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Subject: Ideas on Cooperative Space Ship Handling rss

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Edington Watt
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I am working on a space empire semi-cooperative board game where each player is a faction in a Galactic Senate. Every turn one player will be elected Consul and has some privileges.

The Senate can go ahead and vote to utilize the navy to defeat foreign invaders, raze a planet and so on.

In the game, there are spaces for systems and fleets can occupy and be moved to different spaces to attack and so on.

The ownership of fleets is the first design issue I am facing: should all fleets be owned by the Senate (as in a typical Sci-Fi space Federation) or should each faction still own its fleets (more like a mutual alliance)?
Even if the ownership design is figured out, it still begs the question of how fleet management should be carried out.

For example, if all the fleets are owned by the Senate, then it would make sense the Consul would be responsible for moving the fleets per the Senate’s orders (X fleets are to attack the Space Amoeba in System Y). If the fleets are scattered over multiple systems then I imagine the Consul would be responsible for choosing which ones to move towards the threat.

One problem I envision in this semi-competitive game, is that the Consul could purposely pick some fleets further away that will take more time to get to the said location, so the other competing player’s system is ravaged prior to help. You could put rules into play such that the Consul must move the closest fleets to engage the enemy and so on, but there may be such situations that force the Consul to move the closest fleet which could be catastrophic (a fleet is moved away from a home system that will be attacked next turn).

In the second option where players own their own fleets, each player would be in a sense their own Consul who would have the same obligation to user their fleets to fulfill the Senate’s orders.

I don’t think this option is necessarily better as the same type of problems would still remain, namely of players dragging their feet to help other players. It seems a player would always choose to move a fleet that favors themselves more than their opponents they are ordered to help out.
Another problem with this options is that there would be possible coordination problems between the players (let’s all put our fleets in this system to build a big force so we can attack all together the adjacent system with the amoeba).
Which option do you like better, the Consul ownership or the faction ownership? How would you sort out the fleet management?

I think the central problem (I guess this arises with all semi-competitive games) is how can one incentivize an individual player to play the game in the best interest of all the players as a whole (the Senate) rather that themselves?

Any ideas or thoughts on how to do this in relation to fleet management and waging of warfare would be greatly appreciated.
 
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Warren Fitzpatrick
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What immediately popped into my mind was that they have goals to help the player. You CAN drag your feet, but it will cost you in another area (not counting how your "Allies" will get ticked off). Don't know enough about the game to give more, but that would be the easiest fix.

wf
 
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James Arias
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Yeah I was thinking similar, aside from reciprocity ("if I delay attacking his space amoeba, he'll delay deflecting my rogue asteroid"), some kind of reward like favor points, luck points, etc. for doing their duty diligently, which could then be weighed against benefit of dragging their heels. That way it's a harder decision as they're having to compare two different things.

So I guess I'm saying I prefer the "individually controlled fleets" option, with some mechanics rewarding cooperation but also allowing for quid pro quo.

 
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Michael Brettell
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I think the factions owning the fleets is more interesting. The Senate could vote on exactly which factions need to send their ships to defeat or protect a particular system. Maybe factions have to comply and gain a share of some sort of reward for doing so. But at a certain point the faction may choose to rebel and go it alone against the senate.

Brings to mind the Roman Senate sending Julius away from Rome so his large army wasn't threatening the Senate's power.
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Edington Watt
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wf wrote:
What immediately popped into my mind was that they have goals to help the player. You CAN drag your feet, but it will cost you in another area (not counting how your "Allies" will get ticked off). Don't know enough about the game to give more, but that would be the easiest fix.


crazybyzantine wrote:
Yeah I was thinking similar, . . . some kind of reward like favor points, luck points, etc. for doing their duty diligently, which could then be weighed against benefit of dragging their heels. That way it's a harder decision as they're having to compare two different things.

So I guess I'm saying I prefer the "individually controlled fleets" option, with some mechanics rewarding cooperation but also allowing for quid pro quo.


Thanks guys, yes, I was considering something along the lines you are talking about with an award. Eclipse uses a mechanism to encourage fleet battles by awarding reputation tiles with victory points. You gain reputation tiles by destroying opposing fleets and event get one just by participating in a battle. Maybe something similar can be used, where if an allied player's ship takes part in the battle they will at least get a victory point -- perhaps one victory point per ship contributed, and even get more should their ships destroy one or more of the threat.

So it would make the incentive to help out to gain VP. Thematically, a player who helps out is doing so for the survival of the Senate and thus gains prestige and popularity.

If the Consul would just control the fleets, and we used a similar mechanism of awarding VP, then the Consul would be the only one to gain VP. Not sure if I like that idea. From a gaming standpoint it would reduce player interaction and collaborative planing.

Any more thoughts?
 
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Edington Watt
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brettellmd wrote:

I think the factions owning the fleets is more interesting. The Senate could vote on exactly which factions need to send their ships to defeat or protect a particular system. Maybe factions have to comply and gain a share of some sort of reward for doing so.


Yes. Thanks. I think there is almost a consensus here on the factions contributing their own fleets. As for the reward, I have proposed VPs.

I was also thinking of adding another incentive to help out your fellow player via an unrest mechanism. Should a System loose a population marker from an attack, all adjacent Systems would then have a population marker strike (unhappy and scared with the situation). Should another population marker be lost, then all the systems adjacent to the Systems with striking population begin to strike as well. Thus an event can cause all the players' Systems to be affected negatively leaving each player more vulnerable from future attacks or mishaps. So it then becomes in the best interest of each player to stifle an attack as an attack can effects them as well.

--DarkDream
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