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The Great Totem (Native American hunting and war)

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Trepid
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The goal for the game is to be the first player to have completed their great totem at the sun circle (woodhenge) in the center of the board.

The elements of the game:

-Each player can choose from twenty or so major Native American tribes: Navajo, Pueblo, Cherokee, Apache, Choctaw, etc. Each has different characteristics and benefits.

-I would like to have several resources that must be maintained for survival and success:
food (hunt, fish, farm)
water (drinking, building clay shelter)
lumber (weapons, shelter)
animal hide/pelt/skin/other animal parts (clothing, shelter, weaponry)

-Several terrain types are found on the board: prairie, forest, mountain, water. Certain animals can only be found on certain terrains, so players must move their workers around to hunt them (grizzly in northern woods, buffalo only in prairie/grassland, etc.

-The board may be split up into the popular hexagon shape, but this is not in stone yet.

-Players use both cards and dice to accomplish their goals, with maximum amount of cards in hand being probably 5 or 6.
Depending on how the resource management works out, I might try to use dice with icons for hunting and war. For example, when you hunt in the northern woods and you want to try and bag a grizzly bear, you must move 1 or more of your “workers (hunters)” there first, then roll a 12 sided dice. The dice for the northern woods might have 2 sides being bear, 2 sides deer, 5 sides snake, 2 sides squirrel, 1 side owl. Each animal produces a certain number of food (bear = 10, deer = 4, owl = 2, squirrel and snake = 1). Then another 12 sided dice thrown at the same time is success/fail/death (7 sides success, 4 failure, and 1 death)

I am having a difficult time determining how to utilize resource management without using the accumulation method. I would much more prefer to use a wealth spending method (you have a certain amount of action points you can use each turn). There's definitely an issue here that I can't get past, and that is, How do I maintain resource management without getting too complex? I'd like to allow the players to hunt for their food, and keep a minimum to survive. It would also be nice if the players were allowed to build different weapons, as different tribes and bands of Native Americans did (bow and arrow, war club, tomahawk, gunstock club, poison darts, etc) so each battle is not just attack and defend. If I use pawns as workers, how can I keep track of what weapon that pawn has as it moves around the board? I considered using post and different colored rings (light brown = bow/arrow, dark brown = stone club, grey = tomahawk).

Here are the definite main elements I want the player to enjoy:

+Getting to choose from about 20 different tribes because each has different characteristics.
+Trading
+Hunting parties, possibly fishing, possibly farming
+War parties and possibly raiding
+Building the totem, which involves following a specific blueprint from bottom to top section:
-hunting the animal
-bringing the hide or skin back to camp
-carving the animal into a piece of lumber
-bringing the carved section to the woodhenge at center
-giving the players the ability to prevent you from achieving these things through battle
+Forced interaction with other players, whether through trading or battle

I could really use some direction here! I have taken the simple idea of Native Americans going to war, playing as allies, hunting/fishing/farming...and now it has become a massive complicated mess. Btw, I'd like this to be a 2 hour family game or played among just adults.

Tbone
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Interesting

The Native Americans were very territorial. I think there needs to be some sort of area control mechanism. This would be where combat could get more strategic. I say each shelter (Wooden, clay cave?) have something they store. Wooden would house your unused meeples, clay your weapons/tools, and cave your resources. Managing what goes where and deciding what to protect would be super cool. I think for each system - resources, meeples, and weapons/tools - there needs to be a unique quality to them. Meeples = action bonuses, resources = building and trading, weapons/tools = combat and addition actions. This way when people attempt to mess with your shelters, they will have to decide "what is most useful to them and what is least helpful to me that I can destroy/attack". This would create a wonderful tension.

Not sure your direction though, but this is where I would go :) Also, if you plan to have 20 different tribes, this game will have to have some complexity.

P.S. I don't think 2 hour family games exist. But, who knows, you might open up a new market :D

Trepid
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Thank you!

Tbone wrote:
The Native Americans were very territorial. I think there needs to be some sort of area control mechanism. This would be where combat could get more strategic.

I absolutely want combat strategy in this game (certain bonus flanking or rushing maneuvers would be very acceptable).

Tbone wrote:
I say each shelter (Wooden, clay cave?) have something they store. Wooden would house your unused meeples, clay your weapons/tools, and cave your resources. Managing what goes where and deciding what to protect would be super cool.

That is a great idea. I imagined each player having their own scorecard in front of them. On this scorecard would be categories food, lumber, water, weapon, hide, horse, canoe, jewelry, clothing. I have also compiled a fairly detailed list for each tribe I was wanting to use, and in each list is their "personalities/charcteristics" (fierce, friendly, shifting locations, who their enemies and allies are, weapons, what they hunted and farmed, clothing, shelter type, used horses, location on map, etc. I'm going to try and keep their shelter types based on what tribe: Apache = wickiups and buffalo-hide teepees, Cherokee = houses made from clay walls and pole frames, Chippewa = wigwams, Choctaw = grass houses and wittle and daub mud, etc. You must collect the proper resources for your chosen tribe to build the proper shelter types. The same goes for weaponry: you must have lumber and stone for bow/arrow and war clubs, lumber for shields, snake venom for blowguns. There could also be the possibility of research, so you can trade knowledge with allied or friendly tribes.

Tbone wrote:
I think for each system - resources, meeples, and weapons/tools - there needs to be a unique quality to them. Meeples = action bonuses, resources = building and trading, weapons/tools = combat and addition actions. This way when people attempt to mess with your shelters, they will have to decide "what is most useful to them and what is least helpful to me that I can destroy/attack". This would create a wonderful tension.

Can you elaborate a little more on this, like maybe give an example of how a turn might play out? Do you think on your turn you would be able to do all 3 types of systems in 1 turn? For example, gather resources, move your meeples and fight/hunt, and then build a weapon/tool?

Tbone wrote:
P.S. I don't think 2 hour family games exist. But, who knows, you might open up a new market :D

Personally, I love the long game. I think it takes time to build a proper strategy, have the resources to back a big play, and gives you a little time to react to the other players' strategies. On some of my other threads, comments suggested that having a game that takes longer than 1.5 - 2 hours is going to be a struggle to get anyone to want to try and play it. I see this game as being an entire evening/night to play a full round.

That brings up the size and spacing of the hexagons if that is the direction it goes. I considered using 1"-1.5" wide hexagons, make the game board quite spacious. Each player could have 1 shelter max and 2 meeples max on 1 space. Going up to 2" hexagons might allow 3 shelters and 3 meeples max on 1 space. These seem fine, but it creates lots of space in between the players, limiting interaction. It creates a lot of travelling as well when you have to move a hunting party from southwestern home to northern woods to hunt grizzly bear. Increasing the size of the hexagons (Catan for example) would allow the player to build maybe 10-15 shelters on 1 space, and about that many meeples. The interaction with other players: war, raid, ally, trading...would be definitely forced interaction by close quarters. I want both of those though. I like forcing the player to travel and "work" for their totem animals, but I want the forced player interaction as well.

Tbone
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Elegance Vs. Complexity

Just from seeing your ideas here, this is not a family game. The way this is going the mechanics will most likely resemble a Euro game for casual and intermediate players. For this to be a "family game" the amount of resources and the intricate relationships between the tribes and the special abilities and the time you have to invest into the game and the theme mind you, must be streamlined extensively. It is very important to gauge your audience before going too deep into the design process, because of right now, you are heading away from family friendly zone. Family means adults AND children. It must cater to all of them. Managing 6 - 7 resources will be almost impossible for 7 - 10 year old to enjoy while also being attentive to other things.

So before we go any further: what is your target audience SPECIFICALLY?

Trepid
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target audience

The target audience will be for adults, and I want the gameplay to be resource management, war and hunting, euro style. The big issue I am seeing at the moment is the mechanics to achieve what I want to see in the game.

Tbone
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Trepid wrote:Can you

Trepid wrote:

Can you elaborate a little more on this, like maybe give an example of how a turn might play out? Do you think on your turn you would be able to do all 3 types of systems in 1 turn? For example, gather resources, move your meeples and fight/hunt, and then build a weapon/tool?

For elegance sake, I would say one action, maybe two, per turn. This causes healthy tension similar to Chess. Scavenge, Build, Harmonize, Retaliate, Worship.

Scavenge: Move and gather resources

Build: Use cards in hand and resources to build tools, weapons and structures.

Harmonize: Draw cards, gain additional meeples, trade etc. (upkeep type action)

Retaliate: If someone intrudes on your territory, offers a carved image, over populating an area, or storing too many resources, you can attack, raid, or intimidate (RPS???).

Worship: Offer up a carved image to gain victory points, gain special totems (on each terrain tile there might be a totem symbol, if you hold the most in that type you gain bonuses there??).

Just some thoughts on turn structure. It creates this "should I harmonize to get cards? But he is really pressuring me in the west, maybe I should retaliate." type decision which is super fun.

Trepid
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Tbone wrote:For elegance

Tbone wrote:

For elegance sake, I would say one action, maybe two, per turn. This causes healthy tension similar to Chess. Scavenge, Build, Harmonize, Retaliate, Worship.

Thanks for your comments and suggestions. So you are suggesting there's a specific order, and you can choose (on your turn) to do 1 or 2 of the 5 categories of actions?

Tbone
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Integration of Mechanics

For me, integrating mechanics to a theme is very stimulating. When you find a mechanic that represents the principles and themes you are trying to portray it makes the game that much easier to fall in love with.

Take my current design for example: The Final Reformation. It takes place in the near future during the end-times and you are task with ministering to the populations through the power of Christ's name by providing resources, wisdom, relationships, and protection. The main mechanic that drives this is....... matching. I have tactics in my hand that have certain strengths in some of the above areas and I must attempt to minister effectively by matching them with the populations of the world. Feel free to check out my journal page for inspiration.

Anyway, find the core values and themes (Harmony vs. Chaos, Unity vs. Selfishness) and build off of those. It would be neat to play off of unity vs. selfishness. Even though the natives were very connected to nature and the land, some took this too far as to take all they could. That is not just a white man's struggle; all are innately selfish. Play around with it. I know that when players are connected to more than just good mechanics, it causes them to fall in love with your game.

Tbone
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Trepid wrote: you can choose

Trepid wrote:
you can choose (on your turn) to do 1 or 2 of the 5 categories of actions?

Correct.

Trepid
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Tbone wrote:For me,

Tbone wrote:
For me, integrating mechanics to a theme is very stimulating. When you find a mechanic that represents the principles and themes you are trying to portray it makes the game that much easier to fall in love with.

Anyway, find the core values and themes (Harmony vs. Chaos, Unity vs. Selfishness) and build off of those. It would be neat to play off of unity vs. selfishness.

Can you think of a game example or thirty (kidding) that uses harmony vs chaos, where your actions force you down one of two paths? Are we talking about two attributes and if you are constantly trying to raid the other players your chaos bar becomes fuller, but if you spend lots of time trading your harmony gives you more resources?

Tbone wrote:
all are innately selfish.

So true.

I really like the idea of selfishness vs. unity, but just don't have a clear picture on how to incorporate something like that yet.

Tbone
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Balance

Trepid wrote:

Can you think of a game example or thirty (kidding) that uses harmony vs chaos, where your actions force you down one of two paths? Are we talking about two attributes and if you are constantly trying to raid the other players your chaos bar becomes fuller, but if you spend lots of time trading your harmony gives you more resources?

That would be cool yeah. I think it would be interesting to add a little risk/reward/push your luck. The more chaos you birth the more benefits you get for doing chaotic things, but the bigger loss you get if "X" happens because pure chaos causes catastrophe. Same with harmony: get more resources etc. the more harmony you gain, but you risk losing "X" because you aren't willing to stand against evil etc.

Try allocating actions to either side and begin intertwining mechanics to balance each other, but also giving the player room to go hog wild if they want (push your luck).

For The Final Reformation, you are balancing Passion and Action. Drawing cards causes you to increase towards the action side of the track, but praying (which gives you a few benefits) will increase it towards the passion side. Balancing this is crucial because if you draw a weakness card the farther you are on either side (toward passion or toward action) the more time you must take to repent (during this time you cannot take full actions).

Play around with ideas. Map out some items you think are crucial to represent the theme (resources, cards, shelters, meeples, terrain, etc.) and start creating relationships between them.

Trepid
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theme and resource

What do you think about using a technology tree (research), where your actions are the engine that drives you down one road or another. For example, your specific tribe began with 20 chaos and 10 harmony. Your last two violent actions moved you to 22 chaos and 8 harmony, and you needed 11 harmony to learn +1 range on your bow/arrow (which you cannot do until you get up to 11 harmony). However, you now have enough chaos to research rage (adds +1 to all attacks vs. people). Your chance of successfully learning rage is lowered because each point over 21 chaos gives you -1 on the roll for research.

Tbone
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Great Idea

This is great. Implementing the tech tree will allow you to maximize variability between tribes. This system, though, doesn't "drive" your game, it mainly "drives" your theme (Chaos vs. Harmony). In fact, the actual actions that increase harmony and chaos will drive your game. This is inevitably found in your turn structure which we discussed earlier.

I would even research Native American culture and behavior as this might expose you to some more specific mechanics (warfare, trade, building shelters, gaining resources etc.). Get creative and use mechanics that you are passionate about!

Trepid
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research

I have already researched and compiled a massive list of each of the tribe I have chosen. There's a few more bits of information I need to find, but each tribe I have detailed geography, personality/character, farming foods, animals hunted, shelter type and resources required, weapon types, tool types, clothing types, what was traded, horse use, pottery and jewelry use, list of allies, list of enemies. I was planning on using these lists to determine the starting attributes for each tribe and their researched weapons/shelters. Other things could be researched later, possibly after crossing paths with another tribe who have already acquired those technologies.

Trepid
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attributes

Perhaps I can take this idea further on the chaos vs unity scale.
Some actions might lead to only adding or subtracting a point of harmony/chaos, where more serious actions add to one and subtract the other at the same time. For example, killing a lone hunter from an opposing party might just give you +1 chaos, but if you try to raid an entire camp of that opposing tribe you might get the +1 chaos and -1 harmony in the same turn. Then you can make the hard-to-get technology (like researching the gunstock club and sturdy structures) even harder because you need high numbers in both chaos and harmony. Not only that, but there can be massive penalties to having a wide gap between harmony and chaos. For example, difference of 5 = -1 on "X", difference of 7 = -2 on "X", difference of 9 - -3 on "X". Then the player has to think a little more when making drastic situations. It's okay to cause a little chaos and little harmony here and there, unless you wanna push your luck (like you had mentioned) and go for the extreme chaos.

So there could actually be 3 categories of hard-to-get technologies if using this method:

1. Extreme Chaos and negative Harmony
2. Extreme Harmony and negative Chaos
3. Lots of points in both Harmony and Chaos, creating a perfect balance.

...or something like that

Tbone
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Nice

Yeah that's cool, you can do a lot with that. Even your cards can mess with this too.

What are you planning for the cards and deck creation? Are you deck building? Tribe specific deck? A combo of the two? Pre-game deck customization? etc. I was thinking that there could be decks for hunting, attacking, raiding, trading, moving, building etc. that you could invest in (deck building mechanic) and start to build your deck. Not sure how that would work though. This would be random. Speaking of your "tribes learning technologies from other tribes" you could have a cool mechanic where cards from the different decks would be apart of one of four spirit guides (Judgment, Peace, Prosperity, and Wisdom). Every card will have a symbol for one of these spirit guides. What will happen is when you execute an action you will draw a card from that action deck and place an influence token next to the deck on the spirit guide track that is shown on the card (everywhere there is a deck there will be a subsequent spirit guide track). This way people won't know what card you have, but they can change their strategy or prepare based on what type of card it is. If another tribe comes along and draws a card from there, they will do the same. BUT if they draw a card with a spirit guide influence already there, they get a bonus (draw +1 card, plus one technology, +1 resource etc.)

This could drive your game. Maybe. You also mentioned about "forcing" players to interact. If you invest too much into one area, you could be helping other players. This "encourages" (the word "forces" implies manipulation and nobody likes this lol) them to try other actions. Their technology track will also sway them to different actions etc.

Depending on what you do, if you incorporate something like this to drive your game, you're going to have yourself really strong synergy between your different systems/mechanics. What do you think?

Trepid
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deck building

Yes, I am absolutely wanting to deck build, and that was one of the struggles. I was thinking of trying to do everything into one deck, but at this point it seems necessary to have multiples.

There needs to be as many that you had mentioned. The issue of resources comes into play though when talking about building shelters and weapons/tools and things to trade. Maybe moving building only requires the resources and technology to do it.
For moving, and depending on how large each space is, the player can move 1-2 spaces per action, or 2-4 with a horse.
They wouldn't have to roll and move or rely on cards from moving here or there(I read on a forum on mechanics that roll and move is out of favor with players). With building, simply collecting the resources and bringing them back to camp would allow you to build them. It would take an action turn to use 1 lumber and 4 buffalo hide to build a teepee. It would take an action turn to use water and clay to build an adobe or clay-brick house.

Now I need to also bring up how the hunting will work. Do I put insignias of the animals on the spaces so the animals are geographically located (bears only in northern and eastern woods), buffalo only in the central and northwestern plains, etc. Should I incorporate animal dice, where each geographical location has a dice and you roll the die for wherever you are hunting? (northern woods has 12 sided dice: 3 bears, 5 squirrel, 3 deer, 1 snake). I don't want hunting to be a horribly difficult thing to succeed in, either. But I don't want the player to walk to any space and be able to bag a bear. Perhaps easier prey (rattlesnake, squirrel, eagle, hawk, wolf) can be hunted anywhere, but the more difficult animals (griz, buffalo, mountain lion, copperhead, cottonmouth, elk) are location specific. I saw a walkthrough of the agricola and they use small animal pieces but I'd like to avoid that. I am open to suggestions on the hunting and animals for sure.

Now comes in the conversation of dice. Should I incorporate the cards in with the dice? Should I use dice at all?

For example, you are attacking a space with another warrior. You happen to have the warcry attack card that allows two of your warriors to attack at the same time so you play your card and roll attack dice (only considered 1 action if you use a card like an accessory). The d6 has 4 sides success and 2 sides fail. Now the other player gets to defend. They just happen to have a parry card which gives them an additional roll of the defense dice, plus they have a shield which gives them another roll. If they had a counter-attack card, they can play that and roll the attack dice to hurt the other player rather than defense. If the primary attack also has a counter-attack card, they can counter as well and this can go back and forth until the players' defending cards run out.

Maybe I could rid the game of dice altogether, but that would mean player's deck hands would have to be pretty large and I think probably six should be maximum. I'm not closing the door on the idea of having more cards in hand. I love the idea of deck building for this game though.

I am still on the fence about the main objective though. I think building a great totem is a great idea but I want to keep any of the spiritual stuff out of the game. I really like the idea of the 4 deck categories you mentioned (judgement, peace, prosperity, wisdom) and the influence but I just want to keep out the spiritual stuff. It's not what I believe in and I won't touch it with a ten-foot pole. Maybe those categories can be tied in with the totem sections, and each animal has a combination of those qualities. Perhaps strength, stamina, wisdom, and something else. Each totem section you build increases your attribute, which also increases your unity or chaos. It could be where the only blueprint you have to follow on the totem is the first and last piece. Every animal you place in between determines what direction your tribe goes, and shows what strength you have become by the end of the game. Something else needs to happen after you have completed your totem. I thought about building it at camp and then moving it to the woodhenge, but there's already a board game called Totem where you are moving totems around the field. Most likely this game name will be changed to something else like Woodhenge. I dunno yet though.

Tbone
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A Few Thoughts

Trepid wrote:

Now comes in the conversation of dice. Should I incorporate the cards in with the dice? Should I use dice at all?

I honestly don't think its necessary. Even for hunting.

For example: you are on a woodland terrain tile, you decide to use the hunt action. You draw from the hunt deck and draw a deer. On the card there could be three choices, each requiring a certain amount of chaos or unity to perform. You could draw a beer even, but the requirements might be extremely high so in order to subdue it, you'd have to increase/decrease in areas. This way its not "I randomly killed a bear... woohoo." but instead "I actually killed this thing because of my actions.... awesome!!!" You earn the kill and that is exciting.

Trepid wrote:

For example, you are attacking a space with another warrior. You happen to have the warcry attack card that allows two of your warriors to attack at the same time so you play your card and roll attack dice (only considered 1 action if you use a card like an accessory). The d6 has 4 sides success and 2 sides fail. Now the other player gets to defend. They just happen to have a parry card which gives them an additional roll of the defense dice, plus they have a shield which gives them another roll. If they had a counter-attack card, they can play that and roll the attack dice to hurt the other player rather than defense. If the primary attack also has a counter-attack card, they can counter as well and this can go back and forth until the players' defending cards run out.

I think this could be solved by every card having a some sort of value/symbol system. No idea how, but I love cards that can be used 1 - 3 different ways. One of the reasons I really dislike Magic: The Gathering.
Maybe have every card valued at one, two, or three. When you battle you secretly place a card and choose a battle stance (Charge, Defend, Flank). If you win the RPS (Flank beats Defend; Defend beats Charge; Charge beats Flank) you can get a +1 or -1 to your value. Depending what stance and whether you were above or bellow your opponent determines what happens.

Trepid wrote:

I am still on the fence about the main objective though. I think building a great totem is a great idea but I want to keep any of the spiritual stuff out of the game. I really like the idea of the 4 deck categories you mentioned (judgement, peace, prosperity, wisdom) and the influence but I just want to keep out the spiritual stuff. It's not what I believe in and I won't touch it with a ten-foot pole.

I totally understand. Instead of "spirit guides" you could call them "principles". It is a little inconsistent because creating "totems" seems to elude to spiritual identities as well. I'm assuming they are offering these things as tribute to "nature" or the "higher gods"? If you want to avoid "spiritual" themes, amending the victory condition is be a good idea. It could be creating their ancestral crest or creating a symbol for their next chief, something of that sort.

Trepid
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victory condition

You're absolutely right about the victory condition. I need to put more thought into this, and what I've learned from the other board games I am working on is that the main objective/theme needs to be strong before the mechanics and everything else. I have a bunch of what I consider "great ideas" but they lead to nothing. Once I lock down this objective then it will be easier to control the direction of the mechanics. Now I'm back to where I started though on what would be an excellent victory condition for a Native American board game.

Trepid
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totems

I just did a little more background reading on totems and concluded that they were not necessarily strictly for spiritual or worship practices. They can represent legends or events, or many other things....so I think I'm still good to use the totem. Now just to determine if that's exactly what I want to do.

Thank you so much for the ideas on the cards. I was hoping to avoid dice although at the time I thought they were necessary. Having the hunt deck with several choices on the card is a great idea. The idea about the different stances on the attack/defend cards impressed me too. Things are things to seriously consider.

Also, could you elaborate a little more about what you meant by placing an influence token on the guide track next to the deck>? I'm having a hard time picturing what you mean by the tracks. So far, I like the sound of what you're saying but I can't grasp exactly what it would look like.

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Stick with it

This isn't exactly advice except to say that this sounds like a great concept and I wish you the best in seeing it through to completion.

My one thought is that sometimes games can have too much detail. So much that the actual 'play' bogs down. I might think about streamlining and/or combining some of the features regarding the resources. Most of these cultures did not commonly travel great distances so maybe that could place a natural limit on items/choice and availability.

Good Luck!

Trepid
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many thanks

Thanks for the comment jfeast. I agree with you. There's so many aspects/elements to this game right now it's too crazy. It will definitely be streamlined a little more and for the moment I am trying to figure out how to use all of the elements in an elegant way so it's not bogged down. Tbone's suggestion of having only 1 or 2 actions per turn was a great idea, allowing the game keep moving. One of the other important things for me is to have the players actually watching other players' moves which will reinforce the heavy player interaction I am seeking. A couple of my other over-complicated game designs made it so bogged down, you spend the time on the other players' turns looking at your own stuff while trying to count how much you need of this and that. I want to avoid that altogether if I can in this.

That was a good point, too about them not travelling great distance. I want to keep the game partially realistic but not exact, allowing the player to be able to research or learn technologies belonging to other tribes (if they trade).

Trepid
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coup

Something I am considering right now is using coup as the other attribute with chaos and harmony. There could be a whole section of coup sticks that can be researched through a technology tree, and your actions determine what kind of coup is counted, maybe turned into prestige points. However, this can only be applied if you actually possess and use the non-lethal coup stick on another player's . Maybe counting coup (prestige), harmony, chaos, and the totem pole can be tied together somehow.

Also, I was hoping to try and lean towards eurostyle for this game, but it is definitely showing lots of character of being an Ameri-not-trash style: Heavy theme, lots of player interaction and direct player conflict, many different players or factions within the theme, every player can do something different (individualized from the other players). Eurostyle is going to have to be a different game. :d

Tbone
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Trepid wrote: Also, could you

Trepid wrote:

Also, could you elaborate a little more about what you meant by placing an influence token on the guide track next to the deck>? I'm having a hard time picturing what you mean by the tracks. So far, I like the sound of what you're saying but I can't grasp exactly what it would look like.

It will just be something to keep track of what has been drawn there.

Example

(Hunt Deck)
[Judgment => (place a cube here if you draw a Judgement card) ]
[Peace => (place a cube here if you draw a Peace card) ]
[Wisdom => (place a cube here if you draw a Wisdom card) ]
[Prosperity => (place a cube here if you draw a Prosperity card) ]

If you draw from the deck and you draw a card type that has already been drawn you get a bonus.

Tbone
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Coup?

I'm not understanding the coup mechanic.

Also, I actually forgot the difference between Ameritrash and Euro. Doesn't have to do with how open the information is? Sorry, little rusty on semantics in that department. If you want Euro, man, make it Euro! Don't let my suggestions sway your passion.

Trepid
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your suggestion

What I've found out in the last few days by reading and watching board game reviews is: American games (I won't be calling them Ameritrash) tend to have drama, lots of player interaction, directly player conflicts, battles, strong themes. Eurostyle is more of a simple theme, strong game mechanics, worker placement, economically driven, very little player interaction.

I've also learned that lots of recent games are breaking down the barriers between the two distinct styles: games like Mage Knight uses both styles. This is the kinda style that intrigues me. I don't want the straight American style with tons of pieces that litter the entire table, and I don't want the lack of player interaction that comes with the Eurostyle. I want a simple resource management situation, with a strong deck building system, strong player interaction with trading, wars and allies, and with all these things going on you are trying to complete your main goal. I think through the deck building this can be accomplished. Your ideas Tbone (I feel like I'm in the Seinfeld episode when I say that) are exactly what I was looking for. I need to watch a review of Dominion, since that seems to be the pinnacle of deck building games (at least considered by some). Perhaps that will inspire a few more ideas of the mechanics.

Going back to the coup: counting coup is considered a type of prestige through acts of bravery (when engaged with an enemy). A physical contact with the enemy could be considered coup, or stealing something like horses or weapons. The most coup apparently came from using a coup stick in a non-lethal way, and by touching it to an enemy and escape without being hurt. So anyway, I'm thinking about using coup as a way to use in the deck building as a requirement to use more powerful cards. I suppose it could also be considered "honor" points. Perhaps you have to have 15 chaos, 4 harmony, and 8 coup to bag a grizzly bear solo, or only 4 coup with a group of 3 or more.

And going back to the hunting, I love the idea of just using cards, but I still would like to have a little bit of luck. That is what made me think that dice was necessary. If there was a way I could incorporate "lucky randomness" into using the cards, then I wouldn't have to rely on the dice. The eurostyle games tend to not rely on luck: you know exactly what you are going to get. The American style games is where luck comes in, and I think it's important when going hunting. You can use your researched skills/weapons to be able to actually hunt the animal, but I don't think it should just be given to you....unless you're seeing something I am not. You'd still have the "I used my hard-earned skills to kill that bear", but there's that little bit of luck you needed. Maybe I'm trying to over-complicate things again though when I should be streamlining.

Tbone
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Trepid wrote: And going back

Trepid wrote:

And going back to the hunting, I love the idea of just using cards, but I still would like to have a little bit of luck. That is what made me think that dice was necessary. If there was a way I could incorporate "lucky randomness" into using the cards, then I wouldn't have to rely on the dice. The eurostyle games tend to not rely on luck: you know exactly what you are going to get. The American style games is where luck comes in, and I think it's important when going hunting. You can use your researched skills/weapons to be able to actually hunt the animal, but I don't think it should just be given to you....unless you're seeing something I am not. You'd still have the "I used my hard-earned skills to kill that bear", but there's that little bit of luck you needed. Maybe I'm trying to over-complicate things again though when I should be streamlining.

I guess I looked at it like this: the deck is the dice; the deck is your randomizer. From what I saw from your example, you hunted by throwing dice and seeing what animal you would encounter and if it was successful or not. So there is still uncertainty as to what animal you will encounter (realistic), but whether you kill it or not is up to your skill (realistic). Now, you could still make the skill part random, if you wanted, by drawing a card from the top of your deck to examine if you got a 1, 2, or 3 (every card has a value). Each value would coincide with an option on the hunt card. This would be cool because option number one would have no chaos or harmony needed to execute (the easiest) so if you draw a 1 you automatically get the option. Although, option 2 and 3 require some amount of chaos and harmony (2 needing some and 3 needing much more). Each option would give a better result depending on the value

Example:

1) Execute hunt action
2) Draw a hunt card
3) Place a influence token on the peace track (you drew a peace card)
5) You drew a white owl with the following encounters (we'll call them that instead of "options"):
-------(1) +1 coup
-------(2) Harmony 4: +1 coup, +1 movement
-------(3) Harmony 7/Chaos 3: +3 coup, +2 animal coat
(6) You draw a card from your deck with a value of 2
(7) Looking at your stats you find that you only have 3 Harmony BUT you have a card in hand that allows you to increase your harmony by +2 for one turn, so you use that to encounter the owl successfully.

Even the randomness allows you to feel like you earned it because you built your deck - if you want to be more successful you want to buy higher valued cards.

This is also helpful because even if you come up against a bear, encounter one will give you at least SOMETHING if you lack some harmony or chaos. There is also tension if you do meet all the requirements because you might be stuck with a measly 1 value encounter and walk away with chump change. I think it could be interesting.

Trepid
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fantastic

I love this! That is much better than using the total random dice. I watched a review and sample game of Dominion and I absolutely love that deck building game mechanic. Is this kind of what your example entails?

Decks set out in the middle of the board:

[Hunt] [Raid] [War] [Build] [Trade] [Move]

Then you have your 5 or 6 cards in your hand, right?

Then you have your own personal deck which is the one you add to through purchasing?

Are the decks in the center of the board all facing up or down? What happens with the hunt card (white owl) after the action is complete? Do you add the attributes (+coup, chaos, or harmony) and then discard it into a hunt deck discard pile? does it go into your own deck?

Or does the card go on the board on the space you are hunting on if you don't meet the qualifications to hunt the animal? Using this method, you could have several animals on the game board that stay there until another player comes by who has the necessary skills and weapons to bag the animal.

You could even have several animals on 1 tile and could be something that allows even more player interaction as other players are rushing towards that tile because they absolutely need that animal for its hide, meat, and potential to make jewelry for trading.

Tbone
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Hmm...

The way I am seeing it, the mechanic won't turn out exactly like Dominion, but yes, you would have like a standard deck with a starting hand etc. (similar to Dominion) that you are trying to build and refine. Your hunt card question... It would make sense to discard it as apposed to placing it in your discard pile (you don't just hunt an animal and then one day you walk outside and its there again to kill haha). But im not really sure. Your idea about not meeting the qualifications is really cool. So if you draw a one it would stay on the board? Or if you draw one it stays alive on the board, two it is injured on the board (tapped)? That would definitely add more player interaction.

kos
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Deck building and the victory condition

There's quite a lot going on in this game (but you already knew I was going to say that, right?). I agree with ditching the dice idea; it gives you less components and more focus on the core mechanics.

Trepid wrote:
Decks set out in the middle of the board:

[Hunt] [Raid] [War] [Build] [Trade] [Move]

Then you have your 5 or 6 cards in your hand, right?

Then you have your own personal deck which is the one you add to through purchasing?

Are the decks in the center of the board all facing up or down? What happens with the hunt card (white owl) after the action is complete? Do you add the attributes (+coup, chaos, or harmony) and then discard it into a hunt deck discard pile? does it go into your own deck?

Most deck building games have the available cards in the center face up, allowing you to purchase whatever you want at the end of the turn. Of course you can change that mechanic by having a limited selection to buy each turn, or whatnot. Personally I'm not a fan of "buy whatever you want" because it can slow the game down as players pore over every card to figure out the best combo. So for the sake of speed of play, I'd try to limit the selection somehow.

After reading through this thread, I've been thinking about options to consolidate your core mechanics further.

For example, the resources you have discussed include:
- Workers
- Materials (wood, stone, fur, etc)
- Chaos/Harmony/Coup tracks
- Cards in hand
- Animals (bear, owl, etc)
- Totem segments
- Area control

That's a lot of elements to fit into a single game. Could some of these elements be combined, or could one set of components cover multiple elements? The cards, as already mentioned, can be multi-purpose.

The victory condition is the key driver of behavior in the game, so let's start there.

Let's say the victory condition is to complete a totem, which mechanically involves playing a series of 5 specific animal cards in sequence.

Further, let's say that these animal cards must be played from your hand, and once played on the totem they are now "out of the game". If the animal cards can be played for some other (beneficial) purpose, then this creates the tension between playing the card to get stronger vs playing the card to make progress towards victory. Progress towards victory weakens your deck by removing good cards from it. This is (in my opinion) a desirable outcome because it adds tension.

The next step would be to figure out how to get animal cards into your deck, and what else they can be used for once you have them. You've written extensively about hunting, so let's go with that. When you successfully hunt an animal, you add that animal to your deck.

So how do you hunt an animal? You've written about the chaos/harmony/coup tracks, so what if these were also expressed through cards in your deck rather than being a separate thing? The Bear might require "3 Chaos", so you have to discard cards worth 3 Chaos from your hand to successfully hunt the bear.

So how do you get Chaos/Harmony/Coup cards into your deck? I'm not sure, but it should probably involve one or more of the other elements you want (worker placement, raiding, building, etc) rather than being another new element. Or perhaps each card can be played either as an action or as its element (Chaos/Harmony/Coup).

And what else can the animals be used for besides building the totem? Again I'm not sure, but it should involve the other existing elements. Perhaps it's based on the animal, such as Bear gives +1 War, Snake gives +1 Raid, etc. Perhaps you can play animal cards during your opponent's turn to oppose their actions or make things more difficult for them. Perhaps you can play (discard) animals in order to buy other powerful cards (e.g. discard Snake to buy Poison Arrows).

Combined with my earlier expressed preference for limiting the number of "buy" options in deck building games, let's say the basic turn sequence is as follows:
- Play cards from your hand to take actions (played cards go into your discards)
- Flip 4 cards in any combination from the decks in the center
- Discard from your hand to pay the purchase cost for as many of these as you want
- Add the bought cards to your discard pile
- Discard any remaining cards in your hand
- Draw your hand up to full (reshuffle your discards into your deck if your deck is empty)

This gives you some choice over your fate (you could flip lots of Build cards if that is what you want to focus on), but also some randomness and minimises analysis paralysis. It also creates a choice between playing cards as counters during your opponents' turns (this is why the draw phase is at the end of your turn, not the start), vs using them to take actions, vs saving them to buy better cards at the end of the turn.

I'm not sure how the terrain types / worker placement / area control fits into the game I've described above, and perhaps they don't fit at all. If I was going to include those elements, I would need to figure out how they contribute to the victory condition. Maybe having Workers in certain terrains is one of pre-requisites for buying certain cards. Or maybe the placement of workers determines which decks I flip cards from at the end of the turn. But I'd be cautious about whether this is just adding complexity without actually improving the game.

All of the above is not to say that your game should necessarily be that way, or that it would even be a good game as I expressed it, I'm just giving an example of the thought process to start from the victory condition through to selecting the other elements you want in the game.

Every element of the game should be to achieve the victory condition (in this case, play animals on the totem), make progress towards the victory condition (in this case, get animals into your deck, build, trade), or prevent/delay your opponents' progress (war, raiding). Don't try to force elements in that don't fit; use it as an opportunity to cull the elements you don't need.

If you change the victory condition, then all of the elements need to be re-evaluated. For example, if the victory condition was "have a majority of workers on 5 hexes", then the focus of the game changes to getting more workers, placing workers on the board, and (re)moving opponents' workers. Workers become the key resource, and animals become a minor element (or maybe they don't exist at all). It's an entirely different game. That's how the victory condition defines the rest of your game.

All the best,
kos

Trepid
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Many Thanks

I can't thank all of you enough for taking the time to help me with this game. I am seeing its potential and I have so many wonderful ideas to choose from and incorporate them into the victory (main objective). Now it's time to make some decisions and see how the mechanics will work out.

Thanks,

Trepid

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