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New idea or old? Competitive Tech Tree

6 replies [Last post]
Carl G
Joined: 09/21/2014

Hi All! I had an idea for a game mechanic that there is no chance I'll touch for over a year but thought it might make for some good discussion. I was thinking of possible innovative ideas in boardgaming or variations of familiar mechanisms and I thought of competitive tech trees. Now I have only played maybe 100 or so games so I would be shocked if this idea hasn't already been explored already but I haven't seen it anywhere. have seen tech trees quite a bit, but what about competitive tech trees? What I mean is techs that build off other techs but can only be had by one player. What I envisioned for this was maybe 8 base abilities that players can pick to start on Each ability that techs out to two more abilities now these abilities happen to be side by side to the techs of other players. And the techs that come after this are likewise side by side. Players can move up OR over on the tech tree as they pay the resources necessary to do this. This adds not only a wide variety of possible techs, but also meaningful interaction even on the tech tree level as you can cut people off in certain areas, and deny certain abilities as only one player can own each tech.

I'm not sure if that block of text made sense so I'll try to show what it might look like below:

Base Starting Abilities:

Movement +1
Buy +1

2nd level:

Movement +1 trees out to Movement +2 AND gain 1 wood resource
Buy +1 trees out to Buy +2 and gain 1 meeple
gain 1 meeple and 1 wood resource are side by side

movement +2
gain 1 wood
gain 1 meeple
buy +2

3rd level:

movement +2 trees out to movement +3 AND gain any resource of choice

gain 1 wood trees out to movement +3 AND gain any resource of choice AND gain 2 meeples

gain 1 meeple trees out to gain any resource of choice AND gain 2 meeples AND Buy +3

buy +2 trees out to gain 2 meeples AND Buy +3 AND Gain 2 VPs

Movement +3
Gain Any Resource
Gain 2 meeples
Buy +3
Gain 2 VPs

The idea would be that as you move up in any one area you would simply upgrade your ability, but if you move over to a new ability you still get the highest wrung that you reach in the previous one(eg. so if you went up to +2 movement and then over to gain resource of your choice, you would still have the +2 movement as well as gain resource of choice ability. If you moved over to +3 movement you would only have the extra 3 movements alongside gaining a resource of your choice, NOT 5 movements).

Has something like this been done before? If so, which games? Besides that what do you all think of this idea?

Looking forward to seeing your thoughts!

Joined: 08/05/2014
Ypu are going to have a hard

Ypu are going to have a hard time equilibrating the trees.

Joined: 12/27/2013
I've not seen this exactly as

I've not seen this exactly as you describe, but it's not really far off from a technology deck(s) or pile(s) where there is only one of each tech. Just different presentation.

Also, how I understand the tree as of now, it seems like two savvy players can gang up on the opposition in between them and cut their tech process completely after the first skill.

let-off studios
let-off studios's picture
Joined: 02/07/2011
Jarec wrote:Also, how I

Jarec wrote:
Also, how I understand the tree as of now, it seems like two savvy players can gang up on the opposition in between them and cut their tech process completely after the first skill.

One way to mitigate this is to "lock in" the players into whichever tech tree path they've taken, so as not to prevent someone else from investing in technology advancements. For example, the first player to select the +2 Meeples improvement becomes the "Labor Specialist," while the player who chooses Movement improvements becomes the "Mobility Specialist," and so on.

Another way to do this is to have several improvements that all players can acquire, but a few that only one player can select. For example, maybe the Move +1 and Move +2 improvements are accessible to everyone, while the technology advancement required for the +3 bonus is a unique item, and only the first player to choose it is able to take it.

Finally, you can also make technologies more expensive when more players have them. For example, Move +1 costs $10 for the first player to choose it, then it costs $13 for the second player to choose it, then $18 for the third, and so on. You're still providing choice to players, but it's a matter of cost versus benefit (well, all the choices are, but this one is more immediate and drastic, I suppose).

There are other methods too. Experiment with a few and see what works for your particular game - and, as someone else already mentioned, what is the most reasonably-balanced mechanic.

Carl G
Joined: 09/21/2014
Interesting thoughts all!

Interesting thoughts all! Like I said I have no plans to work on this for a long while but I was curious not to see anything like it to date. It is different from a simple tech deck as you can see what your opponents possible techs will be in the future which you can plan for somewhat.

To keep from the fast cut off as mentioned above, your techs don't share neigbors until the 2nd rung(ie. your first two tech upgrade possiblity noone has direct access to as a first build).

To keep everything equal I think this would probably work best as a tech circle so everyone has the same amount of options and access to all kinds of different abilities.

Yeah, balancing will be super tough and harder yet will be presenting the tech tree circle and other game mechanisms in such a way that a player can actually plan and make choices on the information(tech trees are hard enough to take in, let alone be competitive). I wonder if I could make a win condition be getting a certain number of techs, or to a certain level of tech to help focus the game on it a bit more? Definately lots of different ways you can go with an idea like this one, just not sure if is truly workable in a fun way.

Archimedes42's picture
Joined: 10/15/2014
Sounds Similar

Hey Carl G. This tech tree mechanic sounds similar to a 'technology web' mechanic that I have in a civ building game I am designing called 'Age Of Man.' In this mechanic there is a "map" of technologies (each tech is a hexagonal tile.) These techs build off of each other to create more advanced ones, as the web grows outwards in all directions. The web represents the techs of all players, although there are tokens specifying as to who invented it. There is a spacial aspect of this mechanic, were players can block off other players from expanding from certain techs. (If another player wants to build off your tech, or use it, than you can ask something from him in return.)

Anyways, if you want to know more, keep your eyes open, because I'm gonna be posting something about 'Age Of Man' soon.


Beggarking's picture
Joined: 09/09/2014
Its a really interesting

Its a really interesting idea. I've worked on designs where different players have unique tech trees and yea, it can be time consuming to balance that (it takes a lot of playtesting to get right). I'm wondering how you plan to visualize all of the players each moving up through different abilities?

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