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Fictitious: an extralegal and unrecognized territory adjacent to the Dakota Territory.

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AlleBeetjes
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Three-inch Tile: one square mile or one section of land, with quarter sections, town and railroad tracks

Hey, here's an idea emerging from my recent alternative-fiction writing--as well as from a classroom simulation I developed and offered a few years ago. I'll appreciate your initial reactions as well as any questions as valuable feedback. Because this idea emerged from my writing and teaching, I realize I may be in love with something of little interest to others in a board game--or, perhaps I am really on to something. What do you think?

FICTITIOUS (working title)--would be a tile placement, worker placement, card game with immutable and mutable rules. Fictitious would be set in the alternative-historical 1880s, within a fictitious extralegal and unrecognized territory adjacent to the Dakota Territory. Players would play members of a family (perhaps two or more families--all beginning with the same letter--e.g. B for Bach, Bravo, Beetjes), belonging to a faction (perhaps two or more interdependent factions)--farmers, ranchers, loggers, miners, bankers, and merchants. Families and factions would need to compete and cooperate, and family members could join together to form a threshing or barn-raising crew, gang of outlaws, members of a posse, or a vigilante/vigilance committee. Expansions could include Native Americans and the U.S. Army. Each player’s family member with the highest “reputation” or “esteem” points would be automatically elected to the County’s Commissioners, who would vote once a month (a game turn would be equal to one week with seven actions possible--one for each day of the turn) on changes to the “laws”—all within nine “unchangeable” laws (“the charter”) established when the County was founded. Agencies would include buildings (houses, barns, depots, grain elevators, lumber yards, stores, churches, schools, hotels, water towers, etc.) crops, critters, varmints, livestock, steamboats, stagecoaches, trains, minerals, timber, gold, greenbacks, and so on. The game would include a few games within the game (various auctions based on game theory, gambling) available if two or more "actors" or "family members" show up at the same location (e.g. at the auction sale barn, or in a saloon, or on a river steam boat), as well as supply and demand economics involving competition (depending on the number of players) within and/or between factions. To win, players would be required to not only compete against each other to survive (e.g. food, shelter, and protection would be required); thrive (e.g. livestock would be required to include males--stallions, bulls, rams, roosters--and females to increase in number); negotiate (e.g. families could horde, share, sell, or buy assets from each other); and ultimately amass the largest amount of points one or more initial secretly self-selected categories ( a la the way-back game called CAREERS) (e.g. number of family / faction members; wealth (money, land), happiness, generosity (philanthropy), and/or reputation or esteem (accomplishments for the public good. In this way, players would need to determine the ultimate agendas and strategies for the other players and then attempt to "use" those agendas for their own purposes and/or thwart the other players as they attempt to meet their objective(s)--e.g. the motivations (objectives, agendas) could be determined by the players at the beginning of the game by dividing, say, 100 points over the motivations. *Perhaps* include some elements of steam punk (avoiding too much cliche and silliness)--in an expansion (Wild Fictitious, the Air War Over Fictitious, at the Edge of Fictitious, or the Uncle Remus Flim-Flam Show, etc.). There are other ideas bouncing around and drafted onto my game idea sheet, and I'm in the process of at home printing of prototype land tiles (scale 3 inches = a mile), as well as cards to go into decks representing actions, environmental interventions or factors (e.g. a calendar with holidays, days the Commissioners meet, etc.), a newspaper, weather (e.g. rain affects farming, lightning may cause cattle to stampede or a prairie fire on land not yet plowed from its virgin prairie state, etc.), critters (e.g. grasshoppers), and varmints (wolves). There's more, of course, but I'd appreciate getting your feedback on what I've presented so far. Does this sound tantalizing or does it sound too complicated? Personally, I like complex and I know some others do as well. Still, is this TOO complex? Is this something you might play? Yes, brain storming would be welcome.

kos
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Cull the good to keep the great

AlleBeetjes wrote:
Personally, I like complex and I know some others do as well. Still, is this TOO complex?

Short answer: Yes.

Longer answer:
You have a whole stack of good ideas there, but it's unclear how you're going to fit them all into a single game. I've been there many times in my game designs. I'd hazard that most of the people here have been there many times.

This is the point where you need to be ruthless. Write down each element of your description above, one per line. Cross off half of the elements. You have to cull the merely "good" elements to be left with the "great" ones.

A key point that is missing in your description is the number of players and anticipated play time. Your decision on these two factors should drive your design. It also lets you do some simple maths to see if it is going to work:
- Take your desired play time and divide it by: 7 actions per turn, 4 turns per month, XX months per game, YY players.
- The result will tell you the maximum time per player per action. To allow for general downtime divide this number by 2. Immediately you should be able to see whether it is reasonable to expect the players to make their decisions (including the negotiating, bartering, double-crossing) within this time.

Regards,
kos

AlleBeetjes
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Thanks

Thanks, kos.

At this point, I am thinking 4-6 players and 2-3 hours.

Excellent suggestions - exactly what I wanted, and I will follow through. Though I suspect the ruthless cutting may be easier said than done. Still, I will consul myself with the knowledge that I am not really going to be killing my little darlings--merely letting them "pass on" to another (future) game, so to speak.

Appreciate your advice.

I'll post later with what I get, post-ruthless, soon.

Best,
Alle Beetjes

red hare
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so much here

I agree with Kos. There are a lot of terrific ideas, but into the second paragraph I found it difficult to see how all of it could be played in one game.

For example, you mention that players are in the same family or competing families. And there are 6 factions. Would you need 6 players to cover all of the factions? Or can players change their faction at some point? And then the factions coming together for specific tasks sounds interesting, but then when I think about all of the other actions that a player could take in the game, like needing to have enough food and the stuff about laws, it's hard for me to see the core of the game.

That being said, I like the story behind the game and its semi-cooperative nature. I think anything is possible depending on the game mechanics, but I'm not sure how all of the pieces fit together. If you have a prototype and the game rules finished, then you might as well give the game a whirl and see how it goes.

I hope that helps.
Mat

wombat929
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check out Vampire the Eternal Struggle

The card game Vampire the Eternal Struggle (originally Jyhad) had TONS of different ways to advance your goals, but a single currency (blood) that represented influence and became the lingua franca that connected all the different game mechanisms. Your game reminds me of that in some ways, so you may want to look into how that game solved some of these "too many options" problems. (Some would say it didn't solve those problems, perhaps, but I love that game.)

AlleBeetjes
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Thanks

Thanks for the feedback, Mat. I will reflect on the core of the game question. Quick reply: its about characters with inter-related and hidden agendas (motivations, victory strategies) competing and yet also cooperating toward victory in a context in which certain rules may be changed--within the context of nine unchangeable rules.

AB

AlleBeetjes
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Thanks

Thanks, womnbat929 -

I will check out the game Vampire the Eternal Struggle (originally Jyhad). Personally, like you, I enjoy complex multiple strategy opportunities or options for victory -- a la King of Tokyo. Appreciate your feedback.

AB

wombat929
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AlleBeetjes wrote:Thanks,

AlleBeetjes wrote:
Thanks, womnbat929 -

I will check out the game Vampire the Eternal Struggle (originally Jyhad). Personally, like you, I enjoy complex multiple strategy opportunities or options for victory -- a la King of Tokyo. Appreciate your feedback.

AB

Excellent! I will say, though, that VTeS is far more complex than King of Tokyo. VTeS has something like 10 different factions and eight different skills, each of which interplays in different ways. Some people will will by summoning fighting vampires and punching their way to victory. Others will use intrigue and voting to win by politics. As a CCG, it has hundreds (or thousands) of cards, many of which have unique effects.

Zag24
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1. Vertical white space is

1. Vertical white space is your friend (and that of people reading your text).

2. You have some really interesting ideas, probably too much for one game. However, I particularly like this idea (which maybe you said, or maybe I misunderstood): People start off secretly choosing what sorts of points are most valuable.

I could see building an interesting game around this mechanic. There are different types of "points" that one can earn, which all become victory points in the end. At the start of the game, each person votes for which types of points will be most important, using a secret ballot, and no one sees the results until the end of the game.

The game would need some sort of economics, so it becomes a little harder to acquire points of a type that many people are trying to acquire, but it shouldn't be severe. At the end of the game, the original votes are revealed, and each type of points is multiplied by the number of people who voted for it (which might be zero).

A big part of the strategy would include figuring out what type of points others think are important, while trying to accumulate the ones you voted for without being obvious about it.

mulletsquirrel
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I'm intrigued by this game

I'm intrigued by this game idea mostly because of the Dakotas theme (that's where I live!), but am turned off by the immense complexity.

AlleBeetjes
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Yes

Quote:
People start off secretly choosing what sorts of points are most valuable.

Zag24, yes, and I am thinking the secret selections from a list of - say - 5 or 6 types of points would allow a player to win if he or she achieves his or her points first. Also, a player could mix it up as a strategy. for example:

[note the vertical white space]

If total 100 is a win, player PHINEAS selects 100 money (gold or greenbacks) as victory.

Player ANTJE secretly selects 20 wealth, 20 esteem, 20 public good, 20 temperance, and 20 fame points as victory.

Player JACOB SELECTS 100 land points.

During the game, ANTJE'S strategy will be to slip by under the radar, so to speak, to victory, using a balanced, inauspicious style.

Meanwhile, JACOB will be doing what he can to acquire land--perhaps giving an impression to the other players think he is after money alone.

As players begin guess and second guess and perhaps to detect another player is close to victory, they can make proposals (based on cards from a deck of proposal cards) at an end of the month assembly meeting (every four or five turns) and vote on the proposal.

So there is a political dynamic requiring both competition and cooperation to win.

Fictitious Territorial Assembly allows some of the rules to be changed by the Territorial Assembly (each player is a member, a player could get an additional character on to the assembly by getting one of his family's members (say, the uncle) to achieve "the highest level" of esteem points (perhaps by donating the most money to the public good fund, plus marching with the G.A.R in the Lincoln's Birthday and the July 4th parades down main street, etc.) by a certain date (November, election day), within a context of nine unchangeable rules in some ways like the Dakota Territorial Legislature at Yankton in the 1870s.

Imagine a Dakota-like setting with competing factions--farmers (grangers, sod-busters); ranchers (cowboys, cattlemen); miners; bankers; merchants; and, let's say the railroad. Six players so some of these could be "played" by non-game characters as revealed by cards drawn from decks.

These interests represented in the capitol of Yankton need to compete (to advance their own interests) as well as to cooperate (become a state, create institutions for the public good, attract immigrants, deal with locust swarms, prairie fires, blizzards, and so on.

I think the Fictitious Territory should feature a capitol city (city in quotes, as it will be a small town).

It would take donated or Assembly-approved public good dollars to build a capitol building -- which would allow the Assembly to meet more frequently than once a month (or once every four or five turns). In this way, the legislative assembly and its discussions and decisions becomes more of a game feature as the game progresses.

AB / Gene

AlleBeetjes
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Dakota

Thanks for the feedback Mulletsquirrel -

Yeah, Dakota-like setting around 1880-1889 has a lot of possibilities. Competing interests, high stakes, calamities, working towards statehood, fading frontier, tragic "interfaces" between cultures, etc.

It's the other part of the Deadwood story -- the part that took place in Yankton in the 1870s.

Yes, I am seeing this will require me to develop the game so it is simple and yet complex. Go and Diplomacy may be good games to ponder. Each is simple and yet loaded with wonderful complexity.

AB

wombat929
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AlleBeetjes wrote:Zag24, yes,

AlleBeetjes wrote:
Zag24, yes, and I am thinking the secret selections from a list of - say - 5 or 6 types of points would allow a player to win if he or she achieves his or her points first.

This is a really cool idea -- by letting players secretly declare their intention, you give them a lot of power to control their destiny.

It seems like this will take a lot of balancing to make sure that one strategy isn't too much easier than the others to do well at.

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