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Resourse Management

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Desprez
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Joined: 12/01/2008

Ok, so one of the games I'm working on has a lot of potential, but has a number of complexity issues.
One of those issues is collecting and using resources to build stuff.

Right now, if you have a unit on certain areas of the map, you can gain a resource token of that type. You can then build up your stockpile of resources and spend them to make different things according to their resource cost. (Pretty straight-forward)

The problem, is that this can become a bit fiddly and take up more time then is desirable. You end up spending time to see what resources you can gather now, and then do a lot of planning ahead about what resources you have, and what you will need later. This compounded by the fact that some spaces can give different resource types, and you may need to make a decision about what to gather. I want to streamline this process.

What I'm thinking about now is perhaps instead of physically collecting tokens and then spending them, is to use the tokens to indicate what you currently have access to. If you have access to these resources, then you can build these things. Some things might require access of multiple sources of a particular resource. So you don't have to fiddle with a bunch of tokens so much - but it still might be an issue. (In fact you wouldn't even need them anymore - though they would be helpful to quickly indicate what you have access to. Or I could create a 'resource track' that shows what you have)
This might even allow me to eliminate or reduce the number of spaces with multiple resource types, further simplifying selection.

So, this has some real benefits doing it this way, but if comes with a few problems.
1) No stockpile means everyone is extra vulnerable to blockades
One way to deal with this might be to make some basic units to have no required resource access.
2) Refined resources. Right now there are some resources that are made by trading two in, to get a new refined resource. These are used for the more powerful units/things to build.
Tracking which resources are being used to provide refined resources becomes a problem, and I haven't figured out an elegant way of dealing with this.

So, any ideas or suggestions? Perhaps yet a different way to manage this?

allknowingfrog
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Joined: 01/01/2010
Use both ideas?

Have you considered combining your two ideas? For problem 1, perhaps you could have the option to stockpile a resource (collect a resource token to be used later during a blockade) if you meet some condition such as controlling multiple sources of the resource. Similarly, for problem 2, you could use tokens to represent refined resources. You could still use your simplified system on all basic resources, and reserve tokens for the more advanced aspects.

MarkKreitler
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Joined: 11/12/2008
Low impact solution

If you're happy with the other aspects of your game, I would caution against changing your resource system too much, as it will ripple through your other design elements (e.g., the blockade problem you mention).

If fiddling with chips is the problem, why not use a resource track instead? You brought this up yourself, but it seemed to be in the context of your new idea. Why not apply it to the old design first? Give each player a sheet with one track for each resource and one chip for each track, then let them collect resources normally and keep the running tally on the card. This has the disadvantage of letting everyone know who has how much of what, but you would have had that with the chips in the original system, too, unless you've already developed a way to hide the info.

Also, you could easily add the information about which resources combine into which commodities to the resource card, turning it into a player guide as well as a tracking sheet. Does one iron plus one coal produce one steel? It's easy to see at a glance -- just look at the resource combination matrix on next to the resource tracks.

Desprez
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Joined: 12/01/2008
The game in general has been

The game in general has been going through a lot of ongoing changes. At the moment, the gathering/building aspect is taking too much time. Despite being interesting, it's disrupting the flow of the game. So, yes, I'll have to change other elements of the game if I change the resources, but it'll probably be for the best.

I already have resource tokens for the refined resources, but the issue is under the proposed system they kind of become pointless. Since the resource tokens would no longer represent a discrete unit of a resource, but rather, access to a resource. So instead of spending two resources to make a refined resource, you just need the access and you have the refined. Next turn, you might not need the refined anymore, so you can just have the original two. Meaning a lot of swapping out of tokens. At this point, any time savings by the new system are lost.
Part of the issue, now that I think about it, I guess is that refined resources have already lost much of their meaning due to other changes.

Maybe what could replace the refined resources could be 'upgrade buildings'. Something that has an upfront cost, but would then allow the production of better units.

Or I could simply make the refined resources gather-able like the others, but occur in much more limited supply. Or perhaps make them more difficult to gather, like requiring two units in the space.

Or maybe both ideas by requiring a special structure to be built in that space. Hmmm, I think that has potential.
For instance, if you have a space that yields a regular ore resource, you can get it by having a population unit on it. Or you could turn that population into a structure there that gives you access to refined metals.

As for the resource track, my hesitations here are practical concerns.
1) I'm at the limit of table space as it is. Adding resource tracks might be tricky.
2) Without making some kind of special holder, it would be vulnerable to accidental bumping, etc. A resource access track could be rebuilt. A resource tally track would not be.

EDIT: Oh, I originally misunderstood you, Allknowingfrog. I see what you mean now.

MarkKreitler
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Joined: 11/12/2008
More changes

Well, if you're not worried about cascading effects of the change, then there's no need for caution. :)

> Part of the issue, now that I think about it, I guess is that refined resources have already lost much of their meaning due to other changes.

Yes. These changes make refined resources moot without additional restrictions. Your solution to require a "refinery upgrade" seems like a good idea. Another option would be to require the player to control adjacent tiles of the necessary type, though depending on your board, that might be too restrictive. Without knowing more about the game, it's hard to make useful suggestions.

The loss of the accumulation-over-time aspect seems major, especially in the sense that it renders tactics like blockades less useful. Have you considered using money and markets as a way to keep some of that feel? For instance, units and upgrades could cost money instead of requiring resources. Players generate money by selling resources each turn. Refined resources have higher value than unrefined. Furthermore, you could create a simple shortage/surplus model to make some unrefined resources more valuable at different points in the game (e.g., the more iron sold in one turn, the less subsequent sales are worth). In this way, blockades still have some effect by preventing access to more valuable resources/resource combinations, but players can still slowly accumulate cash over time even from non-ideal resource configurations.

Your game sounds very interesting and pretty far along. Could you tell us a little more about it to help us provide better feedback?

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