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Trading Post - a game of exploration and trade

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MichaelJames
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So, I have been working on this game for the past year. I have gone through two prototypes and two playtesting phases. Here are the bare bones of my game.

The Goal of the Game: To gain the most VP

Trading Post consists of 4 Phases that are played over 8 rounds. 1 round includes all 4 phases. At the beginning of each round, the person with the first player token passes the token to their left.

PHASE 1: |Explore| During this phase, From the land card deck, flip over one unexplored land card per the number of players playing. There are three types of cards that you can roll for: Essential/Common (Cost 1 dice), Uncommon (Cost 2 dice), and Rare (Cost 3 dice). Each player has 3 dice to spend on land cards, one d4 dice, one d6 dice, one d8 dice. This allows for some strategy when rolling for cards. All players declare what land they are rolling for that round and roll at the same time. This goes on for three rounds or until all dice have been rolled. If you win a land, you take it into your hand and place it in front of you. If you are tied for land, you battle against the other player.

PHASE 2: |Gather| Every land in the game produces a different resource. Some lands are more common, some are very rare. During this phase, all player gains 1 specific resource for the certain lands that they own. Once all players have finished gathering their specific resources, then it is time to gather Framework cards. Framework cards are buildings that you can add on your trading post to gain more VP and special effects. Every Round, draw 8 framework cards, and starting with the person who has the first player token, they look at the cards, picks one, then passes the cards to their left. This continues until every player has received a card and then the rest of the cards is discarded.

PHASE 3: |Trade| During the trade phase, you may trade any resource and/or framework card (if you choose to) to any other player. Each trade phase, the player with the first player token will be in charge of letting everyone else know that the trading phase has started and end via using the 1-minute timer. Once the timer has run out, all trading stops. It doesn’t matter if you were in the middle of something. All trading stops when the timer hits zero.

PHASE 4: |Buy| Probably the easiest phase out of them out. During this phase, players may build one framework card of their choosing unless they have a special ability that allows them to do so otherwise. Framework cards cost different resources. Once every player is finished building, the round ends and the next begins.

ANYTIME: Any player once per round may purchase an action card. Action cards cost any 2 resources to buy.

BATTLES: Battles happen in one of two ways. First way is if two or more players tie for a land and don’t have a different land that they can win. When a player has won two or more lands, they can only pick one to keep. The other lands that they don’t keep, the next player, without a winnable land and with the highest roll, wins it unless they are tied. If they are tied, they must battle against other said player

When Battles happen, each player place facedown one of their three battle cards. These battle cards are: Club, Axe, Shield. Club beat Shield. Shield beats Axe. Axe beats Club. The player that wins doesn’t get a Consequence Card. All losers gain a Consequence Card and gain a wasteland card. If you tie, both people lose and gain a consequence and gain a wasteland card.

THE 8TH Round: The game end begins after the end of 7th round. This is called the “8th Round or The Final Frenzy”. In the 8th round, skip the first phase and finish only the last 3 corresponding phases. The winner is the player with the most Victory Points overall. There a bunch of different ways that you can earn or lose Victory Points. You get VP’s for each land that you have explored. The amount differs from 0-3 VP’s. You lose VP’s for various Badlands Cards, they range from -1 to -3 VP’s. Consequence Cards can make you lose VP’s For every building card and their effects. This can range from 0 - 11 VP’s.

That is a rough overview of my rules and my game.

let-off studios
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Resources & Set Collection

Are there any collection/synergy bonuses for having specific sets of resource cards, or is it strictly about the point values? For example: awarding bonuses for more than one of the same type of land card, or one of each type of land card, etc.

Are the resource cards organized in any way, or are they shuffled all together in the same deck?

What does a player do with a Consequence Card?

Are the Club, Shield, and Axe cards used for anything other than the combat encounters?

MichaelJames
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Let me clarify that for

Let me clarify that for you.

There are 15 different land types that produce 15 different resources. There are 15 separate decks for the resources. The land and resources are divided into 4 categories.

Essential (Land Worth 0VP): Forest (Wood), Quarry(Stone), Iron Deposit(Iron)
Common (Land Worth 1VP): Pasture (Wool), Field (Grain), Apiary (Honey), Pond (Fish)
Uncommon (Land Worth 2VP): Garden (Herb), Hunting Grounds (Meat), Bushland (Fur), Silver Deposit (Silver), Farmland (Parchment)
Rare (Land Worth 3VP): Riverbed (Gold), Silk Farm (Silk), The Cavern (Precious Stone).

The lands that are rarer are also riskier to roll for because spending all your dice on one land can result in you losing and gaining a wasteland.

There are specific Framework Cards that benefit from owning certain types of lands, but the main reason for exploring lands is to gather resources to trade with other players.

Each player can accumulate up to 7 different unique lands to help them accomplish what they are setting out to build.

A Consequence card (CS), when drawn, is something bad that will affect the player that drew it. For example, a player loses a battle and then take a CS card. It is FIRE! and the player that drew it must replace one of their lands with a wasteland.

As for the CLUB, SHIELD, AXE cards, as of right now they are only used for battling. I hope this answers your questions

let-off studios
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Responses

Thanks for your quick responses! I have a couple more questions for you. I'm just trying to understand more about your game, so I appreciate your patience. :) Your picture was also helpful.

MichaelJames wrote:
There are 15 different land types that produce 15 different resources. There are 15 separate decks for the resources. The land and resources are divided into 4 categories.
So is the "land deck" you refer to in phase 1 comprised of all the land cards shuffled together? Or is one of each "rarity" revealed? Or something else?

Also, are the lands chosen in phase 1 determined simultaneously, or are they chosen one at a time (in which case I would assume starting with the player that has the first player token)?

If a land is uncontested (as in, only one player attempts to claim it), do they need to throw the dice? Can someone not collect a land even if they didn't battle any opponent?

MichaelJames wrote:
Each player can accumulate up to 7 different unique lands to help them accomplish what they are setting out to build.
So, I assume the resources collected are required to build/activate framework cards?

What are some of these special effects that are granted with framework cards?

MichaelJames
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Thank you for your

Thank you for your questions!

The Land Deck is all the different kinds of lands shuffled together. For example, in a 4 person game of Trading Post, there are 3 of each Essential Lands, 2 of Each Common and Uncommon Lands, and 1 of each Rare Lands. All of these cards are shuffled together and delt all at the same time. So every player is strategically thinking of which land they want to roll for.

PHASE 1 is broken up into 3 turns.

At the beginning of each turn, everyone puts their color specific player marker (the dice are also color specific) on the land which they want to roll for and what dice they are spending to roll for that. Then, at the same time, every player rolls their dice at the same time, and place those dice on said land. Once a player uses all their dice rolling for land, they must wait until all turns are complete. (For example, TURN 1 a player spends 2 dice to roll for an uncommon land, TURN 2 they roll 1 dice for a common land, TURN 3, that player has no dice to spend, so they must wait until TURN 3 is over to collect the land they have won).

This continues until all players are finished rolling and all turns are complete, then they can win a land. Players may roll for lands that other players have previously rolled for in the hope of out rolling other players.

In order to claim a land, even if it is uncontested, a player must roll said amount of dice.

Battling is optional, meaning that if a player does not win any lands, they can opt to not battle and risk getting a wasteland.

Yes, you are correct that the resources are required to build the Framework cards

Here are some examples

• 1VP [2] Wishing Well – 3 stone| Every round, you may put 1 resource underneath this card. Every resource equals 1VP. If at the end of the you have 6, gain 2 extra VP
• 2VP [2] Hidden Village – 1 essential resource, 1 common resource, 1 uncommon resource| OPR, during the gather phase, you may choose one land to gain double its resource.
• 3VP [2] Oasis – 1 wood, 1 stone, 1 iron, 1 precious stone | All barren wastelands that you own are now positive.
• 3VP [2] Small Settlement – 1 silver, any common 2 resources, 1 stone | Place this card underneath any land that you own. That land is worth double the Victory Points
• 2VP [1] Bandit Camp – 1 mead, 1 fish, 1 iron | Your opponent in a battle must shuffle and place their card down at random.

Jay103
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15 resources is a lot of

15 resources is a lot of types of resources.

Why isn't the "buy" phase called "build"?

I'm not sure I get the "trading post" theme. I mean, there's a trading phase, but Catan has one too.. and I don't think of it as a primarily trading-based game.

MichaelJames
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Thank you for your

Thank you for your questions

15 resources, I struggled with this as well, but I feel that this allows for more options later.

BUILD is correct, that was a typo, it used to be Buy, but now it is the build.

The theme "Trading Post" is a cumulation of all 4 phases. The reason that the players explore lands and gather resources from them is ultimately, to bring it to their trading post. Player build onto their trading posts with special Framework cards with the end goal of gaining the most VP to be the best trading Post. I do agree, there is only one phase of trading, but the theme encompasses I believe is spread through each phase of the game.

I hope this helps.

MichaelJames
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I feel like 12 is probably

I feel like 12 is probably the most I could go down to, eliminating Mead, Silver, and Parchment.

Then I would have 3 in each category.

Does that sound better?

wob
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hello. phase 1) this is one

hello.
phase 1) this is one of the major strategy elements of your game. so when it comes to how/when players are choosing could make a huge difference. you could...
a) have everyone place their choice token at once. i think this is what you discribed but its physically a bit awkward.
b) have players secretly select cards. im not sure it would fit your game though and im not sure how you would do it
c) have player 1 select then 2 etc and change every round. this gives later player tactical choices but still keeps things fair.
d) go through the available cards one by one, so players can opt to roll for the land they can see or hold out for somthing better (you could force players to roll for at least 1 per round and even include some wasteland)
personally i would try b or c first.
the size of dice can also be chosen separately using one of these methods (or a better one) to add another layer or have prescribed dice for each land so you can only roll if you have the right dice.
phase 2) no real comment on this looks fine.
phase 3) i dont know how it plays in reality but i would think it leads to either a lot of rounds where nobody has time to negotiate (so either dont trade or run out of time) or with people "trading" throughout and only swapping cards in this phase.
phase 4) again looks fine
battles) I'll be honest this confused me a bit (I'll reread though) it seems your trying to break rolled ties. i would keep it simple and just say if players tie nobody gets the land and tied players take a wasteland.
i would definitely get rid of your battle cards, players can just play rock paper scissors and save you some cards.
finally do the wasteland do anything except get in tne way? if not you could combine them with the consequence cards

MichaelJames
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Thank you for your advice! I

Thank you for your advice!

I could see how Phase 1 could be awkward with the choosing of lands. I'll definitely playtest b and c, as those are very good alternatives and I'll take note on what people think.

As for Battles, yes I was basically using rock, paper, scissors in the form of cards as a tiebreaker. I used to have it where if players were tied, they would reroll. I will playtest without battles to see how that affects the game.

I really appreciate the feedback. It is helping me think in ways I didn't before.

let-off studios
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Responses

This is the exciting part of game design for me... MichaelJames, my apologies if it seems like I'm butting in with my responses here. :)

wob wrote:
hello.
phase 1) this is one of the major strategy elements of your game. so when it comes to how/when players are choosing could make a huge difference. you could...
c) have player 1 select then 2 etc and change every round. this gives later player tactical choices but still keeps things fair.
Personally, I'd suggest you go with option C first. When first player changes, make sure it's arranged so that the current first-player is the last player next round. If you wanted to be really nice to the players, you could "preview" what the next three land cards will be, so they can attempt to synergize their current purchase with what they intend to go for next round.

wob wrote:
the size of dice can also be chosen separately using one of these methods (or a better one) to add another layer or have prescribed dice for each land so you can only roll if you have the right dice.
I like the idea of each player having tokens that display a 1, 2, 3, or 0 on them, indicating the number of dice used for their bid. This can be coupled with option C, listed above. After all have been placed, the tokens are revealed simultaneously. Players choose the specific dice they want to use for that bid when it comes up, first-player first.

wob wrote:
phase 3) i dont know how it plays in reality but i would think it leads to either a lot of rounds where nobody has time to negotiate (so either dont trade or run out of time) or with people "trading" throughout and only swapping cards in this phase.
I have a feeling that this is where most of the game is, actually. Players do their best with luck in phase 1, then cut their losses or optimize in phase 3. This seems to me a lot more of a negotiation game than I thought at the outset. Very much like Catan in that respect.

wob wrote:
i would definitely get rid of your battle cards, players can just play rock paper scissors and save you some cards.
I'd go even further than that: just have a roll-off, and allow players to compete with their dice results again until a victor emerges. To compensate for butting heads, the wasteland cards are dealt to all involved.

wob wrote:
finally do the wasteland do anything except get in tne way? if not you could combine them with the consequence cards
As noted in an earlier post, there are some framework cards that turn wastelands into victory points. Without actually playing the game, it's difficult for me to determine how I'd feel about being saddled with so many negative points to deal with.

wob
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you can still have the

you can still have the battles if you like them. i got confused but that might not be with the method and more the ways its written ( or just me zoning out) the other folks here will tell you which it is. my point about getting rid of the cards was more that cards add to cost (not just the cards but the added room they take up), so if they aren't necessary get rid of them, this is also why i suggest combining your consequence and wasteland. in this case "real" rps would work just as well. you could even theme the gestures if you need to.

MichaelJames
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Thank you for your

Thank you for your response!

It feels great to have input on my game.

The token idea

let-off-studios wrote:
I like the idea of each player having tokens that display a 1, 2, 3, or 0 on them, indicating the number of dice used for their bid. This can be coupled with option C, listed above. After all have been placed, the tokens are revealed simultaneously. Players choose the specific dice they want to use for that bid when it comes up, first-player first

This adds the something special I've been looking for. Now I am thinking that instead of making the lands with a certain amount of dice that you can roll for, you can roll for any land with any amount of dice.

For Battles, I think a reroll off is the best solution. I'll be putting that into my playtesting.

Also, with battles, I am going to get rid of the whole "If a person wins multiple lands, people have to fight them" Players can only take home one land and the lands they do not take home will go to the next highest roller.

This is helping me think a lot. I appreciate all the feedback.

Jay103
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MichaelJames wrote: The theme

MichaelJames wrote:

The theme "Trading Post" is a cumulation of all 4 phases. The reason that the players explore lands and gather resources from them is ultimately, to bring it to their trading post. Player build onto their trading posts with special Framework cards with the end goal of gaining the most VP to be the best trading Post. I do agree, there is only one phase of trading, but the theme encompasses I believe is spread through each phase of the game.

Ah, so you're literally building a trading post as the whole point of the game. It's not, like, based inside a trading post.

MichaelJames
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Jay103 wrote: Ah, so you're

Jay103 wrote:
Ah, so you're literally building a trading post as the whole point of the game. It's not, like, based inside a trading post.

That is correct. Each player is building their own trading post.

MichaelJames
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Thoughts after my 2nd Playtest session

So, quite a bit has changed since I first posted. Average Total Game time (including rules) 1 hour - 1 hour 15 minutes

For PHASE 1 (Average Time Spent | 2min):
I changed the restriction on how many dice each type of land cost. You can spend as many dice as you want on any 1 land. I also changed the way for rolling for lands. I made a first player token that would get passed clockwise to the person next to the player with the token at the end of each round. This allowed for players who are not first to strategize and roll according to what had already been rolled. This kept it simple and easy for people to understand. So being first to roll isn't the best thing, but it is balanced out by being able to choose first for Framework cards in Phase 2

For PHASE 2 (Average Time Spent | 3 min):
Changed the number of resources from 15 to 12. Much Better and fewer cards to print. Might go down to 10, but we'll see. Works great

For PHASE 3 (Average Time Spent | 1 min): Timers work very well.

For PHASE 4 (Average Time Spent | 1 min) : Nothing Changed, Works great

For BATTLES: I got rid of the whole rock, paper, scissors mechanic. When Battles happen, each player takes a d4 and rolls until one person has the highest roll. The player that wins gains said land. All losers gain a barren wasteland. I also found the battles rarely happen, kinda making my consequence cards obsolete, so I changed what the Consequence Cards do. You can buy them for three different resources and anytime you use them on other players, you gain -2VP.

For THE 8TH ROUND (The Final Frenzy): Works great!

Once again, I just want to say thank you for all the feedback. Helped to streamline things and players were impressed.

let-off studios
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Progress

MichaelJames wrote:
Once again, I just want to say thank you for all the feedback. Helped to streamline things and players were impressed.
We just holler at you, it's the designer who does all the heavy lifting (and sorting through comments, and picking the one[s] to pay the most attention to, and carrying out the playtests, and... and...).

:)

Best of success on your progress with this project, MichaelJames...! Please keep us posted on any developments.

MichaelJames
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Thoughts after the last 3 new playtests

After another round of playtesting this weekend, some new developments have arisen.

1. I have gotten rid of battling altogether. Over the last 5 different sessions, not once was there a need for a battle. There is still a tiebreaker in place just in case players tie for land, but no more battling.

2. With Battles gone, there wasn't a need for Consequence Cards. So instead of getting rid of the cards altogether, I made them for purchase, like action cards. I changed the name of the cards to Conflict Cards. They attack other players, whereas Action Cards help the player who buys them. Using Conflict cards will give players negative VP's.

3. I have figured out average game time estimations for different player counts.
2-3 players | 50 minutes
4-5 players | 70 minutes
6-8 players | 90 minutes

That's all for this Update

MichaelJames
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Some Thoughts and Questions about Kickstarter and Manufacturing

Hello again, This is another update.

So I am reaching out to various game manufacturers to receive different quotes on pricing. The goal is to keep my Kickstarter game price total with shipping to around $30 - $45.

This is my current timeline for implementation: Is it too ambitious?

May – July 2019 | Playtesting and Modification
July 2019 | Rulebook Format Finished
July - August 2019 | Artwork Finished and Make Prototype
August 2019 | Prototype Blind Playtesting
September 2019 | Modify and Finalize Game
October 2019 | Kickstarter Begins
November 2019 | Kickstarter Ends
November 2019 | Manufacturing Begins
January - February 2020 | Manufacturing Ends
February – March 2020 | Distribution Begins
February 2020 - April 2020| Distribution Ends

This is the list of components for the game

8 | 4 sided dice (all different colors)
8 | 6 sided dice (all different colors)
8 | 8 sided dice (all different colors)
1 | 2.5in x 2.5in Square Deck (78 cards)
1 | 1.61in x 2.48in Mini US game deck (60 cards)
1 | 1.25in x 1.75in Micro Game Deck (210 cards)
1 | 2.75in x 4.75in Tarot Game Deck (80 cards)
8 | Plastic Stands for Info Card
1 | A5 Rulebook (4-8 sheets)
1 | Medium Sized Square Game Box
8 | Plastic Card Bags

DON'T KNOW

8 | 3in x 6in Chipboard Tile {Alt Info Card}
1 | 60 Second Sand Timer
1 | Gamebox Inserts

I have requested a couple of quotes so far from PrintNinja, Panda Game Manufacturing, and BGM. I have only gotten one back so far with a list of different prices. Now with Shipping, I am looking at adding $10-15 to my final price. Does that sound right? I checked Stonemaier Games Excel of Fulfillment Centers and For the most part, Shipping Ranged from $8.44 to $17.37 Do I need multiple fulfillment companies? Or do I just need one? Also, I was thinking of only US/CAN for my first time out. Is that a good idea?

BGM QUOTE

500 copies | $30.76 | $40-45
1000 copies | $25.02 | $35-40
2500 copies | $22.13 | $32-37
5000 copies | $19.97 | $30-35

That's all for this update

questccg
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Just because it's your first time...

I'd warn you about things like "July 2019 - Rulebook" or "August 2019 - Blind Playtesting", etc. One month may seem enough time. But it may not... You need to plan for contingencies ... because that's what happened with OUR Kickstarter.

We said: "Hell 6 months to do the art... No problem!" It took 12 months, almost DOUBLE. And of course when that happens, everything else is way off schedule.

And then instead of 1 month to revise the "core" rulebook... It took over 3 months! (In our case... I'm just giving you an example).

While you do want to have a timeline... You also want it to be realistic.

I also see no "Reviewers" (or copies of prototypes for review). You'll need at minimum one (1) of these and maybe a PlayThru video too (showing how to play the game). So two (2) videos at the minimum...

So if you PLAN like it's going to take 1 Blind Play session... Well maybe that's not enough. If you're doing 4 Blind Play sessions and they are happening once a week, that's already 1 month. No room to re-visit the rulebook... And make whatever corrections to it. So maybe think 1.5 months...

I'm not TELLING you what to do... I'm just suggesting to build in some wiggle room... It's better to have LONGER projections and deliver EARLY, than to be like us SHORT deadline and will now deliver LATE! Because of poor projections.

My suggestion to you is something like this:

"Give yourself EXTRA time on ALL activities ... in the event that ONE or TWO of them take more time, your delivery schedule will NOT be impacted."

I think that's the best advice I can give you! Cheers.

MichaelJames
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Thank you for the

Thank you for the suggestions. I never thought about it that way before and definitely left out some very important things in the overall timeline of things. Here is a revised timeline for the game that will give me more wiggle round to work.

Timeline

May – July 2019 | Playtesting and Modification
July – Sep 2019 | Tweak and Format Rulebook with Blind Playtesting
Sep – Nov 2019 | Artwork Finished and Make Prototype
Sep – Dec 2019 | Prototype Blind Playtesting
Nov – Dec 2019 | Tweak Rulebook / Modify and Finalize Game / Make Final Prototypes
Jan 2020 – Feb 2020 | Send Game for Review and Make Playthrough
March 2020 | Publicity On Game
March – April 2020 | Kickstarter Begins
April – May 2020 | Kickstarter Ends
May – June 2020 | Manufacturing Begins
Aug – Sep 2020 | Manufacturing Ends
Aug – Sep 2020 | Distribution Begins
Sep – Oct 2020 | Distribution Ends

Thanks for the advice questccg!

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