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Subject: Attempt to fix the economics in Terra Prime rss

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Seth Jaffee
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Because www.bgdf.com won't load at work for some reason, I guess I'll post this here...

Somebody e-mailed me a suggestion that might help me fix what I'm unhappy with in Terra Prime. I have this nifty economic system that resembles Ppower Grid in a way - it's a supply and Demand track for each of the 4 resources in the game. As players make deliveries, the supply increases, and therefore the price decreases (each resource has it's own rate). Over time, the supply gets consumed, increasing the demand for the goods once again. This is supposed to encourage players to not just pick up and deliver the same resource over and over (because it will become worthless), but also go out and find the more valuable resources.

One problem I had was finding an elegant way to consume the resources which made for interesting game decisions... if they consumed too fast, then I might as well skip the whole thing because it won't matter. If it consumes too slow, then players will have to wait around because all the demand tracks are full, and nothing's worth anything (note: this might not be terrible, actually, as it might make players do other things than deliver, like explore and colonize or fight aliens).

I think I've solved that one with my current consumption model. At the beginning of the start player's turn, 1 resource is consumed from the track that is the most full. In case of a tie, the lesse valued resource (the tracks are ordered from "low" to "high" value, so the one closer to the top) is the one that is consumed.

The bigger problem has to do with rewards for delivering. Part of a player's score is supposed to come from making deliveries. Making deliveries is also how you get money, which you need to buy ship upgrades. So originally I simply added your money to VPs at the end of the game, which means buying something costs you points, and making deliveries can get you a lot of points if you do a lot of it, or if you get the harder, higher valued goods. that was fine, one of the major strategies was "shipping". The down side was the ease of buying things...

At the start of the game, money is tight, and you have to pick andchoose your upgrades. It feels like really nice tension. However, before long you can deliver some Green and get flush with money, allowing you to buy anything you want. The fact that you're spending potential VPs to do this is not a big enough deterrant. It might turn out at the end that you lose by some amount of points, and perhaps by spending more wisely you could have won the game, but noone notices that during the game, and the tension of not being able to get what you want evaporates quickly.

In an effort to fix that, and maintain the tension of tight money throughout the game, I tried splitting money and VPs. Now when you deliver, you get the money, and you can trade some or all of it in for VPs right then (a la Princes of Florence). This is largely the same thing, but you have to make the conscious choice to forego points each time you make a delivery. This didn't quite work, but it did add an interesting decision point - at what point do I switch from taking money to taking VPs for my deliveries? this was interesting, but not terribly interesting compared to the tight money feeling that's present at the beginning.

So here's the idea that BGG member jygro sent me, expanded a little to how I think it would fit into the game:

Basically, this means scrapping the entire supply/demand track, which is unfortunate because I really liked it. Maybe I can use it some other time in another game. So, step 1: scrap S/D tracks.

Step 2: Create a deck of cards (or tiles) with certain things on them. these are things that need building, contracts offered by the Terran Federation, which require various combinations of goods.

Step 3: Re-tool the theme a tad such that players are no longer members of the terran Federation cpmpeting for promotion, but rather players are entrepreneurs competing for lucrative government contracts.

Step 4: Reward deliveries as follows: for each 1 good delivered (irrespective of which good), the player receives 1 Credit. The task also rewards the player with some number of VPs - the "harder" the task is to complete, the more VPs it's worth. Tasks are made harder by requiring Yellow and Red cubes, and possibly more cubes than a player can normally carry. Players would not need to deliver all cubes for one project at once, rather they could deliver just 1, or 1 to each of 2 projects, or whatever. The cubes would go on the cards/tiles, and when placing the final cube for a tile, the Vp reward is awarded.

On the up side:
This system sounds like it will accomplish some of the same things I was trying to accomplish with the S/D tracks. Also, since the Cargo holds are now color specific, the available tasks might figure into your decision of which hold to buy, or whether to get another one so you can hold a variety of goods.

Questions/problems:
* How many tasks are available, and more importantly when do they become available? I imagine to start I'd say maybe 3 are available, and when one is fulfilled, another is drawn to replace it.
* Should player vs player combat be allowed? Many testers have begged this very question, and before I just said you couldn't shoot each other becasue you're all on the same team. The sentiment was so high that people wanted to shoot each other that I added a "Sabatage" action where you could spend your actions to "shoot" an opponent's ship, and if successful, they had to discard a goods cube. I wasn't too happy with this though, as it allows 1 Sabatage action to cancel several actions taken to collect and transport the good.
* I'm starting to think that a way to keep people from attacking each other is by rewarding it with something really weak - such that it's less efficient to attack players than it is to do anything else. I'd like PVP to occur very infrequently, lest the game degenerate into a free for all space combat game.

I'd be interested in any ideas anyone has on this issue.

- Seth

Note: another idea I had recently is to keep the system as is, and just multiply the costs of things by 10... so it takes a couple deliveries to get an upgrade, rather than 1 delivery to get several upgrades
 
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Sterling Babcock
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I am going to throw a few ideas out there, but since I do not know the game, these might not be relevent:

- There is a separation of VP and $ in puerto rico which is good. You strive for $ at the beginning, VP at the end. This angst is what makes choices hard. Keeping them separate is important.

- I was thinking about what you said about multiple trips to complete something. If I deliver a yellow cube, and then come back with a red cube, I finish it. But what happens if someone else brings a red cube? Do they get my yellow cube I worked so hard for? Then people with just wait and pounce. How about his idea: A can't stop type of deal. I deliver yellow to my spot on the card. Someone else delivers red, but they are still only half way there as they need yellow. Now it is a race to see which one of use will get the remaining cube there. Whoever gets it there finishes the task, and the other looses the cube they invested.

- Perhaps some planets provide money, others provide victory points. In the beginning everyone will be going to the money planets to compete, later the VP planets. In late game if I need $, it is easier to get because no one else will be competing.

Let me know what you think.
 
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Seth Jaffee
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sbabcock wrote:
I am going to throw a few ideas out there, but since I do not know the game, these might not be relevent:

Thanks for the thoughts!
Quote:
- There is a separation of VP and $ in puerto rico which is good. You strive for $ at the beginning, VP at the end. This angst is what makes choices hard. Keeping them separate is important.

Right. I thin kthis has to do with why I was unhappy with how easy it was to get cash, even if it costs you points.
Quote:
- I was thinking about what you said about multiple trips to complete something. If I deliver a yellow cube, and then come back with a red cube, I finish it. But what happens if someone else brings a red cube? Do they get my yellow cube I worked so hard for?

I'm thinking "yes," but the tasks will probably be completable all in one trip, so if you put the effort in, you get the VPs. If however you just need some money, you might deliver cubes without completing, and then someone else might get it. Especially at the beginning, as there won't be Yellow or Red available (they're farther out).

Oh, that might be a concern. Maybe I SHOULD have green/yellow/red item cards, where green ones only have green and blue (and brown) cubes, which are all available on Green tiles, then Yellow would incorporate yellow cubes (which only occur inthe yellow and red zones), and Red would incorporate red cubes (only occur in red zones).

Quote:
Then people with just wait and pounce.

Well, maybe, but I think if most of them are completable in one shot (well, after upgrading and buying more cargo holds anyway), that will be minimized because most of the time you'd be wasting time waiting.

Quote:
How about his idea: A can't stop type of deal. I deliver yellow to my spot on the card. Someone else delivers red, but they are still only half way there as they need yellow. Now it is a race to see which one of use will get the remaining cube there. Whoever gets it there finishes the task, and the other looses the cube they invested.

I don't like this idea much - mostly because I think it would not work well with the turn order. The same personl would alwyas have a chance to be first to deliver.

Quote:
- Perhaps some planets provide money, others provide victory points. In the beginning everyone will be going to the money planets to compete, later the VP planets. In late game if I need $, it is easier to get because no one else will be competing.

This doesn't really work with the game. Points come from colonizing planets, killing aliens, and delivering goods.

Thanks for the ideas though, I'll keep them in mind.
 
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Sean T
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Not to completely derail your current thinking, but instead of scrapping the economic system altogether, what if ship upgrades are both a monetary and opportunity cost? So instead of trading in your good, getting the cash and then buying the upgrade (I think you can do that in one turn) you give up your normal turn (or turns) to install the upgrades? I may be forgetting a key piece here, its been awhile since I played the game.

The idea of "contract" cards is interesting, but you'll need to be careful that card draws don't dictate what people can do.
 
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Seth Jaffee
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For those interested:

Here's my first attempt at making tiles... it's not that exciting, and I haven't even printed score valueds on them (because I have no idea yet how many points the deliveries should be worth). For starters I assigned a value to each tile as follows...

The relative value of the goods was always as follows: Blue, Green, Yellow, Red. So I assigned them VP values of 1, 2, 3, and 4... respectively. I added 1 VP to each tile which required the purchase of an additional Cargo Hold. I probably should add an additional 1 or the tiles with a 4th cube (because it takes more work to get the 4th cube), and for the tile that actually requires 2 additional cargo holds be bought (double Yellow)...

I made this in Excel, which is a lousy way to do art by the way.

http://www.dakotacom.net/~sej/terraprime/11-2-06%20Demand%20...
 
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