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Game #55: The Sands of Time by Jeff Warrender

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Nando
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Game #55: The Sands of Time by Jeff Warrender

jwarrend wrote:
Nando wrote:
In other words, float a sell order. How about floating contracts instead?

The problem, as I see it, is one of representation ... notoriously hard to actually pull off in a simple way without adding a lot of components...

I was thinking just have contract cards in the slot on the caravan. You put your offer at the top of the card where it says "Offer:" and you put what you want on the one or two lines labeled "Price:" If your price is, "Don't attack me," this will indeed be difficult to represent.

Nando wrote:
Upon reflection, I think the more direct approach is probably best: the caravan controller chooses the slot and states the price, gives the city owner right of first refusal with one counteroffer, a deal is made or refused. If refused, he hears one counteroffer each from all other eligible and interested parties, chooses among the offers simultaneously, and a deal is made or refused.
jwarrend wrote:
I'm not sure how this would originate; who is the "caravan controller"?

I must be misunderstanding. I thought the active player would get to *move* the caravan. You originally said, "...when [the caravan] comes to another city, the owner of that city can buy [the item] from you." So I saw that meaning he'd move it to his own city to add stuff, and move it to other players' cities to sell stuff. If he rolls it into a foreign city on his turn, he's looking to deal. The "chooses the slot" phrase in the quote above is code for "among the slots holding his stinkin' crapola for sale," (assuming he can use as many slots as he likes -- limited maybe to one "loading" per turn). I suppose this all gets very confused if everyone has their own fleet of caravans.

jwarrend wrote:
FIFO? No comprendo.

First In First Out. If I've had a dud for sale forever (nobody wants it or I'm being unreasonable), and other players are placing their items too, the caravan fills up. When there's no more room, you expel the oldest item. Players should probably have to pay a token fee to reclaim their stuff (or else it "falls off the caboose" or gets "stolen", "lost", "disseminated", or whatever). Players should also have to wait a while until they could put their stuff back on the wagon and give it another whirl. (Achieved by requiring they be in their own city to put items in the caravan. It clearly would not be in their own city if their stuff was getting booted, unless they had changed their mind and were booting their own stuff.) I also think this "shove off" behaviour should preclude players removing their stuff in a "pull off" (at will) way. It seems like it would encourage better deal-making overall because it might suppress fickle on-again, off-again offers.

Anyway, the end result of all that should be to nudge players to be reasonable in what they accept in trade without getting a backlog of bad deals or a flutter of fickle ones.

Nando
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Game #55: The Sands of Time by Jeff Warrender

Gee whiz! This problem just gets wursah and wursah...

The light finally came on (I think) and I finally realized that if everybody moves the caravan, it hauls, and not in the sense that it's carrying stuff.

If you go the programmed movement route, and only allow the programmer to move it until the program expires, that might make it workable. That way, it stays still for a sequence of play around the table.

Assume the last step of the programmer's turn each round is to collect the token indicating the caravan's next stop and to advance the caravan to that location. At the end of the program, after the final token has been collected and the caravan has been advanced, all of the collected tokens are surrendered to the player controlling the caravan's newest location. That player then immediately re-programs the caravan, and afterward play resumes normally.

This setup probably wants one of the following rules:
A) If the final territory doesn't have an owner, the programming job doesn't change hands.
B) If the final territory doesn't have an owner, players must tolerate a stalled-out caravan until someone annexes the territory.

For each turn sequence around the table, one player will be an eligible "loader", the others will be potential "dealers," and everyone will be potential "buyers." (Presence in the caravan's current location is requisite for dealing and buying. Something to deal is requisite for dealing.)

So anyway, I think I'm convinced (ha ha) that the better way to implement this is very close to your original idea:
A) One or two caravans for all players. (I really like the land/sea idea.)
B) Maybe a sliding number of slots (but probably not more than 5 or 6).
C) The FIFO-based "Let's Make A Deal!" responsible deal-making system.
D) The Monopoly-inspired negotiation abuse prevention system.
E) I like the idea of restricting dealing to cities and allowing loading anywhere. (But wouldn't give the first caravan much to do, assuming it appears when the first city is completed.)

Good luck with it! Thanks for sharing your ideas; I've really enjoyed thinking about this! ;-)

Nando
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Game #55: The Sands of Time by Jeff Warrender

OK, I'm a glutton for punishment...

Nando wrote:
Assume the last step of the programmer's turn each round is to collect the token indicating the caravan's next stop and to advance the caravan to that location. At the end of the program, after the final token has been collected and the caravan has been advanced, all of the collected tokens are surrendered to the player controlling the caravan's newest location. That player then immediately re-programs the caravan, and afterward play resumes normally.

This algorithm (and others I considered) will result in "jerky" movements when the programming/advancement duties change hands. Anyone seated (in turn order) between the new programmer and the old programmer will see the caravan "jump ahead" during the round. If you change it such that the new programmer waits to program the caravan at the end of his turn instead of immediately after its final advancement, some players will see it "stall."

If you didn't mind having a "clean-up" between the last and first persons' turns, you could smooth the movement out: In the turn the caravan appears, it is not played to the board until clean-up. During that and every subsequent turn, the caravan is programmed (if necessary) and moved.

You want to use a Prefect to load goods/teleport [the|a] caravan around! Why did it take me this long to understand?? Much cleaner.

Somebody shoot me. :-(

(And if I still don't have it, just nod and smile. My brain hurts.)

jwarrend
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Game #55: The Sands of Time by Jeff Warrender

Just to save you some thinking about at least one issue, I'm likely to not use a programmed caravan as a first pass. For now, I'm going to go with "if the caravan is in a space you control, you must move it", and probably an extra (fiddly) rule that it can't go into a space it was just in. However, you've come up with a lot of good ideas, so certainly I'll keep thinking about it, but for now, it seems perhaps a bit too complex; just having each player move it is easier, though not necessarily better.

Had another thought about trading. How about, there are 5 bins on the caravan, one for each type of item that can be sold: a Resource, Chronicle cards, Achievement tokens, Advances, and Structures. BUT, the caravan can only hold one of each at any given time. So, if you really want to sell your Chronicle card, you may need to buy the one that's already there.

There's another concern I have, and it's this: a player who wants to sell one of his Advances can just keep selling the same advance over and over. Since Advance ownership is conferred via holding that card, doing so could deplete the Advance decks artificially.

Maybe instead, the "FIFO" model is indeed a good one. Something must be placed on passed-over items to sweeten them up a bit. My thinking was that whenever an item is bought, if it isn't in the first slot, all items to the left (ie, that were placed earlier) get a "caravan token" placed on them.

The "caravan tokens" also are received:
(a) when the caravan enters a City, everyone present gets one.
(b) when you sell an Advance or Structure, you get one.

Caravan tokens represent the recognition that your culture is becoming diffused through the known world. There would be a corresponding Chronicle card that would reward you based on your caravan tokens.

The nice thing about this caravan system is that it's pretty self-contained. It feels like an expansion to me, but for now, I'll probably make it part of the game and leave it as such until it either doesn't work or a publisher tells me to drop it out...

Thanks for continuing to help brainstorm with this!

-Jeff

Nando
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Game #55: The Sands of Time by Jeff Warrender

jwarrend wrote:
For now, I'm going to go with "if the caravan is in a space you control, you must move it", and probably an extra (fiddly) rule that it can't go into a space it was just in.

If it's in my territory on my turn and I move it to an adjacent territory also controlled by me, it'll stall. Not that anyone would care about that; it'd just be inconsistent.

You're much better at this than I am and you've probably thought of this already, but I couldn't sleep so...

Two identical caravan tokens; one plays to the board, one circulates among players. If you hold the "move caravan" token at the beginning of your turn, then do the following at the end of your turn: move the caravan into an adjacent territory and pass the "move caravan" token to the player who immediately preceeds you in turn order.

Seriously...no matter what happens just say the caravan worked out better than you ever could've imagined even in your wildest fantasies.

And let us never speak of this again. ;-)

(Everything else seems reasonable to me.)

jwarrend
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Game #55: The Sands of Time by Jeff Warrender

The latest and greatest version of the rulebook is here, for anyone interested in such things.

The major changes are the addition of the caravan system, and the removal of upgrade costs for actions -- no diamond tokens, no paying achievement tokens, nothing. If you want to use a prefect's ability several times, go for it, as long as you can pay for it (but, you can still only use 3 prefects per turn).

I'm contemplating a "guided setup" for a short version of the game. I had some fun toying around with combos of advances and structures that would go along with various "historic" empires. Probably something I'll keep working on, as it would make the game more accessible for new players. Another idea is to give each player 10 "setup points" at the start, and allow players to buy stuff, with an Advance card costing (maybe) 5 setup points, a Structure costing 3 setup points, or whatever. So, you'd still start with a few "powerups", but you'd still have creative control over it. It would be a shorter version of the game for semi-experienced players.

I have all of the components to the game here on the site available for download; just drop me a PM if you want to see any of the other files!

-Jeff

Rick-Holzgrafe
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Game #55: The Sands of Time by Jeff Warrender

I get Sorry, this Module isn't active! when I try to use your link.

jwarrend
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Game #55: The Sands of Time by Jeff Warrender

Sorry, bad link. Try this one.

Thanks,

Jeff

Nando
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Game #55: The Sands of Time by Jeff Warrender

Very, very nice.

I have two nits to pick with your terminology. This part...

Sands Rules wrote:
The game turn follows the following structure:
1. Receive Achievement tokens
2. 3 Rounds of Prefect use
3. Event occurs

...makes no mention of Phases, which is how the rulebook is divided. And later, the rules describing what happens during Phase 2 use the term Turn to describe a player's actions in a single Round...

Sands Rules wrote:
Beginning with the Start Player, players go around the table in clockwise order three times. On his turn, the active player takes 3 actions:

The double-up doesn't really matter until this rule...

Sands Rules wrote:
The player may only use one of the Prefect’s abilities, and each Prefect may only be used once per game turn.

...which by this point is easily mistaken to mean once per Round (the fact that it actually says "game turn" notwithstanding).

Also, your combat rules do not mention the disposition of Achievement Tokens used to increase combat strength. Are they lost or retained?

jwarrend
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Game #55: The Sands of Time by Jeff Warrender

Nando wrote:
Very, very nice.

Thanks for checking it out!

Quote:

I have two nits to pick with your terminology. This part...

It figures that I'd have mistakes in the bloody thing, since I've been over it with a fine-toothed comb every day for the last week making sure it was correct (I burned it onto a CD from a computer I'll no longer have access to, so edits are going to be a pain till I can get my own copy of Word). It just proves that you need another set of eyes to see some things!

Quote:

Sands Rules wrote:
The game turn follows the following structure:
1. Receive Achievement tokens
2. 3 Rounds of Prefect use
3. Event occurs

...makes no mention of Phases, which is how the rulebook is divided.

These 3 bullet points are themselves the phases. I should add a line "Each game turns consists of the following phases."

Quote:

And later, the rules describing what happens during Phase 2 use the term Turn to describe a player's actions in a single Round...

Round, turn, phase. These are very hard to keep straight when describing a game's rules! Here's how I think of it: Each "Game Turn" features 3 Phases. During "Phase 2", there will be three "Rounds", during each Round each player will get one "Turn".

Quote:

Sands Rules wrote:
Beginning with the Start Player, players go around the table in clockwise order three times. On his turn, the active player takes 3 actions:

The double-up doesn't really matter until this rule...

Sands Rules wrote:
The player may only use one of the Prefect’s abilities, and each Prefect may only be used once per game turn.

...which by this point is easily mistaken to mean once per Round (the fact that it actually says "game turn" notwithstanding).

Right, the ambiguity is that I'm using the terms "Turn" and "Game Turn" to mean two different things, and that's obviously sub optimal and confusing. I'll think about it some more.

Quote:
Also, your combat rules do not mention the disposition of Achievement Tokens used to increase combat strength. Are they lost or retained?

They're still in there; the detailed combat algorithm is now tucked away on page 6, in a section called "Combat".

Sands rules wrote:

Finally, starting with the attacking player, each player places as many Achievement tokens (of any category) as he wishes in a closed fist. Both players reveal simultaneously; each player increases his combat strength by 1 point per Achievement token in his hand.

Hope this clears everything up. Thanks again for taking the time to read through in such detail!

Best,

Jeff

Nando
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Game #55: The Sands of Time by Jeff Warrender

jwarrend wrote:
Nando wrote:
... the disposition of Achievement Tokens used to increase combat strength. Are they lost or retained?

Hope this clears everything up. ...

Not quite. What I'm asking is when I use tokens to increase my strength, do I discard those tokens? Otherwise, wouldn't I always choose to use all of my tokens on every battle?

jwarrend
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Game #55: The Sands of Time by Jeff Warrender

Ah, I see the question now. Yes, you definitely would discard the tokens used in combat. I guess I didn't spell this out explicitly. (When you asked "are they lost or retained?", I thought you were talking about the rules associated with adding tokens to combat, as in "are those rules still in this version?")

Thanks,

Jeff

Yogurt
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Game #55: The Sands of Time by Jeff Warrender

jwarrend wrote:
till I can get my own copy of Word.

This is totally off-topic, but you may want to try Open Office if you haven't already. It handles most Word documents and is free. It can print PDFs too.

http://www.openoffice.org/

Yogurt

jwarrend
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Game #55: The Sands of Time by Jeff Warrender

In case anyone is interested, I've whipped up some illustrated examples for the game, which can be found here. I also made a schematic of what the game will look like when it's all set up, and that can be found here. For anyone interested in reading the rules, these will likely be very helpful at clarifying the rulebook.

-Jeff

jwarrend
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Game #55: The Sands of Time by Jeff Warrender

For anyone who's interested, I've created a set of setup cards for Sands of Time.

The idea would be that at the start of the game, you'd receive 3 of these cards, and then, after claiming territories, you'd choose one to implement, and get all of the stuff shown on the card. The goal with this is to give some guidance to newer players, and to permit a shorter game. To further aid the former, each card will also have a blurb of text about that empire, to give you some inspiration. For example:

"The Etruscan civilization existed as a chain of autonomous city-states in northern Italy from about 800 BC. The Etruscans were accomplished engineers, and many of the engineering achievements associated with Rome, including arches, acqueducts, paved streets, and sewers, were actually developed by the Etruscans. The Etruscans had commercial interactions with Phoenicia and later, Carthage. They were subsumed into the Roman empire by the 3rd centruy B.C., and much of what we know about them has been filtered through Roman eyes."

The way I went about making these cards was to assign a crude value to each type of item, which may need to be revised: Advance = 6, Structure = 3 per level, Chronicle card = 2, Citizen, Achievement token = 1.

Also, you can follow these links to find the Advances and Structures referenced in the setup cards.

-Jeff

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