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Area Control Resource Mechanic: Blade & Barrel

3 replies [Last post]
Joined: 11/05/2015

First off, I'd like to thank The Odd Fox once again for the name suggestion. It is great and I'm running with it.

I've been working through the resource system for Blade & Barrel, an alternate history Old West themed dudes-on-a-map game.

From the beginning, players could always collect a resource from a location they controlled with an action. Resource collection wasn't automatic- there was no "allowance" each turn. You had to fight and earn everything you got. If your dudes control a forest hex, you can spend an action and collect a wood, etc.

But somehow it wasn't meshing with the "feel" of the game.

The game places heavy emphasis on spatial reasoning and area control but resource collection took away from that. If someone needed wood, they could just camp out at a forest and spam collect. Of course someone could to try and stop them if they wanted but there wasn't much incentive to do so. It also doesn't simulate any kind of resource scarcity. Hypothetically, there are an infinite amount of resources if someone can sit there and keep collecting. And if there are infinite resources, there is no scarcity to incentivize fighting over those resources, which makes it more of an engine building/racing game, and less dudes on a map. I don't want that.

Then it dawned on me. Instead of resource hexes giving resources with an action, resource hexes represent a certain level of ACCESS to that resource.

Let me explain.

In the game players are cooperatively building up a small wild west boomtown. Resources are primarily used to construct buildings in this town, which in turn give bonuses to the player who built it. So there's two boards in play- the main map which represents the lands around this town, and then the town itself. Players have to balance building up the town while also controlling key resources outside the town. Kind of like if Caylus and Kemet had a baby. Previously, players collected resources, and when they got the required amount they could use an action to build in the town. So say a blacksmith costs 2 Iron and 2 Wood, they could go to a wood hex, camp there and get 2 wood, then they could move to an iron hex, camp there and get two iron. But Now a player must CONTROL 2 Iron hexes and 2 Wood hexes. If they control, it's assumed they have ACCESS to the resources and they are able to build. This simplifies the game by removing an action type (Collect), which ENCOURAGES movement on the board (vs sitting on a resource and collecting) and creates that scarcity of resource. There are only 3 Iron hex tiles on the map, and if you want to build a building that costs 2 iron, but someone else wants to build a different building that also costs 2 iron (or the same one for that matter), well a fight is inevitable, since both players cannot control 2 Iron at the same time.

Have I explained this well enough? Does anyone know of another game that might do this or have any further thoughts?

let-off studios
let-off studios's picture
Joined: 02/07/2011

I think this totally works.

It reminds me of Magic: The Gathering, oddly enough. At least back in the late 90's when I played it. As long as you had the lands in front of you, they could be tapped to utilize that resource. Playing a card from your hand/deck in MTG is equivalent to moving your units to that resource hex.

I seem to recall that in MTG there were ways to destroy or steal others' land cards (although they were considerably rare). This is a parallel to combat over control of the resource hexes.

Seems like it works to me, at least on paper. Playtest it a bunch and see how it all shakes out. :)

The Odd Fox
The Odd Fox's picture
Joined: 01/19/2017
Very cool ideas brewing here!

Thanks for the shout out! I'm glad the name is working for you and your game.

I can't think of another game that does what you are describing but I think it sounds really cool. For some reason it takes me back to the days when I used to play Warcraft 2 as I gathered wood/gold from the surrounding area in order to create my buildings.

The thing I like best about what you described is how players have to battle over the control of resources. Initially, players might attempt to play nice, but I'm assuming as the game grows there's more need for resources and the scarcity impacts them to the point where conflict is inevitable. On the other hand, some people may battle from the beginning, either way, I think this sounds like a lot of fun! I love the theme and the mechanics!

Daggaz's picture
Joined: 12/19/2016
It's funny, I had the EXACT

It's funny, I had the EXACT same problem in my game, though we arrived at somewhat different (though related) solutions. I also settled on a mechanic for controlling the resource producing site, but I allow for banking the output from one turn to the other, and there are more than enough sites for production. The players will compete however for the best sites, weighing highest production (it varies) vs defensive strength of the site (highly variable). The highest production sites are in short supply, so a player might be willing to take a hit on defence in order to gain a production advantage.

Because of the ability to bank the resource, I found I needed additional sinks other than building costs, or the player was eventually swimming in worthless currency. So I tied some of those resources to expendable units, and I added building destruction. Now there is a reason to KEEP control over the production sites. I can imagine that even without banking the resource, you will also need some kind of mechanism that either preserves the need for production control, or obliviates it through staging in the game development (ie the player moves on to another requirement).

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