Jake Staines
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Austerity is a compact solo game in which you run a nation struggling under the burden of international debt - make decisions about police funding, investment in private enterprise, whether to crack down on welfare cheats and when best to borrow more money... but if you don't escape debt before your term ends or your bad decisions catch up to you, you'll be out of office and out on the street with the rest of them!

Austerity is an entry for the 2015 Solitaire Print and Play contest



You will need:
Print out of the game board.
cubes in five colours - six to ten of each should be more than enough:
. Black (debt)
. White (welfare)
. Blue (policing and security)
. Red (crime and unrest)
. Yellow (income)
. (An optional sheet of cube-proxy tokens is also provided)
A bag or cup that you can put the cubes/tokens in, shake them around and draw randomly from.
8 other marker tokens - cubes in a sixth colour are perfect.
A media-ready face for TV interviews, a spin doctor and if all else fails a biographer to explain how it was all someone else's fault that it went horribly wrong.

Downloads (Updated 20150807 with corrections):

Rules

Austerity Rules (PDF)

Full-Colour Files

Austerity Board (3.2MB PDF)
(Optional) Austerity Cube Proxies (PDF)
(Optional) Advanced Cards (0.5MB PDF)

Low Ink Files

Austerity Board (3.2MB PDF)
(Optional) Austerity Cube Proxies (PDF)
(Optional) Advanced Cards (Low Ink - 0.5MB PDF)

All three PDFs should print equally well on A4 or US Letter paper without scaling.




Categories

I believe Austerity to be eligible for the following contest categories:
Small Game
Written Rules
Artwork
Hotel Game
Innovative Mechanic
Greyscale Printing

I don't know how to interpret 'Thematic Game'. It guess it's not abstract, so maybe it's eligible for that as well? ;-)
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Previous contents of the first post, including rules draft. These rules have now been superseded by the ones in the PDF linked to in the first post.



Preliminary Rules:
Quote:

Setup
Add the following cubes to the bag:
4 Black/Debt
2 Red/Crime & Unrest
2 Blue/Security & Policing
1 White/Welfare
1 Yellow/Income

Place five of the marker tokens on the '5' spaces in each of the vertical tracks on the right hand side - Employment, Public Safety, Wealth, Health and Popularity. Place the remaining three marker tokens on the left-most space of each of the Institutions at the bottom of the board - Private Enterprise, National Security and Social Welfare.

A Year in Politics
Draw two cubes from the bag and place them in the 'Current' box.
Look at the Cube Draw Results entry for the pair that you've drawn and follow the instructions for that event - see Add/Remove/Spend below for more details. In several events there's a choice you have to make - pick either one option or the other, but not both. If you have the option to move a track beyond its maximum you may still take that option, but that particular track does not change.
If a single black Debt cube remains in 'Current', you must advance the Underfunding track on one of the Institutions at the bottom of the page - see Underfunding below for details.
If any of the cubes drawn were yellow Income cubes, you may either spend the money on one of the three Institutions or you may bank it in your Treasury for later - see Income below for details. You do not have to do either.
Move any remaining 'Current' cubes to 'Used', and repeat the above steps until the bag is empty. If at any point you can only draw a single cube, place it directly into 'Used'.

At any time during the year you may carry out any of the three actions listed at the top of the page - see Actions below.

After you have emptied the Budget Bag, the political year ends; perform the following actions in sequence:
Check to see if you have won - see Ending the game below
Add yellow income cubes to your Treasury as shown next to the Employment track for your current Employment level.
Adjust Wealth one step up or down the track towards the level of Employment (e.g. if Employment is lower than Wealth, reduce Wealth by one step; if Employment is at the same level as Wealth, then leave Wealth where it is).
Adjust Health one step up or down the track towards the level of Public Safety.
Adjust Popularity one step up or down the track towards the level of Wealth, and then adjust Popularity a second time one step up or down the track towards the level of Health.
Put all the cubes from the Used box and Income cubes placed on Institutions back in the bag and start the next political year.

Add/Remove/Spend
When you see the following keywords, perform the relevant actions:
Add - add an extra cube of the relevant colour to the Used box, ready to go into the bag at the end of the year.
Add to Bag - add an extra cube of the relevant colour directly to the bag.
Remove - remove a cube of the relevant colour from the Current box and out of the game.
Remove from Used - remove a cube of the relevant colour from the Used box and out of the game.
Spend - remove a yellow Income cube from the Treasury box or the Current box and out of the game.

Note that when cubes are removed or spent they are not removed from the game permanently - they may be re-added later through an Add action, but for now they rejoin the supply of cubes waiting to be used. There is not intended to be any resource limit on any of these cubes.

Underfunding

If you draw a black cube and a cube of another colour, then as your nation struggles to pay off its debts you need to cut the budget of one of your national institutions. It's only temporary! At least, that's what you tell the press.

Check the Institutions at the bottom of the board to see which ones have the colour pair you drew listed against their Underfunding track; pick one of those Institutions and advance the marker token one step along the track.

Once the marker token reaches the final step - that is, this Institution has been selected for underfunding three times - perform the penalty listed in that final step and then move the marker token back to the leftmost step on the track until further underfunding is assigned to this Institution.

Income

If any of the cubes you drew were yellow Income cubes, then you may either spend that money on one of your national institutions immediately, or save it in your treasury for future emergencies. Choose one of the following:

Place the cube directly into your Treasury, where it may later be Spent to mitigate future events.

Place the cube on an Institution at the bottom of the page and immediately claim the reward listed. Only one cube may be placed on each Institution in a year - you may not place a second cube nor claim a second reward from the same Institution in a single year.

Actions
At any time during the year, you may perform any of the three actions at the top of the page - Raise Taxes, Borrow Money or Pay Loan. Simply perform the action shown on the left, then perform the penalty shown on the right. Actions may be performed any number of times in a turn, but immediately that the bag is emptied, no more actions may be performed until next year.

Ending the Game
If at any point during the game - even mid-year - any of the tracks falls down to 0 (Employment, Public Safety, Wealth, Health or Popularity), then you immediately lose the game.

If at the end of the year, the bag is empty and there are no black Debt cubes in the Used box, then you have successfully cleaned up your nation's finances and you win!


Optional Advanced Rules
Quote:

Policy Cards
The top three cards of the advanced cards file are Policy Cards, which represent the general approach your government takes toward running the country. Some policies are deliberate: you may choose to enact protectionist laws or sign free trade treaties. Others are a result of your actions: if your national security spending drops too low, your country will become lawless.

At the start of the game, place all three next to the board rotated such that the 'Neutral' side is upright.

At the end of each year, after checking if you won and before collecting taxes, check each Policy Card in turn and follow the relevant instructions for the current facing of the card.

Periodically the conditions will be met to rotate a Policy Card toward one end or the other - if this happens (and/or you choose to do so), read the new policy rules carefully; these are now in effect. Multiple policies may rotate in a single year; simply check and follow the rules on each card in turn.

Extra Institutions
The next three cards down on the Advanced Cards page are new Institutions. At any time, if you wish to invest in your country in a new way, you may Spend two Income from your Treasury to add one of these new Institution cards into play. Place the chosen Institution below the game board, and place an extra marker token on the first space of its Underfunding track. From now on, this new Institution is used in exactly the same way as the three printed on the board; you may fund it with Income cubes, it suffers Underfunding in the same way, and the rewards and penalties work the same.

A note on the Investment Institution, which represents you buying other countries' government bonds: it requires two separate Income cubes of funding in the same year to add a new Income cube; if it is only funded once at the end of the year, the Income cube used is replaced in the bag as usual and you must start again in the next year.

Scenarios
At the start of the game, select a scenario card - either choose or pick one at random. Rather than the 5/5/5/5/5 from the base game, set the Employment, Public Safety, Wealth, Health and Popularity tracks to the numbers in the setup section from the scenario you have chosen.

Read the rules on the scenario card carefully; these supplement the rules of the base game, and in the case of conflicts between the two, the scenario rules replace the rules in the base game. Several scenarios define additional actions that you can perform during the game.

At the beginning of Year End, instead of checking that you have won the usual way, check your scenario card for win conditions.

Starting Countries
At the start of the game, select a country card - either choose or pick one at random. This card replaces the usual contents of the bag - place cubes corresponding to the list of ten on the scenario card into the bag.

It is highly recommended that if you play with Starting Countries, you also play with Policy Cards. If you do, each Starting Country also dictates one policy decision; rotate the corresponding card to the specified face. Some of these may be altered depending on your choices during play; others are permanent conditions of that country.

A Note on Difficulty
The base game should be moderately easy - although with scope to screw up and lose if you're not paying attention or have very bad luck.

To make the base game easier, add two yellow Income cubes to the bag at the beginning of the game. To make it harder, add one or two extra black Debt cubes.

Most of the scenario cards and starting countries generally make the game more challenging, and it's recommended that you play the base game a couple of times to get used to it before graduating onto the scenarios. Each scenario has a choice of difficulty, where 'Easy' is approximately as hard as the base game.

Policy Cards have the capacity to make the game a little bit easier, if it's possible to pick your policies to match your situation.

Extra Institutions generally balance out - each extra institution purchased makes the game easier, but finding the spare money to purchase them is not so easy!




First printed prototype:



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Jake Staines
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Next challenge: work out some decent icons - for Crime & Unrest if nothing else, since a guy with a swag bag doesn't really represent the "unrest" part, and an upheld fist (my other immediate thought) doesn't properly encapsulate crime!

I'd also prefer to end up with icons that are more visible at small sizes, for black-and-white or colourblind players...
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Looks like a fun design Jake. Impressive to see how much game you could pack onto one page.

Have your you considered using icons from a site like this?
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Eric Miller
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As a Professor of Governmentcool, this may be the thing I need to help students understand some bits about foreign policy and international relations... And current events...

Thanks for posting this!

R4D6 wrote:
Looks like a fun design Jake. Impressive to see how much game you could pack onto one page.

Have your you considered using icons from a site like this?


There is also this site: https://thenounproject.com/

Requires licensing, but it might be inspirational...
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R4D6 wrote:

Have your you considered using icons from a site like this?


Thanks for the suggestion (to both of you) but while I've used icons from Game-Icons for prototyping before, I'd rather do some of my own for release. If nothing else, the fewer games use those icons the better for those that do! My problem is largely working out what kind of symbol could possibly represent crime and unrest, not so much creating the icon itself.
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Bichatse wrote:
Next challenge: work out some decent icons - for Crime & Unrest if nothing else, since a guy with a swag bag doesn't really represent the "unrest" part, and an upheld fist (my other immediate thought) doesn't properly encapsulate crime!


How about a broken window? B&E and a riot
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lukerazor wrote:

How about a broken window? B&E and a riot


That's a pretty good idea! I'll give it a go in my next whole prototype and see how it looks, cheers!
 
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Burnt out car? Graffiti?

This looks very interesting. The board is printed and I've scrounged a bag. Just need to scour some games for enough matching euro-cubes!
 
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Had a few games of this today. Definitely has that 'just one more game' appeal. Congratulations.

My first game was roaring success - I threw everything at increasing employment and repaid my way out of debt. I tried other strategies in subsequent games with dismal results. I almost 'won' a game despite having 7 red cubes out of 10 total.

A few questions and suggestions:

1) "If at any point you can only draw a single cube, place it directly into 'Used'." Does that mean if it is an Income cube you cannot spend it or place it in the Treasury?

2) "Put all the cubes from the Used box and Income cubes placed on Institutions back in the bag and start the next political year". I presume that means cubes in your Treasury stay there for next year? Makes sense thematically. Just checking I played that right.

3) "If at the end of the year, the bag is empty and there are no black Debt cubes in the Used box...". By the letter of the rules, this is incompatible with the year end sequence which has you putting next year's income into the bag before checking to see if you have won. So technically you can only win if your Employment is less than 5.

4) Are the Raise Taxes and Borrow Money actions labelled the wrong way round? 'Borrowing' seems a more natural fit for gaining income and debt. 'Raise Taxes' seems a more natural fit for gaining income and corruption.

5) For the Pay Loan action, should it say "Spend" instead of "Remove from Used"? I can't see a way to get a pair of Income cubes in Used.

6) Can you add another space to the three Underfunding tracks? Maybe a 'Funded' square? It feels better to have the markers on the board all the time rather than moving them on/off.

7) What happens if the Employment track is already at 10 and you draw a Blue/White? Are you forced to Remove White because you cannot increase Employment?
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Lumpy75 wrote:

Had a few games of this today. Definitely has that 'just one more game' appeal. Congratulations.


Glad to hear - thanks for giving it a go!

Lumpy75 wrote:

My first game was roaring success - I threw everything at increasing employment and repaid my way out of debt. I tried other strategies in subsequent games with dismal results. I almost 'won' a game despite having 7 red cubes out of 10 total.


In my continued playtesting since posting the version above, I've noted a similar effect. I do want raising employment to be a good strategy - it's proven to work in real-world situations! - but not to be so effective at generating income that you can more or less ignore all other factors!

I think part of the problem is that the red cubes - the easiest way of gaining income - don't do enough damage. My current notes from further playtesting since posting the above are along the lines of:

- Political Corruption should be replaced with something that also affects another axis - possibly employment, possibly health.

- There should be some kind of tie between health and employment - if the nation is generally unhealthy and/or accident-prone, productivity suffers.

- I'm pretty sure I'm going to reduce the 10-employment income down to two. It may even be enough to just place the gains from employment into the treasury (one-time spend) rather than into the bag (repeated income). Which is probably more realistic anyway, since the benefit from employment going up is repeated every turn anyway.

- Industrial Violations should probably affect Public Safety instead of Health directly.

- Public Safety should probably be limited to a degree by security & policing spending - I'm playing with adding a value to the Safety track similar to the income from employment, which states the maximum Safety you can have for a certain level of policing spending. So if (at the end of the year) you only have one blue cube in your budget, Safety can never be above 5; if you only have two, it can never be above 8, and if you have none it can never be above 2 or 3... or something along those lines. This is important from the point of view of having a motivation to actually have more than a couple of blue cubes in your budget, and also thematically important because it feels a bit ridiculous to be running a country where you've spent no money at all on policing for years but the country is still incredibly safe!

- I'm wondering whether rises in Wealth (which is supposed to represent how well-off the average person in your nation is) should correspondingly reduce crime. If the player has some way to directly affect Wealth rather than just pumping money into private-sector employment, this could become another viable strategy - raise taxes to generate income to pay off debts, and get out of it by making everyone in the country rich enough to not care so much about the higher taxes.

- As I probably mentioned before, the long-term plan is to have a few scenarios that you can randomly draw (or choose, if you like) at the beginning of a game which will affect the balance of each strategy anyway - so it might be the case that in the War Footing scenario, for example, you can spend Employment to win the war (by sending able-bodied workers overseas to fight).


Lumpy75 wrote:

1) "If at any point you can only draw a single cube, place it directly into 'Used'." Does that mean if it is an Income cube you cannot spend it or place it in the Treasury?


Indeed it does. It cuts both ways, of course - if it's a Debt cube, you also don't increase the Underfunding track of any institution. Some years not everything in your budget bag has a noticeable effect on the economy.

Lumpy75 wrote:

2) "Put all the cubes from the Used box and Income cubes placed on Institutions back in the bag and start the next political year". I presume that means cubes in your Treasury stay there for next year? Makes sense thematically. Just checking I played that right.


Yep - placing a cube in the treasury means that you will have it available to spend (on, say, Welfare Budget Problems or your Underfunded Police Force) at a later point, but it also takes it out of circulation; you'll never get that cube as income again. So sometimes it's worth doing, but it's probably not worth hoarding too many Income cubes in your treasury because they're generally going to be more useful to you in circulation.

Lumpy75 wrote:

3) "If at the end of the year, the bag is empty and there are no black Debt cubes in the Used box...". By the letter of the rules, this is incompatible with the year end sequence which has you putting next year's income into the bag before checking to see if you have won. So technically you can only win if your Employment is less than 5.


Hah! Thanks for the catch, I should move the 'Check if you won' step to the beginning of the end-of-year process!

Lumpy75 wrote:

4) Are the Raise Taxes and Borrow Money actions labelled the wrong way round?


Yeah, they are - again, thanks for the catch. Not sure how that happened!

Lumpy75 wrote:

5) For the Pay Loan action, should it say "Spend" instead of "Remove from Used"? I can't see a way to get a pair of Income cubes in Used.


You can get Income cubes in used by simply not doing anything with them when you draw them - it says you may fund institutions or place them in your treasury, not that you must do that. Sometimes it's a good idea not to!

However, I didn't actually mean to prevent the player from spending Treasury money to pay off loans, so I probably ought to change it!

(As it goes, there is one place that the wording is odd but deliberate - in Criminal Justice Policy it's intentional that it's a 'Remove' an Income rather than 'Spend' an income - it prevents you from spending one of your Treasury cubes and then using your Current Income cube to fund something.)

Lumpy75 wrote:

6) Can you add another space to the three Underfunding tracks? Maybe a 'Funded' square? It feels better to have the markers on the board all the time rather than moving them on/off.


Definitely a good idea! It used to just have a debt icon where the pairs currently are, and adding those restrictions on which institutions could have money taken from their budget to pay off debts was one of the last things I did before releasing that file - you can still see how it used to look with my hastily-pencilled-in changes in the photo in the first post. ;-)

Lumpy75 wrote:

7) What happens if the Employment track is already at 10 and you draw a Blue/White? Are you forced to Remove White because you cannot increase Employment?


I'll clarify this in the rules - you can still take any decision that would result in your employment going up, but it doesn't actually do anything to your employment. So if you want to keep the Welfare cube, you can still reduce your popularity by one, but you don't get the benefit of +1 Employment if you're already at maximum.




Thanks again for the feedback, catches and questions!
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Not a problem. Components that fit onto a single sheet and require no cutting is good for those lazy PnP-ers like me. The fact there's an interesting game here too is fantastic.

In most of my failed games, I've failed because Health has gone to zero. The red cubes are generally not too bad except for the Red/Red draw. Once red cubes start to become the majority of your bag Health can sink very fast indeed. Something to make Black/Red worse and Red/Red better would be interesting to see.

Reducing 10's employment bonus makes sense. Once you are gaining three income per turn, your Debt is very easy to clear. But on the other hand, it makes getting to that 10 very tempting.

Bichatse wrote:
You can get Income cubes in used by simply not doing anything with them when you draw them - it says you may fund institutions or place them in your treasury, not that you must do that. Sometimes it's a good idea not to!

Ahh! That isn't clear at all. Particularly the "Choose one of the following". I thought the "may" referred to the funding, and if you didn't fund then it went into the Treasury. Why would you not want to do either as only Pay Loan takes Income cubes from Used (and Spend doesn't)?

... actually, I think I've just thought of one. If you have huge income (6+ yellow cubes) and have already funded all three Institutions and put a cube or two into the Treasury, you do want the unused Income to roll over to next year. But if you are in that situation, you're probably 99% of the way to winning anyway.
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Lumpy75 wrote:

... actually, I think I've just thought of one. If you have huge income (6+ yellow cubes) and have already funded all three Institutions and put a cube or two into the Treasury, you do want the unused Income to roll over to next year. But if you are in that situation, you're probably 99% of the way to winning anyway.


You also may not want to buy Welfare, for that matter. It's good if you've got lots of other Welfare, Money or even Security, but if you have a lot of Unrest or Debt it can do more harm than good!

The same can kind of be said for Security - it's arguably not worth having if you have a lot of debt. But at least Security can remove Unrest cubes, so it's probably worth buying anyway.

The way the negative effects for Security largely rely on you having some Security cubes is a problem I still need to find an elegant solution to. It makes more sense for Welfare, as if you don't fund any Welfare programmes then nobody can abuse them!
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Bichatse wrote:

- I'm pretty sure I'm going to reduce the 10-employment income down to two. It may even be enough to just place the gains from employment into the treasury (one-time spend) rather than into the bag (repeated income). Which is probably more realistic anyway, since the benefit from employment going up is repeated every turn anyway.


I've been testing these changes this evening, and they definitely make a lot of positive change to the game! I'll be posting another prototype once I've got some more stuff tested and together, but to be specific:

2 tax income for Employment 10 or 9
1 tax income for Employment 8-5
Tax income goes directly to treasury

It makes more sense thematically, of course - tax income is recurring in that it recurs every year, but that's already modelled; sticking it in the bag would make it recur *and* recur, which would be weird.

The effect on play is largely that you have to take more risks if you want to pay your debt off early - raising taxes or borrowing money - because you don't have so much money in circulation that you get the Black-Yellow action often. Instead, the game is much more focussed around saving up the Yellow cubes in the treasury to be able to pay the debt off, which I think works better on the whole, since it gives you more decisions to make around the "should I spend this Income to not get crime, or do I save it to pay off my debt?" that you don't really get when your focus is getting enough money into circulation to neutralise debt on a 1:1 basis.

On the other hand, it also makes the Borrow Money action even less useful... I'm seriously considering having it give you two money.
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An updated board with the changes mentioned above and a couple of minor fixes:

Austerity Board (PDF)

Again, should print OK on A4 or Letter without scaling.




The piece that I'm fiddling with the most at the moment is the balance for the borrow-money action; working it out so that it's worth taking in comparison to the raise-taxes action, but not worth taking all the time...! If this attempt still ends up being a bit too preferable, it may end up as yellow-in-used plus yellow-in-treasury for black-in-bag (or black-in-used, to reign it back a bit...)
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I've been testing combinations of scenario and starting point and policy cards for most of the evening; these will all fit on a second sheet to try and still meet the original goal of a super-compact game, and serve as a kind of modular make-the-game-more-complex-if-you-like add-on.

However, they still need a bit more testing, so I spent a bit of time re-doing icons, as well. Hopefully these will be clearer when small. Thanks to Luke for the broken-window suggestion, it fits better than anything else I'd come up with!





Hopefully they're all still readable - let me know if you have any trouble!
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Bichatse wrote:




I know the red one is crime coz you guys were talking about it, but either HANDCUFFS or GUNS or A CROWBAR might improve the iconography.

No idea what the last one is... handouts? social services? If os, why not green or purple?

Hope I'm not too late for suggestions on this whistle
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The welfare one could just be a line drawing without the fill (black). I thought of a wheel chair as the icon.
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ex1st wrote:

Hope I'm not too late for suggestions on this whistle


Not at all, thanks for your input!

The red one represents both crime and unrest, unfortunately, so handcuffs and guns are a bit too crime-y... a crowbar works, but I quite like the broken-window imagery. As suggested by Luke up-thread, it works for crime (breaking and entering) and unrest (rioting, ghettos, etc.). Could it work better as a broken window if the bottom-left pane were completely removed, do you think?

(In game terms, red is primarily a response to raising taxes or insufficient funding of national security/police. Both crime and protest have a similar game effect - they soak up funds, lead to negative effects in nearly every other sector and can be mostly eliminated by going full-on police-state. ;-)



The last one is welfare - so yes, handouts and social-services. I'm not sure why there's a particular association with the colours green or purple, though! In game terms it revolves largely around healthcare and employment, and the present colour of white was chosen because of the healthcare association.

I'd avoid purple 'cause it's not such a common colour to find cubes in - but green could definitely work. In fact, in my prototype games I'm using green cubes as the sixth colour for marking the tracks, and white would be just as appropriate for that. It just seems to me that white has a stronger association to the health side of it. I guess JobCentres are green in the UK, but I don't know if that's the case in other countries...




(Yeah, line-drawing would probably work better. I'll have a play around with a wheelchair, but again I'd worry that it's perhaps a little too specific.)
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Bichatse wrote:
ex1st wrote:

Hope I'm not too late for suggestions on this whistle


Not at all, thanks for your input!

The red one represents both crime and unrest, unfortunately, so handcuffs and guns are a bit too crime-y... a crowbar works, but I quite like the broken-window imagery. As suggested by Luke up-thread, it works for crime (breaking and entering) and unrest (rioting, ghettos, etc.). Could it work better as a broken window if the bottom-left pane were completely removed, do you think?
How about a bottle with a flaming cloth in it = molotov cocktail?
How about a picture of a rat?
Or a broken padlock?
Quote:

(In game terms, red is primarily a response to raising taxes or insufficient funding of national security/police. Both crime and protest have a similar game effect - they soak up funds, lead to negative effects in nearly every other sector and can be mostly eliminated by going full-on police-state. ;-)

The last one is welfare - so yes, handouts and social-services. I'm not sure why there's a particular association with the colours green or purple, though!
Purple is the new colour for disability... too new perhaps.
Quote:
In game terms it revolves largely around healthcare and employment, and the present colour of white was chosen because of the healthcare association.
Then make it more healthcare.
Quote:


I'd avoid purple 'cause it's not such a common colour to find cubes in - but green could definitely work.
Yes, I found that to be the case, too. Silly of me to forget.
Quote:
In fact, in my prototype games I'm using green cubes as the sixth colour for marking the tracks, and white would be just as appropriate for that. It just seems to me that white has a stronger association to the health side of it. I guess JobCentres are green in the UK, but I don't know if that's the case in other countries...
White seems to be the right colour. The icon looks more black than white, so I guess it could be improved if you have the time.
Quote:


(Yeah, line-drawing would probably work better. I'll have a play around with a wheelchair, but again I'd worry that it's perhaps a little too specific.)
Perhaps a cross, like the red cross but white? or just the top part of a crutch = support.
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If given the option, I would prefer to play with the green pieces, please.
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Glad to see you back in the contest Jake!
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ex1st wrote:

How about a bottle with a flaming cloth in it = molotov cocktail?


That could quite possibly work! I'll do it up as an icon to compare to the broken window. It's definitely more protest than crime, but it's a criminal kind of protest... ;-)

ex1st wrote:

or just the top part of a crutch = support.


Hmm... that's kind of a neat image (and pun!), but I worry a little that it paints too derogatory an image of welfare. I'm trying to keep the game as politically-neutral as I can - or at least, trying to reflect somewhat the statistical reality of various policies more than the ideological backing for them.
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I had another go at a couple of the icons based on the feedback here:




I like the molotov. It seems to me that the crutch isn't so readable as a crutch anyway, but I'll stick with the white version of the hand, I think.



I also spent a little time doing a mockup sketch of the board - the idea is that it should look like a collection of newspapers strewn over a desk:



I just realised I'll probably have to get rid of the "DEBT CRISIS WORSENS" as I need somewhere to put the year-end procedure, though... Damn.
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I've updated the main board with a few more tweaks:

Austerity Board (PDF)

(The main difference is an increased benefit from a couple of Welfare events, and an addition to the Budget Surplus event that allows you to use both Income cubes to fund an already-funded Institution a second time.)

I've also uploaded a preliminary version of the optional advanced cards:

(Optional) Advanced Cards (PDF)

These are designed to be a modular expansion to the base game, and come in four varieties:

Policy Cards which allow you to decide on important policy factors which affect your economy, granting you special abilities and/or restrictions
New Institutions which you can Spend two Income to add to your board, granting you new funding rewards and new options for Underfunding.
Scenarios which give you an extra goal beyond simply paying off your debt.
Starting Countries which set you up with a different balance of cubes in the bag to reflect a different national philosophy.

(Scenarios and Starting Countries are coming soon...; they're mostly planned out but still need some balancing before they're ready for any kind of wide release.)


Each set of advanced cards can be added to the base game in isolation, or in combination with other sets.


Optional Advanced Rules
Quote:

Policy Cards
The top three cards of the advanced cards file are Policy Cards, which represent the general approach your government takes toward running the country. Some policies are deliberate: you may choose to enact protectionist laws or sign free trade treaties. Others are a result of your actions: if your national security spending drops too low, your country will become lawless.

At the start of the game, place all three next to the board rotated such that the 'Neutral' side is upright.

At the end of each year, after checking if you won and before collecting taxes, check each Policy Card in turn and follow the relevant instructions for the current facing of the card.

Periodically the conditions will be met to rotate a Policy Card toward one end or the other - if this happens (and/or you choose to do so), read the new policy rules carefully; these are now in effect. Multiple policies may rotate in a single year; simply check and follow the rules on each card in turn.

Extra Institutions
The next three cards down on the Advanced Cards page are new Institutions. At any time, if you wish to invest in your country in a new way, you may Spend two Income from your Treasury to add one of these new Institution cards into play. Place the chosen Institution below the game board, and place an extra marker token on the first space of its Underfunding track. From now on, this new Institution is used in exactly the same way as the three printed on the board; you may fund it with Income cubes, it suffers Underfunding in the same way, and the rewards and penalties work the same.

A note on the Investment Institution, which represents you buying other countries' government bonds: it requires two separate Income cubes of funding in the same year to add a new Income cube; if it is only funded once at the end of the year, the Income cube used is replaced in the bag as usual and you must start again in the next year.

Scenarios
(Coming soon...)

Starting Countries
(Coming soon...)



I've also started work on the final layout for the board:


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Nice work on the molotov.

When I first saw the crutches, it looked like a Japanese gate. Here are a few suggestions.
Consider making it smaller / taller.
Consider adding a second one.
Place the image in a circle to define the cut off point (just as the hand is cut off by the circle).

The hand in white looks good. Consider adding the finger lines.

Sorry, I'm usually this critical. And I hope this helps.
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