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Subject: Hiding economic waste in a 4X game rss

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Stephen Hurn
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I am developing a 4X game, which gives a player resources for each planet that they control. Resources are also earned through trade routes and technology. In the current incarnation of the game, I am having players clear existing resources, tally up their income and pay themselves at the end of each round (a round consists of several orders (actions)). This creates a number of situations where the player will abandon resources to the ether. My play testers have mentioned that doing so feels wasteful since they feel that they want to spend their income.

I don't want to allow players to be able to bank their income since it creates a whole host of balancing issues, forces cheaper components and will involve a fairly major redesign. Essentially I want to force the decision about whether to spend or not.

In Twilight Imperium, planets are exhausted to pay for technology, ships and troops or for influence. This creates interesting decisions and sub-optimal "rounding" issues. In 7 Wonders, players are forced to use only a subset of their resources on each turn because each card only uses a few of the resources you have.

What other mechanisms could be used to create a "lossy" round of play without feeling punitive?
 
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wayne mathias
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If there were another element - civilian morale or perhaps another economic modifier - that would increase or decrease due to resources left in the "general consumer economy".................
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B C Z
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Describe "production" as the sum of the ability to harvest that round, not the actual harvest.

Just because you *can* pull 100 units of coal out of the ground doesn't mean you do, you might only pull out 80.
Further, only pulling out 80 doesn't mean next month you can pull 120 units -- you're still only producing 80.


---


Allow resources to be banked, but impose a massive tax/spoilage on stored items. Lose 3/4 (rounded against the player) of all items in storage.

So 1,2,3 would just be lost. 4,5,6,7 would become 1, etc.

That's probably enough to encourage players to spend their stuff.
 
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Nathaniel Grisham

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In Imperial Settlers, each faction is allowed to store one type of resource between rounds, but no others. So each faction has to figure out how to spend or convert all of the resources that they can't save, or else they just lose them at the end of the round. A major part of the game becomes about trying to use resources efficiently and avoiding the waste.

In all of the Arkham Horror line of games (that I have played, anyway), you don't get change when you spend trophies, which can have varying values. You either spend enough, or you don't. If the total you are spending adds up to more than the cost, then you just have to eat the difference.

 
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B C Z
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Grishhammer wrote:
In all of the Arkham Horror line of games (that I have played, anyway), you don't get change when you spend trophies, which can have varying values. You either spend enough, or you don't. If the total you are spending adds up to more than the cost, then you just have to eat the difference.



This example is more of a piece-limitation than a game mechanic, and is often prevalent in games that don't have a fungible currency. If Fantasy Flight had included yet-another-token called "trophy points" and included a ones unit in that currency, then this wouldn't be a consideration.

 
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Nathaniel Grisham

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byronczimmer wrote:
Grishhammer wrote:
In all of the Arkham Horror line of games (that I have played, anyway), you don't get change when you spend trophies, which can have varying values. You either spend enough, or you don't. If the total you are spending adds up to more than the cost, then you just have to eat the difference.



This example is more of a piece-limitation than a game mechanic, and is often prevalent in games that don't have a fungible currency. If Fantasy Flight had included yet-another-token called "trophy points" and included a ones unit in that currency, then this wouldn't be a consideration.



I still think it's a useful tool, but I agree it probably doesn't fit this application, now that I look at it more.


Another solution is to give them some kind of resource sink that they have easy access to. Like some really inefficient conversion from resources to victory points, or whatever. That way there is still something they can do with leftover resources before losing them, but it's not optimal.
 
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Stephen Hurn
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Grishhammer wrote:
byronczimmer wrote:
Grishhammer wrote:
In all of the Arkham Horror line of games (that I have played, anyway), you don't get change when you spend trophies, which can have varying values. You either spend enough, or you don't. If the total you are spending adds up to more than the cost, then you just have to eat the difference.



This example is more of a piece-limitation than a game mechanic, and is often prevalent in games that don't have a fungible currency. If Fantasy Flight had included yet-another-token called "trophy points" and included a ones unit in that currency, then this wouldn't be a consideration.



I still think it's a useful tool, but I agree it probably doesn't fit this application, now that I look at it more.


Another solution is to give them some kind of resource sink that they have easy access to. Like some really inefficient conversion from resources to victory points, or whatever. That way there is still something they can do with leftover resources before losing them, but it's not optimal.


This is a good idea. Given the limited victory points, maybe I could have a winner-takes-all race track that was "driven" by wasted credits and offered a few victory points at the end of the game for first/second/third. Players wouldn't think they're "wasting" their money then, even though the total reward would be very poor if they tried to focus on winning that race by neglecting everything else.

The flip-side of what I've just said is that I'm now rewarding players for bad play and if I added that to the game it would almost certainly trap newbies.
 
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Stephen Hurn
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Grishhammer wrote:
In Imperial Settlers, each faction is allowed to store one type of resource between rounds, but no others. So each faction has to figure out how to spend or convert all of the resources that they can't save, or else they just lose them at the end of the round. A major part of the game becomes about trying to use resources efficiently and avoiding the waste.


How many resources are used in Imperial Settlers?
 
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Stephen Hurn
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byronczimmer wrote:
Describe "production" as the sum of the ability to harvest that round, not the actual harvest.

Just because you *can* pull 100 units of coal out of the ground doesn't mean you do, you might only pull out 80.
Further, only pulling out 80 doesn't mean next month you can pull 120 units -- you're still only producing 80.


---


Allow resources to be banked, but impose a massive tax/spoilage on stored items. Lose 3/4 (rounded against the player) of all items in storage.

So 1,2,3 would just be lost. 4,5,6,7 would become 1, etc.

That's probably enough to encourage players to spend their stuff.


The first idea is probably the best conceptually and is closest to TI (unexhausted planets don't really do anything for you at the end of a round of TI but you don't necessarily feel like you've wasted their production). Implementing such an idea without having named planets and a planet deck is a little trickier. And I don't want players interacting even more with the hex grid than they currently do. Convincing players that they only have "production" rather than "cash" is hard to do when they're counting out their credits at the end of a round.

The second idea I think would feel even more punitive than what the player currently gets. My playtesters have said that "once they got used to" the idea of leaving credits on the table it was fine. It was only coming to the game fresh that it felt bad to leave credits on the table.

I have toyed with another idea - give people the ability to bank credits at the cost of an action ("order" in my game's terminology). I could create an order card that allowed a player to bank up to a certain number of credits for a later turn. This would probably never get used (if you have a spare order slot in a round, and credits available, you're better off building more spaceships), but it's possible that the psychological aspect of just having the ability to bank credits would help.

I wish I could test all of these ideas individually and without cost.
 
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Nathaniel Grisham

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stephen_the_geek wrote:
Grishhammer wrote:
In Imperial Settlers, each faction is allowed to store one type of resource between rounds, but no others. So each faction has to figure out how to spend or convert all of the resources that they can't save, or else they just lose them at the end of the round. A major part of the game becomes about trying to use resources efficiently and avoiding the waste.


How many resources are used in Imperial Settlers?


I only played it once, but I believe it has wood, stone, food, gold, combat, people, and shields. Most of the buildings cost wood and or stone in some amounts. Gold can be spent as wood, stone, or food, but cannot be exchanged.

One faction can store combat, one stores people, one stores food, and the other stores gold. They each have an income of specific resources at the beginning of every round, which can be supplemented by various buildings and deals.

stephen_the_geek wrote:

My playtesters have said that "once they got used to" the idea of leaving credits on the table it was fine. It was only coming to the game fresh that it felt bad to leave credits on the table.


I don't think that forcing players to discard surplus is that bad, and it might just be that it was a foreign concept to your group at first. Sometimes I think that certain decisions are actually easier when I can keep in mind that some things won't matter at the end of the round.
 
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Quentin N.
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I think you should merge two ideas I read above with one I had. The leftover ressources are for public wealth. It accumulates each turn. You want to make it rewardable, without giving few VPs that would lure new players. Simply give a small advantage for the players ahead in public wealth, while disadvantaging ones far behind. The people work better because they have a good life level, or are on a strike because the grass is greener on another planet. That way you turn a problem into strategic depth. And the best is the players will make the balance themselves, like in a bidding game, you'll just have to twist the buttons to what importance you'd like this mechanic to have.

F*ck you Steve (Steve), why do you give your people a so good life? Now I have to line up cry
 
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