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Subject: Proposal for another politics variant rss

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Wim van Gruisen
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Let me start by saying that I'm still very much a newbie when it comes to Eclipse. Up to now I only played one, two player tryout, game. I'd have preferred to get a few more games under my belt and to try out the variant that I'm going to propose, but this thread from John Smith started a discussion on the political game and I'd like to present my ideas before the discussion moves on. So there.

The basis of this variant is John's idea that there are a number of 'laws' giving VP to players reaching certain achievements. In the end only one of them gets enacted.

Things that I want to do different from John:
- I want to have a simple and elegant system. No two-tier voting, no subcommittees and all that stuff.
- Players should be able to participate in the politics phase without having to invest lots of influence disks. At the same time, they should be able to pay influence disks to get more influence.
- Politics should not be the kingmaker at the end of the game.

So here follows my proposal for a political system.

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* There is a deck of law cards. Each card has a text like "The player who has most A get X Victory Points at the end of the game" (see below). At the start of the game the deck is shuffled and nine cards are drawn. These are the laws that the game starts with.
Variant: Each player gets two laws dealt. He chooses one and discards the other. The chosen laws get into the game, and then cards are added until there are nine.

* There is a "Galactic Council" board, indicating how much influence each player has. Each player has one influence disk there at the start (drawn on the board, so that no influence disks from the player boards have to be sacrificed). With the 'Influence' action players can place more influence disks at the Galactic Council board. If a player goes bankrupt, he can take away influence disks - but one (the drawn one) has to remain there. If a player has more than three influence disks at the end of the game, he gets one VP for each one over three.

* At the start of the game, each influence disk is worth 1 vote.
When a player connects his homeworld with the Galactic Center, his disks are worth 2 votes.
When a player controls the galactic center, he is considered to have one extra disk in the Galactic Council.
(Possibly, when a player gets the Traitor card, his disks are worth one vote less. This - like all the rest - has to be tested)
In case of ties, the start player has the deciding vote.

* Each round, except for round 9, there is a Political Phase in which players get to abolish one law card. They vote on which card to discard. See below for an explanation why there is no political phase at the end of round 9.

--------------------------------

There is no Political Phase at the end of round 9. This has two reasons:
- I don't want to end the game with a round of arguing and voting. People would look at how many points everyone has and how the remaining laws would change the VP totals, and that after a round full of actions and a final battle. It's a bit anticlimactic to me.
- Players who cannot win anymore at the end of the game, will act as kingmakers when they vote after the final battle. I don't want that.
Instead, the law that remains in play until the end of the game will be decided on at the end of round 8. That gives players a whole round in which they can try to maximize their scores, keeping that law in mind.


Now, the laws. I propose:
* The player with the largest fleet at the end of the game gains 5 VP
* The player with the most money at the end of the game gains 5 VP
* The player with the largest number of Orbitals and Monoliths at the end of the game gains 5 VP
* The player with the largest empire (control of most hexes) at the end of the game gains 5 VP
* The player who controls the Galactic Center at the end of the game gains 5 VP
* The player with most political influence at the end of the game gains 3 VP
* At the end of the game each player looks at his least developed technology. The player with most progress there gains 5 VP
* The player with most Science resources at the end of the game gains 5 VP
* The player with most Materials resources at the end of the game gains 5 VP
* The player with most Military tech advances at the end of the game gains 5 VP
* The player with most Grid tech advances at the end of the game gains 5 VP
* The player with most Nano tech advances at the end of the game gains 5 VP
* The player with fewest population cubes on his Money track at the end of the game gains 5 VP
* The player with fewest population cubes on his Science track at the end of the game gains 5 VP
* The player with fewest population cubes on his Materials track at the end of the game gains 5 VP

If two or more players end up equal, each of them gets 3 points (or 2 points in case of the most political influence


As I said, I don't really have enough experience with the game. So there will probably be problems with this variant that I overlooked (starting with 'do we really need this?'). I intend to first play a few more games with the game as is and then start adding this political stuff to the game.

Meanwhile I am interested in your opinions. Will Eclipse be enriched if politics are added to the game? If it is done in the way described above?
What are flaws with this variant and can they be overcome?

Some specific questions:
Is a 5 VP bonus for a law the right amount? It should be enough to have people be really interested in the politics, but not so many that it monopolises atttention. "The most political influence" gets only 3 points because of its self-strengthening effect.
Does the number of votes feel right?
What about the laws? Are they interesting or boring? Do you have ideas for other laws?
Another format for laws would be "Each X at the end of the game is worth Y VP". That way, everyone gets something instead of one player getting it all. Is that more interesting?
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John Smith
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You already know my take on the card issue (more fiddly).

I do, however, like the "connection" to the galactic center idea.

I wish you mentioned it in the other thread.

In the model that I proposed (the other thread that you referenced), the connection concept could work well. If you use the "delegate" idea, you could easily earn a second delegate when when you make the connection.

But even this might be adding too much complexity to an otherwise very simple concept.


Questions on your model:

1. Why would you need a board? What would the board do that is different than the cards? Why not just put the infleunce directly on the cards?

2. I thought you didn't like the concept of using influence to pay for votes? Isn't that what you are suggesting? What am I missing? This much seems the same.


As for the arguing and debating at the end: You know I like it. A bunch of political maneuvering, and a bunch of space fighting at the same time, and then the game ends. Perfect.


As for the VPs that you receive for influence spent on politics (simply for spending it): I like this in theory, as I wrote in the other thread. However, this issue gave me pause. In the model that I have proposed, I didn't want to make politics TOO powerful. You will already get some kind of bonus from the enacted regulation. Should politics be such a powerful VP source?


Also: I note that by round 5, half of the political options will be GONE if you vote off the cards. You can't pull a surprise out of the hat in round 5.

... For that matter, you couldn't pull a total surprise out of the hat in my model either... but you could gradually change course by round 9.

One more question:

What is the difference between A) giving the player with the LEAST resources a bonus; and B) penalizing the player with the most.

Both A and B would shrink the VP gap (which is really all we're ultimately talking about).


Just my thoughts.


We can certianly continue discussion here!
















 
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Wim van Gruisen
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fantstc2 wrote:
1. Why would you need a board? What would the board do that is different than the cards? Why not just put the infleunce directly on the cards?

The board is for placing influence tokens (and each player already starts with one token on the board). With that influence cards can be voted off. If influence were placed on the cards, that influence would disappear from the game if the cards disappeared.
Another reason is that influence can give victory points. Imagine a board with six rows of circles (one row per player). From the fourth circle on, victory point icons could be shown on the circles, like what is done with the tech section on the player boards. That way the info of how many VP are gained is easy to read.

fantstc2 wrote:
2. I thought you didn't like the concept of using influence to pay for votes? Isn't that what you are suggesting? What am I missing? This much seems the same.

In this variant people already have an influence disk on the political board. So they can already play politics without having to pay for it. If someone really wants to, he can buy more influence, but it will cost him.
In your variant, players did not have influence in politics right from the start; they would have to place one disk in the council field and another one in a subcommittee's field - that's two disks lost before you can even play in the political arena.
Add to that that in your variant disks cannot be moved. If a disk is placed on a law that isn't going to win, it is useless. You must either spend an action to remove it or spend an action to add more disks. That makes the disks even more expensive.
That is another reason why in this variant disks aren't placed on the cards themselves, but on the Galactic Council board.

fantstc2 wrote:
What is the difference between A) giving the player with the LEAST resources a bonus; and B) penalizing the player with the most.

At least partly it is psychological. Positive stimulants feel better than negative ones.
But next to that it is a stimulant to build things and develop one's empire. If, three rounds from the end, laws are still in place that give bonuses to orbitals and the largest number of ships, people will go for those. If the laws give penalties to orbitals and the largest number of ships, people will avoid building orbitals and will build fewer ships, or start wars hoping that their ships will be destroyed. I feel that those are negative stimulants for players. I think that bonuses in a game should encourage players to develop, not restrict them from doing so.
Finally, it would be a downer for a player who followed an orbital/monolith strategy to find out that these objects give him penalties rather than points. Especially if that happens after the last round. He wouldn't have achieved something.

fantstc2 wrote:
We can certianly continue discussion here!

Let's not. Or rather, let's discuss your variant in the thread you started, and this variant here. If you like ideas that come forward in this thread, feel free to add them to your variant. But let's keep the threads clean, without too much comparing of variants.
 
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Mr. Octavius
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I notice you don't have a card for the player with the most Money at the end of the game. Is there a reason behind that? It could change the dynamic of the last round a lot (Do I push for some more VP doing X action, or do I stop and hope to have the most money?) which some players may find interesting, and those that don't would probably vote it out of the game early.

I can see a lot of ties early on while voting, (who's going to spend an influence on politics first round?) What happens in this case? First player breaks the tie?
 
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Wim van Gruisen
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I did mention a card for the player with the most money at the end of the game. It's the second law in the list.

If there is a tie, the player who started the round gets the deciding vote. It is mentioned in the last line of the voting part. This would give an impetus for a player to connect to the center, and to capture it, quickly. Which I think is in line with the general drive of the game; get into contact, and conflict, early.
 
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Stephen Rochelle
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I like the notion of eliminating laws to arrive at the end set. However, "vote for which to remove" strikes me as an inelegant solution, particularly in the early game when there will be far more laws than players. In those cases it seems that the vote will more strongly resemble "who is the start player?" or "who has the most discs?" rather than an all-parties vote. Not sure how to address this while still preserving the guaranteed elimination and while keeping the voting process compact.
 
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Heiko Günther
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Thumbs up for putting some thought into that stuff.

As with John's proposal, these politics rules would not have any influence on the game until the very end, during scoring, correct? I think, assumed the game lasts for approx. 1000 years 'ingame' time, politics should have an effect before that.

While I like the elegance of stripping down the different laws until you arrive at a final set, I don't think it ties in very well with politics or generally how lawgiving works: laws tend to pile up and become more and more instead of less and less.

Why not just single out one of the laws each round that is enacted and gives a bonus to players in this very round? That way, you get a reward more immediately for playing on politics at all. Obviously, for that to work, the boni from the cards would have to be adjusted. Perhaps they could even grant other things than VP. New technologies or whatever.

Also, the voting each round sounds a bit sketchy and could drag. How do you decide on which law to vote about? Do you vote on that? Just giving the starting player the deciding vote sounds a bit boring and uninspired.

Take a look at The End of the Triumvirate's politics mechanism, which I seem to remember working very very well. If I remember correctly, you could spend gold/action (or the game's equivalent) to buy more votes (=political influence) over to your side, from a set number, either from the middle or from one of the other players. Each time a voting takes place (approx every third round) the player with the most votes becomes senator (=picks the law to enact). In case of a tie, the former Senator stays Senator (=picks another law).

Be reminded: I never played this game, don't own it and probably won't until second ed.
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Timo Hohkala
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What's stopping you from discussing non-binding political treaties amongs yourselves? Do a little non-official politics.

Why bring unnecessarily complicating things to simple and simply marvelous game?

And 5VP is alot in my books.
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John Smith
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lee elektrik wrote:
Thumbs up for putting some thought into that stuff.

As with John's proposal, these politics rules would not have any influence on the game until the very end, during scoring, correct? I think, assumed the game lasts for approx. 1000 years 'ingame' time, politics should have an effect before that.


You ever watch the UN try to get anything done?

Now multiply across planets and systems...

Thousand years seems just right to me.
 
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John Smith
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lee elektrik wrote:


Take a look at The End of the Triumvirate's politics mechanism, which I seem to remember working very very well. If I remember correctly, you could spend gold/action (or the game's equivalent) to buy more votes (=political influence) over to your side, from a set number, either from the middle or from one of the other players. Each time a voting takes place (approx every third round) the player with the most votes becomes senator (=picks the law to enact). In case of a tie, the former Senator stays Senator (=picks another law).


Go ahead, Wim.

I'm with ya.

Be "defensive."

(A little contention from other thread...)


But seriously, I'll save him the time... I think this is already very similar mechanically to what Wim is proposing?



 
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Wim van Gruisen
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Sorry for the late reply. Yesterday I had a games day and did some research there - in other words, we played a four-player game of Eclipse. Without any variant rules.

But let's get back to your questions and remarks. This will be a long post.

lomn wrote:
I like the notion of eliminating laws to arrive at the end set. However, "vote for which to remove" strikes me as an inelegant solution, particularly in the early game when there will be far more laws than players. In those cases it seems that the vote will more strongly resemble "who is the start player?" or "who has the most discs?" rather than an all-parties vote. Not sure how to address this while still preserving the guaranteed elimination and while keeping the voting process compact.

I'd have to test this. At first regard I'd say that it depends on the number of players. If you have two players who are of equal political strength, the start player can indeed decide. With three or more players, the other players together have more votes than the start player. From four players, having a second disk on the political track will still lose if the other three players vote together. So whether the start player, or the player with the most disks, will always win, depends a lot on how the other players can work together.

On the other hand, if every player holds on to his vote and won't cooperate, then the start player or the player with the strongest political position will indeed win every time. I readily admit that a political variant won't work if the players aren't interested in playing politics. A voting process is always a group dynamic and therefore depends on the group with which one is playing.

My thought was also that in the beginning voting off potential laws would not be so bad, as few people already have invested much in a certain strategy, and on the other hand it wouldn't be difficult to find a law that people just aren't interested in keeping. So in the early game the political arena will still be quiet.

twibs wrote:
Why bring unnecessarily complicating things to simple and simply marvelous game?

Because I saw people talk about adding politics to the game. I tried to come up with a simple and uncomplicated way to do so.

twibs wrote:
And 5VP is alot in my books.

It is. In yesterday's game we ended up with scores of 24, 28, 29 and 31 (the first time I played Eclipse, I got 37 points and my opponent 56. This one was a lot closer). So perhaps the VP should be smaller. On the other hand, you can get 'a lot' of VP too by investing in technology (another 5 VP per track that you complete) or by winning battles (which can give +4 VP). Yesterday, the final battle was over a hex that would give 6 VP to the winner (3VP for the hex plus another 3 for the monolith built there). So is a 5 VP bonus that outrageous?
Players who are seriously trying to get this bonus will have to place one or more influence disks on the political thread. They are giving up future actions. That is quite a cost - it should be countered by a good reward. Would you invest influence disks in a political board if it might possibly grant you only one or two VP?
How many VP would you consider a good amount, for a political strategy to be a viable option without it dominating the board?

lee elektrik wrote:
Thumbs up for putting some thought into that stuff.

As with John's proposal, these politics rules would not have any influence on the game until the very end, during scoring, correct? I think, assumed the game lasts for approx. 1000 years 'ingame' time, politics should have an effect before that.

While I like the elegance of stripping down the different laws until you arrive at a final set, I don't think it ties in very well with politics or generally how lawgiving works: laws tend to pile up and become more and more instead of less and less.

My thoughts when proposing a political variant was not to emulate politics within the game universe, but rather to give players room to discuss with, plea, threaten, coerce and persuade each other.

lee elektrik wrote:
Why not just single out one of the laws each round that is enacted and gives a bonus to players in this very round?

I didn't do it, well, because this variant I proposed is inspired by John Smith's variant. The idea of the goal of politics being to determine a victory condition at the end appealed to me. This would lead to long-term strategies; different bonuses each round might lead to haphazard play. A bigger concern to me is that the mechanics of the game are well balanced. I don't know if intermediate goals would mess with it. That said, well, the basis is that I never considered it. It might be something to do. In that case I'd suggest that a VP condition is chosen at the start of each round and awarded at the end of it. In that way players have a whole round to work towards it. Any idea how to do this? How many laws should players choose between, and how do they get into play?

lee elektrik wrote:
Just giving the starting player the deciding vote sounds a bit boring and uninspired. Take a look at The End of the Triumvirate's politics mechanism [...] Each time a voting takes place (approx every third round) the player with the most votes becomes senator (=picks the law to enact). In case of a tie, the former Senator stays Senator.

Interesting. I needed a way to break ties and starting player was the most obvious - but as you say, uninspired. I like what you're saying here, just as I like the idea of being able to spend money for a one-time vote (perhaps first round one such vote costs 1, and in the ninth round it costs 9).
Problem remains who should be Senator (tie-breaker) at the start. Random choice? The person to the right of the start player (since he has the disadvantage of being the last to act)?
 
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