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Golden Horde – first idea

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Ota
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Joined: 12/31/1969

Following idea came to me this day – board game about brutal expansion of Mongol’s empire in 13th century could be quite interesting. I tried to think about it, about first concepts, about some mechanics and so on.

Needed map: Asia + Europe (maybe north of Africa?)
- it could be possible to little bit rewrite history and increased influence of Golden Horde more than it was in reality

Amount of players: let’s say 2-4

Roles of players: each player can be one of Khan’s sons, which needs to show his leadership, ability to conquer, ability to rule.

Possible activities of players:
- capturing of different territories
- maintenance of order in conquered territories
- small maleficence to another players
- ???? etc.

Interaction between players: They will not allowed to fight against each other, but they will try to conquer interesting regions faster than opponents. Maybe some inconspicuous maleficence to another players would be possible.

Who is winner: Old Khan will die during game. After that all players has to move their figurine of Khan’s son to capital Mongol region (as soon as possible, because late coming will have influence on final decision), where new Khan will be chosen.

Needed playing time: let’s say 60-90 minutes

Some another ideas:
- if Khan’s son is personally present at some battle, army has bigger morale and victory is easier
- Each Khan’s sone can have one general, whose presence in battle can have also positive influence (player can divide his army to more armies without bigger effect on morale of these parts)
- Battles have to be quite simple (1-2 minutes)
- Mongol armies shouldn’t have bigger casualties. When Mongols are defeated, it decreases rather their morale and it is more difficult to win next battle
- Players can send precious presents to Old Khan from conquered regions (it increased their reputation and popularity)

Interesting questions:
- How will be possible to increase amount of units in army?
- What will be characteristics of each territory? (for example DEFENCE (how difficult is to conquer this region), PRESTIGE (how much will conquering of this region increase chance of leader to become new Khan), DISTURBANCE (how probable is potential revolution in this region))
- How to include maleficence to other players to game? For example – each player will draw one World Event Card (WEC) before own turn, on this card can be following events: Defence treaty (increasing of defence for any two neighbouring regions), Disorder (in one region starts disorder), Bad weather (it is impossible to move armies in some regions) and so on. Player can decide about concrete impact of this card to world.
- How to decide about winner during final election? (which objectives will be taken to consideration). It should be not only sum of prestiges of conquered regions but something more.
- How to secure replayability of this game?
- Will be this game varied enough? (it seems, that it could be only long serie of small battles, we need some spice)

Ok, it is only first idea, it needs a lot of manure to growth. I hope, that some of you will add some other ideas and it will be seen, if it is possible to try to continue in more systematic work on this theme.

Of course, maybe, that similar game already exist. If yes, let me know, please.

Have a nice day.

Ota

zaiga
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Golden Horde – first idea

I think it's an interesting theme. I have never played a game with the Mongol hordes as a theme, although I'm sure they exist. I did play Atilla once, which perhaps has a similar theme.

Anyway...

Quote:
- How to decide about winner during final election? (which objectives will be taken to consideration). It should be not only sum of prestiges of conquered regions but something more.

Something that popped into my mind was to have one big final election, which takes the form of a blind bid. Say that during the game players accumulate gold, which they keep hidden or partially hidden from the other players. During the election each player offers an amount of gold in a blind bid, and then they all simultaneously reveal how much gold they have bid. The catch is that the player who offers the *least* can not win the game in any case. The winner then is the player who has the most gold remaining.

I think this poses a devilish dilemma. Offer too little and you lose straightaway, but offer too much and you won't win either. Of course, if you accumulate a lot of gold during the game you have a bigger chance of winning, because you can offer more, and you will have more remaining.

Then again, having such an all-or-nothing finale might only be appropriate for a lighter game. I don't think many people will like the idea of a blind bid deciding a two hour strategy game, but for a 45 min game it might be OK. It's also important for the mechanic to work that players don't know exactly how much gold everyone has. They should have a vague idea to base their decision on, but not the exact amount.

Like I said, just an idea that popped into my mind. ;)

TheReluctantGeneral
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Golden Horde – first idea

Interesting idea, however I'd seriosuly consider ditching the idea of combat in the sense that players roll dice (or some other resolution mechanicsm), and take 'casualties'.

My main reason for saying this is that since players are not directly fighting one another, the a combat mechanism that actually 'feels' like combat is not required. (When fighting against 'the game', I think you could get away with more abstract) I'd go for something deterministic. My example below borrows from some of the ideas in Caylus.

Have each player able to deploy one or more workers/markers to various facilities/buildings etc (perhaps secretly, or using some defined turn order which players have to fight over, as in caylus). One such facility would allow invasion of territory, and whoever had the most workers/markers etc assigned to that resource would get to take a new territory. If territories need differing defence values, then have a limited number of 'attack' facilities, say six, which are shared between players. A player must then have claimed a number of attack facilities equal to the defence rating of a territory in order to capture it. There would be other shared facilities for building, population control, taxes etc.

Julius
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Golden Horde – first idea

Interesting questions:
- How will be possible to increase amount of units in army?

The simple solution is by capturing territory. The more territory you control, the more soldiers you gain at the start of your turn.

- What will be characteristics of each territory? (for example DEFENCE (how difficult is to conquer this region), PRESTIGE (how much will conquering of this region increase chance of leader to become new Khan), DISTURBANCE (how probable is potential revolution in this region))
I like this part of the game best. Each territory would have different attributes, and possibly a special ability.
Defense
Prestige
Unrest (disturbance)
Population (how many soldiers it generates)
Tax (how much gold it generates)

Special abilities might be:
Temple: Draw an extra WEC if Kahn's son occupies this territory.
Jade: When you conquor this territory, draw an extra gift.
Horses: If you control this territory, your General gains additional speed.
etc.

- How to include maleficence to other players to game? For example – each player will draw one World Event Card (WEC) before own turn, on this card can be following events: Defence treaty (increasing of defence for any two neighbouring regions), Disorder (in one region starts disorder), Bad weather (it is impossible to move armies in some regions) and so on. Player can decide about concrete impact of this card to world.
Sounds like you've got this one figured out. Just make sure the rules are spelled out, and the players aren't exatly speculating.

- How to decide about winner during final election? (which objectives will be taken to consideration). It should be not only sum of prestiges of conquered regions but something more.
I assumed the formula was:
Prestige + Gifts Given - Time to return to capital.

- How to secure replayability of this game?
Variance, variance, variance. The world event cards should be unique (as unique as possible without upsetting balance), not a bunch of repeats. Otherwise, from what you've described, the game seems to have a high replay value already.

- Will be this game varied enough? (it seems, that it could be only long serie of small battles, we need some spice)
Decrease the number of units, so it isn't Risk like (a huge series of small battles), and keep things on a small scale. The game (with all of the territory factors and WEC's) seems extremely varied already.

Some suggestions/questions:
What if between your Son and his General, those were the only armies you could control? You would be able to use one of those per turn as you tried to conquor the world.

Khan's death shold be a WEC. You have three options:
1- All WEC's are flipped face up, not drawn.
2- All WEC's are drawn face down.
3- Some are faceup, some are face down (see Munchkin).

1 has the advantage that his death is publicly available right away.
2 has the player advantage that death can occur when it is most advantageous to that player... perhaps they hold that card for a very long time.
3 is a chance game, between 1 and 2.

I'd lean towards 1, so that the WECs are out of the player's control. When a card is flipped face up (at the start of your turn), its effects come into play immediately. The player can only decide where the event occurs, not when.

Jebbou
Jebbou's picture
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Joined: 07/29/2008
Golden Horde – first idea

Hi there! I would first say that I support most of what has been said so far. Great ideas have come out. Your original post already contained some good answers to your questions.

In regards to the blind bid suggested by Zaiga, it could be used to allow the winner of the bid to move a "Genghis Khan" token on the board. This token could give special rewards (more prestige), or bonuses to the owner of a region. Instead of being one bid at the end of the game, it could be once in a while, during the game.

I also support ReluctantGeneral's comment about simplify combat. If a combat's length is 2 minutes, that there are other possible actions and that there are 4 players in the game, you might end up acting each 10 minutes or so. In games where players interact (or combat) with each others, this is less an issue, since you can be involved when someone attacks you. On the other hand, watching someone else throw dice for two minutes can be less entertaining.

The idea of a Caylus style actions seems interesting as well, although you could replace buildings by characters (generals, priests, governors, merchants). Starting with simple characters (such as horse riders and peasants), you unlock more powerful characters through conquest and special events. But those characters could be used by anyone, just as building in Caylus.

Finally, I think that to ensure replayability the most important factor is have a good balance of options available, so that you can either use another strategy the next play, or refine one you have already tried. The reason I say "balance of options" is because too many options could hurt your game, by adding unnecessary complexity, and length. Nevertheless, too little options will make the game repetitive. Although adding a deck of event cards can add a little bit of surprise and support the theme very well, depending on a single game component to ensure replayability might not end up as satisfying as you would think, especially when that component is luck driven (Think of Monopoly, dice rolls and two decks of cards).

Jeb

TheReluctantGeneral
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Golden Horde – first idea

Jebbou wrote:

In regards to the blind bid suggested by Zaiga, it could be used to allow the winner of the bid to move a "Genghis Khan" token on the board. This token could give special rewards (more prestige), or bonuses to the owner of a region. Instead of being one bid at the end of the game, it could be once in a while, during the game.
Jeb

This seems like a cool idea. Lots of possible variations with this one. One use of the Ghengis token would be to initiated a scoring round somehow, so players can build up their scores periodically, with players blind bidding to ensure the scoring happens at a point most advantageous to them.

But like I said, that's only one possibility.

Ota
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Golden Horde – first idea

Thanks to all for interesting ideas, let me comment some of them:

Quote:
I also support ReluctantGeneral's comment about simplify combat. If a combat's length is 2 minutes, that there are other possible actions and that there are 4 players in the game, you might end up acting each 10 minutes or so. In games where players interact (or combat) with each others, this is less an issue, since you can be involved when someone attacks you. On the other hand, watching someone else throw dice for two minutes can be less entertaining.

It is true, if whole map will have for example 30 regions prepared for conquering, I have to calculate with this fact (30x2 minutes = 60 minutes / it is too long). Maybe, that small inspiration from FUDGE system would be good for this case.

Let’s propose proccess of battle:
a.] summarize amount of your units
b.] throw the same amount of dices (but 5 dices is maximum)
Description of dice’s sides:
“+” … number 1 is add to attacking power (2 sides of dice)
“-” … number 1 is subtract from attacking power (1 side of dice)
“HORSE HEAD” … morale of player’s army is decreased due to retreat from battle (it is valid, only if attacking power isn’t bigger than region’s defence) (2 sides of dice)
“SKULL” … one attacking unit is die (it is valid, only if attacking power is significantly smaller (about 2 or more) than region’s defence) (1 side of dice)
c.] calculate final attacking power (FAP)
FAP = Amount of units + Dices (“+” sides and “-“ sides)
d.] comparise with region’s defence (RD)

FAP-RD>0 --> region is conquered

-2 region is not conquered and morale of player’s army is decreased according to amount of HORSE HEADS on used dices

[b]FAP-RD<-1 --> region is not conquered, morale of player’s army is decreased according to amount of HORSE HEADS on used dices and certain amount (according to amount of SKULLS on used dices) of attacking units died

So whole battle can be done after few seconds, results can be quite variable, more units have bigger chance to conquer region. Another factors, for example presence of Khan’s son or presence of general, can be solved by rerolling of some amount of dices.

Quote:
In regards to the blind bid suggested by Zaiga, it could be used to allow the winner of the bid to move a "Genghis Khan" token on the board. This token could give special rewards (more prestige), or bonuses to the owner of a region. Instead of being one bid at the end of the game, it could be once in a while, during the game. Jeb
---------------
This seems like a cool idea. Lots of possible variations with this one. One use of the Ghengis token would be to initiated a scoring round somehow, so players can build up their scores periodically, with players blind bidding to ensure the scoring happens at a point most advantageous to them.

It seems little bit like “El Grande” system, but I am not sure, if would be suitable in this case. It is hardly to imagine, that Old Khan would be willing to travel around whole Asia, Middle East and Europa. Maybe, that this function could have someone like “Main counsellor of Old Khan” J. Maybe, that Old Khan could have more counsellors and each of them could have another influence on final decision about new Khan. Each of them can put more emphasis on different things. Thay can travel from regions to regions and send positive or negative messages about sucesses of all sons. Next idea – maybe, that these councellors can be little bit bribable, so some gifts can improve their messages J.

Quote:
Khan's death should be a WEC. You have three options:
1- All WEC's are flipped face up, not drawn.
2- All WEC's are drawn face down.
3- Some are faceup, some are face down (see Munchkin).

I would like to have Old Khan’s death more unpredictable. It is clear, that with running time is this event more and more probable. For example following solution:

Some typical Mongol symbol would be on some World Event Card (WEC). When some player play one of this card, this card is put on special stack. When this stack contains more than X cards, Old Khan is near of death. Some dices have to be rolled to see, if he died or no. When some player add another card with symbol to this “Death stack”, new roll has to by done (it is clear, that it would be the best, if the same dices would be used for these Death rolls and also for Battle rolls). Maybe, that here would be problem with shuffling of WEC, because some games could be extremely short.

---------------
However, I would like to point out some historical facts, which I would like to keep in this game (if it would be possible).

1.) Mongols weren’t typical conquerors. They didn’t want to add big cities to their empire. They were going to change all the world to good land for Mongols. It means, that when they conquered some city, they usually totally destroyed it and killed all people. Wide empty green steppes were their imagination about ideal land for living.
- I wouldn’t count with some recognizable amount of taxes from conquered regions.
- “Population” and “Taxes” wouldn’t be important characteristics of regions from my point of view

2.) I am not sure, if they use in battles any other soldiers than horsemen from their native country.
- Hiring of soldiers in conquered regions is sounds little bit unprobable for me.

3.) Their brutaility was unprecedented, so unrest in conquered regions weren’t very often.

Thank you again for your inspirative comments. Phantasm of game about Mongols is little bit more tangible than two days ago.

Have a nice weekend.
Ota

Deviant
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Golden Horde – first idea

As a game designer I tend to favor simplicity and focus. I think you might be spreading your efforts in too many directions at once.

What is the focus of this game? Is it the combat, or the politics? The two may have been very much connected in the Mongol mindset, but as a designer you must make up your mind which part will be the real "meat" of the game.

Your game could start right after the death of the first Khan. In this case, you solve the dilemma of how and when Khan will die. As scions of the mighty Khan, all players now have a clear mission: become the next successor. This may involve conquering nearby territories, pacifying rebellious kingdoms, making offerings (ie: bribes) to high-ranking officials, or building luxurious pleasure domes a la Kublai Khan. Or a race to the capital, stopping only to gather more loot and an impressive army to really dazzle the Mongols when you arrive. Once arriving, you earn prestige every turn, so that players who take too long to reach the capital are at a disadvantage.

If the focus is conquest, things become simpler. The only thing I would caution against is that since war gaming is a crowded field, finding something new and different to contribute could be difficult.

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