The Golden Ages - designer's diary

Something about "The Golden Ages". A designer's point of view, in a very bad english.
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CONTINENTS AND CONTENTS (the author is verbally incontinent, please forgive him)

Luigi Ferrini
Castagneto Carducci
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Today we'll talk about continents and exploration.

As usual, let's start from the game rules.

At the beginning of the round, after each player has revealed his civilization card, the one that has the lower value draws a new continent and places it on the map, adjacent to other already placed continents. The placement must respect the territorial boundaries of the already placed pieces, i.e. land should confine with land and sea with sea.

Moving clockwise, each player discovers a new continent (and will decide whether to move or not his capital, as explained in the previous post). The result is that the aspect of the world will be revealed slowly, just as has happened in human history.

This kind of progressive discovery is present, of course, in many civilization gamesn; I don't remember any game in which a modular map would give birth to the "real" world, as we know it. This conformation is obviously just one of thousands of different possible configurations of the map, but I liked the idea that this possibility existed.

In the game you can also make "disappear" the islands printed on the board by putting the continents on them. This simulates the fact that during the explorations some areas initially appear to be smaller than they really are. When Christopher Columbus landed in San Salvador, for example, he did not imagine being in front of an entire continent, but he thought he had just discovered some island ...
External image

If you look at the illustration above, you will notice that the continents are not correctly scaling. The Middle East, Africa and Europe are larger than America, East Asia and Oceania. This choice is on purpose: it simulates how, throughout history, the world has become gradually more "smaller", as the technologies underlying exploration grow up. The decision to start the game in the surroundings of the Mediterranean is definitely a result of my being European and having an "Eurocentric" vision of the ancient history; however, we may say that most of the mightiest ancient nations (Egypt, Babylon, Greece, Rome ...) had its origin in this area.

On the other hand, as I will explain in a moment, I had the need to create the larger continent tiles for the first round, allowing a greater range of choices in the first moves. Then I had to "stick" these continents to some precise parts of the real world map.

But why I needed some larger continents? Simply, in the first round the colonist movement is very limited, as well as player's gold. I didn't want to force anyone to go to war immediately against the opponents (although there are many cases where this is still a good strategy), nor have to suffer the consequences of a too unhappy position of the capital. For this reason, neither on the original 2x2 square, or on the continents of the first era (those with 3 squares) there are gem symbols. At the beginning of the game, there are indeed some resources easier to manage (the game more than others), while it needs some more advanced technology for properly get benefits from the gems.

As the game goes on and the map fills up, the race for gems becomes generally much more important... and also bloody!

But we will discuss the war in a future post!
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