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How to take the micro out of managing - any ideas?

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omni989
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Joined: 04/30/2011

Hi all

I am working on a miniatures skirmish game that has players take control of generators around the board. These generators supply X power to a power reserve every turn. Players win the game by reaching 30 power in their reserve but they also use that power to activate units, fire weapons etc. Its a fairly basic resource management system.

I would like some suggestions on how to hide the mechanics and remove some of the micro-managment from this system. Currently players must total up the energy they are getting at the start of the turn then move a marker on a chart to show how much power they have. Then every time they spend power they manually move the marker down 1 or 2 squares etc. They can spend alot of energy per turn though and it can get tedious.

One idea I have trialled is having power levels, so if you have reached green level then u can do all of these actions without reducing your energy reserve. This has the effect of reducing the resource managment too much though.
Or dropping the reserve thing all together and just needing a minimum of X Gens to do action Y. Again this takes resource management out of the game.

Any ideas and suggestions would be much appreciated

Maaartin
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Joined: 05/15/2011
Some ideas

omni989 wrote:
I am working on a miniatures skirmish game that has players take control of generators around the board. These generators supply X power to a power reserve every turn. Players win the game by reaching 30 power in their reserve but they also use that power to activate units, fire weapons etc. Its a fairly basic resource management system.

I would like some suggestions on how to hide the mechanics and remove some of the micro-managment from this system. Currently players must total up the energy they are getting at the start of the turn then move a marker on a chart to show how much power they have. Then every time they spend power they manually move the marker down 1 or 2 squares etc. They can spend alot of energy per turn though and it can get tedious.

Doing it each turn is too tedious so I made my resource spots produce 4 times as much on each 4th turn (and nothing in between). This reduced the micromanagement on the income side by a factor of 4 and also lead to more interesting play since you can plan quick attacks for gaining temporal control over a spot. I also reduced my initially large number of such spots and made the kept ones stronger.

The spending side is more complicated, I'd try to allow doing the most common actions for free providing some power level has been reached and/or include some more powerful actions which use precludes the cheap one. Something like pay 1 energy for single unit movement or pay 5 energy for movement of all units. Maybe knowing more about your game could help.

omni989
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Joined: 04/30/2011
I would then need a turn counter?

Being a miniatures game I would want to stay away from a turn counter and it seems that gaining power every 4 turns would require a turn counter to monitor it.

Can anyone suggest a way to monitor something like that without a turn counter?

Currently their is a maintenance phase after both players have activated all of their units and this is when they collect power so although it is turn based they don't need to know what turn it is.

Regarding the spending; moving and fighting are free but players can spend power when performing the action to improve it, i.e move further or add skills to combat attack. players alternate activating their units and typically spending power on them is a decision made when activating the unit. So it is not as simple as paying for all of them before hand.

Becuase amassing the resources is how to win the game but spending them is how to effectively defend them I would like the spending system to encourage players to spend the power. Currently because you make the decision every time players can end up spending lots which is a good thing for the gameplay I think.

Orangebeard
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Joined: 10/13/2011
Generator cards?

Hi Omni989!

I agree track management could be tedious if there is a lot of spending. Without knowing more, I wonder if it would be possible for players to have a card or token for each generator that provides a flat amount of power for expenditure.

For example, if you have 6 generators under your control, then you have 6 tokens/cards to use. Spending one token/card will allow for X number of actions to be taken spread over any number of units. If you don't use them all, then the excess is wasted. At some point, unspent generator tokens/cards contribute to the reserve.

This will add another layer of resource management (cards spent per action taken) which may or may not help your situation.

In addition, this idea might work better if all actions for your miniatures are declared and powered at the same time.

If this is not possible, you might have some luck with a "pool" of resouce counters (coins, glass beads, token, etc.). When power is gained, simply take the appropriate number of counters and add them to your pool. When you spend them, they are returned to the "bank" This drives up production cost a little since you would likely need to include the counters in the box, but it will avoid the need to have a track and might be a little more intuitive.

Miniatures games are very "hands on" so having a "hands on" resource managment system might support the overall feel of the game.

Good luck with your design!

Maaartin
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Joined: 05/15/2011
So maybe this?

omni989 wrote:
Being a miniatures game I would want to stay away from a turn counter and it seems that gaining power every 4 turns would require a turn counter to monitor it.

Can anyone suggest a way to monitor something like that without a turn counter?

If I understand your miniature argument correctly, the turn counter doesn't fit your theme. So what about masquerading it like calender/clock/whatever? In case there are some event cards in your game, you could simply count them, and whenever there are 4 of them played, put them to another discard pile and let the player gain power.

Alternatively, each player can have e.g. 6 action cards, one of them entitling him to gain power, the other could give him some minor advantages. Each card can be used only once, but a player left with 2 or less cards could take all his played cards back in his hand. This way after 4-6 turns each player replenishes his hand and every 4th to 6th turn gains power (in case the gaining power card is stronger than all the others, it will be always exactly 4 turns). You could also use exactly 4 cards, but I described the more complicated variant, as it allows for a greater variability.

In case you go for something like this, I'd suggest gaining power on each 5th rounds instead of each 4th. This way the gained power amount is multiple of 5, which makes the math more user-friendly and you could also make good use of power tokens in values common for coins (1, 5, 10, ...).

omni989 wrote:
Regarding the spending; moving and fighting are free but players can spend power when performing the action to improve it, i.e move further or add skills to combat attack. players alternate activating their units and typically spending power on them is a decision made when activating the unit. So it is not as simple as paying for all of them before hand.

What I meant was something like this: Normally, you pay 1 power for a unit doing "advanced movement". You pay it every time you do this, and it can get tedious and expensive. So maybe it's better to pay 5 power allowing all your units to do "advanced movement" until the end of the turn. You still have to pay for all units doing the less common "super-advanced movement", albeit there may be some discount.

But I'm afraid you understood me right and it just doesn't work for you.

Maaartin
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Joined: 05/15/2011
A simpler idea for the income

Each turn you can get either one token or exchange all tokens for power. The power amount equals to the number of generators currently controlled multiplied by the number of tokens.

The logic behind is simple: The tokens count the rounds you let the generators produce power; during the pumping the generators don't produce. In case you lose or win a generator the logic doesn't work nicely, but I'd simply ignore it.

IMHO the functioning is nice: You can either get power early or get more of it. The highest frequency corresponds with getting power on each second turn (since you need to get the token first). The longer you let the generators work, the more efficient you get:

period_in_turns:      2     3     4     5
energy_per_turn:  0.500 0.666 0.750 0.800
SiddGames
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Joined: 08/02/2008
Just tokens on board?

Use something small or stackable for the power, couldn't you just place them directly on the generators (on the board/table) at the start of each turn? And you just spend from any generator you control when paying for stuff.

Additionally, perhaps certain actions (movement) can be powered from any generator, but if you buy a unit, it appears at the generator you paid it with. This adds some spacial management to the resource system.

Also, if the power stays there, then it would then be possible for someone to attack and take control of a generator that had a lot of power stored up on it.

These all seem like it would fit a minis game well.

Regarding the "produce more power less often" idea, you could also go the other way. Produce less power, but power does more. For example, instead of each generator producing 4 points of power per turn, and units costing 1 or 2 power, each generator only produces 1 power per turn, but 1 power buys 3 infantry or 2 cavalry or 1 warlord, etc.

omni989
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Joined: 04/30/2011
Thanks very much :)

Thanks very much for all the ideas and suggestions. Lots of food for thought.

Some really great ideas in there, due to the other areas of the game though these suggestions only solve one or two obstacles in the power management system.
Some of the suggestions solve one or two but run into problems with others.
The problem areas that a new system needs to solve are:

Micro - gathering: Having to gather energy every turn, count it up etc
Micro - spending: Spending energy during each unit's activation, multiple times.
Micro - storage: Amassing enough energy to win the game
Activation system: The turn sequence alternates, one unit per player until all units have activated - decisions on spending are reactionary most times.

So some ideas are great for the gathering part of power management but still present problems with the spending side. Some solve both but run into problems with the alternate activation system.

I really like the card system suggested by Orangebeard. So when you control a Gen you take a card for it (these can have different values etc on) At the beginning of each turn you decide to use the card to take energy to spend that turn or u use it to add the the stored power to win the game. You turn it over and get X power or you can do X things that turn. This still leaves the micro-spending issue coz you would need to take counters or something t represent the power you have to spend this turn. ALternatively spending the card allows you to do X actions that turn but you would still need to keep a count of how many actions you had done and had left.

The tokens suggestion by Maartin is great too, it helps with micro-gathering and micro-storing although it leaves the micro-spending part.

The siddgames suggestion shifts the microgathering to placing tokens on gens which seems like it would take longer than collecting the power for yourself but it solves the micro-spending nicely and you could just take the unspent for storage.

They are all great ideas tho and have given me lots to think about. If anyone has an idea of how to combine them to incorporate all of the above issues or a system that does it on its own let me know! :)

omni989
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Joined: 04/30/2011
I may have the system I was looking for

Well after writing the above I worked on it, taking the suggestions, and it all seemed to fall into place. I think it meets all the criteria, let me know what you think of it.

1. Once a player takes control of a Generator he takes the card associated with it
2. The card has details on it stating how many actions it can be used for and what type of actions
3. It also has a BANK amount.
4. At the beginning of the turn players choose if they will bank any of their energy, they do this by turning over the card and adding the BANK amount to their stored pool of energy - it is this pool that allows them to win the game.
5. Any they are not banking stay face up and allow the actions they have written on them i.e attack with combat skills
6. Once a card is used it is turned face down, once all cards are face down you have no more energy available that turn.
7. Beginning of next turn you turn all cards face up again.
8. If your opponent takes your Gen you give him the card.

9. option of saying any card not used and not banked gets a token, when you Bank a card you get bonus energy for every token on it - this will give players the dilemma of trying not to spend. If you capture a Gen like this you get all the tokens aswell.

This system does not allow banking only some of the energy the gen supplies, solution:
The card has 2 values, on the back it has full BANK value i.e 5, if you bank it then u get this figure. If not you use the top half of the cards action details. On the bottom half of the card, upside down, is a smaller BANK value i.e 3, and weaker actions. You can Bank this value and get those actions by turning the card 180 degrees.

The micro-spending is tackled with the actions on the card, example: instead of saying "this card pays for 4 combat actions" which you would then need to track it says "permits skills to be used for all attacks this turn", others may say all defensive actions, or for a certain unit type only.

The card system also allows me to vary things, there could be multiple cards and players draw randomly when they control the Gen, or players could draw from the deck before hand, revealing them before the game or placing them by the Gens unrevealed. Also the cards could have mixed values so some Gens are more valuable than others, or higher Combat actions but less Bank value etc.

As you can see almost everyones ideas have helped me form this one, hopefully I have created something that is stronger than the sum of it's parts.

What do you think?

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