# Variable Economic mechanic

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Anonymous

I am trying to figure out a mechanic where a variable economy can exist for importing and exporting to. I want exporting to be able to have a financial benefit sometimes, and the import prices to be fluctuating in a way that makes sense for the game.
Please check out my two journal entries and comment. One is the current set of the rules that I have comepletely written down and thought about. The other is the possible mechanics for the import/export.

I suppose the ultimate goal for the import/export mechanic is to provide a realistic and scalable pricing system on resources (which will hopefully get more expensive as the game goes on, to help reduce the rich getting richer effect). While this is an objective I also want it to be fairly simple and straight forward to calculate.

-Michael

Torrent
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Joined: 08/03/2008
Variable Economic mechanic

I like economics, especially the nice abtract economics that go into game design. That whole reality thing gets hard to track sometimes. Brykovian and I had a discussion in this thread about economics. More about closed systems than import/export.

I looked at your journal and will give comments based on your ideas. Remember I'm not an economist, just a graduate student that reads too much. However in general I think you are on the right track with these ideas, and may just need to combine one or two together.

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1. Limited ammount of imports available each turn determined randomly (Merchant only bring certain stuff each turn)

This is your limit supply option. Maybe determined randomly isn't quite so good. But if say he brought a set of random items the first turn, and if any of them sold those would be brought again but at higher prices. If an item didn't sell he would bring a different random item at a lower price. The dynamic is if it sells he wants to sell another, and will try to get a higher price next time, but if it doesn't sell he'll shuffle his inventory.
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2. Import costs determined by the ammount of resources available from foreign lands. (May be too much to keep track of)

This becomes a closed system sort of thing. More like the discussion in the thread above. If you have a fixed number of product chits in the game, and arrange them some how on the 'forgien lands' part of the board, the number remaining could dictate your price. This becomes less feasible the more chits you have, as it becomes harder to count them. It also means some math on your part to figure what the prices need to be at what supply level.
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3. Import costs are determined by the current turn

4. Import costs are related to the current development stage of the wonder

These are my least favorite two of your list, but probably the easiest to do. It will encourage early hoarding, especially the #4. I can see the idea of just gathering everything you need for the whole wonder cheaply and building it all at once. The #3 seems like if your players are learning or just slow they could get priced out of the ability to finish the game if not careful.

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5. Imports have a base cost, and along with section #1 I suppose players could bid auction style on stuff. but sedjtroll says the auctioning might be annoying, and I tend to agree
It does seem to be the common saying around here that auctions take time. I don't like auction games so I don't have comments on that. Economically however it's not a bad idea. The thing I see is that it introduces a number of players effect. In that with fewer players having different tactics the prices may not flucuate properly.
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6. Along with #1, imports have a set price and the active player gets the first choice, then clockwise.

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7. Have a set price for resources (maybe ever increasing) and then it would cost that much plus the number of people that want that resource.

I think there is a game called Basari that has something like this. In that you choose actions hidden and simultaneous, if you are uncontested it is cheaper than if you and another player chooses the same thing.
I think this as well will have your player number effect. The more players about the more that can want something thus a higher price. However a brief look at your journal seems to sugget that the more players you have the more money about as well.
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8. It also might be interesting to make a system where the King supports those who aren't doing as well (although unrealistic) so as to lessen the rich getting richer effect.

This is called subsidation, or giving subsidies. This is the basis of most international trade wars. However in a game it is probably less of a sticking point. If the player that is designated as 'not doing well' (one thing to have to figure out) could be given a price break on some set of goods. This increases his apparent buying power. So if a good costs 18 for everyone else, it may only cost him 15.

Overall I like #1 and shades of #7 and #8. I think you certainly do simple economics without complicated calculations during the game (in design maybe, but not during). I hope this helps.

Andy

onew0rd
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Variable Economic mechanic

I am big on game economies.

HEre are some of ideas I've cooked up.

Have resources but make the resources variably limited per game. Like 12 of each of 4 resources. Then at game start, at random, remove some resources from play and show the players.

For example

12 Gold
12 Food
12 Workers
12 Materials

Then after the removal of 9

12 Gold
8 Food
10 Workers
9 Materials

So you have a food and materials shortage this game and alot of money and workers going around.

This would make the game variable. Another mechanic I have toyed with is every time a certain activity happens, remove one resource permanently from the game. Like say you had the same resource tokens listed above. Every time a player purchases a building, you remove 1 worker or Material permanently. Every time a player builds an upgrade of some sort, he removes a Food or a Gold permanently. etc...This would put a definitive "clock" on the game and increase tension and competition for these resources.

Anonymous
Variable Economic mechanic

Torrent wrote:

Quote:

This is your limit supply option. Maybe determined randomly isn't quite so good. But if say he brought a set of random items the first turn, and if any of them sold those would be brought again but at higher prices. If an item didn't sell he would bring a different random item at a lower price. The dynamic is if it sells he wants to sell another, and will try to get a higher price next time, but if it doesn't sell he'll shuffle his inventory.

In theory I like the method of the merchant continuing to bring items that sell well, and then shuffling his inventory of bad sellers. When I try to think of a way to implement this in the game I find it very difficult. Would a chart be included for merchant prices? Should there be counters that are moved along a scale? I want to make the mechanic simple enough that it can be applied without any additional clutter.

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The #3 seems like if your players are learning or just slow they could get priced out of the ability to finish the game if not careful.

This doesn't seem like a huge penalty to me. I actually like the fixed prices baced on either the turn, or the current level of the wonder. I would like hoarding to be a possible strategy (I think, I'll have to see in testing though). Wonders theoretically are difficult to build, so I also like to have a system where it is possible for the players to lsoe and making the prices scalable to the progress will allow for a difficulty that moves along with the extra money towards the end of the game.
This also gives me another possible idea. The change of prices of resources could be an event that is randomly determined by the 'special die'. With 2 sides being prices goes up and 1 price being price goes down, it would allow for an ever increasing value, but at the same time it would be seemingly random and therefor difficult to predict.

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This is called subsidation, or giving subsidies.

Thanks, for some reason I couldn't remember.

-Michael

Anonymous
Variable Economic mechanic

onew0rd wrote:
This would make the game variable. Another mechanic I have toyed with is every time a certain activity happens, remove one resource permanently from the game. Like say you had the same resource tokens listed above. Every time a player purchases a building, you remove 1 worker or Material permanently. Every time a player builds an upgrade of some sort, he removes a Food or a Gold permanently. etc...This would put a definitive "clock" on the game and increase tension and competition for these resources.

I was thinking about this as somehting to do with the stuff that goes into the wonder. and that resource remains removed from the game until the barbarians come and carry it back off to foreign lands.

-Michael

Anonymous
Variable Economic mechanic

From that thread that you sent me to look at:

Torrent wrote:
I know you said this was a PBEM, but I have a board game example for you. I was mulling this for a game on a long train ride over the holidays. Imagine you have a row of boxes with numbers in them, that were covered by colored wooden cubes. The last number uncovered by a cube is the price to buy the next cube. This uncovers the next box and perhaps a different price. Blocks can be replaced either from some environmental supply or sold by players for the price on the box they are going to put it onto. So as supply reduces the prices go up, however in the board game example the demand is based on the players. In your computer thing, you will need a way to dictate how much they need the product.

This is exactly what I was thinking would have to be with the import/exporting from foreign lands in my game. The supply is set by the game (and possibly an associated base cost) and then having the demand being determined by the players. I just don't know how to get this to work without some sort of auction type thing.

Unless it can be used as a sort of organic system. This may be hard to wrap the mind around, but I will try and explain easy.

Assumptions :
#1 - There is a set ammount of total resources available from foriegn lands (with slight fluctuations based upon the roll of the dice only in an increasing ammount)
#2 - A value for the resource is associated with the ammount available in foreign lands.
#3 - People will only pay what they are willing to pay for that resource.
#4 - The ammount of resources in the foreign lands increases slower than the resources will be used.

With all of these assumption, then the demand will determine the market without having an auction system. Let me know what is thought about this

-Michael

Torrent
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Joined: 08/03/2008
Variable Economic mechanic

Those sound like good assumptions. None seem to contradict each other. Since your players will be the driving force on things instead of the game doing the manipulation of the prices directly, you should see a different looking economy each time, which could be cool.

I think, your slight flucations in #1 are the slowly growing of #4. Right?

So good basis, I will be interested in seeing how you implement it. this is really the second or third sort of economic discussions that I have been involved with on BGDF; but I really don't have any games in the pipe with an econ system. I can do the theory and get bogged with the implementation.

Andy