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help with market mechanic

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red hare
red hare's picture
Joined: 11/09/2009

Hi Everyone,

Thanks for taking the time to help a fellow game designer. My friend and I have been working on a barbarian war game for quite some time and we're trying to add a market mechanic where players will sell loot they've captured in their conquests. What happens is after completing a mission they draw loot card(s) based on the difficulty level of the mission, the number and value of the loot cards going up with the difficulty. In keeping with the theme, a player might draw 2 loot cards for completing a medium level mission. For example, they happen to draw a card with royal jewelry and another card with a chest of jade amulets. The part we need help with is designing a market mechanic where the players would then sell those loot cards. The money they earn would be used in a separate phase to buy bonuses for their armies.

The way we see the market phase is possibly the way the govenor or a build phase works in Puerto Rico, where all the players would participate in order. Also, the board is divided up into two separate spheres, East and West. Selling loot acquired in the eastern sphere of the board would then yield eastern coins, and selling western loot would yield western coin.

Players would then take the coins they made in the market phase and purchase enhancements they can use for their armies in a different phase.

That being said, we're having trouble coming up with an interesting market mechanic where players can use strategy and maybe gain some advantages by the choices they make.

That's a tall order to fill, but if anyone has any suggestions, I'd love to hear them.

Thanks again!!!!

Joined: 03/06/2009
Hi, I think this an

I think this an interesting concept and I have a couple of ideas off the top of my head, but I have some questions about the gameplay:
How does the rest of the game work? Do players win by collecting victory points, money, waging war, or something else? Can players steal loot from other players? Can they trade loot? What is the difference between eastern and western money? Knowing some of these things might make it easier to think of some advantages

I was thinking that maybe a player could forgo certain other actions in order to travel to a distant market. I.e. they could capture some royal jewelery in the west and then travel to the east to sell it for more money than they would get if they sold them in the west, but it might cost them a chance to go on another mission or something.

Or, maybe you could have cards that represent "in demand" items that sell for more money and surplus items that sell for less. You could change the "in demand" cards every few turns or so. This way the player needs to consider whether he will sell his item now or hold it for a possible bigger sale later.

You could offer greater prices for sets of goods (i.e. jade amulets sell for three coins apiece but a set of three sells for 12) Then you could open up trading between players--if this is not already an option--and maybe even attacking and looting of other players.

Hope this gets the ball rolling

Joined: 07/26/2008
Without more information as

Without more information as to the general design, it's always going to be awkward, but in addition to the goods being exotic in some areas and common in others concept that iceman mentioned, would a supply/demand concept be too awkward to implement, or introduce too much complexity?

The way I envision such being implemented, though obviously there will be other ways, would be to divide the loot into categories (Jewels, spices, etc) and adjust a value modifier on a track as goods are sold towards cheaper prices, and then move them towards the base value during the adventure phase.

That might also generate interesting interaction's with iceman's collection idea - If you see your opponent is collecting the Jade Statue Collection, do you sell the goods that will give you the best revenue (Spices, for example), or your fairly cheap Art goods to drive the price of the Jade Statue Collection down? And do you risk spices being flooded to the market before you can acquire the Ancient Spice collection you're working on?

red hare
red hare's picture
Joined: 11/09/2009
more details

my apologies Gizensha and Iceman, let me explain the general framework of the game better. It's a Risk-style war game, 4-5 players. Set in 13th century Europe and Asia. Complete missions, which are randomly selected, by conquoring parts of the map. Basically, there are West Missions (Europe) and East Missions (Asia). That's why I was dividing up the treasure into two separate types. Completing missions earns treasure and victory points. There is a single combat unit, essentially the barbarian horde/ pawn if you will. Combat resolution is by dice, which is also somewhat like Risk.

I was thinking to make the game more interesting a player could sell the treasure to earn money to buy upgrades for armies. These upgrades would give bonuses to movement, attack, defense, etc. Also, I was thinking this is an opportunity for players to have a long term strategy and have more choices (something my playtestester have asked for across the board). They can build up their armies to suit their strategy.

In terms of completing missions and acquiring the treasure, the game is purely opportunistic. In half the cases, you don't know where the next mission will pop up on the map. Playtesting has shown that players usually just go after whatever mission is easiest/ nearest their armies. Perhaps this would change if different missions offered different types of treasure/ different levels of value.

To answer your question Iceman, yes, players can steal the treasure from one another because it is placed on the board as a movable piece that can be captured if another army takes over that space. No trading of treasure so far. The game is more or less a battlefield.

So with the map set up as it is, players are not able to travel to another part of the map to sell treasure for a higher profit since the whole map is consumed by rampaging barbarians (the players), although that sounds like an interesting concept. The "in demand" "cards do sound like they could fit into the framework that is already there.

I am intrigued by the idea of having categories of treasure (spices, jade, etc), having a collecting element where a player might want to trade or try to complete collections, and then also having a market with prices on a sliding scale. It would really add another level of interaction. I just wonder how the categories could be introduced into the existing framework. The problem is that players complete predetermined missions that are, for the most part, randomly drawn. A player will not complete more than 4 or 5 missions in the whole game. A player usually completes a mission every other turn, but usually not every turn.

In order to incorporate the categories of treasure and collecting, should each mission have a predetermined treasure as its reward or should a player be able to choose or have a limited number of choices on what type of treasure he wins after he completes a mission?

I hope this gives you a better understanding of what limitations and possibilities I'm working with. Sorry I wasn't able to explain it better the first time.

Pastor_Mora's picture
Joined: 01/05/2010
So many ideas, so little time...

Basic idea: Customize treasury.

Have a treasury value in Gold (for armies) and Victory Points.

Have different value for them in the East and in the West.

Add them a place of origin, so players can return them to their rightfull owner (earning them VPs and Gold) and thus transforming every treasure in a potential mission (5/6 missions seems so few...).

Have missions that include gaining some treasury/set of treasury. That would increase market value of treasury for some players.

Have treasury give some bonuses to specific players (I mean LARGE bonuses). So if you got the Mystic Black Belt oriental treasury, the black player will hunt you down like a ring specter. That would dramatically increase value of treasury for a some players.

Risk is dry and boring because (among other things) it's too abstract and random. Add flavor and focus and you could have a neat variant in your hands.

Keep thinking!

Joined: 07/26/2008
Random or fixed to mission, I

Random or fixed to mission, I think, if going for the collecting aspect - That way there's more of a risk associated with hoarding treasure for larger returns - Certain smaller boost more frequently, or save it for the possibility of a larger boost. Otherwise it's simply a 'smaller now or larger later' decision. Though obviously you'll need to test the heck out of it to make sure neither choice is inherently superior.

Though if missions are at 4 or 5 over the entire game per player, a separate mechanic for earning treasure not related to missions might be desirable for any sort of collecting mechanic... Or simply multiple treasures per mission.

...I'd also be inclined not to make this so in depth that the treasure becomes the focus of the game rather than the battlefield...

red hare
red hare's picture
Joined: 11/09/2009
great ideas

thanks for the wonderful suggestions so far!

Pastor Mora, I really like the concept of the hordes returning the stolen goods. My partner and I are pretty far along on the theme we have so far, that of barbarians rampaging the world, but I think it would make for a good project. And quite unique and refreshing. I wish we had thought of it earlier!

Having some of the treasure give a special bonus to a specific player is a good idea. In fact, I think I'll go more in the direction of completing treasure collections and player-specific treasure giving a bonus and prehaps having it replace the VP scheme.

I think you're right Gizensha. The nature of the game is still warfare, so I shouldn't shift too much attention onto the market aspect. So far I haven't been able to come up with alternatives to completing missions to win treasure. Usually everyone has acquired some treasure by the second round, but what I think I'll do is have a mission give multiple treasures, instead of just one.

That being said the concept of the collections and special bonuses have opened up many possibilities. Many thanks to everyone for getting me to look at my game in different ways.

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