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Subject: [WIP | 2013 Solitaire] Maquis - 3 Sheet 30 mins Solo Worker Placement Game - Contest Ready rss

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Jake Staines
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This is the WIP thread for my entry into the 2013 Solitaire Game Design Contest.

Engage the Nazi occupation of France in la petite guerre to throw off the yoke of the oppressors and free your homeland!
Maquis is a solitaire worker-placement game with variable goals and a play time of approximately twenty minutes.

(Find the BGG entry for this game here: Maquis)



A finished copy of the game comprises:
- Rulebook
- Main board
- Player board
- Three track marker tokens
- Six goal cards
- Ten patrol cards
- Six Spare Room tiles

and either:

- Fifteen pawns/meeples
- Thirty coloured wooden cubes

or:

- Fifteen paper stand-ups and thirty tokens from the optional extras sheet.

All files below now v1.1 - post-contest-voting edit.


Maquis Rules



The game is available in three forms: 300dpi JPEGs sized to A4 (print without scale-to-fit checked for A4, check scale-to-fit for Letter); 150dpi A4 PDFs; 150dpi Letter PDFs. Each of these options has a full-colour and a low-ink version. The PDFs are bigger files and lower-resolution, so prefer the JPEGs if you're comfortable printing them at the right size.


ZIP: A4 JPEG (full colour)


Board
Bits
Player Board
Optional Extras


ZIP: A4 JPEG (low ink)


Board
Bits
Player Board
Optional Extras






ZIP: A4 PDF (full colour)


Board
Bits
Player Board
Optional Extras


ZIP: A4 PDF (low ink)


Board
Bits
Player Board
Optional Extras






ZIP: Letter PDF (full colour)


Board
Bits
Player Board
Optional Extras


ZIP: Letter PDF (low ink)


Board
Bits
Player Board
Optional Extras




ZIP: Patrol Cards and Goal Cards sized for Printer's Studio (with backs)








VASSAL Module (v1.0)



The module doesn't include a fix for the previously-mentioned erratum (one will be forthcoming the moment that the contest ends) but does make a note of the problem. I'll update the module when I fix the files for the game.

The main compromise to the VASSAL format is that - for lack of space - the Spare Room tiles are in a stack rather than laid out. You can right-click the stack and select a specific tile from the list, and VASSAL will bring it to the front for you. I think I also left the artwork too high-res, thus the 28%-zoom default view, but by the time I noticed it was too late, I'd done too much on it!

I'd be eager to hear any feedback on the module (or the game, of course!), so I can get better at this VASSAL thing. It's a monster, I tell you!



Post Contest EDIT: Added VASSAL Module
Post Voting EDIT: Updated links to point to v1.1 with fixes for Chemist's Lab tile and other minor issues; added zip of cards sized for Printers' Studio printing
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Jake Staines
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Re: [WIP | 2013 Solitaire] As-Yet-Unnamed French Resistance Worker Placement Game
Original opening post:

The setting of the game is a small town in rural France in the middle of the Vichy government/Nazi occupation era. The player takes the role of a small band of resistance members, trying to complete tasks to annoy, delay and/or overthrow the occupiers and the dirty collaborators in the Milice before the townsfolk lose hope completely.

(Title-wise I kind of like simply 'Maquis', or 'Petite Guerre', but it's probably a bit early for that anyway.)

I'm at the point of fiddling with early-stages prototypes, and right now it looks like this:

[-]

I've been playing a few worker placement games recently, and the impulse has been growing to try and make a solo version. Of course, worker placement games are second only to auction games in terms of how little they work with only one player! Most of the tension comes from either having your action selection blocked by other players, or simply not accruing points as fast and efficiently as your rivals.

It seems to me that focussing on points-efficiency would be rather dull for a single player game, leaving you only able to judge how well you did by comparing your score to other plays... so I decided to focus on the action-blocking part of worker-placement. But obviously building a low-maintenance AI which could follow a strategy without being so predictable as to make the game 'solved' would be an incredible challenge, so I tried to come up with other ways in which a dumb AI could still leave the player some tricky decisions.

How the game works

What I'm working with at the moment is that the player takes turns to first place one of his workers on a free space, then draw a card to determine where to place a [collaborator] policeman. The card lists a number of locations on the board, and the policeman is placed in the first free one. After all pieces on both sides have been placed, the player can choose to retrieve his workers in any order, carrying out the actions for the spaces they were placed on as they're retrieved... but only for those workers who can draw a path back to the starting point at the bottom-middle of the map which doesn't pass through any areas with policemen in. If no such path can be drawn, that worker is arrested on his way back to the meeting-place and he's never heard of again. The player can recruit more workers via a space on the board, but there's a limited supply.

The notion is that the really-useful spaces like the radio huts (where the player gets vital intelligence and/or calls for airdrops of equipment) are further from the safe area, so the player has to choose between risking arrest by sending his chap there straight away, or building a safe 'chain' of occupied locations from the safe spot to the radio space, which wastes some worker-actions because not all of the spaces have actions he can perform. In some spaces on the board are safe houses that the player can buy with gathered resources, meaning his worker has another spot he can retreat to at the end of the turn without necessarily having to draw a path right back to the start point... but those resources might be better spent on accomplishing goals.

The goals in question will be randomly drawn from a small deck - two or maybe three per game. The goal cards will be placed down the end of streets on the game board, forming extra locations that the player can place workers in to perform tasks associated with that goal. In the above photo there's a "print underground newspaper" goal card which forms a new location where the player can spend gathered radio intelligence to create stories for the underground newspaper.

What's going on right now?

I've been playing around with the prototype a bit and it seems like there's a game in there, but it'll need a lot of balancing work before it's that playable.
Right now there are two big problems:

- There's no driver to hurry the player, meaning he can take as long as he likes to accomplish his tasks and thus build his 'safe chains' of workers every turn.

- There's no danger in having more workers, meaning that the player is much better off recruiting his full complement of workers as soon as possible, which in turn gives him a higher action/turn ratio and he's more effective.



I'd like to solve the urgency problem by simply having the town have constantly decreasing morale. The resistance performing daring exploits and/or handing out food and medicine will raise morale, but the further it sinks the more policemen appear as more of the townsfolk lose faith in the resistance cell and start reporting their activities. This will take some fiddling to get right, though, because the first try I had of this rule was crushingly difficult!

My current thoughts for the problem of the player having no incentive to wait to recruit workers is also the solution to another problem that has come up a couple of times: what to do when all the spaces listed on a patrol card are already occupied, either by a player worker or a patrolling policeman? I'm thinking that in this situation, the policeman goes through his list again, and arrests the first resistance member he meets, removing them from the game. So the more workers you have on the board the more dangerous it is for you, because the more likely it is that a policeman will run out of available locations and arrest one of your workers.
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Re: [WIP | 2013 Solitaire] As-Yet-Unnamed French Resistance Worker Placement Game
Subscribed, and will try to playtest. I love this theme.
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todd sanders
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Re: [WIP | 2013 Solitaire] As-Yet-Unnamed French Resistance Worker Placement Game
you might want to look at the solo workup for Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small that someone created. i find the hierarchy of what worker placement choices the AI makes to be very well thought out. could possibly be adapted in some fashion


random side note - one of my favorite french poets René Char was in the resistance and would spend his down time sitting in trees writing poetry and the rest of the time lobbing grenades at invader tanks and generally blowing things up
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Re: [WIP | 2013 Solitaire] As-Yet-Unnamed French Resistance Worker Placement Game
What about increasing the police pawns accordingly, thus blocking more spaces prior the using of your own actions.


Are you drawing cards for the Policemen locations to be occupied? What about drawing more cards in late stages of the game, until at some point you'll be totally blocked making you lose the game?

Good luck.

Ready to playtest if you send me the files
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Dave COINs
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Re: [WIP | 2013 Solitaire] As-Yet-Unnamed French Resistance Worker Placement Game
While not a worker placement game, the solo version of Roll Through the Ages: The Bronze Age could conceivably have the same problem (with just being able to accrue as much as you want), but it's just limited by 10 turns. I don't know if that's what you're looking for, but thematically you could say that the Nazis are closing in your operation in the town, and if you don't get x points by the end of y turns, then they're able to break your organization and you lose.
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Nate K
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Re: [WIP | 2013 Solitaire] As-Yet-Unnamed French Resistance Worker Placement Game
That's a really clever system! I can't wait to see the finished product.

Would it balance things at all to reveal police officers in accordance with the number of spaces the player occupies, rather than the number of workers placed?
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Vandel Arden
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Re: [WIP | 2013 Solitaire] As-Yet-Unnamed French Resistance Worker Placement Game
This gameplay sounds very good, and could also work for non sologames well. The theme of hidden agendas and missions reflect well in your choice of AI style. I havnt heard of a similar system before and will also look into the games, other users mentioned. Non of my games has such complex AI, mostly eventcard movements.
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Jake Staines
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Re: [WIP | 2013 Solitaire] As-Yet-Unnamed French Resistance Worker Placement Game
Thanks for the reference suggestions, I'll have a read through them this evening!

dumarest123 wrote:
one of my favorite french poets René Char was in the resistance and would spend his down time sitting in trees writing poetry and the rest of the time lobbing grenades at invader tanks and generally blowing things up


I am toying with another action to affect morale - I've already got "distributing food and medicine to the needy" as a morale-plus and "selling food and medicine on the black market at an extortionate markup to raise funds" as a morale-minus, maybe I should add a "sitting in a tree composing poetry". The question is, given the stereotypes about French poetry, whether it should make morale go up or down...! ;-)


Fernqn wrote:
What about increasing the police pawns accordingly, thus blocking more spaces prior the using of your own actions.


Right at the moment, I'm trying to having variations in police numbers be dependent on morale, so that as morale goes down the numbers of police go up. This means morale is actually significant for more than just a goal, and gives a proper penalty to the player for (e.g.) selling stuff on the black market.

Having a minimum number of police equal to the number of workers was certainly something I was toying with, though - I guess I'll have to try it several ways around and see how it goes. Maybe losing morale just adds extra police on top of matching the player's workers?

davekuhns wrote:

I don't know if that's what you're looking for, but thematically you could say that the Nazis are closing in your operation in the town, and if you don't get x points by the end of y turns, then they're able to break your organization and you lose.


I'm certainly intending to have some of the goals have time-limits - so for example, the "blow up the bridge" goal will need to be completed in X turns, because that's when the train carrying Panzers is due to go past.

Ideally I'd like to have the feeling that the Nazis are closing in represented by the occasional arrest of a dwindling supply of workers... given that goal, a strict number-of-turns time limit feels a bit like a cop-out. I'll still do it if I can't get it working any other way, though! ;-)
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Re: [WIP | 2013 Solitaire] As-Yet-Unnamed French Resistance Worker Placement Game
This sounds great! I love the idea of your workers having to get home.

Could something combining morale and number of workers help, so as a base you have as many policemen as workers, but if you are too low on the morale track you get one extra, if you go even lower you get two etc (probably best to have increasing gaps between earning an extra policeman to prevent a spiral of death!

For something based on number of workers could you have a track with a space for every potential worker (say 10 workers for this example) so at the beggining you have 5 workers and 5 you could recruit, the ones you could recruit are placed in the top 5 spaces. When a worker is arrested he is placed in the lowest unoccupied space. This would mean there was a gap in the middle equal to how many workers you had out, but where on the track this was would depend on both how much you have recruited and how many have been arrested (I am thinking that letting members get arrested would make it more likely that under torture they would reveal some of the resistances operations and thus make more policemen come out). Of the unoccupied spaces they would have -1,0,1 or 2 symbols, for every 3 symbols showing an extra policeman appears.

For example the track could look like (top - bottom)
2|2|2|1|1|2|1|-1|0|-1

And at the beggining (where X are workers)
X|X|X|X|X|2|1|-1|0|-1

So at the beggining three '2' and two '1' spaces are covered and the total of symbols showing is 1. Later if you have recruited 3 workers and lost 1 to arrest the track would look like:
X|X|2|1|1|2|1|-1|0|X
The total of symbols is 6 so 2 extra police would be on patrol.

Does that make sense?

I can't wait to see how this game comes along
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Jake Staines
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Re: [WIP | 2013 Solitaire] As-Yet-Unnamed French Resistance Worker Placement Game
HuggableHamster wrote:

Could something combining morale and number of workers help, so as a base you have as many policemen as workers, but if you are too low on the morale track you get one extra, if you go even lower you get two etc


That is, in fact, one of the two changes to the police that I'm going to be testing as soon as I get back to the game!

The other one being violence - allowing the player to spend a weapon resource to remove a policeman from the game to allow one of his workers home. The downside being a drop in morale (again!) and the replacement of that policeman with an unshootable gestapo/soldier.
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Re: [WIP | 2013 Solitaire] As-Yet-Unnamed French Resistance Worker Placement Game
OK, I've had a fiddle with some new stuff and put together some early prototype files. If anyone feels like giving the game a go and letting me know which bits suck horribly, I'd seriously appreciate it!

This version doesn't have goals, so I guess the goal is really "stay alive as long as possible". Hopefully the difficulty is pitched such that it's possible to get into a decent rhythm and survive away for a while, but with your numbers slowly depleted by occasional bad luck.

Here are the files - two pages of A4 (hopefully they'll also more or less fit onto 8x11 as well; if they don't, scale-to-fit should be fine, there's no precise lining-up or anything):

Proto1-Board.pdf
Proto1-Bits.pdf

You will also need:
* 15 pawns, 5 each of three colours (player, police, soldiers)
* 7 tracking marker things

Prototype 1 Rules:

Setup

Shuffle the patrol cards (the ten at the top of the bits page) and place them in a stack face down

Place a marker on the 6 of the morale track, and one each on the 0 of every other track on the status card (bottom right of bits page)

Keep the selection of (for the lack of a better word) buildings (bottom-left of bits page) on-hand and face-up so you can examine them whenever you like.

Place two of the player pawns to the left of the 'Recruit' space (bottom-left), and the other three in the 'Safe' space (centre bottom).

Playing a Turn - Placement Phase

The player and the patrols (starting with the player) take it in turns to place workers following the procedure that follows. The player must place all of his workers; the number of patrols equals the number of player workers placed, modified by the number under the current space on the morale track. So for example, if morale presently is 4, there is one more patrol than there are player workers.
If there are any soldiers present (as per the soldier track) they replace police workers on a one-to-one basis. The soldiers are always the last patrols placed - so if there are four patrols and one soldier, then the first three placements are police pawns, and the final one is a soldier pawn.

- The player places one of his available workers (from the 'safe' area) into a location on the board. If there is more than one action in that location (two arrows) he places it over the action he has selected. If there is a cost associated with this action (a requirement on the left-hand side of the arrow) he must pay this cost now by reducing the relevant track accordingly. If he cannot or does not wish to pay the cost he can still place the worker in that space, but over the title or something so it's clear it's not on an action.

- A patrol card is drawn from the face-down stack, and a patrol pawn placed accordingly. If the first space on the card is free, the patrol pawn is placed there. If not, try the second space, then the third. If all three spaces are already occupied, the patrol pawn will start again at the top of the list - only this time, he will stop at the first location he finds occupied by a player pawn, and arrest that player pawn (remove it from the game permanently). If he gets through the list this second time and all three spaces are filled with policemen or soldiers, the patrol pawn is not placed on the board. After this, place the patrol card face-up on a discard pile.
(If the face-down stack is empty when you go to draw, shuffle the discard and place it face-down to form the new stack.)

Playing a Turn - Action Phase

The player now, in any order he wishes, retrieves his pawns and places them back at the Safe area. As he retrieves each pawn, if the pawn is on an action space, he performs that action, receiving the resources to the right-hand side of the arrow. (If there is a choice to make - e.g. with the Smuggler building - he makes the choice at this point, not when he initially places the pawn.

However! A player pawn may only be retrieved if there is a clear path - following the bold black lines joining locations - back to the Safe area at the bottom of the board. A player pawn may only pass through empty locations and through locations occupied by other player pawns, and cannot pass through locations occupied by soldiers or policemen. If it is time to retrieve a pawn and he cannot draw a clear path to the Safe area, he is arrested - remove the pawn from the game permanently. Note that in the case of an arrest, the pawn never makes it home so the reward from his action is lost.

However however! If the player discards a 'weapon' resource to shoot his way out, he may - one time per turn - remove one police pawn from the board. Only police pawns may be removed in this manner (soldiers are too good at shooting back!), and every time the player does so the soldier track is increased by one.

Playing a Turn - Retrieving Patrols
After all the player pawns have been retrieved, the patrol pawns are cleared from the board.
If no actions have been taken this turn to increase morale, then at this point the morale track is decreased by one, as the long occupation gets to the townsfolk.
After checking for the morale adjustment, start the sequence again with the Placement Phase.

Ending the Game
If the player runs out of worker pawns, he loses
If the morale of the town reaches zero, the player loses.

Adding Buildings
If you action one of the three dotted-line locations on the board and pay the cost of two money, then you may select one of the building tiles (bottom-left of bits page) and place it over the location. From this point onwards, player pawns may be placed in the new building, performing the relevant action (but can no longer be placed on the buy-building action below).

Airdrops
The second action on the Radio locations is 'Airdrop'. You may choose either one money, two weapons or three food to place on the 'airdrop' space. (And yes, I forgot to make any tokens for these. I guess you could use appropriately-coloured cubes?)
On subsequent turns, a player pawn actioning the 'Airdrop' location just outside of town (bottom-right) retrieves these resources.

Safe House
The safe house is a special case, because it doesn't have an action associated with it. Instead, it acts as a second Safe area that pawns can be retrieved to at the end of the turn. If a pawn cannot trace a path back to the Safe area, they may still be retrieved if they can trace a path to the Safe House location instead.

Open Information
If you think it can help you make a decision, you are allowed to look through the discard of the patrol deck. Obviously you may not look through the face-down stack at all, but it is reasonable to assume that a well-organised resistance can keep notes on the patrol habits of the authorities!









Things I'm not happy with right now:

The difficulty balance will take some tweaking probably until the whole thing is finished... but most critically, I think I probably need to find a way to make it ever so slightly easier, so that it's plausible that the player may be able to complete a goal or two as well as just keep the town's morale above 0.

I think this will probably be done by adding an extra alternate-path-home and rejigging some of the paths around town a bit - hopefully that will be enough to make it a little harder to get your chaps arrested and thus enough easier that goals can be completed. Of course, maybe I'm wrong about how easy/hard it is as it stands...

I'm also thinking of splitting the two functions of the market into two separate locations. Perhaps 'Black Market', where you sell goods at a markup to get money but lose morale because the town starts to think of the resistance as a bunch of criminals, and the 'Poor District', where the dashing resistance chaps distribute food and medicine to the starving oppressed population and win some loyalty.

I'm definitely not happy that I couldn't draw a good enough vector graphic of a Sten gun to be readable on the icon. Have to work on that! Also probably ought to try and come up with a better name than 'Gunsmith' for the location where the player can buy weapons... maybe a black-market dealer?
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Chad Mestdagh
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Re: [WIP | 2013 Solitaire] As-Yet-Unnamed French Resistance Worker Placement Game
Didn't realize there were components ready for this game ready. Will have to take a look. Even you aren't ready to present it yert.
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Re: [WIP | 2013 Solitaire] As-Yet-Unnamed French Resistance Worker Placement Game
Bichatse wrote:

Prototype 1 Rules:


Clarifications:

If your worker actions the gunsmith and gets a weapon, but his route home is blocked, can he use the weapon to get home (common sense) or oes he forfeit it and get arrested (letter of rules)?

For now, he may use the weapon on the way home. I don't like special-case rules, though, so I'm wondering whether I can either write the arrest rules in a generic way that permits this, or just forget this in the name of fewer rules.

If your radio operator called an airdrop and gets arrested on the way home, can you still use the airdrop?

No, because the radio operator is the only one who knows where it is...

If your radio operator called an airdrop, can another worker pick it up the same round?

No, for the same reason as above.






I've also altered my prototype to have the morale-granting spaces give you two morale rather than one, and thus the morale-drop occurs every turn rather than having to remember whether you've added anything to it or not. This does mean that if you have a second plus-morale space then you can get away with potentially three morale-neutral turns for every turn you spend on morale-boosting, but you've also dedicated one of your limited upgrade spaces to morale-boosting and you're still spending resources, so you should get a decent benefit from it!

My main concern at the moment, all the same, is that the game focusses too much on maintaining morale and not enough on performing daring resistance-y actions like setting fire to barracks and blowing up tanks. I've tried a couple of games adding in goals, and even with an easier town layout with more routes, generally I end up not doing much towards the goal because I'm too fixated on keeping my morale above a certain level... and then the arrests start. Maybe I'm just bad at my own game!
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Re: [WIP | 2013 Solitaire] As-Yet-Unnamed French Resistance Worker Placement Game
Bichatse wrote:

My main concern at the moment, all the same, is that the game focusses too much on maintaining morale and not enough on performing daring resistance-y actions like setting fire to barracks and blowing up tanks. I've tried a couple of games adding in goals, and even with an easier town layout with more routes, generally I end up not doing much towards the goal because I'm too fixated on keeping my morale above a certain level... and then the arrests start. Maybe I'm just bad at my own game!


Maybe setting fire to barracks and blowing up tanks could increase morale?
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Re: [WIP | 2013 Solitaire] As-Yet-Unnamed French Resistance Worker Placement Game
Krikkit wrote:

Maybe setting fire to barracks and blowing up tanks could increase morale?


It's tempting, but these are really things I'd like to have as goals rather than regular actions. I suppose each goal should probably have a morale bonus associated with it, though!
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Re: [WIP | 2013 Solitaire] As-Yet-Unnamed French Resistance Worker Placement Game
I've been testing and fiddling with this game, and after several rounds of changes I've put together a new set of prototype files. This time it's an end-to-end of the whole game - from setup to game end and win conditions - so it's perfectly playable.

Obviously some difficulty tuning is still needed - my average game right now is a draw (completing one of two goals and getting all my chaps arrested or running out of morale), but that doesn't mean it's going to be the same for everyone - I'd be very grateful of any playtest feedback of any kind!

Click here for current prototype files and rules (proto2 - 950kb zip)



The biggest changes made in this version are:

- New town layout, to hopefully make it a little easier for the player to escape

- The problem I had with morale-preoccupation has been mitigated simply by having the player lose morale every three turns (via a turn track) rather than every turn. I found this actually encouraged me to take more risks with morale, in the end, as I didn't see it going down so frequently so I felt I could leave it longer before dealing with it.

- Goals have been added, so the game now has a proper endgame condition and victory resolution and everything. That is to say, it's now actually a game!

- Payment for actions has been deferred to the point that the action occurs, rather than requiring it when the player places a worker on an action. This again makes things a little easier for the player, so I expect the next few iterations may well involve tightening the difficulty up again!

- Most importantly, the game now has a name! I liked Petite Guerre a lot, but I think Maquis works better.

...nevertheless, I think next I'll take a pause and do some artwork, there's a few locations in the game which are unlikely to change too dramatically, so I can start to define the visual style a little.
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Re: [WIP | 2013 Solitaire] Maquis - French Resistance Solo Worker Placement Game
Wow, this looks fun. I hope to carve out time to build it this weekend.
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Re: [WIP | 2013 Solitaire] Maquis - 3 Sheet 30 mins Solo Worker Placement Game - Components Available
I've had a pretty busy weekend, but I managed to fit a bit of sketching in to try and figure out the style I want to do the board locations in:



I'm leaning towards this watercolour-ish colouring, although I may just back out and go in again with a storybook-style saturated-flat-colour approach.



(Also I'm relying on a combination of Google Translate and Wikipedia for my French, so please tell me if it's wrong! ;-)
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Re: [WIP | 2013 Solitaire] Maquis - 3 Sheet 30 mins Solo Worker Placement Game - Components Available
fabulous illustrations
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Re: [WIP | 2013 Solitaire] Maquis - 3 Sheet 30 mins Solo Worker Placement Game - Components Available
dumarest123 wrote:
fabulous illustrations


I'm glad you like them - I only hope my graphic design can approach yours!
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Re: [WIP | 2013 Solitaire] Maquis - 3 Sheet 30 mins Solo Worker Placement Game - Components Available
I had the opportunity to watch someone play a few games of Maquis earlier today; obviously very useful from a development point of view, but I also got to watch the whole story unfold without actually playing it myself, so it was more like watching a war movie than usual. ;-)


(Also very heartening, 'cause I only asked him to play once but he went back for another two games anyway!)


So, since I was taking notes anyway (no photos, sorry), I give you:

Thrilling Tales of the Resistance!

Our story opens on a chilly autumn morning in 1943, in a small town nestled in the foothills of the French Alps. A small band of men - we shall call them Marcel, Pierre and Albert, but these are not their real names - have been running for some time an underground newspaper in which they publish accounts of the atrocities committed by the Nazi occupiers, and propaganda describing the Axis' imminent failures as the Allies launch their Italian campaign. This is risky enough, but Marcel has recently received an exciting message - a British spy has recently landed in the area, and taken up residence in a cave overlooking the town. It falls to Marcel and his compatriots to give aid to the man, as he is about to carry out an important mission to sabotage German-controlled industry in the area, limiting the support that can be sent to Italy.

Marcel was sure that his best course of action would be business as usual - anything to avoid raising the suspicions of the local thugs in the Milice - but Albert was not so convinced. When he heard that he and his friends had an extra burden to shoulder, he sought out his nephew François, and introduced him to the resistance. François was a good lad - a bit wet behind the ears but well-intentioned, and certainly as loyal as any to the cause.
Perhaps he thought that with greater numbers came greater security, and let his guard down? We shall never know, because unfortunately one other thing is sure - the more people are in your secret underground resistance cell, the harder it is to keep it secret and underground. Maybe someone overheard him talking to François in the inn? Maybe it was simply coincidence, but whatever the cause, Albert was arrested the very next day as he returned from his duties manning the radio on the edge of town.

With Albert's arrest and imminent execution on his mind, Marcel turned his attention to the security of his men; he personally took to the radio the following day to request an airdrop of weapons and ammunition from their friends in the Allied nations, and this time made sure Pierre was keeping watch part-way along his route home to find a clear path for him to escape Milice patrols. The guns were dropped quietly into a field shortly after, split between the Maquisards and the British spy in the hills who needed arms for his own mission, and Marcel focussed his attention for a while back on his newspaper, collecting intelligence on the radio and making the perilous journey past the patrols to the printing shop to run off enough copies to pass around the town.
Unfortunately for the resistance, things did not go smoothly for long. Pierre had stayed later than usual at the printing shop one evening, typesetting the latest issue of the newspaper, when a suspicious Milicien noticed the lights on well after business hours, and decided to pay him a visit. Pierre stepped obliviously into the street, turned to lock the door behind him and was dropped to his knees by a sharp blow to the back of the head. Dragged to his feet and thrown against the wall by the thug, he was sure he was done for. The Milicien looked into his eyes with a menacing glare... and then crumpled to the side as a staccato of submachine-gun fire rang out across the street. Marcel threw the now-empty gun aside and gestured for Pierre to follow him, as he dashed down the street to the safety of the outskirts, into the countryside where the Maquis made their home. Little did they know at the time that the whole escapade had been witnessed by several more Miliciens, lurking in the shadows down the street.

The next day brought the true cost of Pierre's mishap to light - the occupiers could no longer trust the Milice to keep order on their own, and a troop of German soldiers had been brought in to patrol the town. Marcel knew that his men may be able to get the drop on the Milice, but they stood no chance against the professional soldiery, and gave them strict instructions not to engage under any circumstances... but nevertheless, two days later Pierre failed to return to base at night. When morning came and there was still no sign of his old friend, Marcel knew he and the boy were on their own.

All was not lost, however - the last news over the radio was that the Nazis in Napoli had been forced out by the local anti-fascist resistance in advance of the Allies' arrival, and if he could run the good news in his newspaper's next issue it would be a great boost to morale and shake the spirit of the occupiers. He was getting tetchy missives from his superiors that the spy in the foothills still needed travelling rations and Reichsmarks to fulfil his mission, but Marcel had the food already bundled for the Brit and François had been sent off to radio for some counterfeit money to be airdropped in as soon as possible.
Later that day as he delivered the bundled printed papers to his usual distribution man, Marcel was almost feeling cheery for the first time since Albert's arrest.
However, when he turned for home his luck changed for the worse one final time, as a Milicien pulled him aside. It seemed the man had recognised him from the night he had killed one of the scum to get Pierre home, and a small group of them had him cornered. As the first man broke his jaw with the butt of his pistol Marcel staggered to the ground, reaching into his pocket for the pistol secreted within... but as he pulled himself to his feet he lost heart, seeing the drab grey uniform of the Wehrmacht soldiers climbing the stairs towards him. He felt the wind knocked out of him by a swift kick to the side from one of the paramilitary goons, and the next blow knocked him out cold.

Over the next two days in his tiny cell, awaiting interrogation and probably execution, he pondered how he had been so careless as to get caught. Could he have just dropped his guard after completing what was arguably the most important issue of his newspaper? Maybe he was just unlucky. In his darker moments, he even considered that he could simply have been tired of running, and secretly wanted to be caught.
The grating sound of the bolt being drawn back told him that they were coming for him, probably for the last time. The door swung open... but the guard stood as stunned as Marcel as the munitions factory on the side of the hill exploded in a spectacular fireball, illuminating for just a moment the inside of the dingy cell - and the rest of the town - as bright as day. François must have got through to the spy with his rations and Reichsmarks, Marcel knew. The kid had made good! He allowed himself a smile, as he knew then in his heart that France was going to be fine.







FAQ/Clarifications/etc.

This was kind of a half-blind playtest; for this game and the others I let Dave simply read the rules and play however it seemed was right to him, but to save losing any potentially-useful balance data, interjected after he'd started doing something wrong, and was on-hand to answer any questions that he didn't feel were sufficiently described in the rules. So to clarify the points that Dave needed clarifying, in case anyone else has the same problems:

- The player agents and the patrols are all considered 'workers' - the player may not place a pawn on a space that already has one of his pawns on or a space that has a patrol (police or soldier) pawn on.

- The way patrol arrests work is as follows: say you draw a patrol card which states: GROCER, BLACK MARKET, STREET B. First you check the Grocer, and there is a policeman there already; second you check the black market, but there is a player pawn there already; third you check street B, but there is a player pawn there already. So the patrol cannot be placed normally, and instead will try and arrest someone directly. We go back over the list on the card: check the grocer; no arrest, because there's a policeman there and not a player. Check the black market; there is a player pawn there, so it is arrested (removed permanently from the game) and the patrol pawn is placed on the black market space in its place.

- You have a hard limit of five resistance pawns; once arrested, they can not be recruited again. Only two recruits are available for the entirety of the game.

- If a space returns resources and the worker is arrested, you do not get to keep those resources. So if a worker visits the radio and is arrested on the way back, you don't get to keep the intelligence. The exception to this is the weapons dealer, where you do have the choice of spending the weapon you just obtained to kill a policeman to free up a route home. If killing one policeman doesn't free up a route, the worker is still lost, however.
Spaces which don't return resources generally still take effect if the worker is arrested on return. So goal actions, such as sabotaging the factory or working on the newspaper, are completed regardless of whether the worker can make it back home. Buying spare-room tiles or trading food for morale is likewise completed regardless of whether your worker is arrested.
Airdrops are not completed if the worker is arrested on the way home - the radio operator is the only guy who knows where the airdrop is going to happen, so if he doesn't make it home nobody will be able to pick up the goods.

- The resources are as follows:
Blue: Intelligence
Green: Food
Yellow: Money
Black: Explosives
Purple: Medicine
Red: Weapons



(There's also several other changes to test a few times, so there'll probably be another prototype in a few days.)
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Re: [WIP | 2013 Solitaire] Maquis - 3 Sheet 30 mins Solo Worker Placement Game - Components Available
Hey, Jake. I got in my first two plays of your game tonight to learn the rules and get a feel for the gameplay. I've got a couple of comments and questions for you.

Comments
d10-1 First, I like the fact that this is a worker placement game. I believe I've only played solo card and dice games with my limited experience in the PnP world. So that's a nice change of pace.
d10-2 As my first game was just a walkthrough of the rules, my second play was pretty fun. I'm looking forward to trying it out a couple more times after some rules clarifications. But so far, I liked my initial plays.
d10-3 The theme is a little thin for me at the moment, but mostly that's because I'm learning the rules and paying attention to the game's mechanisms rather than thinking too much about the narrative. Plus, once some artwork is added, that will surely add to the experience.
d10-4 Finally, regarding the rules, you should really consider putting a “How to Win” or “Goal of the Game” type section/paragraph right at the beginning, definitely before “Playing a Turn” but maybe even before “Setup.” It can be brief. Just say something like “The player will win the game by completing two randomly chosen goals during setup of the game.” Something like that.

I read through the whole rules from beginning to end, and I had no idea why I was doing any of the actions the rules said I could do until almost the very end of the main rules. And even then, it's just listed as a seemingly minor bullet point. It doesn't even stand out. Only when I know the point of the game do the actions by the player and the other moving parts actually have any meaning.

Questions
d10-1 On the Patrol cards, one of the locations is “Gunsmith.” Since there is no Gunsmith on the board, I assume you mean “Weapons Dealer”?
d10-2 When I collect a resource, say one Food, can I immediately use that Food on the same turn to acquire another resource/perform another action?
d10-3 Under “Ending the Game” the rules state one of the game conditions to be: The turn track marker moves onto the fifteenth space. Then it states, When the game ends, complete the current turn, and then... So do I play the turn after I move onto Space 15? Or does the game immediately stop and I am allowed no more actions?
d10-4 Both Radio locations offer an Airdrop action. Can I use those actions multiple times before going to the Airdrop location on a future turn to pick up the resources? Or am I allowed to only take the Airdrop action once and then, on a future turn, go pick up that one item?
d10-5 This relates to #3 above. “Liberate the Town” says To complete this goal...on turn fifteen. Again, is that as soon as I move the marker onto Space 15, or do I play out that turn before I check to see if I met the goal requirement?
d10-6 “Assassination” says To complete this goal...and also have killed all the policemen so the town is patrolled only by soldiers. If I only have two Player Pawns on the board and the Soldiers marker is on 2, then there will only be soldiers patrolling the town, even though there may still be Policemen alive. Since the town is only patrolled by soldiers is the goal accomplished?

I think that's all I've got for now, Jake. I look forward to seeing where the game goes from here.

Mo

EDIT: I take back my comment about theme as I made a quick judgement before I've explored the game enough to feel confident one way or the other. My apologies.
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Re: [WIP | 2013 Solitaire] Maquis - 3 Sheet 30 mins Solo Worker Placement Game - Components Available
Firstly, Thank you very much for giving it a go and letting me know how it went - and I'm glad you enjoyed it!


Secondly, I've not uploaded new files yet because I'm still testing some other potential changes, but there's one thing which will definitely be changed in the next release, so anyone trying the game might as well make this change to their tiles now rather than waiting: the actions on the Propagandist, Counterfeiter and Informant spare room action tiles are now free, no resources are required to perform those actions. The cost seemed to make sense at first, but realistically it made them barely viable in terms of action economy vs. risk. (It still costs the same two money to actually place these tiles in the first place, of course.)


mo7189 wrote:

First, I like the fact that this is a worker placement game. I believe I've only played solo card and dice games with my limited experience in the PnP world. So that's a nice change of pace.


I've been getting into worker placement games quite a bit over the last year or so; my first thoughts were that it was interesting to see a genre (outside of obvious direct-interaction games like auctions) which was more or less impossible to play solo and get the same experience, and since then I've been idly thinking about how it could be done on and off.

(The result now being a solo game which it would be more or less impossible to play two-player!)

mo7189 wrote:

The theme is a little thin for me at the moment, but mostly that's because I'm learning the rules and paying attention to the game's mechanisms rather than thinking too much about the narrative. Plus, once some artwork is added, that will surely add to the experience.


I hope it does! I'm not sure how much the theme could really be reinforced, to be honest...! I guess it's an endemic problem of worker-placement games, we'll see how it goes. (If you have any ideas, I'm all ears, of course.)

The artwork is a bit of a sticking point for me right now - on one hand, I'd love to get stuck in with it, and I do get the impression that people enjoy playing a game with nice art more than one with simple vector icons and black-and-white rectangles... but at the same time, I'd quite like to draw the board as a birds-eye view of the town, with the paths between locations visible as roads between the buildings, which means that I need to finalise the locations of everything before I can do the art!

mo7189 wrote:

Finally, regarding the rules, you should really consider putting a “How to Win” or “Goal of the Game” type section/paragraph right at the beginning, definitely before “Playing a Turn” but maybe even before “Setup.”


Very good point - I shall do that in the next revision!

mo7189 wrote:

On the Patrol cards, one of the locations is “Gunsmith.” Since there is no Gunsmith on the board, I assume you mean “Weapons Dealer”?


Yep! The location used to be called 'Gunsmith', and the more I thought about it the more odd it seemed thematically-speaking, so I changed the name. I'm still thinking that "Weapons Dealer" doesn't quite fit, so I may change it to "Fence" or something.

mo7189 wrote:

When I collect a resource, say one Food, can I immediately use that Food on the same turn to acquire another resource/perform another action?


Yes. The v1 rules stated that you had to spend the resources when you placed the worker and then take the reward when you actioned them later, which would have meant that you couldn't do this... but it was brutally hard, and nothing happened for turns on end. So while it may not be properly realistic, I think it's more entertaining and the pace is better like this.

mo7189 wrote:

Under “Ending the Game” the rules state one of the game conditions to be: The turn track marker moves onto the fifteenth space. Then it states, When the game ends, complete the current turn, and then... So do I play the turn after I move onto Space 15? Or does the game immediately stop and I am allowed no more actions?


You move the turn marker at the very end of a turn, so the only other thing you do before that current turn is completed is "reduce town morale by one"... and then it's the end of the game.

Arguably, the turn track should probably be numbered 1-15 and then 'End', rather than 'Start' and then 1-15.

mo7189 wrote:

Both Radio locations offer an Airdrop action. Can I use those actions multiple times before going to the Airdrop location on a future turn to pick up the resources? Or am I allowed to only take the Airdrop action once and then, on a future turn, go pick up that one item?


This is a good question that hasn't come up before... thematically speaking the answer should be "no", because the idea is that the airdrops are coming down in random places across the countryside (to avoid giving away the location of the Maquisards' base), so the worker would have to visit two separate locations to pick up two separate drops' worth of supplies. The letter of the rules right now is that you can, because they all go to a single 'airdrop' location.

I would carry on playing to the letter of the rules for now - since it's already fairly risky to go to the radios and call airdrops anyway - and I'll try a few games with multiple airdrop locations that 'block' further airdrops when they're full, and see how that works.

mo7189 wrote:

This relates to #3 above. “Liberate the Town” says To complete this goal...on turn fifteen. Again, is that as soon as I move the marker onto Space 15, or do I play out that turn before I check to see if I met the goal requirement?


Similar to the previous answer - the turn you play while the marker is sat on the '14' space is presently the final turn on which you actually get to do things, so the Liberate card should really just read something like "After the turn track has expired" or something.

(This came up in a previous test with a friend of mine, so I should really have clarified that here already - sorry!)

mo7189 wrote:

“Assassination” says To complete this goal...and also have killed all the policemen so the town is patrolled only by soldiers. If I only have two Player Pawns on the board and the Soldiers marker is on 2, then there will only be soldiers patrolling the town, even though there may still be Policemen alive. Since the town is only patrolled by soldiers is the goal accomplished?


Yes, although note that if your town morale is 4 or less then you'll see three (or four!) patrols, and therefore one policeman and two soldiers in the above situation.

The theory is that when you have fewer workers you have fewer actions per turn so you get less done before morale creeps down and you see more policemen turn up anyway... all the same, this is probably the easiest goal in the game as it stands.

There are a couple of changes I'm testing out at the moment which affect this goal more than any other:
- To decrease morale by one every time you shoot a policeman. Thematically this makes sense, because the townspeople become more nervous and demoralised the more they see soldiers patrolling their town rather than the (native French) Milice; mechanically it helps make the Assassination mission more difficult because there's another penalty to the assassinations - in at least one game I've seen this goal was won more or less by accident while workers were shooting their way out of the sabotage goal actions.
- To alter the morale track to show a minimum number of patrols rather than a modifier; the count of patrols would then be "the number of player pawns or the number listed below the morale track, whichever is higher", meaning you'd still be seeing more patrols when you lost workers. I quite like this from one point of view, because currently there's a bit of a benefit to losing workers sometimes - fewer patrols dramatically decreases the chances of being arrested. We'll see how it plays!



Thanks again for your feedback and questions!
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Re: [WIP | 2013 Solitaire] Maquis - 3 Sheet 30 mins Solo Worker Placement Game - Components Available
Jake - thanks for the reply. I've got comments to your comments but I've got to head out for work. I'll try to get back to them tonight.

But I did want to say after sleeping on it, I regret my comment about the theme and take it back. It was unfair of me to make that assessment after so little time spent with your game. I like theme theme; it's very interesting; I just haven't played it enough say say one way or the other if the theme and gameplay work well together.

Hopefully you'll hear more from me tonight.
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