Recommend
2 
 Thumb up
 Hide
8 Posts

Catan» Forums » Variants

Subject: Mortgage Your House Variant rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Ian Naudé
msg tools
It is one of the most frustrating experiences. Your numbers just aren't getting rolled and there's not much, if anything, that can be done. I have played some games in which my starting placements are solid, I use my resources to best maximize VPs, and I finish the game with 3 or 4 VPs. I accept that I won't win every (or even most) games, but I want to have fun actually playing the game every time I play, even if I lose.

"Git gud!" say some.
"That's just part of Settlers" say others.

Somehow, these answers do not make it suddenly fun to be the one who isn't getting any resources for two or three (or more!) rounds! The reality that this happens often (usually to at least one player every time I play) is unacceptable at a game design level. For the person in this situation, playing the game is just not very fun or interesting, which is bad for an activity that is supposed to be...wait for it...FUN! So, here is my solution.

My goal with this solution was to change as little of the actual game-play/game-flow as possible, provide a way to get resources when rolls aren't doing anything for you, and most importantly to make playing the game more fun, especially when the rolls are seemingly against you.

My solution is a new mechanic: Mortgage Your House.



HOW IT WORKS:
When you're looking at a game in progress you have your pieces in front of you, the bank to the side of the board, and the board itself. At any time during your turn, you may choose to mortgage one of your structures (Settlements or Cities, not roads):
1. Take one of your Settlements/Cities from your personal supply.
2. Place it at the bank (next to the resource card stacks). The bank now owns your structure and you are not allowed to place it onto the game-board until you buy it back from the bank.
3. In return, take any THREE resources according to the following conditions:

a. If the structure being mortgaged is a Settlement, take any combination of Brick, Wood, Wheat, or Sheep (no more than one per resource type).
b. If the structure being mortgaged is a City, take any combination of Ore and Wheat (no more than THREE Ore and no more than TWO Wheat).

4. You may immediately use the resources you chose according to the normal rules.


That's how you mortgage! [Mortgage is being used loosely in this case - this is not intended to accurately reflect mortgaging in real life.] There are a few other restraints associated with this mechanic:

1. The bank may not own more than THREE of a certain player's structures at any given time.
2. You cannot win the game if the bank owns ANY of your structures, even if you have TEN VPs on your turn (this happened to me in one game). You must first buy back any mortgaged structures.
3. In order to buy structures back from the bank, you must pay FOUR resources according to the following conditions:

a. If the structure being bought back is a Settlement, pay ONE each of Brick, Wood, Wheat, and Sheep.
b. If the structure being bought back is a City, pay any combination of Ore and Wheat (no more than THREE Ore and no more than TWO Wheat).



WHY I LOVE THE MORTGAGE:
I love this mechanic, and here's why. On those turns that I roll and get nothing (or less than I need), I can at least DO something. Even if I lose, it feels like I was still making progress throughout the game. In other words, when the rolls are against you, you are still able to contribute to the game and progress towards the 10 VP goal. Even better, the mechanic isn't overpowered. There is a balance to knowing when to mortgage and knowing when doing so could hurt you later. Do I borrow from the bank now and have to pay it back later? Or do I wait another round?

Another aspect that I like is that sometimes other players will see that the bank owns some of your structures and they will be more willing to trade with you. On the other hand, other players will see that you are able to mortgage and will try to force you into borrowing from the bank instead of trading with you.

Those who don't need to borrow from the bank will probably avoid doing so, since mortgaging a house means having to buy it back later. Those who are having terrible rolls probably will mortgage a house, since they would rather have something over nothing. Those who end up mortgaging will hopefully use the borrowed resources wisely so that they can leverage enough resources later on to pay the bank back.

Furthermore, it doesn't change any of the standard rules. It merely adds to them. And it is something that a player can choose not to take part in. I played a game with my family and my brother didn't mortgage anything the entire game...and he won! This was the same game in which I was sitting on 10 VPs but the bank owned two of my cities. I was able to buy one of them back but before I could buy the other one back my Mom stole the Longest Road from me and my brother won on that same turn.



FINAL THOUGHTS:
All in all, this mechanic solves a lot of things that had previously frustrated me. Bottom line, it makes those games that are full of unlucky rolls more fun and more interesting. There are a few ideas here (such as when to mortgage and pushing other players to mortgage) that I find very interesting and a nice fit with normal Settlers game-play.

What do you think? I'm very aware that this solution is far from perfect. How could it be better? If you end up trying it with your game group, what did you think? I'm very keen to hear.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Billy McBoatface
United States
Lexington
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
KGS is the #1 web site for playing go over the internet. Visit now!
badge
Yes, I really am that awesome.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Have you tried the government cheese variant? That also solves the "my numbers aren't being rolled" problem, in a what that seems a lot cleaner to me.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ian Naudé
msg tools
I actually haven't, but I'm more than willing to give it a try! I think I saw it elsewhere in the forums so I'll find it and give it a try next time I play.

EDIT: I can't find it link please?
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Anthony Nguyen
United States
Longmont
Colorado
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmb
Here's a thread on it. I haven't heard it called government cheese, but I think it's the same as welfare variant.

Welfare variant
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Billy McBoatface
United States
Lexington
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
KGS is the #1 web site for playing go over the internet. Visit now!
badge
Yes, I really am that awesome.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Yup, it's the same as the welfare variant that Anthony linked to. I always heard it called government cheese, which is nice because calling the counters "cheese" is easier than calling them "welfare tokens."
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jack of Clubs
United States
Fountain Valley
California
flag msg tools
Why is there no Word Games Forum or Subdomain?
badge
There should be a Word Games Subdomain, or at least a Word Games Forum!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
If I were playing with this mortgage rule, I'd probably max out my mortages as quickly as possible. If I can upgrade both of my starting settlements to cities within my first 2-4 turns, it'll be way more than worth it for all the extra stuff I'll get. Seems like a no-brainer. Get a couple of wheat/ore and mortgage your way to a city. Do that again, and you have two cities almost instantly. Then mortgage a settlement to build a road to your next settlement location. Only pay off the mortgages when your hand is vulnerable to the 7, or when you get close to winning.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jack of Clubs
United States
Fountain Valley
California
flag msg tools
Why is there no Word Games Forum or Subdomain?
badge
There should be a Word Games Subdomain, or at least a Word Games Forum!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Perhaps a more realistic mortgage rule would be to allow players to mortgage the settlements and cities that are already on the board. Indicate their mortgaged status by turning them on their side. The player gets some goods immediately - perhaps even the full cost of the settlement or city upgrade.

A mortgaged settlement is worth 0 victory points and does not produce anything until the mortgage is paid off. A mortgages city is only worth 1 victory point, and produces like a settlement until the mortgage is paid off. The cost to pay off the mortgage is the same as the goods you got from it. Mortgages do not have to be paid off all at once. So if you have a mortgaged city, you can pay a wheat and an ore, and then you only owe two more ore and one more wheat. You can pay them off at any time, even on other players' turns.

What do you think of that?
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Dan C
United States
Minnesota
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
I had the same thought as Nostrildamus as soon as I read this. I would mortgage everything right away to get my engine going. The alternative to mortgage live settlements/cities seems like a good limiter.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.