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Territory expansion and crunching

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larienna
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I made a playtest lately for an idea of mine where the players cooperate together from a starting point to conquer all europe. Here is the prototype picture:

http://bgd.lariennalibrary.com/uploads/Mainsite/GameIdea/GameIdea-WrathD...

Now the problem is that I fear that the AI the players are fighting against will never have sufficient forces to crunch back the players.

So my question is: What mechanism can possibly crunch back the player?

I think it could be related to production and resource management. From the examples used in WW2 for the European and pacific theater, it's like if the aggressor was well prepared and full of resources, but it would eventually run out of resources if the expansion is not fast enough.

Right now in my game, there is a role selection mechanism that gives game actions and new units. Which means that this production is independent of empire size and even if crunched back, having little territories is not a disadvantage.

So from what I understand, the players will need to start with a large amount of resources but the only way to resupply those resources should be through territory conquest (so roles would not give units). So that losing territories can actually hinder the players.

Is there other ways to deal with this problem that the solution above?

DarkDream
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Need More Details

Larienna,

I think to better answer this question, you need to provide some detail:

- What is your intended audience? Is this for war gamers, heavy euro players and so on.
- What is your intended play time?
- What are the resources involved?

What is the main mechanism that you are considering for your AI? Is it card based?

--DarkDream

larienna
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Well if you think it can help

Well if you think it can help you here is the info but there is not much to say about it:

I am aiming for a deep and small game with a euro style look and feel which is in fact a war game. Play time possible around 3 hours. Cooperative game playable solo where the resources for now are simply unit cubes used for battle. Their quantity in a location unlocks additional units (dice) to roll in combat. The AI is composed of 8 cards, 1 for each territory, and after each player turn and after certain events, a card is flipped and the matching territory acts ( spawn units and attack if able).

I made some computations, right now each player will spawn an average of 4.3 cubes on their turn, which means 13 cubes when all players have played. But it's currently always fixed. So if the AI would need to produce more than 13 cubes to over come the player. Right now the AI produces 3-6 cubes in the same amount of time.

I made a mini test this morning where the min production average was 2 per player, so 6 cubes, but now conquered territories gave 2 cubes. So near the end when players have 6 territories (7 are required to win), They would produce up to 18 cubes. It seems right now that I might need to make the AI produce more cubes to have a chance of cushing the player. Using territory as resources also gives a possibility to cripple the player's income (because it cannot be recovered once destroyed)

So yes, I can use cube average to balance unit production and make crunching back possible. But it there other ways to balanced this besides cube production.

larienna
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One thing I thought is to

One thing I thought is to separate unit production from unit deployment. Roles would only allow to pick units from the reserve and place them in to play, but the production will remain steady.

In World war 2, germans seems to have a head start in production so this seems what allowed them to do their initial expansion. Same thing for the japanese, but in the pacific there was a serious lack of resistance.

As for the crush back: For the japanese theater it was pretty easy because the ammericans had much more superior production, so it was just a matter of time. For the european theater, I am not really sure, I think lack of fuel was a good reason for both theaters.

So this is why I was maybe thinking in giving lot of units on start and use a lighter defense by default to allow initial expansion and hope the "allies" can build enough units to counter the expansion unles the players expand too fast.

john smith
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https://boardgamegeek.com/boa

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/98/axis-allies

This may help you with ideas. This game has many of the same attributes you are describing. It is about the Second World War.

larienna
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I know axis and allies, I am

I know axis and allies, I am more interested in knowing the elements that makes empires grow and get crunched.

My game takes place in 1871, I know that in WW2 lack of fuel was a major issue for the axis downfall, but it does not applies for my game.

Also since there is only 8 territories, I cannot make certain territory really more valuable or worth keeping than others since they cover a large amount of space, they all have an equal value.

One thing I realised, is that off board territories could increase the amount of cube income in favor of the allies, so that even if the players conquer many territories, there is still some "power" left outside europe to help crunch back the players. That could prevent having lower resistance as the empire expands. It's worth exploring.

X3M
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Is having supply lines, an

Is having supply lines, an option?
With that, you could attack a region. And choise to cut the supply lines first.

Then, once conquered. They have to be rebuild from the other direction.

I think that 3 supply max for an army. With 1 added each round when allowed.
Might work best.

Depending of course on the scale of the game

larienna
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Since there is only 8

Since there is only 8 territories, no supply lines can really be traced. The only thing close is that once a player lose a territory they conquered, they lose any production capabilities from it for the rest of the game.

The thematic reason behind it is once the players conquer an area, they open a node in the area to gather power. Now the the node is open, the humans knows where to attack so if they take back the territory, they destroy the node forever.

Stormyknight1976
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The way I read it

It seems that your working on a Tower of Defense game in reverse.

Instead of players being the tower to defend against the onslaught, It is the nation or region that is the Tower and the players are trying to over throw the Tower.

Building a defense line of walls , trenches, units as in soldiers, calvary, mustard gas, could be pre dawn WW1 prototype bioweapon warfare.

Trains for supply runs, blimps for bomb drops. building ammuition dump sites in certain locations in the Europe region. Cutting off the water supply to the players. Cutting off food supply to the players. Toll roads with heavy defense set up for Europe to slow down the player advancment, while Europe builds for supply buildings.

Stormy

larienna
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Your perspective is

Your perspective is interesting, but I would have to reduce the scale of map, make it more detailed. Unfortunately, I cannot do that, so I have no choice to stick with something very abstract and high level.

For now I separated deployment from production, so you can emulate a form of supply chain since there is a possibility of having a large reserve of undeployed units, or the opposite, having no units in reserve to deploy. Then there is restrictions when units can be deployed.

I think the key element here is to make sure the players does not have an unbreakable defense but produce enough troops to expand. I also thought that when a territory is captured, it now behaves differently, like spawning resistance troops. But I could procede other wise and maybe sabotage the reserve or do other resistance operation than just spawning cubes.

I could make each of the 8 territories have a unique effect for additional re-playability and depth. Another thing worth exploring.

X3M
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Just an idea

You could have the different territories, produce resources in different combinations. So that players are somewhat pushed in a certain direction with production.

On the other hand, this could lead to the choice of, what to produce for the next conquest.

Players need to determine a path to victory.

I do advice with this, to have the different regions, provide different resources every game.

For 2 different resources:

Perhaps, a simple die roll per region can help. 7 resources in total. Subtracting the die roll.
Leaving with 6 to 1 of one resource and 1 to 6 of the other resource.

larienna
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I did wanted to have various

I did wanted to have various regions, but for now it does not really affect production, but mostly combat.

For example, in Italy, since there is the vatican and a lot of holy stuff, you lose a dracula cube (black cube) each battle round automatically. Probably in Russia, I will have a special effect related to the fact that there is a lot of territory with little population density (Maybe easier to rally units).

Else the second unique element was that when the capital in a territory falls, the outcome of a captured territory could be different. Russia and the ottoman empire have off board territories that will send units or ships. France might send ships from Algeria. Another might spawn resistance troops, another might sabotage reserve, etc.

Like explained in the previous post, it would be a method for the Humans to get additional resistance power even if territories are lost to avoid the issue of less territories making it easier for the players and thus making the game easier as the game progress.

Again it does not affect production, and there is only 1 resource available which is cubes. In fact there could be 2 resource because there are cubes of your color and black cubes ( the shared color) which represents dracula's units. So far, the player who captured a territory put a disk of his color on the node to indicate ownership, thus producing cubes of his color.

I could put 2 different value for production for colored cubes vs black cubes. Since the current production is currently around 3 cubes per territories, it does not leave much permutations: 3-0, 2-1, 1-2, 0-3. Since I would like all territories to produce at least 1 colored cube, I would remove 0-3.

larienna
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one idea I had yesterday, is

one idea I had yesterday, is that when a territory fall, it's card is replaced by a new one which is now some kind of event that affect all friendly or enemy territories.

For example, when Rome fall, the Vatican calls the inquisition which will destroy 1 black cubes in each territory when the card is revealed.

This way the humans does not get weaker as the player's empire grow and the effect is scaled to the player's empire size. Also you could have a different game every time according to which territory get captured in which order. Some territories are very likely to be captured because they are near the starting position.

So far, the goal is to capture 7 of 8 territories. So it could create a slight variation each game.

DarkDream
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My Take on Development

Larienna,

What I would concentrate on is make a simple AI which works and then expand from there.

For the AI, I would have a small deck of cards which indicates what each turn what resources the AI gets, where they are placed and what action to take: attack a region, reinforce a region with more troops and so on.

So for example, you could have a simple approach of listing a set of actions with and or if the first action cannot be done. As an example,

Resource Acquisition: Gain 2 units in each border region.

Movement Action: Invade region that has less units than in controlled adjacent region / move 1 unit from each adjacent regions bordering region with most units.

Depending on the results of a battle or loss, gain of regions, cards can be added to the deck to reflect a changing strategy based on game state.

To simulate dwindling resources, can have a finite AI resource pool.

Some ideas.

I found that this podcast:

http://www.boardgamedesignlab.com/creating-a-great-solo-variant-with-mor...

and Morten Pedersen's articles on board game geek really helpful on getting ideas how to implement an AI system.

--DarkDream

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