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Need a new perspective on this mechanism

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jvallerand
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Joined: 10/12/2013

So we are working on a game about cartography in the Age of Discovery. Players send a team around, and pay resources to map different regions of the world. One of the central concept of our game is what we call the Copyright system: whenever you map a region that another player has already mapped, you must pay them a point; if two players have mapped it, you give them a point each, and so on.

There are two other ways to score points: one is to fill contracts (so a card you can gain, which says map regions A, B and C and you'll get points), and the other is to map Paths (which are open information, and give points to the first two players who link regions X and Y through their mapping). You also gain 2 VPs for every map token you put down.

So far, playtests show that the Copyright system (a) accounts for too small a percentage of your overall score for our taste, and (b) didn't affect decision making much, if at all, or if it did, those players lost big time.

We want to make that part shine more, but increasing the Copyright cost would make mapping worthless quickly, as it would cost more than it would get you. On the other hand, increasing every VP source would just change the numbers, but keep the ratio the same.

My personal idea was to use the points we get from Copyright to be used for something else (to pay for one-time powers for example), but we just scrapped a whole power system that slowed down the game too much, and so we're not really looking to go down that path again.

Another idea is to change the scoring of these points to a majority thing instead of 1pt/token (either 8 for first, 4 for second, 2 for third, or 2/token for 1st place, 1/token for 2nd, 1/2 token for third), but it seems like it would lessen even more the impact of the system.

TLDR: We have a system we want to shine more. You know what, you really need to read this whole thing if you want to help.

let-off studios
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One thing I remember about

One thing I remember about looking at early maps was how inaccurate they could be. When a first map was released/published, it often didn't include everything it should have, or maybe it was just for a rough coastline and didn't traverse the rivers, bays, or smaller waterways, etc. Also, inland mapping was very slow-going and groups could become lost or disoriented, further mucking up their map system.

(EDIT)

Even if this wasn't as historically-impactful as I might make it out to be, it certainly could be part of the game - depending on how historically-accurate you're trying to make your game. But historical accuracy is only part of the fun, in my experience...

(END EDIT)

You may want to offer points for successive passes over certain areas of the world, particularly coastline areas and along major formations like mountain ranges. This would allow a player to earn points for a "first discovery" or whatever you want to call it, but also for refining earlier maps through successive visits and "accuracy" checks. There could even be a special bonus for exposing a "glaring inaccuracy" of the previous cartographer - though this would be rare and not a game-breaker (but it could be a potential difference-maker).

Hopefully this is helpful. :)

sedjtroll
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You said that the copyright

You said that the copyright points were not as large a percentage of your score as you would like... but maybe that's not a great way to look at it.

Maybe a better way to look at it is how much difference it's making between Player A and Player B.

So like if Player A is a trailblazer and maps everything 1st, and Player B ends up paying a lot of copyright payments, then does that swing the game between Players A and B? Seems like it should.

You said it didn't affect decision making at all - does that mean people just did whatever they wanted to do, and paid no mind to paying a vp here or there to the other players?

I'm not sure what scope your game has, but for comparison you could look at games like Caylus (you get 1vp from the bank whenever a player uses your building, which may be frequent or infrequent depending on the building - also if you use your own building you don't have to pay like normal, so it could save you money if you don't get the VP from someone else using it), or my own Terra Prime (if you use another player's colony, they get 1vp from the bank).

In Terra Prime I originally had it that you had to PAY the other player, but in a 2p playtest it became clear that I didn't like that. One player got rich while the other was strapped for cash (we were paying $, not VP)... so I switched to VP, and I also switched to just getting it from the bank rather than having to do a bunch of exchanging. This made people more willing to use other people's colonies, since it didn't cost anything, but the vp from the bank ends up scoring a handful of points over the course of the game.

In Caylus and Terra Prime those are recurring costs though. In your copyright system it sounds like maybe you just pay once. Maybe the cost should be different, some combination of money and points? Maybe like Caylus and TP they should just get a boon from the bank when you map their area? Maybe a small boon from being there first should matter more often (whenever someone scores a card using that route in addition to when someone buys into that route)?

I'm not sure how your game works exactly, but I'm imagining a game like Kings of Air and Steam where you build depots on a route between two cities in order to deliver to those cities. In KoA&S, the first player to build on a route pays $4, other players pay $7. In that game the routes are worth 10 points (so getting there first is a bigger score), and you either need to build a route to deliver, or pay to use someone else's.

Maybe that last thing is more what you're looking for. A bigger score (and/or lower cost) to be the first to map a region, and then maybe a reward when someone uses a region you've mapped?

Lastly, in Antike it's actually the opposite... the first person to develop a technology in that game pays a higher price, but gets a VP (first to like 10 vp wins). Anyone else getting that same tech does not get a vp, but it's much cheaper to develop once someone else has invented it. A neat idea for that game, don't know if it helps you though.

Good luck!

Zag24
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Joined: 03/02/2014
You didn't say what other

You didn't say what other sources of points there are, but it seems as if you've got decent amount from the 'copyright,' especially, as sedjtroll points out, it's a bigger delta than it is a gain.

But here are a few ideas:

Increase the copyright payment to the first player to map an area to 2 points. This does mean that you have to keep track of who was first, which might be more bother than it's worth. Possibly just the second person to map an area must pay 2 points to the first one, but then any others pay 1 point to each previous mapper.

Whenever anyone else "uses" an area I've mapped to fulfill a contract, they pay me 1 point. This might make fulfilling contracts less valuable, but you can increase the contract value a bit to make up for it. Or, if that's too much of a delta, when someone uses an area I have mapped, the contract (i.e. the bank) pays me a point.

Allow me to double down on copyright values. There's an action which lets me upgrade my "mapped" status on an area to "outpost." Now all copyright costs and benefits are doubled for that region.

sedjtroll
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Zag24 wrote:here are a few

Zag24 wrote:
here are a few ideas:

Increase the copyright payment to the first player to map an area to 2 points. This does mean that you have to keep track of who was first, which might be more bother than it's worth. Possibly just the second person to map an area must pay 2 points to the first one, but then any others pay 1 point to each previous mapper.


Keeping track of the order might not be too hard - maybe the map has a column of spaces for player markers, and the 1st person to map an area puts their marker int he top space...

Quote:
Whenever anyone else "uses" an area I've mapped to fulfill a contract, they pay me 1 point. This might make fulfilling contracts less valuable, but you can increase the contract value a bit to make up for it. Or, if that's too much of a delta, when someone uses an area I have mapped, the contract (i.e. the bank) pays me a point.

Yeah, I don't know if I was clear, but this was one of my comments above.

And instead of PAYING that player a vp, maybe they just get a vp from the bank - lest players hesitate to use other players' areas? I guess you may have to in this case though.

Consider Railroad Tycoon, where a delivery is worth 1 point per link, and that point goes to the owner of the link. Here it could be similar, you could have the points for the scoring card go to the people who first mapped the regions or something.

Quote:
Allow me to double down on copyright values. There's an action which lets me upgrade my "mapped" status on an area to "outpost." Now all copyright costs and benefits are doubled for that region.

I don't know how the game works, but this could potentially be a thing. If you mapped first and I map then upgrade, do I overtake your priority?

I had drawn up game design about airlines where you would get "influence" in airports, and you would get points when taking a passenger from airport to airport... you would get the most points if your marker was on the top of the influence track at an airport and then you would drop to the bottom. If you were not at the top, you'd lose a point for every marker ahead of yours (the passenger would have a longer layover). Then you could use actions to move your influence marker up the line. In this case the other players didn't GET vp, but the point is you could improve your priority so that your score condition was more lucrative.

gilamonster
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Joined: 08/21/2015
I think that you could

I think that you could combine the copywrite payment and the majority/decreasing vp value ideas - so you you get fewer points for mapping a pre-mapped area, and then you have to pay a small penalty to the people who beat you to it.
Or, you could use the majority idea with decreasing scores for the second or third discoverer, but the prior discoverers would also get these points from the pot (i.e not the player - much like claiming a jem through a shared exit point in Indigo). That way you'd have to think hard about whether you were willing to boost another player by the same number of points as you just got.

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