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Combine Victory and Resources (was: Twisted Terrain control)

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Fhizban
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Its been ages since I last posted on this board. It's almost like returning home. So here is my question:

Do you know that? You have a game - a little, neat, complete, WORKING game - and then after some playtesting you get the feeling that there is something missing. You start to tweak your little game, just a bit - to make it work different than the others - and this is where the real trouble starts.

The game is a light wargame. There are two different objects in the game: hex tiles and units. You move your units across the gameboard to gain control of the hex tiles and try to eliminate as many enemy units as possible. The units are classic fantasy wargame units and everything from melee to ranged, from slow moving to fast moving, from small warriors to large beasts is present.

And now we come to the point where it's getting tricky. Personally I have the feeling that there is no real solution for my problem, the whole system does just not sound right. Maybe more playtesting will clarify things, and maybe some of you have ideas to contribute:

My twisted terrain control concept:

* For every hex tile under your control you gain 1 goldpiece per turn.
* To bring new units into play you have to pay in gold.
* To move, attack or conquer hexes with units you have to pay in gold.
* Every other action in the game costs you gold too (playing event cards or whatever).
* the player who first collects x goldpieces, wins the game (x is a large number).

(collected goldpieces are kept and carried over to the next turn)

So basicly its not about how many hexes you control but how many goldpieces you manage to gather and keep - wich should be roughly equivalent to basic terrain control.

furthermore you use the gold to buy, move, attack and conquer with your units.

every turn you have to decide how much of your gold you want to spend. spending gold makes victory more unlikely, but increases your chances to dominate the gameboard. on the other side keeping gold increases your changes for victory but does not extend your precence on the gameboard.

Thats it. Maybe someone has a oppinion. I will clarify things if this seems unclear. keep in mind that the other mechanics of the game are uninteresting in this discussion, its just about this key mechanic.

I dont now if this works out right - it just sounds too "quirky"?

-Fhizban

FastLearner
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Combine Victory and Resources (was: Twisted Terrain control)

I think it basically makes sense, with you having to spend your victory points in order to potentially gain more victory points. Medici, for example, uses that direct connection.

There is a basic flaw that can arise from such a direct connection: runaway leaders and "fallaway" losers. If you are doing well then you'll earn a ton of money and do very well, and if you're doing poorly then you'll struggle hard to earn any money and will continue to do poorly compared to the others, possibly even being caught in a downward spiral wihere every turn you have less and less money as your territory is eaten away by your competitors.

In a simple game like Medici -- where you can do a pretty good job of figuring out just how much of a gamble it is to raise your auction bid or drop and hope for something better -- you have less of a problem. There just aren't that many unknowns and you're less likely to make a big mistake (or let someone else have a huge advantage). In addition, the entire game takes 45 minutes, so runaway leaders and fallaway losers (a) don't become that obvious until very close to the end, and (b) aren't as frustrating because the game will end soon, anyway.

It's very common in game design to separate victory points from economic resource in order to give the designers some control over the runaway/fallaway problem. This allows for easy adjustment for inflation, allows you to put brakes on the leader and propel the loser, and lets you do a ton of adjestments to nearly every aspect of the game.

I don't know how conscious game designers tend to be when separating victory points/conditions from the economic model, but it's a very handy tool, and some games just can't work without it.

From your description, I imagine you'll have runaway leader and fallaway loser problems, probably pretty big ones. You may be able to come up with clever ways to solve it, though!

-- Matthew

Fhizban
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Combine Victory and Resources (was: Twisted Terrain control)

@FastLearner: Thank you, you described the mechanic better than I did. I have to check out Medici by the way.

Excactly thats it: I wanted to COMBINE victory condition with resource generation. Seperating it is (in my opinion) the normal way to go.

It's a tough one - I have to admit. Right now the runaway leader/fallaway loser problem is present very often. It is just too easy for a player to gain an advantage early in the game (and let it by just being one single goldcoin ahead) and the opponent is not able to make up this advantage anymore (without the use of special cards/a large amount of luck).

Jebbou
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Combine Victory and Resources (was: Twisted Terrain control)

Hello Fhizban,

Is your game designed to be played by more than two players simultenously? This could have an impact on how you will address the "Runaway leader" situation mentionned by Matthew. Furthermore, if there are more than two players, separating money from victory points could create another nasty effect on your game, the "Bash the leader" effect. That is, as soon as someone takes the lead in victory points, all other players ally themselves to reduce that player's strength to a point where he is no longer a threat, for a certain amount of time. Then another player takes the lead, and fall victim of the same issue. We have experienced kind of situation too often in the game "Mare Nostrum".

Jeb

PS: Here's an interesting post that addresses two of the issues mentionned so far:
http://www.bgdf.com/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=3312&highlight=bash+leader

Fhizban
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Combine Victory and Resources (was: Twisted Terrain control)

@Jebbou: Its two players only. And my aim is to prevent seperating victory conditions from resource generation.

im updating the rules and the mockup prototype. Im racking my mind about this mechanic and maybe more playtesting gives me inspiration.

phpbbadmin
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Combine Victory and Resources (was: Twisted Terrain control)

A possible option, at the end of ever round, the player that has the least in each category (say gold, units, territories) get a card that they can use to buy or pay for a certain number of golds worth of whatever. For example, if I have the fewest units, then I get the 'Rally Troops' card that allows me to spend 10 'gold' to buy units that turn. The card goes away at the end of the turn, so if I don't use it (or all of the 'gold' for that matter) then I lose it.

Another option, is to make things more expensive depending upon how many you already have. For example, if I have 10 units, buying another will be significantly more expensive than if I only had one.

A third option, would be to make things progressivley more expensive to purchase in a SINGLE turn. This technique is used with great success in quite a few games. For example, a unit might cost me 1 gold. The 2nd unit would cost 2, the third 4. the fourth 8th, etc. This would make it incredibly hard for a person to run away with the game, but they would still be accumulating gold to use as victory points at the end of the game.

A final option I just thought of was an upkeep costs for your units. Think of it as the cost of feeding/supplying your army. Let's face it, in wargames you need units to win, so having an upkeep cost will make it hard to maintain a large army, even if you're doing well. You can scale this however you want, but the simplest method would be 1 gold per unit. Of course, if you used this method, then you'd have to modify your gold payout mechanic (perhaps pay more gold depending upon how many adjacent hexes in a group you controlled ).

A different scaling method might be something staged. Like if you have up to 3 units, you pay 1 gold; up to 5 you pay 3 gold, etc. Obviously this will need to be tweaked to fit your particular game but you get the idea.

Hope this helps!
-Darke

By the way, I think the use of currency as VPs is not inherently bad, as long as you have mechanics in place to mitigate the runaway leader problem as Fastlearner suggested.

TheReluctantGeneral
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Combine Victory and Resources (was: Twisted Terrain control)

Another idea is to make gold spent on VPs unusable for anything else. In effect, you have a VP 'bank' which you may pay into, but not withdraw from in order to pay for units etc, although perhaps occasional special cards would permit withdrawals.

To prevent players for simply hoarding gold and paying in at the end, you could have a VP track which has a series of milestone marked on it. The first player with enough gold in the bank to reach each milestone gets a VP bonus, (or perhaps some other on-board, non VP related bonus) as an incentive to save.

There could be some pre-requisite for paying into the bank - say ownership of certain hexes or special units. The more of these the player controls the more he can pay to the bank in one turn, giving him flexibility between using gold for expenses or making a sudden dash for that VP track milestone.

This goes some way to addressing the runaway leader issue since players will not be able to hold large hoards of gold, and the ability each has to act on the board will be limited by their accessible funds. So while one player may be ahead in the bank, the on board situation could be alot more equal (or even favour the player who has banked less gold), allowing the player trailing in VPs to catch up...

Nestalawe
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Combine Victory and Resources (was: Twisted Terrain control)

TheReluctantGeneral wrote:

There could be some pre-requisite for paying into the bank - say ownership of certain hexes or special units. The more of these the player controls the more he can pay to the bank in one turn, giving him flexibility between using gold for expenses or making a sudden dash for that VP track milestone.

I do something similar to this in a game of mine, and though it works nicely in theory, during gameplay, because its more fun getting stronger and fighting against the other players, most players don't worry so much about using their resource for VP. Maybe its just the balance, though I have been changing my system, because for the type of game I am trying to make, it just doesn't work (though it could work well for other types of games).

Having a single resource in a game, and using it for both VPs and strengthening yourself in the game is a tricky one, unless there are other aspects of the game which influence your decision between either gettig stronger, or scoring VPs

Fhizban
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Combine Victory and Resources (was: Twisted Terrain control)

@Darke: Thank you most useful, especially option number four. what about this one:

instead of a basic upkeep cost, you have to pay 1 gold for every action a unit performs during a turn. a unit can only perform one action per turn (move or attack). you know, if i do it your way the player has to pay 1 gold for upkeep even if he is not using the unit this turn.

@General: Oh. Another fine idea. what about this one:

you loose all goldpieces at the end of your turn. but you can choose to transfer goldpieces to your "VP bank".

just playing with the thoughts.

Nestalawe
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Combine Victory and Resources (was: Twisted Terrain control)

Fhizban wrote:

you loose all goldpieces at the end of your turn. but you can choose to transfer goldpieces to your "VP bank".

Heh, I'd like to see how this develops, because it is similar to how I was working VPs. This is what I had (its a game about Vampires, kindof...) -

You gain Blood at the start of each turn from having thralls in villages, and also through combat. At the end of each turn, you may spend a certain amount of Blood depending on how many villages you control. i.e. if you control 3 Villages, you can spend up to three Blood. The number of VPs you score is then mulitplied by a factor depending on the phase of the moon. i.e. for every point you spend during the Full Moon you get 4VPs, but you cannot score during the New Moon. After you spend any Blood you want on Vps, you must discard half your total Blood.

So that seems fairly straightforward, but during gameplay, most players don't bother scoring so much, though of course it can do with more tweaking and playtesting.

Because Blood is the only resource in the game, and is used for a variety of other other things, most players would rather save their Blood to spend on other things.

But, in saying that, the last few game I have been tweaking thigns a bit and it seems to be working a bit better. I also had planned to have a player gain a special ability every 10 points they score (first player to 40 points wins), though I haven't created these yet. It may be worth me doing so, and trying it out.

Also though, the game is meant to be strong on conflict, and scoring points in this way is not as exciting as it should be. I think the system does work, but just not for my game, without some serious tweaking anyways...

Sorry for the ramble, hope it helps in some way ;)

Hedge-o-Matic
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Combine Victory and Resources (was: Twisted Terrain control)

I think the real play issue here is force projection. Under your current system, a player with 90% of the territory (and, presumably, around 90% of the gold income as well) can focus all of their economic power onto the steadily diminishing geographical area controlled by their opponant.

An idea that hasn't been suggested yet is to make the layout of the controlled territories an element. Controlled resource hexes generate "gold shipments", which must be moved, slowly but steadily, from place to place. Expenditures on units and fortifications can only take place withing a hex or two of a gold shipment. This will naturally create areas of territory where gold is less available as it is moved toward the front lines. These areas are vulnerable, and make focussing your growing power a greater strategic challenge.

This allows a player unburdened by infrastructure (i.e. losing) to send more nimble forces around the board, striking where their more established enemy is short on funds and thus unable to react adequately.

An idea to make this work more seamlessly is to have the value of a unit of gold vary depending on how many total units the player holds. A simple table would tell the players how many "spending points" each unit of gold is worth, like so:

Total Gold
1-10= 20 Spending Units per Gold
11-20= 15 Spending Units per Gold
21-29 = 14 Spending Units per Gold
30-37 = 13 Spending Units per Gold
38-43 = 12 Spending Units per Gold
44-49 = 11 Spending Units per Gold
50-54 = 10 Spending Units per Gold
55-57 = 9 Spending Units per Gold
58-59 = 8 Spending Units per Gold
60 = 7 Spending Units per Gold
61 = 6 Spending Units per Gold
62 = 5 Spending Units per Gold
63 = 4 Spending Units per Gold
64 = 3 Spending Units per Gold
65 = 2 Spending Units per Gold
66+ = 1 Spending Units per Gold

Spending units cannot be saved from turn to turn. Such a "supply and demand" system would take into account the general inefficiency of larger organizations, and force the players to adjust to challenges as they gain in geological power. Under this system, with the table as presented here, reaching 75 or 100 gold would be very tough, but possible. It would force the player to predict their needs, and then stop spending as much as possible in order to hoarde gold.

TheReluctantGeneral
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Combine Victory and Resources (was: Twisted Terrain control)

Nestalawe wrote:
The number of VPs you score is then mulitplied by a factor depending on the phase of the moon. i.e. for every point you spend during the Full Moon you get 4VPs, but you cannot score during the New Moon. After you spend any Blood you want on Vps, you must discard half your total Blood.

Oh, this just gave me another idea! How about having some strategic markers, which when captured (by either side) initiate a scoring round based on how much gold is in the bank. Some markers may have additional VP bonuses to the capturing player. In any case, this mechanic creates great tension, since as opposing forces move towards the score markers, both players are torn between developing their forces and topping up their bank for the looming scoring event.

Fhizban
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Combine Victory and Resources (was: Twisted Terrain control)

After some playtesting, my report so far: what a shame, the mechanic just does not suit my game. its much better to define victory by the amount of terrain controlled and not by the goldpieces gained through it. because every terrain can be seized but once collected goldpieces went to the "bank" - your opponent has no way to remove them again (without the use of another additional rule).

but still, the idea is interesting AND this thread gave me a real flush of new ideas too.

I as the thread starter, now looking at it - and my game. Puh - do you know the slogan "ad absurdum"?

all for my game concept...tststs...

FastLearner
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Combine Victory and Resources (was: Twisted Terrain control)

Nestalawe wrote:
The number of VPs you score is then mulitplied by a factor depending on the phase of the moon. i.e. for every point you spend during the Full Moon you get 4VPs, but you cannot score during the New Moon.

Love that idea, a wave effect on scoring rather than the standard bombs or even-keel. Offers opportunities to maneuver and score when others aren't, at a cost, but that might still allow you to win. It would be especially nice if you tend to score at the expense of others (area control, that kind of thing).

Sweet!

Fhizban
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Combine Victory and Resources (was: Twisted Terrain control)

uh yeah - i did not want to put this thread to rest with my last post. all the little tidbits that came to my mind are mentioned elsewhere on the board (and most of them in gaming industry). but its a good thing to see good ideas return:

* players with lower VP gain an advantage, maybe buying units cheaper, or drawing a card from a special actions deck.
* terrain gets more difficult to conquer the more terrain you already control Or (vice-versa:) troops get more expensive the more troops you already control.
* putting gold pieces into the VP bank. maybe not 1:1 but 3:1 to make things more difficult. maybe limit the number of gold you can transform into VP in another way - dependant on the amount of terrain you control etc. (the more the less, early in the game you can transfer 1:1, with a medium amount of terrain maybe 2:1 and when you own the bulk of the gameboard it takes you 3 pieces of gold to add 1 VP).

argh - now im getting ideas for a sh*tload of new games!

many thanks to Darke, FastLearner and TheReluctantGeneral

Nestalawe
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Combine Victory and Resources (was: Twisted Terrain control)

FastLearner wrote:
Nestalawe wrote:
The number of VPs you score is then mulitplied by a factor depending on the phase of the moon. i.e. for every point you spend during the Full Moon you get 4VPs, but you cannot score during the New Moon.

Love that idea, a wave effect on scoring rather than the standard bombs or even-keel. Offers opportunities to maneuver and score when others aren't, at a cost, but that might still allow you to win. It would be especially nice if you tend to score at the expense of others (area control, that kind of thing).

Sweet!

Cheers ;) Indeed, the plan is that during the build up to the Full Moon, players will be trying to gain and hold as many Settlements as possible during the phase of the Full Moon. At the moment it doesn't work quite as well as it should, and so I am thinking it may not be the best option for this game. But yes, it is a fun one, and could be adapted to other games.

Gogolski
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Combine Victory and Resources (was: Twisted Terrain control)

How about this (almost everything is based-upon/repeating what others have said allready):

You get gold for the area you conquered and/or enclosed.

This means that once you have six units, you can position them in a 'circle' of six hexes that encloses a seventh hex. You now control seven hexes and get 7 gold income.
If your opponent defeats one of these six units, you only get a 5 gold income, because one unit was destroyed (and you no longer control the hex it was on) and the enclosed hex is no longer enclosed.

To make sure that players can't easily 'fill' the areas they control with units, you could simply make units expensive, or have an upkeep-cost for units every X rounds.

To help players enclose larger areas, you could say that hexes on the side of the board don't need units on them to enclose the area (kind of like in go... You also have six corners with a hex-board, which gives you more "strategic opportunities" to enclose areas...)

A last thing is that you could get one gold for every 'new' hex yopu control. So if you move, you abandon a hex, but you land on a new hex. This generates one gold, but it is a short-term-thing, because you abandonned a hex which will not generate gold the next turn...

As for the VP-thing: Any round, you may "buy" a number of VPs (lets say 3 VP). A player that invests less in units (and thus in controlled area), but invests more in VPs will be winner first, but then fall back because he controls less area.
Then comes the upkeep round and the other player with lots of units must pay loads of upkeep-gold and maybe loose units...

Also, the player with a very large force will not be able to buy unlimited VPs, as the maximum number is 3/turn.

This system may be pretty self-balancing, while allowing for different strategies:
- Larger forces, more area controlled (harder to defend...)
- Smaller forces, generate enough by moving around and strikking where the enemy is weakest (breaching an enclosed area may result in a huge loss of money!)

Cheese!

Hedge-o-Matic
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Combine Victory and Resources (was: Twisted Terrain control)

One possible consequence of being able to freely buy VP's, however, is that a richer player can, in theory, invest heavily in units for one turn, and then spend as many resources as they have in excess of the next highest player on VP's there after, and the rest on units, thus assuring that they keep parity with their nearest competitor in game-affecting pieces, while slowly building VP's. A VP limit would have little effect on such a situation.

This assumes, of course, that VPs have a fixed cost. If a VP could be purchased for, for instance, one-third of a player's resources, it would balance the more powerful players more effectively. Sure, a losing player could buy VPs for 3 resources instead of the 12 resources it costs their opponant, but if unit buying is linear (i.e. 3 resources for infantry), a richer player could still storm the opposition militarily, is they could get ahead in VP's enough to win.

This would make a valid strategy of staying small, which is something almost no game attempts. A nation that invests very little on military may be vulnerable, but if there are bigger, and more threatening players on the map, your little kingdom might just represent a military commitment that brings in resources that make buying VPs even more difficult. So the small players would gain a measure of security from their very smallness, if there were two or more larger rivals in the game.

Let me think more on this. I feel the game-wheels grinding into motion here...

soulbeach
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Combine Victory and Resources (was: Twisted Terrain control)

-Nestalawe: for your game, since it brings out conflict, the abilities that players would be gaining for target X of VPs would definitely push players to put blood aside to gain these advantages, as they help them "resolve" their conflicts more easily. Also, when the target VP is attained, players have to choose between 3-4 different advantages and are only able to pick one from those; it would create tension, and would provide them with many possibilities, adding to the replay value of your product.

-Fhizban: How about a "Market": each land type has a value in gold and this value varies with the market. The market is somewhat unstable; there is a deck of cards, with each card having all the land types with a new value for each of them for this particular turn. A new market card is flipped every turn, indicating the market value of each land type, modifying the players’ strategies every turn.

OR: a Market Track, where players get to either move the marker forward or backward: each space depicting the different land types' values. Sometimes, a player could move the marker to a strategic space for himself or/and to counter his opponent.

I don't know is these propositions work, I did not try them:)

Infernal
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Combine Victory and Resources (was: Twisted Terrain control)

I have a game where the player has to mine resources (there are 3 types) and sell it in a market. When you sell a resource it reduces the value of the resource (demand is lowered) and if you buy a resource (there are other uses of resources than just selling so you might have to buy them if you don;t have access to them through mining). The value you pay or get paied is the final value of the resource after the removal or addition to the market.

So for example:
If the market for Resource A is currently at 40 gold and you sold 3 (with 5 gold increments on the market tracker) then you would recieve 25 gold for each which is a total of 75 gold.

If you then bough 10 resouses from the Resource B market which is at 10 then you would have to pay 60 each totaling 600 gold.

Each turn a player could move 1 market 1 increment as they wished.

S you might just use 2 resources: Troops and Victory Points. Each turn the player can move one "market" tracker 1 increment as they desire (other effects/events could move the market trackers too). They can "spend" Gold buy Troops, which increases the cost of buying troops (there is less people and so costs your economy more) or spend it on Victory Points, which has the same effect.

this way iff players rapidly buy troops for conflicts then the costs will skyrocket and equipping armies will become harder, and the same with victory points.

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