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Subject: Promissory Notes rss

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Yevgeniy Rudoy
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I noticed something unpleasant when reading the rules: If one person has 5 promissory notes in front of him, and another has 0, the one with 0 can take a note out for 20 and trade it to the one with 5. This seems broken.

Also, and this has been brought up on this forum, prommisory notes are almost a must win; taking them out is a very good idea.

One idea I have is this: make promissory notes give out 20-n where n is the TOTAL number of notes out. So if I take out a note for 20, the next person can take one out only for 19. This would create a bottleneck at the beginning, but that could be dealt with by starting with a debt auction. Basically, ask:

Does anyone want a note for 20?
If we have at least 2 responses (remember, people can ask for more than 1 note), we go:
Does anyone want a note for 19?
If we have at least 3 responses, we go:
Does anyone want a note for 18?
etc.

At some point, we will reach a point where we don't have too many responses; that is the selling price.



This should minimize the impact of the notes; mostly, they will be taken out at the beginning. However, more debt may be taken out later and the notes do trade, adding liquidity.





Support / Criticism welcome.
 
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Yevgeniy Rudoy
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Just to add onto the auction idea;

An alternate (and possibly better) way to action would be to do it in rounds, basically limiting each person to at most 1 promissory note per round. This allows people who want only 1 or 2 notes to get a price advantage; also it means that adding a bid for an additional note can't decrease the value of your previous notes.

An example:
6 player game.

ROUND1
All players willing to take note at 20 (max 1).
All players willing to take note at 19 (max 2).
Players 1-5 willing to take note at 18 (max 3).
Players 1-4 willing to take note at 17 (max 4).
Players 1-4 each take 1 note for 17.

ROUND2
Players 1-4 willing to take note at 16 (max 1).
Players 1-3 willing to take note at 15 (max 2).
Players 1-3 willing to take note at 14 (max 3).
Players 1-3 each take 1 note for 14.


ROUND3
Players 1-2 willing to take note at 13 (max 1).
Only player 1 willing to take note at 12 (max 2).
Player 1 takes 1 note for 12.

ROUND4
Only player 1 willing to take note at 11 (max 1).
Player 1 takes 1 note for 11.

ROUND5
No players willing to take note at 10 (max 1).
BIDDING ENDS
 
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Peter Hansell
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yrudoy wrote:
I noticed something unpleasant when reading the rules: If one person has 5 promissory notes in front of him, and another has 0, the one with 0 can take a note out for 20 and trade it to the one with 5. This seems broken.

There is a nice secondary market for promissory notes because of this situation. If I have cash I can sell my promissory notes for much less than it costs me to repay them. If you have 5 notes out I can probably sell you one of mine for $18 and you will be happy. I have just saved $7 on the repayment.

yrudoy wrote:

One idea I have is this: make promissory notes give out 20-n where n is the TOTAL number of notes out. So if I take out a note for 20, the next person can take one out only for 19. This would create a bottleneck at the beginning, but that could be dealt with by starting with a debt auction


I am not sure if I understand this. After about 10 notes no-one would take one because this would only be worth 10 or less. This would effectively cap the total usable notes?

I am hoping that with the additional starting cash and the harder penatlies on the notes - they will be less manditory strategically. I think the testing we have been doing shows that it is working to some degree. You may want a few notes on turn one but you dont want to buy 5 or 8.

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Yevgeniy Rudoy
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Basically, that is the idea. We don't want too much borrowing, right?

Of course, we could make this more like the original by making, say, 2 notes available for 20, 2 for 19, etc.
 
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J C Lawrence
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Peteloaf wrote:
There is a nice secondary market for promissory notes because of this situation.


No, I don't think so. It is the rare case in which a loan trade doesn't greatly benefit one player more than the other -- and this can't be fixed by better pricing in the trade as the leverage gained by the loan itself be exploited profitably. The result is that good players rarely to never trade loans.

yrudoy wrote:
We don't want too much borrowing, right?


Why not? As it is every player will take out 8-12 loans on the first turn of the game. This is standard deficit spending at play. I see no problem with this except for the fact that players have to do this (in order to compete) and thus there's no decision involved. Why not just start the players with the extra cash and forget all the busy-work of taking and tracking the loans?
 
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Yevgeniy Rudoy
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I have nothing at all against deficit spending, but I think it screws up the development ark for the game; if the players start with too much, lots of things get built too quick (at least in my opinion).

Maybe, what we could do is price loans based on the # taken that turn.

So on a given turn, the 1st loan gives 20, the 2nd gives 15, the third 10, subsequent loans give 5.

This would do three things:
1) Make taking out a huge sum of money right at the beginning impossible,
2) Make it worthwhile to borrow throughout the game and not just at 1 point, and
3) Reward players who don't need debt because such players can take a loan out for 20 and then give it to another person with, for say, 17.

One potential problem is that people have to remember how many loans they took out that turn.
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Jonathan Harker
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I've finally got around to playing this game with a couple of friends.

== Play experience ==

3 players
3 hours to play
Overall we really enjoyed it. We found the trading phase took about half the game play. We ended up coming up a "trade 3 cubes at a time" house rule to speed things up.

== Suggested Borrowing Rules ==

Sorry - this ended up being a huge post, so in summary (see below for reasoning and specifics):

1) To combat deficit spenders ending the game early, promissory notes tie up a flag token.
2) In the Develop phase, you may sell placed industry tiles at current market value of their build resources
3) To model loan security, you can only take a limited number of promissory notes, equal to (or otherwise related to) the number of your placed tiles.
4) Each promissory note incurs $1 in interest in the trade phase. If you cannot pay, and cannot borrow, you must sell a tile.
5) Possibly need to adjust the repayment value of promissory notes, given the above.

Promissory notes are an interesting mechanic, and after our play test and reading the forums it looks like deficit spending is a valid (and realistic) way to go - borrow loads of money at the start to build a bank and pay off the loans in the first few turns. We agree however that it ends the game too early, and we don't get to see the market spikes and crashes that justify having the cool supply and demand mechanic in the first place, especially since we spent most of our game bartering goods instead of using the markets.

We postulated some ideas to more realistically model such borrowing, which we will play-test in our next game. Perhaps these have already been suggested, I haven't read all the forums yet :-)

1) When you take a promissory note from the bank, place one of your flag tokens on it. This flag token cannot be placed on the board until the promissory note has been repaid. This prevents deficit spenders from ending the game early.

2) In the develop phase, you may sell an industry tile for the current market price of the resources that are required to build it. for example, you may sell a farm tile for the current market sell price of capital (black) and ore (white), added together. This adds another mechanism to raise cash, at a penalty of losing the VPs you would otherwise gain from the tile at the end of the game. It also allows players to work the prices of the markets by building when resources are cheap, and selling when prices are high (e.g. selling farms to build mines when everyone automates). It also adds another mechanism for players to fix mistakes or change strategies, in addition to the existing move and force placements.

3) The maximum number of promissory notes you may have at any one time is equal to (or somehow related - perhaps n+2, or n+3? May require balancing) the number of industry tiles you have currently on the board. This models real borrowing, where banks won't lend you truck-loads of money without some form of security, as well as preventing extreme over borrowing. If you are stuck in a position where you have no money and no cubes to sell, and you cannot take any more promissory notes, then you are over-extended, and you will have to wait to sell a tile or tiles in the develop phase in order to raise cash. This penalises over-borrowing, because you have a dead turn where you can't do anything until the next develop phase, but allows you to recover from crippling debt.

4) (As proposed for V2 rules) In the trade phase, you must pay $1 to the bank for each promissory note you have (this models 5% interest). If you cannot pay the interest, and have no resources to sell to raise the cash, you must take out another promissory note. If you already have the maximum number of promissory notes, then you must immediately sell one of your industry tiles on the board in a "fire sale", where the cubes are valued as if the market was full (i.e. the smallest sell price for that resource).

5) As these change the way promissory notes work, and also given in an emergency tiles can be sold to raise cash, the final repayment value for promissory notes may need to be changed (currently $25). The interest payments add an interesting time-dependent gradient to players' money supplies which potentially affect this value.

We believe these rules would make borrowing more realistic and functional (i.e. fun), because it prevents big borrowers from ending the game early, models loan security and interest, and models ruthless banks who flog off your assets for cheap when you default on a payment.
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Peter Hansell
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Great feedback,

We have tested the new promisorry notes rules quite a bit. Combined with the larger amount of money included with the commodities packages it has reduced the need to take out so many initial loans.

doctorlard wrote:

1) When you take a promissory note from the bank, place one of your flag tokens on it. This flag token cannot be placed on the board until the promissory note has been repaid. This prevents deficit spenders from ending the game early.

This would probably not have a lot of impact. You have quite a few extra flags available at the beginning (10+) so you could still borrow like crazy.

doctorlard wrote:

2) In the develop phase, you may sell an industry tile for the current market price of the resources that are required to build it. for example, you may sell a farm tile for the current market sell price of capital (black) and ore (white), added together. This adds another mechanism to raise cash, at a penalty of losing the VPs you would otherwise gain from the tile at the end of the game. It also allows players to work the prices of the markets by building when resources are cheap, and selling when prices are high (e.g. selling farms to build mines when everyone automates). It also adds another mechanism for players to fix mistakes or change strategies, in addition to the existing move and force placements.

This is a very interesting idea. Would this remove the tile from the map? Would this allow players to sell tiles to each other? I have started collecting ideas for V3 and this seems like a possibility. I do like the idea of breaking down industries to make way for more valuable ones. This would be especially valuable to a farm player in a game where the food has crashed. It seems like there should be some penalty for selling - you should not get back the same total as what you put in.

doctorlard wrote:

3) The maximum number of promissory notes you may have at any one time is equal to (or somehow related - perhaps n+2, or n+3? May require balancing) the number of industry tiles you have currently on the board. This models real borrowing, where banks won't lend you truck-loads of money without some form of security, as well as preventing extreme over borrowing. If you are stuck in a position where you have no money and no cubes to sell, and you cannot take any more promissory notes, then you are over-extended, and you will have to wait to sell a tile or tiles in the develop phase in order to raise cash. This penalises over-borrowing, because you have a dead turn where you can't do anything until the next develop phase, but allows you to recover from crippling debt.

I like this idea as well. It would allow the players with the farm packages more borrowing power in the initial trade phase. Because you may be forced to borrow to pay your debt service it would not work without a mechanism like number 2 above.

doctorlard wrote:

4) (As proposed for V2 rules) In the trade phase, you must pay $1 to the bank for each promissory note you have (this models 5% interest). If you cannot pay the interest, and have no resources to sell to raise the cash, you must take out another promissory note. If you already have the maximum number of promissory notes, then you must immediately sell one of your industry tiles on the board in a "fire sale", where the cubes are valued as if the market was full (i.e. the smallest sell price for that resource).

As mentioned above - this rule has helped a lot with the promissory note rush.

doctorlard wrote:

5) As these change the way promissory notes work, and also given in an emergency tiles can be sold to raise cash, the final repayment value for promissory notes may need to be changed (currently $25). The interest payments add an interesting time-dependent gradient to players' money supplies which potentially affect this value.


These suggestions are very cool. I especially like the idea of being able to sell off an exisiting industry to replace it with something better.

The proposed V.2 rules were completed, officially adopted and it is currently being printed. Hopefully this will put the promissory notes issues to bed.
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Jonathan Harker
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We just played it again with these rules and they worked well. Play took just over 2 hours, 3 players, and ended in four turns. We used $80 with the starting resource packages. One player defeated a deficit-spending bank-builder by building a large farm-mine combo, requiring only 2 energy per turn to run (excess food fed the mine), stockpiling food and ore, and cashing it in for more tiles. No notes borrowed.

Still not a lot of movement in the markets, because there was no incentive to sell to the market while players were willing to barter it. We came up with a vague idea of forcing players to sell excess resources at the end of the produce phase. Maybe you can only keep n cubes of a particular resource where n is the number of tiles of that type you have on the board. So, a 3 tile farm with 6 dots gives you 6 cubes, but you can only keep 3 (forcing you to sell 3 to the market). That would cut down on bartering because players would have less to barter, and force players to use the markets more. Just an idea though, definitely needs more thought :-)

The $1 interest was not much of an impediment to borrowing, but the tile limit worked well as a limitation. Perhaps (as per a suggestion on another thread) notes all give $20, but the interest is increased by $1 per note, giving a Pascal's sequence, i.e. (1, 2, 3, 4, ... n) notes accrue ($1, $3, $6, $10, ... etc) in interest.

Anyway, in sum, we enjoyed it, and look forward to more games! Keen to try it with 4-6 players and see what the contention is like.

Quote:
This would probably not have a lot of impact. You have quite a few extra flags available at the beginning (10+) so you could still borrow like crazy.


Except you're limited to borrowing only as many notes as you have tiles on the board, and the purpose of that rule is to stop the game ending early. You can't place all your flags on the board (and trigger that end condition) if you have some of them tied up on unpaid promissory notes. It also means a borrowing player can't place as many tiles, which tilts the game in favour of tile placement over borrowing.

Quote:
[Selling tiles] This is a very interesting idea. Would this remove the tile from the map? Would this allow players to sell tiles to each other?


The tile is removed and returned to the supply, and the player's flag token remains on the space on the board. Players may not trade tiles, that doesn't seem to have an obvious real-world analogue.

Quote:
The proposed V.2 rules were completed, officially adopted and it is currently being printed. Hopefully this will put the promissory notes issues to bed.


Is there a PDF available? I would like to see what the V2 rule variations ended up being.
 
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Peter Hansell
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doctorlard wrote:

Quote:
[Selling tiles] This is a very interesting idea. Would this remove the tile from the map? Would this allow players to sell tiles to each other?


The tile is removed and returned to the supply, and the player's flag token remains on the space on the board. Players may not trade tiles, that doesn't seem to have an obvious real-world analogue.

The more I think about selling off tiles the more I like it. They could be sold for cash instead of cubes. This would allow for creating some penalty. It seems wrong to sell it for the same price as buying. I wonder if players would find this useful?

doctorlard wrote:

Is there a PDF available? I would like to see what the V2 rule variations ended up being.

I took down all the playtesting materials from the internet. If you want to join the TableStars group it will allow you to access to playtest information in the future. Geekmail me a real email address.
 
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Jonathan Harker
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Quote:
The more I think about selling off tiles the more I like it. They could be sold for cash instead of cubes. This would allow for creating some penalty. It seems wrong to sell it for the same price as buying. I wonder if players would find this useful?


That's what we tried - tiles for cash. From our original post:

Quote:
2) In the develop phase, you may sell an industry tile for the current market price of the resources that are required to build it. for example, you may sell a farm tile for the current market sell price of capital (black) and ore (white), added together. This adds another mechanism to raise cash, at a penalty of losing the VPs you would otherwise gain from the tile at the end of the game. It also allows players to work the prices of the markets by building when resources are cheap, and selling when prices are high (e.g. selling farms to build mines when everyone automates). It also adds another mechanism for players to fix mistakes or change strategies, in addition to the existing move and force placements.


And in addition:

Quote:
If you cannot pay the interest [on your promissory notes], and have no resources to sell to raise the cash, you must take out another promissory note. If you already have the maximum number of promissory notes, then you must immediately sell one of your industry tiles on the board in a "fire sale", where the cubes are valued as if the market was full (i.e. the smallest sell price for that resource).


Quote:
If you want to join the TableStars group it will allow you to access to playtest information in the future. Geekmail me a real email address.


I'd be keen to be involved in play testing. It's a fun game and potentially a useful educational resource :-)
 
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