Oio. Today we shall focus on the 'Upkeep' phase of a game and how to keep it interesting instead of tedeous. Upkeep is typically the payment of resources to maintain army forces, buildings, etc in empire
building games. Not paying upkeep when required usually involves something being discarded.
-Multiple Payment Options. Normally, upkeep is paid with money or a specific resource. Give the option to pay with multiple things: cash, resources, action points, etc. This allows for players to do unconventional strategies without worrying about having to have a consistent cash flow. For example, in an empire building game, a player could go almost straight military without cashflow and pay upkeep by giving up an action or two for his turn. He may not do much on his turn, but whatever is done will HURT other players... A LOT.
-Sacrifice to pay costs. Instead of outright discarding something you cannot pay for, have discarding it generate resources for upkeep cost. This can help prevent a cascade failure from a bad turn and not being able to pay any upkeep the following turn. So instead of losing everything, you only lose a few units or buildings and pay for the rest.
-Pay others' upkeep costs. Allow players to pay each other's upkeeps, if they want in exchange for VPs. This could create an interesting dynamic in an empire game. Picture a five player game. Two players are pursuing balanced strategies, one player goes straight economic, and two players go straight military. The straight military players may have trouble paying their upkeep cost on their own, and the balanced players can only afford their own upkeep. The economic player could pay most everyone's upkeep with ease. In exchange for, say, military protection, the economic player could agree to pay the upkeep for one (or both...) of the military players; getting a fair number of VPs in the process, as well.
That's all I have for today. Keep on designing, yo!