# How to simplify counting resource points

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iceman0c
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Joined: 03/06/2009

I have a game I've been working on that involves collecting and spending points in three categories.

First, the player adjusts how many points they will receive in each category on a sliding scale (i.e. set the first category to 7 points, the second category to 5 points, and the last category to 6 points). These points can be spent on different actions and items in the game depending on which category the player spends from.

At the beginning of each turn, the player checks to see what their sliders are set at--in this instance category 1 is set to 7-- and then proceeds to collect that number of points. If they don't spend all of the points they received, they get to keep them and add the number of the slider the next turn (i.e. a player spends 3 points in category 1 so they have four remaining. next turn they add 7 more for a total of 11). The game involves many instances where the player adds or subtracts in each point category.

The problem I have is trying to simplify the way I keep track of the points. At first I tried numbered chits but that got to be complicated and time consuming (players often have 50+ points in three categories and spend them on several things each turn). Those chits were everywhere. Currently, I have an abacus like system where each player has a card with a ones and tens column and little markers to indicate where they are on the scale. It works but it seems to slow the game down considerably when people have to do the math and move the little abacus markers.

I would like to try and figure out how to simplify this system without changing the game too much. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

shiraz
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Joined: 10/20/2009
Have you played Caylus?

Have you played Caylus? It uses a neat technique to count points. Scores in Caylus usually end up between 50 and 150, and each player often gets a small amount of points, and many times per turn.

In order to keep track of points, the border of the gameboard is divided into 100 segments (20 along each short side and 30 along each long side). Each player has a chit which marks the current score of that player. Whenever any player gets a point, their chit is progressed. Obviously, if a player goes all around the board, it is clear for everyone that they are more than 100 points...

I don't know whether this is going to be useful for you, but I will say that the caylus scoring would be a nightmare without the chit progression system... It also is a very narrow section on the edge of the board and has a low footprint in terms of board real estate.

scifiantihero
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Joined: 07/08/2009
Also

Maybe reducing the amount of points that people are saving each turn, so there is a little less to keep track of.

I have no idea what sort of game this is, but maybe if the costs were streamlined/ reduced it would be easier to keep track of too.

Benster
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Joined: 10/28/2009
I recently played a game

I recently played a game called "My Dwarves Fly". It has some major rule ambiguities, but that is beside the point. In that game, there is a battle system that uses a "board" made of paper (or you could use cardstock) and the board has a grid of circles on it numbered 1-100. When the players battle, they have small wooden counters that are placed on the board in accordance with the numbers they roll on dice. So as you role for each of your monsters in the battle, you simply move your token up on the board.

So, as for your game, the thought would be that each player could have their own small card like this (the Dwarves board is only about 8" x 6" made of a cheaper paper material that is folded for packaging), and a different color wooden token or chip for each resource. Then, they merely move the token to the appropriate number on the board to mark how much of that they will have. If wood is too expensive, then you can use cardstock counters, but it sounds like you don't need too many, so you might be able to go with little wood counters and some paint (at least for a prototype).

BGG has a picture of the My Dwarves Fly board if you are having trouble picturing it from my muddled description. Here is the link:

http://boardgamegeek.com/image/230077

and a link to the counters they use on it (they use colors for different players, but you could use it for resources if there isn't a communal card, or you could do one card with a color per player and a symbol on each counter depicting a resource, similar to what they have here):

http://boardgamegeek.com/image/599315

Hope this at least gives you some ideas.

iceman0c
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Joined: 03/06/2009
Hi everyone and thanks for

Hi everyone and thanks for the replies. I have played Caylus and my game uses a similar victory point system along the edge of the board already

scifiantihero wrote:
Maybe reducing the amount of points that people are saving each turn, so there is a little less to keep track of.

I have no idea what sort of game this is, but maybe if the costs were streamlined/ reduced it would be easier to keep track of too.

Yeah I was thinking this as well but I was having a hard time streamlining. This game is about survivors of a plane crash trying to last until help arrives. The different points represent tracking ability, gathering, and a generic wits category. Each of these points can be spent on different actions and resources that are specific to which types of points you spend. The game goes through a year and the players can adjust their sliders each season to basically plan for a new strategy in the coming season (i.e. food is harder to come by in the winter so the players will want to adjust gathering to a higher number).

Early in the game most of the points will be spent the turn they are received (i.e. player gets 7 gather points and buys three goods at a cost of two points each). Players will begin to acumulate points as they focus on certain actions more than others in order to surive the next season (i.e. a player has 5 tracking points to go hunting but notices that water is becoming scarce. the player forgoes hunting this turn in order to gather water. Then, the player gets five more hunting points next turn because of the slider)

Typically players will only get to about 20 max in a category unless they are forced to take a different strategy route. For example, a player plans to go exploring for items left over from the crash so they boost their tracking points for the season. Another player steals the first player's food so the first player will have to go gather food and exploring will have to wait. Meanwhile, the first player's tracking points will accumulate until he gets to adjust his slider next season. This number can get quite high in that scenario.

Do you think it might be worth it to redesign the points system rather than the method of counting?

Benster wrote:

So, as for your game, the thought would be that each player could have their own small card like this (the Dwarves board is only about 8" x 6" made of a cheaper paper material that is folded for packaging), and a different color wooden token or chip for each resource. Then, they merely move the token to the appropriate number on the board to mark how much of that they will have. If wood is too expensive, then you can use cardstock counters, but it sounds like you don't need too many, so you might be able to go with little wood counters and some paint (at least for a prototype).

Each player already has a card that keeps track of a different of things using little wooden counters. Right now on the card I am using three ones columns and three tens columns to represent the three kinds of points. Just numbering from one to 50 or so could replace that section and simplify it as well.

Thanks for all of you suggestions

Aquinas
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Joined: 10/27/2008
iceman0c wrote:I have played

iceman0c wrote:
I have played Caylus and my game uses a similar victory point system along the edge of the board already

I believe he meant add 3 more tracks around the board to keep track of resources as well as victory points. Not bad if it can work.

scifiantihero
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Joined: 07/08/2009
I'm not sure . . .

Id the system needs a redesign. I do wonder if it would lead to situations where players can force that sort of point hoarding situation to make big plays (unstoppable, overpowered, disproportionate?) So it might make balancing harder . . . not sure, though.

iceman0c
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Joined: 03/06/2009
Yeah I was hoping to get out

Yeah I was hoping to get out of this without having to redesign the points system, which would probably end with me redesigning the whole game. But, if that's what would be best for the game I might just have to.

There aren't really any possible plays that could be labeled "overpowered" or "big". Its all about scarcity and making the right moves at the right times. Building up points just allows you to change your strategy in the following season. This leads me to question a system that would allow large points build up without having a suitably large reward for doing so. The system works well overall but it seems to be clunky and inefficient.

scifiantihero
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Joined: 07/08/2009
Well,

the alternative to not being able to do broken things with saving points--as you've identified-- is having turns where you're not doing things with points, which certainly would feel inefficient.

Have you ever played/seen Endeavor? That games sounds like it might have a similar feel in that there is a set number of resources available on the board, they are used to increase four different tracks, which all provide access to more efficient/ flexible options in different ways, and timing is very, VERY important.

It also has a really good balance between players being able to mess with your plans, and being able to predict the messing while remaining flexible enough to get around it (so you're not often stuck with resources you can't use for a turn!)

:)

iceman0c
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Joined: 03/06/2009
No I haven't seen Endeavor

No I haven't seen Endeavor but I will have to check it out. It sounds like it's back to the old drawing board for me. Thanks for all of the help and suggestions :)

Aquinas
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Joined: 10/27/2008
Why not tracks?

iceman0c wrote:
No I haven't seen Endeavor but I will have to check it out. It sounds like it's back to the old drawing board for me. Thanks for all of the help and suggestions :)

Why don't you use several track around the game board to track VPs and resources? Wouldn't that work?

iceman0c
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Joined: 03/06/2009
Aquinas wrote: Why don't you

Aquinas wrote:

Why don't you use several track around the game board to track VPs and resources? Wouldn't that work?

Yes I do think that this is the best answer to my original problem of counting the points. The issue that I've realized now is that the game mechanic itself is somewhat flawed. When I finish tweaking the whole system, I will indeed use the track system to keep track of the points.

SiddGames
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Joined: 08/02/2008
I was thinking along the

I was thinking along the lines you already mentioned -- I question the need/advisability of letting players build up large amounts of points. The game is about scarcity, so why should a player build up 5 food per turn for 5 turns if they want? If the "normal" max is around 20, would it work if you simply stopped 20 the max? You can't ever go above 20 (or maybe even lower to make it tougher) -- call it spoilage, waste, whatever. Also, is it thematic to allow tracking to build up from season to season, for example?

If you still want to allow some flexibility, then maybe players can (eventually) gain/buy abilities that let them "convert" resources.

iceman0c
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Joined: 03/06/2009
The resources--like food and

The resources--like food and such-- are scarce. The points I am referring to would be gathering, tracking, and wits. You build up gathering points in order to go out and claim resources.

The idea is that you set sliders to give you points in those three categories each turn. The sliders basically represent your strategy for that season. You control three "survivors" who go out and collect resources, search for items, steal other people's stuff, etc.

Thematically the points represent sending out your survivors properly equipped for the mission they set out to accomplish. It also kind of signifies the time it takes to do each action. Kind of like "I need firewood. Firewood is hours away from where we are, therefore it will take a certain amount of time for me to come back with wood" The player decides that this season he will dedicate a certain amount of time and effort to gathering wood so he sets the slider for gathering a little higher for this season.

I'm not sure that these points should transfer over from season to season thematically. You raise a good point.

Note: I called these points "resource points" originally because I just wanted a better way to count them. I figured that it would be easier on the people helping me if I didn't complicate things by explaining the whole game upfront. It seems the intent of my post has morphed somewhat.

scifiantihero
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Joined: 07/08/2009
I, for one . . .

find it easier to offer advice when the entire context is known, such as the whole rulebook :)

Heh, that's a lie. I offer advice no matter what, even when it's unsolicited. I should probably say that I feel more comfortable with the quality of the advice the more I know.

;)

iceman0c
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Joined: 03/06/2009
Good to know

I just didn't want people to have to slog through the entire rulebook before I got to (what I thought was) a rather simple question.

Desco
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Joined: 09/30/2008
I hate tracks...

Especially those 100 point around-the-edge tracks on Ticket-to-Ride, Stone Edge, etc.

In GUI development, we have a number of principles for effective design. (i.e. graphic consistency, don't hide important information, etc.) Most games you have the information that pertains to you all in the same place, conveniently right in front of you. So having the information move around the outer edge of the board means I have to first FIND where that information is, then read the value.

But what really bothers me about all tracks is their lack of ability to survive non-gaming chaos (i.e. bumping the table, spilled drinks, playful cats, etc.) If something like this happens, it's often difficult to remember what you had, and even worse if there's more than one track. (or god forbid, small tracks on cards that have a slight curve) Your position on the board is a kind of track, and yes, suffers from the same problem. But often you are able to reconstruct this a lot easier than a numeric track, and board positions aren't able to be represented by other means.

Tokens is a much better way to represent something like resources or VP. If you're talking big numbers (100+), go with poker chips or cards that have different values (1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, etc).

scifiantihero
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Joined: 07/08/2009
I think . . .

it depends on the size of the tracks and the type of game. The giant, flimsy, cardboard IPC tracks in Axis and Allies, would be my example of a pointless, space wasting track.

Some things seem more natural on tracks. I think games that feel like a race, or tension benefit more from the feeling a track gives, of being visually relative to someone else. When keeping track of accumulated wealth that might go up and down a lot, I would rather be hoarding glass gems or golden poker chips!

Some games require being able to assess each players standing quickly, many times. I think visible, individual tracks on player boards are the best bet when there are multiple stats involved. I always dislike central boards for book-keeping, but it's understandable that sometimes each person just doesn't need their own thing.

:)

bielie
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Joined: 11/05/2009
Desco wrote: But what really

Desco wrote:

But what really bothers me about all tracks is their lack of ability to survive non-gaming chaos (i.e. bumping the table, spilled drinks, playful cats, etc.) If something like this happens, it's often difficult to remember what you had, and even worse if there's more than one track. (or god forbid, small tracks on cards that have a slight curve) Your position on the board is a kind of track, and yes, suffers from the same problem. But often you are able to reconstruct this a lot easier than a numeric track, and board positions aren't able to be represented by other means.

What you need is a bread board with holes and pins: A "Hundreds", "tens" and a "Ones" track. That way you can kick it off the table and it will still be ok. (Like the old Master Mind game)

Made of plastic it will be cheaper than a FFG miniature. (But still expensive...)

Desco
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Joined: 09/30/2008
bielie wrote: What you need

bielie wrote:

What you need is a bread board with holes and pins: A "Hundreds", "tens" and a "Ones" track. That way you can kick it off the table and it will still be ok. (Like the old Master Mind game)

Kinda like a Cribbage board... yeah that would certainly remove the "bump" problem, but do little for the central board/reaching across the table problem if it's a combined track, and makes it even harder to compare if each player has their own track. I still like poker chips.. *shrug*

Fantasy Flight has taken to the "dials" lately, meaning there are holes in the board... but constantly pushing and pulling pins in cardboard would eventually widen the holes to the point where they don't fit snug. (course I guess that's true about any material that you'd make a hole-and-peg board out of)

iceman0c
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Joined: 03/06/2009
Right now I'm using the tens

Right now I'm using the tens and ones columns on the individual boards but with tiny markers to conserve space. The bump issue is a constant problem. I was trying to avoid using the columns if at all possible because it slows the game down considerably. I found out that not everyone can do math quickly in their heads.

Poker chips could work but it would be difficult to represent three distinct types of points and have different denominations of the chips.

deloctyte
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Joined: 09/08/2009
2 D10?

I suggest using ten sided dice. Two of them per player gives them a counter all the way to 99, right? :D
Not sure if anyone else already suggested this, I'm technically new at the forum (been lurking for a while now ), so bear with me if the idea is crappy. ><