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The Great Totem (Native American hunting and war)

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Tbone
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kos wrote: Further, let's say

kos wrote:

Further, let's say that these animal cards must be played from your hand, and once played on the totem they are now "out of the game". If the animal cards can be played for some other (beneficial) purpose, then this creates the tension between playing the card to get stronger vs playing the card to make progress towards victory. Progress towards victory weakens your deck by removing good cards from it. This is (in my opinion) a desirable outcome because it adds tension.

The next step would be to figure out how to get animal cards into your deck, and what else they can be used for once you have them. You've written extensively about hunting, so let's go with that. When you successfully hunt an animal, you add that animal to your deck.

So how do you hunt an animal? You've written about the chaos/harmony/coup tracks, so what if these were also expressed through cards in your deck rather than being a separate thing? The Bear might require "3 Chaos", so you have to discard cards worth 3 Chaos from your hand to successfully hunt the bear.

So how do you get Chaos/Harmony/Coup cards into your deck? I'm not sure, but it should probably involve one or more of the other elements you want (worker placement, raiding, building, etc) rather than being another new element. Or perhaps each card can be played either as an action or as its element (Chaos/Harmony/Coup).

And what else can the animals be used for besides building the totem? Again I'm not sure, but it should involve the other existing elements. Perhaps it's based on the animal, such as Bear gives +1 War, Snake gives +1 Raid, etc. Perhaps you can play animal cards during your opponent's turn to oppose their actions or make things more difficult for them. Perhaps you can play (discard) animals in order to buy other powerful cards (e.g. discard Snake to buy Poison Arrows).

Combined with my earlier expressed preference for limiting the number of "buy" options in deck building games, let's say the basic turn sequence is as follows:
- Play cards from your hand to take actions (played cards go into your discards)
- Flip 4 cards in any combination from the decks in the center
- Discard from your hand to pay the purchase cost for as many of these as you want
- Add the bought cards to your discard pile
- Discard any remaining cards in your hand
- Draw your hand up to full (reshuffle your discards into your deck if your deck is empty)

This gives you some choice over your fate (you could flip lots of Build cards if that is what you want to focus on), but also some randomness and minimises analysis paralysis. It also creates a choice between playing cards as counters during your opponents' turns (this is why the draw phase is at the end of your turn, not the start), vs using them to take actions, vs saving them to buy better cards at the end of the turn.

I like that a lot. Streamlining so there is no need for another system. You can still have a "tech tree" Just have a tribe deck with specifically chosen "boosts" that require Chaos/Harmony/Coup. Not sure about that one. But yeah, drawing four from different decks coupled with the purchasing is perfect.

Trepid
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deck building/edited

I am thinking of all the possibilities where I can combine elements into decks to streamline some. The way I think it might work for the deck building is similar to what you have already mentioned. Unlike Dominion though, I think it would be okay to keep as many cards in your hand at the end of your turn instead of having to discard them all to your discard pile. This would enable you to form a short strategy to whatever action you are wanting to do next turn. For example, if you have an attacker moving into your hunt tile or territory tile, you might want to save any defense and counter-attack cards for next turn. So you might only want to discard only a couple cards on a turn and then draw two to end your turn.

Trepid
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Action Points

Is it a bad thing if you are using deck building and you use similar mechanics of Dominion and other games, for example if I used any or all of the following on my own cards:

- action at the beginning of the round

- plus action points on a card

- draw more cards options

I'd also like to bring up the conversation of how many cards each player would have in their hand? I realize the answer would probably have to come from testing several times, but five seems to be a standard. What about 6, 7, 8, or more? I think I would probably allow 6 maximum because of how many elements it will be. When you have resources, attacking, defending, hunting, and a couple other things...there will be a somewhat wide variety of card types.

Tbone
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Maybe reduce the card types

Honestly..... The less card "types" the better. I say split it between action and resource card types. Anything more is going to bog down your draw and your hand will be filled with 75% of stuff you don't want. Simplistic design is more attractive. Defense, attack, and hunting should be on one card. Remember the value system? figure out ways that the values 1, 2, and 3 on each card can interact with your systems. What are you envisioning?

Trepid
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too much

Unfortunately, I am still envisioning way too much. I'm trying to use combination requirements for about everything (so, research or technology). The other issue is I keep thinking it's absolutely necessary to have some separate way to keep track of how much food, lumber, stone, clay, hide, jewelry, pottery, and every other thing besides using found or purchased cards. That directed me towards either using posts and rings on the actual board (teepee would be a wooden peg-post and you can fill up the post with food (red rings)), or a scoreboard that has the resources on it and you use like counters to keep track of how many you have, or just resolve back to using cards. You'd end up having cards that had different amount of each resource on it (1 food, 5 lumber, 10 stone, or whatever). It comes down to at this point I am just flat-out confused.

One of the comments posted mentioned on your purchase part of your turn you flip over a card in any combination from four different decks. That alone made me think there was a suggestion to use lots of decks. So I started graphing out how many decks are actually necessary: move, animal, attack, defend, build, item, harmonize. That is just way too many. I would love to condense it down so you can do attack, defend, and hunt from the same card. Then I get into the resources and that just throws me off.

Here is the modified victory/story which I would like to see:
A large burial mound in Dusk Valley has been a battleground for generations. Victory will come to the tribe who claims the top of the mound first by building a great totem. So that being said: you need to collect different animals, red cedar for the totem pole segments, paint, the carving tool, and then you need lots of workers and horses to move each segment to the top of the mound (one at a time).

Well, to build up your population of workers, you first have to build structures. So you have to hunt certain animals (animals are ranked in size 1, 2, 3) and collect other resources. Longhouses, teepees, wigwams, etc all require different resources to build. Without going any further, you see where I'm going with this. It's just all too much. I want there to be a variety of things but i don't know when to stop! :D I can take food, water, and some of the other things out if need be. I hate to have to keep track of a zillion things going on but where do you stop? How much is just enough but not too much?

So I am definitely prepared to back off on some of the ideas to simplify, but I could use more direction on how to actually combine things.

Harmony, Chaos, and Coup I think should stay in. That seems like a terrific element of the game.

I'm very good with putting attack, defend, and hunt on the same card, but I don't know how. I'd love to combine more things onto cards but I am just so lost right now with all the options available. The other thing you mentioned about the peace, prosperity, judgement, wisdom is fantastic, but I don't know how to do it. Ack!

How many decks maximum do you think should be out there if we're doing action and resource type decks. Sorry for the long read, but I didn't know how else to describe the situation any shorter. I'll keep looking at the value system and see how that can be incorporated across all the elements.

Tbone
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Ground Up

I see... Well so far we have a few systems:

-Harmony/Chaos/Coup Balance
-Different action cards for deck building
-Principles (peace, judgement, etc.) that give each action bonuses
-Buildings, totem pieces, items/weapons are created through resources
-Hex board for area control, combat, exploration, etc.

Simplify everything else.

Resources: you need maybe three or four (wood, nutrients, jewelry, animal skin)

Collecting resources: instead of a "hunt" action. Make it a "scavenger" action. Draw from the gather deck and see what happens (you draw a waterfall => 1 = +1 nutrients, 2 [Chaos(2)] = +3 nutrients +1 Chaos, 3 [Harmony(4)Chaos(1)] = +2 nutrients +1 jewelry)

Different building types: no need really, maybe each tribe has a different special ability/costs for their buildings. I know you want to show each tribes different building type but honestly its too much.

Different deck types: One for each action. Build deck = items/upgrades/buildings, Retaliate deck = tactics/defense, Scavenger Deck = resources/movement, Totem deck = totem stuff, and Community deck = support/trade/meeples.

Turn structure: Execute a maximum of two cards (two actions) from your hand. Example (I use my scavenger card and it says [move through three empty hexes; Price: Chaos(1),Harmony(2),Coup(3),food(1)], then I use my retaliate card and it says [move one native one hex and capture any one hut stationed there; Price: Chaos(3),Harmony(2),Coup(2)])

Trepid
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Thanks

Thanks Tbone. That makes a lot more sense now. I think I was looking at it at the wrong angle. Sometimes I have to see it in a different light for it to make sense. I am digging the ideas.

Trepid
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Couple more questions...

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Trepid
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Couple more questions...

Do you think it would create a nice tension if the player was allowed the choice to keep as many cards in their hand at the end of their turn. If they were planning an action strategy in the next couple of turns they could save up those cards they need, but still discard enough for the chance to draw more. So the tension would come between, "Do I discard all and hope for better? Or do I keep these two flanking cards because X player is about to attack me?".

And does it seem like I should put the resource cards in the cards (food, wood, stone, clay) as a separate scorecard? Let's say that it is your turn and you are going hunting. One of your workers is standing on a tile with no structures. On the action turn, you play your attacks and you clearly have enough harmony and coup to bag the animal. Since you didn't wound it but killed it, you would get +2 food +1 hide +1 harmony. Do you add 2 food tokens to a scoreboard? Or do you draw two food cards from the food pile and add it to your deck? Or do you take the animal card and put it in your deck, so you can use it for hide or bone or food or totem section in the future?

Tbone
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Hmm...

Probably tokens of some sort. I'm not too sure. Right now your components are as follows:

Cards (60-150)
Hexes (7-15)
Meeples (15-30)
Buildings/structures (12-25)

Adding tokens wouldn't be a huge addition, but it would be much more tactile than cards. I'm not sure about this one.

Trepid
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well..

I am good with having resources go directly into your personal deck once you have obtained them through work, and would be nice to keep from using a scoreboard for all of your resources. The question that I keep struggling with is, once you successfully hunt a rabbit for example, and it goes into your personal deck, does it then become a one-time use after it makes its way into your hand? If the animal card has several options on it: food, hide, bone, etc.....can you use the food option over and over again, and it goes back into your deck? I just don't know about using it as food every time it pops back up into your hand.

Even though this game won't be 100% realistic, I am striving for events being somewhat sensical. It doesn't seem too realistic to obtain a pile of lumber from cutting down a tree, then a few turns later you draw the card into your hand. You use that lumber card + a buffalo card to make a teepee. Then you put both the lumber and buffalo card back into your deck to build another teepee or something else later. I mean, it could happen, and it would contribute to streamlining the game a lot more. On the other hand, I don't want to frustrate players by having a one-time use food, which would force them hunt every or every other turn just to keep up with the required elements to purchase better cards. Like always, I am open to suggestions.

I am absolutely going to have the several options on the cards though. That is a brilliant idea, and thank you for it!

Trepid
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Victory Condition

I've spent the last few days pondering over the victory condition and how everything should revolve around that goal. One thing I am concerned about is that the idea of using totems might appear that I am trying to copy the board game Totem. I haven't researched or watched any gameplay from Totem, so all I know so far is that you are moving totems around the board. I just want to refrain from the appearance that this game is directly ripping off another, because I am trying to do the opposite.

That being said, I think there may be a little shift in the victory condition for the game, and it would be a two-part type of victory. The biggest change is adding a family of super-massive legendary grizzly bears that have been terrorizing the area. The game might start with just a male and female. The bears' movements and actions would be defined by cards embedded in the decks to serve as somewhat random. Things like moving, attacking, giving birth, etc.

Here's an example: On your turn you decide to hunt, so you draw a card from the animal deck. The card is a bear action card and it has three choices, ranked from top to bottom. You always use the first action at the top if the condition can be met and conditions might look like this:

-All cubs on the territory have become adult bears and they move northeast.
-If no cubs are on the territory then the mother gives birth to
2 cubs.
-All the bears on the territory move towards the nearest food source.

The actions of the card ends when a condition is met and then the player's turn can continue. The bears' cards will be movement, attack, or a combination of both, and they can attack both players and animals on their current territory. Sometimes the bears will split up and form different families, making them even more difficult to kill. These brown bears are the most powerful animals in the game, and the victory condition might look something like:

A family of legendary grizzly bears have been terrorizing the valley territories. To achieve victory, your tribe must possess all of the bears' hides and construct a Great Totem on the Great Mound.

Everything else in the game will pretty much stay the same: you can build totems on your territories (1 each) to increase your actions for anything that occurs on that territory. You have to collect resources of food, stone, lumber, hide, skin, etc. You can cooperate with the other tribes for +unity and +coup but there is only one victor. You can steal the hides from the other players to achieve victory. The requirements for killing the legendary bears is very high (harmony, chaos, and coup) and you need to have unlocked at least one of the legendary weapons on your technology tree. I am still working with combining elements of the game by having many options on each card and that will help reduce the complexity some.

Thoughts? What do you think about forcing the family of bears around the battlefield, wrecking havoc on the players and animals? You can even lure them away from your territory and towards one of your enemies lands with strategic placement of your food resources. You might be able to temporarily deter them with fire, too.

Tbone
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I was just wondering how your

I was just wondering how your development was going. I am unsure about this one. The theme doesn't do it for me, it might for others. Hmm... I'm not sure. You're on the right track, but note that this is a whole other system amongst a lot of other systems. Simplifying is key.

Trepid
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yea

Agreed, Tbone. I feel like I'm forcing it. The victory condition of "hunt animals, build totem sections, claim hill" just doesn't seem to have enough intensity or density. Maybe it does and I just don't know it yet because there still have not been printed cards or anything to really test yet. Maybe once I start testing and changing things around the player interaction I'm looking for is really there. I looked at little more at the Totem board game and really it's just moving a totem block around and there's different animals on the board.

If I did follow through with the building totems from animals I think that might be different enough. This victory condition needs to be fun though. I have several open office documents full of information including spreadsheets, text documents, and drawings....and there is as many unanswered questions in all of that than there is information. Each day I get a little closer though.

I'm actually headed to the public library later to check out some Native American books for further reading and research. Hopefully I run across something that helps me decide on the victory condition.

Trepid
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information update

Further investigation into totem poles revealed that only certain tribes utilized totem poles, specifically the tribes of the northwest coastal regions of the US and Canada. That leaves me with quite the dilemma on several fronts.

I still want this board game/deck builder to be semi-realistic. There are several things I could do. I could continue with the build-a-totem victory condition while still giving the player a large amount of tribes/clans/bands to choose from. This would go against the historical factual information of which tribes actually used totems. I could reduce the tribes to only the ones who actually used totems but not sure about that, considering that I really want to include the following tribes:

Apache, Cherokee, Cheyenne, Chikasaw, Comache, Chippewa, Choktah, Crow, Fox (Meskwaki), Inuit, Mohawk, Mohave, Navaho, Pawnee, Pueblo, Sauk (Suc), Sioux, Wichita

I could also completely change the victory condition but not sure if I want to do that either. My unanswered questions led to more questions.

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