# Parallel vs. serial movement of pieces

9 replies [Last post]
ACG
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969

Hi again! I'm trying to work on my game and was wondering: is there an easy way to make sure that each player's four tokens move in PARALLEL instead of SERIALLY? The premise is that during the players turn, four tokens are taking action independently at the same time.

Here's the issue. Suppose four people are in a square and one has a tool which makes him work faster. The original intent was: one person uses the tool during the turn and three do not. However, when I test played the game, what wound up happening is that: the first guy used the tool for his whole turn, handed it off to the second guy, the second guy used it for HIS whole turn, and so forth. Serial behavior. The tool becomes way too powerful.

In theory, people could keep track of how many actions each player has performed and say that token 1's first action occurs at the same time as token 2's first action and so forth. When token 1 has finished with his turn, everyone else has as well. The catch is that the bookkeeping for this enhancement is going to be HIDEOUS and hard to enforce.

For the time being, I've kept the serial behavior but made the tools which can be "abused" in this manner MUCH harder to get.

How do other games handle this?

ACG

Hedge-o-Matic
Offline
Joined: 07/30/2008
Parallel vs. serial movement of pieces

You could have actions occur in distinct order, and every piece wanting to do a certain thing does so at a certain time. Like so:

Move
Simple Actions (ex: hand tool to someone else)
Complex Actions (ex: Use tool)

Epigone
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
Parallel vs. serial movement of pieces

A similar fix, best if you have cards or something to represent these tools or actions, is to allow only one 'action' with them in a turn. Use the tool and flip the card over, and now you can't give it to someone. Fire the gun and flip the card, now you can't sell it until next turn. Without a trivial way to indicated used-ness, though, this will be too messy bookkeeping.

sedjtroll
Offline
Joined: 07/21/2008
Parallel vs. serial movement of pieces

My first thought would be to take the tokens turns in order - token 1 takes 1 action (use tool), token 2 take an action (NOT use tool), token 3 takes an action (NOT use tool), token 4 takes an action (NOT use tool). Then token 1 takes another action (hand off tool), token 2 takes an action (use tool - or perhaps RECEIVE tool, if using it right away would be too good), token 3 takes an action (NOT use tool)... etc.

Thus, the actions can all be considered to be simultaneous.

I think the key point here is that handing off the tool needs to be some kind of action, because no matter how you look at it, Token 1 cannot both USE the tool and HAND OFF the tool at the same time if they are both actions.

- Seth

ACG
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
Parallel vs. serial movement of pieces

I had debated something like that -- having each token perform one action at a time -- but it would be too awkward for the player (the tokens may be spaced out all over the board, people may forget who hasn't taken their turn yet, and so forth). It would be perfect for game design, though.

Furthermore, scenarios can develop where different tokens have different numbers of actions. In that case, even this idea would be shot.

ACG

sedjtroll
Offline
Joined: 07/21/2008
Parallel vs. serial movement of pieces

hmm... How do you represent the actions? Are there cards with actions on them that you can play to the table? Could there be? Or is the variety of actions too much for each player to have a card for each possible action?

If you could have cards, then you could 'program' each token's action, then reveal the action cards 1 at a time- something like that.

Can you tell us a little more about your game, then maybe we can help better.

- Seth

sedjtroll
Offline
Joined: 07/21/2008
Parallel vs. serial movement of pieces

With my post about doing 1 action at a time with each token, I had in mind that each person would take action #1 with each of their tokens in turn, and it would go around like that...

So you're first, you take 1 action with each of your guys, then the next player goes. They take 1 action with each of their guys, etc. When it gets back to you, you do another action with each of your guys... etc.

As for some getting more action points than others, you could represent that with 'action cubes' or something - this would also allow you to weight actions so if you do a 'big' action, that could mean 1 less 'little' action you can do. Here's how that could work:

You have a certain number of Action Cubes in each of 4 colors - one color for each of your little dudes. The number you have for each represents the amount of stuff they can do each turn. On your turn, you assign an action to each dude, and pay an action cube for each dude. If a dude has no action cubes left, then he can't do an action. Some actions might cost 2 action cubes.

There is the problem that by doing a 'long' action early in the turn you get to do another action right away next turn, and the time lost by doing the long action isn't until the end.

ACG
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
Parallel vs. serial movement of pieces

There are many types of actions, but these are the most common. There are no cards and stuff -- the action more or less depends on the environment the token is in.

The most common actions are

1. Look at the stuff in your square.
2. Move one square horizontally or vertically.

Other actions which can come into play, though less frequently:

1. Buy a tool. Can only occur if the token is in one particular square.
2. Sell a tool. Can only occur if the token is in one particular square and
3. Use a tool.
4. Work on assembling the stuff you have collected into a machine. You must be in the cell with the machine you're constructing.
5. Work on disassembling a machine for spare parts.
6. Work on looking for problems with a machine you have built -- which you found doesn't work.

The heavier the stuff you are carrying, the fewer actions you can take in a turn (the actions are intended to be *time*, not *effort*)

The following operations do not require actions.

1. Picking up or dropping stuff in your square.
2. Giving something to another token in your square.

The combination of "giving something you are carrying to another token in your square" and "use a tool" leads to the most common abuse of serial behavior. However, one of the coolest things I've discovered is that "giving something you are carrying" plus "move one space" lets people carry objects long distances in one turn (think bucket brigade).

The only thing I'm really concerned about is tool abuse. I'm tempted to do "tools and powerups may only be transferred between workers at the beginning of your turn, before any actions are done" to allow for the bucket brigade but to prevent tool abuse.

ACG

sedjtroll
Offline
Joined: 07/21/2008
Parallel vs. serial movement of pieces

Your game sounds pretty interesting. What exactly is the theme? Teams of workers working on machines in a kind of race to complete theirs? Makes me think of TV shows like Battle Bots or that one where teams of people are in a junkyard and are racing to put together a working car or some such thing.

Your solution sounds reasonable. Half way through your post I was about to say "make the action go before the free actions", which is approximately the same thing.

You could simply disallow the use of the tool in the same turn you obtain it, that would solve you're problem specifically, wouldn't it?

- Seth

ACG
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
Parallel vs. serial movement of pieces

It's based on the Junkyard Wars TV show. That's precisely the one you mentioned where they run around and try to build a working car.

It's got elements of:

treasure hunting (looking around the maze to try to find what you want), mazes (the action takes place in a 10x10 maze),

cooperation (your four guys have to help each other -- you often need to get two guys to carry the heavy items),

Dungeons and Dragons (you can increase a token's dexterity [action count] and strength [first N weight units he carries don't cost him actions] if you run into used exercise bikes and stuff like that in the junkyard)

engineering (one of the quirks of Junkyard Wars was that people were using junk in ways it wasn't intended -- here, there's an optional rule: if the opponents agree to an unusual use of a piece of junk, it becomes public domain and everyone can use it: it's not mandatory because the players won't necessarily know engineering). Furthermore, if your machine doesn't work, you have to spend an open-ended (roll dice) amount of time to find the problem -- classic debugging which even feels like engineering!

Monopoly-style deals (you have a car radiator I need for a machine? I'll give you this tool for that...and \$500)

bluffing, to some extent (if you only ask for a trade when you require one tile left to create your machine and your opponent has it, no one will want to trade with you -- so you have to bluff)

limited resources -- (tools can sell out, limited money, the junkyard construction areas can only hold 10 items, etc.)

In addition, not all junk of the same type is identical -- they have various quality grades, with the Grade A stuff rarer (hey, it's a junkyard). You stick a Grade D one in there and you run a reasonable risk of your machine not working even if it's put together.

There are nasty defensive tactics like buying a shovel to dig a wall right in front of the guy coming back with his last component [you don't know what everyone else is trying to build], hogging all the Grade A items, etc. Incidentally, shovel use is only permitted if a clear path still exists outside the maze from both ends of the blocked area. (I even ran into a "ko" situation in playtesting when one guy was building a wall at the same time the other guy was knocking it down: I made it take longer to put a wall up than knock it down to take care of that)

Of course, I can't call it Junkyard Wars because of copyright issues, and there are 100 tiles in the game with "exactly" the Scrabble tile distribution (a consequence of me using a Scrabble set for playtesting). Don't know what I'm going to do about that yet.