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Empire Building: Capturing/Controling/Influencing Cities.

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Desprez
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Joined: 12/01/2008

For a fantasy-themed empire building (somewhat) game, I'm looking for mechanics on different ways to expand an empire across different city-states.
You start with a city, and have the possibility of expanding your influence/control to other cities. These are likely to be non-player controlled cities during the early game, and more likely to be player controlled towards the end.
There should be some kind of trade-off for what kind of influence you wish to exert.

The most obvious means is via military.
You create some military units and lay siege until you defeat the defenders. The city you get may need much rebuilding, but it might be a more sure-fire way to capture a city, provided you throw enough units at it; but ultimately offer the most control. Mechanic-wise, this is simple enough to incorporate into already existing unit combat rules.

It's the other ways you might control/influence a city that are in need of some other mechanics. These ideas might represent a simple trade agreement to economic dependence, or some kind religious or cultural conversion. Do they require some kind of resource trading? Civilian or diplomatic units to perform some action? Does it require moving units across the map? Or simply allocating them to some kind of jobs?
What are the trade-offs? In comparison to military conquest, perhaps economic influence offers more immediate, but lesser, gains as opposed to absolute control of a wrecked city?

From a mechanic standpoint, I'm getting a mental block as to how I might represent progress towards these alternate means of control. Any ideas?

hulken
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Joined: 04/18/2009
Ad some inflience

You can easaly do some sort of influence thingi... youre city always produce one influence every turn, where you place it (on the map) is up to you. You can onley place it in citys adjacent to another city with more influence.

This way you can have manny types of influence, you can have religious, political, population and cultural. (thees are the once I could think of) and the difrent influences caries difrent advantages and disadvatages vith them. If you take a citu over with military power the city gets a couple of grudge tokens in it, remove one every turn. the citys adjacent also gets a grudje token placed on then but that remains. If you "convert" a city the adjacent citys recive a couple of grudje tokens, the do not like thhat new scary religion. Political well no one realy likes that so grudje tokens same in the city as on the nejbouring citys. And lastly the population way, you simply overpopolate the other city with youre own population and thereby takes it over by a simple majority wote sort of. No grudje tokens becaus this is a slow proces (recuire the most influences) so no one reacts so mutch towards it. drawback it is slow.

I hope this helps some...

red hare
red hare's picture
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Joined: 11/09/2009
economic angle

Hulken had some good ideas. Off the top of my head, what about an economic angle? Each city has a set number of development points or slots and when one player fills a majority of the slots/ points, then he gains control over the city. So perhaps a city has five empty lots and a player can build a factory or other structures to fill in 3 of the 5 slots, therby giving him control.

Or, perhaps you can buy existing commercial centers or buildings in the city and simply gain a majority stake, and therby be able to call the shots because you have an economic superiority.

The time period/ theme of your game would determine what form the economic influence could take shape.

Desprez
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Joined: 12/01/2008
Interesting ideas so far. You

Interesting ideas so far.
You hit on the idea with grudge tokens, and it occurs to me that I would probably have to introduce a new resource or concept to handle city relationships. How different cities feel about you, and the overall mood of your own city - which could affect production or something.

Now this could get rather complicated and inelegant, but perhaps a simple binary quality could work. What I mean is, another city could either like you or dislike you and I'd only need a token for one of those cases, as the absence of a token would imply the other state. This could also possibly be three states: negative, positive, and neutral.

This concept could be coupled with some kind of default state for city relationships - which can even be printed directly on the map with regard to non-player cities for quick reference. Now that I think about it, I might only need to list if a city likes another city. Basically, if you piss one off, you piss off the other as well.

Here's how I see this could work:
You have a trade relationship set-up with non-player city Appleville. This gives you access to a resource you wouldn't otherwise have. This might be a strategic resource and/or be keeping your own citizens content.
Another city, Bananaville, has become problematic for some reason and you want to conquer it.
However, Appleville and Bananaville like each other. So when you lay siege to Bananaville, this causes them to dislike you, which in-turn causes Appleville to dislike you as well, thus dissolving the trade agreement. And the loss of the imported resource causes your own city to become unhappy.
So now you have to decide if you can handle the unrest in your own city, or find some other way to mitigate it.

I'm a little concerned at how I would track positive and negative mood factors in your own city, as this might become cumbersome. As I would need a step where a player compares current negative and positive unrest factors. And this adds time and complexity.
On the plus side, each player already has a city place card that tracks important info of your home city, so I could incorporate something into that. Maybe.

On the other hand, I could skip the "your own city mood" aspect and just use the city relationships which would be much simpler, and still create some interesting dynamics. But there is something to be said for having to keep your own citizens happy. Hmmmm.

Anyway, here's my current thoughts on various influence options:

Conquering - Medium length of time, gives absolute control, but city needs rebuilding.
Mechanic: Send military units to fight.

Trade - Quick to set up. Could provide resources, production, or population. Requires good relations
Resources: gives access to a resource
Production: provide extra production capacity,
Population migration: provides extra population, requires some kind of cultural upgrade.
Mechanic: Send (or set aside) a population unit to set-up and conduct trade.

Conversion - (religious, cultural, alliance) Takes a long time, requires good relations, but gives large (absolute?) control of a developed city.
Mechanic: Not sure. Influence tokens? Send populations units? (these kind of already function as influence tokens in someways)

I could set it so that each non-player city can only have one trade export active at a time. Players would then have to balance military and cultural expansion, lest some other player snap up trade agreements blocking others out.
At that point a player, may contemplate military action, or try to engineer a lowering of relations to dissolve the agreement, thereby freeing it up.

iceman0c
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Joined: 03/06/2009
Some thoughts

Each non-player city could have a resource that they offer and maybe two resources that they need. The player that gets there first with the right in demand resource, sets up the trade relationship. This could last until another player conquers the city or possibly decides he is willing to trade both of the in demand resources for the one resource in return. Trading with a city grants a player the "like" status and each turn that a player is actively trading with a city produces an influence token for that city. I'm also thinking that trade influence tokens are only good if the player is actively trading with that city.

You could include non-trade influence tokens. These could represent spread of religion, culture, or population boom. Players could spend actions boosting these points in any city in the hopes of dissolving another player's trade agreement. (ie. you keep sending population units to a city so that you end up with 6 influence to the trade partner's 3. This gives you the opportunity to trade instead of the other player)

Perhaps those influence tokens grant bonuses when you reach certain milestones. (ie. three influence means you receive some money each turn, five means you receive a population unit every few turns, seven means that the city will grant you military units to fight, etc.) After you produce enough influence, maybe you could have the option to purchase the city.

As to keeping your own people happy, you could have a positive and negative "mood" track. Trading for luxury items may not give you the same advantage that trading for food would, but it could grant happiness points. The lower your happiness, the less efficient your empire becomes. (ie. your empire produces less gold or grows more slowly). Maybe going to war makes them happy, or staying peaceful. Players could attacki your luxury good trade partners in order to make your empire suffer from angry citizens. You could open this up to player actions toward other players. Maybe they spend actions spreading propaganda and that makes your citizens discontent.

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