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Technology Tree vs Available Structure Cards - Mechanic

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heppu
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Joined: 02/07/2009

Right now I'm working on a light space colonisation game and I need a good idea on how to make a deck of structure cards and a fixed tech tree (its drawn on the game board) connected. Naturally, I want people to only be able to build structures they already got the tech for but also I want only few of the structure cards visible at a time and as the players progress in the tech tree they'd have more advanced structures available.

If anyone has played Through the Ages, that might be the kind of system Im aiming for but not quite. The problem is, that if I make the structure cards change as fast as in TtA then players might face a situation where they dont have the tech for a certain structure before its already discarded. So I need the card row to be somehow connected to the tech tree.

I had an idea that the cards available would only be discarded or drawn when a player invents a new technology, so that the cards would come and go as players progress in the technology tree. But then I became to wonder if this would make the tech tree too restricted as I would have to connect many of the technologies together so that right cards would become available when right technologies are invented. And would this harm players who are left behind in technology since they wont have those low tech cards available when they cannot build the high tech.

Im not planning on implementing any kind of "action point" system into the game so that is most likely not an option either. Of course the row could move like in TtA and the players could buy the cards for their resource cost into their hands before they got the tech and later build them to their colonies but Id really want to have a more original idea. Would be nice if somebody wants to help me brainstorm.

dnddmdb
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Joined: 01/06/2009
Recycling?

heppu wrote:

I had an idea that the cards available would only be discarded or drawn when a player invents a new technology, so that the cards would come and go as players progress in the technology tree. But then I became to wonder if this would make the tech tree too restricted as I would have to connect many of the technologies together so that right cards would become available when right technologies are invented. And would this harm players who are left behind in technology since they wont have those low tech cards available when they cannot build the high tech.

In order to free up your tech cards, you could simply allow players to reuse the discarded cards somehow. You could have a bidding system, in which the player could auction off his superior technology "schematics" for money or energy or whatever.

Or, you could simply allow a player to use an action or turn to dig the discarded tech out of the discard pile. This creates decisions and conflict as well as (I hope) a solution to your problem.

However, I've never played Through the Ages, so could you enlighten me as to how the system there works?

heppu
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Joined: 02/07/2009
TtA Card Row

Theres a card row in the middle of the board that represents both the flow of time and the available technologies and structures. Every turn players use action points to draw those cards into their hands, the leftmost cards cost only 1 action point whereas the cards further away to the right cost more points all the way to 3. As players draw cards, the row is moved forward so that there are no gaps between the cards, then the 2 leftmost cards are discarded and the row is moved again and the empty spots on the right are filled with new cards. The row moves pretty fast so IMO this system can easily ruin somebodys came because they just dont have the chance to get the cards they need.

schtoom
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Joined: 08/31/2009
There's nothing stopping you

There's nothing stopping you from using a variant of it, though. You could have the technology cards in a row and use a system like Power Grid, where if no one takes one then the lowest one is discarded and a new one is added. you don't HAVE to discard the two lowest or anything.

smd999995
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Joined: 12/11/2009
Idea

Here's a somewhat unique solution to your problem. This system assumes that the structure/card set refreshes at the beginning of each round, and that during the round each player takes at most one card. Maybe you'd do a Power Grid like auction. Also, with this system you'll shuffle all the structure cards together, and cycle through the deck many times. You couldn't use card drawing to trigger game end. Also, I'm assuming that your whole tech tree is about enabling structures, and that you could divide it easily into levels and sectors (trees). If any of that sounds wrong to you, hopefully my idea will still give you some inspiration.

Anyway, here's how it works. Each player has a collection of chips corresponding to levels and sectors of the tech tree that they've researched a technology in (like a lvl 2 farming chip, a lvl 3 war chip, etc.) All chips would encompass multiple technologies. To get a chip, a player only needs to research one of these technologies. At the beginning of each round (before the structure cards are drawn), all the players simultaneously choose a chip from their set. You then draw a card set that includes a card corresponding to each chip.

So let's say you have 3 players and 6 structure cards available. You start by drawing 3 cards. Now you see how many of the player chips still need to be satisfied. Maybe you drew a lvl 1 farming card for Player 1's chip. In that case you draw another card, for a total of four. Suppose Players 2 and 3 still don't have matches for their chips. You then add the first card in the deck that satisfies a chip, discarding all the cards before it. You do the same thing for the last chip.

This has been a long explanation. Here's why I think this system could work for you. You still have a mostly random card draw. Each player has a good chance of getting a card they want. More technologically advanced players have more options (more chips). You add some strategy to the card drawing. The system gives you a lot to play with. You could have technologies belonging to two sectors. You could have structures that let the owner play a second chip, or play his/her chip after everyone else has played. Anyway, I hope this gives you some ideas.

DogBoy
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Joined: 12/15/2009
Possible solutions

The most obvious and literal solution would be simply to have a different stack of cards (or more likely, tiles) for each node in the tech tree. Turn over the top card when someone researches that node or when someone buys that structure. This won't really work if your tech tree is too complicated.

Another, completely different, approach would be to allow anyone to buy any structure they like but pay through the nose if they don't have the appropriate technology. That won't have the effect of making more advanced cards appear more often as the game goes on, but it ought to make more advanced cards get bought more often as the game goes on. Unfortunately it might also create situations where someone's research investment comes to nothing since none of the available cards use their researched technology.

A similar but probably better option is to have the effects of structure cards depend on the technologies you've researched, with some effects even at a fairly basic level of technology. The structures would be generic ones like Hangar, Control Room or whatever, and they would get bonuses depending on your relevant tech level: e.g. the Hangar allows you to have 1 extra ship if you have Materials Tech I and another 1 extra if you have Materials Tech 3.

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