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Subject: Designing Clash of Cultures: Part 2, Modular Board rss

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Christian Marcussen
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Disclaimer: The following contains images which are part of the prototype art of the game. Please do not upload any of it as it contains images with uncleared rights not meant to be part of the final game. They are used for illustrative purposes only! Secondly I have once again had the audacity of posting both in the design forum and in the games forum. Although it has come to me attenion that I have a few people subscribed to the game, I think it could be of interest to people frequenting the design forum - people who would not see it if it were only posted in the game's pages. So please excuse me on that one.



Designing Clash of Cultures: Part 2, Modular Board
Part 1, Technologies: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/417484


Modular Board
Pretty early I decided I would prefer a modular board. I did however strongly consider going with the classic Mediterranean/West Asia map. In many ways this would be a very sensible approach. After all, the Fertile Crescent is located there, and the area has seen some of the world’s largest, most famous civilizations (not to mention most influential on western culture). However using this would invoke a historic feel, and perhaps raise expectations of a more scripted and historic progress of things that I was not interested in. I wanted lots of variety from game to game, and for more free reigns in regards to how cultures would develop.

Having a modular board though, does presents all kinds of potential issues – some which I could easily avoided by having a non-modular board. But, I was pretty adamant about the modular board and tried overcome some of the issues with modular boards.

Here are the issues as I saw them:



____________________________________________________

1) Game Balance: There is a risk that random terrain/resources skewing a game too heavily to some players benefit or dis-benefit, in effect, deciding the outcome of the game.

2) Graphical: Modular boards are harder to make visually appealing/consistent

3) Fiddly: Exploring and setting up a modular board can be time-consuming and fiddly.

____________________________________________________


Before addressing each of these issues separately I need to highlight a decision I made which impacted all the issues. The map gets made up of several larger regions with four hexes, rather than a map made up of several single hexes.


This is a three-player setup. Note how the regions contain four hexes, or spaces.


Game Balance
The first step was to have all players start with access to the exact same resources. This means that no matter how unlucky you are you will never be completely cut off from the resources you need. Sure you may have less access to them, but they are there.

Since this is a civilization game there are lots of advances for players to buy. This allowed me to design certain advances that allow a way out to players with limited access to certain resources. What I did was first to create a special resource which acts as a joker for all other resources – in this case Gold. Then I made some advances which allow for the “production” of Gold. This means that players who find themselves limited can focus somewhat on the advances in the “Economics” category seen below.



Bartering is the first more basic advance of the Economics category. But then advances like currency , taxation and trade routes can be bought. The trade routes advance for instance can bring about some interesting situations. Once you have it, you can move settlers into the cities of other players. Whenever they activate those cities on their turn, YOU get a Gold resource. This allows you to earn resources without spending your own actions in doing so (not counting the actions needed to get your settler to the city in question of course). Little tricks like that go a long way to help you if you are less fortunate in regards to geography and resources. Obviously by going the economics route, you miss out on other equally interesting advances. Options, options cool

The last thing I did is a little complicated to explain without getting too deeply into the mechanics. But in short you don’t get a set of resources based on the amount of cities you have. Rather you can collect resources by activating specific cities. Since you are limited to the number of activations you can make, having many cities means more economic flexibility rather than a continuous upward spiral where the rich keep getting richer. This means that having a few well built cities goes a long way. Since all players have access to all different resources to begin with, everyone has the potential to build up a nice city in their starting region, and thus not get totally left behind. (Having many cities does have other benefits though)


Graphical
I’ll admit it right away. I love a good looking game. To me theme and visuals (depending on the game) is an important part of the experience. I wanted a modular board that still looked “natural” and allowed for things like mountain ranges, and connected water spaces. This would happen less often if the game had single hexes revealed one at a time. By having a region with four hexes I could lump together the same kind of terrain on the hexes. This could give small mountain ranges, and if such a region is revealed next to a similar region you might all of a sudden have a mountain range placed across 4 hexes. The same with regions with water. When regions with water are revealed they much be places so they connect with other water spaces if possible. This helps creating some really interesting and diverse terrain. So in the end it benefits both game play, and the looks of the game! Lovely.


Note the mountain range running through green players empire, and how you get large connected areas of water, rather then single spaces of water dashed around randomly.



Fiddly setup?
No, not at all. You place the region tiles face down in accordance with a setup provided in the rule book (I’m sure others will think up other setups). However, since each region contains four spaces, rather than being divided into four separate hexes, the amount of region tiles placed is fairly limited. Also you don’t have aboard with lots of separate tiles or counters needed to be placed for added variety to an otherwise static board.




So there you go. The world of Clash of Cultures.

I hope you enjoyed reading. I would appreciate any comments or questions – post away!

Thanks
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Luca Iennaco
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I'm glad you opted for modular board (instead of "hystorical" or fixed). It allows exploration and greatly raises the "replay value".

I wish you to be able to get the game published.
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Timothy Pride
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Yes. The replay value far outweight the other concern. Especially they're just concern, not a real drawback that cannot be solved.

In Civ PC game, I've never ever played with historical scenario. Random setup is good! Since we don't have civ boardgame that has modular board, yours would be the first!
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Jonas Jacobsson
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marqzen wrote:
So there you go. The world of Clash of Cultures.

I hope you enjoyed reading. I would appreciate any comments or questions – post away!


Great read, as always. I have a question for you: when will part 3 of the design notes be published?
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Christian Marcussen
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jonjac wrote:
marqzen wrote:
So there you go. The world of Clash of Cultures.

I hope you enjoyed reading. I would appreciate any comments or questions – post away!


Great read, as always. I have a question for you: when will part 3 of the design notes be published?




Damn! Hard to say to be honest. I have started, but working on the game has priority cool
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Luca Iennaco
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marqzen wrote:
jonjac wrote:
marqzen wrote:
So there you go. The world of Clash of Cultures.

I hope you enjoyed reading. I would appreciate any comments or questions – post away!


Great read, as always. I have a question for you: when will part 3 of the design notes be published?




Damn! Hard to say to be honest. I have started, but working on the game has priority cool

[more than three months later...]
Any news?
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Christian Marcussen
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hehe...

The game is done. I'll be seeing who is interested in it.

As for part 3 on the design notes. I'm completing my master thesis at the moment, so no time to write anything else I'm afraid

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Joe Wasserman
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I don't think he would like that.
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"A single action or event is interesting, not because it is explainable, but because it is true." - Goethe
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marqzen wrote:
hehe...

The game is done. I'll be seeing who is interested in it.

As for part 3 on the design notes. I'm completing my master thesis at the moment, so no time to write anything else I'm afraid



Good luck with your masters thesis! AND with finding a publisher for Clash of Cultures!
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