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Strat Game: Building and suporting units

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Desprez
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Joined: 12/01/2008

Little by little, I chip away at creating my epic fantasy wargame. At the rate I'm going I don't know if it will ever be complete, but it's been quite a fun hobby for me.

It's improved quite a bit so far. One challenge has been making the building and supporting of units. The mechanic needed to be more elegant and less tedious.

Previously, it was straight-forward, but utterly boring.
Basicaly, you are in control of a city. Each city, based on the surrounding areas, got a set income per turn. This income was reduced by the number of units you were supporting, then what was left over could be spent towards the building of new units.

So, your income was represented in tokens that you placed in a "build que" and when you had enough, the unit was built. You could place one token in a build que per turn, but you could waste tokens to place additional tokens per turn (rush jobs with dimishing returns) You could also bank tokens, and move them around the map if you wanted (trade).

This was very tedious, required lots of counting, and generaly slowed the game down.

So I took some time to think about what I actualy wanted to be represented in the game.
1) An upper limit on the number of units you could support.
2) The closer you get to this limit, the harder it is to build.
3) Some kind of peanalty for unhappy, overworked citizens
4) Some kind of bonus for well treated citizens
5) Harming of a city's resource income if under blockade or seige.
6) Different units cost different amounts; and some may be easier for some cities to build than others.

Then I came up with this:
Each controlable city has a place card. This card has informational areas (costs, and what can be built), and spaces to be used in your city management.
On this card you have your city's starting population counters. These population counters are placed in different areas to represent workers performing a particular task. These tasks might be, gather resources, refine resources, build unit.
Now most combat units, in addition to a specific resource cost, require using up a population unit. So the more combat units you build, the less active population you have to actualy do the gathering and building.

Also, I may have a "morale track". You can place population units on this track to keep your city happy. But as your popultion units become scarce, you'll have to balance them between production and morale.

A low morale may make a city suceptable to enemy interference or revolt, a high morale may grant a "bonus token" that can perform some city task in excess to the normal maximums.

The areas on the board surrounding the city show what resources can be gathered. If an enemy unit is occupying a particular space, then that resource cannot be gathered.

Previously, resources were an ubiquitus "supply unit". 4 supply to build this, 6 supply to build that, etc.
Now, I have a few different types of resource. I think this adds some flavor, and also allows some diversity in how different cities can harvest them.

Basic resources: (usually 2 per map hex)
1) Ores and Minerals
2) Farm Goods (both crop and livestock based goods)
3) Trade Materials (various other components and materials, abstractly represents many different things, and can also combine with 1 and 2 to make other resources)

Big Resources (only 1 per hex)
1) Lumber (for large construction, like ships)
2) Large Animals (Animals that are mounted, horses and such)

Note that the two large resources are scarcer, making them kind of worth 2 of the basic resources when harvesting them.
This also allows me to cut down the physical number of counters the player has to handle. Instead of some unit needing 6 resources to produce, it might only be 3, they just happen to be worth 2 apeice.

Refined/Manufactured Resources
1) Refined Metals [Ores and Minerals + Trade Materials] (high grade metal weapons, armor, and construction)
2) Arcane Supplies [Farm Goods + Trade Materials] (Used for wizards, golems and other fantastical units)
3) Mechanical Parts [Refined Metals + Lumber] (Complex machenery used to make various wonderful and rare Gnomish contraptions)

Again, combinig resources lowers the actual number of counters used in expensive units. Also, since these resources are made by combining other resources you have already gathered, this takes and extra turn (or extra population) to do the "refining"

Also, I think the variety of different resources can natuarly introduce surplusses and scarcity of certian items, encouraging trade among players. Trade that wasn't present when everything was simply a "supply unit"

Any thoughts?

Any other ideas for achiving my intended goals?

sedjtroll
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Joined: 07/21/2008
Re: Strat Game: Building and suporting units

Desprez wrote:
Previously, it was straight-forward, but utterly boring.
Basically, you are in control of a city. Each city, based on the surrounding areas, got a set income per turn. This income was reduced by the number of units you were supporting, then what was left over could be spent towards the building of new units.

Sounds ok so far...

Quote:
So, your income was represented in tokens that you placed in a "build que" and when you had enough, the unit was built. You could place one token in a build que per turn, but you could waste tokens to place additional tokens per turn (rush jobs with dimishing returns) You could also bank tokens, and move them around the map if you wanted (trade).

The Build Queue idea sounds really interesting actually, reminds me of Starcraft. But I guess if it's tedius then that's no good. Maybe another game/another time this mechanic can come back to life and be useful. I don't think it would be the central mechanic to a game, but it could be a good side mechanic.

Quote:
Then I came up with this:
Each controlable city has a place card. This card has informational areas (costs, and what can be built), and spaces to be used in your city management.
On this card you have your city's starting population counters. These population counters are placed in different areas to represent workers performing a particular task...
Now most combat units, in addition to a specific resource cost, require using up a population unit. So the more combat units you build, the less active population you have to actualy do the gathering and building.

This sounds like a good idea as well. For the Viking themed game I was working on with Nestlewe and Johan I had a similar 'human resource management' system, where you have a certain number of Vikings, and you have to assign them to the actions you want - you can produce this good, or that good, or go raid or trade, whatever- and depending on how many Vikings you assign, your action gets better or worse. The idea being that you have fewer Vikings than you need to do all the stuff you want to do. This was the underlying economy, which was seperate from the game economy which requires different resources for different things (giving you erasons to assign your Vikings).

It sounds like you have a similar situation, where you assign workers to what you want (based on the board and the rest of the game), and you have to decide what's important at the time.

I contemplated a rule which I think was a good one - while you could assign as many Vikings as you want each turn, once assigned you can only move 1 out of each location in a turn. This way a player cannot completely change his configuration in one turn. If you have more people than you want in your farms, and you want to load up your longboats for raids, well it'll take you a little while - as well it should.

Quote:
Also, I may have a "morale track". You can place population units on this track to keep your city happy. But as your popultion units become scarce, you'll have to balance them between production and morale.
A low morale may make a city suceptable to enemy interference or revolt, a high morale may grant a "bonus token" that can perform some city task in excess to the normal maximums.

I like this idea a lot!

Quote:
The areas on the board surrounding the city show what resources can be gathered. If an enemy unit is occupying a particular space, then that resource cannot be gathered.

This could be good - I envision a Settlers-esque board made up of hexes, so random setup could turn out interesting boards. Maybe even similar to settlers the cities go on the verticies, yielding 3 possible resources per city. Or the city could go on the hex, with 6 adjacent hexs offering resources... I could see that working as well.

Quote:
Previously, resources were an ubiquitus "supply unit". 4 supply to build this, 6 supply to build that, etc.
Now, I have a few different types of resource. I think this adds some flavor, and also allows some diversity in how different cities can harvest them.

I absolutely agree. There needs to be a difference between this resource and that resource, otherwise there's little to go on when placing your human resources. I mean, I suppose the simple-simple version is that you have "produce' be one of the things to assign to, and then there's just 1 ersource, but it's so easy to split the costs of things into just 2 or 3 different resources, and all of a sudden you have different stuff you want to get!

Quote:
Also, I think the variety of different resources can natuarly introduce surplusses and scarcity of certian items, encouraging trade among players. Trade that wasn't present when everything was simply a "supply unit"

Right again! If everyone has the same resource, then noone needs to trade. If there are resources someone is short on or doesn't have access to, then people might trade for it.

- Seth

snak_attack
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Strat Game: Building and suporting units

Your post brings to mind Struggle of Empires. In that game a fair amount of your income is derived from population - but population is also consumed when raising troops. You can 'push' your economy to extract additional income, but at the cost of picking up 'unrest' markers. For the most part these markers carry no cost - but at the end of the game the player with the most unrest markers loses some victory points. (Also you will lose the game instantly if you have more than ~20 of the things)

Anonymous
Strat Game: Building and suporting units

you are at the pivotal point in almost every game.

Playability versus realism.

Realism certainly adds to the experience but usually at the cost of playbility. And vice versa for playability. Thus a designer is frequently caught in the middle attempting to find the right balance between the two aspects.

It sounds as if you have a nice interlocking system but are getting bogged down in stuff that is ideally suited for a computer game style record keeping instead of grey matter from a real person. Thus the game becomes more of a "moving my chips around" adjustment of totals rather than a strategy boardgame of fighting.

The finance majors win this everytime :)

my advice would be to incorporate some of these record keeping aspects. Thus maintaining the economics but not overwhelming the game with TOO much of it.

I would also suggest that record keeping either be done by everyone at the same time in a phase for that OR for one player to have a move phase while the other has a record keepign phase.

This would keep the game moving.

Desprez
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Joined: 12/01/2008
Strat Game: Building and suporting units

I thought about having the player do the city management while other players are moving units.

This is a nice fit, because right now there isn't much to do when you aren't moving your units. That's a problem.

Ok. So, do you think the current resource system is too complex?

Perhaps I should axe the refining aspect? Doing that will eliminate 3 types of resources, and simplify construction. Though, if that's not the bottleneck, then it won't help much.

Or are you suggesting I further simplify it to only 3 or 4 resource types?

Julius
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Strat Game: Building and suporting units

If I may, I once came across rules for a boardgame that had the "golden rule" which was, in it's many resources (wood, ore, food, etc.), you could always substitute gold as one of the other resources at a higher cost. For example, 2 gold = 1 ore, or 2 gold = 1 wood (you'd have to keep it at the 2 for 1 ratio for all resources, otherwise it becomes a 'look up the exchange rate' problem).

This way, you can still have your scarcity and trading, but the game doesn't shut down if one person hordes all of a particular resource.

Torrent
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Joined: 08/03/2008
Strat Game: Building and suporting units

There was a RTS video game called Kohan that had a similar system to Julius' Golden Rule. You could buy all the various materials, but it was more expensive than gathering them. However if you were a little short of wood and flush with Ore it all worked out beautifully.

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