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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TIME, TACTICS AND TITS (the third one is only to bring attention)

Luigi Ferrini
Italy
Castagneto Carducci
Livorno
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And we are at the heart of the game: the action phase!
Who does not know what we’re talking about is kindly sent to the previous posts.
Little summary for the lazy ones: the game is The Golden Ages, it takes place over four rounds and in each round there is a phase in which the players take turns clockwise and perform actions until all of them have passed. Some actions require that you use one of your three colonists (the number of these actions is therefore limited), while other actions can be performed without using a colonist but have other limitations (for almost all, the available gold).
Each colonist can be used on the map or out of the map: on the map you’re using it as a explorer or as a soldier, in order to take new resources and new coins. If you use it off the map (on the “Agorà”), you give up the potential revenues to gain advantages of another kind (constructing a building, which typically makes available new “free” actions, or turning the colonist into an artist, doing 3 victory points).

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In designing the actions, I followed two specific constraints.

The first constraint was to make actions more “elementary” as possible, in order to make the game quicker and minimize downtime between turns. I always hated games where between your turns you have the time to play another game (or take a nap, true story). Perhaps this way of designing games could fit in 70-80 years; I think that today such games work very well only in asynchronous online versions, and not very well if played in realtime.

The second constraint was that any action would give the feeling of having done at least a little progress. There are no useless actions, or that just make damages to enemies and no benefit to you. Many games have this flaw: you sometimes have the feeling of having lost a turn, or not having accomplished anything good. Here instead, even when you have to pass because you have nothing to do, you enter a Golden Age with all the involved benefits (we talked last time about that).

In any case, it seems to me that both of these goals have been achieved: even in presence of a lot of “reflexive” players, the game proceeds quickly and every move always gives the feeling that you’ve got a little progress.

The normal flow of actions is interrupted as soon as a player enters the final round in the Golden Age: in that case all the others have only a last action to be carried out before the game ends. For this reason, there is no time to waste: the last round is fought and tight, with each player that keeps an eye on what others are doing, because probably there will not be the time to complete all the actions that he would like to do. On the other hand, in the last round many of the most attractive actions do not require the use of the colonists; however, you cannot end your turn without having used all of them. For this reason, everyone will be forced to decide how much stress their strategy pulling it too long.

In the end, as expected, the only lord of history will be the time.
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