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Help needed with Energy/Economic Resource in Space Empire Game

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DarkDream
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The game I am working on currently has three resources: Ore, Research and Gold.

Ore is just production that allows you to build space ships and other buildings.

Research is used to acquire technologies.

Gold is used just like Trade Goods in Twilight Imperium 3. It is a "wildcard" resource where one Gold can be used as either one ore or one research.

Using Gold in this manner did not really work because having one unit of Gold is in a sense like having one Ore and Research at the same time (with the understanding when it is used you can only select it being either Ore or Research).

Players colonizing planets ended up concentrating on Gold exploitation rather than Ore or Science unless the Ore or Science that could be generated was significantly more than the amount of Gold. This reduced interesting decisions and made Gold a super resource.

As such I am looking for some ideas on how to change this third Gold resource so it adds more to the game and leads to more interesting decisions.

A lot of 4x video games and some board games (Eclipse) use some form of currency or energy as a form of an upkeep limiting resource. For example, the number of colonies, ships or buildings is limited by how much energy you generate a turn.

In Eclipse, the amount of actions you can do and the number of systems you can control is limited to how much money is being generated. At the end of a player's turn their is an upkeep phase where one must pay up for all the activity done.

I would like to have something similar except without having the annoying upkeep calculations and paying after the fact. It feels too much like having a miniature balance sheet.

Here are some ideas I have had so far.

1) Use Gold as an economic resource that allows one to do more or less actions based on how good the player's economy (measured by how much Gold) is.

In the game, each player has 5 actions tokens per turn. By exhausting an action token, a player can execute 1 action.

I was thinking that after a player has exhausted all their action tokens, they could spend X amount of Gold to unexhaust a token. Idea being that the better economy you have, the more efficient you are and thus the more you can do.

Right now, a player must permanently use up an action counter to colonize a planet (negative feedback loop). Perhaps Gold can be used to get more action counters?

2) Use Gold as a form of Energy where space ships and new colonies need Energy as well as Ore to be built. Thus it would take longer to build ships and colonies the less Energy you have. A negative feedback loop can be added, by requiring extra Energy for each extra colony you create.

3) Use Gold/Energy as a limiting factor on how many colonies one can have. For example, in order to settle a colony on System X, must use up 2 energy tokens.

These energy tokens are created only once by another system which produces energy.

If the System, that uses those energy tokens is destroyed then those 2 energy tokens are reclaimed by the player to be used again. Also if the system which generated those 2 energy tokens is destroyed then those tokens must be removed by the System using them and discarded.

Which of these options do you like? Any new options you can think of or other derivations?

Thanks,

DarkDream

Rick L
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I can see how your current

I can see how your current setup makes gold too desirable - it keeps options open. But I like the idea of using it to get extra actions instead of just another resource, or just as currency. You could consider that gold is "hiring help" to allow the extra action points.

X3M
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Just spouting 2 idea's

When does one resource replace another?

If it serves multiple uses like you have.
Just like money.
However, if something is wanted by a lot of buyers. The price increases.
Since it is not simple to implement inflation in a board game. How about simply needing 2 gold for 1 ore, or 2 gold for 1 research.
Gold will keep its multiple use and might be a helping hand, there where needed. But gold alone will not get the players where they want to be.

Another way of having gold AND ore and research. Is needing 1 gold to spend 1 ore, and 1 gold to spend 1 research. Meaning that if you build a ship of 3 ore. The game now asks for 3 ore and 3 gold. You even can play a bit with these numbers, 2 gold and 4 ore or 4 gold and 2 ore. Depending on the ship that the player wants to build.

DarkDream
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Yes. Along my Thoughts.

Mokheshur wrote:
I can see how your current setup makes gold too desirable - it keeps options open. But I like the idea of using it to get extra actions instead of just another resource, or just as currency. You could consider that gold is "hiring help" to allow the extra action points.

Yes, or thinking having more Gold is a form of having a better economy thus more wealth which makes the production and research of things more efficient by being able to contract work, spend more or better equipment, pay people better and so on.

The Professor
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Why three resources?

I ask this question, most notably because in game design you typically remove those things that end-up not working as elegantly as you desire. For instance, Eclipse's use of three resources makes sense because each one performs in a fundamentally different way. In TI3, the use of Trade Goods as a "wild card" makes perfect sense, because other than a few Action cards and the Trade Strategy card, you can't actively produce more of them, while the conquered planets actually provide you the main resources of the game...money and influence.

Having simply Ore and Research/Science makes perfect sense, and depending on where you are in the design plan, you may want to simply play-test what you have and determine if there's anything really missing. From my own experience, we maintained only two resources in our game, TAU CETI, Energy (which is expended when performing most Actions) and TAU (which is spent on specific economic-related Actions). We abstracted logistical fleets and other aspects, as we didn't want to clog the board with more plastic miniatures, nor did we want the players focused on those things extraneous to the main game.

That said, may I ask, beyond the struggle for a possible third resource, what's the special niche that your game fills that I, as a player, can't find in the nearly half-dozen well-received 4X games, as that may shed some light on the possible resource as well.

Cheers,
Joe

DarkDream
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Good Thoughts

X3M wrote:
How about simply needing 2 gold for 1 ore, or 2 gold for 1 research.
Gold will keep its multiple use and might be a helping hand, there where needed. But gold alone will not get the players where they want to be.

Yes. It is a good thought. I went ahead and tried that but what happened is that if a planet had a choice, for example, of 2 Ore/Research and 1-3 Gold, the Ore/Research would invariably be picked.

X3M wrote:
Another way of having gold AND ore and research. Is needing 1 gold to spend 1 ore, and 1 gold to spend 1 research. Meaning that if you build a ship of 3 ore. The game now asks for 3 ore and 3 gold. You even can play a bit with these numbers, 2 gold and 4 ore or 4 gold and 2 ore. Depending on the ship that the player wants to build.

Yes. Option 2, in my original post mentioned something along these lines. To build a ship you would need a specified amount of Gold and Ore (1 Fleet = 5 Ore and 2 Gold).

I think I will have to go ahead and try that option.

Thanks for the thoughts.

--DarkDream

radioactivemouse
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Why not...

Why not make your resources completely dependent on each other?

Like this: Mining Ore can be sold to get Gold, which can be spent for Research, which is used to get more Ore.

You can adjust the values to make it interesting, Say Ore is easy to get, but your machines will wear out and require constant Research to keep them going. You can get a fair amount of Gold for the Ore and you can trade it quickly, but traders won't give you the same amount every time; you have to sell at the right time. With the Gold you can upgrade/repair your machines using Research, but it costs a lot of Gold.

So in essence you're forcing your players to build an engine.

Anyways, just an idea.

DarkDream
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Great Questions

The Professor wrote:
Having simply Ore and Research/Science makes perfect sense, and depending on where you are in the design plan, you may want to simply play-test what you have and determine if there's anything really missing.

Thanks Joe for the thoughtful questions.

As for why three resources to begin with, the three resources resulted from the idea stage. I wanted a resource for building things, a resource for researching things and a resource that acted as a currency to buy things, trade things and so on.

I was hoping to make the Gold resource into a type of economic resource where players that owned planets with more Gold made it easier to build and research things; I was thinking that being more wealthy allows one to be more efficient and quicker in achieving things.

I also was using Gold as a way to increase votes (bribes) in the politics phase which has players vote on Senate Objectives. If I did get rid of Gold, I would have to have another resource which would act as bribes.

But it is a good point taken. I will test the game without Gold if I can think of way to have a resource to help with voting (maybe Ore and Research will do for now).

The Professor wrote:
That said, may I ask, beyond the struggle for a possible third resource, what's the special niche that your game fills that I, as a player, can't find in the nearly half-dozen well-received 4X games, as that may shed some light on the possible resource as well.

As you point out, there are quite a few well-received 4X board games out there. The particular niche in that bastion of games that I am hoping to fill is a 4x game that has a more cooperative element to it. I am hoping to design it as a semi-cooperative game where the eXterminate part of the 4x equation is against the game engine and not other players.

To frame the game in a more cooperative light, players are factions of a Galactic Senate that vote on Senate Objectives (where cooperation is needed to achieve them).

Any more thoughts or advice, please let me know.

Thanks,

DarkDream

The Professor
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eXterminate ~ a different look

Yes, I'm familiar with the idea, as our published game is the first cooperative 4X game (not mission-driven, see Centauri Saga) with a space theme. In TAU CETI, each of the races attempt to garner Galactic Points, upgrade their Command Ships, increase their economic well being, and build Orbitals, all the while trying to prevent or resolve (read eXterminate) planetary crises.

The idea of thwarting an external threat, makes it exceptionally appealing as a co-op game.

ElKobold
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DarkDream wrote: As for why

DarkDream wrote:

As for why three resources to begin with, the three resources resulted from the idea stage. I wanted a resource for building things, a resource for researching things and a resource that acted as a currency to buy things, trade things and so on.

Have you considered splitting the "Ore" into multiple resources and have resource-to-resource trade based on some sort of offer/demand mechanism?

This might be a way to go if you have no direct conflict between players to add more interaction.

DarkDream
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Thinking Along the Same Lines

I have not thought of splitting ore but with having Gold (which can act as Energy) and requiring, for example, Ore and Gold to build a ship that can help to make it so players will trade with each other (need more different resources).

I was thinking a simple trading mechanism like in Catan.

Thematically it makes sense as the players are different factions of the same Galactic Senate and thus more likely to trade for the good of all.

Thanks for the thoughts.

--DarkDream

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