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Micro-economics Game - need some feedback

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neljer00
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In my quest to re-develop my curriculum I have created a micro-economics game. I am going to beta test it Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of this week with my senior economics class. Here is what I have so far, and I am wondering if you all could trouble shoot or provide any sort of feedback for me as I finish up the final details in preparation for Wednesday.

1: The purpose of this game is to illustrate a variety of micro-economic concepts, such as supply and demand, the role of prices, the impact of competition, scarcity, opportunity costs and trade offs, etc.

2: The game will consist of 10 teams of two people. Each team will represent a fictitious nation. Each nation will have 2-3 natural resources within their borders.

3: The natural resources are wood, wheat, coal, iron, and oil.

4: Game play will occur in real time following a prescribed sequence. Each sequence will be timed in order to ensure game pace stays high.
- Technology Auction: Each resource has three levels of technological development that may be purchased, however, each level of tech development occurs only once in the game; once a nation has purchased it, no one else may acquire it. (more on the technologies below)
- Investment: Teams can spend their money on infrastructure in order to improve their resource collection and 'fire' the technology they may have purchased.
- Collection: Teams collect resources and record those numbers on a ledger sheet
- Market: Teams gather together in a commodities market in which they bring their resources for sale and seek out the resources they need. This will be a cash market only, as bartering gets to be cumbersome and inefficient, plus I want to be able to track prices for each resource.
- Reaccounting: Teams will be given a few minutes to retally their ledgers and strategize for the next round.

5: Technologies will be auctioned one at a time, once per round. They will appear in order but there may be a number of other technologies auctioned before the next tech level in a specific resource. For example: Wheat #1, coal #1, coal #2, iron #1, wheat #2, wood #1, oil #1, wood #2, wheat #3, oil #2 etc. A nation does not need to have tech level #1 in order to purchase/use tech level #2 of a resource. It is possible for a nation without a specific resource to purchase a technology in that resource in order to then try and sell it at the market.

Each technology will need to be purchased and then 'fired,' my term for implementing the resource. Firing a technology needs to happen only once, but will require cash and a certain amount of other resources to be paid (this will help ensure that students are active in the market, purchasing resources not found in their nation)

Each technology level will also provide extra incentives for the nation that acquires it and fires it.

6: The board, as of right now, is on large sheets of butcher paper and will be pinned up on the white board in my classroom. White boards are magnetic so my students will be using different colored magnets on the board as opposed to a traditional game board on tables, allowing me to leave the board up for the full three days.

Each nation has specified boundaries and each nation will have a capital city that they will have to connect to their resources via the building of infrastructure. Once an initial investment has been made for a resource, a colored magnet will be placed in that resource zone and a minimum amount of that resource can be collected. If a nation purchases a tech development an additional magnet of the same color will be stacked atop the first, making it clear where the tech development has occurred.

7: The winning team will be the one that has the most money at the end of the three days.

I think I may have left out some details, but for now that should suffice. Here are the questions I have right away:
1. What other ideas do you all have concerning benefits gained from the technologies? There is the obvious 'increase in resource output' but I would like to add other things.

2. One of the primary economic concepts is scarcity. How could I reflect scarcity in the resources? How would I be able to demonstrate that a resource has run out? I do have ten, 20-sided die if that helps.

3. What if a certain technological level is not purchased at the tech auction? Should there be some sort of game penalty for all nations involved? (I nabbed this 'tech auction' idea from Power Grid, but it has been a very long time since I have played and do not remember if there was a mechanism for that situation)

4. Other than a total amount of money, how else could I determine a winner?

I hope this makes sense. Getting ideas from head to paper is often difficult, as all of you are all too familiar, I am sure. This game idea could easily be adjusted to reflect macro-economic concepts and globalization, but that is for another day.

Cheers,
Jeremy

kos
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Sounds fun

The game sounds fun for the students.

I'm not sure from the game description where the "demand" for resources comes from, other than upgrades. You said that teams use resources and money to build infrastructure, which they then use to gather resources. If there is no other mechanism for taking resources out of the system, you may find that half way through the game there is a glut of resources once people have upgraded their infrastructure to the point where they do not need to upgrade any more -- thus demand drops to near zero even as supply reaches an all-time high. IRL the primary reason people produce resources at all is because there is a Consumer who wants them, rather than just to build more infrastructure.

I'm not sure from the game description how the players gain income. This may be related to the point above. The teams spend money to buy technology and infrastructure, and trade money amongst themselves, but no mention is made of how they earn more money. Can they sell resources to the "bank"? That would be a possibility, but somewhat skews the supply-demand model by creating an insatiable Consumer. Or are Consumers (e.g. towns, cities) part of the Infrastructure that players can build? If they don't have an external income source, then the easiest way to win would be to do nothing and just sit on their starting money.

Assuming that you, as the teacher, are acting as the Referee for the game, you could simply make arbitrary statements about scarcity. E.g. at the start of Round 5 state "Anybody who does not have at least 1 tech level in Oil cannot produce any Oil for the rest of the game." You could choose these ahead of time, or roll a dice, throw a dart, whatever. You could also make statements about temporary scarcity, e.g. at the start of Round 7 state "There is a drought: wheat production is halved for all teams this turn."

The concept of the techologies with unique effects is very cool, but if you are only at the stage of beta-testing then this might be an extra complexity to deal with. "Balancing" multiple unique techologies is very difficult, although mitigated to some extent by putting them up for auction (auction being the poor man's game balancing). If it was me, I'd make all the technologies generic for the beta test (i.e. each technology gives +1 output of that resource), and leave the special effects for later.

I wouldn't worry about tech not being bought. If it is a pure auction with no reserve, then it will always be bought (even if just for $1).

"Most Money" works fine as the victory condition for a micro-economics game. I'd stick with that for now. Alternate win conditions would probably be more suitable for macro-economics (mixed with politics), such as introducing victory points for Influence, Power, Technology, Happiness, etc.

It is a bit hard to provide any further input without knowing how points (1) and (2) are implemented in the game.

Regards,
kos

Matthew Rodgers
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Terminology Quibble

Instead of 'firing' technology, perhaps 'implementing' or 'build-out'?

I'm guessing firing comes from a pottery type idea, but some may not get that.

neljer00
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Kos, Thank you so much! The

Kos,
Thank you so much! The earning money element isn't something I had really thought about apart from the selling of resources at an auction. In terms of demand, I had toyed with a few possibilities similar to the idea you brought up about cities or some sort of labor force that would in turn be demanding consumer products. I also like the idea of keeping the technology upgrades simple for this first go-round; I tend to have the problem of going too big/complex too fast.

What are your thoughts on creating that consumer demand? My initial brainstorming notes reflect a 'product market' in which nations can create one of five different products (one from each of the five resources) but I started to feel that that would be a lot to keep track of. How could I do that simply and efficiently without my students getting bogged down in the details?

Cheers,
Jeremy

neljer00
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Good point on the firing; it

Good point on the firing; it was simply the first idea that popped into my head. I like 'build-out' - I may roll with that.

Thanks,
Jeremy

MarkKreitler
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Quick reply

Hi Jeremy,

This reply is a quick dash-off of initial thoughts. I haven't read kos' reply, so my apologies if I repeat anything he's said.

So, some ideas:

1. What other ideas do you all have concerning benefits gained from the technologies? There is the obvious 'increase in resource output' but I would like to add other things.

If you added some metrics to your nations, you could affect those.
Examples:
0) Wealth (you have this one already)
1) Population
2) Human capital (abstractly represents level of education, etc)
3) Health
4) Ecology
5) Information flow
6) Stability (in terms of global politics)

and so on. Different technologies would earn -- or cost -- levels in each of these areas (example: oil #2 might give big boosts to wealth and information flow while penalizing ecology and stability).

See more on this in the reply to question #4.

2. One of the primary economic concepts is scarcity. How could I reflect scarcity in the resources? How would I be able to demonstrate that a resource has run out? I do have ten, 20-sided die if that helps.

Allow each country to roll an "extraction" die, per resource, each turn. I'd recommend creating some custom 6-siders for this (one easy method is to buy blank dice and rub-on transfers, then paint over the transfer with Future acrylic floor wax for added durability).

Not knowing the scale of your game, these numbers could be WAY off, but I'd go with a curve along the lines of:

0
1
1
2
2
3

For a low-tech country.

Assuming multiple countries produce a give resource, you'll get multiple die-rolls per commodity for a nice bell curve, so "0" results, globally, should be rare, but you should sample into some nice shortages and an occasional surplus.

Tech improvements could unlock "better" dice, like

0
2
3
4
5
6

etc.

If resources are finite, dice could drop back to lower levels as extraction becomes more difficulty.

Also, if you introduce things like an ecological index, you could have high extraction rolls carry an ecological impact.

I know I'm straying well beyond micro economics at this point, for which I apologize. I hope something in here is of use.

3. What if a certain technological level is not purchased at the tech auction? Should there be some sort of game penalty for all nations involved? (I nabbed this 'tech auction' idea from Power Grid, but it has been a very long time since I have played and do not remember if there was a mechanism for that situation)

I'm used to seeing tech trees where advancement is contingent on the purchase of "parent" technologies. You could do the same, with cross-dependencies like,

wheat #2 requires oil #1 (e.g., gas-powered tractors)

Things get interesting when unlocking a desirable technology requires someone to adopt costly tech (for example, when someone purchases oil #2, everyone's ecology score drops a point).

4. Other than a total amount of money, how else could I determine a winner?

If you introduce other metrics to describe the countries, you could score based on a weighted combination of those metrics.

Might be interesting to have the students rate the metrics, in importance, before you describe the game. Victory conditions would be determined by a simple point scale like

Each level achieved in top-ranked category = +3 points
Each level achieved in second-ranked category = +2 points
Each level achieved in any other category = +1 points

Highest point total = winner

It would be even more interesting to see if they changed the priority of these categories once they understood what the game was and how it was played, but, to quote you, "that is for another day."

This is exactly the kind of game I'd like to see more of in the classrooms. In fact, I've been mulling something similar since seeing this TED talk:

http://blog.ted.com/2011/04/20/the-world-peace-game-john-hunter-on-ted-com/

only, as a video game developer, I'd like to see this on Facebook, with whole classrooms taking the role of a country in a global community spread across a few hundred schools.

But, ahem, one step at a time. Would you object if I pirated some of the ideas here (both yours and mine) for a prototype of my own and/or bounced a few million questions off you?

kos
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Ideas for Demand and Income

Idea 1
As the Referee, you would act as a global resource broker to buy resources off the players. You will buy a fixed number of each resource each turn, starting with the lowest bidder and working up. This could be open or secret auction, but I think it would work well as secret. Each team writes on a piece of paper the quantity of each resource and the price at which they are offering to sell. You keep buying until you've reached your quota for that turn.

I expect the first couple of turns would be a bit chaotic as the teams work out what is a "fair" offer, but the smart teams will get it worked out pretty quick. I'd also be interested to see if teams start "anti-competitive behavior" such as price fixing and collusion when selling to you. That would be a great discussion point for later subject matter about the types of anti-competitive behavior and the role of government in economics. As an arbitrary Referee, you can also throw in changes in demand whenever you want -- increase or decrease demand at whim, or to simulate changes in technology or society.

Idea 2
Each team can invest to create Consumers (cities) within their own country. Each Consumer will buy a fixed number of each resource at a fixed price. (Variable price consumers is more realistic, but at this point too complex.) The more the teams invest in building up their Consumers, the greater their income potential -- but if they can't produce enough resources to meet demand then the extra consumers go to waste.

Potentially allow teams to sell resources to the Consumers in other countries if they have not been fully satisfied by local resource. The owner of the country can ban imports from certain other countries if they choose. (I toyed with the idea of allowing the owning player to charge import duty, but I think that would get too complex. Best stick with a simple "all or nothing" option.) In this case, I'd be interested to see if the teams start negotiating bi-lateral trade deals, free trade agreements, etc. That would be a great discussion point for later subject matter too.

Summary
I actually like both ideas above, though the game would change somewhat and each demonstrates different elements of economics. The first idea may be more suited to your situation since you are beta-testing and kind of making it up as you go -- with the global resource broker model you can use GM-fiat to your full advantage as the game progresses. On the educational side, you can use the demand model to reinforce your subject matter on the demand and supply curves. You could also arbitrarily simulate changes in the demand curve without having to come up with complex rules for it, and fudge the quantities demanded if the game is not working out as planned, or to show the unpredictable nature that political changes have on global demand (e.g. the growth of China's economy on global resource prices, the impact on demand for oil whenever there is a war in the Middle East, the impact of a growing world population on the global demand for everything, etc).

Regards,
kos

Orangebeard
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2 more cents...

Apologies if this is a re-post of other ideas; I didn't get to finish all of the other responses!

neljer00 wrote:
1. What other ideas do you all have concerning benefits gained from the technologies? There is the obvious 'increase in resource output' but I would like to add other things.

In addition to cash, could a "refined" product have an end game value?

neljer00 wrote:
2. One of the primary economic concepts is scarcity. How could I reflect scarcity in the resources? How would I be able to demonstrate that a resource has run out? I do have ten, 20-sided die if that helps.

I agree with the "set arbitrary limits" idea. Perhaps you can use current headlines to illustrate how different issues can affect a resource.

neljer00 wrote:
3. What if a certain technological level is not purchased at the tech auction? Should there be some sort of game penalty for all nations involved? (I nabbed this 'tech auction' idea from Power Grid, but it has been a very long time since I have played and do not remember if there was a mechanism for that situation).

Perhaps there could be some kind of end game score multiplier depending on the global technology level. For example, iron counts double if coal and oil are both #3.

neljer00 wrote:

4. Other than a total amount of money, how else could I determine a winner?

What about a satisfaction or happiness rating for the nation? I think scoring in multiple categories could work here. For example, cash, tech and satisfaction?

This sounds like another good theory to application game - I'm sure your students will connect with the concepts!

neljer00
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WOW!

Thank you all for the feedback. At this point I am bummed I have this thing called a 'day job,' as I would love to spend my day polishing this economics game. However, given that my day job is teaching, it excites me that this is coming to fruition and will be played by my students. They know something new is coming but they don't know what it is quite yet!

Okay, here are my thoughts based upon all of your feedback, along with additional information I did not include in the first post (I continued to work out details after I posted last night). My apologies if some of this is repetitive.

- Each nation will begin with $1 million (the starting amount doesn't matter much; what is more important, I feel, is that the investment choices are proportional to the starting amount - I have those numbers a bit further down)
- Each nation will have 2-3 resources available within their borders.
- Each resource zone will be connected to the capital city via a line of infrastructure (reflecting roads, RRs, electricity, etc.)
- For a nation to begin collecting a resource they need to pay out an initial capital investment amount as follows:
- Wheat: $250,000
- Wood: $250,000
- Iron: $450,000
- Coal: $450,000
- Oil: $650,000
- The capital investment only needs to be paid once, however at the end of each subsequent round there will be an upkeep cost, as follows:
- Wheat: $10,000
- Wood: $10,000
- Iron: $20,000
- Coal: $20,000
- Oil: $30,000
- A nation could skip paying the upkeep costs for up to three rounds, but at the end of the third round the nation would not collect resources until the upkeep is paid for at quintuple the cost of one upkeep.
- Infrastructure is reflected by a 1/2"x4" magnetic strip. Each infrastructure piece is $50,000. Most resources will connect from the zone to the city with three infrastructure pieces. No infrastructure will allow a base level of resource collection, however improved infrastructure has two benefits:
1. It will allow the nation to utilize newly purchased technological advances (level of infrastructure development is one of the requirements for new tech).
2. (This is my idea as of right now for a consumer market) For every three pieces of infrastructure, the size of the city grows, increasing consumer demand for goods and services.
- Infrastructure has an upkeep cost of $1,000 per piece. And, just like the resources, upkeep may be skipped for three turns, but after the third turn infrastructure is 'falling apart' and is quintuple the single upkeep cost. I also think there should then be an impact on meeting consumer demand - a shortage of goods an services.
- For each level of growth of the city, a new set of resource demands will be given and a nation will then have the opportunity to sell resources into the consumer market to meet the rising demand. The nation will have to choose, however, how much to sell to consumers and how much to bring to the commodities market to sell to other nations (where they may fetch a better price).
- I love the idea of customizing dice and the numbers you gave will work. My one question would be about how to best utilize the numbers on the die; I can think of a couple of different ways to go.
1. Use the number on the die as a multiplier of a base level of resources that I set at the beginning of the game.
2. Each number represents tonnage or barrels (depending on the resource) in 1,000s.
Thoughts on that?

I am intrigued by the idea of allowing my students to determine which metrics to use, but my fear is that a 'paper and pencil' game would become bogged down in all of the details. I want to utilize it, especially since growth and economic prosperity is not just about money, but I need to make sure the mechanics are efficient.

I know I have thought about 100 other details but this is all I can recall at the moment.

Cheers,
Jeremy

MarkKreitler
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Excellent sim

Jeremy, this sim is looking very interesting. I wish I could be there to play it.

Here are some responses to your questions:

1. Use the number on the die as a multiplier of a base level of resources that I set at the beginning of the game.
2. Each number represents tonnage or barrels (depending on the resource) in 1,000s.
Thoughts on that?

I'd go with #2, as multipliers require a level of indirection to understand. Generally, this means:

a) players have a harder time understanding their ramifications, and
b) they are harder to balance.

That said, if you want countries to have drastically different production rates, the multiplier is probably the way to go.

but I need to make sure the mechanics are efficient.
Yes, especially in a sim of this magnitude.

To this end, as a question for the game as a whole, have you considered simplifying numbers by introducing a new currency (like the "ten-buck") and then reflecting costs like this:

Oil Capital Investment: ¥65k (where I'm using the yen symbol to denote "ten-bucks").
Oil Upkeep: ¥3k

I can understand why you'd want to use dollars, as there's no conversion math involved, but it might bog down the game calculations (in my experience, kids aren't comfortable doing things like dividing everything by 10,000, doing the math, then re-multiplying, so they end up trying to manipulate big numbers).

Not a big issue either way.

I am intrigued by the idea of allowing my students to determine which metrics to use, but my fear is that a 'paper and pencil' game would become bogged down in all of the details.
That's a good point, but I think you've already designed a way around the problem.

What if you introduce a single, abstract metric called "Footprint", that represents the overall impact of a nation's production and infrastructure on its environment and citizenry? Then every one of your existing systems could feed into it. For example:

Each size of city carries a base footprint cost, say small = 5, medium = 10, large = 15.
Each piece of infrastructure has a footprint cost, maybe 1/piece.
And so on.

To compute a final footprint, just look at the board and count up the elements making up your country.

To complete the picture, you could introduce a new commodity that represents "Cultural Advancements." This commodity has no intrinsic value, but it reduces Footprint. Or, if you want to go totally nuts, you could make it tangible by allowing players to draw from an "Advancements" deck when they purchase the commodity. Think of it as the Development deck from Settlers. Mostly, you get cards like "Wind Power: reduce Footprint by 1," but it might also contain cards like "Education Reform: pay ¥10k to draw 2 more cards," etc.

Advancements should probably be finite and scarce. For instance, maybe each tech purchase adds 3 cards to the Advancements deck. I was trying to think of a system by which Advancements would get more expensive toward the end of the game, but I realized you've already solved this. Because players bid on commodities, and purchasing Advancements early slows development, there will most likely be a rush on them at the end of the game, which should drive up prices. You could exacerbate this by artificially limiting the number of available Advancements each turn to, say, 1 fewer than the total number of teams.

Finally, on the subject of letting the students suggest victory conditions, Footprint simplifies things drastically. Now it's just a matter of, "How important is Footprint relative to Capital?" at the end of the game. I can envision some interesting discussions between impassioned 10th-graders...

Man, I wish I could see all this work! Have you thought of videotaping your game sessions and posting them on You Tube?

Mark

neljer00
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My mind is racing right now

My mind is racing right now trying to decide exactly how I want this to go. I think I am going to stick with U.S. $ so that my students have something familiar to interact with. I will utilize the custom dice idea for multipliers for resource collection in the following manner, with the base level die being awarded after the initial resource investment, and levels 1,2 and 3 being reflective of the potential technological advance awarded from the tech auction:
Base level: 0,1,1,2,2,3
Level 1: 0,1,2,3,3,4
Level 2: 0,1,2,3,4,4
Level 3: 0,2,3,4,5,6

The footprint idea I like. It is similar to infrastructure in that my initial idea was to have nations create roads, RRs, electricity, etc. each separately, but that got to be too cumbersome of an idea; so now it is simply 'infrastructure.' The "footprint" idea could be the 'negative externality' (to use an economics term meaning negative consequences of an action) while the 'positive externality' could be called something like "progress." Each of these would encompass a wide range of variables that, individually, would be difficult to effectively implement in a paper and pencil game. To some extent, 'progress' would offset the 'footprint, ' but not entirely (as it happens in real life).

Although, to make it easy to track, a simple chart could be created in which a line runs down the middle of the paper from left to right. The top half of the paper would be 'progress' and the bottom half 'footprint.' Each nation would have to balance the need for progress with the negative impact it may have. So, (to try and put the mental image into words) moving left to right would reflect the chronology of the game. As nations act, progress or footprint points are awarded and tracked in a running total. For instance, not maintaining the upkeep of infrastructure would move a nation further into the footprint side of the chart, while new technologies would move a nation further toward/into the progress side of the chart. Does that make sense?

Okay, one last (yeah right!) item I need to iron out, and then we will have to play it and revise A winner. How does one go about winning? Using a point system would be great. With a wide variety of resources, technologies, infrastructure, a progress chart...how to acquire points. Points are only so good as each nation knows where they are at any given point, and where they are in relation to other nations. Some sort of scoring system, for the acquisition of points, as well as the tracking of points, needs to be designed.

How about a basic formula to equate so much money, so many tons of resources, etc. into points to be tabulated? This could be done at the end of every round? I feel this isn't a perfect system and kind of clunky.

MarkKreitler
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Coming Together

Seems like it's coming together well.

For instance, not maintaining the upkeep of infrastructure would move a nation further into the footprint side of the chart, while new technologies would move a nation further toward/into the progress side of the chart. Does that make sense?

Yes, it does. There's one aspect I'm not understanding, though. If I do no development and just let time pass, I'll fall further and further into the "Footprint" side of the graph, but that seems strange -- as my infrastructure gets reclaimed by the ecosystem, I would expect my footprint to go down.

My expectation as a player would be for footprint to rise as with increased population, resource harvesting, and most technological development. I would expect it to fall when players invest in particular kinds of technologies.

I agree that it's important to keep it simple to track. An easy-to-calculate "footprint index" could do this. Something like:

Count every city as 5 FP (footprint points). Every infrastructure link to a city counts as 1. Every resource field counts as 3.

Then players can just point at the board and count to get his teams' footprint. It's as easy as counting VP in Settlers.

If you allow players to buy down their footprint via special commodities (i.e., developing special technologies), they can just deduct the number they've purchased from the total.

(By the way, I love your graph idea -- it's very simple and clean. If you haven't already seen this TED talk:

http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/geoffrey_west_the_surprising_math_of_ci...

it might help with inspiration on that front.)

How does one go about winning?

I agree that a point system is attractive, and I agree that it's clunky (was thinking of the same kind of system myself).

How about using Settlers' model? Establish "achievements" like "highest standard of living," "smallest footprint," and "largest production," and award VP for them (like Settlers' "Longest Road" and "Largest Army"). Allow players to bid on draws from a "development deck" that can contain additional VP ("public education") or commodity windfalls ("roll and extra production die next turn"). Seems like this would let you reward the best performers as determined by the various numbers without having to exactly crunch all the numbers at the end.

neljer00
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Almost there!

I am going to take the customized dice idea and modify it for the time being. I will roll (no pun intended) with the numbers I indicated earlier that correspond with the level of tech development for a specific resource, but I am going to utilize D6 and create a chart that will reflect the level and the new numbers on the die, such as:
Base Level
1--0
2--1
3--1
4--2
5--2
6--3
Etc. This method is a bit clumsy but since time is against me right now, this will do what I want it to and if it works, I will make it permanent with some legit customized dice.

On to the footprint/progress stuff. I see what you are saying, Mark, so here is what it would look like in Nation #1. Nation #1 has three resources: coal, wheat, and wood. There are two pieces of infrastructure from the capital to coal, three to wood, and four to wheat. Each nation only has one city (to keep things simple) so the maximum footprint of Nation #1 would be 24: 5 for the city, 3 for each resource, and 1 for each piece of infrastructure.

Would you cap the footprint for each nation given the three indicators above, or would you introduce a variety of variables that emerge randomly that would increase a footprint?

I also like the idea of a development deck. Here is a list of ideas I came up with to reflect levels of development as well as standard of living:
- Public education
- Gender equality in the workplace
- Equal voting rights
- Free and fair elections
- Social security
- Entrepreneurship
- Recycling
- Natural gas
- Broadband towers
- National healthcare system
- Privatized healthcare system
- Religious freedom
- Freedom of speech and press
- Clean air and water
- Sanitation

In your mind, should each of these simply provide a VP or a possible footprint reduction? Or would some of them provide one or the other, while a few would provide both? I could keep the benefit hidden until the development card has been purchased and then there is a reveal after that to show everyone what that nation won. (I kind of like that idea). Also, what would be the mechanics of distributing the development deck? There are all sorts of fun ways to do this. Here are the first that jump to mind:
1. A live auction just like the technology auction.
2. A silent auction where each nation gets only one bid. A tie could be resolved by a rebid between the tying nations.
3. Announce the sale of something from the development deck and start with the nation with the biggest footprint the opportunity to purchase it. If they pass, move on to the nation with the second biggest footprint, etc.

Mark, you had mentioned in an earlier reply about using some of these ideas...please do! I would love to see what you come up with. As for video recording the game play, I will see what i can do. I like that idea.

Oh, one other thing. I am a detail guy and I like to make sure that all of the bases are covered (which is hardly ever possible, but I try). One of the elements I added to my Middle Ages game is that every day we play I have epic-soundtrack type music playing: GRV Music, X-ray Dog, Position Music, etc. (The kids love it!) What comes to mind with this game?

Cheers,
Jeremy

MarkKreitler
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Amazing progress

Jeremy, you're working at light speed! It's inspiring -- time to get off my butt and work on my prototypes!

The die-and-chart solution is great -- maybe even better than custom dice in that the chart is something everyone can see simultaneously. I've seen some big foam dice -- like 5" on a side -- that everyone could see simultaneously when rolled (though the same is true of a good old-fashioned craps die, now that I think of it). So it might be overall better for your requirements.

Would you cap the footprint for each nation given the three indicators above, or would you introduce a variety of variables that emerge randomly that would increase a footprint?

Tough call. I respect your discipline in streamlining the game, so I hate to introduce complexity. On the other hand, I've wondered about having a "Footprint deck" that players may be required to draw from when developing certain technologies. For instance, maybe firing "wood 3" requires a single draw from the Footprint deck. Draws would usually result in an extra footprint point or two (Air pollution: +1 footprint) but might have cash penalties ("Superfund clean-up: pay $30k) or global penalties ("Global heavy metal distribution: all teams gain 1 footprint") for variety.

I think it could work either way. Having some additional source of Footprint keeps things unpredictable, but requires more tracking by the players and more up front work in your prototype.

Here is a list of ideas I came up with to reflect levels of development as well as standard of living:

Love all of your dev cards.

I think we're envisioning it the same way: some lower footprint, some count as a VP, some might be both.

> I could keep the benefit hidden until the development card has been purchased and then there is a reveal after that to show everyone what that nation won. (I kind of like that idea).

I like that idea, too.

> There are all sorts of fun ways to do this. Here are the first that jump to mind:

All of these sound good. Originally, I was thinking "live auction," but since you're already using that for the marketplace, it might be neat to do #2 or #3 for a change of pace. At first, I wasn't too excited by #3 because it's the most structured approach, but after thinking on it more, it might have the best long-term game play in that it prevents the wealthiest nation s from dominating that portion of the game.

In short, I think any one of those would work well, so it's really a question of how you want to nuance the game as to which one to use.

Mark, you had mentioned in an earlier reply about using some of these ideas...please do!
Thanks so much! I've been itching to work on something like this for awhile, but lack the economic theory to make a decent simulation. When things calm down for you, I'd be grateful if you could recommend a good primer for "game economics."

As for the videotaping goes, sounds like you're plenty busy without that! I also realized that, in Texas as least, videotaping kids in school requires jumping through a lot of legal hoops, so it was an impractical request in more ways than one.

> I have epic-soundtrack type music playing:

This is fantastic, but unfortunately I'm weak in this area. My first instinct was to research some world music, but this game feels like it needs something harder, as it's about building nations. Dunno -- what have you been thinking for music?

neljer00
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I am going to finish things

I am going to finish things up today and tomorrow, utilizing everything we have discussed and then I will post some sort of 'finalized' version...at least something final enough I can run with. I managed to push the start day back one day to Thursday. I wasn't keen on this idea, as I want to play for three days, and a Thursday start means a disjointed three days, but oh well. Once I get my board done I will set up the pieces and post a pic. I also need to post more pics of the Middle Ages game.

For music, I have actually been listening to the Civ 5 soundtrack and I like it a lot. World music in many regards, but at times some familiar melodies creep through, like Ode to Joy (for the Germans) or America the Beautiful for the Americans. I was kind of thinking something along the lines of a French Salon during the Enlightenment, kind of intellectual/academic/philosophical yet occasionally snooty and with a bit of randiness.

MarkKreitler
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Good luck!

> I am going to finish things up today and tomorrow, utilizing everything we have discussed and then I will post some sort of 'finalized' version

Excellent! Looking forward to it!

> For music, I have actually been listening to the Civ 5 soundtrack and I like it a lot.

From your description, sounds perfect. In fact, I'm going to look for it as it sounds like something I would like.

> something along the lines of a French Salon during the Enlightenment, kind of intellectual/academic/philosophical yet occasionally snooty and with a bit of randiness.

This is probably my favorite music critique, ever. Makes me wish I'd been in one of those salons...

Good luck with the game! Hope you'll have time to post a debrief after the session.

Mark

anchesstree
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!concept!

I enjoyed reading about that. Something I'd be interested in, sounds tied up! I could give a lot of ideas considering my knowledge of -trade-, tho as you put it yourself, it is adaptable to the -real- world. Would be nice to hear how you go with it!

neljer00
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Tomorrow, we ride!

Micro-econ game board is finished. All pieces are ready to go. Just need to finish up a few details tonight and early tomorrow morning and we will be ready to go. I will post some pics in the coming days along with a debrief of how the first run through went. Thanks to all of you for the feedback, ideas, and creativity. This game has been made better because of you!

Cheers,
Jeremy

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