for a game that uses cards to match territories to 10 actions each round.

GeminiWeb
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Card-based action mechanic

jwarrend wrote:

Quote:
Interesting, this is exactly what I was envisioning for the cards; I even made a mock-up card that looked exactly what you're describing. Hmm...I'd better check your IP address and make sure you're not really me!

What did you find out? Am I you?

jwarrend wrote:

Quote:
The problem I was having with "followers provide a flat increase to your ability" is that it seemed like the cost of moving followers overruled the benefit of having them around. But now, the followers add enough functionality that it's worth keeping them with you. Of course, the drawback is that now it may be too hard to function without followers. We'll have to strike a balance between the two.

Do you need a special enabler card to move? If you did, your final score (played at one per follower?), might tell you how many followers you can move ... (which may be a good way of reducing the cost). [Also, note that you don't need to be symmetric in your card values across the different types of cards.]

jwarrend wrote:

Quote:
Another option might be that the number on the "activator" card could indicate how many supplemental cards you're allowed to play. This might be a nice source of tension wrt the "high number cards", since now you really want to use them to activate actions (but doing so reduces the "power" of your hand to perform other expensive actions).

I like this idea, particuarly if the high cards are also the ones that allow more additions (which makes your lower valued cards more valuable as you can use them together).

Then again, 1 card per follower was also a nice touch. Perhaps the number on the card lets you know the maximum number of followers you can draw on to add extra cards ... thus you still need the followers ...

jwarrend
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Card-based action mechanic

GeminiWeb wrote:

What did you find out? Am I you?

Nah, my attempts to speak with that cool Aussie accent are pitiful!

Quote:

Do you need a special enabler card to move? If you did, your final score (played at one per follower?), might tell you how many followers you can move ... (which may be a good way of reducing the cost).

Yes, I want the game to be pretty symmetric in the way that actions are paid for, so currently (it's all far from fleshed out), movement will be activated the same way. I think that you'll only have a small number of followers, the idea being that taking them all along on every trip is expensive (but on the other hand, they allow you to play extra move cards, which "pays their way" in a sense...)

Quote:

[Also, note that you don't need to be symmetric in your card values across the different types of cards.]

Now this is just one of the reasons I love this site; simple and obvious things like that just totally escape you till someone brilliantly points it out! This could work really well for a separate aspect of the game, in which, for 2 of the kinds of actions, having taken one (let's call it "build") makes the other action (let's call it "sell") easier. ie, if you've built a market, say, it costs you less to take the "sell" action. I couldn't really think of a great way to accomplish this while still keeping things even, but of course making the cards asymmetric could be a possible solution. Thanks!

Quote:

I like this idea, particuarly if the high cards are also the ones that allow more additions (which makes your lower valued cards more valuable as you can use them together).

Then again, 1 card per follower was also a nice touch. Perhaps the number on the card lets you know the maximum number of followers you can draw on to add extra cards ... thus you still need the followers ...

I'm sort of leaning towards the latter myself. The "amalgamation" you propose is a good idea, but feels a bit like "trying to capitalize on too many good ideas simply because they sound like good ideas". It may be one rule too many, and I'll probably have to pick one or the other. I think I'll start with "followers let you play more cards", since "number=# cards that may be played" would mean coming up with another function for followers. Maybe the hybrid isn't so much more complex than that after all. I'll have to think about it...

ekted wrote:
This is not quite what you describe, but take a look at Wallenstein for a game that uses cards to match territories to 10 actions each round.

Yes, I'm quite familiar with Wallenstein, it's one of my absolute favorite games. I love the action selection system in that game, and in a sense, I think I'm subconciously borrowing from that game in a lot of my designs. I think that what makes that game work so well is the restrictedness of it; only one kind of action per territory per turn -- brutal! I think this mechanic, and this game, will be far more "open". But, yeah, Wallenstein is great!

VerseBoy wrote:
Another way to make the low number cards more valuable would be to make them the only ones that also carry an action. In other words the "8" card just says "8" and it's only value is as a high number. The "3" card also says "Build" or "Move" or whatever.

Not a bad thought at all, although my fear is that this removes some of the "dilemma" of having to use high cards to act or to pay, and having to choose which function. My fear is that if only low cards carry this function, they won't ever be used for anything else. (except if I used the "pay the exact cost" model which admittedly was the context of your suggestion). In principle, though, having only some cards being capable of triggering actions is a solid idea!

Quote:

That's just a quick gut-level reaction. I think your mechanic sounds like an interesting idea. I'm sure between your brilliance and the incomparable genius of this list, you'll find a way to use it effectively.

Ha! You wouldn't happen to be buttering me up to try to sell me something, would you?

Thanks again to all who have chimed in, I appreciate your help. Maybe when I finish this I'll throw it in the GDW and you can see the fruit of your labors!

-Jeff

sedjtroll
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Card-based action mechanic

Verseboy wrote:

Another way to make the low number cards more valuable would be to make them the only ones that also carry an action. In other words the "8" card just says "8" and it's only value is as a high number. The "3" card also says "Build" or "Move" or whatever.

Um... then you might as well not have a numbero n them, right?

Anyway, I think I got a little confused by the suggestion of totalling a certain number. What's the alternative? Is a Move action follwed by a total of "12" better than a move action followed by a total of "4"? If so, how do you mean 'better'?

Is there a target number that's needed to acheive certain actions? Like moving from town A to town B requires a Move total of 9, so you have to play a "Move" and follow it with some numbers to move toward town B... if you don't have 9 then...
(possibility a) you're somewhere in between (maybe there's a track between those locations on the board with a 1-9, or with 9 spaces in between A and B, and you play "Move+2+3" and move your pawn 5 spaces)
or...
(possibility b) You can't meet the threshold so you can't make that play...

What was your original intention? I'm just trying to get a handle on what you're tryin gto accomplish here.

- Seth

GeminiWeb
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Card-based action mechanic

jwarrend wrote:

Quote:
Quote:
VerseBoy wrote: Another way to make the low number cards more valuable would be to make them the only ones that also carry an action. In other words the "8" card just says "8" and it's only value is as a high number. The "3" card also says "Build" or "Move" or whatever.

Not a bad thought at all, although my fear is that this removes some of the "dilemma" of having to use high cards to act or to pay, and having to choose which function.

My thought was that there would a lot more low cards than high cards, so the low cards would have to be used as values as well (rather than just action enablers). Otherwise, they would drown out your hand.

Also if you had something where the higher value cards also allowed you to play more card adders, this would pose an interesting decision point regarding hand management - as you might want to use more lower card values rathan fewer high point values even if its more inefficient pointwise just to get the turnover in new cards (and to avoid a hand full of really low values ... like getting all vowels ina game of Scrabble ...)

jwarrend wrote:

Quote:
Quote:
I like this idea, particuarly if the high cards are also the ones that allow more additions (which makes your lower valued cards more valuable as you can use them together).
Then again, 1 card per follower was also a nice touch. Perhaps the number on the card lets you know the maximum number of followers you can draw on to add extra cards ... thus you still need the followers ...

I'm sort of leaning towards the latter myself. The "amalgamation" you propose is a good idea, but feels a bit like "trying to capitalize on too many good ideas simply because they sound like good ideas". It may be one rule too many, and I'll probably have to pick one or the other. I think I'll start with "followers let you play more cards", since "number=# cards that may be played" would mean coming up with another function for followers. Maybe the hybrid isn't so much more complex than that after all. I'll have to think about it...

I can understand that. So maybe I won't mention the other idea where different followers are specialists in different areas ...

jwarrend
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Card-based action mechanic

sedjtroll wrote:

Anyway, I think I got a little confused by the suggestion of totalling a certain number. What's the alternative? Is a Move action follwed by a total of "12" better than a move action followed by a total of "4"? If so, how do you mean 'better'?

"Move" is sort of different from what the other actions will be like. The idea is that the other kinds of actions are performed in one of the "cities", and "move" actions let you move between cities. Different cities will be separated by a different number of spaces, so "Move" with supplemental cards totalling 12 would let you move 12 spaces, as opposed to 4 spaces if your supplemental cards total 4. So the high total is "better" if you want to travel further (though you won't always want/need to)

Quote:

Is there a target number that's needed to acheive certain actions?

Yes, but it fluctuates. I'm pretty sure I'm going to use my "Action Cost Tracks" mechanic from Disciples whereby the cost to perform each kind of action is indicated on a track, and every time someone performs an action, the corresponding track increments. "Move" will work differently; rather than having a "cost track", it will just be a question of how far you want to go (and how many people are coming along, which will also raise costs).

Quote:

Like moving from town A to town B requires a Move total of 9, so you have to play a "Move" and follow it with some numbers to move toward town B... if you don't have 9 then...
(possibility a) you're somewhere in between (maybe there's a track between those locations on the board with a 1-9, or with 9 spaces in between A and B, and you play "Move+2+3" and move your pawn 5 spaces)
or...
(possibility b) You can't meet the threshold so you can't make that play...

Actually, both are present in a sense; land travel will work more like "possibility a", where you may not get to where you want but can find a suitable intermediate destination, whereas sea travel will be like "possibility b" -- you can travel farther, faster, but you must do it all in one shot.

Quote:

What was your original intention? I'm just trying to get a handle on what you're trying to accomplish here.

Basically, just trying to find an interesting, (non Puerto Rico!) way to select actions and have to pay for them, in a fluctuating-cost system; having "action cards" that perform both functions seemed like a possible way of achieving this. I think it's going to work well enough that it will at least merit a playtest, though questions of "what range of values should the cards have" and "how many cards does a player get", "how are they drawn?", etc, still need to be resolved, but those are obviously more context-specific. I think the overall mechanic could work in a variety of contexts.

Thanks for the input!

-Jeff

jwarrend
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Card-based action mechanic

GeminiWeb wrote:

My thought was that there would a lot more low cards than high cards, so the low cards would have to be used as values as well (rather than just action enablers). Otherwise, they would drown out your hand.

Also if you had something where the higher value cards also allowed you to play more card adders, this would pose an interesting decision point regarding hand management - as you might want to use more lower card values rathan fewer high point values even if its more inefficient pointwise just to get the turnover in new cards (and to avoid a hand full of really low values ... like getting all vowels ina game of Scrabble ...)

That's a nice point; I hadn't really "seen" that. It will all depend on what the range of values is, I guess. Which will depend on what the range of costs is, I guess. A lot of stuff TBD!

Quote:

I can understand that. So maybe I won't mention the other idea where different followers are specialists in different areas ...

Oh, I have thought of that already, have no fear! I just haven't decided what the functionality of the followers' abilities will be; three quick ideas might be (a) allowing you to play an extra card toward a certain category (b) giving a flat bonus to actions in a certain category (c) giving bonus VP routes. Probably, these "special abilities" won't come into the project until the basic mechanic is done. That's not how I usually do things, but I'm going to try to do things "the right way" with this one (just to try it out!)

Thanks again for the great comments,

Jeff

GeminiWeb
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jwarrend wrote:

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Oh, I have thought of that already, have no fear! I just haven't decided what the functionality of the followers' abilities will be; three quick ideas might be (a) allowing you to play an extra card toward a certain category (b) giving a flat bonus to actions in a certain category (c) giving bonus VP routes.

The trick is to relate the different special abilities to the specific pieces fairly easily ... such coloured pawns (e.g. grey pawn = builder) ... although that could easily be managed if they were represented as follower cards, placed in front of the player (since they move with the player, they don't need their own pieces)

Hey, that's making me think about another idea (probably for a different game) ... followers are non-player specific. If you drop one off, leave the appropriate token in that city and someone else can then pick them up ... so it's not only about getting benefit from the follower, but stopping other players getting that benefit ...

... even opens the possibility of 'luring' followers away form other players to you if you are in the same city ... hmmm ...

jwarrend
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GeminiWeb wrote:

The trick is to relate the different special abilities to the specific pieces fairly easily ... such coloured pawns (e.g. grey pawn = builder) ... although that could easily be managed if they were represented as follower cards, placed in front of the player (since they move with the player, they don't need their own pieces)

That's another nice observation; if the followers can be broadly grouped in some way by special ability, then they can be abstracted and that's nice. Your latter idea will only half work in my game, though, because you can either bring followers along with you (giving you extra power) or leave them behind (giving you ability to act in several places at once). Thus, one needs a separate piece and card for each follower. The card bit is easy enough, since the idea will be that certain Event cards reveal followers and then by fulfilling the Event, you pick up the follower. But the trick is making the connection between the card and the pawn. I think I'll probably resort to a "Shogun" representation system; in that game, each player has 3 armies, and the fighting units in each army are stored off-board. Each army has two "bannermen", one which goes on the board to indicate the location of the army, and one which goes next to the army's fighting units to indicate which pieces are associated with that army. A dedicated pawn for each follower might work ok as well, but there may be too many to have a pawn in each color, and it might be harder to tell who has what follower; possibly a minor issue, not sure.

Quote:

Hey, that's making me think about another idea (probably for a different game) ... followers are non-player specific. If you drop one off, leave the appropriate token in that city and someone else can then pick them up ... so it's not only about getting benefit from the follower, but stopping other players getting that benefit ...

This actually does work just fine in the context of my game, and indeed, is something else that I've considered vaguely. My initial idea was that you "program" your followers (a la "RoboRally", e.g.) to take 3 actions over the next couple of turns, and after they've done that, they're free to be picked up by other players. But this was too complex for my game, so now I'm not sure; I do want to consider the idea of followers switching players, but not in a "stealing" way. For this game, "mean" player interaction won't really fit.

Another idea might be that you can "use" other player's followers temporarily, ie, if you are in a city with another player's follower, you get the same benefit that you'd get if one of your own followers was there. That might make the "play one supplemental card per follower" rule a little less brutal, and it would work quite well with the theme, actually.

Plenty of room for ideas with that aspect of the game, to be sure!

Thanks again,

Jeff

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jwarrend wrote:
... won't come into the project until the basic mechanic is done. That's not how I usually do things, but I'm going to try to do things "the right way" with this one (just to try it out!)

What "right way" is this then Jeff? Do you know something we don't? :-)

Can you have "journeymen" and "master" followers? i.e. some follow you around, but some are based in locations and can therefore be used by other people (if they pay you, of course!) And the fixed ones are more efficient than the moving ones. (That's sort of what you were getting at in your last posting but taken one step further.)

jwarrend
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Scurra wrote:
jwarrend wrote:
... won't come into the project until the basic mechanic is done. That's not how I usually do things, but I'm going to try to do things "the right way" with this one (just to try it out!)

What "right way" is this then Jeff? Do you know something we don't? :-)

Naturally! No, seriously, what I'm calling the "right way" is "start by designing the basic game engine, then add special powers onto that." (Obviously, I advocated something different for your X Men game but that was a special case, since I claimed that the powers were organic to that game), where by "the right way" I simply mean "the way that I don't currently use, which must therefore be better". I typically, for better or worse, try to bring to playtesting games that are "fully finished", complete in all mechanics; then, I whittle away. This time, I want to try starting with a basic, working engine and then add the exceptions (if they're needed).

Quote:

Can you have "journeymen" and "master" followers? i.e. some follow you around, but some are based in locations and can therefore be used by other people (if they pay you, of course!) And the fixed ones are more efficient than the moving ones. (That's sort of what you were getting at in your last posting but taken one step further.)

Sounds like a reasonable thought, but perhaps more complicated than what I want. I think, more practically, some of the followers' "powers" will be more suited to "staying put", while others will be better for "traveling", but I want that to be a choice that you make rather than a restriction the game imposes on you...

-Jeff

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jwarrend wrote:

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That's just a quick gut-level reaction. I think your mechanic sounds like an interesting idea. I'm sure between your brilliance and the incomparable genius of this list, you'll find a way to use it effectively.

Ha! You wouldn't happen to be buttering me up to try to sell me something, would you?
-Jeff
Nothing of the sort. I am impressed with the caliber of brainstorming that goes on here. A question is posed, and a bunch of responses are offered, many of them feeding off of previous responses. Even the things that don't really work or miss the point have value as food for though, both for the original question poser and the entire group.

I try to read almost all of the threads because I never know when something will trigger an idea that matters to me.

But when I do have something to sell or am seeking a cash donation...

Steve

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Quote:
Scurra wrote:
Can you have "journeymen" and "master" followers? i.e. some follow you around, but some are based in locations and can therefore be used by other people (if they pay you, of course!) And the fixed ones are more efficient than the moving ones. (That's sort of what you were getting at in your last posting but taken one step further.)

Sounds like a reasonable thought, but perhaps more complicated than what I want. I think, more practically, some of the followers' "powers" will be more suited to "staying put", while others will be better for "traveling", but I want that to be a choice that you make rather than a restriction the game imposes on you...

Yeah but that's what I was saying. You graduate from being a Journeyman to being a Master, but the trade-off is that you don't move around as much (people are willing to come to you, rather than you going to them*.) So the choice is between your followers becoming more effective at their "powers" but at a cost of having to stay in one place. That then becomes your choice rather than the game's. IYSWIM.

(*with the bottom, Apprentice level, being such that no-one even wants you to go to them!)

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jwarrend wrote:

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Another idea might be that you can "use" other player's followers temporarily, ie, if you are in a city with another player's follower, you get the same benefit that you'd get if one of your own followers was there. That might make the "play one supplemental card per follower" rule a little less brutal, and it would work quite well with the theme, actually.

Interesting you mention that ... the latest game I've been thinking about designing (Evenstar-5) has a similar mechanic ... although at the moment I think I may have over-streamlined it and taken out too much 'meat' (and it hasn't been playtested at all). In that game, everyone starts with a number of scientists equal to the number of technical fields minus one. Systems start failing and you need the right scientists to fix the right systems. Anyway, there are two actions - one is swap scientist 'assignment' with another player (forced trade), and another is move the scientist to another city (left or right around the table... you can only move scientists assigned to you). The trick is that anyone can use a scientist in their city, whether or not the scientist is assigned to them or not ...

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This may not actually be the case, but it sounds to me like your game might well fit with a cooperative/competetive theme... Something along the lines of what people think Carcassonne is- or maybe more accurately, Lord of the Rings variant where you count up sheilds at the end to see who wins.

That's not to say that I think the game should be 'everyone against the system,' as I don't have any idea what plans you have for the system really. What I mean is that since everyone's an Apostle trying to spread the word, in a way they are working together to the same end... so a mechanic like trading the cards that allow you to do stuff seems to make sense (I guess this is how Settlers works as well).

I think I'm babbeling- sorry about that. All I'm trying to say is that I really like the idea of trading the action cards in your game, and I think mechanics that encourage cooperation between players fits right into your game.

- Seth

P.S. I almost forgot, I also liked the suggestion that you have 'apprentice' followers who follow you around, and one of the things you can do is promote them to 'masters' but then leave them at their location. I imagine once they're Masters anyone can use them, but while they're following you they stick with you. The other suggestion, where I guess you would retain ownership of your Masters and people would have to pay you to use them was neat too. Depending on what they pay it is reminiscent of Hansa where buying from another player gives them an extra action on their turn. So maybe if you're doing a 'build' action in a town where another player has a Master Builder (and there should probably only be one of any type of master in any town) you give THAT PLAYER the card (probably the card that 'activates' the building, if not ALL the cards spent).

Hmm... that last statement led to an interesting thought- what if there was a static number of cards, distributeed among all the players, and when you do an action you pay another player...
So more accurately, you would pay the 'bank' unless someone had a master (or like Hansa, simply the most followers in that town), and there'd still be a draw pile or maybe each player would have their own identical stash of cards... or something.

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Quote:

Scurra wrote:
Quote:
Can you have "journeymen" and "master" followers? i.e. some follow you around, but some are based in locations and can therefore be used by other people (if they pay you, of course!) And the fixed ones are more efficient than the moving ones. (That's sort of what you were getting at in your last posting but taken one step further.)

Sounds like a reasonable thought, but perhaps more complicated than what I want. I think, more practically, some of the followers' "powers" will be more suited to "staying put", while others will be better for "traveling", but I want that to be a choice that you make rather than a restriction the game imposes on you...

sedjtroll wrote:

Quote:
What I mean is that since everyone's an Apostle trying to spread the word

Well, I seemed to have missed that bit. In that case, creating a master follower (then leaving them in their 'place') could generate victory points ... and all players could then call on the services on this master follower ... perhaps bonus VPs for the player who created the master for the first time someone else calls on their skills ...

jwarrend
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GeminiWeb wrote:

sedjtroll wrote:
Quote:
What I mean is that since everyone's an Apostle trying to spread the word

Well, I seemed to have missed that bit.

I think I mentioned it obliquely, but Seth and I have been discussing this game external to this conversation, so he's a bit more "in the know". This mechanic is being developed for the sequel game to my GDW game, "Disciples". This game is about the book of the Bible, "The Acts of the Apostles", in which the disciples begin to spread the message of Jesus' Resurrection throughout the Roman empire.

This leads to my comments on the idea of "Master/Followers". I think that this is a great idea, there's a good game that could come out of it, and I encourage you guys to keep talking and thinking about it!

However, I don't think it will work in my game, and I'll give you a little more context as to why that is. For one thing, and this is the main point, the game is meant to be at a relatively low level of complexity (no guffaws about this convoluted card mechanic I'm trying to come up with!), and I think that the idea of "promotion", while an interesting source for decisions, might be a layer that I don't want to add (at least, not in the context of all the other stuff that's already in the game...).

Additionally, I'm currently working on the model that each player will have at most 2 or 3 followers, and the idea is that bringing them along is costly (as you must pay "Move" actions for their movement), but also essential because they make actions easier.

The other issue is that of theme. Yes, the apostles were certainly trying to win converts, but the salient point is that they weren't trying to gain "followers" for themselves so much as "co-laborers" to help point people to faith in Jesus. In that sense, the idea of people paying you to use "your" followers wouldn't fit; as Paul said, it's foolish to say "I follow Paul" or "I follow Apollos"; there is no Paul or Apollos, only Christ that matters.

That said, the idea of "stay-behind followers" is somewhat abstractly represented by an action in which the players found churches. The focus of the game is basically to found churches and then help them to grow and flourish. I think the idea of apprentices and masters would fit better into the context of an Eastern-themed game. In fact, it sounds a lot like "Bridges of Shangri-La", which is another reason I'm sort of inclined to steer a bit clear.

sedjtroll wrote:
This may not actually be the case, but it sounds to me like your game might well fit with a cooperative/competetive theme... Something along the lines of what people think Carcassonne is- or maybe more accurately, Lord of the Rings variant where you count up sheilds at the end to see who wins.

That's not to say that I think the game should be 'everyone against the system,' as I don't have any idea what plans you have for the system really. What I mean is that since everyone's an Apostle trying to spread the word, in a way they are working together to the same end... so a mechanic like trading the cards that allow you to do stuff seems to make sense (I guess this is how Settlers works as well).

I agree that cooperation should (and will!) be encouraged by the system, and that was what I tried to do with "Disciples" as well. The key concept I'm working on is that interaction comes more from choosing whom you will help rather than directly hitting the other's positions. It will still be competitive, but helping others along is rewarded by the system.

The system I'm going to attempt to use in this game to accomplish this is to give people "ownership" of churchs -- ie, if you found a church, you're responsible for it -- but you get points by strengthening the other players' churches.

Trading cards is certainly another way to get some interaction into the game, but I'm not yet sure if it's necessary; I'm planning to have some level of "face-up" card drawing, and the card system I've articulated here is somewhat flexible. I'll probably try it without first and see how it goes, and then open up trading -- maybe if you are in the same town as another player or something.

The game is actually coming together pretty well; maybe I should put it up in the GDW, if only so you can see where this mechanic fits into the bigger picture. I'll think about it a bit...

Thanks again for the excellent comments!

-J

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jwarrend wrote:
I think that the idea of "promotion", while an interesting source for decisions, might be a layer that I don't want to add.

I think I mentioned this in an IM... the sense I got of the 'master/apprentice' idea was that players would "gain followers" which they would keep in front of them, and then when you 'found a church' you take some of the followers you've gained thus far and leave them behind at that church. After reading your last post I think that could still fit, but rather than other people 'paying to use your master', you gain more followers at your church (if X happens, where X is something in the same location as your church).

I thought your scheme of paying more to move your followers is a good one, so if you have x followers in front of you your Move action costs some function f(x), and your other actions cost some other function g(x). That's pretty neat. I suppose you award victory points in some way related to the number and strengths of the churches founded?

So I wonder what you've got planned for 'strengthening another guy's church.' My first guess is simply that certain actions add (or subtract) followers to the church(es) in the appropriate location (maybe some actions add or subtract followers from ALL locations for example)

Quote:
Additionally, I'm currently working on the model that each player will have at most 2 or 3 followers

Oh, interesting. I hadn;t really thought about that, but I assumed that there would be more followers around (total). Maybe you'd only bring about 3 with you, but I figured you'd have more than that by the end of the game- the game is about accumulating followers, right?

- Seth

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