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Subject: Innovation Variant - Drafting Technologies rss

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Rees Sloan
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I've played innovation quite a bit, but one variant I've always wanted to try out is where you have a sort of drafting phase for the technologies.

In the basic game, technologies are just discovered by being drawn, and you exercise the choice to "meld" them (put them down in your city for use) or not. This game mechanic has the unfortunate side effect of making your play session a little too random. You don't really have a choice to decide which technologies you're going to encounter, they more or less just appear as random opportunities. Your only influence is deciding how many opportunities you want to have. It adds a lot of variety to how the game unfolds, but it reduces the strategies you would otherwise be allowed to attempt. Later in the game you can be severely handicapped if you got unlucky and never encountered a few key symbols.

The alternate drafting variant is designed for those who want to experience a bit more strategy and less randomization than the original game. It keeps all the rules the same, and adds 6 clarifications.

Game Variant: Drafting Technologies

1 After setup, when all the age decks are shuffled, take the lowest numbered deck (usually age 1: prehistory) and place the each of the cards face up in a line. These cards form a line of technologies which can be drafted, with the cards on the left closest to discovery and the cards on the right farthest from discovery.

2 at the start of every turn, players take from a community pile one token, which represents research opportunity. Whenever an action or card allows them to draw from the current age, they may draw the left-most card in the drafting line for free, or they may skip over that card and take the next available card down the line by paying 1 research token: placing it on the skipped card.

3 If a player has multiple research tokens, they may skip over cards in the drafting line multiple times, placing 1 token on each card they skip. If a player skips over all of the available cards in the drafting line, they may proceed to draw one card from the top of the next era's available deck. Unlike face up cards in the drafting line, all cards from future eras are always placed face down in their respective piles like normal. Research tokens are only ever used to skip over drawing the next available card in the drafting line, they may not be used to skip over drawing the next available card from a face down age deck of a future era.

4 The drafting line is only ever created with one age deck at a time. Any age decks in future eras are shuffled with cards face down. Actions which would draw cards from future era decks always take a face down card from the top. (Once drawn, discarded and returned cards from earlier ages are added back into the drafting line at the leftmost position)

5 After all of the cards in a drafting line of a particular era have been drawn, the available cards in the next deck are laid out face up from left to right to form the next drafting line. If at any point in time a card from that age or a previous age is returned from a players hand, it is added to the left/most position on the drafting line.

6 Last and most importantly, a player does not have to spend a research token to pick up a card, they may save their token(s) for later use, and may always pick up the leftmost card in the drafting line for free. If the action is instructing them to draw a card, they may also keep any existing research tokens on that card for themselves. However, if an action is instructing them to "draw and score," "draw and meld," or "draw and tuck" a card, any research tokens on the cards they draw for that purpose are not kept and are immediately returned to the community pool.

These changes result in a drastically different pace of the game, hopefully adding a dimension of strategy and avoiding the feeling of getting "stuck" with bad cards later on. There is still some element of randomization, as the drafting lines will be different each time, and cards drawn from higher ages than the current drafting line are always random. However, players must balance the opportunity to take higher cards vs the decision to pay research tokens to obtain a particular card which may suite their strategy. They also have to decide between taking or not taking otherwise unwanted cards which may have a lot of accumulated research tokens on them. Players also have to consider which cards their opponent might want, and work to sequester them!

Thoughts and comments? Let me know. laugh

FAQ

"If I have melded a card from a higher age than the current drafting line, am I allowed to draw cards from that age as a free action?

No, a draw action always involve the card at the left-most position of the drafting line. The only exception is if a card's dogma effect would instruct you to draw a card from a higher age than the current drafting line, in that case you may still do so.

"Is it theoretically possible to trigger the end of the game if the current drafting line is made up of all the age 10 cards, and someone pays research tokens on all of them to draw an 11?"

Yes!

"What about "draw and reveal" cards like Optics or Physics, isn't it overpowered if the player knows what cards in the current drafting age will be drawn next?

Yes and no. These types of cards can become more powerful, but a player could end up needing to spend a lot of accumulated research tokens in order to truly get the combination they want from the drafting line. If at any point a player has to draw and reveal from an age higher than the drafting line, it's still random.

Remember, all players can influence the cards in the drafting line by choosing which cards to take, skip, or return there. If I see my opponent has optics, it's probably in my interest to take the next available card with a crown symbol before he can.
 
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Jorgen Peddersen
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While it's interesting, I feel it's worthwhile to point out a few of the significant problems your method creates.

This seems to break several Dogma effects. For example, you would probably easily gain the Monument achievement with Metalworking almost every time, by skipping the non-Castle cards in Age I.

When returning cards, you should be putting them in the rightmost position, not the leftmost. Returned cards go to the bottom of the deck.

Your variant doesn't address what happens when an earlier Age becomes available again due to a returned card. Will you then have multiple face-up ages?

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Michael Z
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Also I can see issues arising when everyone skips forward several ages. Quite often I'll have games where there are still a deck for 1s, 2s, 3s, 4s, and we're all in age 6.

Seems to me with this variant it would just be business as usual.
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Rees Sloan
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Quote:
While it's interesting, I feel it's worthwhile to point out a few of the significant problems your method creates.

This seems to break several Dogma effects. For example, you would probably easily gain the Monument achievement with Metalworking almost every time, by skipping the non-Castle cards in Age I.

When returning cards, you should be putting them in the rightmost position, not the leftmost. Returned cards go to the bottom of the deck.

Your variant doesn't address what happens when an earlier Age becomes available again due to a returned card. Will you then have multiple face-up ages?


Thanks for the feedback!

1) With regards to balance, because cards in the drafting line are public knowledge all players would observe what technology a player picks up there.

In the case of Masonry for instance, (which I think is the one you were referring to?), every other opponent would have an opportunity to also pick up a castle card and thwart the player's attempt to build 4 castle cards and get the monument achievement.

2) I thought about returning cards quite a bit. To me it seems like discarded and returned cards represent technologies and dogmas that a civilization knew about, but decided not to pursue. For this reason, if a player returns a card from an age higher than the current drafting line it goes to the bottom of it's respective age deck. If a player returns a card from an age at or below the current drafting line it goes to the leftmost position, and this action may serve as a type of blocking move in some situations.

For example, if the left most card in the drafting line happens to be a really attractive 5th age card, I could make life difficult for the next player by returning one of my age lower cards in front of it.

3) So to clarify: Any age cards higher than the current drafting line are face down in piles. Any age cards at or below the current drafting line age stay face up in that line, even when returned.
 
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Rees Sloan
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Quote:
Also I can see issues arising when everyone skips forward several ages. Quite often I'll have games where there are still a deck for 1s, 2s, 3s, 4s, and we're all in age 6.

Seems to me with this variant it would just be business as usual.


This is a really good point, and maybe one I hope this variant addresses.

For instance, if I have a card that lets me "draw from age 5" and the current drafting line is made up of cards from age 3, what incentive do I have to ever get a card from the drafting line?

In the original game, each choice (5 or 3) would be pretty much random. But in this case you have the opportunity to scan current cards from age 3 and maybe you'll see a symbol or dogma combination that uniquely suites your strategy. In this variant you have to decide whether to take a random higher age card, or a known lower age card.

Some of the cards in the drafting line may end up accumulating a lot of research tokens as well, so even if the cards themselves seem not useful to any player, taking them represents better opportunities to get the card you want in the future. Players with more research tokens will have more choice.
 
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Jorgen Peddersen
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coastermonger wrote:
1) With regards to balance, because cards in the drafting line are public knowledge all players would observe what technology a player picks up there.

In the case of Masonry for instance, (which I think is the one you were referring to?), every other opponent would have an opportunity to also pick up a castle card and thwart the player's attempt to build 4 castle cards and get the monument achievement.

No, I meant Metalworking. Specifically scoring 6 cards in one turn. This will often be very easy to pull off with Metalworking, given you repeat its Dogma effects when it works and 9 out of the 15 age 1 cards have Castles. Everybody being forced to draw certain cards just because you took a broken card doesn't exactly sound fun.

Quote:
2) I thought about returning cards quite a bit. To me it seems like discarded and returned cards represent technologies and dogmas that a civilization knew about, but decided not to pursue. For this reason, if a player returns a card from an age higher than the current drafting line it goes to the bottom of it's respective age deck. If a player returns a card from an age at or below the current drafting line it goes to the leftmost position, and this action may serve as a type of blocking move in some situations.

For example, if the left most card in the drafting line happens to be a really attractive 5th age card, I could make life difficult for the next player by returning one of my age lower cards in front of it.

3) So to clarify: Any age cards higher than the current drafting line are face down in piles. Any age cards at or below the current drafting line age stay face up in that line, even when returned.

This means that a player that should legitimately be drawing 5s may be forced to draw a 1 instead, assuming an opponent just returned it. This seems very bad and unfair. If somebody is already in an Age beyond the lowest one, thus drawing the cards they deserve, and has a Dogma that lets them return low-Age cards, they can really steamroll their opponents stuck in the drafting limbo. It puts too much emphasis on returning cards in my opinion.

coastermonger wrote:
In the original game, each choice (5 or 3) would be pretty much random. But in this case you have the opportunity to scan current cards from age 3 and maybe you'll see a symbol or dogma combination that uniquely suites your strategy. In this variant you have to decide whether to take a random higher age card, or a known lower age card.

Uh, but how are you going to draw those lower Age cards if you are in the higher one already? You have to draw a card from the Age you are in when taking a draw action, you can't choose to go lower...
 
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Rees Sloan
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Quote:
No, I meant Metalworking. Specifically scoring 6 cards in one turn. This will often be very easy to pull off with Metalworking, given you repeat its Dogma effects when it works and 9 out of the 15 age 1 cards have Castles. Everybody being forced to draw certain cards just because you took a broken card doesn't exactly sound fun.


Ah Metalworking I see what you mean now. Hmm, not really. It is a pretty powerful card to begin with. I think the situation you're referring to, in terms of runaway early score and achievement is possible but not as likely to occur as you'd think.

Assuming a player starts with or obtains metalworking early, and assuming no other players could share the dogma action (and there are 3 other cards in age 1 which have enough castles shared to do this right off the bat: mysticism/the wheel/masonry) a player could begin to go through the drafting line to draw as many castle cards as they could manage. However, there are up to 5 non-castle cards they would have to skip over. On the very first turn a player would only have 1 research token accumulated so far, making it very unlikely they could run down the line to score 6 in a turn and get the achievement off the bat. Even if he does, it just accelerates the age for everyone else who can begin drawing age 2 cards before him, and accumulate the research tokens he's spent. Once the opponents see that the player has metalworking, it becomes possible to block such a maneuver.

Besides, if all agree that "draw and reveal" actions are too powerful when chained infinitely, they could be limited to a certain number of times. Do what you want.

Quote:
This means that a player that should legitimately be drawing 5s may be forced to draw a 1 instead, assuming an opponent just returned it. This seems very bad and unfair. If somebody is already in an Age beyond the lowest one, thus drawing the cards they deserve, and has a Dogma that lets them return low-Age cards, they can really steamroll their opponents stuck in the drafting limbo. It puts too much emphasis on returning cards in my opinion.


I think you misunderstand. If someone has a card that tells them to draw from a specific age of a higher age, they may always do so, and they draw from the top of the appropriate deck randomly.

If someone just wants to draw for free, they must do so from the left most position of the draft line, which will almost always be the lowest unclaimed card in the game. If players view this card as unattractive, they must skip by paying a research token. "One man's trash is another's treasure" rules apply, because eventually the cards here could accumulate lots of tokens that are useful for other purposes. Players discarding cards are showing them face up, giving everyone the opportunity to consider how those technologies and symbols are useful (or not) to their strategy. What someone might think of as a discard blocking maneuver may be an unexpected boon to someone else.

Additionally, the drafting tries to draw a balance between players operating with higher age cards, and those operating with lower age cards around the current draft line. Players who have the option of drawing higher age cards are moving somewhat in the dark, unsure of what they might draw and unsure of whether it will be helpful. Players looking at lower age cards are afforded the options to plan out exactly what they get and use it to their advantage.


The reason for this behavior is to mitigate runaway victories. In the original rule set one player may gain an early advantage by drawing from a higher age than everyone else, (i.e. writing, experimentation) which puts him on an accelerated path to getting the better cards before everyone else. This variant would prevent the player from automatically drawing from the age deck that matches their highest melded tech, and instead forces them to focus on what's available in the line, or what they can draw randomly in higher ages by card dogma effects alone. It lengthens the game somewhat, and in my opinion has resulted in a better balance.

Again, if any of this seems un-fun just do what you want, I'm just sharing some house rules which we've come up with over many play sessions.
 
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Andy Latto
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This seems to me to remove one of the key aspects of Innovation; the concept of a tech advantage.

In Innovation, if I manage to meld a 6, when other people are drawing threes, then the draw action gets them a 3, but it gets me a 6. This is an important advantage, and many of the interesting and tough decisions in the game relate to tradeoffs between getting higher tech and gaining advantage in other areas (more scoring, more splaying, more cards on the board and therefore more icons).

In this version, when I meld A 5, it only gives me the advantage of that single 5; I still have to draw 3's from the "drafting line" like everyone else.

So instead of multiple civilizations at different tech levels, we have one global tech level. Seems much less interesting to me.

 
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Ali Cali
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andylatto wrote:
This seems to me to remove one of the key aspects of Innovation; the concept of a tech advantage.

In Innovation, if I manage to meld a 6, when other people are drawing threes, then the draw action gets them a 3, but it gets me a 6. This is an important advantage, and many of the interesting and tough decisions in the game relate to tradeoffs between getting higher tech and gaining advantage in other areas (more scoring, more splaying, more cards on the board and therefore more icons).

In this version, when I meld A 5, it only gives me the advantage of that single 5; I still have to draw 3's from the "drafting line" like everyone else.

So instead of multiple civilizations at different tech levels, we have one global tech level. Seems much less interesting to me.

Reading the variant, if your top card is of a higher age, then you still draw from the higher pile. You just don't have the choice of cards like at the lowest age.

I see a lot of people here knocking this down. I think people have to try it first, as it's such a different concept than usual.
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Andy Latto
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aliallison wrote:

Reading the variant, if your top card is of a higher age, then you still draw from the higher pile. You just don't have the choice of cards like at the lowest age.

I think you've misread it.
Original post wrote:
If I have melded a card from a higher age than the current drafting line, am I allowed to draw cards from that age as a free action?

No, your free action to draw will always involve the card at the left-most position of the drafting line. If a card's dogma effect would instruct you to draw a card from a higher age than the current drafting line, you may still do so.

If the drafting line is 3's and a card says "draw a 5", you get a (random) 5. But if you take a draw action, you still draw a 3 from the drafting line, unless you pay enough to bypass the whole line.
Quote:
I see a lot of people here knocking this down. I think people have to try it first, as it's such a different concept than usual.

I think it's an interesting concept, but needs some tweaking to be viable. So I'm pointing out a problem so that it can be patched. I think that your misunderstanding of the rules, where a draw action gives you a card from the usual deck, but it's random, would be an improvement. But in the common situation where both players have "teched up", the drafting line becomes irrelevant; If I use Writing and you use Tools, there will be a drafting line of 1's, but probably no-one will use it for the rest of the game, and we'll be playing normal innovation except at the very beginning.
 
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Rafał Kruczek
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New expansion Arifacts introduces Dig feature to incorporate some form of draft into drawing Artifacts.
See yesterday's video on Asmadi Youtube channel
 
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Jorgen Peddersen
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The rule that all standard draws come from the open line, regardless of your card of the highest age, was not apparent at all originally. It seems people are still not noticing this, either.

Now that I understand that part, I agree that it does remove one of the major strategies to win the game, the tech advantage. With the normal rules, if you fall behind on score, but you can get yourself into a higher age before your opponent/s, then you still have a good chance of winning as you are the only one with access to the higher, more powerful cards. You will soon be able to dominate the game and shut the other player down.

Removing that opportunity now puts a heavier emphasis on scoring. As aging up is much less likely to save you, everyone will likely start fixating on the heavy scoring cards in an attempt to get the achievements.

 
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