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Looking for a good random element

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suf
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Joined: 07/26/2010

In a few words I am looking for a good random element suitable for a heavy euro game. Something to add variation while not adding a feeling that the game is determined by luck.

For a somewhat heavy euro-like civ game, I need a good random element added to the game. There are no cards (yet) and there's no luck factor (other than other players' actions). At this point I'm afraid the game feels more like chess because the random element is missing and player interaction is not very high (usually via area control mechanics). The map conditions will be very similar (if not identical) for all players, and all players start with the same resources and same powers. I need some element that would make the game unpredictable in the long run (to discourage AP) and make the player focus more on adaptive strategies and risk management. While players should be able to develop strategies requiring them to think a couple of moves in advance, I want to remove the pure math feeling of the game and add some uncertainty so that players will focus on more generic strategies and adjust them in time according to how the game evolves. I like the random element in Through The Ages (TtA:aSoC), but that's accomplished via cards. I need my random element not to feel like the game winning is determined by luck, but I need it to add variation and uncertainty to the game. Maybe it should affect all players at the same time in somewhat similar ways.

Any ideas are welcome :)

lokinervio
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Joined: 06/02/2011
Calendar

Have you considered a calendar, where from time to time a world changing event happens? I'm thinking that maybe the players know in advance which events _might_ happen at each event time, but a die roll determines which one of say three or four actually do happen. That way they can still plan ahead, but there's a chance element.

Events should force player interaction - say, players are forced to trade two resources, or perhaps they may damage one settlement of their choice on the opponents board.

I could see a beautiful "catastrophe" side board that shows the possible events for each event time.

Just a random thought :)

suf
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Joined: 07/26/2010
I was thinking about this kind of events

Thanks, I was thinking about this kind of events, and the dice roll touch is interesting. In some cases there could be something similar to Sylla (if you played the game), where players more or less vote which events to prevent.

Here are some ideas that I came with:
Events that take place each turn and affect all players (weather conditions affecting game play, market fluctuation)
Events that take place each turn and players bid for them with money or other currency (new units or resources)
Events that take place each turn and affect one player (invaders attack weakest player)

These are all events that [potentially] affect all players in the same way, and they can either prevent them or prepare for them. Players should be able to know the events that cannot be prevented before they take place so they have time to prepare.

All these sound very similar to what happens in Through the Ages. I was hoping I could find something a bit different so I don't just copy the mechanics there.

lokinervio
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Joined: 06/02/2011
auto balancing

How about an auto balancing feature that gives the player with the fewest resources an extra random number of resources that turn? It might encourage more building and less hoarding.

Maaartin
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Joined: 05/15/2011
An idea for randomness on the market

In case there's a market you could do the following: Use a token denoting a player, let the player having the token roll two colored dice, compute the difference (black die minus white die). Let the player choose a resource, modify its price by the difference, and let the player pass the token to the next player.

Variant: In case the absolute value of the difference is less than 2 (i.e., the player could change the price only a bit or not at all) let them keep the token for the next turn. This reduces the luck factor a bit while making it all even more unpredictable. At first, I thought about using 3 (instead of 2) as the threshold, but this would make a player to keep the token for 3.0 turns on the average (instead of 1.8 turns).

Variant: Use two such tokens for even more randomness.

In case you don't have colored cubes use 2d6-7 (i.e. the sum of two cubes minus 7). It's exactly the same.

suf
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I wonder if the autobalancing

I wonder if the autobalancing would be a random element at all once you can tell who will get the resources, but I will keep it in mind.

The token and dice to alter the market is a nice idea and can encourage economic trade tactics.

pelle
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Joined: 08/11/2008
secrets

Maybe what you are looking for is to add some kind of hidden information, held by one player but somewhat important to some other (requires a bit of player interaction to make sense)? It's not really random, but from the point of view of any particular player it may be random enough to add diversity to the game, especially if the possible hidden information has a very small span and it is never obvious which choice will have been made. Even better if the sole goal of the choice is to be random. The player with the hidden information might not have much to gain of one choice over the other, but is interested in picking something the other players can not predict. That would make it for most practical purposes "random", but in a way that many players might not even realize as being random (so the game could still appeal to all the dice-haters!).

suf
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Secrets is a good idea

I like this idea of hidden info and I think I can add it without much overhead. For example there could be something like a foreseer where a player can find out which event is about to happen (events usually affect all players in the same way). The player will start to prepare for the event to come, and other players may try to guess what the event will be by studying what the foreseer is doing. The guessing would have little chance of succeeding, but will feel like the other players are given a chance.

I was thinking of adding random events that occur each round to limit how far ahead players can plan and to add some risk. I could combine the two ideas so that one player could know the event one round in advance. After revealing the events, players would get a chance to adjust their strategy in trying to minimize the negative impact of the event. The foreseer would get two rounds instead of one to prepare for the event, and this foreseeing should come at a price.

Great ideas so far! Thanks. I am happy with the options I got 'till now, but new ideas are still welcome :)

suf
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Asymmetric start

I was afraid of asymmetric start for players, but I figured I could use something like Twilight Struggle does. A bidding system where players start with an amount of money and bid for starting positions. Winning bid gets starting position and other players share the bid of the winner. Then next bidding is for second starting position and so on. Last player does not have to bid.

Louard
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Joined: 02/09/2010
A couple ideas from my notebook

Here are a couple ideas I've written down that, I think, fit into your request.

1-Similar to the calendar mentioned above, but broken up into seasons. The game lasts 4 seasons, and each season lasts for, say 4 or 5 turns. Every turn a die is rolled (mine was a d10) and the result corresponds to some event, like resource production, disasters etc. So, some good, some bad, some great etc. The list of events is thus different for each season, giving each one a different feel. Things get tough in winter with low yields and dying crops, so plan ahead! But you never know, you may end up rolling favourably all winter and have a really 'mild' one.

2-In the vein of hidden info... Which, as mentioned, might as well be random to every other player. You could introduce objective cards, kind of like the destination tickets in Ticket To Ride. So, on top of your normal resource gathering, and building and whatever else that gets you points, each player could have a number of objectives they keep hidden from the other players. These objectives would be ways of getting extra points.. build three wheat farms, +3VP, YAY!.. So there's that element of everyone's strategy being re-focused by their objectives while every other player is trying to guess what they're up to to interfere.

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