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Need help with hidden movement mechanic

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Cogust
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Joined: 04/15/2009

I have been toying around with a hidden movement mechanic for a while and it works pretty good in a two player environment, but I have some problems with incorporating it with a multiplayer game.

Many games have some kind of hidden units (Squad Leader allows the defender in some scenarios to hide some troops during setup and Flattop have all units hidden at game start, but the only way to find the enemy is to show him some of your own units), but it is either one sided (as in Squad Leader) or imperfect (as in Flattop where your units can be on top on the enemy without seeing them as long as neither of you try to scout with them). My goal for a long time has been to have perfect hidden movement while at the same time allowing all units on the board to spot any enemy moving to their position without giving away their position to do so.

The mechanic I have come up with this far is having a cardboard counter or similar in each area of the map, one side is blank and the other side is marked with the area it belongs to. When a person moves his unit, he looks at the counter lying in the area he is moving to and replaces it with the unit he is moving. He then tkaes the area counter and places it on his playaid so that he knows where each of his units are (he can locate them by checking the counter he has taken from the board). If someone else moves into the same area he will find the first unit and not the area counter, there will then be an ecnounter between the two units that can be resolved between the two players.

This mechanic works well in a two-player game, the players just move the board between eachother under some kind of screen, but it gets a bit tricky with 4-6 players all playing on the same board. One could move the board to a separate table and have each player go there to move their pieces, but I think that will slow the game down to a crawl, another thought would be to have the board mounted on a rotating disk and have have screens placed along three board edges so that only the active player can see the actual board.

Have anyone got a better suggestion on how to implement the mechanic or do you even have a better mechanic that solves my problem?

The game btw is set in the Caribbean in the good 'ole days (yes, this is another of those pirate games) where each player controls about four ships each (depending on the number of players), the ships can be merchantmen (get VPs by picking up and delivering goods between ports in the area), pirate ships (get points by capturing/sinking other players' merchantmen) and Man-O-Wars (get points by sinking pirate ships). Each player must have at least one merchantman at any given time but can then freely decide on what other units he wants to move around, if one player loses a ship he can spend VPs to get a new one.

soulbeach
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Need help with hidden movement mechanic

Hi Cogust,

Hiden movement IS tricky. What came up as i was reading your Design, would be something like this:

A board, made of 2 layers sitting on top of each other, the 1st and top one would contain your map. The 2nd one would be sets of containers sitting under each area.

Each map area would have hinges and would open revealing the contents to anyone wanting to see what's in it, only players moving Boats in this area would be alowed to look inside, thus resolving conflict with the present Boat's Controller. Players could not take back a move, the conflict would need to be resolved 1st.

Players could each have dummies: fake boats. When moving a Unit, they could also place up to 2 dummies, other players would know where the Units were placed, but could not know wich one was a dummy and wich one was the real thing. This way, everyone could still look. It would create uncertainty, yet the game would not be bogged down.

Or, the whole bord would be sitting elsewhere, but players would need to be involved in something else: another aspect of the game, trading with each other, running the boat/pirate business, getting goods(placed in a reference chart with a storage facility with 1 different cells with goods in them for each Boat involved in the transportation: on the map) so no one is bored waiting.

This would be an interesting game, with several different aspects to it: trading, negotiating, hidden movement and warfare.

Good luck!

Ben

Cogust
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Joined: 04/15/2009
Need help with hidden movement mechanic

Thanks for your comments!

I think that I will try out the 'rotating board' for my first playtests and allow the non-moving players to bid for shipping contracts and other stuff, this would encourage the moving players to finish his turn fairly quick as he won't be able to do anything else until he has finished movement. Hopefully this will keep players from taking too long time while moving and will give everyone something to do at all times.

Dummies has the drawback that you'll still know where all the other players are not and can be plenty useful even if you don't know the exact position of every ship, my goal is to start out with as perfect hidden movement as possible and then later on perhaps cut some corners if playability suffers.

My two player variant with the same mechanic is set during the Battle of the Atlantic during WWII, the Allied players uses his escorts to protect as many convoys as possible form the German U-boats and both sides can use land based air (check out 1-2 areas (hexes in this case) in range of each of their airbases) to scout for enemy ships/U-boats nad use the above mechanic for moving ships around. The Allied player get points for each convoy that reaches the UK and the German player get points for each Convoy sunk.

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