The Merchants of Lizma
- 2-5 players
- Moderate/Heavy complexity
This is a first post of mine, and so the first design I've put up on here (although not my first design). I'm mainly putting it up for feedback on general views of the game idea, and its mechanics. Please let me know if you like the idea of the game.
For 3-5 players. This is a competitive economic game set in a fictional city heavily inspired by the Italian city states of the late 15th and early 16th century. The city, Lizma, is divided into 8 districts, in which players will be competing for monopoly over the houses and shops of the city. The game uses a dual economy, using money and influence interchangably. Money is used for houses/shops/pubs and for buying/using agents. Influence is used by the main positions, and for agents interacting with each other.
The aim of the game is for each player to obtain 1 of 5 influential city positions, and complete their specific objective. The roles and objectives are as follows:
Grey Jack - an anarchist intent on overturning order - cause unrest in 3 districts - Gains 2 Henchman agents, and can damage more shops
Banker - Financial bearings of this player steer towards economic dominance - own 15 shops, 7 houses, 3 pubs and keep all economy prices at 10x - May hand out loans, increased good and house income
Spy Master - Secretly fund 1 player to win - choose a player in secret. If they win, you win too. However, 1 guess during the game can be made on whom you support. If the guess is correct, you cannot win (loss but no knockout) - May give other players contacts, that provide bonuses
Lord Constable - Nemesis of the Grey Jack, intent on order - may end the game if there are 3 more city happiness tokens than unhappiness. However, this player only wins if there are no unrest tokens in the city - Gains 2 City Guard agents and can imprison other agents
City Counsellor - introduces laws (extra rules for game) - wins if 4 rules are in play and there are no unhappiness tokens - Brings in laws that add taxes or prohibit certain actions
The game board shows an overview of the city, divided into the 8 districts. A section of the board has spaces for turnly trade crates that come in each turn.
To obtain the city positions, you will need a specified number of agents. There are 3 agent types: Mercenaries, Financiers and Officials. They each relate to a single playstyle, but the concept behind the positions encourages mixing and matching use of agents. Each player can only hold 5 agents (Only upto 4 of Mercenaries/Financiers, 3 Officials). Each agent has 3 abilities, 1 of which is linked to specific agents rather than agent types. Common abilities as follows:
Mercenary - use force to foil other player plans - 1) Damage an other player's shop (rendered unusable for 1 turn), 2) Block another agent
Financier - use to temporarily boost income - 1) Boost base price of goods by 1, 2) Boost house income in 1 district
Official - use to boost influence income - 1) Support/Contest laws, 2) Boost influence income
Each role is gained by having a certain number of agents:
Grey Jack - 4 Mercenaries
Banker - 4 Financiers
Spy Master - 2 Mercenaries and 2 Financiers
Lord Constable - 2 Mercenaries and 2 Officials
Counsellor - 2 Financiers and 2 Officials
Each game turn has phases, during which players all do their respective actions together. During each turn a player becomes Mayor (this role goes round the table clockwise), who effectively acts as arbiter to disputes over property purchases. Each turn is structured as follows:
Phase 1 - Preparation. Players buy trade crates, and plan their actions for the rest of the turn. Each trade crate yields 3 goods to the player (trade crates are placed face down so the goods are shown after purchase), which can only be sold at shops selling that good. There are 8 goods in total, and the availability of required shops vary by district.
Phase 2 - Purchase. Players may now buy properties around the board. This is done by placing ownership pieces (may be cubes, haven't decided on this bit yet) on houses/shops/pubs around the board. More than 1 player may claim the same spot (if this happens, they auction over the spot, chaired by the Mayor). House and pub prices vary by district. Shop prices vary by value of the good.
Phase 3 - Agents. Players can place agents in the districts they wish them to act. The Mayor then asks what agents are doing in each district in turn. If agents are being blocked, auctions take place to see if the action goes ahead (influence is used here, though, instead of money).
Phase 4 - Income. Players count up income. Houses provide base income. Pubs are filled with ale goods, and so provide reliable but varied income. Goods have a system whereby each good has a base price (ranging 1-8), which can be multiplied by the number of goods you sell (1 per owned shop), and is multiplied by the economy price (this decreases by 10x each turn the respective good is sold by any player, and increases if not sold in a turn). This is monetary income. Influence income gained is 1 for each district in which you own properties.
Phase 5 - Positions. City positions can be claimed in this turn if players have the requirements. Players can also use the special abilities of positions.
That's an overview of the rules of the game. A few playtests have allowed me to fix a few issues. Mainly though, the goods economy has been well received, and the city positions have provided some interesting strategies and player interaction. I'm still working on balancing, but most of the games bits and pieces are intact. Please let me know what you think, and if you have any ideas/reservations about the game concept.
Picture of the prototype below: