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Subject: Help on a Population Growth Mechanic rss

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Edington Watt
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The last mechanic I need to handle in my semi-cooperative space 4x game is population growth.

Currently, each player has one home planet that has every population slot filled with a population counter (which represents a population of people). Each population slot indicates what resource is produced if there is a population counter present. Every planet has a limited number of population slots which represents the size of the planet and the abundance of resources on that planet.

So, for example, a small planet can have two population slots where one slot is to produce money (to buy things) and the other slot to produce production (to build things). If two population counters are on these two slots then the planet can produce both money and production.

Now when colonizing an uninhabited planet with a colonizer ship, the ship is destroyed and 1 population counter is placed in an available slot.

In the game, I want players to be able to increase the number of population counters in a colony or even on a home planet in the event some of the population counters die off.

But how to do this in a simple way that produces interesting decisions has been challenging so far.

As this is a 4x game that has a lot going on, I want the overall mechanic to be fairly simple yet satisfying.

Here are some of the ideas I have so far:

1. Every planet which has at least one population counter can produce only one more population counter for that turn.
2. A colony cannot increase population itself and a population convoy (like a colonizer ship) must depart from the home planet to the colony to add a population counter. Maybe if the colony reaches its maximum number of population counters, it then can act as a home planet and create population counters for other planets.
3. Add a food population slot on some planets. For every food population slot occupied, it allows for the population growth on one planet (or maybe one population counter). This may involve some tracking and a little book keeping unfortunately.
4. Have a food population slot on some planets and if the slot is occupied it will produce a food resource (tokens or something) which can be spent to buy a population counter. Right now I have three main resources: money, production and research. I would have to add another resource of food.

With adding the food resource, I want to avoid some type of food upkeep mechanic whereby players must have X amount of food for Y population counters to avoid starvation and so on.

Which of these ideas sound sensible to you? Do you have any other ideas?

Thanks,

--DarkDream
 
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Jeremy Lennert
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If you are trying not to increase complexity too much, I'd be inclined to say that population counters are another thing you can "buy" with money, production, or some other resource that you already have in the game. Maybe describe it as "building houses" or something.
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Harv Veerman
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Of these options, bearing in mind not to want to increase difficulty, I'ld go for option no.2.

Makes sense too: planet full --> colonize --> colonized planet full --> colonize etc.

Option 1 makes sense too, of course, but is a bit "simple" isn't it?

Option 1b, maybe: when there is just one population counter on a planet, the next turn put another one on top of that. The next (i.e. second) turn, move it to a slot.
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Graham Muller
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What about having instead of a food resource simply a slot that produces another population on that planet. The slots could even include an or option for one resource or another

This means that when populating a new planet you must choose between immediate reward of money/production or growing the number of people on the planet.

I think this solution keeps it simple, I wouldn't allow population to appear on any planet, as that would remove from the tactical choice. You could provide a way for people to be transported through a cost (ships, worm holes, star gates etc.) to have a growth planet.
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John Aronis
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First idea that came to mind- Instead of producing on one slot on the planet, you can gain population. Thematically- you are dedicating resources to expanding your colony rather than exporting to the empire.

Planers not able to produce on their own and needing continual colonisation seems a bit weird.

Or incorporate it into another mechanic. Maybe every player can produce one population every 3rd turn.

Hope these ideas off the top of my head help.
 
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Billy Pitiot
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I agree with Mad Math that option 2 is the best for simplicity.
That's what Eclipse does and does it very well in my opinion.

The other options all add a lot of book keeping which is good to avoid if you want to streamline your game.

In Eclipse, you do not have to keep track of what planets are about to increase population, how many resources you get... When you want to add a production cube on one planet you control, you simply flip a colonization ship face down and add a cube and you can see on the cube track how much of the resource you now produce each turn.
That's simple and allows the players to focus on the game rather than on book keeping.
 
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Michael Brettell
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Partly its going to depend on how hard you want it to be. If as your opponent I put some effort in to attacking you and killing your population, it would be frustrating if it is very easy for you to repopulate.

Unless adding Food gives some other mechanic benefit, I wouldn't introduce a new resource.

I think repopulating via colony ship makes sense, and wouldn't require adding a new rule, except that maybe it doesn't require destroying the ship?

Also, maybe have a rule like 'Instead of a planet generating any resources, you may increase the population by 1'.
 
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JT Schiavo
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jakkaof86 wrote:
First idea that came to mind- Instead of producing on one slot on the planet, you can gain population. Thematically- you are dedicating resources to expanding your colony rather than exporting to the empire.

Planers not able to produce on their own and needing continual colonisation seems a bit weird.


I like this idea. You can choose to grow, it chose to get the resources you need right now.

Depending on the balance you want, maybe not produce in the entire planet, making population growth on a large planet costly. Could be coupled with a mechanic to shift about the cubes each turn to determine what you produce.
 
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John Breckenridge
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jakkaof86 wrote:
First idea that came to mind- Instead of producing on one slot on the planet, you can gain population. Thematically- you are dedicating resources to expanding your colony rather than exporting to the empire.

Planers not able to produce on their own and needing continual colonisation seems a bit weird.

Or incorporate it into another mechanic. Maybe every player can produce one population every 3rd turn.

Hope these ideas off the top of my head help.


You could even vary it by having some planets where you only need one population cube in the "grow population" space, but others where you need to dedicate two or even three to growth to make your population grow. And I suppose theoretically there could be some planets where the "grow population" space doesn't require any cubes and you always get one more per turn - maybe this is how the homeworlds work.

The concept could be extended to making something like a world with one growth space that takes one cube and a second growth space that takes two cubes, so you could grow faster if you dedicate a lot of resources to it.

Or have a really harsh world where there's a space where you have to put a cube or else you lose one population per turn.
 
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Dave Schroeder
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jbrecken wrote:
You could even vary it by having some planets where you only need one population cube in the "grow population" space, but others where you need to dedicate two or even three to growth to make your population grow. And I suppose theoretically there could be some planets where the "grow population" space doesn't require any cubes and you always get one more per turn - maybe this is how the homeworlds work.

The concept could be extended to making something like a world with one growth space that takes one cube and a second growth space that takes two cubes, so you could grow faster if you dedicate a lot of resources to it.

Or have a really harsh world where there's a space where you have to put a cube or else you lose one population per turn.

I really like the idea of a "grow population" slot, along with a way to transport population. It stays simple (just another slot to put your workers, and another resource to pick up along with the others) and gives you choices as a player. It also gives you a lot of balancing options as a designer, since you can easily alter the effort needed to fully exploit planets in a thematic way. Volcanic planets with tons of resources would be hard to populate, possibly not even having a grow slot. Green planets that aren't an industrial boon can spew people to expand the empire, with cheap and plentiful grow slots.
 
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Edington Watt
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Antistone wrote:
If you are trying not to increase complexity too much, I'd be inclined to say that population counters are another thing you can "buy" with money, production, or some other resource that you already have in the game. Maybe describe it as "building houses" or something.


This is definitely a simple and effective way of dealing with population. I will seriously consider this one.

The only downside, is that there maybe some planets (due to habitat) that are easier or harder to grow a player's population and thus adjustments may be needed for the amount of production needed to add a population counter.

gmuller wrote:
What about having instead of a food resource simply a slot that produces another population on that planet. The slots could even include an or option for one resource or another

This means that when populating a new planet you must choose between immediate reward of money/production or growing the number of people on the planet.

I think this solution keeps it simple, I wouldn't allow population to appear on any planet, as that would remove from the tactical choice. You could provide a way for people to be transported through a cost (ships, worm holes, star gates etc.) to have a growth planet.


This is an excellent suggestion that other posters have added to.

jakkaof86 wrote:
First idea that came to mind- Instead of producing on one slot on the planet, you can gain population. Thematically- you are dedicating resources to expanding your colony rather than exporting to the empire.

brettellmd wrote:
Also, maybe have a rule like 'Instead of a planet generating any resources, you may increase the population by 1'.


Yes. I was considering something like this which is a variation of the first option I gave.

To provide more detail on my game, on every turn each player has around 4-5 action tokens which can be spent to activate a population token to produce a resource. Along the lines you mentioned, a player would have to spend an action token to increase the population by 1 on a planet. There would be a limit in that you could only increase the population by 1 on a planet per turn.

To avoid a situation where an enemy kills a population that is immediately replaced by a new population counter on the next turn resulting in the conflict never ending, there can be a simple rule that if the planet is attacked population growth can not occur.

dschro1 wrote:
I really like the idea of a "grow population" slot, along with a way to transport population. It stays simple (just another slot to put your workers, and another resource to pick up along with the others) and gives you choices as a player. It also gives you a lot of balancing options as a designer, since you can easily alter the effort needed to fully exploit planets in a thematic way. Volcanic planets with tons of resources would be hard to populate, possibly not even having a grow slot. Green planets that aren't an industrial boon can spew people to expand the empire, with cheap and plentiful grow slots.

Yes. I do like the idea as well, and as you pointed out, it can introduce some interesting choices.

Great ideas guys. I think there are multiple viable options here.

--DarkDream
 
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