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Chun Ping
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I always like computer games such as tradewinds 2. (Gameplay video of Trade Winds 2 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=duy6hcUXRDU)

The feeling of travelling the universe and buying low selling high is very attractive.

In board game terms, this is the pick up and deliver mechanics. There are a few good games in this genre, with the grand daddy of all Merchant of Venus (second edition).

I recently had an idea, what if instead of delivering the goods like a delivery boy, you play as the read merchant! Visit new planets to negotiate a trade contract, and your minions will ship them to and fro the destination to earn you a constant profit!

The main mechanics is that, instead of cubes, you pick up a contract when you are at the planet. You can designate this as either a BUY or a SELL contract. For as long as you hold onto this contract, you will continue to buy/sell to this planet every turn.

The main aim is thus to obtain a pair of buy and sell contract of the same goods that give you a good profit margin. In this way, players will pay attention to each other as the relative gain of each contract is dependent on what other contract they have.

Another benefit to this system is that you can mess with other players after they have already gained the contract. it give less advantage to the first person to reach a good planet.


The following is my ideas so far. Please critise and help me see if this has potential!
 
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Chun Ping
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Re: [WIP] - A game about Galactic Trading where you negotiate trade contracts and not be a delivery boy!
Game Rules:

Trading Empire (lousy name I know, suggestions welcome!)

Background:
You are the owner of a galactic space trading company. Your love for travel had you discovered that every planet in the Federation had a different taste for different products. To you, that means opportunity! Over the last 5 years, you have grown your business from a one-man operation to a fleet of 5 frigates. You only have one goal on your mind now, to build the biggest space trading empire ever known to _insert universe’s name_

Objective:
Players race to be the richest empire at the end of the game.

Money are earned by securing lucrative contracts for the 5 different types of.

Each planet has its price for 2 type of goods it is trading!

As you visit the local markets, you can secure contracts with the locals to either buy or sell the merchandise at the local prices.

You start with only 5 frigates, which means to say you can have only 5 concurrent trading routes.

You have a warehouse in your home planet so that you can buy up the under-priced goods even before you can find a buyer for them. “Never pass up a good bargain” is what your old man used to teach you…

Set up:


* How do I increase the display size of the image?

1. There board will consist of many planets (exact layout and number not yet fixed, likely using hexes or like rex)
a. Every planet will start off with 2 random goods.
b. Each good tiles indicate the type of good (A-E) and the local price.
c. It comes with a round token indicating the planet that it is from.
d. Players will be traveling around these planets to interact with the locals

2. There will be 3 pairs of planet and goods tile on to the future demand. This will give the players a glimpse of the changing demands in the future. Every time a good is taken by the player, the top most demand will come into play (on to the corresponding planet)

3. This is the income track that indicate how much money the player earns at end of round.

4. Besides the planets, there is also a black market. These are sold at very high prices. They can be crucial for a player when he is missing goods to fulfil his contracts. Players may also wish to sell to the black market if the price is right. (there may be penalty and requirements involved in using the black market. Currently have not thought about it.


The player board:



1. Frigates – Your trade ships
a. The player board have 5 frigates that you start with. Each can hold one pair of your contract. When you take a contract you can choose either as a buy or sell. (you cannot change it later).
b. So the maximum concurrent trade is 5 at the start of the game. If taking a contract will make you exceed this number, you can instantly void any previous contract.
c. To place a buy and sell order on the same frigate, they must be the same goods from different planets.
d. You can rearrange your contracts when you execute a obtain contract action. However, you cannot change a buy to a sell or vice versa.

2. Warehouse
a. The default location of your frigate is your warehouse. If your frigate has only one contract, it will interact with your warehouse on your home planet.
b. Example, frigate 2 will deliver one Good A to your warehouse every turn. While Frigate 4 will take away one Good E from your ware house every turn. Frigate 3 will be travelling between Planet 5 & 13 and does not involve your ware house.
c. During the income phase, you will go through your frigates to place goods cubes in your warehouse.
d. Next you will, ensure all unpaired Sell contracts can be fulfilled. Discard any contracts you are unable to fulfil (remember to subtract from your income track)
e. Currently I have not decided if there should be limits to number of cubes being stored.

3. Upgrades are gained through the game and will be place here.

4. Your flagship (the one that is flying around the map) has a fuel capacity (Starting with 3). This will limit how far and frequent you can travel. It can be upgraded later.

5. Players will also have action cards in hand. (These are supplement systems to be designed later)


Action Rounds:
On your turn, you have 2 actions in any order you like. You cannot repeat the same action twice.

a. Move

You can move 1 to 3 planets in a turn. Moving long distance deplete fuel faster and you will need to refuel more often. You use up fuel from your player board based on how far you travelled:

1 Planet 1 Fuel
2 Planets 3 Fuel
3 Planets 5 Fuel

You can only interact with the planet that you started/ended your movement on, not those planets that you travelled through.

b. Obtain Contract
The main action. When you are at a planet, you can use this action to take one of the available goods contract on this planet and place it on one of your frigate. You must decide whether it is a buy or sell contract now.

Take the circle planet token and flip it to the right side (one side says sell, the other says buy)

If you do not have the available slots, you are allowed to discard a previous contract.

Adjust your income track based on the contract value. (minus for a buy contract, plus for a sell contract) remember to adjust if you have discarded a previous contract.

*Note: You cannot take a Sell contract unless you have the goods or the appropriate contract to fulfil the supply!

After this step is done, take the future demand pair and add it to the board. Replenish the future demand track.

You can also outbid your opponent’s BUY contract or Start a price war by supplying the same goods to the same planet. See Outbidding your opponent & Starting a price war.

c. Refuel
Spend an action to replenish fuel cube up to your maximum capacity. Currently it is free, playtesting will reveal if it should have a cost.

d. Buy Upgrade
You can buy one available upgrade for an action. (Current thought is that different planet have different upgrades. Perhaps one planet specialise in better engine, another have extra frigate for sale. There will be home planet upgrades etc too)

e. Work
If you have nothing to do for an action. You can find some odd job for your crew to pass the time. This will earn you $3 per action. (Exact amount require play testing. This is a mechanics to allow players who have screwed up to do something useful. It is not meant be part of a good strategy. This is like 7 wonder’s discard for 3 coins mechancis)

f. Special Actions
Some upgrade/cards/building/location will give special actions to be used. One idea is a trader association building that will give you some control about the demand and supply in certain planets.

Turn Structure:
1. Player take their turns in sequence
a. Play 2 Actions
2. Upkeep (Simultaneous)
a. Fulfil contracts
b. Income
3. Check victory condition
4. Determine turn order for next round
5. World events (Have not decide if this will be in the game)

Game end:
Have not decide on which game end. I prefer a game end that can be affected by the players.
Options 1: First to earn $500
Option 2: Game end when the bank is broke
Option 3: Fixed number of turns

Other Game Ideas:
Spoiler (click to reveal)

Outbidding your opponent & Starting a price war
During “Obtain Contract”, if you are on the corresponding planet, you can attempt to steal your opponents’ BUY contract. You do so by declaring the contract that you want, and bid a higher price than him. The current owner can choose to match your bid. (He does not have to outbid, the locals prefer to stay with the current trader if the price is the same) You can continue to increase the bid until you win, or you are unwilling to.

If you win, take the contract tokens from your opponent and place in your player board. Take a number of price marker to indicate the bid price. (Example, the contract is $3 for Good A. You won the bid with $5. You place a +$2 token on this contract) You reduce your income on the income track (not your money stash!) by your bid amount.

If you lose the bid. Your opponent place a price marker token to indicate the new price that he is paying for. Adjust the income track. You DO NOT get to attempt another contract. Your action is spent. (this needs play testing. If this is too weak, allow failed attempt to take a contract from the planet as per normal)

Another idea is that players can negotiate. Instead of bidding, he can offer some cash to the owner to buy over the contract.

Price war: If you are at a planet that already have another player supplying the same good. You can start a price war and ship the same good to this planet even though there’s no available contract on this planet. When you do so, both of you get HALF of the contract’s value. The original player flips over the contract (Eg: a contract of $14 for Good B, when flipped, will states “Price War! $7 for Good B”) The player starting the price war also receive the same. When one of these players void their contract. The price war ends and flip it back to the original value. (there are issues implementing this in the physical boardgame. Will have to find a solution)

Player’s influence on the demand and prices.
An important factor for such a game is that the players must be given ways to control the demands and prices. Without such powers, the game is nothing more than finding an efficient path of travel and would not be much fun. This is a part that is open ended and require testing out the core system first. If the core system show promise, this can be further developed.

One way is for player to buy insider information. They may be able to know the upcoming demand ahead of their opponent and have ways to prepare for it.

Another is for the demand to be affected by cards that players can play. These cards are available to be bought at certain locations. This will add a drafting dynamics to the game.

Third idea is follow food chain magnate, where the demand is entirely due to the player’s advertising campaign. In this game, it could be instigating a war between planet 1 & 2 (thus demand for weapon increase while all other goods stop trading). Or build a mine on the planet’s asteroid belt which increase the iron ore supply on that planet. In this game, the player never owns the productions facilities. Thus all these are represented by the merchant using his influence to get other stakeholders to build mines or start wars. It this mechanics is used, we can have an influence track that dictate what kind of influence you can exert.

Goods Differentiation
There can be a differentiation of the goods features rather than just cost and sale price. In this game, what matters is the DIFFERENCE between your buy and sell contract, thus there is not much room for tuning in terms of price alone.

Here are some ideas:

Weapon: High selling price. Rare. Require a license to be able to trade this. (can be bought on one of the planet)

Luxury goods: Very high margin. However, the price fluctuate very frequently. Perhaps roll a die every turn to determine the new price. (Current idea. During upkeep phase, every luxury good contract you will roll a dice. It will either increase/decrease by $0-$3. This is done AFTER the income phase. So you will not screw by random dice roll. But your contract can become not lucrative in the next round. So you can choose to abandon it)

Food: low margin and abundant. If we use influence system, this may give you extra influence. Also, there can be world events (such as famine and drought) that can give a very high margin for this good.

Metal: This could be a required resource to purchase some upgrades or they can give significant discounts.
 
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James Arias
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Looks neat. I like the variable demand pairs, that's not something I see in other tading type games. Subscribed to see the updates.
 
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Chun Ping
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Thanks for your interest. Do you have any tips for me that can get more people to take a look and give some feedback? I want to get some idea as to whether the core mechanics are interesting to others.

I like the idea of pick up and deliver game, however most of the existing games give too little control and strategy. I am trying to address that with this design, however it's untested yet (trying to get some simple prototypes and force my friends to play it )

some theorocrafting from the other experience designers will be great to get it more fleshed out before trying it in real life.
 
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James Arias
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Maybe cross-post in the Board Game Design forum since you are trying to introduce a new (or at least uncommon) mechanic of contract matching based on random demands.
 
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