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Warring nations mechanic

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drktron
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I've started thinking about a Pirate game that I put on the back-burner when I read about Merchants & Marauders coming out. I know there are a lot of Pirate games out there so I hope I can make mine unique enough. Anyway, I recently thought of a mechanic to control when nations go to war with each other and when they are at peace, and when they offer pirate amnesty. Please let me know what you think or if there is a better way to approach this:

There are four nations represented (Spain, France, England, and the Netherlands) and Pirates. Each nation, and the pirates have 3 war and 3 peace cards each(3 England war & 3 England Peace, 3 spain war & 3 spain peace, etc.). These cards are shuffled together to form a deck. Certain times during the game the top 2 cards are drawn. If they are both War cards from different nations then those nations are at war. The two war cards are set aside to designate the declaration of war. If two peace cards of different nations are drawn then those two nations are then at peace. Shuffle their war cards back into the deck. If a war and peace card are drawn then there is no change; nations stay at war or at peace. When nations at are at war, those nations warship cards are added to the Encounter Deck (a separate deck of ships you may encounter on the seas). When they are at Peace the warships are removed from the Encounter Deck. As for the pirates, they are not a nation so it works a little different. If a nation peace and pirate peace are drawn, that nation offers pirate amnesty. That nations pirate hunters are removed from the encounter Deck and players remove that nation's bounty's against them. If a nations war and a pirate card are drawn then that nation is cracking down on pirates and a pirate hunter is added to the encounter deck.

KViki
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like it

I think this mechanic is great. Of course, it might be used not only for that pirate theme. It´s easiest to think about war and peace, but can be there any another facts, that might be changed in that way? I can´t think about any of them right now. This mechanic changes only long-term facts, war and peace are such, and diplamacy doesn´t change each day. I assume, a game with this mechanic must be long-lasting, because there won´t be many changes for a player in short games, there is 2:9 chance, that a player will be affected (if a player represents a nation) and it´s relatively low, if these changes aren´t played each turn (because they can´t).
I have also a question: What happens, when two cards of the same coutry are drawn? A civil war maybe?
After all, i still think it´s amazing.

drktron
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thanks for your input. The

thanks for your input. The mechanic is indeed intended to be longterm and infrequent. Its kind of a background mechanic that tries to simulate geopolitical changes that the player could not have any control over as a ship's captain. As it stands now when two cards of the same country are drawn, there is no change. Nations at war stay at war and those at peace stay in peace. However, I'm considering having this trigger an economic bonus to that nation's colonies but I haven't finished the economics/resource management of the game yet. A civil war is an interesting idea but may be beyond the scope of this game in its current form, but I could see that working well if applying this mechanic to a different game.

rcjames14
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Conquest of the Empire

In Conquest of the Empire, players bid to align factions into one of two camps at the beginning of each year/season. You may not attack any unit in a faction that you are aligned with during that entire year/season. And, the system is conducted as an auction, so players frequently bid to be able to choose who they can attack rather than who is ostensibly their ally. Since each year/season is composed of 4 turns of 2 actions per player, these alignments make a difference for the duration of about one war and the battleground remains rather fluid. Based upon how players plan to achieve victory points, the alignments typically endure as certain players get locked in conflicts that span between several years/seasons. But, there is the possibility for fluidity as players realize who is winning.

Your design reminds me a little bit of this mechanic in Conquest for the Empire. However, instead of putting it into the player's hands to affect, you have created a random event version of 'who can i attack, who can't i attack'. If you do indeed only play a ship's captain or even a commodore, then it makes sense that these events are outside of your control and you are only responding to larger geopolitical forces you might not really understand. But, if you are an admiral or in charge of an entire nation's fleets, then I would imagine that you would want a mechanic closer to CotE than what you have in mind. A system that allows you to auction off the alliances periodically would simulate the war, not war, mechanic that determines your code of conduct and opportunities at sea. Since European powers were always at war with at least one of their neighbors and frequently would not go to war unless they could find an ally, it might be an interesting idea to keep in mind. Provided that you intend to give players greater strategic / logistical decisions.

drktron
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It is designed to be a random

It is designed to be a random event mechanic whose primary funtion is to influence the type and frequent of ships encountered during play. Each player controls only one ship and ,while affiliated with a particular nation, is free to choose a pirating path and attack whomever they please. However the consequence of pirating leads to pirate hunters and that nations warships attacking you when encountered.

dnddmdb
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A Few Clarifications

First of all, this mechanic seems very cool. I just have a few questions:
1. SO you play as either a Pirate or a Merchant or some Naval OFficer, etc. You do whatever it is you do. Correct?
2. Are you aligned to a certain Nation, such as "French Merchant"?
3. The War and Peace would determine what ports and such one can access? (As French merchant, if France and the Netherlands are at War, then I cannot go to their port, or the like)?

Are these all correct? If so, I think it's a very cool way to show how the nations change loyalties and such. A very neat idea.

scottbalmes
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Fiddly?

I LOVE the idea of the nations changing relations as the game goes on. I think that gives very interesting backdrop to the game. However, the idea of adding/removing cards from the encounter deck seems like it could be a fiddly mechanic during the game. If this is something that is fairly time consuming, I can see it getting tedious very quickly.

But, some other thoughts on what this mechanic could change, game-wise:

Do you Pirates fly false flags? If so, the warring nations could certainly change how NPC boats react.

Trading? If the pirates are to sell their stolen goods off, the warring nations could affect this.

Attack responses? If the pirates attack a certain nations ship, the nations relations could affect whether they come to the aid of the attacked ship or not.

Just some thoughts. Cheers.

dnddmdb
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Agreed

Although I too love the mechanic, I must agree with Scott about the potential tediousness of it. Two cards come up and a player needs to take time off from the game to add in the appropriate encounter cards and thoroughly shuffle.

What if instead, the cards were cut in half, and each half would have a condition and appropriate effect? For example (note that I took some liberty in guessing what the encounter card would be and other aspects of the game. Bear with me):

DUTCH CONVOY
(If your Nation is at war with Dutch)
You are attacked by two Warships: +2 Attack, 3 Hull
___________________________________________
(If your Nation is at peace with Dutch)
Draw 1 Trade Card from the Trade Deck
or
Gain 2 Gold

Obviously I just made a lot of stuff up in terms of how combat works, how economic systems work, and other things, but you get the idea, right?

Casamyr
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beat me to it

dnddmdb beat me to it. :-) I agree that adding new cards to an encounter deck then removing them once 2 nations are at peace is a little fiddly and will take players out of the game to stop to do housekeeping.

The idea of split cards would fill that role from the outset and players don't have to worry about adding/removing cards.

A civ-lite deck building game I'm working on uses this split card mechanic to a cut down on the number of cards (currently around 200) and make a choice difficult to make.

drktron
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Perhaps adding and removing

Perhaps adding and removing cards would be too fiddly. I figured it wouldn't be too much of a burden because of how infrequently it occurs (at most once a round). To me, the benefit of the fluidity of the encounter deck outweighs the burden of very infrequent bookkeeping. However, perhaps im wrong. Adding them would be easy and quick but removing them may be too time consuming.

I do like the duel use card idea. I planned to use this in some other cards in the game but it may be more useful here. Thanks everyone for your input.

Louard
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I really dig the War/Peace cards... but...

I may be missing something... If players simply play as merchants with only lose alliances to the countries, i think it's a cool system. If the players' ties to the country are more direct, then it seems kind of strange to have the cards now tell people.. OK guys, now you two hate each other and you have to fight. But, then again, if players are not associated to countries at all, how do you plan on having states of war affect players?

drktron
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As its stands now, each

As its stands now, each player is more freelance to start(only loosely affiliated). They are not necessarily in any nations navy and are not ordered to attack other players (though there are missions the player can complete like this if they choose to). How affiliated the player becomes over the course of the game is determined by the player and the choices they make. The state of war affects which ships are encountered in play. The mechanic also regulates pirate hunters/amnesty. Also, it will affect the type of missions the governors of different ports give a player (should they choose to accept them). So a player could curry favor with a nation by attacking its enemy. It can also affect trading but that mechanic is not yet complete. Im sure there are other uses of this mechanic as well. For example if nations were at war you could smuggle weapons and supplies.

drktron
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warring nations update

To prevent the adding and removal of cards becoming too time consuming and disruptive to the flow of the game, I believe i'll use it as follows:
It will only be used at the start if each round. A round consists of each player having a turn. Warships, pirate hunters will be shuffled in at this time only (as appropriate. No cards will be removed to save time. So the deck will only be used and shuffled once a round. In addition I will use the deck as a way to add resources to the ports. Each war and peace card will have an icon(s) depicting a resource in the game (sugar, tobacco, etc.). The ports of the nations that are drawn will gain the resource. Each nation has 2 ports in the game and they are not under the players control. This will aid in the supply/demand aspect of trading. In addition to prevent the first player from having an advantage I think I'll introduce a variable turn order each round using this deck.
Please let ne know what you think about these changes and if you forsee any problems. Thanks.

sedjtroll
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I think it depends on the

I think it depends on the effects of being at war in the game.

In Merchants and Marauders, 2 of the 4 nations (same as yours) at random may be at war, and Captains (players) of one warring nation cannot enter ports of the nation they are at war with. That can turn into a really unfair situation - imagine if there are 4 players in the game, each from a different nation. If England and France go to war, then 2 players lose access to 25% of the spaces on the board while the other players don't! Also, the way war comes up in M&M, you have no notice - you could spend 2 turns moving across the board only to be locked out all of a sudden because their country went to war. This has happened to me - and it's not fun at all!

As for the mechanism in the original post in this thread, I think it sounds decent - as I said, depending on what it means to be at war. I do however think it sounds a bit fiddly to go into the deck of cards and remove certain ones if someone's not at war. Would it be better to never change the deck, but to have cards for a particular nation say things like "if at war, this... if not at war, that..."?

drktron
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Thanks for your input. You

Thanks for your input. You make a valid point. I don't want to randomly ruin a players chance of winning based on who goes to war. I was considering a way to have pirates fly false flags to circumvent the authorities. Or the ports could trade with you while at war but at a higher cost. This however only lessens the problem and doesn't eliminate it. I originally developed this mechanic to alter the frquency and type of ships encountered and how they would react to you. I didn't think adding ships and shuffling once a round (but not removing them) would be fiddly but that seems to be the consensus. I also was planning on adding a merchant ship of a nation to the encounter deck when a player traded with that nations port. This would be shuffled in once a round. I guess I will scrap that idea and just use some duel purpose cards like those that have been proposed.

The mission cards will be duel purpose. One while at war and a different mission while at peace.

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