# Economic system

17 replies [Last post]
CrazyAlbin
Offline
Joined: 12/15/2013

Hi

I’m working on a strategy game. Ever since the start I believe that the economy system is it’s weakest spot. It takes to much time, after some hours playing it also goes slower and slower due to tiredness. Some players might also find it quite hard.

The economy system is very simple however. You have 6 resources; Food, Gold, Wine, Stone, Wood and Iron.
Each turn you take your resources and pay the upkeep of your troops. It’s ok in the beginning but when you have a lot of troops it takes times. As your land increases you have higher values to deal with.

My alternative way (haven’t tested this yet) is as follow:
You have a so called a treasury. A sheet Simply 6 squares, one for each resource showing how much you get each turn.

Example: Say that you earn 10 food each turn but have an upkeep of 5, you put five resources in the food square in your treasury showing how much food you generate. IF you buy one more troop you remove one food, having 4 left. If you lose one troop you simply add 1 resource, having 6 generated the following turn.

+ Hopefully you will not have so much problem in a bigger scale calculating how much resources you get.

+ You don’t have to count your troops each time and keep track of your expenditures

+ Might be able to remove the cards for each region which show how much resources you get. (This rise the problem showing who owns the region, add flags to put on the region instead? Now the card with resources shows how the owner is)

- I want to keep it simple. This add more explanations in the game.

- more items to produce for the game and to control in the game.

What do you think? Will it work in reality? do you see other problems?

EDIT: You can also find my game boardgamegeek.

//Albin

anonymousmagic
Offline
Joined: 11/06/2013
Have you tried removing one

Have you tried removing one resource from the game? There is a reason other games have less resources and it might just add more complexity than you expected.

kos
Offline
Joined: 01/17/2011
Simple in concept but high in fiddliness

You are correct that the economic system of this game is simple (in that it uses simple addition and subtraction and no difficult concepts are involved), but from your description it is clear that it is going to be very high in fiddliness and take a long time to play.

If decreasing the game play time is one of your goals, here are some ideas about how you might accomplish this.

1. Reduce the number of resource types.
In comparison to other games out there, 6 is on the high end for number of resource types. There are a bunch of games out there which have up to 5 resource types, but these games typically revolve entirely around their economic system. That is, manipulating the economic system _is_ the game. If in your game you want the economic system to be just one aspect of the game, rather than the entirety of it, you'd be looking at something substantially simpler.

2. Change from an accumulation economy to a supply economy.
It sounds like your game involves collecting resources every turn based on territories owned, then spending these resources on upkeep, buying new armies, etc. This is pretty much guaranteed to be fiddly and time consuming for humans to play. (This kind of economy works fine on computers because the computer takes care of all of the number crunching and the physical manipulation of components.) A different option for an economic system is supply based. By this I mean the territories determine the supply of resources available each turn, but you never actually collect the resources. Anything not spent during the turn is lost. For example, say a territory supplies 3 iron and each army requires 1 iron in upkeep. If you only have 2 armies, you don't get to keep the excess iron; it is lost. If you have 4 armies you must remove one at the end of the turn because you can't pay its upkeep. This style of economy would still require a degree of counting every turn, but would remove much of the fiddliness.

3. Stagger the collection of resources.
Counting up and dealing with 6 different resources every turn is always going to be time consuming and tiring. Could you stagger the resource collection so that each turn you collect only one type of resource? This cuts out 5 sixths of the counting and collecting. It could be a fixed pattern of resource collection (use a turn counter with the 6 resources in a circle, and progress a marker around the circle each turn), or it could be random (roll 1d6 to determine which resource type is collected), or each player might get to choose which one he wants (so player A collects iron, while player B collects wood).

These are just some ideas to think about -- hopefully you find something that works for your game.

Regards,
kos

CrazyAlbin
Offline
Joined: 12/15/2013
Thanks for the replies.

The game now is a bit too fiddly as you mention kos. I need to reduce it somehow. Your three suggestions are really good, I will think of them. The game needs to remove much of the fiddlyness but not on the cost of it complexity and simplicity. Hope you see what I mean. I will go through your three suggestions:

1. Reduce the number of resource types.

six resource types is a bit much I know. I think however it isn't the big problem.

If any resource going out I guess it has to be stone. Food= Army upkeep, Gold=Knight upkeep, cost for buildings and troops as well as an more flexible resource (this is the one you buy the other resources with in the market). Wine is for knight as well and luxury buildings, Wood is buildings and soldiers and finally stone is simply just for buildings. I think they together form a complexity that I like.

2. Change from an accumulation economy to a supply economy.

I was thinking about a supply economy at the beginning but decided not to go for it. For the game as a whole I'm not sure if its going to work with this type of economy. For now each region produce a couple of the different resources. if I go with the supply economy it would be best if each region will only produce 1 type of resource. Or there is only 2-3 resources in the game it would work. I think that it will reduce the complexity greatly.

3. Stagger the collection of resources.

Interesting system. But I think it's not what I'm looking for. I think the player depend on all different resources too much to skip the others each turn.

The economy part of the game is one of its main parts. T think.he economy phase however take too much space now. Reading through my text it feel a bit defensive. I hope it doesn't feel I'm just throwing away your suggestions. They help a lot and I will take them into considerations. The second idea is the one I like most and the first might be the more harsh truth.

I somehow need to remove the fiddlyness without removing the game complexity or making it more simple.

Over at boardgamegeek they mentioned using a bar system. What do you think of that?

//Albin

CrazyAlbin
Offline
Joined: 12/15/2013
add more complexity than you expected

anonymousmagic wrote:
Have you tried removing one resource from the game? There is a reason other games have less resources and it might just add more complexity than you expected.

I'm not sure it will. It might will. But I don't see how. Can you explain further?

//Albin

Kroz1776
Offline
Joined: 10/09/2013
For Example

Ok, lets take a game with six resources. Lets say that at the beginning of the game, it takes, on average, 5 seconds for per player to collect each resource. Lets say it then takes another 10 for said player to pick what to buy with said resource. This is about 15 seconds per turn per player. Lets say the game is a 5 player game and the game usually lasts 10 rounds (I'm just throwing numbers out there. So we're talking 50 player rounds with 15 seconds. That's 750 seconds or 12 1/2 minutes gone from the game, just by reducing a resource. This isn't accounting for the Analysis Paralysis players that exist. This could help them reduce play time by perhaps even 20 minutes. 12-20 minutes is a big chunk of time you just saved by taking out one resource.

Now, this is assuming to above mentioned numbers. If the game is even longer then the savings will become bigger. If a turn typically takes a minute, we're talking a 25% time savings, if it's 2 minutes we're talking 13%. That's still a big time saver right there.

Hope that explains your comment well enough Anonymousmagic.

ReneWiersma
Offline
Joined: 08/08/2008
Because there's the type of

Because there's the type of complexity that comes from the number of things to consider, the different combinations of thing, and having a wide decision tree as a result. This type of complexity usually isn't the type that makes a game very interesting.

Suppose each turn a player must perform two different actions which I will call A & B. The player may determine the order in which to take the actions. These are the possibilities:

AB or BA (2*1=2)

Add one more action (C) in the mix, now the possibilities are:

ABC,ACB,BAC,BCA,CAB,CBA (3*2*1=6)

By adding just one type of action, the decision tree has tripled. Adding a fourth action would make for (4*3*2*1) 24 combinations. It's easy to make a game complex that way, but it doesn't make a game more interesting, necessarily. It would just make a player's turn some sort of puzzle, figuring out the combination that gives the most optimal outcome.

For example, if CAB results in 5 victory points and all the others result in less VP, then CAB is clearly the best order of taking the actions. Figuring this out might have been a complex process, but it doesn't result in an interesting decision.

Now suppose CAB instead results in 5 VP and 3 gold, while ACB results in 2 VP and 6 gold and BAC results in 1VP and 8 gold (all the other choices being inferior). That may be an interesting choice if it isn't clear how gold translates into VPs.

So, I hope that makes clear why adding complexity doesn't result in a more interesting game. The reverse may be true, by reducing complexity, you might actually introduce more difficult decisions - which is a different kind of complexity, more interesting.

Now, that doesn't have much to do with your problem of the upkeep phase being a bit too cumbersome ;) But it is still a good idea to think about this kind of stuff, because complexity adds up very quickly.

ReneWiersma
Offline
Joined: 08/08/2008
To get a little less

To get a little less theoretical, and more about the problem at hand (throwing out some ideas):

* Your alternative method sounds like an improvement and you should probably implement it anyway
* Does your game really need an upkeep phase? Why not just pay for a unit once and then be done with it? I know, you lose a little realism, but you are making a game not a simulation. If a system doesn't work, or isn't fun, you should consider cutting it altogether
* What if you just needed to pay upkeep for a few choice units?
* What if you timed the ending of the game in such a way that the game ends before the upkeep phase becomes too cumbersome?

Corsaire
Offline
Joined: 06/27/2013
Track differently

One way to reduce the work would be to track only the surplus production. You can have a track for each resource that indicates how many you earn that round. Then you add a token of the type to the track when you increase your production. When you create a unit with an upkeep you remove the right number of upkeep tokens from the earning track; when that piece leaves play return the token to the track.

Example:
- I have 1 gold per round production; so there is a token on the gold production track
- I build a gold mine which increases my production to 2 gold per round, I add a second token to the gold production
- I build a knight which requires a gold upkeep, so I remove a token from the gold production track and place it under the knight

Now as long as the knight is in play, I never have to think about its upkeep.

CrazyAlbin
Offline
Joined: 12/15/2013
Thanks for responses

Thanks for responses.

@Kroz1776. Well. That start me thinking. I find it difficult removing one resource. But your example is really something to take into consideration.

@ReneWiersma. I understand your point with the ABC example. I don't want to make it complex for sake be. I want it to be interesting and fun for it complexity, having the player make hard choices.

Removing the upkeep would be great in one way but I think that would result in a less strategic struggle and make the game more unbalanced. If I removed the upkeep I could as well remove the food resource (no one's eating, Yeay!). The downside from it is that I can just build and build having a better spam than my opponent will result in grinding him down. With the upkeep I can't overbuild. Or must produce an surplus for a couple of turns in order to make a vast army.

I want to make a game that will hold until the end. I don't want a cumbersome system that fails if the player decide to play longer than expected.

@Corsaire. What you describe is almost what I had in mind. The problem with having a resource token under the knight is that it adds to the fiddlyness in the strategy phase. most troops are massed together in one area, having this doubled will only result in everything tipping over. I guess it would make an excellent system if you had fewer troops/ only one allowed in the same area.

//Albin

Corsaire
Offline
Joined: 06/27/2013

Actually thinking about it some more, you could just increase the production track based on set values when a particular piece is removed; no need for the extra fiddly bit I had first described. Doing it that way, you should only need a single tracking token per resource.

Edited to add: I'm a space cadet, this is essentially what you outlined in your initial post as your alternative. Therefore, I must think it is a good approach :)

BENagy
Offline
Joined: 09/25/2013
I like your initial idea of

I like your initial idea of using a live tracker for your resource generation. I'd put it into effect. It might mean you add a few lines of rules, but you might end up removing even more lines of rules.

Now the idea of paying only to build instead of for upkeep could still keep balance if handled properly. What if your first unit cost (as an example) 2^1 resources, the second cost 2^2, the third cost 2^3, etc. I would balance it more than this simple example, but requiring a bigger army to pay more to increase it's ranks, it's an option that could keep an army from constantly growing too big and simply grinding. Instead, you have to choose between spending these same resources on yet another unit (very expensive), or at the same cost, getting a few other upgrades by spending resources. Now, the strategic depth of play is actually increased, and less tedious simultaneously, by removing a resource.

If you really want to keep that resource in, then use the live tracker, and I'd recommend what I believe someone else said, which was to shorten the requirements of the game, to end it sooner, before it gets tedious. Global domination risk is boring half way through, because you usually know who's going to win, and if you don't it's because you have 2 equally matched players. Make the game end when 70% of the world is owned, and it changes what strategic movements people might make, but it's fun until the end.

Kroz1776
Offline
Joined: 10/09/2013
Law of Diminishing Returns

I like what was suggested by BENagy. It basically encapsulates the law of diminishing returns. There comes a point where not matter how much cash you throw at something, it just won't give you that same return. By putting this into unit cost like BENagy said, will help eliminate the need for upkeep. You do still need to count the number of units though and that is where the complexity and time consuming part of it are...so perhaps it's not the best solution. It does eliminate the need to count up resources and pay them everyturn though, so nevermind, it does help.

The income tracker thingy is brilliant and it should be added to your game for sure no matter what you decide to do. It could be a simple track, and then you can have another track where you keep track of how many you do have.

Yamahako
Offline
Joined: 12/01/2010
Another way to reduce

Another way to reduce fidleyness is to group components together. Like 1 soldier takes 1 food each upkeep, but you can turn 5 soldiers into an army, which takes 5 food each upkeep.

It's easier to deal with 3 armies, than 15 soldiers from an upkeep perspective. You can incentivize the players to turn individual units into armies by reducing costs.

If you want the game to ramp up in scale, this kind of trick can help reduce some upkeep while maintaining the upkeep concept.

Kroz1776
Offline
Joined: 10/09/2013
FIFY

Yamahako wrote:
Another way to reduce fidleyness is to group components together. Like 1 soldier takes 1 food each upkeep, but you can turn 5 soldiers into an army, which takes 5 food each upkeep.

It's easier to deal with 3 armies, than 15 soldiers from an upkeep perspective. You can incentivize the players to turn individual units into armies by reducing costs.

If you want the game to ramp up in scale, this kind of trick can help reduce some upkeep while maintaining the upkeep concept.

In other words, it would be more like, an army takes 3ish food for upkeep.

CrazyAlbin
Offline
Joined: 12/15/2013
The New treasury system

Hi

Just tried out the new treasury system, as seen in my original post, and it worked out really good. reduced fiddling and the head maths. It also made you more aware of your resources.

The only real problem was when you lost troops and forget to remove the upkeep for them you had to go trough your income. I have an idea to improve the awareness of this, so it shouldn't be much of a problem.

I will try out the bar system since it will lower the amount of counters. That's a big plus.

I talked with the players and they felt that the 6 different resources are fun to have. The game would be more plane if you dropped them just playing with food and gold. I however noticed as stated here in the posts that removing 4 resources will enhance game speed. The game took about 8h to play. Would anyone like to play this long? It was quite intriguing :)

An idea came up though. Since there is a market where you are able to buy/sell resources you always has access to trade resources. This trading is quite none player interactive (you interact with the market, a sheet of paper).

A friend came up with the idea of somehow making the trade more player bound by removing the market and only allow trade within players. Problem is you're quite dependent on the different sorts of resources. What happen if you can't get to say wood. You can essentially only build peasants, no buildings, better troops etc.

Any ideas comments or thoughts are appreciated :)

//Albin

eviljohs
Offline
Joined: 03/10/2012

How about only doing the resource stuff every few turns. Like a season. So every three turns or so you fiddle with the resources. I'm guessing there is going to be some troop movement and combat? What are you doing with these things you build or purchase? Is it just a placement kind of thing? If this game does have a combat element, then that gives more time for movement and combat. So if the element of the economy is just meant to be supporting a larger picture, it won't overshadow/bog down the rest of the game.

Also how complex do you want this game to be. Not all games need to be fast paced. There are games out there have done well as being a slow methodical game.

CrazyAlbin
Offline
Joined: 12/15/2013
That's a really good Idea

That's a really good Idea eviljohs. Think I heard it before, apologizes if that's the case. But you explained it well Eviljohs.

The main focus I want is, I guess, the battle/Intrigues and troop movement. The economic phase is a big part of the game as well. The fear I have is that it might overshadow the other aspects of the game.

By adding two strategic turns per one economic turns will change the game a lot I guess. Maybe to the better :) The focus will definitely be more on battle and the strategic.

Maybe following the seasons:

Spring and summer: war/strategy
Autumn: Harvest/Economy
Winter: Event phase.

This game is not fast paced, I want it to be complex. I like the idea: easy to learn, difficult to master.

I really want this game to be a reality. I hope I have an audience for it. Not sure if there are though :/

* When I think back of the two previous test plays I can recall me thinking that attacking a town/ making swift counter attacks is difficult since there is often an economy phase in between where the town are able to train troops to defend it. This idea with two strategy turns will actually remove this. I think it is a good point. Really need to test it.

Thanks!

//Albin