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Building and Crafting: What Layout Works Best Regarding In-Game Resources?

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acdcatino
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Hello, all!
My question this time is about how one would go about having players use resources that they've collected in a game to craft items. I've played games that use this mechanic (Cleopatra and the Society of Architects comes to mind), but I'm at a loss as to how I would go about keeping the resource "recipes" easily available to the players without having reference cards, tables, etc. cluttering up the game-space.
The project I am currently working on is a light, fantasy game that revolves around digging in a quarry. This quarry is represented by three decks of cards layered one on top of the other, with each layer containing more valuable materials and less junk. I want players to be able to trade in these materials to gain better equipment, essentially "crafting" with them. This will give each player choices to make that affects their game experience in some way (extra cards when mining, turning junk into valuables, etc.), instead of just collecting materials for points (which they can still do if they choose). However, as I'm not a fan of long, drawn out games, I don't want to bog anything down with a huge board and piles of components.
What is the easiest (and most appealing) method of keeping track of what players can do with their stockpiles of resources? I thought about using individual player boards for component storage during gameplay and quick crafting reference (à la Nexus Ops or Isla Tetra), but I want to keep everything small- especially with the upper player limit being four. tAnother game I've played, a dice game called Magical School, includes a quick reference sheet that lists the effects of each card in the game in case their system of symbols confused players. Is this acceptable? Are there games out there that do something similar to what I'm asking that I've overlooked?
Thanks in advance!

laperen
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Joined: 04/30/2013
there are several

there are several considerations

how quick does the player use up the materials they collect?
how likely are the players to trade parts(possibly built from junk) for raw materials, or vice versa?
what advantage do materials have over junk?
do the materials and junk go back to the decks they came from after they are used, or do they go to a discard pile?

although if i had to handle the matter, i would have a few types of resources, and treat the resources as units, so the player would handle the levels of units of a few resources, probably placed as stacks

then the items are free for choosing, with the requirements of making the item listed on the card

kpres
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Joined: 04/20/2013
tech trees!

If your game is about extracting different tiers of resources to craft better and better items, then you might want to try using a tech tree. This could be represented by cards, which is very handy if you plan on incorporating the trading of technology.

You could also use a player mat. Tokens placed on regions represent advancement to particular tiers.

acdcatino
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A bit more clarity...

kpres wrote:
"This could be represented by cards, which is very handy if you plan on incorporating the trading of technology."

There won't be any trading of items or materials, but there will be player interaction of a negative sort. Stealing, sabotage, and other hijinks.


Laperen, here's a sample of a player's turns that might help clarify what I'm trying to accomplish:

Player A, on her first turn, decides to use her default Stone Pick to mine in the Quarry. The Stone Pick allows her to mine one card from the Quarry deck. So, she flips the top card of the Quarry deck over, and it's a worthless "Dirt" card. Bad luck! She then places that card face-up in the discard pile next to the Quarry deck. There's nothing more that she can do, so her turn ends. Simple enough.

But let's fast forward a few turns. Player A has collected a few material tokens- let's say two "Iron" and two "Stone"- and she decides to use her default Stone Axe to harvest some "Lumber" from the Forest. This is easier than mining the Quarry because she simply collects the number of tokens from the Forest pile that her equipment allows (no cards involved), which is only one for the Stone Axe. Now that she has a variety of materials, she feels that she's got enough to craft SOMETHING. Where does she find that information readily available?

If Player A can take her two iron tokens and one lumber token, expend them by putting them back in the box (they are finite quantities and don't recycle), and craft the "Iron Pick"- allowing her to draw the top TWO cards of the Quarry deck whenever she mines- where does she find this recipe? Smaller, individual player boards with technology trackers? One LARGE player board with technology trackers? Cards that they take when they craft an item that they keep in front of them for the duration of the game (that seems very fiddly)? I don't want players constantly checking some rules page for help, but I also don't want to bloat the game into a giant production that becomes too much to keep track of easily.

I hope that helps expand on my idea~

Itsdan
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Joined: 05/19/2013
I'd embrace the player

I'd embrace the player reference sheet, I'd repeat it on the back of the manual as well as on the box if possible. If this is a core mechanic of the game it needs to be accessible. Without it I suspect in play testing you'll see people constantly referring to the manual.

StagCutlery
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"The Store"

I don't know how you have it represented, but what if there was an item deck of equipment and from that deck, you always had 3-4 items on display for purchase? The item cards could have the cost (resources you trade in) listed on them. This way you don't need a recipe cheat sheet. Item rarity is determined by the number of copies in the item deck.

eviljohs
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StagCutlery wrote:I don't

StagCutlery wrote:
I don't know how you have it represented, but what if there was an item deck of equipment and from that deck, you always had 3-4 items on display for purchase? The item cards could have the cost (resources you trade in) listed on them. This way you don't need a recipe cheat sheet. Item rarity is determined by the number of copies in the item deck.

I agree. The recipes can be represented by a tech tree, that all the players share. And use a chip(s) to show where you are on the tree.

also / or

For the idea of the store. Perhaps you can move away from the idea of recipes all together. When the players have all required resources they trade them into the store for the desired tool or item. Some tools can always be purchased and some can be placed out as cards for special purchase.

And if you don't want a long drawn out game then the game can't tons of parts or options. For example, instead of the player acquiring an iron axe and an iron pick. They get "iron tools".

acdcatino
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Sorry for the late response!

Itsdan wrote:
"I'd embrace the player reference sheet, I'd repeat it on the back of the manual as well as on the box if possible. If this is a core mechanic of the game it needs to be accessible. Without it I suspect in play testing you'll see people constantly referring to the manual."

I do see this quite a bit; a quick-reference guide on the back of the manual. Something as simple as phases of a turn and victory conditions. If I can fit the relevant data into a small space like that, then it might work!

StagCutlery wrote:
"I don't know how you have it represented, but what if there was an item deck of equipment and from that deck, you always had 3-4 items on display for purchase? The item cards could have the cost (resources you trade in) listed on them. This way you don't need a recipe cheat sheet. Item rarity is determined by the number of copies in the item deck."

I don't know about the item deck, Stag. I want all players to have access to all equipment at once, for equal opportunity. As much as I enjoy random deck draw in a game (and I do!), I don't want one player to have the opportunity to purchase a rare and powerful equipment card simply because it fell in front of them when they had just barely enough to scrape the cost together. That could easily make for a runaway leader, or am I worried for nothing?

eviljohs wrote:
"Perhaps you can move away from the idea of recipes all together. When the players have all required resources they trade them into the store for the desired tool or item. Some tools can always be purchased and some can be placed out as cards for special purchase.

And if you don't want a long drawn out game then the game can't tons of parts or options. For example, instead of the player acquiring an iron axe and an iron pick. They get "iron tools"."

First, thank you. As simple as the transition of combining the axe and pick into "tools" would seem, I never even thought of that as an option! I'm going to have to try implementing this as soon as I can.
However, I don't think I completely follow you on losing the recipes. Are players free to keep their lesser equipment all game? Or am I forcing them to upgrade as soon as they have the required materials? And where is that information displayed? I know you mentioned the special cards, and I assume those would be the more powerful equipment, but what of the basic upgrades? I apologise for my hazy understanding, I just want to make sure I'm getting the most out of your advice!

Corsaire
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If you have equipment cards,

If you have equipment cards, wouldn't the cost just be on those? They can flip through to decide what they want. That's one element of a game's appeal, learning the costs of things and developing my mental tech tree and min/max strategies.

hotsoup
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I agree with corsair. I think

I agree with corsair. I think the simplest way to do this would be to just have a set of upgrade cards with the cost of purchasing printed on them. If there wasn't a huge number of them, you could just lay them all out in a line or a grid on the table at the beginning of them game. Players could always see what was available, and just take the card when they had the right resources.

If you wanted a really large number of different upgrades, you could lay them out on the table in stages. Early game only the simple upgrades are available, mid game the better ones are, and late game the crazy good ones get laid out.

Or you could just put them all in a deck that the players could look through at any time.

eviljohs
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acdcatino wrote: First,

acdcatino wrote:

First, thank you. As simple as the transition of combining the axe and pick into "tools" would seem, I never even thought of that as an option! I'm going to have to try implementing this as soon as I can.
However, I don't think I completely follow you on losing the recipes. Are players free to keep their lesser equipment all game? Or am I forcing them to upgrade as soon as they have the required materials? And where is that information displayed? I know you mentioned the special cards, and I assume those would be the more powerful equipment, but what of the basic upgrades? I apologise for my hazy understanding, I just want to make sure I'm getting the most out of your advice!

Getting rid of recipes: I meant i think what corsair is talking about. When players have what they need to trade in, then they can. and get something better. So every card has a requirement. If the player has that requirement they can get the item. Potentially allowing a player to skip over things that they don't need or don't use as part of there playing style.

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