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Feedback and advice on making turns shorter

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Sheep's picture
Joined: 01/18/2014

Hi there, first post, and all that.

Anyway, right now I'm working on a political wargame set in a solar system. It's in a playable state right now, but it has some problems so I'd like some advice. Here are some of the mechanics:

- Planets are set in orbits. Each round, each planet moves one space in its orbit, so that players must wait to time their attacks for when the distance between planets is short.

- Players are playing as political parties. There are two ideological spectrums: Liberal-Conservative and Statist-Libertarian. The political parties are composed of two different ideologies, so there are four parties(four players): the Liberal Statists, Liberal Libertarians, Conservative Statists, and Conservative Libertarians.

- Each planet has a population, ranging anywhere from one to fifteen, and it changes during the course of the game. The population of a planet is represented by markers placed on a grid. The grid is divided into four quadrants indicating political alignment. If a population marker is in a player's quadrant they can use that population to take actions on the planet, so a planet's workforce is divided among the players.

- On each planet sheet there are a number of actions a player can take. The actions take from around 6-15 workers to complete. Each turn on each planet, a player places a number of tokens equal to their controlled population on that planet on an action. Since a player will usually not be controlling that much population on a planet, tokens on actions are cumulative and actions take multiple turns to complete.

- Population Actions:
- Ship Construction: Builds a spaceship for attacking other players
- Research: Improves tech levels
- Propaganda: Moves population on the political grid
- Improve Industry: Reduces the number of workers required to build a ship on the planet
- Improve Infrastructure: Increases the maximum population on the planet
- You can also use population to attack and defend on the planet instead of taking actions with them.

- Research: There are two technology types: Weapons and Engines. In my current system each player has two numbered research tracks. You place a marker at "1" and each time you take a Research action you move the marker up one space. At the end of each turn you roll a die for each research track. If you roll less than or equal to your research track level, you increase your tech level in that area and move the research track level back three(?) spaces. I originally had the die as a d20, but I'm thinking of changing it to a d6 and increasing the number of population needed to take the research action. Engine tech determines the speed of your spaceships, and Weapons tech determines their combat effectiveness.

- Combat is quite simple. It generally takes place on a planet(battles in space are possible but unlikely), and involve ships and population. For each combatant(Ships and 1 population marker both count as 1 combatant), you roll a d20. For each roll that is equal to or below the attacker's tech level, the attacker can destroy 1 opposing ship, 1 opposing population, 1 infrastructure on the planet, or 1 industry on the planet. Before removing opposing ships/population, the defender does the same. Combats are not very frequent.

- Combats are costly, so the game is not a constant battleground. It is more about diplomacy, propaganda, and developing planets, with the occasional military dictatorship(at least, that's what I'm hoping the focus will be).

There are a few other things, but this gives the general idea. I've only playtested once with my family, and we didn't finish a game, but the biggest flaw so far is that turns take far too long. With worker placement on six planets each turn, plus resolving actions, the rounds seem to take forever. I've been trying to figure out how to shorten it without sacrificing too much complexity, and I've got some half-formed ideas, but I'd love to get some advice from more experienced game designers.

If you don't have any ideas, general feedback would be very welcome too. Thanks!

Roll For Surprise
Roll For Surprise's picture
Joined: 08/16/2012
keep the players engaged

Hi Sheep,

A thought about your turn length...

In my opinion complex games with long turns are what make a player feel the depth of strategy and control. Some designers put in mechanic to shorten the turn but then that might take some of the strategy and player control out of the game. I might suggest that if you made each turn engage each player in some fashion, they will not have the opportunity to feel it drag on.


four actions... political, combat, polulation actions, research

each player would have a tile that would have the order of execution of these actions, one tile would read first political, second research, third poulation action, fourth combat. The other tiles would have them listed in different orders. Now at the beginning of the turn, each player would reveal their secret tile and the "sub-turns" would begin. After the first round is completed they will have gotten the same amount of progress as the current turn would give them, however they will fell like they have had 4 turns to get there.

The key would be to keep the players evgaged... they will want to see and anticipate when their opponents are doing something... maybe even a logistics attack to screw with their tiles?...

just a brainstorm... good luck on your design...

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