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Side Project: Pillars of Civilization (52 standard deck game)

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Tbone
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The standard card deck (Bicycle) has plagued me for years - I've always wanted to make a game with them but they always get too complicated... here is another attempt...

The premise is that you are trying to create the best civilization between 4 people, through the four pillars of civilization: Military, Economy, Government and Culture.

As you might have guessed, each suit is allocated to one of these pillars.

♤ 》Spade 》Military

Aggressive actions that make you the alpha player.

◇ 》Diamond 》Economy

Gives you card advantage and better control of cards.

♧ 》Club 》Government

Allows you to better control your opponents decisions and your turn structure.

♡ 》Hearts 》Culture

Allows for cooperative play, helping players while giving you a better reputation.

This is a very rough sketch, so I hope you all get give me some input...

On a given turn, there will be a dealer, the dealer will deal every player one card. The rest of the cards will result in the draw pile in the middle of the table (discard pile next to it)

Then each player will choose an action:

●Play a card (face up infront of you forward)
●Hold a card (face down infront of you forward)
●Lodge a card (face up infront of you side ways)
●Lock a card (face down infront of you side ways)
●Keep (do nothing and keep the cards in your hand
●Sell a card (discard and re-draw)
●Trade a card (pick a card and target player, that player chooses a card and you switch those cards)
●Conquer a player (place a card on a players card)

My plan is that each Pillar will have special occurances for most of these.

For example...

If you sell an Economy card (Diamond) you may draw the top three and pick one to keep.

Or...

If you lock a Government card (Clubs) until the end of the game you het that many points towards victory.

...

My ideas for each of the positions/actions vary... I want it to be a very social game where players can talk things out, negotiate and create tension. I've never done a game like this...

Hold: this can a place where cards are placed to be used as resources. Could also be called Build?

Lock: locking cards can give you some sort of end game advanatage.

Play: will do some sort of affect

Lodge: can be a place to create straights of a given Pillar or full houses etc. For combos.

Again... these are just ideas. But I like the idea of having many options on a turn and placing cards in different positions for different effects. Also differentiating the Pillars without making it too difficult. I'm thinking there will have to be some sort of reference card for each player.

Thanks all!

Tbone

stevebarkeruk
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Cool idea!

I like the idea, but I think the tricky part would be to make the cards meaningful without requiring excessive reference to a player aid (which would end up with me feeling "Why don't I just have a custom set of cards printed?").

How do you imagine card face values coming into play? For example, is the Ace (or King?) of Spades always the most powerful military card, and what can I do with it that I can't with the 4 of Spades? If higher values are always better is there a way to balance luck to the draw?

You could perhaps do something like Lost Cities where cards have to be played in sets of ascending/descending order so the highest card isn't the "strongest" and might actually be the worst card for you to play, depending on the rest of your set.

One idea for "locking" cards might be that this is "Writing history": at the end of the game, reveal all such cards and the players who wrote the most history in each suit get a bonus to their scoring for that suit (e.g. the most Culture history doubles their Culture points, but by playing Culture cards face down as history, you are reducing your chance to score that way at all, so you have to balance it).

Tbone
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Great Feedback

Your "writing History" idea is exactly what I was looking for... I just have no idea how to make it strategic at the moment.

With the ascending/descending idea is something I thought Lodging would have something to do with. Opponents could place cards here too, kind of like an open board mechanic.

And that's exactly the point... I can easily make this into a game without the 52 card deck... But I really want to make the first game playable with the bicycle cards.

wombat929
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suits

Interesting premise. I look forward to seeing what you do with it.

How come you selected Spade for Military? I would have thought Club, a weapon, would be a good Military. Similarly, Spade, a tool for building, could be good for Gv't. Just a thought.

Tbone
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My Thinking...

I guess where I was coming from Wombat was that the spade "looks" like a spear for combat (military) and the club "looks" more like a crown for royalty (government). I may switch it once the game design becomes solidified.

Someone suggested for the Playaction that it could force every player to play a card, whoever has the highest card wins the draw. Depending on what Pillar you win with, it could give you an advantage.

I would refine this and say that players aren't "forced" per say, but it is wise to play a card. Another revision would be to say that if you match the suit of a player, even if they win the hand, they don't earn the special advantage.

For example...

Player 1 Plays a 9 of Spades

Player 2 now has the choice to play a card or to skip. They decide to skip.

Player 3 Plays a King of Diamonds

Player 4 Plays a 4 of Diamonds

... The result of this Play action comes to Player 3 winning the hand because he has the highest card but Player 4 stole is chance of getting the Economy bonus.

Playing cards is a good way of "fishing" for high cards from players, or getting an easy bonus if you know players want to keep their card an use it. I'm quite happy with this...

Any thoughts to improve the Play action and/or anything else?

wombat929
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trick taking

Tbone wrote:
... The result of this Play action comes to Player 3 winning the hand because he has the highest card but Player 4 stole is chance of getting the Economy bonus.

Hrm. Seeing this example changes my sense of the game a bit -- I did not realize it was a trick-taking game. I guess I thought the player interaction would be less direct, focused mostly on the end scoring accounting.

I get what you're saying about spades and clubs. Looking at the Wikipedia entry about card suits, it appears that etymologically, you're on safe ground calling spades *spears*. The Spanish and French and histories of those cards had weapons in that category, though the club was also there as a mallet or a cudgel.

Tbone
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This Is One Cog of a Bigger Machine

The "Play" action is only one part of the game... it isn't just a "trick taking game", it is just one element of the entire design. Still room for much more.

stevebarkeruk
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More ideas

Here's some thoughts to add some depth to the choice of cards: maybe higher cards are always stronger, but there is a downside to being the leader in each suit. There could be an array of cards face up that can be taken and added to your civilization, but you're wary of taking one that's too high (and, in thematic terms, "overextending" your civ and leaving it vulnerable).

So the highest military card makes you the military leader with some advantage for being so (military cards played in attack are +1 value?), but it also means your civ is currently the most "aggressive" and therefore liable to being attacked by other tribes that you've made angry with your imperialism (think the fall of Rome). So I could take that King of Spades at the start of the game but I'll spend the whole game getting attacked by barbarians as the cost of it. Perhaps the player with the lowest military gets to make a "free" attack with barbarian forces by drawing a card from the deck at random and using that against you.

The highest government card would also have an advantage (managing your hand? building?) but would also mean the most corruption due to a sprawling bureaucracy. Maybe the player with the lowest government/least corruption nominates one of your face-up cards each turn and you draw a card from the deck; if the card is lower than the one that was nominated you lose that card, or lose your highest government card perhaps.

The highest economy card could work by allowing more cards to choose from, having a larger hand size, making cards 1 point "cheaper" to build (maybe if you have to discard cards to pay for building). But your conspicuous wealth attracts pirates and you lose a card at random from your hand every turn (which might not be terrible, but might be a King you've been saving for the right moment).

The highest culture would attract immigrants to your civ, allowing trade of low value cards for high value perhaps, but a bigger population means a bigger criminal element meaning you have to pay a militia by discarding cards at the end of your turn or lose a card from your face-down collection as the criminals steal priceless relics of the past (i.e. your "history" as I talked about in my earlier post).

I hope some of this is of use to you! I wonder whether it could be played across a few hands, with your civ's progress in each "Age" (hand) being noted on some sort of score sheet? Having printed sheets (something like Roll Through The Ages) to record achievements on might offset the abstract nature of the cards themselves.

Tbone
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Intriguing

I like all of these ideas. I appreciate you taking the time to elaborate.

The "Age" idea I like a lot.

Would it be too much to have each player have their own deck to draw from (52 card deck)? The reason I ask is because I want their to be a way to track players' intersections with each other (i.e. backs of cards). This way rewarding players for cooperating with others is easier.

Also It would allow for a more balanced experience since everyone has the same cards (just different decisions and draws).

This would also allow for an unlimited amount of players that could play. I can see a party of 8 people playing with no problem (maybe not?).

I think your Ideas would be cool for the "Locked" position. Where if you are caught with a high card it can be devastating, but if you keep it till the end you get more points? But if you are caught with a lower number the enemy might get a negative affect? this could bring in a cool bluffing affect to the game. Maybe you want to convince your neighbor to (we'll call it establishing a "Treaty") establish a treaty with you. To do this the player must pick one of your Locked cards. If you wanted to sabotage the player choosing you would convince him further into picking a lower card. But if you wish to watch him excel and obliterate a bigger threat you would tell him to pick up a higher card (while still being face down for dramatic affect and secrecy). This is essentially what I want the game to have A LOT of: Interactions based on trust and negotiation.

So...

Player A wants to make a treaty with Player B.

Player B either declines the offer or accepts.

Player A then picks one (or the only one) of Player B's Locked cards.

Player A reveals it and finds that it is a King of Hearts.

Player A then decides to give himself a positive affect or give Player B a negative affect. If it was a lower card, Player A would have the choice instead of Player B.

Player A gives Player B a negative affect. Since its culture (hearts), Player A has to discard 1 card.

Is this something you were looking for?

stevebarkeruk
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The idea for playing several

The idea for playing several Ages was partly spurred by the idea of there only being one deck, and the cards running out quickly (particularly with more players). By having a scoresheet to track progress, you might not need differentiated card backs because you could note on the score sheet who did what.

As for the other ideas, I was thinking more of the cards being lodged rather than locked, so that everyone can see who the leader is in each suit. If you currently lead military with a 6 of Spades I could play safe by lodging a 5 of spades (I'd be slightly weaker than you, but not have to deal with barbarians) or I can take the lead with a 7 for the bonus.

Your idea for locked cards could work alongside that, of course, and creates more interaction. Perhaps military actions target lodged cards and culture actions target locked ones?

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