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BoardGameGeek» Forums » Board Game Design » Design Queries and Problems

Subject: How to make reusable civilization actions? rss

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Eric Pietrocupo
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Players has 3 type of action cards (Civilization, Military and empire) and they draw and play 1 card per city they control.

Military and Empire actions are "reusable" in a sense that you will for example always need to build troops and wage war. It will never be something that will be finished.

On the other hand, the civilization actions which allow colonization and city growth will eventually reach a point where the whole map is colonized and developed making that action useless eventually.

Since players get 1 action per city, the larger their empire, the more action they do and they could expand exponentially or develop their empire pretty fast. The only thing they don't have control is which card they draw.

So I thought that the solution would be to make the civilization card always useful and reusable. What I thought so far:

- War damage cities, reducing their size which means forcing the reconstruction of cities. Still, it will not affect small towns, unless they can also be destroyed forcing the need to recolonize areas. Or players can optionally raze cities.
- Harvesting: Maybe some resource or income must be harvested with an action then added into reserve to perform various stuff. So harvesting will always be necessary.
- Something new to build: Maybe once the map is fully built, there is something new to build like for example wonders, guilds, councils.
- Comparative tracks: Maybe there could be different level of wealth, culture, prestige, economy that players can level up by building stuff in their cities. But since it's something comparative between players (or since stuff decay with time) there is a constant need of investment and rebuilding.


Any other ideas to make civ actions always usable even after the map is filled up?

Else the game could end when the map is entirely filled, but it's not really something I want, the map should be filled in the middle of the game, it's actually a stage of the game.
 
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Dave Lartigue
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larienna wrote:
Players has 3 type of action cards (Civilization, Military and empire) and they draw and play 1 card per city they control.

Military and Empire actions are "reusable" in a sense that you will for example always need to build troops and wage war. It will never be something that will be finished.


God, this game sounds depressing as hell.

Reusable "civilization" actions:

1) City improvement. Introduce the idea that you actually need to care for your citizens and not just grab more of them.

2) Defense. If you still want to focus on warfare and colonization, civ actions could shore up defenses to improve your position.
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Derek H
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larienna wrote:
Players has 3 type of action cards (Civilization, Military and empire) and they draw and play 1 card per city they control.

Military and Empire actions are "reusable" in a sense that you will for example always need to build troops and wage war. It will never be something that will be finished.

On the other hand, the civilization actions which allow colonization and city growth will eventually reach a point where the whole map is colonized and developed making that action useless eventually.

I would have actions for "civilization actions" be ones that can be used at any time during the game; and then add an option to the Civilization(revised versions), Military and Empire cards that allow them to be used as colonization and city growth actions instead. So each card will have its specific action, which is dependant on its type, plus this "extra" action; and the player chooses which one to apply for a given turn/usage. That way all the cards are useful throughout the game.
 
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Derek H
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larienna wrote:

-Maybe once the map is fully built, there is something new to build like for example wonders, guilds, councils.
- Comparative tracks: Maybe there could be different level of wealth, culture, prestige, economy that players can level up by building stuff in their cities. But since it's something comparative between players (or since stuff decay with time) there is a constant need of investment and rebuilding.


"Civ" could also allow levels of upgrade to existing buildings, making them more valuable. Plus the usual village -> town -> city -> capital approach.

"culture, prestige, economy" can either be built up abstractly (on a track) or by taking actions such as mining, trading, cultural-exchanges, tech transfers etc. (with off-board civs far away - Egypt; China; Africa; etc.)

Basically; a civ game should allow you to succeed by a good combination of warfare, expansion and "civ" improvements; for myself, I would dislike a game where specialising in just one route ensures victory.
 
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Sturv Tafvherd
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Age of Mythology: The Boardgame
 
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Michael Dillenbeck
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Do you have more information? For example, how many cards in your deck, what types of actions there are, and size/number of regions on the board? I have a vague sense of what you are doing, but not enough to comment without assumptions.

Okay, so I'm going to make an assumption now: there is a deck with fairly generic sets of actions (Civilization is "build city" only, Military is "build army" only, and Empire is "move and attack with armies" only) and that there is no economic system in the game. Also, this is a game set in the past and thus fielding large armies, maintaining large cities, and waging continuous war for a long time was difficulty. This means these mechanisms will most likely be invalid for your game due to the number of assumptions made.

First issue: runaway leader. If one player gets the right draws to gain a city advantage early in the game, they will be impossible to unseat due to the increased actions.

Second issue: card reuse. In the late game, the board is filled with cities, what does the "build a city" civilization action do?

My solution to playtest: support points. Each city, army, and movement needs support points in order to maintain, otherwise they start having a chance of decaying. Instead of drawing 1 card per city, a player draws 1 card plus 1 card per city or 2 cards per city. A Military card will provide Military Support Points, and the player must pay each turn to maintain the armies on the board (food, equipment, pay, etc); An Empire card will provide Empire Support Points and is used to fund war campaigns (funds representing a commitment of resources to government infrastructure, command & control, and so forth); A Civilization card will provide Civilization Support Points to pay for maintaining cities (roadways and the like, physical aspects that would normally decay).

I'd have to playtest a solution, but my first inkling is to have increasing costs. This would mean for each city added, the cost to maintain per city goes up; for each army added, the cost to maintain per unit goes up; and for each turn of waging war going on, the cost to maintain goes up (which means tracking the turns at war). Maybe a simple progression of units = cost to maintain of 1=1, 2=3, 3=6, 4=10, etc (ie,,triangular number assuming a smaller board) or, alternatively 1=0, 2=0, 3=1, 4=3, 5=5, 6=7, 7=10, 8=14, ... a progression of add 1/2, 1, 1 1/2, 2, 2 1/2, 3, and so on to the last cost and thus causing a gradual rise of free to 3.75/unit cost by 16 units).

However, to mitigate luck, each card will list all three point values. A card has the highest support points for matching categories; an Empire card has the smallest difference in all three values. If an army is not supported, it is degraded as if taking a hit or (if its one hit = remove one unit) gives the empire an overall penalty in combat due to lack of needed supplies. Empire points also could reduce armies in the same way, but most likely I'd say each lack of supply point either degrades cities or prevents a certain number of units from moving. Civilization support points would be used to maintain cities.

What this solution does is require players to expend more cards to maintain themselves as they grow in various areas - so in the early game, the low cost mean most cards can be used to do actions, but in the later game they must spend more cards just to keep up what they've built. It would also add a layer of choice and decision making for the player - do they expand their cities and have risk having to spend all their Military cards to support those cities on a bad draw? I'd actually probably make the per city cost a triangle number while using my slower progression for other aspects (and maybe have war being a 1:1 cost - pay 1 point times the number of turns at war) to make the action granting cities quickly grow out of control in costs, military armies be able to grow quicker, and being able to wage long wars with minimal costs (relatively). Maybe I'd try reversing military and empire action costs.

Looking at my solution, I already see I'd need a way to "bank points" or at least hold cards over from turn to turn. Maybe I have all Civilization cards and I want to hold some over to the next turn to pay for my many cities, or maybe I just want to toss them and try to raise an army.

Again, these are based on my assumptions about game play and are just off the cuff and unplaytested. My goal was to add a degree of simulation to the game that also adds player choice (to enrich gameplay), but without playtesting this system may be just tedious and boring... so take it with a grain of salt. If you like it, throw together some quick cards and then playtest it for a game... tweak the numbers, and if it doesn't work then brainstorm up something else... maybe simply add discard 2 civilization cards to take any other actions once no more cities can be built.

Good luck!
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Eric Pietrocupo
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Thanks of the replies, I'll try to clarify a few things:

Quote:
Age of Mythology: The Boardgame


I have the game, so yes I know how it works and looked there for some ideas. (I even made variants for it) Still, you will rarely fill up the city or terrain board, so the issue does not appear in that game.

Quote:
Second issue: card reuse. In the late game, the board is filled with cities, what does the "build a city" civilization action do?


Well that is actually the reason I wrote this thread, because when the board is filled up, there is little reason to use those cards unless the game is about to end which will not be my case.

Quote:
Do you have more information? For example, how many cards in your deck, what types of actions there are, and size/number of regions on the board? I have a vague sense of what you are doing, but not enough to comment without assumptions.


Players use a common deck of cards, there are 3 action type cards with a value between 1 and 5 and a special generic ability (for example, all level 1 card has the same ability). Here is a picture of the latest proto playtest:



(cylinder = armies, small square=town, large+small square = city, big cylinder=capital)

Each action card should allow the player to do one of the 3 actions. For example: Military allows to build units, move units, and something else not defined yet.

When player makes an action, the action has a certain strength determined by the card played + the resource used (Production, Strength, Influence). The hasard die is rolled (values 0,0,0,1,1,2) and added to the target number, if the strength is equal or higher, the action is successful.

All actions works exactly the same way from colonization to waging war. The only difference with war is that there is a casualty roll to know which sides lose their armies.

Quote:
I would have actions for "civilization actions" be ones that can be used at any time during the game; and then add an option to the Civilization(revised versions), Military and Empire cards that allow them to be used as colonization and city growth actions instead.


You gave me an idea here. Each turn players will be able to play upgrade cards given from Technology or Magic what ever the theme I use (I am desiging a generic reusable 4X system). Those upgrade will have a pay on demand special ability and would also increase by 1 points the resources (Prod, Str, Inf) making actions stronger.

Now I could make a civilization action be some sort of gather resource action that collect temporary resource tokens that could be used to power up action when when spent. For example, if the hasard die roll make you fail, You could pay the difference with these tokens. Since they are one time use, you need to harvest them over and over again.

Quote:
First issue: runaway leader. If one player gets the right draws to gain a city advantage early in the game, they will be impossible to unseat due to the increased actions.


Well, yes and no. I wanted to break with the general idea of most board games that players has limited actions. I struggled for years with the separation between proportional and non-proportial mechanics. I explained it in more details here:

http://bgd.lariennalibrary.com/index.php?n=DesignArticle.Art...

It's something I realized while play testing some starcraft variant, where limited action makes extermination victory almost impossible since a too large empire will never have enough actions to manage it. So large empire requires more action to manage.

Now as for the strength of the action, the empire size has no effect. So all players will grow at the same strength in the fields they want what ever their empire size. So from that point of view the players remain competitive.

Now the biggest issue with 1 action per city is playability. A map will have a total of 24 space. It should contains 5 players where some of them will be AI. Which makes an average of 5-6 cities per player. But it can easily reach 8 or more cities.

Now it makes thematically sense to have that many actions and it's not something I saw in many board game, so I am willing to keep this. But there could be ways to make it more convenient.

First I thought that if you have 6 or more action cards, you play 2 separate turns, you first play 3 cards, then when everybody played, you play your 3 last cards. This would reduce downtime when the large player is playing, and it will give some time for the player to think what to do with his remaining cards.

If some of you have better ideas, let me know.

Quote:
My solution to playtest: support points

I'd have to playtest a solution, but my first inkling is to have increasing costs.


I could use some sort of support mechanism. I currently have no use to upgraded cities beside increasing defense TN. But like towns, they would be removed from a track revealing new values (like in Eclipse) which could be the nb of maintainable armies on the board. It's just, I am not there yet in the design process.

--------------------------------------------------
A comment from BGDF which makes sense

Quote:
The "comparative tracks" option sounds best to me. What do civilisations do once they can't physically expand any more? They develop internally. They progress socially, scientifically, politically etc. You could have a larger empire equal more unrest or corruption and need to invest civ cards to reflect law-making to control those things.


That could be my possible 3rd action.
 
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Eric Pietrocupo
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On BGDF, somebody came with a wonderful idea why each new city built does no give exactly 1 new action cards. It could be summarised like the corruption mechanism in the civilization video game where the farther you were from your capital, the more wasted production you had.

Here, the larger you empire, the more actions would be lost. There could be was to reduce corruption and recover some of the actions lost throught upgrades.

Which keeps me wondering, are large empire that complicated to maintain. I imagine it's relative to the technology level. Today with computers, maintaining the roman empire would be much more easier than in antiquity.

So I guess I am screwed to make larger empire not necessarily do more, but here it's less harsh than when you have a fixed amount of actions. You will get more actions, but not as much as you would have though. So there is a reason to get larger.
 
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Eric Pietrocupo
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Another idea that came in while writing the rules about large empire. Maybe large empire draw 1 card per town, but can play less cards. So they get less actions per city but they have a better quality.

The incrementation I intend to use is this one:

Nb Action:1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9
Nb Cities:1 - 2 - 3 - 5 - 7 - 10 - 13 - 17 - 21

 
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