Skip to Content

Game #71: Mafia of New York (jwalduck)

9 replies [Last post]
jwalduck
Offline
Joined: 09/06/2011

Mafia of New York is a simple strategic game. Materials can be found here:
http://www.carpe.com.au/games/mony/index.htm

The aha moment for this game came when two different systems (command counters and variable value territory) and a theme I was thinking about came together.

Subsequently I have realised the mechanics could be applied to other themes quite neatly (ie "The Deputy-Sheriffs of Nottingham").

One of the most important elements of this game will be the map. I have heard when Dipolmacy was developed the mechanics were settled really early but the map took 5 years of playtesting to balance. I may have a similar situation here. I realise that playtesting is not what this forum is about, but I would welcome any commentary on the map.

My other concern is that the mechanics by themselves are too simple and/or unrewardingly brutal. On the flip side I really like the simpicity of the core rules as they stand. That's why there are optional rules, which should be called "rules I am thinking of adding to the core mechanics to address identified problems".

Anyway I am blathering...

Scurra
Scurra's picture
Offline
Joined: 09/11/2008
Game #71: Mafia of New York (jwalduck)

Well I guess that almost two years and 70 games later, it was about time a "better" version of an earlier GDW game would turn up. ;-))

My first entry into the Workshop, Warzone was the game, and the central idea of a limited pool of command counters on a relatively simple map is not dissimilar. There are more than enough differences, of course; most notably an additional money component to allow for upkeep, and they are all things that increase the interesting choices which is what games are about (see endless dicussions elsewhere :-)

I have to say that the one significant feature - the variable area value idea - is great. It's rather fiddly as described - a number of counters in a region with other counters of various types is going to lead to problems in tracking values, and I'd have thought using something like d6s to track value would be better and more immediately obvious.

Otherwise, I don't have much else to note. I know that the central concept works, simply because I've tried it, and it does :-) Resolving actions in player order concerns me a little; in Warzone I deliberately resolved actions in a territory order so that players would have to plan their moving and attacking based on the map, not on where they were in the play order.
(I'm working on another design atm in which one of the actions available is to change your player order position, so that next turn you can be sure of doing what you want to do. I wonder if that sort of element might work here? Although I can't think of an elegant way to integrate it...)

onew0rd
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
Game #71: Mafia of New York (jwalduck)

Nice game. I've always loved the hidden counters as actions idea alot. The region values does a lot to enhance the competition for certain locations. If possible I would make these variable. So 1 gameplay an easily accessible area is a 4 and next time a tough to reack corner is a 4. Very minor issue really. Nice game.

Now to my major issue with the game: I have a problem with the theme. I think you need something else to help immerse players in the theme. Mafia lore is a really rich area to explore. I don't think you've taken advantage enough of it. This is a good example of how theme can impact game design. I'm not creative enough to think of a theme where I would have been very excited about this game as is, but the fact that it works nicely and seems very elegant makes me think there is one (or many!). Being that you chose a Mafia theme, you have to make the game a bit more layered for the theme and mechanics to meet up. Some suggestions off the top of my head: Another token type (maybe stationary) like a hangout or whatnot. Maybe a player gets an extra action with a Hangout or something but if he loses a rumble there, it is discarded. Something like action cards to spice up gameplay. Players can get them by moving a capo to central park. The cards could each have a value which could be used to boost combat something like in LotR Confrontation but only by 1 to 3 points AND a special effect (the player would choose which way to use the card - boost rumbles or special effect). Effects can be simple like Move the Don up or down on the track one space. Renovate a region. Gain $3 Grand, place your markers after everyone else reveals theirs etc. You don't need more than like 20 or so cards. Where are the hitmen? Where are the police?

I would definitely consider doing something here because you have a very good game but it needs a little more flavor in my opinion. The idea is to maintain the simplicity and elegance you have gotten to and build on it with things that don't get in the way and enhance the theme some more.

Sorry about that...I just realized I've been writing for like 20 minutes straight. Morning double epressos do this to me. To recap, I like the game but I need some more immersion to love it.

Hamumu
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
Game #71: Mafia of New York (jwalduck)

I don't have any really good feedback for you. It sounds like a really cool game to me. I don't see a need to play up the theme better than you have - you've got a nice ruleset that does match with the theme (you're ahead of Knizia!), and I don't think every game needs to exploit every theme to its ultimate potential. The actions seem to have a little thematic weight to them, they're not just abstract with sugar coating. I like all of the optional rules, though I think they're worded wrong - they all mention parol (sic) hearing spaces, when it sounds like the intent is that each of those spaces is a different type along the Don track. Also sounds like the Reported Crimes area is the same as the bank, until the optional rules come into play.

My only note is that it seems like support counters should be removed when they are activated, or are supporters able to support in any number of rumbles adjacent to them in a round?

As suggested above, a Cop token that moves around somehow could be fun. One of those things that every player can control to mess up the other players. Maybe another action counter like the Rebuild (why doesn't rebuilding cost any money? Greasing a few palms...), the Bribe. You play it and spend a grand to move the cop to any adjacent territory (he must be in the territory you Bribe). He prevents any action other than Bribe from working in the territory he is in (you can flip an action there, and have to if it's the only one you have left, but they have no effect). On the plus side, whatever territory he's in at the end of his turn gains 1 value even if it has guys in it. He could also prevent rumbles from happening in his space. So you may want him or not, depending.

Of course, I'm just adding complexity, but I do like the idea of cops being around somehow.

EDIT: Oh, one exception to liking the optional rules. I don't like the parole hearings. I don't think the idea of the game potentially ending early is that appealing, especially under the condition of too few crimes. It's just a little needless complexity, and I have a feeling people would be pretty clear on whether the parole was going to succeed or not in advance. That seems like a needless thing to expend player attention on.

OutsideLime
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
Game #71: Mafia of New York (jwalduck)

I like the game overall, love the simultaneous move-planning. I'm not sure if you explained how turn rotation works. If the same guy reveals his moves first every turn, then the gameplay becomes imbalanced (though I'm not sure in whose favour.) I'd suggest passing a puck one seat to the left every round to indicate whose "turn" it is.

and I think the suggestions offered by previous posters here are very valid... don't ignore your theme. The way you have it now it could easily become any other theme. What era is this set in? That could have a lot to do with the flavouring of your theme. Gangster Golden Age I assume, 20s-40s? The Cop idea is great...

One thing that immediately occurred to me that your combat system is very spartan and thusly a defending player has very little chance to protect against aligned foes. What about a "Fortify" (or some such title) action that allows a player to program his troops to expect a rumble, and gain defense points as a result?

Or a way to Call In A Favour from another player? Gain player-specific favour tokens when you agree to help a player, then call in the favour later and force that player to change one of his action markers to support your beleaguered troops?

I'm not sure if these ideas fit your mechanic to your liking, but I'm just rambling anyway. Keep it up, good work here.

sedjtroll
sedjtroll's picture
Offline
Joined: 07/21/2008
Game #71: Mafia of New York (jwalduck)

I like the sound of this game in much the same way as I like the sound of Blood Feud in New York. In fact, it sounds like a very similar game to BFiNY.

I have been tossing around some ideas based on a computer game I used to have called Chaos Overlords, and last night Scurra pointed out that those ideas sounded just like your game... so I read your GDW entry and lo and behold, my game is like your game plus influence!

I'll think about it some more and see if I can come up with any specific feedback for you. I like the action selection mechanic. I think each player should get some Bluff tokens as well, and everyone should have to play a token into each area they have dudes in. May be even more interesting if you only have 1 bluff token.

- Seth

jwalduck
Offline
Joined: 09/06/2011
Game #71: Mafia of New York (jwalduck)

Thanks for the feedback.

Theme: Yes, at the moment it is a bit light on. The basic mechanics would work with any territory control game where player actions could have an adverse effect on the value of the territory. So mafia in New York, crooked deputy sheriffs in Nottingham... etc.

Dice, instead of value counters: I had thought of that. The truth is I have loads of small generic cardboard counters and not enough dice, so that is a product of circumstance. What I originally wanted to do was have a board where the territory tiles were replaced as the value changed, but I cannot think of how to do that without the hassle of having to pickup peices, replace the tile and put the peices back down.

Police peice: I like that idea. There is a lot that could be done with it:
- different players get to move him (bribe? - money)
- rebuild the confidence (value) of the territory its in
- stop rumbles and extortions
- prevent moving in to/out of the territory
The Police peice has multiple effects that can be good/bad offensive/defensive depending on the circumstance. Players could bid to move him or there could be an action. I can remind players that they can exchange money at any time, so a group of poorer players could pool their funds to get control of the Police...

Bluffing: Rather than adding bluffing tokens I could make it explicit in the rules that you can take an action counter off the board without doing anything with the action.

Turn order: Always going first (or last) would be an advantage. I will need to include a way to change who goes first. Simply advancing the turn order around the table would work. Having a way for players to have input into the turn order works too.

Hits: I would like this in the game but I could not think how to put it in. I like the idea of there being consensus among the players about who to hit... Inspired by this party game: http://www.carpe.com.au/games/mony/party_game.htm

doho123
doho123's picture
Offline
Joined: 07/21/2008
Game #71: Mafia of New York (jwalduck)

Quote:
What I originally wanted to do was have a board where the territory tiles were replaced as the value changed, but I cannot think of how to do that without the hassle of having to pickup peices, replace the tile and put the peices back down.

How expensive do you want it? One cool way to present this, I think, would be, if you could imagine, "Hero-Clix Buildings" -- Plastic molded buildings for each area that had a little dial to show the value. A cheaper version would be to use the "Edge Slider" that the newer Avalon Hill games use on a peice of cardboard (Betrayal at the House on the Hill, and Monsters Menace America both use these, I believe). So imagine a little stand up cardboard building with the values on the side of the building, and a slider that runs up and down the edge pointing to the current value.

Personally, I wouldn't sweat the theme too much by adding useless complexity just to add flavor. Ultimately, THOSE could just as well be themed to something different anyway. I think a good art package with nice special molded pawns and stuff goes a lot towards selling a theme than just adding a deck of event cards just for the sake of a theme.

jwalduck
Offline
Joined: 09/06/2011
Game #71: Mafia of New York (jwalduck)

I have just written up some ideas for roles (ala Puerto Rico) in the optional rules. They need a better name than "Roles".

One thing I wanted in my original thoughts for a mafia game was to have an occasional board room meeting where everyone decides someone needs to get wacked - a bit like the party game I included as inspiration, but not eliminating players.

In this case everyone votes on giving one of the players a small unique advantage each turn. Those advantages need to be tuned obviously but I have already gotten some great ideas from the feedback here.

Nando
Offline
Joined: 07/22/2008
Game #71: Mafia of New York (jwalduck)

Like others, I don't have much to add. I think that's probably a good sign! ;) Your rulebook is certainly presented well.

The only thing that really catches my eye as "iffy" is the fact that people don't die as a result of rumbles (except where no retreat is available). Specifically, a failed attack has no penalty whatsoever. I find that odd.

I like the rebuild alternate action rule.
I like the police idea mentioned previously.

Considering Roles:
An idea so you don't need a role for each player. (The cop fits into this scheme too.) Give each player a set of role cards. To use roles, players allocate money to those they wish to use. A player could attempt to bribe zero, one, or multiple roles. I'd probably do a totally blind wager. (I think I prefer the wager over 'keeping the role known and the amount unknown' or 'doing it straight up with no hidden info'.) All bribes are revealed (and lost) and high briber for each role gets use of the role.

Syndicate content


forum | by Dr. Radut