Scott Rogers
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I'm currently working on a worker placement game.

I've played a dozen of games. I think I've read every article written about designing worker placements and watched dozens of how-to-play videos. I'm drowning in great information. Now I need a little perspective.

In your opinion, what do you think a great worker placement game needs?
 
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I would say a great working placement game needs a logical "passing of time" mechanic, if you will, to harness the production of the workers instead of getting instant rewards when you place them. I enjoy worker placement games and I own several of them, but there is only one worker placement game I know that tackles "time" well and that is Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar.
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Corsaire
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If it's billed as worker placement, then I expect the placement to be a key area of contention in the play of the game. I also prefer the experience of the worker being an entity of some sort that would thematically be "working."


Beyond that it really depends on the weight of the game.
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Ken Bush
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Competition for locations, I.e. Scarcity of some rewards.
Variable turn order, at least not static
Increasing cost as players pass
Ability of one player’s actions to impact another at least occasionally.
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Neal McClatchey
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I love worker placements that allow me to gain special abilities that I can use the rest of the game.

Like: Occupations in Agricola

It takes a turn away from something that would help you towards your goal, but you make up for it with the extra goodies that the ability can give you.
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Sufficient good choices that compete for your placement decision; too many or too few and it doesn't work. Alternate paths to build strategy and score. Essentially options.
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Joe Salamone
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Variable worker abilities. For example, having a "master" worker who producers better benefits than a "standard" worker (e.g., you get 2 gold if you place a master, but only 1 gold if you place a standard worker on the same space).

I also like the aging mechanisms (as in Praetor) where your workers get old and eventually retire or die.
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Hello.
I currently try to design a legacy worker placement game (it has nothing to do with charterstone). Its a hobby project and I will be soon in the design phase of testing out ideas in small self made games.
If you are interested we could talk about our games via skype.
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If there is no tension, if not, then I would almost prefer to watch paint dry than play.
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Tomello Visello
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orion17 wrote:
I enjoy worker placement games and I own several of them, but there is only one worker placement game I know that tackles "time" well and that is Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar.

This is a side issue, but here are two games to look at from the same designer. Workers assigned to different tasks have varied time frame regarding when they will be available again.

Sun, Sea & Sand
Samara

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Andrew Adey
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a) workers.
b) union representation.

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Robert Wolkey
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joe_salamone wrote:
Variable worker abilities. For example, having a "master" worker who producers better benefits than a "standard" worker (e.g., you get 2 gold if you place a master, but only 1 gold if you place a standard worker on the same space).

I also like the aging mechanisms (as in Praetor) where your workers get old and eventually retire or die.


+1. But, also the Master worker should also be able to be placed on a spot that’s already taken. See Viticulture. Or if you’ve achieved some special status. See Argent: The Consortium.
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Paul DeStefano
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The need to do more moves than you have workers.
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Scott Rogers
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Meril wrote:
Hello.
I currently try to design a legacy worker placement game (it has nothing to do with charterstone). Its a hobby project and I will be soon in the design phase of testing out ideas in small self made games.
If you are interested we could talk about our games via skype.


Feel free to send me a message. Let's chat!
 
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Village Idiot
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There are some things I like in every game (variable player powers, a sense of escalation, etc.)

But the things I think are mandatory for a worker placement game that's specific to the worker placement genre:

-d10-1 A new twist
The market is flooded with worker placement games, and so for one to catch my eye, it has to do something unique with the mechanism. (Examples: the intersection of Targi, the line of sight of The Sanctuary: Endangered Species, the gears of Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar, etc.)

-d10-2 A good balance of tension vs good options
The whole idea of worker placement, as opposed to just action selection, is the interaction with other players. This interaction adds tension in one form or another (Examples: blocking other players, bumping opponents or giving them some benefit for using certain spaces, requiring more workers or resources to go to a space after an opponent, etc.). However, if this interaction is too restrictive, it makes the game at times frustrating. So, there needs to always be another way to do what you want... but at a price.

-d10-3 More than just worker placement
As I said, the market is flooded with worker placement games (almost 2,000 of them currently). So, even with an innovative twist on the genre, I expect some other mechanism or system driven by worker placement. Even better if it's something not usually paired with the mechanism (For example, worker placement is paired with resource management all the time, but rarely with trick-taking or dexterity.)



Beyond that, my personal preferences for worker placement games:

coffee Workers with varying powers [Empires: Age of Discovery] or strengths [Ave Roma], and even better if you upgrade or change those powers [Chimera Station] or strengths [Lancaster].

indigo The ability to get more workers throughout the course of the game, but balanced so that strategy isn't necessary to win.

corn Worker placement locations that aren't static. They can rotate in and out [Ex Libris], be built by the players [Steam Works], get stronger the longer they're not chosen [Agricola], have the ability to be upgraded for each individual player [Asking for Trobils], etc.

tobacco Have an extra dimension of decision making when placing the worker by tying it to some other element of the game or making the location have different options.
Examples:
Bruxelles 1893 - workers not only activate the location but bid for a card and compete for area majority when placed.
Papà Paolo - workers activate an action from the row, or from the column, or take the tile on the space, AND also compete for two area majorities for coins.
Spyrium - workers will either give money or buy an adjacent card depending on how many other workers are nearby.
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Klaus Brune
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Scott Rogers wrote:
In your opinion, what do you think a great worker placement game needs?


Combat!

No, seriously. See Carson City.
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Joe Baxter-Webb
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Pace and Crunch.

Pace; the inherent joy in the mechanism is placing a thing like "bosh" and then getting a thing. It's simple and quick, even if the decisions that lead up to the action aren't. (I actually felt Charterstone falls a bit flat in the first couple of games precisely because the Legacy elements get in the way of the fluidity a regular WP game would usually have)

Crunch; you have 2-6 people sat at the table. How likely is it that they're going to want to take the same places. A lot of the enjoyment of WP comes from that tension of not knowing if someone's going to bork your plans. Getting the amount of available action spaces right is key to this.
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Brendan Riley
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Lots of good replies here. Inspired and informed by this discussion, I would boil it down to this:

1. Thematically, the pawns need to be "working" in some way. If not, it's not a worker placement game.

2. The placing needs to matter, so there should be some competition for spaces/ limitation of spaces.

3. The number of workers you have should matter. You can get more, you can lose some, you can send different numbers to different places, etc.
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Jeff Warrender
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Scott Rogers wrote:
I'm currently working on a worker placement game.

I've played a dozen of games. I think I've read every article written about designing worker placements and watched dozens of how-to-play videos. I'm drowning in great information. Now I need a little perspective.

In your opinion, what do you think a great worker placement game needs?


A more pertinent question is, does the world need yet another worker placement game? The answer to that question is, sure, if you have identified some twist on the genre that no one has hit on. Coincidentally, that's the answer to your question as well -- a great worker placement needs that clever innovation that you've discovered that makes it feel fresh and unlike any other game that's previously existed.
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Maarten D. de Jong
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Scott Rogers wrote:
In your opinion, what do you think a great worker placement game needs?

Asynchronous recall.
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Geoffrey Burrell
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Make it allow for the turn orders to rotate on a regular basis so that the same person doesn't go first every time.
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Brian
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A well-hidden safety net. The feeling that there is tense competition over spaces and yet, when someone blocks you, there are options to change course or take a different route to your original goal. This is something I've struggled to master in designing these types of games.

I'll also disagree with others and say that a new twist on worker placement isn't mandatory. While many great games have been built on twists of worker placement (and I love them), it's just a mechanic. A game need not have a novel twist on every one of its mechanics. For example, Russian Railroads has some novel components, but the worker placement is pretty straightforward. Lords of Waterdeep is a fairly vanilla worker placement game, but managed to become one of the most popular. Other games have had only minor twists that aren't the main drivers of the games' success.
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Brendan Riley
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cymric wrote:
Scott Rogers wrote:
In your opinion, what do you think a great worker placement game needs?

Asynchronous recall.


I can't help but think this was a straight-to-DVD sequel to TOTAL RECALL, with Treat Williams telling himself to "get your butt to Venus" or some such.
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