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Subject: Start Player Mechanics rss

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Ivan Barker
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Designing my first game, and I feel it's decent right now, but it needs some more "oomph".

My game is a worker placement game, similar to Agricola, where the action spaces reveal themselves over time. Time being represented by a deck of cards called Weather or Season cards, which have both good and bad effects that all player's must follow.

Right now, Start Player is just an action space someone could take (like Agricola or Lords of Waterdeep), but I find that a bit boring.

I know there's some other mechanics out there, like bidding for First Player (Archipelago), jockeying for first (Macao), or passing first around the table (Puerto Rico).

What other Start Player mechanics are out there, anything really that would work for a worker placement game?

I was thinking it would be neat if I could tie it into my weather cards somehow.

Thanks!
 
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David Sevier
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You could always have player order determined in some fashion, like Kingsburg, Wars of the Roses, or A Game of Thrones.

Maybe have it randomly set at the start of the game and have players get Tokens they can spend (bid?) to change their position up. That'd add a strategic aspect to it, especially if you had a limited number of tokens to spend. Do you try to get First player early on? Wait for Mid-game? Or horde them and try to take and keep it during the late game?

No idea how you'd tie that with the Weather, though.
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Ivan Barker
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Thanks! I'll mull that over, there may be a way to integrate that into the theme of the game...
 
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David Sevier
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Hmm. To balance things, give each player extra tokens depending on their starting position.

So Player 1 gets x Tokens, Player 2 gets x + 1, Player 3 gets x + 2, and so on.
 
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Isaac Childres
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I've always liked the player order mechanism in Power Grid, which acts as a sort of catch-up mechanic (whoever has the fewest city connections gets the best place in turn order).

The basic concept is to base player order on the relative conditions of the players, and for your game you might even be able to tie this into the weather or seasons you are working with (i.e. in the winter whoever has the most wood goes first, in the summer whoever has the most water goes first...I don't know the specifics of the game, but you get the idea and there's a lot of variability you can play with there in conjunction with the variability of the weather).

Another example is a game I am working on, where players collect resources from a mine. Generally, the more resources you are able to collect, the more workers you have in the mine, but the person with the fewest workers in the mine gets to go first in future actions. There are other dynamics to make the system more interesting, but that's the basic catch-up mechanic.
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Nat Levan
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I don't know how Archipelago or Macao work, so maybe these are duplicate ideas:
Based on lowest score, or some other measure of progress a la Power Grid.
A first to pass system, where the earlier you end your turn, the earlier you go next round (might or might not work depending on number of workers you can place or actions you can take)
I think a more thematic way is to find something that varies for each player over the game. Like a race, each player has a speed, and order depends on speed, but that will change as people go into different parts of the track, making it naturally change.
Something thematically similar to Agricola might have it be the player who has the most food at the end of each round is healthiest and wakes up the earliest. Or the player with the most wood in winter feels most secure and sleeps more soundly.
You could tie that back in with a pseudo-auction, so that the player with the most must become first player and loses some. could make for some very interesting strategy to force other players to lose resources.
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1 Lucky Texan
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If players are beginning by placing workers, maybe a 'horseshoe' arrangement like Catan?
 
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Ivan Barker
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Wow these are fantastic suggestions. My game does have resource management. There's 2 resources, which convert to a good each. Easier to get resources early game, harder to get later on as it runs out. You can sell both for money.

Might be interesting to say, person with the most forest (resource) in spring goes first. In the winter say, person with most lumber (good) goes first. And it could state it right on the weather card. The person with the most resources or goods likely has the least amount of money...

Interesting, interesting....

PS Isaac, my game is about resource and gold collection, and I have mining in mine to Heh. But yours sounds a bit more elaborate than mine.
 
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John Breckenridge
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On your weather cards, add a graphic indicating the compass heading for the current wind direction, and assign a range of headings to each player - when the wind is in their section they get to go first.

make up cards for different numbers of players
2 players: 0-179, 180-359
3 players: 0-119, 120-239, 240-359
4 players: 0-89, 90-179, 180-269, 270-359
5 players: 0-71, 72-143, 144-215, 216-287, 288-359
6 players: 0-59, 60-119, 120-179, 180-239, 240-299, 300-359
 
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Isaac Childres
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Sivilized wrote:
You could tie that back in with a pseudo-auction, so that the player with the most must become first player and loses some. could make for some very interesting strategy to force other players to lose resources.

Yeah, I like this idea of losing resources in exchange for being first player.

I think basic idea of a start player mechanic is that becoming start player should force that player to sacrifice something and/or be a reward for good play. And the player should have some amount of control over the mechanic.

Agricola is a fine example of this, I think. If you don't have any good minor improvements to play, taking start player could just be a sacrifice of an entire action. However, if you're able to put yourself in a position where playing a minor improvement is exactly what you need for your next action, then becoming first player is just gravy.

In reference to a player state catch-up mechanic, you have a choice (sometimes) to put yourself in a worse position (sacrificing a good position) to get first player, but then if you're able to leverage that first player status into a significantly better position, then your good play overcomes that sacrifice.

Or in the case of my game, your number of workers isn't a direct indication of how many resources you've collected, so you can either collect fewer resources to become first player (sacrifice), but there are ways through good play to reduce your worker count, as well.

ibarker3 wrote:
PS Isaac, my game is about resource and gold collection, and I have mining in mine to Heh. But yours sounds a bit more elaborate than mine.

Yeah, mining seems to be a popular theme these days. I'm confident the other aspects of my game will help to set it apart as something interesting and unique. The idea of seasons and weather in your game sounds interesting as well!
 
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Isaac Childres
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Another idea I just remembered can be found in Mage Knight (or Viticulture) where players simply choose where they go in player order and gain a variety of bonuses based on that decision (the worse your place in the order, the better the bonus).
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Gregg Saruwatari
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I do not like having player ordered rounds in worker placement. You should check out The Manhattan Project and Euphoria: Build a Better Dystopia on how to get rid of that annoying nonsense.
 
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Adam Stapley
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Have people invest in buildings-- The taller the building the more likely to be struck by lightning, and have lightning be the first player token. The person who has invested the most has the first player token, but at the same time, he has all of that stuff doing first player when it could be doing other things.
 
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Ivan Barker
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Thank you all for the wonderful suggestions.

Gregg, I feel a start player is required when you have actions appearing at a set rate and a set turn limit. Euphoria does have a start player, but the start player advantage diminishes over time because there isn't really a turn sequence (you just place, bump and retrieve workers). My game does have a turn sequence so I do require some sort of start player.

In my mind, you want to take start player if it is a solid tactical decision, not just an immediate, I need to take it just because... decision. It does need to come at a cost. People need to weigh in their minds if it's worth it. I also don't really like the idea of accidentally becoming start player.

I'm a bit worried that if I make start player linked to resources, people will hoard them, but I guess that's the decision, hoard or use them. My game has a finite pool of resources, so if you don't use them, you might lose out. So I also like that if you take start player you lose some resources, makes the decision a bit more meaningful.
 
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Trevor Kindree
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Take a look at how the Arbiter is decided within Hegemonic. It's a little bit interesting.

In that game, your income is directly tied to the size of your empire(increases with size) . You also can only retain a certain income from round to round, this decreases with size (administrative costs increase exponentially with a larger force). Lastly, the Arbiter (who breaks all ties) is decided by largest bankroll at the end of a round.

In this way, income is geared with size, which is inversely balanced against the size of your wallet, and richest between rounds gets the privilege of being Judge. You're rewarded for hoarding, but cannot grow to succeed if you hoard, and you are also penalized for hoarding (excess is lost to the bank).

Food for thought. And such an amazing game...
 
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Tim H
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There have been several very good suggestions involving things that would effect the game play/resources. When you mentioned the cards were called "seasons" cards, I had an idea, why not have each card have a date or month on it, and the player who's birthday is closest to that date is first player. Probably best to do a "closest without being under" stipulation, so that your play isn't bogged down by wondering which day is closest to April 23rd, August 5th or December 31st.
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Ivan Barker
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Thank you everyone.

I put in the tentative rules, whereby:

There's a road running through the "village" (The village are where the actions are, the village grows over the course of the game, giving more action spaces). You are building this road over time, by putting resources, goods and money into it.

You place ownership tokens on the first space of the road at the beginning of the game. These tokens represent player order. Person on top of the token stack is first player, person at bottom is last player. If someone is ahead on the road, they are first player.

Each turn, a season card reveals a resource or good (forest for spring, ore for summer, metal for autumn, and lumber for winter). During a player's turn, a player may discard that "Seasonal Resource or Good" to move one space up the road. After that, additional spaces are $2 each.

So it's like Macao, with a twist of the Seasonal Resources suggested in this thread.

This way, thematically, you are building the road over time, and the person who sinks the most into it, will have the most ownership of the road. It also gives players a "race" feeling, trying to stay a head of everyone else, but is it worth discarding the resources to stay a head? And then you also have to plan out having the right resources at the right time to do it.
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