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Competing for Public Objectives - Input Needed!

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Kamon
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I have an idea in mind for a game that is primarily objective based (do X, reward Y, etc.) and I'm trying to find ways to implement a way to contest other players to be the first to complete the objective. We'll say there are four publicly known objectives at all times on four cards in the center of a table. Also assume this game is turn based and there are four players involved (A, B, C, and D).

It's A's turn. Player A places a marker on a public objective. Player A cannot attempt to complete this objective until his/her next turn. That is a rule of this game - you must wait a turn to complete an objective since you're "accepting" an objective at the end of your turn. It's now Player B's turn. Player B also places a marker on the same public objective player A selected, meaning this objective would now be deemed "contested" over by two players; A and B.

Continuing with the example above, lets assume the game gets back around to Player A. Player A completes the contested objective. That means Player B will not get a chance to complete it when it comes back around to B's turn. Essentially meaning Player B's efforts of completing an objective have been pointless since Player A completed it before B could.

I fear the game would boil down to "Well, Player A is claiming Objective X. I guess I could put my marker on that same objective and hope he doesn't complete it on his turn". This just seems bad.

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I'll just lay out the general framework I have:

Setup:

Community market deck and row
Community objectives deck and row
Each player gets X money to begin the game

Turn Sequence:

1. Players may choose to increase stat A or stat B by one point
(To purchase some cards in the market or attempt objectives, players have to have a certain amount of stat A and/or stat B)

2. Purchase a card from the market by paying money

3. Play cards from their hand such as items, mercenaries, or skills

4. Players must attempt to complete an objective they previously accepted

5. Accept a new objective by placing their marker/token on a public objective (not being able to attempt to complete it until their next turn)

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So as you can see, this involves lots of public information; a community market and community objective row. There are no unknowns here. Market cards include cards to aid you in completing quests and cards to negatively affect an opponent.

I do not want to overly complicate the mechanics of this game, but I feel like it is too simple as is. Everything purchased is public knowledge, so everyone will know if Player A bought a card to screw someone over the next time someone tries to go for an objective.

Does this clarify my position here? Hopefully so.

What I'm looking for here is this: I need some people to pick this apart and tell me what's wrong with it, where potential issues are, and/or what could be improved on.

I very much like the idea of public markets and players buying cards from them. I also like the idea of being able to contest players on certain objectives. I'm just not sure of the best way to do it.

questccg
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I have an idea...

Here is an idea you can maybe incorporate:

  • Each turn, a player choose four (4) cards from a central deck.
  • Next he chooses ONE (1) card to keep, and then passes the remainder of cards to the player on the left.
  • Continue to do so until all cards are distributed.

What this does is set up an interesting scenario: Player #1 knows all the cards but doesn't know who will get what. Player #3 will know EXACTLY what Player #4 gets. Player #2 knows that Player #3 will have one of two cards.

What this does is create a bunch of hidden information and makes very suspicious game play.

You can vary this - By adding more cards... But I think the "Player #3 knowing what Player #4 has" is interesting. Deals can be made informally - bribe/hush money! :P

Anyhow maybe you can think about this form of Card Drafting... I will ponder more about your ideas and see if I get any other ideas that might be useful!

questccg
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Before...

There was a time that my design entitled "Monster Keep" was about Card Drafting and Auction. At that time I had similar troubles with bidding and knowing what player would get what cards...

In a way it's cool - you get a bunch of cards to choose from and then you pick which ones you want. But if the purpose of the cards is to "screw over" your opponent, that will be difficult if they know what cards you have.

That's why I think the Card Drafting idea I mentioned creates some form of suspicion and maybe even some kind of *temporary* team work also! :D

questccg
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Side effect

I think there might be another problem if both Player #1 and Player #2 choose Objective A. Specifically if Player #1 ACHIEVES the Objective, Player #2 now needs to select a NEW Objective. If you force him to choose his Objective that leads to a problem with contention and the other players. Like Player #2 can choose Objective B which was selected by Player #3... So it allows a player to cut-off another player.

If Player #2 has to wait an entire turn - well that's a large penalty and no one will want to bid on Objectives simply because losing a turn is HIGH RISK.

The other option is that if there are four (4) Objective cards, Player #2 may choose ANY UNPICKED Objective. And you can resolve things in that manner.

Kamon
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questccg wrote:I think there

questccg wrote:
I think there might be another problem if both Player #1 and Player #2 choose Objective A. Specifically if Player #1 ACHIEVES the Objective, Player #2 now needs to select a NEW Objective. If you force him to choose his Objective that leads to a problem with contention and the other players. Like Player #2 can choose Objective B which was selected by Player #3... So it allows a player to cut-off another player.

If Player #2 has to wait an entire turn - well that's a large penalty and no one will want to bid on Objectives simply because losing a turn is HIGH RISK.

The other option is that if there are four (4) Objective cards, Player #2 may choose ANY UNPICKED Objective. And you can resolve things in that manner.

Thanks so much for your replies, man. I really appreciate it!

Quoted this because it's exactly the problem I'm envisioning. It's such a high risk to contest an objective because the risk is that you essentially waste your entire turn.

Now card drafting seems like a great alternative. Being someone who has drafted tons of Magic: the Gathering I have no idea why I didn't think of that.

danieledeming
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Other options

I think the problem with just allowing P2 to select a new card is that there is then no advantage or reason for P2 to place on the same card as P1.

I would recommend making your Objective cards more complex - for example have one cost if you are the only P on the card, have a higher cost if there are 2 P on the card. That way there's still a reason for P2 to place on the card and might prevent P1 from having the resources to meet the Objective. That way too, all of the actions are public, but the intentions are not - I would probably also implement the ability for P2 to move if P1 completes the objective.

Also, an idea that I had is there might be a larger value on the Objective card that P2 can spend on P1's turn to 'steal' the card.

Hope it helps!

questccg
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Not so!

danieledeming wrote:
I think the problem with just allowing P2 to select a new card is that there is then no advantage or reason for P2 to place on the same card as P1.

Actually that's incorrect! Because if P1 & P2 chose "A" and P1 accomplishes "A" requirements, then P2 is either SCREWED or can pick an "unused" Objective (my other solution).

The reasons for choosing an Objective I assume is because you feel you CAN accomplish it! But that doesn't guaranty it... There has to be room for ERROR/Failing. Otherwise then there is NO valid reason for P2 to choose the same Objective...

Woah - this all sounds very confusing! :P

Soulfinger
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I perhaps misunderstand what

I perhaps misunderstand what you are going for, but I like the double-blind/secret deployment method of bidding that you see in games like FFG's Arcana. You have a central set of objectives, each with multiple values to contest. Players place their bids face-down, and the results are only revealed once everyone's hands are exhausted and the objectives are scored. That way P1 accomplishes his goal and P2 is screwed, but neither player has a clear sense of this until the end of the round. Multiple players can bid on one objective because P1 may just be bluffing or throwing a low-ball bid into the mix. Your hopes aren't dashed until the cards are revealed, and by then, you've already had some fun. Would something like that resolve this issue?

questccg
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Sent you a link to Columbia

Okay I might as well talk about it HERE. I sent a PM saying you should look at Columbia (a game available via The Game Crafter).

Why? Well for one very interesting mechanic: the poker bid. How does this mechanic work? Let me explain.

So you have cards in the middle which represent the "river". Using your cards on the table, you try to make the BEST hand (Poker: two pairs, three of a kind, four of a kind) and the player with the best hand wins the river card...

What if you used a *similar* mechanic. Each Objective would have A BID cost like 3 green OR 1 yellow. So if P1 players 3 green, he can be beaten by a bid of 1 yellow OR 4 green! Bids can be played cards FACE-DOWN. So all bids are secret. Players can BLUFF by playing useless cards for an Objective and it will generally INCREASE the difficulty because of bluffing + hidden auction/bidding.

When bluffing with extra cards, P1 could have played 1 Blue, 1 Green and 1 Yellow. Players could be tricked into believing he has 3 Greens... So that's how the bluffing part works.

How to allow the game to be flexible: each ROUND, player draw two (2) cards. And you could have a hand with at most eight (8) cards. Just some balancing with hand sizes to maintain some form of control. What this does is that it makes for BIDS of two (2) cards to be FREE (meaning that's what you drew on that turn) and three (3) or more they will cost cards from your hand...

Now if they are cheap or crappy cards who cares... They can add to you bluffing at no cost... Only the player who WINS the bid gets the objective card. Resolve other bids by letting the losing players bid on the remaining objectives (as they see fit). BUT remember MORE bluffing will occur - because the remaining player will KNOW some of the cards players have...

I think this is the best solution - since it gives you a lot of interesting game play with only a simple mechanic...

Kamon
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This is all very interesting.

This is all very interesting. What if the story or logic behind the game changed to accepting Quests from a village? There theoretically would be no "bidding", as the village would basically submit their Quest requests (no pun intended) and we would try and find some way to contest one another over them.

Perhaps bidding still makes sense in that scenario, but it would be better from a thematic standpoint to stray from bidding knowing the story would not mesh bidding and questing well.

Thoughts?

Soulfinger
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questccg wrote:Okay I might

questccg wrote:
Okay I might as well talk about it HERE. I sent a PM saying you should look at Columbia (a game available via The Game Crafter).

From your description, the gameplay for Columbia sounds remarkably similar to Arcana (and probably a dozen others). Each objective card has a rod, sword, and cup value. Your bid must meet or exceed at least one value as well as your opponent's bid. There is also a coin value that allows for a bribing mechanic. One thing I like is that you deck build with the cards that you win, so the card that cost you a bid of 6 cups can now be used with that 6 cup value to score other cards. Assuming the aesthetic suits you (based in Rackham's old Cadwallon setting), you may want to check it out. It's not my favorite game, but it is one that my wife and I enjoy together, so I play it often.

Having just played a game of Black Sheep with my son, I can say that the poker-type mechanic is much better with face-down cards. Playing a game with them face-up lends much more to a defeatist attitude, particularly with younger players. It's fun competing against the unknown.

Soulfinger
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Kamon wrote:This is all very

Kamon wrote:
This is all very interesting. What if the story or logic behind the game changed to accepting Quests from a village? There theoretically would be no "bidding", as the village would basically submit their Quest requests (no pun intended) and we would try and find some way to contest one another over them.

Perhaps bidding still makes sense in that scenario, but it would be better from a thematic standpoint to stray from bidding knowing the story would not mesh bidding and questing well.

Thoughts?

Really, the story doesn't so much affect it being "bidding" in terms of mechanics. The players are contesting one another using one resource or another, be it a commitment of time and effort, an expenditure of gold, or a quantity of timber or bat guano. Whoever invests the most, wins. If that means putting forward some sort of token, be it a card or poker chip, then that's a bidding mechanic. You don't have to call it bidding, but that's what is under the hood. Let's say you have X number of card stacks to compete over central to the playing space. It's a village, so each could represent a location (Blacksmith, City Hall) or an interest (Transvestite's Guild, Smith's Guild, Noble House). You flip over your card for each to get a quest, and multiple quests make it so each player has to balance their strategy. Let's say that the Transvestite's Guild needs sequins and badger skulls. Each player needs resources to accomplish this errand, which they probably are getting from either their own dedicated deck or a communal deck. Since it is a competitive game, Player 1 can't provide the sequins while Player 2 provides the badger skulls. They are each trying to amass these resources independently. There are many clever ways to resolve such a contest, but most often it boils down to a bid. For thematic purposes, your rulebook can call it a Challenge, the Contest of Heroes, etc., but ultimately that's the terminology designers use to obfuscate all of the working parts that make up a game.

lonebluewolf
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What if instead of using the

What if instead of using the markers to indicate accepting an objective, they were used to open one full round of bidding?

The player who initially places a marker eventually has the benefit, and perhaps expectation, of being able to pay the best or highest cost to complete an objective. After a marker is placed and the turn passes, every other player gets one turn to commit the best bid or resources for a quest/contract. (Depending on how difficult you want to make things for people, you can decide whether smaller bids are lost or returned.) When it comes back around to step 4 of the original player's turn, if they can beat the current highest bid on it, they can claim the objective. Otherwise, it goes to whoever else made the best bid.

Meanwhile, other players are also opening other contracts for bidding, and trying to strike a balance between marking objectives they think they can ultimately win even after everyone else gets a chance at it, and in knowing which other objectives they think they can successfully secure. I could see one strategy involving initiating a bid on say the second-most attractive objective, and letting someone else eventually pick the one you really want, in the hopes that everyone else is frantically trying to burn through their resources to secure the one they thought you actually wanted.

The one downside to this is that unless step 5 is mandatory (which I could see being reasonable -- a whole turn could conceivably pass with no sufficient bids on the objective the first player marked, in which case everyone loses the chance at it), players would just stockpile resources until they thought they could clinch an objective for sure, and several turns could pass without any other action. Players who make bids and open none themselves would also have the advantage of leaving the other players with less opportunities on their turns -- or, more opportunities to just stockpile things, and make the game a series of huge bursts and resource dumps. It ultimately depends on how frenzied versus paranoid you want everyone to be.

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