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Investment/Rail game

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Oracle
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Game Summary

There's a lot of posts in this thread now, so it's getting hard to keep track of where the game is. I've made a web page to summarize the status, and keep the ideas organized.

The page is located here.

I'll keep this page updated.

Also, I'm going to start developing a prototype. If anyone is interested in printing it or helping out, let me know. I'll be using Corel Draw and I'll make PDF versions with PDF995, but if someone wants to be able to edit the files and has a problem with Corel Draw say so now and I'll see what other options are available.

Jason

sedjtroll
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Investment/Rail game

So... I read your summary and it seems ok. I rather thought the players to be more the contractors, or maybe the owner (CEO?) of the company that actually does the construction...

So as undeveloped land needs developing ("Job" cards come up), players bid their workers.

In the case where we try to stick to real life...

The client will choose the lowest bidder (the player that will do the work for the least amount of money, and in the least time- with this bidding mechanic those are synonymous). So you want to bid low. When you win a bid, the client pays your workers working on that job (i.e. you don't have to worry about paying their upkeep). When the job is complete, you get paid some amount of money. Perhaps also some stock goes up-

Perhaps the stock that goes up should be stock in the newly improved land, and as the CEO of a company, you could invest in that land if you wish. In that way there would be a set number of Parsels of land, and players can buy stock in them. Each job would relate to one (or more I suppose) of those parcels.

Now, at the end of the turn/round/whatever each player might have workers left over. Since those workers still need to be paid, it's bad to have them idle, not working on a project that will make you money. They have a steep upkeep cost to keep them around (or perhaps they quit and go to a pool of available workers (maybe you can hire more).

So the things you do with money:
1. Pay idle workers (likely you won't be able to 'spend' them all every turn)
2. Buy stock/invest in the land. As it gets improved, the cost to invest in a parcel increases.
3. Hire new workers- investing in your work force allows you to bid on more projects, but if you don't win a lot of projects then you are going to have to pay a lot of upkeep (or else people will quit I suppose. I guess the Hire cost should be greater than the Upkeep, or people could bypass one with the other.)

What do you think?
- Seth

Brykovian
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Investment/Rail game

Would it make sense to have the job (once completed) pay you based upon the number of workers you put on it? So, the higher you bid, the more money you'll make on it in the long run ... but, the less likely you'll win the bid?

The real-life tie-in is that companies who do contract work generally make a percentage above and beyond what it costs to pay their workers. And the bigger the job is (# of workers, length of time in this game), the more that extra piece of pie is for the company.

That, plus still having to pay your unassigned workers, might give you a nice bit of tension during bidding.

-Bryk

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sedjtroll wrote:
So... I read your summary and it seems ok. I rather thought the players to be more the contractors, or maybe the owner (CEO?) of the company that actually does the construction...

I agree that that makes more sense, but it changes a lot of other things. I'm working on switching over to that. Now players buy the stock in land holding companies, and run their own consulting companies.

sedjtroll wrote:
The client will choose the lowest bidder (the player that will do the work for the least amount of money, and in the least time- with this bidding mechanic those are synonymous). So you want to bid low. When you win a bid, the client pays your workers working on that job (i.e. you don't have to worry about paying their upkeep). When the job is complete, you get paid some amount of money. Perhaps also some stock goes up-

I'm starting to lean this way right now. My only concern is that it still seems like the lower you bid, the better off you are. Even if I keep most of my workers idle, I can get through the contracts a lot faster and have a larger income stream.

If players can hire or fire workers, it's that much more warped...fire all but 1 or 2 workers, then bid 1 for every contract, you'll be completing 1 contract per turn and cleaning up.

sedjtroll wrote:
Perhaps the stock that goes up should be stock in the newly improved land, and as the CEO of a company, you could invest in that land if you wish. In that way there would be a set number of Parsels of land, and players can buy stock in them. Each job would relate to one (or more I suppose) of those parcels.

I thought it was a given that the newly improved land's stock would go up, or are you proposing a way to buy stock? That could work, but if you're that restricted on when you can buy, wouldn't you always buy, especially since the general trend of the stock will be up? When could/would players sell stock?

sedjtroll wrote:
Now, at the end of the turn/round/whatever each player might have workers left over. Since those workers still need to be paid, it's bad to have them idle, not working on a project that will make you money. They have a steep upkeep cost to keep them around (or perhaps they quit and go to a pool of available workers (maybe you can hire more).

As I said above, firing/quiting workers is incompatible with the lowest bid mechanic.

sedjtroll wrote:
So the things you do with money:
1. Pay idle workers (likely you won't be able to 'spend' them all every turn)
2. Buy stock/invest in the land. As it gets improved, the cost to invest in a parcel increases.
3. Hire new workers- investing in your work force allows you to bid on more projects, but if you don't win a lot of projects then you are going to have to pay a lot of upkeep (or else people will quit I suppose. I guess the Hire cost should be greater than the Upkeep, or people could bypass one with the other.)

and 4. buy the right to build on a plot of land.

I still don't like linking the contract card to the plot of land; why should the chrsyler building always be in the blue district for example? This is my idea for solving that:

When a player wins a contract, they're responsible for finding and paying for the building site. They can choose a plot of land, and the price will be based on the prestige of the plot of land (the higher it is, the more expensive building rights are) and what the new construction will do to the prestige (the more it raises prestige, the cheaper building rights are ... things that lower prestige will be very expensive to get building rights.

Brykovian wrote:
Would it make sense to have the job (once completed) pay you based upon the number of workers you put on it? So, the higher you bid, the more money you'll make on it in the long run ... but, the less likely you'll win the bid?

This makes a lot of sense. Thematically, if you're putting in a higher bid, you should get more money if you manage to win it. For game play, it's finally a good reason to bid high (if I go with the low bid wins), it adds a trade-off to the bidding; you get more money, but it takes longer to do. Thanks for the great idea.

Jason

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Oracle wrote:
Now players buy the stock in land holding companies, and run their own consulting companies.

Consulting companies? What are we consulting on?

Quote:
My only concern is that it still seems like the lower you bid, the better off you are.

Well that's the trick. The cost of upkeeping guys needs to be high. Maybe you sell stock to be able to pay upkeeps. If you cannot pay, they quit. Later you can 'hire back' workers for an amount of money significantly larger than the upkeep.

Quote:
Even if I keep most of my workers idle, I can get through the contracts a lot faster and have a larger income stream.

We'd have to make it expensive enough to do that such that you lose money if that's your only strategy. The idea being to find the balance between workers idle and jobs won.

Quote:
If players can hire or fire workers, it's that much more warped...fire all but 1 or 2 workers, then bid 1 for every contract, you'll be completing 1 contract per turn and cleaning up.

Depending on when you get those workers back. If that's your strategy, you might get as many as 2 jobs per 'round'... but maybe more than 2 are available, and also, as someone mentioned, the payoff should be higher as the bid is higher (after all, that's supposed to represent a higher fee anyway).

Quote:
I thought it was a given that the newly improved land's stock would go up,

Yes, the stock goes up. Or down, depending on what got built. The effect on the stock would be on the Job card.

Quote:
or are you proposing a way to buy stock? That could work, but if you're that restricted on when you can buy, wouldn't you always buy, especially since the general trend of the stock will be up? When could/would players sell stock?

I don't know when people should be able to buy and sell stock. I also don't know weather there should be a set number of shares, or infinite shares available in each stock... the more that gets bought during the game, the more diluted it becomes. Maybe it could be both ways... if you buy from another player, you get less diluted stock, but if they won't sell, you could buy from the bank- introducing more of the stock into the game- and thereby diluting the shares' values (maybe having some lower valued shares is better than having no higher valued shares).

Maybe one time to sell stock (to other players? To the bank?) would be when it's time to pay your idle workers- to get the cash to afford it. But selling shares means (a) you have less shares, (b) might affect the value of the stock... selling to the bank would effectively remove shares from the game, therefore concentrating the stock and increasing the value per share... Selling to another player wouldn't have that effect- but you might get a better price from a player for whatever reason than you would from the bank (maybe the bank pays less than market value).

Quote:

As I said above, firing/quiting workers is incompatible with the lowest bid mechanic.

I don't think that's true. I think that's the thing about the mechainc- it would need to be expanded upon (with the upkeep cost). That's if we use the inverse of the original Big Cheese mechanic, which I think is what this game is begging for.

Quote:
and 4. buy the right to build on a plot of land.

I don't think this works. hematically or mechanically. I see the reason behind it- you want to be able to improve a particular plot because that's where your money is... but as stated thus far I don't think it fits in the game. As for the chrysler Building being in the same district every time... what if instead of the Job card sepcifying which district, a randomizer is used to determine which district the project will be built in? For example, say there are 6 Districts, each a different color, and you have a d6 with one color on each side. When you flip a Job card, you roll to see which District the owner wants to build it in. This could also be done with any other randomizer, the idea being you never know which district which project will go in. It's always completely random, which is the way it should be.

Quote:
I still don't like linking the contract card to the plot of land; why should the chrsyler building always be in the blue district for example? This is my idea for solving that:

When a player wins a contract, they're responsible for finding and paying for the building site. They can choose a plot of land, and the price will be based on the prestige of the plot of land (the higher it is, the more expensive building rights are) and what the new construction will do to the prestige (the more it raises prestige, the cheaper building rights are ... things that lower prestige will be very expensive to get building rights.

While this is not a terrible idea at all- I think it's adding something to the game that doesn't need to be there. It seems to me that you EITHER work specifically to improve the Districts you have an interest in, OR you look to buy interest in the Districts that are being improved... not both.

Quote:
Brykovian wrote:
Would it make sense to have the job (once completed) pay you based upon the number of workers you put on it? So, the higher you bid, the more money you'll make on it in the long run ... but, the less likely you'll win the bid?

This makes a lot of sense. Thematically, if you're putting in a higher bid, you should get more money if you manage to win it. For game play, it's finally a good reason to bid high (if I go with the low bid wins), it adds a trade-off to the bidding; you get more money, but it takes longer to do. Thanks for the great idea.

Yes, this is what I had in mind. I guess I never explicitly said that... but "Bidding low means offering to do the job cheaper" does sort of imply that the higher the final bid, the more money you will make. Sorry for the cofusion on that point.

- Seth

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sedjtroll wrote:
Consulting companies? What are we consulting on?

On the fact that I'm confused...I meant contracting. I'm too used to IT contractors which are often called consultants even though technically they are contractors.

sedjtroll wrote:
Well that's the trick. The cost of upkeeping guys needs to be high. Maybe you sell stock to be able to pay upkeeps. If you cannot pay, they quit. Later you can 'hire back' workers for an amount of money significantly larger than the upkeep.

We seem to be stuck here. If the upkeep is too great, it will become more important to keep your workers occupied than to build things. That will shift the focus of the game. I agree that rehiring should be substantially more expensive than upkeep. It costs a lot less to pay an employee for a week than to conduct a job search and do training. If the upkeep is already high, the re-hiring cost will be very painful, especially for a player who's just recovering from not being able to pay their bills.

This will make it difficult to catch up once you fall behind.

sedjtroll wrote:
We'd have to make it expensive enough to do that such that you lose money if that's your only strategy. The idea being to find the balance between workers idle and jobs won.

If your workers quit if you don't pay them, let them quit, it will naturally find a balance. Maybe pay the upkeep on 1-2 extra wokers to get an edge on the next contract.

sedjtroll wrote:
Depending on when you get those workers back. If that's your strategy, you might get as many as 2 jobs per 'round'... but maybe more than 2 are available, and also, as someone mentioned, the payoff should be higher as the bid is higher (after all, that's supposed to represent a higher fee anyway).

If you're bidding 1 at a time, you'll get back all your workers each turn. I said 1-2 assuming there would be 1 contract at a time (which only makes sense if we're bidding for where to build it). Since now it's looking like there will be more than 1 at a time, keep one worker for each contract and bid 1 for each. If you're winning all the contracts with a bid of 1, nobody can win a higher bid anyway so the higher payoffs are irrelevant.

sedjtroll wrote:
I also don't know weather there should be a set number of shares, or infinite shares available in each stock... the more that gets bought during the game, the more diluted it becomes. Maybe it could be both ways... if you buy from another player, you get less diluted stock, but if they won't sell, you could buy from the bank- introducing more of the stock into the game- and thereby diluting the shares' values (maybe having some lower valued shares is better than having no higher valued shares).

I was assuming it would be a fixed finite number of shares that would be low enough that the bank would run out of shares. Having an unlimited number is an interesting idea, but it will be hard to implement. It would make the game more complex in terms of the stock market. I'm not sure that's a good thing. I'd rather add the complexity in choosing a building site.

How would the share value calculation work with the variable number of shares? With the fixed number, we'd have a stock exchange that says "All shares of company X are worth $Y each".

sedjtroll wrote:
Maybe one time to sell stock (to other players? To the bank?) would be when it's time to pay your idle workers- to get the cash to afford it. But selling shares means (a) you have less shares, (b) might affect the value of the stock... selling to the bank would effectively remove shares from the game, therefore concentrating the stock and increasing the value per share... Selling to another player wouldn't have that effect- but you might get a better price from a player for whatever reason than you would from the bank (maybe the bank pays less than market value).

Yeah, we'd have to let people sell shares then. On a slightly related note, It's too obvious that people should just hoard shares as long as they can afford it. To prevent that, there should be cards in the contract deck that show up occasionally like "pay tax based on the number of shares you own", or a specific company has a stock scandal or other disaster and the share value of the one stock drops a lot.

sedjtroll wrote:
I don't think that's true. I think that's the thing about the mechainc- it would need to be expanded upon (with the upkeep cost). That's if we use the inverse of the original Big Cheese mechanic, which I think is what this game is begging for.

I agree that the upkeep cost is essential if we're using this mechanic, and I also agree that the game must have the mechanic. I'm just saying that it's probably best to have a minimal number of workers. Brykovian's idea of probably fixes this.

sedjtroll wrote:
I don't think this works. hematically or mechanically. I see the reason behind it- you want to be able to improve a particular plot because that's where your money is... but as stated thus far I don't think it fits in the game. As for the chrysler Building being in the same district every time... what if instead of the Job card sepcifying which district, a randomizer is used to determine which district the project will be built in? For example, say there are 6 Districts, each a different color, and you have a d6 with one color on each side. When you flip a Job card, you roll to see which District the owner wants to build it in. This could also be done with any other randomizer, the idea being you never know which district which project will go in. It's always completely random, which is the way it should be.

Originally I was thinking of having another card deck with the districts and you'd turn up one of those cards with the contract. I discarded that idea right away as too cumbersome and adding too many components. Your dice idea would be a much neater way to do the same thing. How would you attach each distrct to the contract as you turn up multiple contracts?

sedjtroll wrote:
While this is not a terrible idea at all- I think it's adding something to the game that doesn't need to be there. It seems to me that you EITHER work specifically to improve the Districts you have an interest in, OR you look to buy interest in the Districts that are being improved... not both.

Without this mechanic, how can you work towards improving districts you specifically have an interest in? If there's few enough contracts each round that most or all will get built and they all have randomly selected districts, you have no control over which district gets improved.

sedjtroll wrote:
Yes, this is what I had in mind. I guess I never explicitly said that... but "Bidding low means offering to do the job cheaper" does sort of imply that the higher the final bid, the more money you will make. Sorry for the cofusion on that point.

You don't have to appologize for the confusion on the point, I'm sure there's a lot of things I consider obvious and forget to mention that add to confusion. The great thing about this forum is that other people can come along and point out these things.

Jason

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Oracle wrote:

This will make it difficult to catch up once you fall behind.

I'm not so sure this is true.

Quote:
If you're bidding 1 at a time, you'll get back all your workers each turn. I said 1-2 assuming there would be 1 contract at a time (which only makes sense if we're bidding for where to build it). Since now it's looking like there will be more than 1 at a time, keep one worker for each contract and bid 1 for each. If you're winning all the contracts with a bid of 1, nobody can win a higher bid anyway so the higher payoffs are irrelevant.

So this is obviously a problem. What if the workers don't come back until the END of the next turn? That would necessitate you keeping on at least 1 worker and paying upkeep on it. And/or, what if the business itself had an upkeep of some kind- something that would make it impossible to play the "bid 1 every time" strategy, because you'd auto-lose the game.

Also, various (maybe randomly determined?) minimum bids could be established- Jobs take AT LEAST X time to complete- the bigger the job, the higher the min bid. Then keeping only 1 or 2 workers is dangerous because there's no guarantee you'd be able to bid at all... meaning no income and you still have to pay upkeep or lose your workers. Basically an auto-lose if you try and do that.

Any other idas?

Quote:
I was assuming it would be a fixed finite number of shares that would be low enough that the bank would run out of shares. Having an unlimited number is an interesting idea, but it will be hard to implement. It would make the game more complex in terms of the stock market. I'm not sure that's a good thing. I'd rather add the complexity in choosing a building site.

On the contrary- I think 'infinite shares' would be easier to implement than the 'zero sum shares'... the value of the stock would be devided by the number of total shares in the game (or similarly tied in), such that the more shares people buy, the more saturated the market, the less the shares are worth. And/or the proportion is th important thing.. if there are 10 total shares and I own 6 of them, then I own 60% of that stock... if someone else goes and buys 10 more shares, now my value is only 6/20 or 30% of the total for that stock (i.e. the price per share is halved because the Stock value is the same bu there are twice as many shares total).

With Zero Sum, I think the buying and selling would close off as why would players sell stock to each other or buy it from each other? I mean I could see that happening, and it would be cool "Sure, I'll sell you these shares, but it'll cost ya!"... but I don't know why it would be importantt o buy them.

Quote:
How would the share value calculation work with the variable number of shares? With the fixed number, we'd have a stock exchange that says "All shares of company X are worth $Y each".

I guess you could have a thingy that lists each Stock and says what the TOTAL stock value is... and your share of the stock would have to be calculated... I realise this requires math which may be undesireable, but it also means that the stock could inflate or deflate with the total number ofshares in the game. The math could be done ahead of time... like "1-10 shares are worth X$ each, 11-20 shares are worth Y$ each, 21-30 shares are worth Z$ each..." to make that part easier.

I guess it could go eother way... it's probably just two ways of looking at the same thing.

Quote:

Yeah, we'd have to let people sell shares then. On a slightly related note, It's too obvious that people should just hoard shares as long as they can afford it. To prevent that, there should be cards in the contract deck that show up occasionally like "pay tax based on the number of shares you own", or a specific company has a stock scandal or other disaster and the share value of the one stock drops a lot.

Good points. Shoudl they be on the Job cards? Or should there be some other random or not-so-random way to find out what happens? I was thinking that certain jobs would negatively impact stock value (we should stick with that for sure).

Just to be clear what we mean, why exactly should hoarding stock be punished? (note: it's tough to hoard stock if there's an infinite amount. You can still do it, butyou have to keep paying in order to do so)

Also, is it fair to have a random event crush the value of one stock, or will the stockholders of that company simply fall behind through no fault of their own if that happens? I suppose they might be able to sell it, but to whom? and when (these are questions we haven't exactly addressed yet)- I don't see another player wanting to buy the devalued stock- unless they are cash-rich and there's enough game left for the stock to go back up...

That last part sounded good... but it also brings up another point- when does the game end? I'd say it probably should end when all the districts are full. The Districts could have a set number of "slots" and as one fills up, jobs can't be built there anymore (so you pretty much knoww hat your stock is worth)- although maybe stuff could still affect the price of that stock. At that point it would suck to take a big stock devaluation...

Quote:
I agree that the upkeep cost is essential if we're using this mechanic, and I also agree that the game must have the mechanic. I'm just saying that it's probably best to have a minimal number of workers. Brykovian's idea of probably fixes this.

Well, ideally you don't want any more than you can put to use. However, you don't want to few, or you won't have the flexibility to do certain jobs. (this sounds flimsy- can you think of a better reason to not want too few workers?)

So basically you need enough to do jobs and make money, but you don't want so many that you have a lot left over each round.

I'm sorry, I thin kI missed Byrk's idea that you referenecd- what was it?

Quote:
Originally I was thinking of having another card deck with the districts and you'd turn up one of those cards with the contract. I discarded that idea right away as too cumbersome and adding too many components. Your dice idea would be a much neater way to do the same thing. How would you attach each distrct to the contract as you turn up multiple contracts?

I dunno- prolly roll for each as it's turned up and place the card in a particular location (like on that part of the board?) so it's known which district it's in.

Quote:

sedjtroll wrote:
While this is not a terrible idea at all- I think it's adding something to the game that doesn't need to be there. It seems to me that you EITHER work specifically to improve the Districts you have an interest in, OR you look to buy interest in the Districts that are being improved... not both.

Without this mechanic, how can you work towards improving districts you specifically have an interest in? If there's few enough contracts each round that most or all will get built and they all have randomly selected districts, you have no control over which district gets improved.

Exactly. I'm advocating the other... see what district you think is improving, and buy stock in it.

This might not be the best way to do it- maybe there should be some way to plan ahead and figure out which district is likely to improve (not possible with random placement). So maybe bidding for placement is better. It simply doesn't match the rest of the game though. Also, how much money is going to be floating around? I like that we can offer players more money at the cost of future Victory points... (the stock at the end of the game is basically victory points, as is the money I guess)

If we bid on placement, then does each player have their own stock, or do you still buy other stocks? I'm not sure I see how that would work exactly.

I think this has a lot of potential, and I think it's shaping up... but there are some serious holes still, and we obviously are at odds as to how parts of the game should work. I think this is good discussion (as was the chat last Monday) though and I think we're making progress.

I think the Minimum Bids thing I mentioned might solve some problems as far as workers are concerned- you have to keep on some workers or you'll never be able to bid the bigger, more lucrative jobs. There's still the problem with 'why not just bid the minimum bid?" though.

Also what bidding mechanic do you have in mind for bidding the workers? a once around thing? Blind or no? Or progressive? If it's once around (which might mirror real life to an extent btw), how do you break ties when everyone bids the "minimum?"

- Seth

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Okay ... one more crazy idea (without having read through the official game description pages yet) that might reflect a more real-life situation ...

Perhaps the jobs that come up for bid give a total number of man-turns of work to be completed. The higher number of man-turns, the greater the base payout when the job is done. The number of workers you bid will determine how quickly the job gets done. Instead of getting a single worker back each turn, you simply assign all workers to the job for the entire time, and use progress counters to track how many turns are left before the thing is completed. When the project is completed, you receive the base payout (determined byt he size of the job, as mentioned earlier) plus additional payout per each worker assigned.

This would give you several reasons to bid more workers to the job (higher payout, earlier payout, fewer unassigned workers sitting around and soaking up your cash) ... and yet the lowest bidder would win the job (since it would be cheaper to the customer).

There might still be a need for a minimum bid, to reflect the need to have the job completed within a certain timeframe.

Might not be helpful ... but thought I'd throw it out there ...

-Bryk

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Brykovian wrote:
Perhaps the jobs that come up for bid give a total number of man-turns of work to be completed. The higher number of man-turns, the greater the base payout when the job is done. The number of workers you bid will determine how quickly the job gets done. Instead of getting a single worker back each turn, you simply assign all workers to the job for the entire time, and use progress counters to track how many turns are left before the thing is completed. When the project is completed, you receive the base payout (determined byt he size of the job, as mentioned earlier) plus additional payout per each worker assigned.

This is good, except that it circumvents the neat thing about the Big Cheese mechanic... which we have turned on it's head anyway. The fact that the bidding is directly related to how long it takes to get your guys back, etc.

- Seth

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sedjtroll wrote:
This is good, except that it circumvents the neat thing about the Big Cheese mechanic... which we have turned on it's head anyway. The fact that the bidding is directly related to how long it takes to get your guys back, etc.

Okay ... I'll take another shot at it then. ;) But, I think it's going to get a little too "mathsy" to be practical ...

The jobs have their base payout, total worker-turns, and minimum bid info on them. The number of workers you bid determines how many turns it will take to get it done. So, you put all of your workers on the job ... then you remove a number each week based upon how many turns it will take you to finish the job. For example, a job that takes 80 worker-turns with a 20-worker winning bid, will get finished in 4 turns. This means that you get 5 workers back each turn.

Now, for each worker you get back from the job, you get paid a little bit -- this is that overhead payment I mentioned a handful of posts ago -- and when the last workers come off the job, it is done and you get paid the base payment for it.

Back to you ... ;)

-Bryk

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Brykovian wrote:

For example, a job that takes 80 worker-turns with a 20-worker winning bid, will get finished in 4 turns. This means that you get 5 workers back each turn.

Ahh... so talking about Man Hours... the jobs have a set number of Man Hours to completion...

If that's the case, we could go back to the ORIGINAL original mechanic of Big Cheese Bidding, and then instead of getting one worker back per turn, you get workers back whenever you want, but the job doesn't complete until the correct number of man-hours have gone by (That would have to be tracked seperately though).

I dunno, somehow I like the inverted thing better.

- Seth

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sedjtroll wrote:
Oracle wrote:

This will make it difficult to catch up once you fall behind.

I'm not so sure this is true.

If you didn't have enough money to pay your upkeep, now you're in a position where you can afford to hire your workers back, you have to pay a big penalty, just when you're recovering. Your opponent can take advantage of this time to increase their lead.

Quote:
If you're bidding 1 at a time, you'll get back all your workers each turn. I said 1-2 assuming there would be 1 contract at a time (which only makes sense if we're bidding for where to build it). Since now it's looking like there will be more than 1 at a time, keep one worker for each contract and bid 1 for each. If you're winning all the contracts with a bid of 1, nobody can win a higher bid anyway so the higher payoffs are irrelevant.

sedjtroll wrote:
So this is obviously a problem. What if the workers don't come back until the END of the next turn? That would necessitate you keeping on at least 1 worker and paying upkeep on it. And/or, what if the business itself had an upkeep of some kind- something that would make it impossible to play the "bid 1 every time" strategy, because you'd auto-lose the game.

That's true, having the bid phase before the workers return makes more sense thematically and mechanically. Otherwise they'll spend less than a full turn "working" for a 1 turn bid. The business itself having an upkeep seems like an unnecessary extra bit of housekeeping.

sedjtroll wrote:
Also, various (maybe randomly determined?) minimum bids could be established- Jobs take AT LEAST X time to complete- the bigger the job, the higher the min bid. Then keeping only 1 or 2 workers is dangerous because there's no guarantee you'd be able to bid at all... meaning no income and you still have to pay upkeep or lose your workers. Basically an auto-lose if you try and do that.

If there are multiple contracts up for bid each turn, chances are one will be low enough. Depending on how we tweak the numbers, it won't necessarily be keep 1 or 2 workers, but the strategy will be to keep a minimum number.

sedjtroll wrote:
Any other idas?

We haven't really talked about how we'll award extra money for a large bid. Maybe each contract can have a base value, and the amount of money you get is the base amount multiplied by the number of workers originally assigned to it.

This will certainly encourage larger bids. It might be interesting with blind bidding.

sedjtroll wrote:
On the contrary- I think 'infinite shares' would be easier to implement than the 'zero sum shares'... the value of the stock would be devided by the number of total shares in the game (or similarly tied in), such that the more shares people buy, the more saturated the market, the less the shares are worth. And/or the proportion is th important thing.. if there are 10 total shares and I own 6 of them, then I own 60% of that stock... if someone else goes and buys 10 more shares, now my value is only 6/20 or 30% of the total for that stock (i.e. the price per share is halved because the Stock value is the same bu there are twice as many shares total).

The arithmetic for that sounds too difficult for the scope of the game. They players will constantly have to be aware of how many shares there are outstanding of each company and be doing the division.

I can see the advantage you're talking about, I just don't think it's worth increasing the complexity of the game.

In real life there are a fixed number of shares. The company can issue more shares but then they collect money for that so the value of each share stays the same, and they can buy shares back, so again the per share value stays the same. With splits, if you double the number of shares you half the price so it is all zero sum.

sedjtroll wrote:
With Zero Sum, I think the buying and selling would close off as why would players sell stock to each other or buy it from each other? I mean I could see that happening, and it would be cool "Sure, I'll sell you these shares, but it'll cost ya!"... but I don't know why it would be importantt o buy them.

If we get rid of the hiring and firing mechanic, we can force a player without enough cash to pay the upkeep to auction off shares to the highest bidder until they can pay the upkeep to pay their workers. For that matter, we can still allow them to fire workers, but if they have them at upkeep time, they still have to pay them first. We were still planning on coming up with another way to buy and sell shares, so you can use the otehr mechanic to sell shares to the bank for full market value to have enough cash to avoid the auction.

sedjtroll wrote:
I guess you could have a thingy that lists each Stock and says what the TOTAL stock value is... and your share of the stock would have to be calculated... I realise this requires math which may be undesireable, but it also means that the stock could inflate or deflate with the total number ofshares in the game. The math could be done ahead of time... like "1-10 shares are worth X$ each, 11-20 shares are worth Y$ each, 21-30 shares are worth Z$ each..." to make that part easier.

I still don't think it's worth the extra complexity. We're already are planning to have the stock price go up when someone buys shares, so why also have the shares dilute so each one is worth less?

sedjtroll wrote:
I guess it could go eother way... it's probably just two ways of looking at the same thing.

I think that's the case, so we should choose the simpler one.

sedjtroll wrote:
Good points. Shoudl they be on the Job cards? Or should there be some other random or not-so-random way to find out what happens? I was thinking that certain jobs would negatively impact stock value (we should stick with that for sure).

I would say on the job cards, that's a tried and true mechanic. It seems like most games with a deck of action cards have occasional disaster cards that come up. Certain jobs will make the stock prices go down, but the general trend should be that prices climb, even after the disasters the prices will still go up.

sedjtroll wrote:
Just to be clear what we mean, why exactly should hoarding stock be punished? (note: it's tough to hoard stock if there's an infinite amount. You can still do it, butyou have to keep paying in order to do so)

Good question actually, maybe we shouldn't punish hoarding stock.

My thinking is that as it stands now, the primary goal is to accumulate stock. The stocks will generally rise in value, so the more stock you get and the earlier you get it, the better. Maybe this is okay though.

In Pacific Northwest Rails, there are 20 tax cards in the deck. After drawing the nth tax card of the game, you have to pay $n for each share you have (the endgame condition is when the 10th tax card is drawn). Early on this is no problem because you have relatively few shares and the price per share is low. Once it gets up to $7-$8 and you've got 20 shares, a tax card can be a disaster, especially 2 in a row.

sedjtroll wrote:
Also, is it fair to have a random event crush the value of one stock, or will the stockholders of that company simply fall behind through no fault of their own if that happens? I suppose they might be able to sell it, but to whom? and when (these are questions we haven't exactly addressed yet)- I don't see another player wanting to buy the devalued stock- unless they are cash-rich and there's enough game left for the stock to go back up...

It wouldn't so much crush it as set it back. If it's on a scale of $5 to $100 in $5 increments, maybe drop it $10-$20. Since the trend will be climbing, it's not a major crushing. It could even be an opportunity to buy more (which will make the price go up) :)

sedjtroll wrote:
That last part sounded good... but it also brings up another point- when does the game end? I'd say it probably should end when all the districts are full. The Districts could have a set number of "slots" and as one fills up, jobs can't be built there anymore (so you pretty much knoww hat your stock is worth)- although maybe stuff could still affect the price of that stock. At that point it would suck to take a big stock devaluation...

We haven't given any consideration to the endgame. That sounds like you're on to a great idea. Would it end when the first district is full or all of them? Maybe something in between like when the 3rd district fills.

From a components standpoint, I was planning on having a small board for each district (a 4x6 index card for prototyping, and something a bit larger in the finished game). There would have been a pile to stack all the cards built there and room for other information (such as a track where a pawn can mark the starting number of workers if we decide the final payout will be based on that). It will be hard to fit spaces for a bunch of cards on that small board. I still want to go with that idea, it's just a question of where to make slots for the cards. Only part of the card needs to overlap the district board.

sedjtroll wrote:
Well, ideally you don't want any more than you can put to use. However, you don't want to few, or you won't have the flexibility to do certain jobs. (this sounds flimsy- can you think of a better reason to not want too few workers?)

Nope...that's the problem :)

sedjtroll wrote:
I dunno- prolly roll for each as it's turned up and place the card in a particular location (like on that part of the board?) so it's known which district it's in.

That will work well.

sedjtroll wrote:
While this is not a terrible idea at all- I think it's adding something to the game that doesn't need to be there. It seems to me that you EITHER work specifically to improve the Districts you have an interest in, OR you look to buy interest in the Districts that are being improved... not both.

I don't think it will be that complicated (certainly no more so than the infinite stock idea). I suppose only playtesting will tell :).

sedjtroll wrote:
Exactly. I'm advocating the other... see what district you think is improving, and buy stock in it.

This will be a fairly major difference in the game. I suppose it won't be that hard to playtest both ways.

sedjtroll wrote:
This might not be the best way to do it- maybe there should be some way to plan ahead and figure out which district is likely to improve (not possible with random placement). So maybe bidding for placement is better. It simply doesn't match the rest of the game though. Also, how much money is going to be floating around? I like that we can offer players more money at the cost of future Victory points... (the stock at the end of the game is basically victory points, as is the money I guess)

There will be 1 monopoly set worth of money? :) I think it's too early to tell.

The stocks will just be worth their value in money, so they have no special value as VPs, it's just that they should be increasing in value throughout the game while money obviously isn't.

If they have to spend money to buy a plot of land in a district, they will be trading off VPs (in the form of money) for VPs (in the form of raising the value of the district of their choice).

This leads to the interesting situation of paying money to built a negative property in a district your opponent is heavily invested in.

sedjtroll wrote:
If we bid on placement, then does each player have their own stock, or do you still buy other stocks? I'm not sure I see how that would work exactly.

You still buy other stocks. That's one of the key mechanics that's been there since the beginning. When one player completes a project, they get the big payout, but other players can benefit too in the form of dividends and shares rising in value.

sedjtroll wrote:
I think this has a lot of potential, and I think it's shaping up... but there are some serious holes still, and we obviously are at odds as to how parts of the game should work. I think this is good discussion (as was the chat last Monday) though and I think we're making progress.

I agree. As I said, playtesting will help a lot. I had a busy day today (which is why I didn't post anything earlier), so I haven't had a chance to start the prototype, but I plan to get a lot done on it tomorrow. Are you interested in printing a set, and can you print directly to 4x6" cardstock? (I have a photo printer that does it). It's a lot easier to quarter an index card than cut a full sheet of cardstock down to small cards, and this way is a lot cheaper than printable business cards.

This discussion has been wonderful. I don't think I'd have been able to get the game this far along and sounding this good even if I'd worked on it alone for months.

I'm glad you don't find it annoying when we're at odds and it sounds like I keep pointing out what I don't like about some of the things you say.

It's probably time to book a slot in the GDW seeing that the waiting list is about a month. Since you've had a game go through there already, how do I book it?

sedjtroll wrote:
I think the Minimum Bids thing I mentioned might solve some problems as far as workers are concerned- you have to keep on some workers or you'll never be able to bid the bigger, more lucrative jobs. There's still the problem with 'why not just bid the minimum bid?" though.

It will help quite a bit and makes sense thematically (it will take a lot more people to build a chrysler building than an apartment building).

With my idea of the payout being multiplied by the number of workers, it might not make sense to just bid the minimum. If a building has a minimum of 3 and a base fee of $10, then bidding 3 workers will give you $30 in 3 turns, or a bid of 4 will give you $40 in 4 turns, and pay the upkeep on 1 worker for the 4 turns.

sedjtroll wrote:
Also what bidding mechanic do you have in mind for bidding the workers? a once around thing? Blind or no? Or progressive? If it's once around (which might mirror real life to an extent btw), how do you break ties when everyone bids the "minimum?"

With blind bidding it would have to go around once. With open bidding, I think it should go around until nobody wants to bid again. Blind bidding and going around once will mirror real life the best.

I'm thinking that blind bidding will also be the best way to prevent degenerating to the minimum, but that needs more components.

If it's open bidding, that issue won't come up if people bid in order. If it's blind, someone suggested that the next higher bid win instead of the lower bids that are tied. That is a great way to encourage people not to bid the lowest because someone with a higher bid might end up winning. It's not how it works in real life though.

Wow these messages are getting long. That took well over an hour to type and then I almost lost it to an invalid session; lucky back worked.

Jason

sedjtroll
sedjtroll's picture
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Investment/Rail game

Oracle wrote:
sedjtroll wrote:
Oracle wrote:

This will make it difficult to catch up once you fall behind.

I'm not so sure this is true.

If you didn't have enough money to pay your upkeep, now you're in a position where you can afford to hire your workers back, you have to pay a big penalty, just when you're recovering. Your opponent can take advantage of this time to increase their lead.

*shrug* You can still underbid them?

I dunno- it all depends how it ends up working.

Quote:
That's true, having the bid phase before the workers return makes more sense thematically and mechanically. Otherwise they'll spend less than a full turn "working" for a 1 turn bid. The business itself having an upkeep seems like an unnecessary extra bit of housekeeping.

Unfortunately, it may in fact be a NECESSARY bit of housekeeping. It wouldn't be too difficult, you could wrap all your upkeeps into 1: Pay X + Y per idle worker who you don't fire.

Quote:
If there are multiple contracts up for bid each turn, chances are one will be low enough. Depending on how we tweak the numbers, it won't necessarily be keep 1 or 2 workers, but the strategy will be to keep a minimum number.

Isn't that the point?

Quote:
We haven't really talked about how we'll award extra money for a large bid. Maybe each contract can have a base value, and the amount of money you get is the base amount multiplied by the number of workers originally assigned to it.

This will certainly encourage larger bids. It might be interesting with blind bidding.

Hmm... Multiplied seems like a lot. It could be easily handled... "Pay X per worker assigned" and this could be paid at completion, or possibly X each turn as you get the guy back with an extra chunk at completion. Maybe that would soften the blow of bidding high, thereby sort of encouraging it- or at least not discouraging it.

Quote:
The arithmetic for that sounds too difficult for the scope of the game. They players will constantly have to be aware of how many shares there are outstanding of each company and be doing the division.

Well, they really just need to see who has how many shares relative to the other players. If you have more shares than me, then your value is more than mine. It's direct. I think you're right though, it sounds like too much math.

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In real life there are a fixed number of shares.

Well, yeah, but it's really large compared to the amount of shares we'd own.

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The company can issue more shares but then they collect money for that so the value of each share stays the same, and they can buy shares back, so again the per share value stays the same. With splits, if you double the number of shares you half the price so it is all zero sum.

I agree in real life it's zero sum. In this game though, why would a player sell stock to another player? The only time I can think of is if they cannot afford upkeep and are afraid of falling behind (in production), so he sells Stock to another player, who probably gives him less than Market Share- thereby falling behind (in VPs). I suppose the stock could sort of be auctioned off, if players think it's worth it and 2 players want the stock they might drive the price up, like real life. Maybe that would happen in practice.

Quote:
If we get rid of the hiring and firing mechanic, we can force a player without enough cash to pay the upkeep to auction off shares to the highest bidder until they can pay the upkeep to pay their workers. For that matter, we can still allow them to fire workers, but if they have them at upkeep time, they still have to pay them first. We were still planning on coming up with another way to buy and sell shares, so you can use the otehr mechanic to sell shares to the bank for full market value to have enough cash to avoid the auction.

This is sounding very good to me. I also think (as I said above) that the upkeep should be something more than X per idle worker... no matter what you should have to pay an upkeep, the idea being to minimize it.

Quote:

I still don't think it's worth the extra complexity. We're already are planning to have the stock price go up when someone buys shares, so why also have the shares dilute so each one is worth less?

I think you are right.

Quote:

I would say on the job cards, that's a tried and true mechanic. It seems like most games with a deck of action cards have occasional disaster cards that come up. Certain jobs will make the stock prices go down, but the general trend should be that prices climb, even after the disasters the prices will still go up.

Just to be clear, the "disaster" cards would be DIFFERENT from jobs that negatively affect stock... right?

Quote:
Seth wrote:
Just to be clear what we mean, why exactly should hoarding stock be punished? (note: it's tough to hoard stock if there's an infinite amount. You can still do it, butyou have to keep paying in order to do so)

Good question actually, maybe we shouldn't punish hoarding stock.

My thinking is that as it stands now, the primary goal is to accumulate stock. The stocks will generally rise in value, so the more stock you get and the earlier you get it, the better. Maybe this is okay though.

If I'm not mistaken, that's the point of stock... So the VPs in this game is Money. Make no mistake. I believe the point of the Stock is to earn you more money than you would earn otherwise (assuming the value of the stock goes up). i.e. you have $20. You use it o buy Stock. That Stock goes up or down or whatever, and at the end of the game, that $20 is now $30. Your opponent also bought $20 of the same stock, but they bought it when it was worth more... so their $20 is only now worth $28. Youve gotten ahead.

Quote:
In Pacific Northwest Rails, there are 20 tax cards in the deck. After drawing the nth tax card of the game, you have to pay $n for each share you have (the endgame condition is when the 10th tax card is drawn). Early on this is no problem because you have relatively few shares and the price per share is low. Once it gets up to $7-$8 and you've got 20 shares, a tax card can be a disaster, especially 2 in a row.

I am not familiar with that game. Is that equitable? What if I own Stock A and you own B... and the "Tax on A" card comes up late while the "Tax on B" comes up early or not at all.. is that fair?

Quote:
It wouldn't so much crush it as set it back. If it's on a scale of $5 to $100 in $5 increments, maybe drop it $10-$20. Since the trend will be climbing, it's not a major crushing. It could even be an opportunity to buy more (which will make the price go up) :)

Maybe you're right, I suppose we could at least try that and see if it feels like you just got really screwed when that tax card came up, or if it was justa setback, affecting everyone, some more than others.

Quote:
We haven't given any consideration to the endgame. That sounds like you're on to a great idea. Would it end when the first district is full or all of them? Maybe something in between like when the 3rd district fills.

I think it depends on how long things take. Maybe "Play until the First District fills" will take sufficiently long. Maybe "Play until all districts are filled" woud take forever. I don't know. I'm tempted to say First District otherwise I fear it'll take too long.

Quote:
From a components standpoint, I was planning on having a small board for each district (a 4x6 index card for prototyping, and something a bit larger in the finished game). There would have been a pile to stack all the cards built there and room for other information (such as a track where a pawn can mark the starting number of workers if we decide the final payout will be based on that). It will be hard to fit spaces for a bunch of cards on that small board. I still want to go with that idea, it's just a question of where to make slots for the cards. Only part of the card needs to overlap the district board.

What about an 8 1/2 x 11 sheet, drawn into quarters for the districts. Cards can be on or near the appropriate corner.

Quote:
Seth wrote:
Well, ideally you don't want any more workers than you can put to use. However, you don't want to few, or you won't have the flexibility to do certain jobs. (this sounds flimsy- can you think of a better reason to not want too few workers?)

Nope...that's the problem :)

I think my above description is accurate. Part of the game is Worker Management and optimizing. *shrug*

Quote:
[re: bidding for where to place the job]
I don't think it will be that complicated (certainly no more so than the infinite stock idea). I suppose only playtesting will tell :).

Tell you what, I'll give up on infinite stock if you give up on bidding to place the buildings :)

Quote:
sedjtroll wrote:
I'm advocating... see what district you think is improving, and buy stock in it. [vs. bidding on which district to build the job, thereby improving the district you own stock in]

This will be a fairly major difference in the game. I suppose it won't be that hard to playtest both ways.

How is that a major difference in the game? It seems to me like 2 sides to the same coin. I advocate the one I do because of the two it makes more sense with the game/theme that we have going.

Quote:
If they have to spend money to buy a plot of land in a district, they will be trading off VPs (in the form of money) for VPs (in the form of raising the value of the district of their choice).

This leads to the interesting situation of paying money to built a negative property in a district your opponent is heavily invested in.

You speak the truth, that would be interesting, but I still think it's one or the other and I think breaking theme for this one possible decision is not worth it.

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This discussion has been wonderful. I don't think I'd have been able to get the game this far along and sounding this good even if I'd worked on it alone for months.

Glad I could help!

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I'm glad you don't find it annoying when we're at odds and it sounds like I keep pointing out what I don't like about some of the things you say.

No problem. I know people don't like some of the things I suggest, but they're just suggestions. Of course I'll defend them, until someone convinces me of something better.That doesn't mean I think there isn't something better than my ideas, just that i haven't been convinced.

Just today I was convinced of a better way to do something in the CGD project than the way I was doing it, which I was pretty sure from the outset was the only way it would relaly work.

Quote:
It's probably time to book a slot in the GDW seeing that the waiting list is about a month. Since you've had a game go through there already, how do I book it?

Send a message to jwarrend and tell hm you want a slot. Shoud we re-name this sucker first?

Quote:
With my idea of the payout being multiplied by the number of workers, it might not make sense to just bid the minimum. If a building has a minimum of 3 and a base fee of $10, then bidding 3 workers will give you $30 in 3 turns, or a bid of 4 will give you $40 in 4 turns, and pay the upkeep on 1 worker for the 4 turns.

Yeah, I think we should just try it and see what happens.

Quote:
With blind bidding it would have to go around once. With open bidding, I think it should go around until nobody wants to bid again. Blind bidding and going around once will mirror real life the best.

Not true. In real life they collect bids, and you don't know what your competition is charging. You might have a ballpark figure or something, but you don't know.

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I'm thinking that blind bidding will also be the best way to prevent degenerating to the minimum, but that needs more components.

What more components? You put some workers in a closed fist and everyone reveals at once.

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If it's open bidding, that issue won't come up if people bid in order. If it's blind, someone suggested that the next higher bid win instead of the lower bids that are tied. That is a great way to encourage people not to bid the lowest because someone with a higher bid might end up winning. It's not how it works in real life though.
There's never any telling what happens in real life. People don't always go with the lowest bidder. I think the "next lowest" tiebreaker is a marvelous idea! I think you just solved all our problems.

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Wow these messages are getting long. That took well over an hour to type and then I almost lost it to an invalid session; lucky back worked.

I've taken to c&p'ing any long post- especially if it's over an hour (which appears to be the threashold of when your cookie expires). Tonight I spent like 1.5 hrs on a post, c&p'ed, then when I hit send I didn't get an Invalid Session- I got a Microsoft Error and Explorer closed. I was very happy I c&ped. However my post DID actually register, so I would have lucked out.. but if it didn't, and I didn't even get to TRY a Back? That would suck.

- Seth

Oracle
Offline
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Investment/Rail game

sedjtroll wrote:
Unfortunately, it may in fact be a NECESSARY bit of housekeeping. It wouldn't be too difficult, you could wrap all your upkeeps into 1: Pay X + Y per idle worker who you don't fire.

When you put it that way, it doesn't sound too complex so if it seems necessary we can use it. It might not be necessary with the blind bidding tie-breaker we talked about.

sedjtroll wrote:
Hmm... Multiplied seems like a lot. It could be easily handled... "Pay X per worker assigned" and this could be paid at completion, or possibly X each turn as you get the guy back with an extra chunk at completion. Maybe that would soften the blow of bidding high, thereby sort of encouraging it- or at least not discouraging it.

I'd prefer at completion. I know we've transformed the Big Cheese mechanic a lot, but that seems to be one of the highlights of it; the higher you bid, the longer you have to wait for *any* payout.

sedjtroll wrote:
Well, yeah, but it's really large compared to the amount of shares we'd own.

That depends how we look at it. Each share certificate could represent a million shares, so between the 20 or so in the game, we'd have more than 90% of the stock covered, and just buying a few hundred shares on the stock market would be insignificant. That would also explain why buying 1 share in the came makes the market go up noticibly.

sedjtroll wrote:
In this game though, why would a player sell stock to another player?

That's why there should be some compelling reason not to hoard stock. If the bank is out of stock and you want to sell a share, another player might buy it from you (possibly at a higher or lower price than market value), to save both of you the trouble of meeting the conditions to trade with the bank.

I still don't know if it's a good idea to discourage hoarding, I'm just giving a situation when players would trade stock.

sedjtroll wrote:
Just to be clear, the "disaster" cards would be DIFFERENT from jobs that negatively affect stock... right?

Yes

sedjtroll wrote:
If I'm not mistaken, that's the point of stock... So the VPs in this game is Money. Make no mistake. I believe the point of the Stock is to earn you more money than you would earn otherwise (assuming the value of the stock goes up). i.e. you have $20. You use it o buy Stock. That Stock goes up or down or whatever, and at the end of the game, that $20 is now $30. Your opponent also bought $20 of the same stock, but they bought it when it was worth more... so their $20 is only now worth $28. Youve gotten ahead.

That's how it works in real life. In the game, the earlier you get in, the more you make from stock prices going up. I am suggesting breaking that up a little.

sedjtroll wrote:
I am not familiar with that game. Is that equitable? What if I own Stock A and you own B... and the "Tax on A" card comes up late while the "Tax on B" comes up early or not at all.. is that fair?

The tax is on all shares every time it comes up. What's not equitable is you'll have to pay $8 per share (the 8th time), on shares that are worth $5 and $95 each.

It is interesting because if you get shares early in the game, you get a lot of money from the prices rising. If you get them later in the game, you'll get a lot less from it rising over a lot less time, and yet you have to pay almost as much in taxes. There's a trade off when at some point in the game, you should start selling off your stock, but since it's your primary source of income, when do you do that? That's what the game is all about.

sedjtroll wrote:
I think it depends on how long things take. Maybe "Play until the First District fills" will take sufficiently long. Maybe "Play until all districts are filled" woud take forever. I don't know. I'm tempted to say First District otherwise I fear it'll take too long.

I agree that first district sounds best, especially since I don't want to just balance everything out so the other districts can catch up. My concern is that it makes it pretty easy for one player to work towards ending the game. This might not be a bad thing, and I still favour the first district filling being the end condition.

sedjtroll wrote:
What about an 8 1/2 x 11 sheet, drawn into quarters for the districts. Cards can be on or near the appropriate corner.

So only 4 buildings per district? I was picturing about 10 before we talked about end game conditions. Since I'm aiming for 30-45 minutes to play, a smaller number might be more realistic.

sedjtroll wrote:
Tell you what, I'll give up on infinite stock if you give up on bidding to place the buildings :)

Above, you already seemed to support the zero sum stock :). I'll stop trying to convince you that bidding to place is better, but I'll playtest it with and without.

sedjtroll wrote:
How is that a major difference in the game? It seems to me like 2 sides to the same coin. I advocate the one I do because of the two it makes more sense with the game/theme that we have going.

One way you're actively trying build the city to suit your personal financial agenda (that's how a lot of cities -- in the US west at least -- were built). The other way, the city just goes up and you're passively trying to profit from it.

sedjtroll wrote:
You speak the truth, that would be interesting, but I still think it's one or the other and I think breaking theme for this one possible decision is not worth it.

How is it breaking theme? In Seattle the streets in each district of downtown are all nicely laid out at right angles, but between districts there's no standard a map of downtown look like a patchwork. Originally each district was owned by a different one of the city's founding fathers, and each one stubbornly insisted their direction for streets was best.

sedjtroll wrote:
Send a message to jwarrend and tell hm you want a slot. Shoud we re-name this sucker first?

I'd like to rename it first, but I'm bad at picking names. I was going to book the spot for an unnamed game but if you have any suggestions, let's hear them :).

sedjtroll wrote:
Not true. In real life they collect bids, and you don't know what your competition is charging. You might have a ballpark figure or something, but you don't know.

Isn't that what I said. It's blind (you don't know), and it goes around once (they collect the bids).

sedjtroll wrote:
What more components? You put some workers in a closed fist and everyone reveals at once.

Perfect. The best I'd come up with was hiding the workers in a dice cup.

sedjtroll wrote:
There's never any telling what happens in real life. People don't always go with the lowest bidder. I think the "next lowest" tiebreaker is a marvelous idea! I think you just solved all our problems.

True but all other factors being equal, they do go with the lowest, and since our game is a simplified model all other factors a defined to be equal.

Anyway, this mechanic sounds too good to ignore, even if it's not quite in theme.

sedjtroll wrote:
I've taken to c&p'ing any long post- especially if it's over an hour (which appears to be the threashold of when your cookie expires). Tonight I spent like 1.5 hrs on a post, c&p'ed, then when I hit send I didn't get an Invalid Session- I got a Microsoft Error and Explorer closed. I was very happy I c&ped. However my post DID actually register, so I would have lucked out.. but if it didn't, and I didn't even get to TRY a Back? That would suck.

I try to remember to copy first, but I don't every time and didn't last time.

Jason

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Oracle wrote:

I'd prefer [payment] at completion.

I solved this one- put the payoff ON the job card at the outset. Don't collect it until the job is complete. No need to worry about remembering the bid or whatever, because the payoff is calculated when the information is all there.

Quote:
That's why there should be some compelling reason not to hoard stock. If the bank is out of stock and you want to sell a share, another player might buy it from you (possibly at a higher or lower price than market value), to save both of you the trouble of meeting the conditions to trade with the bank.

I think we should just try it and see if people trade with each other or not. Now, do we allow trades? This stock for that one? Or is it just money transactions (is there a difference)? Should there be a fee for exchanging money for stock or vice versa? I think that might be good, as part of "how you get stock." It's realistic, and it makes you really think about changing your money for stock, because if you have to liquidate right away that will actually cost you something (having bought and sold the stock at a small price each time)

Quote:
It is interesting because if you get shares early in the game, you get a lot of money from the prices rising. If you get them later in the game, you'll get a lot less from it rising over a lot less time, and yet you have to pay almost as much in taxes. There's a trade off when at some point in the game, you should start selling off your stock, but since it's your primary source of income, when do you do that? That's what the game is all about.

I thought the main source of income was doing jobs. Well I see what you mean, the stock going up is income. But late game, who's going to buy your stock? I thought you get VPs (market value) for your stock at the end of the game.

Quote:
My concern is that it makes it pretty easy for one player to work towards ending the game. This might not be a bad thing, and I still favour the first district filling being the end condition.

Work toward ending the game? oh, you're talking about bidding for job placement... are we doing that? that involves *2* Auctions per job... or do you just mean the winner of our bidding mechanic chooses the district (and pays a cost, maybe that cost escalates as the district fills up. $1 for the first job there, $2 for the second, 3$ for the first... etc)

Quote:
So only 4 buildings per district? I was picturing about 10 before we talked about end game conditions. Since I'm aiming for 30-45 minutes to play, a smaller number might be more realistic.

Yeah, I imagine 4. Could be more I suppose, but I thkn 10 is too many.

Quote:
(that's how a lot of cities -- in the US west at least -- were built).

Not by contractors...

Quote:
Originally each district was owned by a different one of the city's founding fathers, and each one stubbornly insisted their direction for streets was best.
Interesting!

Quote:
True but all other factors being equal, they do go with the lowest, and since our game is a simplified model all other factors a defined to be equal.

All other factors aren't equal... only 2 (or more) bids are equla ;P

- Seth

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I'm working on writing a draft of the rules right now, I'll make this a short post.

sedjtroll wrote:
I solved this one- put the payoff ON the job card at the outset. Don't collect it until the job is complete. No need to worry about remembering the bid or whatever, because the payoff is calculated when the information is all there.

That will work nicely.

sedjtroll wrote:
I thought the main source of income was doing jobs. Well I see what you mean, the stock going up is income. But late game, who's going to buy your stock? I thought you get VPs (market value) for your stock at the end of the game.

You do get the market value in cash at the end of the game, but the tax rate gets to high you lose more money paying your taxes than the stock goes up, and if you run out of cash (which happens to me a lot), the penalties are quite bad.

sedjtroll wrote:
Work toward ending the game? oh, you're talking about bidding for job placement... are we doing that? that involves *2* Auctions per job... or do you just mean the winner of our bidding mechanic chooses the district (and pays a cost, maybe that cost escalates as the district fills up. $1 for the first job there, $2 for the second, 3$ for the first... etc)

Right now I'm working on the rules assuming a die chooses the district since it's the simpler to write, but I will probably want to change it to what I'm talking about here. I didn't mean there would be a second auction to pick the district, there will be a scoring track on each district board that will show its prestige. For each prestige there's a price it costs to build there in that district (which is modified by the price of what you'll be building -- so it's cheaper to get rights to build a concert hall than a prison). You have to pay the fixed amount to build on that district (no bidding), but your payout will also be a function of the prestige of where you build it.

sedjtroll wrote:
Yeah, I imagine 4. Could be more I suppose, but I thkn 10 is too many.

I agree, 10 is too many (remember I was thinking that before we talked aobut an end condition and it could have varied widely by the time the game ended). We'll use 4 for now.

Jason

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My prototype for the game is coming along nicely.

I have the current rules and some pictures of sample cards available here.

I could use some suggestions for buildings to include too. I'll need a total of 40 for now.

Jason

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Making money from stocks instead of contracts- is that good or bad? It seems to me that a good game ought to have 2 different strategies, where you can concentrate on one or the other, but winning probably means some balance of each....

Like Puerto Rico's a good example. You Build or you Ship. You really need to do some of each if you want to win though.

Maybe our scoring dichotomy could be Stock vs Contracts. Thematically it works too... either you're concentrating on the Contacting work, or you're investing in the stock. If you choose the right stock, you might do really well... but you have to win SOME bids or you'll never make any money to buy stock with.

The general Stock strategy would probably be to invest in property that's currently being improved, then sell a little of that to buy shares of other (unimproved) properties... then as they improve your "net worth" goes up. The game end will eventually happen, but it players are choosing where to place then they might not race to fill up a district because they want to complete more jobs and increase stock values.

Oh, and maybe Stock holdings should be hidden information- all the stock certs could have the same back and you don't have to tell people how much of which you own. (obv you have to announce what you're buying tho).

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I'm not sure how much you want us to comment on this yet, since you are going to be workshopping the game soon. I haven't been following this conversation at all, so I'll make a couple of remarks, some of which you'll have heard before, no doubt...

50 gaming stones seems like it is going to drive up the price like crazy if you're going to self-publish. Are you going to ask players to provide those or are you going to include them? I have to think that wooden cubes, or player tokens, or something else would be cheaper. Am I wrong, people who are in-the-know?

I don't like the combo of blind bidding and low bidder wins and in case of a tie, all players lose out. It seems like you'll end up with gadzooks of ties, with everyone trying to bid low. Moreover, someone who is in a position of power can lock up all the bids he doesn't want others to win by simply bidding the minimum bid on each one, and other players will either lose, or tie, in which case they still lose out. I don't really see this as being a good idea. Sure, "low bid wins" is different, but I don't think it will end up working out. And what does this mean?

Quote:

If there's a tie for lowest bid, the winner is the lowest non-tied card

When did cards come into the bidding equation? Did I miss something?

I like the way the test cards look. How did you get that "parchment" background effect on the shares? I'm designing a game that could use a similar look to the components.

Anyway, I'll withold more formal remarks till the GDW session, but there are a couple initial reactions, the strongest of which has to be that "low bid wins" is almost certainly a mistake.

-Jeff

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jwarrend wrote:
50 gaming stones seems like it is going to drive up the price like crazy if you're going to self-publish. Are you going to ask players to provide those or are you going to include them? I have to think that wooden cubes, or player tokens, or something else would be cheaper. Am I wrong, people who are in-the-know?

I think 140 cards will be a bigger problem as far as publishing because it's almost impossible to do them in small quantity. As far as the stones, that's not set in stone, but I'm leaning towards a cheapass style publishing. It also makes no sense to include money when a set of monopoly money is $3 at funagain and most people have a set anyway.

jwarrend wrote:
I don't like the combo of blind bidding and low bidder wins and in case of a tie, all players lose out. It seems like you'll end up with gadzooks of ties, with everyone trying to bid low. Moreover, someone who is in a position of power can lock up all the bids he doesn't want others to win by simply bidding the minimum bid on each one, and other players will either lose, or tie, in which case they still lose out. I don't really see this as being a good idea. Sure, "low bid wins" is different, but I don't think it will end up working out. And what does this mean?

This is one of the main things covered on this thread. Low bid wins because thematically it has to be that way. Everything else you just mentioned was to try and get low bid to work. If you want more details, you can read it on the thread, but briefly, if low bid wins, then everyone will want to just bid as low as possible. I had to create a reason to bid higher than the minimum. With open bidding it will always degenerate to the minimum bid because a lower bid means it costs you less, you win the auction, and you get your payoff sooner.

The blind bid+ties don't count mechanic means people will really have to reconsider their bid..but if everyone bids second lowest, it's still a tie so you can't just bid like than, and in that case someone would have won if that had bid low. It ads a lot of tactics to trying to outguess your opponents.

Thematically it does work. In real life, it doesn't necessarily go to the lowest bid, but the lowest bid they believe can do the job. If your bids are tied, the company concludes the bids are flawed somehow and doesn't want to hire you.

To also encourage not bidding low, the payoff is directly proportional to the bid amount and the upkeep has to be paid on all players not bid.

jwarrend wrote:
When did cards come into the bidding equation? Did I miss something?

I'm not sure what you missed. Cards represent the contracts being bid on.

jwarrend wrote:
I like the way the test cards look. How did you get that "parchment" background effect on the shares? I'm designing a game that could use a similar look to the components.

It's a corel draw 8 texture fill. I just scanned through all the samples looking for one that looked like parchment. This one started out purple, so I tweaked the colours until I got the parchment look. I decided to go with a different colour of the same textture for each share type.

jwarrend wrote:
Anyway, I'll withold more formal remarks till the GDW session, but there are a couple initial reactions, the strongest of which has to be that "low bid wins" is almost certainly a mistake.

The low bid wins and mechanics around it are certainly the most forced part of the design. I would have liked to have a straight "highest bid wins", but it just doesn't work thematically. The company won't give the job to the most expensive bid. If a better suggestion comes up at the GDW, I'd be happy to use it; that's what the workshop is for :).

I still like the mechanic that each plot of land and contract also has a prestige value. Instead of the die roll to determine where to build, the player who wins the bid has to buy the space to build for a price that's a function of the two prestige values (it's more expensive to build on high prestige land, but cheaper to build a high prestige building because everyone wants it near them). That lets players try to improve land they're heavily invested in and decrease the value of land their opponents are invested in. I'll probably add that to the rules as a variant before the workshop and see what people think.

Jason

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Oracle wrote:

This is one of the main things covered on this thread. Low bid wins because thematically it has to be that way.

All right, well since you're going to workshop the game, I'm not sure if you want comments now so that you could potentially make changes before the workshop session, or if you want me to just wait.

My basic remark, though a bit harsh, is that you can't justify a bad mechanic with thematic consonance. I am pretty sure that "low bid wins" is not a mechanic that you can build a game around in the current incarnation.

The basic problem you have, as I see it, is that you're trying to have "low bid wins", but you're not taking into account the correct nature of what bids really mean in construction contracts. Those people are saying "I can do the job for this much", and the one who can do it for the least gets it. Yet, there must be some costs associated with the contract in the first place. In your game, it seems that this is only achieved by having the job be able to be completed faster with fewer workers, thus by bidding low, I am saying I can get the job done with only 3 workers. But there's every advantage to me to do so! The fewer workers I allocate, the less time the workers are tied up and thus the more bids I can be placing. You have two solutions to this: one is idle workers must be paid, which is cute. The other is that contracts are worth more the more workers (where in the rules does it actually say this? you alluded to it, but I don't see it), but this will have to be an exponential scale or something to justify bidding high.

The core problem of your system is that it's so easy to break. Sure, players should bid high to avoid ties. But not only does low bid win, they WANT to bid low because it's to their advantage. And most importantly, if a player doesn't want to win, but just wants to hose everyone else, he can. A player could get one contract in turn one, then bid the minimum on every single contract for the rest of the game, guaranteeing that no one else will ever win a bid.

I think your efforts are heroic, but I'll be shocked if your first playtest doesn't reveal that this mechanic is badly broken. I think you need to add something else to create tension. If you want to keep low bid wins, fine, but you need to also add the concept that if players have bid less, they also must do the job with less resources, and this has to be a punishment, not a desired outcome (and the $5 per idle worker is, in my opinion, not a good enough inducement).

And incidentally, the "bid high for gov't contracts" can be done thematically. See Bruno Faiduitti's "Corruption" where players place bribes to get cushy gov't contracts. Not the same as what you're doing, but "high bid wins" can be done. "Low bid wins" is creative, but needs a lot more thought.

-Jeff

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Okay, I found a new way to screw up a post. I just spent 20 minutes replying to this, and I wanted to correct a mistake, so I pressed ctrl-w, which is "go to the end of the line" in unix, but apparently is "close the web browser" in windows. This probably won't be as good as the first time.

jwarrend wrote:
All right, well since you're going to workshop the game, I'm not sure if you want comments now so that you could potentially make changes before the workshop session, or if you want me to just wait.

Of course, I don't mind comments about the game, especially if they help get ready for the workshop.

jwarrend wrote:
The basic problem you have, as I see it, is that you're trying to have "low bid wins", but you're not taking into account the correct nature of what bids really mean in construction contracts. Those people are saying "I can do the job for this much", and the one who can do it for the least gets it. Yet, there must be some costs associated with the contract in the first place.

Then what do you think of the mechanic of requiring the players to choose which district to build in and then pay the building fee? If I balance it right, it will cost more to build than a low bid will pay. Since players would pay for the land right away and not get paid for their work until it's complete, this is especially harsh because other players can take that same money and invest it in shares and make a profit when the unprofitable work is completed.

jwarrend wrote:
The core problem of your system is that it's so easy to break. Sure, players should bid high to avoid ties. But not only does low bid win, they WANT to bid low because it's to their advantage. And most importantly, if a player doesn't want to win, but just wants to hose everyone else, he can. A player could get one contract in turn one, then bid the minimum on every single contract for the rest of the game, guaranteeing that no one else will ever win a bid.

That's what the "tied bids don't count" mechanic is designed to address.

jwarrend wrote:
I think your efforts are heroic, but I'll be shocked if your first playtest doesn't reveal that this mechanic is badly broken. I think you need to add something else to create tension. If you want to keep low bid wins, fine, but you need to also add the concept that if players have bid less, they also must do the job with less resources, and this has to be a punishment, not a desired outcome (and the $5 per idle worker is, in my opinion, not a good enough inducement).

The $5/idle worker will have to be balanced after some playtesting, it was $10 before, but that seemed too harsh compared to only making $30-40/worker when the contract is completed.

Having to pay for the land will add that extra reason to bid high because you do have a fairly large fixed cost associated with the contract to overcome. It will also add more strategy because you can chose the plot to improve and the price will be different depending on your choice.

jwarrend wrote:
And incidentally, the "bid high for gov't contracts" can be done thematically. See Bruno Faiduitti's "Corruption" where players place bribes to get cushy gov't contracts. Not the same as what you're doing, but "high bid wins" can be done. "Low bid wins" is creative, but needs a lot more thought.

There will be government contracts in my game, but they serve a different purpose. There will be contracts like "Prison" and "Sewage Treatment Plant" which have a high base payout but no dividend and reduce the share price.

Jason

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jwarrend wrote:
Oracle wrote:

This is one of the main things covered on this thread. Low bid wins because thematically it has to be that way.

I don't know that it HAS to be that way, but I think it's BETTER that way. The original thing Jason was looking for was a way to do something with the Big Cheese bidding mechanic, because while the mechanic itself is pretty smooth in The Big Cheese, there's nothing else to it. I think this application of that base mechanic is an interesting twist, and despite the fact that I seem to be in the minority, I think it will work just fine.

jwarrend wrote:
My basic remark, though a bit harsh, is that you can't justify a bad mechanic with thematic consonance. I am pretty sure that "low bid wins" is not a mechanic that you can build a game around in the current incarnation.

On the contrary, I think it's exactly what the Big Cheese bidding mechanic needs to make it interesting. I mean, I'm sure there are other things that would also do this, but I don't think there's anything inherantly wrong with "bidding low." The key, which seems to be unclear in this thread, is that there needs to be a reason, a basis for the decisions. More on this later.

Quote:
The basic problem you have, as I see it, is that you're trying to have "low bid wins", but you're not taking into account the correct nature of what bids really mean in construction contracts.
Howso? Here- look at this:
Quote:
Those people are saying "I can do the job for this much", and the one who can do it for the least gets it. Yet, there must be some costs associated with the contract in the first place.
There IS a cost associated with the contract. More accurately, there's a cost associated with the game, and in order to cover those costs you need to win bids. Furthermore, if you win bids with piddly payoffs (i.e. if you underbid or undercut competitors and do jobs for less money) you'll run out of money and go broke.
Quote:
In your game, it seems that this is only achieved by having the job be able to be completed faster with fewer workers, thus by bidding low, I am saying I can get the job done with only 3 workers.
Well, "I can get the job done in less time or for less money" is what you're really saying. The amount of workers assigned represents the time and money being spent on the project- not that actual number of people physically working on it. Bidding 3 really says "I'll get that job done in 3 [time units], for 3 [monetary units]."
Quote:
But there's every advantage to me to do so! The fewer workers I allocate, the less time the workers are tied up and thus the more bids I can be placing.
You have ignored the disincentives to this strategy. The less you bid, the less you get per contract. Also, the less you bid, the more you have to pay to cover your costs (I don't know if it was made clear before, but the "upkeep" or "overhead" was intended to be X money PLUS Y money per idle worker... so the more idle workers you have, the more you have to pay, AND the less you get.

Something I wanted to suggest to Jason, but haven't yet, was this: perhaps the overhead on idle workers should only be paid by the person winning the bid, so if you didn't win the bid, you don't get super screwed on the overhead. I think you still ought to be responsible for the base overhead though, or you could simply never bid.

Quote:
You have two solutions to this: one is idle workers must be paid, which is cute.
I think it's more than cute, that's how it works in real life. If you have workers sitting around idle, you're losing money in the most direct way possible... you have to pay them AND they're not producing money.
Quote:
The other is that contracts are worth more the more workers (where in the rules does it actually say this? you alluded to it, but I don't see it), but this will have to be an exponential scale or something to justify bidding high.
I don't know if it would necessarily be in the rules, though it wouldn't hurt to mention it... it's a property of the cards. I also don't know about the scale. Perhaps it must be exponential. Are you saying that would be a bad thing?

Quote:
The core problem of your system is that it's so easy to break. Sure, players should bid high to avoid ties. But not only does low bid win, they WANT to bid low because it's to their advantage.
There are advantages AND disadvantages. Ignoring one, which we seem to have been doing in the discussion, obviously makes any idea look lopsided.
Quote:
And most importantly, if a player doesn't want to win, but just wants to hose everyone else, he can. A player could get one contract in turn one, then bid the minimum on every single contract for the rest of the game, guaranteeing that no one else will ever win a bid.

This is an interesting point. I think in practice this wouldn't work... unless the player doesn't mind taking himself down with the group. So they win 1 contract and get a little money. They still have to pay overhead every single turn... if they cannot then their workers quit, and before long they will be bankrupt. This is exactly why I mention the upkeep on idle workers only apply to the winner of the bid for that round, so people trying to do this sort of thing will only bankrupt themselves and not the whole group. Also, the penalty for running out of money has not been addressed. I would like to say that if you are bankrupt you are out of the game (which would put a stop to the problem you point out). Many people don't like that because it means people have to sit around and wait. In this case though, if you go bankrupt there's not much you can do in the game anyway, and if a player is not dumb or vindictive you should be able to stay in the game anyway. Fastlearner said once "Losing the game is a good disincentive" (or something like that).

Quote:
you need to also add the concept that if players have bid less, they also must do the job with less resources,
using fewer of your workers is doing the job with less resources...
Quote:
and this has to be a punishment, not a desired outcome (and the $5 per idle worker is, in my opinion, not a good enough inducement).
the amounts of course have not been balanced. Between a base overhead cost and an additional overhead cost for winning with a low bid, and the opportunity cost of making less money off a low bid are more than enough disincentive to just bid the minimum every time.

This says nothing of the fact that jobs can have minimum bids, thereby forcing bids higher than 1. I don't think this really matters much as to how the mechanic works. Sure, someone can try to break the mechanic instead of trying to play the game. Similarly, someone playing Settlers could try and trade for and produce all the Rock in the game, hoping never to let anyone build a city... but what would be the point?

Quote:
"Low bid wins" is creative, but needs a lot more thought.

Maybe I've put more thought into this than has been communicated in the thread or even to Jason. Now that I've maybe described how it could work a little better, what do you guys think about the "bidding low" mechanic?

- Seth

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Oracle wrote:

Then what do you think of the mechanic of requiring the players to choose which district to build in and then pay the building fee? If I balance it right, it will cost more to build than a low bid will pay.

I didn't see this in the rules. Where is it? This is exactly what I'm talking about, though; you need something so that a low bid represents you saying "I can do this job for X dollars". One other thing you could consider is having the contract pay you the X dollars up front, and then you have the money with which to recruit workers, buy supplies, etc, which you then allocate to your various contracts. It might change the game a bit to do it that way, though it would be more in keeping with the theme.

The bottom line is you need some motivator other than "ties go to no one" to keep people from bidding low; there needs to be some risk incurred by bidding too low, like that you might lose money on the deal. But it might still be worth doing, if it keeps someone else from making money.

I'm also very concerned about a player's ability to lock up bids. You will see that happen in your playtests, and you'll need to think of a clean way to avoid it.

But I agree, with the "different territories have different construction costs", you're on the right track.

-Jeff

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jwarrend wrote:

you need something so that a low bid represents you saying "I can do this job for X dollars".

I'm not sure I understand this comment. Is that not what bidding low means, by definition? Payoff is based onm number of workers, so the more workers bid, the higer the payoff (and therefore the cost to the customer).

Quote:
One other thing you could consider is having the contract pay you the X dollars up front... it would be more in keeping with the theme.

I don't think that's how it works in real life.

Quote:
The bottom line is you need some motivator other than "ties go to no one" to keep people from bidding low;

I thought ties didn't go to "noone" but to the next lowest bidder.

Quote:
there needs to be some risk incurred by bidding too low, like that you might lose money on the deal.

You WILL lose money on the deal. You'll be paid less, and you will have higher overhead costs.

Quote:
I'm also very concerned about a player's ability to lock up bids. You will see that happen in your playtests, and you'll need to think of a clean way to avoid it.

I believe a player trying to lock up bids will go bankrupt and be out of the game, thereby not locking up bids anymore. The key here will be to make the other players not suffer too much in the time it takes the one guy to go bankrupt.

Maybe stock increases should be tied (inversely) to the cost of the building? If the company pays less (or better, if the job is done quickly) then the "prestige" value (which I don't know if I like btw) increases more than if the job took a long time... noone likes endless construction... That way someone locking up bids or winning lots of little bids will help the stockholders more (and won't have money to buy stocks themselves).

That probably isn't good, but it's just a thought off the top of my head.

- Seth

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sedjtroll wrote:
jwarrend wrote:

you need something so that a low bid represents you saying "I can do this job for X dollars".

I'm not sure I understand this comment. Is that not what bidding low means, by definition? Payoff is based onm number of workers, so the more workers bid, the higer the payoff (and therefore the cost to the customer).

It's not exactly the same in your game, though. In real life you're saying "it will cost me X dollars to do this job". In the game, you're saying "I will allocate X workers to the job, which will give me a payoff of X". So you're trying to create an incentive for players to make X a high number, whereas in real life, the idea is that you are going to receive X dollars for the job, and you must run your operation efficiently enough so that you still make a profit. I guess you've sort of got that effect, and I do understand that you're trying to use the "Big Cheese" mechanic, and are building the whole game around that, but I think it's kind of forced in a few places.

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One other thing you could consider is having the contract pay you the X dollars up front... it would be more in keeping with the theme.

I don't think that's how it works in real life.

Maybe not the "up front" part, the point was more the idea that given that you are going to receive X dollars for the job, you must spend X dollars in such a way that you can complete the job and still make money.

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The bottom line is you need some motivator other than "ties go to no one" to keep people from bidding low;

I thought ties didn't go to "noone" but to the next lowest bidder.

This was something I didn't get from the rules; it says "ties go to the next lowest card", and when I asked what that meant, Jason didn't really answer it. I admit, this changes a lot of my concerns.

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there needs to be some risk incurred by bidding too low, like that you might lose money on the deal.

You WILL lose money on the deal. You'll be paid less, and you will have higher overhead costs.

Again, not under the rules in the rulebook. I really think I ought to wait till the new rulebook comes out to comment further...

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I'm also very concerned about a player's ability to lock up bids. You will see that happen in your playtests, and you'll need to think of a clean way to avoid it.

I believe a player trying to lock up bids will go bankrupt and be out of the game, thereby not locking up bids anymore. The key here will be to make the other players not suffer too much in the time it takes the one guy to go bankrupt.

But the point isn't even so much that one player will try to lock up every bid, but that he can lock up any given bid he desires just by bidding low, and he will always be able to do this. However, if "ties go to next highest bid", perhaps that's enough to cure that strategy; I have to think it through some more. It really makes bidding a headgame, though, because you are trying not just to have the lowest bid, but to have the lowest non-tied bid. In a normal bidding game, it's "how high should I bid to guarantee that I get what I want?" but here, you can get closed out of being able to win just by the inherent structure of the bidding.

So again, I think the rules are not sufficiently clear on a few points, but my core concern remains that the structure of bidding will lead to artifacts that you'll need to treat with fiddly rules. Your attempts to incentivize high bidding are admirable, but in the end, a player who wants to hose the field on a given bid will probably be able to do so. I'd be very interested to hear how the first playtest session goes. Do you have one scheduled yet? I'd be very happy if your session proved my concerns to be unfounded.

-Jeff

Oracle
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Joined: 06/22/2010
Investment/Rail game

jwarrend wrote:
It's not exactly the same in your game, though. In real life you're saying "it will cost me X dollars to do this job". In the game, you're saying "I will allocate X workers to the job, which will give me a payoff of X".

No...In real life, you are saying "I will do this job for $x" or "It will cost you $x for me to this job". I keep my actual costs a secret from my client -- I'm not saying $x is in any way related to what it will cost me to do the job. They don't know if I'm saving money by paying my illegal alien workers under the table or buying used bricks from a scrapyard.

In the game, it's the same idea; you're saying "I will do this job for X resource", abstracted as workers. A lower bid will cost the client less money and less time because the payout is smaller and the job is done sooner with a lower bid.

jwarrend wrote:
So you're trying to create an incentive for players to make X a high number, whereas in real life, the idea is that you are going to receive X dollars for the job, and you must run your operation efficiently enough so that you still make a profit. I guess you've sort of got that effect, and I do understand that you're trying to use the "Big Cheese" mechanic, and are building the whole game around that, but I think it's kind of forced in a few places.

I think I have that effect exactly once you understand "workers" is an abstraction for "resources".

jwarrend wrote:
Maybe not the "up front" part, the point was more the idea that given that you are going to receive X dollars for the job, you must spend X dollars in such a way that you can complete the job and still make money.

If you're going to receive X dollars from the job, why would you have to spend X working on the job? As I said, in real life, there is no correlation between X and what the contractors expense are except that X is larger.

jwarrend wrote:
This was something I didn't get from the rules; it says "ties go to the next lowest card", and when I asked what that meant, Jason didn't really answer it. I admit, this changes a lot of my concerns.

Sorry I didn't answer that more clearly in your posting. I consider the rules to be a very rough draft right now, and while I do update it to fix problems we talk about here, I don't have the time to do it instantly.

jwarrend wrote:
It really makes bidding a headgame, though, because you are trying not just to have the lowest bid, but to have the lowest non-tied bid.

You have to second guess your opponents, sort of like rock, paper, scissors. To me, that seems like a nice element of player interaction.

jwarrend wrote:
I'd be very interested to hear how the first playtest session goes. Do you have one scheduled yet? I'd be very happy if your session proved my concerns to be unfounded.

I'll be able to play test it once I have 20 or so of the contract cards. It's somewhat tedious work because I have to make up those vital numbers for each card that I know are wrong (because they'll be unbalanced) but I feel like I should still make an effort to pick right.

jwarrend wrote:
Oracle wrote:
Then what do you think of the mechanic of requiring the players to choose which district to build in and then pay the building fee? If I balance it right, it will cost more to build than a low bid will pay.

I didn't see this in the rules. Where is it?

We talked about it on this thread. Seth was strongly against it, and even though I am strongly in favour of it, I left it out for the time being because it's simpler to leave things out of the rules and then add them later as needed. It's not in the rules now because it's still on the back burner.

The idea is, there's no die roll to choose the district to build on. Players will have to choose a district to build on and buy building rights to build there. Each district will have a prestige value that's basically the sum of the prestiges on the cards that have been built there, and each card will have a prestige depending on what it is (very high for a CN Tower, negative for a prison). The cost to build will be a function of the district and card prestiges, such as "10*(district prestige - card prestige)". After a sucessful bid, players would have to pay the land rights fee when they start construction, even though they don't get paid until they're finished.

Since the and rights fee is not related to the bid amount, if they bid low, it will take a huge chunk out of their income (and if I balance it right, if they bid low, they will have to pay more than they'll get when they complete the contract).

Jason

jwarrend
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Joined: 08/03/2008
Investment/Rail game

Quote:

jwarrend wrote:
So you're trying to create an incentive for players to make X a high number, whereas in real life, the idea is that you are going to receive X dollars for the job, and you must run your operation efficiently enough so that you still make a profit. I guess you've sort of got that effect, and I do understand that you're trying to use the "Big Cheese" mechanic, and are building the whole game around that, but I think it's kind of forced in a few places.

I think I have that effect exactly once you understand "workers" is an abstraction for "resources".

I am apparently not getting my point across, so let me try this one more time. First, in real life. When you place a bid for a contract, you're saying to the person "you will give me X to do the job". The person whose "X" value is lowest gets the contract, and does the job. Either before, or after, or during the job, you are given X dollars. Your expenses for the job are Y. That means your profit is X-Y.

In your game, you say "I will allocate Z resources to do this job". The person whose Z is the lowest gets the job. The job takes him Z turns to complete. When the job is done, he will get f(Z) resources.

Now, f(Z) can't just be f(Z) = Z because then there would be no functional difference between a "short" job and a "long" job. So I'm assuming f(Z) = Z^2 or something like that...

But this is clearly different from the real world model. In your game, Y, your resource cost, is complicated, but it's basically g(Z) - (Z^2 + 1) * 5.

g(Z) is meant to represent the lost bidding power of having your workers tied up, but the Z^2 -1 comes from the fact that by having your workers working, you are not losing money to overhead, which I set at $5.

So I guess you could draw a correspondence with the real world by saying X = f(Z), in other words, the actual "bid" to the company is f(Z), the payoff you get (and Z is what you bid in game terms, but it's a shorthand for your "true" bid, f(Z)). And so Y would be g(Z) - 5 Z^2 + 5.
This, I guess, is the crucial connection. Because in your game, you really are bidding your cost, not the company's cost. But I guess if your cost and the company's cost are one and the same, or a function of each other, it sort of works out to being similar...I think. I don't think it's by any means intuitive, but I guess it's ok. I admit, there may be more to this than I had thought. I still am very concerned about the "lockup" effect I described, and say a little more on below.

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jwarrend wrote:
Maybe not the "up front" part, the point was more the idea that given that you are going to receive X dollars for the job, you must spend X dollars in such a way that you can complete the job and still make money.

If you're going to receive X dollars from the job, why would you have to spend X working on the job? As I said, in real life, there is no correlation between X and what the contractors expense are except that X is larger.

But in your game, there's a DIRECT connection; what you get for the job is directly related to what you spend on the job (depending, I guess, on how minimal an effect you can consider g(Z) to be...)

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Sorry I didn't answer that more clearly in your posting. I consider the rules to be a very rough draft right now, and while I do update it to fix problems we talk about here, I don't have the time to do it instantly.

That's fine, and again, maybe this is why it's worth me waiting for your GDW session to make comments, since the rules aren't "authoritative" yet...

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jwarrend wrote:
It really makes bidding a headgame, though, because you are trying not just to have the lowest bid, but to have the lowest non-tied bid.

You have to second guess your opponents, sort of like rock, paper, scissors. To me, that seems like a nice element of player interaction.

Ok, this should not deter you at all, but some people really don't like psychology excercises like RPS because they rely so heavily on guesswork and luck; you might as well roll a die. It's true that bidding introduces player interaction, but "closed fist bidding" isn't really player interaction, in the sense of "I can really force Seth to pay for this one!", it's interaction in the form of "what will Seth likely bid?" That's fine, but it is an element that has its detractors. And what's more important for you to understand, I guess, is the reasons for those detractors' opinions.

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jwarrend wrote:
I'd be very interested to hear how the first playtest session goes. Do you have one scheduled yet? I'd be very happy if your session proved my concerns to be unfounded.

I'll be able to play test it once I have 20 or so of the contract cards. It's somewhat tedious work because I have to make up those vital numbers for each card that I know are wrong (because they'll be unbalanced) but I feel like I should still make an effort to pick right.

Fair enough. I really will be interested to hear how it turns out. I'm sorry to be such a skeptic. I guess I shouldn't even care in the first place, right? But I do think that your "bid low" system will break under playtesting. By all means, prove me wrong!

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jwarrend wrote:
Oracle wrote:
Then what do you think of the mechanic of requiring the players to choose which district to build in and then pay the building fee? If I balance it right, it will cost more to build than a low bid will pay.

I didn't see this in the rules. Where is it?

We talked about it on this thread. Seth was strongly against it, and even though I am strongly in favour of it, I left it out for the time being because it's simpler to leave things out of the rules and then add them later as needed. It's not in the rules now because it's still on the back burner.

Ah, democracy. There's something to be said for the "lone ranger" approach to design! But seriously, I do think something like this works more with the theme, from my perspective; I'm envisioning a system where you get X for the job, and you must spend Y for the job, but Y is somewhat variable, and you have to take steps to minimize your Y. In your game, X and Y are fixed at the moment of the bid. It seems like it could be more interesting, and more realistic, if they were separate. But again, it would be a very different game then what you have now.

-Jeff

sedjtroll
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Joined: 07/21/2008
Investment/Rail game

A re-written and somewhat updated set of rules for City Builder are located here.

It's basically another point of view on some of the rules, and it's a little more organised than the link Jason posted.

- Seth

Scurra
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Joined: 09/11/2008
Investment/Rail game

jwarrend wrote:

Ah, democracy. There's something to be said for the "lone ranger" approach to design!

This is partly why I have stayed out of this discussion so far: I have a tendency to want to produce a whole game rather than discuss a mechanic or two and see where it goes. It's something my play-test group love and hate to equal degrees I think :)

I'm not saying I haven't enjoyed the discussions and the evolution, but I think I get too frustrated too quickly. (It's a drawback with the CGD project as well.)

Maybe I'm just feeling that this discussion is in the wrong section of the fora now, given that it has grown well beyond a mechanics discussion.
In a sense, Jeff's Civ-lite game has been edging that way too.

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