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Subject: Is this idea worth pursuing? rss

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David Onstott
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Baton Rouge
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I am trying to design a board game which fuses a lot of concepts I have liked in other games (many or all of which you will probably recognise) with some unique ones to illustrate a contruction of the modern political-economic situation in the world today.

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Main Idea:
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Balancing Realist and Idealist approaches in order to win.

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Basic Mechanics:
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All players start with the same number of "Gold"
-Gold is victory points and buying power
-No gold ever enters or leaves the table (If 5 players have 10 gold each at the beginning, there are 50 gold for the whole game, for everyone.)
-*This may change to a small bank which allows a Mercantilist land grab of sorts at the beginning, and ending with all gold in the hands of players.

All players recieve a secret Identity or Role card
-This card is kept secret
-Each card has a special mission and power
-When a player completes the mission his card is flipped face up and the power is then accessible, you also gain bonus points at the end of the game for completing the mission
-The power will necessarily help other players, but will be worth gold to the user (i.e. you may be a "Carpenter" and players may pay you gold instead of paying the Wood needed for certain buildings)

All players have three workers:
-Workers will perform main game actions, similar to family members in Agricola.
-Players will have access to one worker until they build "Schools" which allow them one more worker (up to 3)

Players start with three base blueprints: The School, the Mine and the Farm. More on blueprints below.

Players start with an amount (same for all players) with which they can pick up which ever resources they wish to start with, with each one counting as one towards the total.

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The Board:
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The game is played on a square grid board, where different resources may be gathered by worker pawns or by buildings on those squares. Not all squares have resources, but some buildings require multiple spaces to build and may have odd shapes. The board is divided into 3 colored districts. Each "district" will start the game neutral, but may be claimed easily within the first turn and will remain contested for the rest of the game. (Note: The mechanic I believe works here is that the player with the most contiguous buildings in a district controls that district.)

Each player also has a personal board which holds inactive workers, money, buildings for sale, blueprints, identity card and token(s) for districts owned. (Also a place for a buy order)

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Turn order:
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Goes clockwise from starting player,
1. Pay upkeep (gold for buildings in other players' districts, upkeep of 2 gold per "active" worker on the board goes to "Bank")
2. Pick-up workers (deactivate them)
3. Place workers (activate)
*A worker cannot be deactivated and activated in the same turn.
*A worker can stay on the same space up to three turns, indicated by numbers on the action space. There can be one worker per number space per action space. For instance, when a worker is activated to an action, he must go on the "1" spot. For each turn he stays there, you perform that action then he moves up to "2" and then "3" (thereby opening spaces for more players to move into). Once a worker reaches "3" he must be deactivated on the next turn. You may deactivate workers at any time you wish before this.

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Worker Actions:
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Each district will have two actions associated with it, and players wanting to use an action in a district they don't own has to pay a toll for it. Toll is 1 gold. A worker may not be placed in the same action where it

Gather - Gather materials based on your buildings

Build - Build a building (for which you have the blueprint and materials) or place an already finished building on any space. You must build contiguously and connect to a district center to gain control of the district (since the board is square, a player may be locked out of a district if the four spaces around the center are filled.)

Trade - Player may initiate a "Trading phase" between all players. At this time players may trade anything they have control of.

Banker - Player takes all gold in bank (*A player must leave a worker in the Banker spot for the full three turns before deactivating it and getting it back.)

Build(for Sale) - You may build a building (from blueprints and materials) and place it in your for sale square, you may have as many as three buildings of one type which only count as one "For Sale Item," They may all be bought individually but all must have the same price.

Upgrade - The same as build, except you are upgrading an existing structure.

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This action is separate from the others and may only be used for one turn, after which the worker must be deactivated.

Buy Blueprint - Blueprints give you the ability to build buildings. They are a card with a building name, description and material cost. Blueprints have two categories and 5 levels. The categories are Building and Upgrade. There are 5 level 1 cards, 5 level 2, 3 level 3&4 and 2 level 5. Both level 5 buildings are "Wonders" which are upgrades of level 1 buildings which must also have their level 2,3, and 4 upgrades. These are very hard to build and maintain, but are worth significant bonuses and victory points at the end.
The bottom most blueprint (the lowest level) is free, going up the ladder you must pay one gold per blueprint you skip at the lowest level and 2 for each at a level above the current lowest.
If you do not have the blueprint, you cannot build a building, you may buy or trade for one from another player, or you may buy the blueprint itself. (Wonders will give bonuses to the person who owns the blueprint, and the person who owns the actual building.)
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First Turn:
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On the first turn, players determine a starting player (person who bought the game, or person who spent the most money today), then going clockwise, each player takes each action except for banker. When action gets back to the starting player, he places his first worker and play begins.



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There are more rules, and the ones I wrote there are sort of hastily written here in a few minutes. But that should give you an idea. What do you think?

EDIT: For typos
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J H
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This sounds interesting to me!

I wouldn't mind another version of this, where it takes place in the 16th century as well!
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David Onstott
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Baton Rouge
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MIB 8686 wrote:
This sounds interesting to me!

I wouldn't mind another version of this, where it takes place in the 16th century as well!


Modern meaning Westphalian system =P

I always kind of invisioned it with a 16th-18th Century theme to it.

Edit: pretty bad typo
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Mike Kollross
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Sounds interesting. Knock out a quick and dirty prototype and play it.
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Roberta Taylor
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It sounds like a great idea. There will be A LOT of testing for something with the many inter-connected systems you describe, but I think it's worth pursuing.

I'm particularly interested in the idea of a fixed amount of gold in the game, and I'm most unclear on the idea of secret roles and how they will fit into the rest of your game. Keep us posted as you develop this!
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David Onstott
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Baton Rouge
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RobertaTaylor wrote:
It sounds like a great idea. There will be A LOT of testing for something with the many inter-connected systems you describe, but I think it's worth pursuing.

I'm particularly interested in the idea of a fixed amount of gold in the game, and I'm most unclear on the idea of secret roles and how they will fit into the rest of your game. Keep us posted as you develop this!


The idea is the same as the secret mission mechanic in Twilight Imperium.

The driving force behind completing them will be the victory points recieved and the additional power it grants you when you flip it over and declare that you have accomplished the mission.

Because the other mechanics are so competitive over the set amount of gold in the game, the players need a chance to cooperate, in a way that is profitable to everyone. The powers are all set up such that the player that plays it recieves a benefit, but no more benefit than he can give to another player.

I was also knocking around the idea of a "Socialist" or "Arbitrary Game Balancing Mechanic" role, in which the player will only flip it over at the end of the game, and if the difference between the first and last player is less than 5 (or some number) of victory points, then he automatically wins.
I wouldn't put it in without playtesting, because I simply can't predict what a normal point spread would be for a game like this.

But anyway, that is how the powers and missions work.

To better explain the premise, this is to model the evolution of colonialism (the land grab part of the game) and RealPolitik that existed early on in the state system, and then introduce the idea of cooperative victory towards the end, amongst those players who are burnt out on constantly being stolen from and in conflict, much like Europe post-World Wars.

The competitive elements will begin to hurt you as much as you hurt other players (your upkeep will go up, you will lose buildings, as much as you upset other players, those rules weren't in there, but are part of powers bestowed by higher level buildings and things like that).
Ultimately players have to decide whether being hurt to hold back powerful players, or helping themselves while helping weaker players. you could do the vice versa of these things, but you would probably lose.
So basic flow would look like:

Beginning: Non-interactive, building up personal wealth, gold going to bank, players picking up bank money

Middle: Competitive, open land is scarce, resources are scarce, buildings are more expensive, players need to get money from eachother, beg borrow and steal.

End: Player powers, building powers and victory point conditions favor those players that work together.
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Roberta Taylor
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I love how you are able to articulate the flow of the game in terms of beginning, middle, and end. This strikes me as one of the hardest parts of game design, but games that succeed in creating this 'narrative' are amazing to play.
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David Onstott
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Baton Rouge
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RobertaTaylor wrote:
I love how you are able to articulate the flow of the game in terms of beginning, middle, and end. This strikes me as one of the hardest parts of game design, but games that succeed in creating this 'narrative' are amazing to play.


Thanks! It is always nice to get positive feed back
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Derek H
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MK-Ultra71 wrote:
Sounds interesting. Knock out a quick and dirty prototype and play it.

What he said - and please let us know when we can help playtest!
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Ian Klinck
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Sounds interesting to me...
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David Onstott
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Baton Rouge
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gamesbook wrote:
MK-Ultra71 wrote:
Sounds interesting. Knock out a quick and dirty prototype and play it.

What he said - and please let us know when we can help playtest!


I am working now on a plain themeless cardboard grid, going to pick up some glass stones from the hobby shop for resources and gold, once I get a set of bits and a board together, I plan on playtesting with a board gaming group then releasing a .pdf with printable bits and board with the rules attached if BGGers want to help playtest. If people like it, I will release a polished .pdf version for free, and sell a box of bits and a board that I put together. If it gets to that point I will have an email list where I send out rules updates and variants, again for free, until people lose interest, or I am getting fired from my job for spending too much time on it.

Anyway, since a few of you have been very supportive of the idea, I will at least pursue it to the first stage and get a prototype going. I'll keep you guys abreast of the situation.
Also, if you have any ideas feel free to let me know!
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TP Li
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alexonfyre wrote:
...until people lose interest, or I am getting fired from my job for spending too much time on it.
All the more reason to carry on refining the game if you get fired, just think of all the time you'll have!

alexonfyre wrote:
Also, if you have any ideas feel free to let me know!

With the "Socialist" role, you can just give that player a flat VP of N point, and a penalty of 1 VP per points differents between the top and bottom player after initial scoring. This removes the straight win condition so leaves bigger margins of error in terms of balancing. Secondly, the need for the leading player to beat the loser by at least N points to be sure of a win sounds like it might be ripe for a kingmarker situration for someone to give a win to the "Socialist."
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piri kou
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Seems like an intersting idea, especially on the part making you giving points to players to spre some of your own gold...
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