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Subject: How to make turns 'meaningful'? rss

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Hannah Troy
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Hi all

My boyfriend and I are in the early stages of designing our first game and need some help! Our game is played over several 'days'(rounds) that are split into 5 turns each. Our problem is that there is very little reason for the days to be split into turns, i.e one player could complete all of their turns for the day and the second player could do the same independently.

We do need to keep the day split up as there are mechanics that relate to the passing of time, so my question is:

How do we make turn order important? And how do we get player's actions to inform other player's decisions?

An example I can think of is having limited pools of resources where taking your turn first gives an advantage
Are there others?

Thanks!
 
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April W
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Limited resources could be an option. In games like Fresco there is a market with a limited selection of various items to buy from the market, which makes going earlier more desirable if you are after a specific item.

Is it not possible to assign certain actions to specific days, such as in games like Viticulture where you can only take certain actions during their respective seasons?
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B C Z
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StandStill wrote:
Hi all

My boyfriend and I are in the early stages of designing our first game and need some help! Our game is played over several 'days'(rounds) that are split into 5 turns each. Our problem is that there is very little reason for the days to be split into turns, i.e one player could complete all of their turns for the day and the second player could do the same independently.

We do need to keep the day split up as there are mechanics that relate to the passing of time, so my question is:

How do we make turn order important? And how do we get player's actions to inform other player's decisions?

An example I can think of is having limited pools of resources where taking your turn first gives an advantage
Are there others?

Thanks!


These are hard questions to answer without actually seeing your game flow.

Play testing with other people will spark ideas.
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Hannah Troy
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Yeah a market sounds like a good option - I also like the sound of seasons in Viticulture, I'll check it out
 
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Hannah Troy
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Hi Byron, yeah I appreciate that - as I mentioned this is still early stages so just throwing ideas about, I'm definitely expecting generic replies

We're doing some play testing this weekend so I may be back with more detail then!
 
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maf man
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not entirely sure I understand but looking into turns in this game may help:
Constantinopolis
 
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Peter Strait
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StandStill wrote:

How do we make turn order important? And how do we get player's actions to inform other player's decisions?


Broadly (and abstractly), there are two main (closely related) ways to do this:

1. Make a player's decisions restrict or penalize the options of subsequent players (worker-placement style blocking, but also following suits in trick-taking games and any game where an action is more expensive or less beneficial if you follow the crowd or come in late).
2. Make a player's decisions incentivize or open up the choices available to subsequent players (Via Nebula is an excellent example, as is any game where you get a bonus for following suit or a discount for copying an action).

Le Havre has simultaneous examples of both. Also, getting to choose from a market or card offer has elements of both (getting first pick can be an advantage, especially if the market doesn't refill. If it does, going later can matter if you want to see what new goods/cards get revealed.)

Though, this can really be distilled even further to simply be "once an action is taken, some actions are easier and some are harder". I've seen a couple other ways this has been done:

- Leapfrogging: an early play makes the next spot in a sequence available for a later player. This can be a boon to the later player (the later spot is more valuable, and leapfrogging is free), a boon to the earlier player (leapfrogged pieces get a free something from the bank / supply), a bane to the later player (there's a cost for leapfrogging, paid either to the bank or the leapfrogged player) or a bane to the earlier player (leapfrogged pieces are captured, sent home, penalized, etc.)

- Timing: a play in an earlier part of the round (in this case, day) has a different effect than in the later part of the round, irrespective of other player's actions. For example, there may be a rondel that advances with each round, turn or even with each action, that changes an added cost or added bonus for taking a given action, or may even make some actions available and some unavailable. (There's a -lot- of mechanical space here: does the rondel advance only when specific actions are taken? Does the player get to choose how far to advance the rondel, or is it automatic? How does it ultimately affect the next player? Etc.)

- Area control: playing in specific regions carries an added benefit, whether it be by playing in contiguous spaces, spaces in the same region, or spreading out to play in as many different regions as possible, or even trying to create some specific pattern on the board. Earlier players may block later players, or alternatively later players can displace earlier players, or some feature of the piece could determine who displaces who (think Lancaster).

There's a lot of possibility. The key thing is just to determine what boon or bane is faced by an earlier player, and what boon or bane is faced by a later player. It will need at some point to come down to some sort of scarcity, though there's a lot of ways to approach the question.
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Jeremy Lennert
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ErsatzDragon wrote:
StandStill wrote:

How do we make turn order important? And how do we get player's actions to inform other player's decisions?


Broadly (and abstractly), there are two main (closely related) ways to do this:

1. Make a player's decisions restrict or penalize the options of subsequent players (worker-placement style blocking, but also following suits in trick-taking games and any game where an action is more expensive or less beneficial if you follow the crowd or come in late).
2. Make a player's decisions incentivize or open up the choices available to subsequent players (Via Nebula is an excellent example, as is any game where you get a bonus for following suit or a discount for copying an action).


"Right now, one player has zero effect on the next player. How do we get a non-zero effect?"

"Broadly, there are two kinds of non-zero numbers: negative numbers, which are less than zero, and positive numbers, which are greater than zero..."
 
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Hannah Troy
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Antistone wrote:


"Right now, one player has zero effect on the next player. How do we get a non-zero effect?"

"Broadly, there are two kinds of non-zero numbers: negative numbers, which are less than zero, and positive numbers, which are greater than zero..."

laugh


@Ersatz - thank you for the really comprehensive reply! That's definitely given us lots to think about - I think we're going to have a play with timing and see what we come up with. I've not really tried a game where repeated actions have an effect so will look into your suggestions
 
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Peter Strait
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Antistone wrote:
ErsatzDragon wrote:
StandStill wrote:

How do we make turn order important? And how do we get player's actions to inform other player's decisions?


Broadly (and abstractly), there are two main (closely related) ways to do this:

1. Make a player's decisions restrict or penalize the options of subsequent players (worker-placement style blocking, but also following suits in trick-taking games and any game where an action is more expensive or less beneficial if you follow the crowd or come in late).
2. Make a player's decisions incentivize or open up the choices available to subsequent players (Via Nebula is an excellent example, as is any game where you get a bonus for following suit or a discount for copying an action).


"Right now, one player has zero effect on the next player. How do we get a non-zero effect?"

"Broadly, there are two kinds of non-zero numbers: negative numbers, which are less than zero, and positive numbers, which are greater than zero..."


Yes, exactly! laugh Point being to indicate I'm talking at that broad of a level, rather than a more zoomed in one.
 
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Alex Johns
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Take a look into the use of time in games like Helios, Village/My Village or even Stronghold and see if anything like that might assist. I especially like the use of "time" tokens in Stronghold as the bigger action the invading player takes, the more "time" that is given to the defender to counter. Not knowing your game does limit the information we can give, but I do like these three-four games for use of Time.
 
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JT Schiavo
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Antistone wrote:
ErsatzDragon wrote:
StandStill wrote:

How do we make turn order important? And how do we get player's actions to inform other player's decisions?


Broadly (and abstractly), there are two main (closely related) ways to do this:

1. Make a player's decisions restrict or penalize the options of subsequent players (worker-placement style blocking, but also following suits in trick-taking games and any game where an action is more expensive or less beneficial if you follow the crowd or come in late).
2. Make a player's decisions incentivize or open up the choices available to subsequent players (Via Nebula is an excellent example, as is any game where you get a bonus for following suit or a discount for copying an action).


"Right now, one player has zero effect on the next player. How do we get a non-zero effect?"

"Broadly, there are two kinds of non-zero numbers: negative numbers, which are less than zero, and positive numbers, which are greater than zero..."


My favorite part of this distilled thought is that it is completely accurate.


Anyway, if you don't already have a good method to modifying turn order, I'm not sure that is the best way to insert player interaction.

Perhaps try a simultaneous action selection method where each player picks an action in secret, and multiple selections of the same action impact all players (positively or negatively, your choice). Adds a social/bluff element, and may speed up gameplay.

Or maybe give each player five action tokens number 1-5. Always must use the lower action number first, but you can use multiple tokens on one action for a bigger result. Spend 1,2,3 for a big resource collection, devoting most of your day, but you don't get to act again until everyone else is on action 4. Might go hand in hand with the passing of time, and also the limited market.
 
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James Bowie
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Possibly the most classic example of this, while admittedly not the best of games, is Risk. The army card system allows players to turn in a set of cards for a boost of reinforcements, but the more sets that have been turned in, the more resources these trades are worth. One player gets their resources and is able to use them first, but the next player to trade in gets more bang for their buck, ideally enough that they can recover easily depending on how the first player decided to use their bonus.

This can be used the other way around as well. A transaction can start off with a low fee to use, but the more often it's used the more costly it becomes. This cost could increase infinitely, get cut off at a set point, be capped to the number of times the transaction could occur, or be reduced back down over time if neither player is willing or able to pay the current price, which would fit in if your game is based on passage of time mechanics.
 
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