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Subject: Planning a Second Edtion rss

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Greg Costikyan
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I've embarked work on a second edition for Pax Britannica, and thought I'd ask for comments, wishes, and suggestions.

My objectives are to:
a) Reduce complexity without materially affecting the degree of period flavor and historicity.
b) Reduce playtime modestly -- I don't think it can be reduced drastically without producing an entirely different game, but it is long, and to the degree this can be achieved, it's worth pursuing.
c) Make it more accessible to new players.
d) And, of course, produce a much tighter and comprehensive set of rules, since those to the Victory edition are cumbersome and incomplete.

Specific changes I'm considering include:

1. Eliminating income from colonies, and hence the need to perform calculations every turn. An end-of-game calculation for victory points generated by your colonial empire would still be needed, but this is a one-time thing.

2. Eliminating colonial combat in favor of a rule that you need to have a certain army strength in an area to establish a control marker there. (In practice, people always try to get a 3:2 ratio or better over an area's defense strength, so by upping those strengths to 1.5 times current values and requiring people to have that much strength, we get roughly the same net effect with reduced rules complexity.

3. Having a system whereby players place status markers and move units during the Movement & Placement phase in a sequence, rather than in the current free-for-all.

4. Having both an "introductory" version and an "advanced" version, with all the fiddly rules -- Chinese rebellion, codominions, war with the Ottomans, etc. -- shuffled into the advanced game.

5. Random event cards instead of the current big table.

Comments and suggestions are welcome.
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Ed Holzman
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costik wrote:
5. Random event cards instead of the current big table.

+1

Eliminating dice/tables for tangible cards is a great idea. I would consider utilizing a similar system for determining which Minor Powers are active during a turn.
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Ken
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costik wrote:
1. Eliminating income from colonies, and hence the need to perform calculations every turn. An end-of-game calculation for victory points generated by your colonial empire would still be needed, but this is a one-time thing.


This is interesting to me, considering that the income derived from the colonies is currently what drives conflict in the game. With few exceptions, the powers are going to spar over the high-value colonies, so what would replace that? I'd presume some form of VP for the colony. Perhaps a way to reduce the complexity of the calculations is more the point? Use display cards with holders for the different units and markers that have the costs associated with them printed on them (like Age of Renaissance)? Charge for the size of the military rather than each unit whether at home or not?

It's an interesting idea, but the nice thing about the old income mechanic was that it tied investment/spending to VP every turn.

Quote:
2. Eliminating colonial combat


I like this idea as a time saver. I'd just add in some random events that impacted the military in the colonies a player has somehow. Revolts, uprisings, terrorist activity, disease, etc. A disaster trying to take some colonies had a material effect on military stature. It might also be interesting to require some naval presence away from home.

Quote:
3. Having a system whereby players place status markers and move units during the Movement & Placement phase in a sequence, rather than in the current free-for-all.


My suggestion? Written orders followed by limited negotiations followed by written adjustments - done. I like the simultaneous nature of the game as it stands, but it is a bit to easy to piss off someone by going just where they're going and maybe get CB in the process. With complete knowledge, the movement phases take too long and end up with nearly endless negotiation.

You might also contemplate putting some limits on the number of markers players can place per turn, particularly if you're eliminating colonial income.

Quote:
4. Having both an "introductory" version and an "advanced" version, with all the fiddly rules -- Chinese rebellion, codominions, war with the Ottomans, etc. -- shuffled into the advanced game.


I really like this idea. It might be interesting to have those types of events in your deck for the basic game, but with effects that are rapidly resolved for those there. These particular uprisings can be important to flavor, and you could pull them out of the game.

Quote:
5. Random event cards instead of the current big table.


Personally, I'd go with both cards and a table. Cards for the actual events, the table for disorder. Roll 1d3 for the number of each every turn (1d3 events, 1d3 rolls on disorder) so you get a nice mix. And it lets you make at least some of the events one time or reduced in appearance with a dependent randomizer (depending on whether you shuffle before every turn, only after certain events, never, etc.).

Personally, the income changes are the one that strike me as most interesting and complicated to pull off. I'd certainly love to play Britain and not need a calculator, but I'm curious how this would work. If you do lose income and expenses entirely, it also seems less flexible for the players - do you invest in multiple interests in these places, or go for a protectorate in one important spot? Do you build up the military to take on Brazil in disorder? Or use that money to expand your empire? Without the income and expense, those decisions change fairly dramatically.

I can't even believe I'm saying this, since I generally think CDG's are being over-done, but have you thought about making Pax a CDG? The Napoleonic Wars from GMT has a nice way of handling a multiplayer CDG with home cards/reserves (depending on edition) and that might make it easy for you to continue to represent the period, lose the calculations, and add tension to the game. Give the nation with the most cards the pre-emption ability, make establishing markers an action rather than simultaneous, throw the events into the deck that players draw from. I wonder if that wouldn't give you the balance of control and randomness that would make the period work.

Regardless, if you're looking for playtesters, please let me know. I love this game and can't get it on the table enough due to the complexity.
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Ben Foy
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costik wrote:
I've embarked work on a second edition for Pax Britannica, and thought I'd ask for comments, wishes, and suggestions.

My objectives are to:
a) Reduce complexity without materially affecting the degree of period flavor and historicity.
b) Reduce playtime modestly -- I don't think it can be reduced drastically without producing an entirely different game, but it is long, and to the degree this can be achieved, it's worth pursuing.
c) Make it more accessible to new players.
d) And, of course, produce a much tighter and comprehensive set of rules, since those to the Victory edition are cumbersome and incomplete.

Specific changes I'm considering include:

1. Eliminating income from colonies, and hence the need to perform calculations every turn. An end-of-game calculation for victory points generated by your colonial empire would still be needed, but this is a one-time thing.

2. Eliminating colonial combat in favor of a rule that you need to have a certain army strength in an area to establish a control marker there. (In practice, people always try to get a 3:2 ratio or better over an area's defense strength, so by upping those strengths to 1.5 times current values and requiring people to have that much strength, we get roughly the same net effect with reduced rules complexity.

3. Having a system whereby players place status markers and move units during the Movement & Placement phase in a sequence, rather than in the current free-for-all.

4. Having both an "introductory" version and an "advanced" version, with all the fiddly rules -- Chinese rebellion, codominions, war with the Ottomans, etc. -- shuffled into the advanced game.

5. Random event cards instead of the current big table.

Comments and suggestions are welcome.


Hmmm, Pax's strengths are also its weaknesses (and vice versa).

Players have the freedom to do almost anything => lots of rules => rules lawyering

Quote:
1. Eliminating income from colonies, and hence the need to perform calculations every turn. An end-of-game calculation for victory points generated by your colonial empire would still be needed, but this is a one-time thing.


Pax has an interesting mechanic where you have to balance increasing your economy vs per turn VPs vs End of Game VPs=> complicated forms to fill out. Italy and Russia generally win by maximizing their per turn VPs. Change this and you change all the dynamics between the powers.

Quote:
2. Eliminating colonial combat


That system adds nothing to the game, so getting rid of it would be good.

Quote:
3. Having a system whereby players place status markers and move units during the Movement & Placement phase in a sequence, rather than in the current free-for-all.


That may actually slow down the game. The free for all was fast and fun.

Quote:
4. Having both an "introductory" version and an "advanced" version, with all the fiddly rules -- Chinese rebellion, codominions, war with the Ottomans, etc. -- shuffled into the advanced game.


As long as the introductory game is fun and makes sense. Actually, the Chinese rebellion really needs to be overhauled. War with Ottomans rarely happens and Co-dominions are fun and obvious.

Quote:
5. Random event cards instead of the current big table.


This would be a significant improvement.

Also a good set of rules would be a huge improvement.
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Greg Costikyan
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Well, here's my current take on how VPs work:

At end of game, you calculate your "prestige value". This is the prestige (nee economic) value of each area where you have a status marker
x1 for Interests
x2 for Influences
x4 for Protectorates
x5 for Possessions
...much like the old game, but only doing this calculation once. You then add however many pounds you have at game end to the calculation. Your prestige value is then divided by the "victory point divisor" for your country to get a victory point total.

Which is then modified for paths across Africa, building the first canal, etc., as before.

Also: the game comes with black cubes (representing -1 victory point) and white cubes (+1 vp), so if you break treaties or have treaties during play, you receive these to record the gain or loss, and add or subtract them from your final score at game end.
====

The main difference is that you don't gain extra income from your colonies during play; Colonial Office income for the British, and to a lesser degree French and Americans, is upped a bit to compensate. You can still gain VP by husbanding your money, though.


Oh yes... and definitely want pound notes instead of keeping track on the "tax form."
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William Cooper
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Cards would be perfect for lots of things, not just the random events.

I love the free-for-all Movement/Status Phase. It's the best part of the game for me .

BC
 
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Ken
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costik wrote:
The main difference is that you don't gain extra income from your colonies during play; Colonial Office income for the British, and to a lesser degree French and Americans, is upped a bit to compensate. You can still gain VP by husbanding your money, though.


I think this is the part that confuses me most. The economics aren't just a small advantage to the British or French, they can be huge. Manipulate your forces and holdings well, and their income can exceed the other players by a huge margin. However, if you're junking maintenance costs, this isn't as big a deal.

Where it could be a big deal is when a war between powers breaks out, though. The damage suffered could be difficult to rebuild from. So it'd be interesting to see how that would be handled.

I can see it working in theory, but really would want to try it out. The economics were a huge part of the old game, so changing that seems to strike at the heart of the play.
 
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Greg Costikyan
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I want to try it out, too. Meaning I'm well aware this is going to need a lot of playtesting.

On the other hand -- in designing the original game, I was well aware of the fact that most colonial nations did not, in fact, earn money, at least directly, from their possessions. Most of Britain's colonies were a net drain on the royal exchequer. Indeed, after the loss of the American colonies, Britain adopted a policy that colonial revenues could only be used for local benefit, and never contribute to Britain's fiscus directly. Other countries were not always so particular, of course.

But the fact that your colonial empire benefited your income in the first edition is actually somewhat contrary to fact; so if the rest of the game can be made to work, what I'm proposing is perhaps closer to the historical reality.

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Greg Costikyan
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1st Draft 2nd Edition Rules Uploaded
I've uploaded my first draft of the revised rules here:

http://s3.amazonaws.com/playthisthing/rules.doc

Comments and suggestions, both about the changes and also pointing out holes, are welcome. (I'm well aware that the Victory rules are full of holes, and want to make sure that such problems are fixed in any future edition.)

One thing that may not be apparent from these rules, since they don't include the charts and tables: both income and costs are halved from the 1st edition.

Update: A more recent version is here: http://s3.amazonaws.com/playthisthing/rulesv_3.doc
 
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Ken
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I'm reading as time permits, so I may come back and edit as I get pulled away.

1. When paying for maintenance, the rules say you pay for anything "above the minimum garrison." This strikes me as being more complex than the old version. Might I suggest that you allow each control marker to sustain a single military unit of the player's choice and that they must pay for any in excess of that? That way, the math is a bit simpler and you could structure the garrison rules in such a way that a single piece of the right size is sufficient to garrison every colony? Might also make the Indian army easier to manage.

2. I'm wondering if the changes to the sequence of play "matter." For example, if I'm playing the USA and want to avoid a "final pass" even though I think I'm done, can't I just shift a 1-strength military unit from somewhere to somewhere and extend my turn? That would qualify as a move, but not a particularly material one.

3. Britain and the US can trade away States/Dominions as a part of negotiations? This just feels wrong. I can't think of a circumstance where either would have allowed this to occur once they'd reached that status.

4. In the negotiations phase, the rule implies that if I declare war on you over one CB, we would continue to negotiate over other CBs that haven't been resolved as yet. This seems both silly (we're now at war) and like it will add time to the turn. It may be worth calling out that only players that aren't at war with one another negotiate or some bright spark is going to get the idea that nations at war should keep talking.

5. You might specify some sequence for negotiations to put some structure around them. The rules imply that you negotiate one area until it's resolved, then move to the next. That's fine, but if there's no sequence for the areas it's still the free-form discussion that existed in the old version so I'd remove the language. It might be interesting to use a chit pull/card draw to say "Resolve all the '4' prestige conflicts..." to make which areas are currently 'in play' less controlled, then go in alphabetical order. That could both lead to more turf for negotiating (control markers becoming established) and less predictability as to when the areas players care about come up.

6. When discussing treaties, it's not clear if breaking existing treaties due to a declaration of war incurs the VP penalty and ET bump. This should be clearly stated one way or the other, plus any limits on such losses, if they exist.

7. In "declining to declare war," the way it's written is just a bit clunky. Numbered list, followed by "but 2 happens before 1." I'd just rephrase to put them into the correct order and make it sequential.

8. It's unclear when offensive/defensive alliances trigger and/or war starts. If I decide to declare war on you over Ivory Coast, does that suspend the negotiations phase and we all decamp to war? Do I immediately call my allies with offensive pacts and you yours with defensive pacts? Greater clarity is needed.

9. Speaking of offensive/defensive alliances, the section on treaties and the ET index doesn't discuss public/secret alliances. If a secret alliance exists but has not been revealed and is not revealed, the rules imply the ET should still bump. Something to handle this would be good.

10. When discussing treaties, you imply that one declares war on alliances (with the example for the US costing 20 ET points), but never state this explicitly. So if the US has a defensive alliance with Germany against Japan, but Germany ends up at war with 4 powers, the US has to declare on all of them? This could be clearer, particularly if the US can be at war with only Japan and not the other powers (limiting who they can fight and be fought by).

11. "Forced war ends" just refers to combat. What about conquest? If Germany isn't actually fighting against units, but is conquering things across Africa, does the war continue?

12. Culpability for the great war really calls for some sequence to handle negotiations. If I can get a triple penalty for downgrading a marker, then when that occurs is important.

In the advanced game rules:

1. I'm not wild about defending a minor power making CB "transitive." Suddenly, defending a minor gives the Major Powers a whole lot of ability to stick their nose in to things where previously no CB existed. Might be I'm remembering the original wrong, but I recall defending a minor only occurring after all other CB were resolved and always involved a congress. I'd go that route rather than allow that defense to create CB between powers.

2. Codominions - please, please, please lose these or limit them in some horrible way that makes them increasingly pointless. They so significantly reduce the danger of the Great War that I despise them. Note that I haven't managed to read these rules completely as yet, so it's possible you have and I haven't gotten there.

Work's calling, so I have to suspend my fun.
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Michael Hayman
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The suggestion I have for the game is NOT to dumb it down or make it too brief a game.

I would make combat more chancy for attackers. Right now it is too easy for the larger power to always win a war. Maybe change it so that each counter gets to roll to score a hit and throw out an odds CRT altogether. Possibly the combat system for PoG or PUoG could be used.

I would give a little more relaxation to merchant ships can be placed (it may not be as realistic but it would make for a tenser game)

We found the simultaneos deployment of counters worked very well--we tried sequential placement but it just bogged things down. We had a house rule that said the final placement was only finished when Brtain was finished. Up until that time, markers even when already just placed could still be moved around--this prevent a skulking Italy or another power from snagging an area surreptitiously like some last-second better on a roulette table sliding a chip onto red, thinking Britain would not notice. As for pissing off someone by creating CB's--that is part of the game if not all of it!

Streamlining maintenance is fine but maximizing economic potential is a big strategy I like to keep. It is a gamble to keep more profitable influences going when someone else may decide that time is ripe for the protectorate in the area and securing the VP. This is a race game.

Not sure I would want to see a outright VP penalty for breaking treaties. Half the fun of this game is brinksmanship and the great war. If you suffer a penalty for breaking a treaty it may lose some of the fun one has in forcing a guy to avoid the great war.

Tightening up the Congress rules and how defensive treaty vs offensive treaty language works would be good. Currently, newbie players never quite understand that defensive treaties are only good if your ally CAUSES the CB, and offensive treaties are the means to DEFEND the status quo. I would like to see a rule that prevents total ganging up on a power by the other members of congress..I saw several games where a beleagured ower had to fight off 2 big Europeans and Japan/US, and always lost everything. As the rules state, once the treaty passes even if it is something as absurdly bellicose as a treaty such requing the giving up three or more possessions (or even all) when the CB was really for something minor as the removal of a single influence. I would like to see a phrase where a defiance of Congress that is coupled with a downgrade that prompted the CB to be resolved trumps the kangeroo courts CB that have occured. Of course if war is chancier then the CoV has less ability to turn into a kangeroo court. As it stands now if you are the top dog player, and the military means to defeat you exists you can never risk a CB that goes to Congress. Makes for a boring end game.

Give Russia some forces that can fight elsewhere--that garrison requirement doesn't help. Make it easier for a war in India to possibly occur. Fictional capabilities but like merchant ships would make for a better game. Right now playing Russia is best done as minor.

I like the very strong penalties on Co-dominions. Manchuria/Korea should have to be fought over-- something I have never seen done in real play.

Increase unrest, particularly in Anatolia.

Add a random event/technology purchase track that simulates the arrival of Dreadnoughts that render older naval vessel technology completely obsolete. (something along the lines that spending on naval research allows a dice roll to succeed in developing new technology. This then converts all 10 factor fleets to 3's, 3's to 1's and 1's are removed. The guy who got there first gets to keep one 10 to reflect the newly launched ships and is the only one who can build 10's that turn.)

Give Germany some saber rattling capability from threats in Alsace Lorraine. Historically France backed off in Africa on at least one occasion for fear of German attacks on the European Continent. Maybe work a mechanic where another continental war between only two powers of limited nature could be fought. Resolve it by maybe two or three phases of dice rolls. A card?

Add a random factor to the European
Tension's triggering the Great War...once a certain threshold is reached the great war may start...or it may not... for each incident there after.

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Greg Costikyan
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Ken:

I don't think the "minimum garrison" rules are "more complex" -- rather, a time-saver. That is, most of the time, most people keep a 1-strength army as garrison, and you don't pay for those. You only pay for other units abroad.

I'm absolutely -not- wedded to the sequence for placement & movement -- I'm responding mainly to comments by people who find simultaneous movement and placement confusing or awkward. Basically, I want to try playing with the sequence and see whether it is just a pain or works to clarify things, but I may well go back to a free-for-all later.

Britain and the US could trade away states/dominions in the 1st edition, but I agree that it's unlikely in reality... Perhaps this should go.

I'm not sure I want a sequence for negotiations... It makes sense for movement & placement, because there's a physical change on the board that others can then respond to... But negotiations -typically- involve exchanges over multiple areas, so it will likely become a free-for-all anyway.

"Forced war ends" -- I think the "no combat for 3 turns" rule works reasonably well in practice. I suppose it's possible that, say, Britain would have stripped and lost all its garrisons from African areas, and Germany might be capturing them slowly without combat, although this strikes me as fairly unlikely.

Defending minors is basically a reworded version of what's in the original... no CofE was required. But a forced referral might be better.

Yes, codominions are problematic. I may have to jettison them, which I have for the basic game (by making Guiana exclusively Dutch -- a little awkward, but simple).

Michael:

VP penalties for breaking treaties are in the 1st edition.

A Russian war for India might be interesting, but it would be terribly ahistorical -- imagine trying to supply armies through Afghanistan or over the Himalayas...

Dreadnoughts is an interesting idea, I'll have to think about that.
 
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Michael Hayman
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Right, forgot about the Vp penalty there.

I was in the middle of editting when you replied to my post. I want to point out in the post above that there is some new stuff about the congess that should be looked at.
 
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Michael Hayman
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If you do plan on retaining a sequence in placement of status markers, I would reverse the order...Britain is the policeman of the game and he has to react to Italy and Germany...He can't build everywhere but he must be able to check the lower coefficients growth somehow.

I think the 50% value for CoD is pretty good. The old rules were far too weak.

Please, Please, Please renounce the CRT as it stands. Odds based tables with only 6 possible results were not dynamic enough. fights of 61 vs 60 were too lopsided in favor of the guy with 61.

If there is any CDG thoughts, do not go the route where purely random events can be controlled by a player.
 
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Ed Holzman
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The only CDG element that I could see working well would be a CDG-style combat system a la Hannibal and We the People. Force values would affect your hand size for a combat and the dice/CRT could be jettisoned altogether.

EDIT - I will echo Ken's request to be considered for playtesting a 2nd edition. If my group can make it through sessions of Here I Sit (and Sit and Sit)..er, I mean Here I Stand, then maybe I can get Pax to the table again.
 
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Ken
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costik wrote:
I don't think the "minimum garrison" rules are "more complex" -- rather, a time-saver. That is, most of the time, most people keep a 1-strength army as garrison, and you don't pay for those. You only pay for other units abroad.


I do get the point, merely pointing out that there won't be much reduction in bookkeeping, and that will get a bit complicated because there's now an exception to the rules on forces abroad (the minimum garrisons). In the first version, it was cut-and-dried: forces not at home, in a dominion, or in a state had to be paid. Now I need to pick up the pieces in every colony and do a manual count, subtracting the minimum garrison.

Perhaps it would be better to build the garrison into the control markers to give them an inherent strength? Then you could eliminate the garrison requirement altogether.

Quote:
I'm not sure I want a sequence for negotiations...


You might look at the way you've currently got it phrased, then. As I read it, you resolve each individual CB one at a time. I know that's almost certainly not what's meant, but I can see someone else reading it that way. Some language that makes it clear that negotiations can focus on one, some, or all CB between powers (and could even involve 3+ powers) is probably all that's needed.

Quote:
"Forced war ends" -- I think the "no combat for 3 turns" rule works reasonably well in practice. I suppose it's possible that, say, Britain would have stripped and lost all its garrisons from African areas, and Germany might be capturing them slowly without combat, although this strikes me as fairly unlikely.


But it is a method for a player to "run and hide" and minimize the impact of a particular war based on where the other player's forces are. Particularly if communication links would be built overland. It makes the wars somewhat trivial, particularly if one side looses a huge naval combat and can no longer fight at sea.

That's OK, since it can limit the swings due to war, but it's just worth making sure that's what's intended. I personally don't see the Kaiser's Germany letting a war they were winning lapse due to lack of fighting, particularly if there were juicy colonies to grab.

Quote:
Defending minors is basically a reworded version of what's in the original... no CofE was required. But a forced referral might be better.


Then I'm either remembering wrong or we played it wrong before.
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Michael Hayman
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Gads, I hope that a hannibal combat result system is NOT implemented. That is one of my least liked methods.
 
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Greg Costikyan
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Hm... I rather like the idea of a control marker having an intrinsic 1 army strength which you don't pay maintenance for. Might make things simpler. Of course, I'd have to take another look at the countermix, since 1-strength units are then probably in oversupply.

I'm certainly not wedded to a CRT -- it is rather an archaic system, albeit it works. As I've argued (http://playthisthing.com/randomness-blight-or-bane), some randomness is necessary to simulating military conflict, but there are other ways of achieving the same result. I'm using an Axis & Allies-like die-roll system in another game I'm working on (Philip & Suleiman, a grand-strategic game of conflict in the Mediterranean in the 16th century), but I don't think that would work here. But a card system may be worth thinking about.

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Warren Bruhn
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Greg, are you thinking of essentially designing a new game and looking for a new publisher? ... or are you just thinking of a rules rewrite so that people can use the old counters and map in a different way?

If a new game is the idea, then I would strongly suggest not designing a global colonial competition game. Instead I would suggest one game that is a scramble for colonies in Africa (players Britain, France, Germany, Italy, and maybe King Leopold), and a second game that is a scramble for colonies in Asia (players Japan, Russia, France, Britain, Germany, and maybe the USA). The advantages would be more manageable map sizes, smaller number of needed players for each game, and shorter playing time for each game. To the extent that history means anything in this age of Euro games and card games, each of these two separate games could be designed to be more historically coherent than Pax Brit.

Don't think I don't like Pax Brit. It's a really beautiful looking game that I don't expect to ever sell. Thanks very much for designing Pax. But it's a real pain to play face to face, for various reasons, and I prefer games that I can play face to face. As good as it was for its time, here's the things I think ought to be avoided in a new game.

1. known value of territory - colonialism was practiced by adventurers who were pushing their national flag forward, often in the face of great apathy or reluctance on the part of the home government, and the ultimate economic value, and how long it was actually going to take to realize that value, simply wasn't known. (As an example, the French focused more on the huge desert areas of north and west Africa instead of the Congo, where Leopold - not Belgium - had to invest for years before getting a payoff. Another example was that Britain didn't know how valuable the Transvaal and Orange Free State would turn out to be.) What if the gold mines or diamond mines had been discovered in the middle of the Sahara, or in Madagascar, or in Sarawak? Who knew?

2. known resistance value - why print on the map how fierce the natives will be? (especially printing a 2 for Sudan!) Instead make resistance random, as the resistance of the Ottomans and Chinese was in old Pax. In fact, areas that go into unrest should have a variable number of native figures or counters pop up.

3. five levels of control - "interest" seems to correspond to what diplomatic writing of the time referred to as "commercial interests." Why should that be within the control of the player in a game that's about colonies? If players want to control this they should be playing a game in which their role is to control a merchant house. In a game about colonialism "the flag follows trade." So the only role this would have would be to randomly give a nation a better entry into an area if that nation's merchants had opened the door. "Influence" seems to correspond to what was called "economic interest," control of major things like railroad construction, banking, the police, etc., and that's where the home nation seriously gets involved. The difference between a "protectorate" and a "possession" is nice in theory, but in actual colonial practice there wasn't really any difference. All the colonial powers, including King Leopold's private non-governmental venture in the Congo, were all completely protectionist and succeeded in squeezing out all other commercial as well as economic interests. As for states, those were obviously a non-issue prior to WW1. And there doesn't need to be a role for self governing dominions on the home nations colonial budget. (I would include India here too.) The main role for dominions in a game could just be to volunteer some troops or donate some money for naval units to the home country or to their own defense. With the old counters and old map I was going to try just using influence, possession (nice flags!), and dominion markers.

4. colonies that pay for themselves immediately - while this does eventually happen for some colonies ( historically, for the Germans only Togo actually paid for itself), there has to be a period of development and investment before a colony gets to profitable status. This is a common theme in games, Monopoly being an example.

5. codominiums - see my comments this year on Consimworld forums re the Carribean and the New Hebrides. Basically the Carribean was underrated economically in the old Pax, and the New Hebrides should not have been included at all. And a French possession of New Caledonia should have been in the old game's New Hebrides spot. The only real codominiums are coexisting influence markers, something that historically could have happened in Morocco between France and Spain and in Egypt between France and Britain. Instead one nation ended up taking control of all or almost all of the territory. Splitting a territory should not result in codominion, but instead two separat possessions with the economic value of the previous territory divided or transferred to an adjacent possession of one of the dividing powers.

6. merchant fleets - this was a waste of cardboard in the old Pax. I realize the design was to limit how far various powers could go, but that was more of a penalty to powers other than Britain, France, and Germany. Would not need this at all in games that fccus just on Africa or just on Asia. Even in another global game this could just be left out. Don't restrict the players. Let them run up the flag anywhere in the world if they can convince the home government to let them do it.

7. garrison counters - glad to see elimination of these is already under consideration. I was already figuring on doing this at home using the old economic model, with inherent garrison costing 3 x resistance value, with a permanent maintenance cost of 1 x resistance value, and inherent garrisons are imobile.

8. abstract naval units - in a more modern game one could use different plastic pieces for battleships, cruisers, and gunboats/torpedoboats (all representing small squadrons of course). That would just be more fun because of the visual and tactile appeal. Of course I always thought of the old Pax units that way in spite of the abstract numbers.

9. unsequenced action phase - glad to see elimination of this nuisance is already under consideration. While I appreciate that other people like it, there are problems with the lack of structure, both for grognards and for the Euro game type players who really should be the market for a new game.

10. colonies that all cost the same to maintain - bigger territories, more people, and bigger economies cost more to govern. Togo probably was in the black because it cost less than the bigger colonies.

Well, that's enough for tonight...

Thanks for taking a new look at your great old game, Greg!

Warren Bruhn
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Greg Todd
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Hi
I've never actually played the game, but remember reading the rules, and not liking all the charts and tables and die rolls.

My thoughts were to replace events with a Card-Driven system, giving more information and control to the players and more room for negotiation.

Also Minor Powers- maybe some sort of bidding for control of these for x turns. Perhaps players bid minus VPs, but then get to win "proxy VPs" for getting the minor power to achieve historically-appropriate goals whilst under their control. This might not work at all in practice, but my thought was that it would do away with a lot of die-rolling and tables and would mean the minor powers could act & react intelligently, without having lots of rules to cover it.

Anyway, these are just uninformed brainstorms. Feel free to ignore.
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Nils
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Greg,

since you gallantly ignore all CDG outrcries and such a mechanic is neither mentioned in your .doc, I guess that CDGs aren't to your taste.

Nontheless here are my two cents: Even though there are many benefits of the CDG (fog of war, swing with the punches, downtime reduction, more relevant choices to make), the most excellent is the historical flavor that is generated by the events. In many wargames, historical events have to be artificially interpretated from the happenings on the game board or are even less elegantly implemented by buckets of chrome rules. The importance of CD events and the close connection between narration and impact on the game is what makes like PoG or Napwars a really great experience for me.

Since Pax Britannica is a game that (at least IMO) produces a lot of flavor through events, I estimate that CDG like mechanisms could be a great benefit that stays true to the essence of your creation. Moreover, the command points (or whatever they would be called) could offer a good source for more ruleintegrated diplomatic options.

Anyway, I can imagine that those apsects could rather lead to a whole new game rather than to a revised 2nd edition.

Another aspect (which hasn't to do that much with rules) is that the component quality is very important for a game that lives from its atmospheare. As you can see in the Napwars gallery, some users have spiced up their edition with additional miniatures (that simply couldn't be provided by a publisher like GMT). For me and especially for my less enthusiastic gaming pals, such an addition is a great help for creating a moody session. To come back to the rules: the counterflipping mechanism of Pax Britannica is something I'd love to see left out or altered, since this kind of rule makes it hard to replace the counters with miniatures.

I wish you good luck and success with your design!!!
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Mathew Gibson
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I played Pax many times and really enjoyed it, both for the unique mechanics and the flavour it captured.

I'd like to add my voice to some of those here, as well as raise some other matters.

1. The first turn of the game is critical. The world is open, opportunities are out there, and the mutiplier effect of economic expansion is huge. Diplomacy and alliances aside, the most important part of this game came down to the first-turn dice roll for income: roll well, and you set yourself up for the game; roll poorly, and you start well behind the 8 Ball (this is especially true for Italy). We eventually changed this so that on the first turn eveyone rolled a 4. However, I think you could come up with a more elegant solution.

2. Wars between players were clumsy and unsatisfying, with the resolution often incomprehensible, at least from a rules perspective. Colonial combat was relatively straightforward, by comparison.

3. Do away with not being able to break down unit strength in combat losses etc. This makes no sense. It just infuriated players.

4. I really like the suggestion that income from provinces is less set. Not that we'd want it to be random (Newfoundland just won't suddenly prodice precious metals and fill the coffers), but perhaps after all colonial income values are added, a dice is rolled, a chart consulted and a final total arrived at, which abstracts the many variables of corruption, natural disasters, windfalls and more.

5. Agreed on Co-dominions being a too-easy way out oif avoiding conflict. There needs to be a greater prestige penalty/chance of uprisings where there are co-dominions.

6. Love the free-for-all part of movement and placement. Anything else lacks flavour and would slow the game down.

7. The victory conditions need to be tweaked. We found that, unless Great Britain was carved into, it would win the game. It was a little too deterministic. Unchecked, her starting colonies and income meant that GB can coast to victory, which compels the other powers (France, Germany and Russia) to defeat it in a war. Thius became too predictable after several plays.


Regards, and good luck with your work.
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Was George Orwell an Optimist?
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Warren Bruhn wrote:
Greg, are you thinking of essentially designing a new game and looking for a new publisher? ... or are you just thinking of a rules rewrite so that people can use the old counters and map in a different way?


Updating rules for people to use with their old maps and counters doesn't make a lot of sense to me, if you consider the amount of work he'd have to put into it. With a new publisher he could make a few bucks, and reach a new audience.
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Warren Bruhn
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[q="SphereUpdating rules for people to use with their old maps and counters doesn't make a lot of sense to me, if you consider the amount of work he'd have to put into it. With a new publisher he could make a few bucks, and reach a new audience.[/q]

I hear you. It is, after all, a business! What are your thoughts on the marketability of two slightly smaller and more focused colonial games on the topics of Africa and China? Seems to me they'd be more maneageable, easier to fill with flavor of time and place, and would avoid effort and space used to depict areas of the world where not much happens (or at least not much that's really interesting in the way of competition between colonial powers). I'd propose calling one "The Scramble for Africa" [Thomas Pakenham's book title, but a phrase he got from somewhere] (which would include Madagascar and Aden/Yemen) and the other something like "Twilight of Imperial China" (including Korea, Taiwan/Formosa, and Indochina).
 
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Greg Costikyan
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I'm assuming a new edition of the game, in whatever form. In fact, after I spent some time working on this, I emailed Zev Schlasinger to say "would you be willing to look at a 2nd edition of Pax" -- not asking him to commit himself to anything, just to reassure myself that I wasn't totally wasting my time. And he said he would, so there's at least some chance that a 2nd edition could see publication. Not that I'm averse to releasing it as "print and play" if I can't find a publisher.

I haven't actually played any CDGs since We the People, but I've ordered a couple of others to check out; I'm not sure I want to go there, but since several people have urged it, I'll at least give it greater consideration.

At the moment, I'm thinking along the following lines, again for reasons of simplicity:

--Reducing the number of statuses to two (influence/control).
--All control markers have an intrinsic combat value.
--1-strength units go away (since they were mostly used as colonial garrisons, and control markers provide that now); 3-strength units become "cruisers/regiments" and 10-strength units become "battleships/divisions".
--Combat becomes die-roll driven. Battleships/divisions, upon losing 1 step, become cruisers/regiments. Control markers do 1 step of damage on a roll of 6. Cruisers/regiments do 1 step of damage on a 5 or 6; battleships/divisions do 1 step of damage on a 4 or 5, and two steps on a 6. CRT goes away, along with retreats (although either side can withdraw from a damage after each round of combat).

I'm uncertain about whether or not to return to a system whereby you gain income from colonies and VP every turn, or to stick with the system I'd proposed previously (all income from Colonial Office, VPs calculated only at game end). I look at the current game's income and maintenance form and flinch; who wants that much bookkeeping? And yet, accumulating income and VP each turn allows a sense that you're building over time, which is a key attractive element in so many games. Reducing to two status types, and eliminating scads of 1-strength units to pay maintenance on, does reduce the bookkeeping burden, but doesn't eliminate it entirely.

Also, looking through the rules, simplifying key systems, like status markers, combat, and colonial combat helps -- but so much of the rules verbiage, and complexity, is devoted to handling negotiations, diplomacy, Congresses of Europe, and so on -- and I suspect there's an irreducible burden of complexity there, to some degree, since that's the heart of the game, and one of the main things that differentiates it. I can, and will, go through with an eye to "what's the simplest way to handle this?", but there are still many things to handle.

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