Stefan Alexander
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I'm working on a game and having a component problem, and am hoping someone else has seen a nice solution in another game, or can think of something.

Each player has 6 ships and 6 caravans, and they need to be upgradeable. There's 2 types of upgrades (speed and durability). So each unit can have 1-3 speed and 1-3 durability. They also need to be small (spaces on the board are 50mm square and I need to be able to fit 4-5 units).

For a prototype, this isn't such a big deal, I can just use "Seafarers" ships for the ships, and carcassonne meeples for the caravans, and have players place little stacking poker chips underneath - maybe white for speed and black for durability. So a ship might have 1 speed and 1 durability (so 1 black chip and 1 white chip underneath), or 3 speed and 1 durability (so 3 black chips and 1 white chip underneath).

I don't like this, though, because you're moving them a lot so it makes it awkward to use, plus it takes up too much space on the square, plus it just looks stupid and ruins the look of the game.

I need a solution that can be mass produced. I don't feel like any company will be interested if I can't present a decent, mass-producible solution.

One option is to have a bunch of neutral-colored ships and caravans (the ships would all look identical and the caravans would also look identical). Maybe wood, maybe cardboard (like pirates of the spanish main). Each player has little objects (like flags on a stick or something) in their color, and they're numbered. So each player has "speed" flags in values 1-3 and "durability" flags in values 1-3. So they stick a "speed" flag and a "durability" flag into holes in the units, and it both identifies the unit as theirs, plus shows the upgrades. The problem here is it's hard to represent a flag in wood, plus the pieces would end up being too big, and cardboard ships wouldn't stand up to having pieces taken in and out, and why are there two huge flags on a ship, and why are the caravans also holding flags, etc.

Another option I've considered is to have 9 types of ships and 9 types of caravans in a neutral color, then players just (somehow) identify them as theirs, with some kind of simple colored marker they add. But that means I'd need 18 types of units, and several of each type (5-10). I'd need 100-200 units when there's only going to be 20-30 on the board at most. So that's unattractive from a production standpoint...

Any other ideas? Bonus points if I can actually buy (or build) them for the prototype. Extra bonus points if it's not a custom molded plastic solution.

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Pete Belli
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Serenissima (first edition) might be an option for the ships:



Do the caravans need to use camels? Mules? Wagons? Elephants?

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Nicholas Vitek
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Each player has a color
Each player has 6 ships and 6 caravans in ther color
Each ships is numbered 1-6
Each caravan is numbered 1-6
Each player has a player mat. The player mat is split in half, left half are Caravans, right half are ships. Each half has numbers 1-6 and each number has 2 short tracks for speed/durability that are marked with little cubes.

Per Player:
24 cubes, Player Mat, 6 ships, 6 Caravans

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Blair
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This might be a terrible idea. So apologies in advance. 10mm cubes could possibly be glued together to form the larger/longer, more durable ships. And you could put different dots on each side to signify their speed.

https://www.thegamecrafter.com/parts/cube-black

They're cheap too and come in a lot of different colours.
 
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Rich Shipley
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If the ships and caravans do not need to be individually upgradable, each player could have a status display with the current strength and speed of his ships and caravans (4 tracks total).
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Stefan Alexander
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Wow, thanks for the replies so far! Great ideas...

pete belli wrote:

Serenissima (first edition) might be an option for the ships


Those are pretty cool - basically what I had in mind regarding the flags, but those are too big... I do like the flags, though, and they seem sturdy enough... makes me think the flag idea might work, but would definitely need custom molded plastic.

pete belli wrote:

Do the caravans need to use camels? Mules? Wagons? Elephants?


They only need to be the "land" equivalent of ships. It's set in the Caribbean. So camels are out, but mules, wagons, carts, horses, anything goes.

Nich wrote:
Each player has a color
Each player has 6 ships and 6 caravans in ther color
Each ships is numbered 1-6
Each caravan is numbered 1-6
Each player has a player mat. The player mat is split in half, left half are Caravans, right half are ships. Each half has numbers 1-6 and each number has 2 short tracks for speed/durability that are marked with little cubes.

Per Player:
24 cubes, Player Mat, 6 ships, 6 Caravans


Now that is a neat idea... totally accomplishes everything I wanted. The only problem (and I didn't mention this earlier) is that players are usually moving ALL their pieces EVERY turn, and the game is supposed to be really quick (it's usually fairly obvious where to move your ships, the decisions come about whether to move them or to take another action instead). So since the speed determines how many spaces you move, it would be cumbersome to keep looking at your player mat, figuring out how many spaces each ship should move.

Blair46 wrote:
This might be a terrible idea. So apologies in advance. 10mm cubes could possibly be glued together to form the larger/longer, more durable ships. And you could put different dots on each side to signify their speed.


That's a pretty neat idea and would definitely work, easy to prototype and in production they could just make longer solid pieces pretty easily... But I think that wouldn't look like a ship, and part of the appeal of this game is that the board (with all the ships and caravans) would look really cool.
But I really do like the idea of the cubes with dots to represent the numbers... Especially with 7mm cubes (which I happen to still have 12,000 of from a slightly impulsive purchase from Tim Harrison a couple of years ago), since they're smaller, and could potentially fit inside a special ship or caravan piece. I could even use tiny 6-sided dice and upgrade them from 1-6... Or just use different colors to represent different numbers of upgrades... The problem is that cubes inside a ship looks like cargo, but they're not.

rshipley wrote:
If the ships and caravans do not need to be individually upgradable, each player could have a status display with the current strength and speed of his ships and caravans (4 tracks total).


That is a simpler, more elegant solution, and I've been playing the game that way so far. I actually used 4 types of "+1" counters you buy to represent the upgrades. But I realized it opens up the strategies a lot in this particular game if you can upgrade individual units. It's also a little more thematic. If I can't find a good solution for upgrading individual units I'll definitely go back to this method.
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Steve Finney
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This is probably not a cheap option, but each piece could be sculpted hold two dice, each a different colour (eg durability is grey, speed is red: alternatively, custom die with appropriate symbols). To upgrade, remove, rotate and reinsert the die as appropriate.

Something like this?



Best of luck.

(and nice avatar )
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Isaac Shalev
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Thinking along the same lines, it could be carboard tokens that fit into slots on the ships/caravans.

Another alternative is if you could stack plastic cones on the ship or wagon.
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Old Gamer
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To clarify - can a ship/caravan have 0 speed or durabilty?

If not, then there is no need to represent a value of 1 - the lack of a marker is sufficient.

Ship speed: Sails? A speed one ship has no mast (they have to row!), a speed two ship has a low sail and a speed three ship has a high sail. If you can have a mast (30mm plastic rod?) with a sail (plastic square) attached 1/3 of the way down it, then putting it in a hole in the centre of the ship will give you the low or high sail, depending on which end of the mast you put in.

For the others, I've got nothing.

Good luck with your game!

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damian isherwood
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What about having a base for each unit in the same fashion as battlelore or tide of iron. With the difference being that the units are solidly attached and there are instead 3 hole on either side for two markers.

One marker represents speed and the other durability. Each hole has a number beside it corresponding to the desired value (1 through 3) as the ships value changes the flags are moved to the proper hole and fit in. the Unit for obvious reason sits firmly in the middle.

Just a thought.

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Sam Mercer
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Damiens idea is great.

Steves elephant is amazing (what the hell game is that from?)

The easiest would be Nicholas's (player mats) all you need to do is give the units inconsequential types. Say one caravan is pulled by donkeys, another has a big umbrella on it, the third has two horses (or what not) and then on the player mats each caravan would be displayed. Then its easy to go "Ahh yes, my donkey caravan has 2 speed" which would solve that problem.
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Sturv Tafvherd
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I really like the ideas represented by:
pete belli wrote:
Serenissima (first edition) might be an option for the ships:



fFish wrote:
This is probably not a cheap option, but each piece could be sculpted hold two dice, each a different colour (eg durability is grey, speed is red: alternatively, custom die with appropriate symbols). To upgrade, remove, rotate and reinsert the die as appropriate.

Something like this?




If you're worried about it looking like "Cargo", then make it look like something else ... smoke stacks, or pictures of multiple sails.

You can also go for a color-symbol coding instead.

1 = yellow circle
2 = blue square
3 = red triangle


(edit)
Realistically, however, if you were to take your game to a publisher, they'll probably figure out exactly what your components will be. And if they decide that colored poker chips is the best, that is what will be published.
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Nacho Facello
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Caravans can be cones (pointing up, of course). Upgrades are little rings.
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Shawn George
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Warbringerd wrote:
What about having a base for each unit in the same fashion as battlelore or tide of iron. With the difference being that the units are solidly attached and there are instead 3 hole on either side for two markers.

One marker represents speed and the other durability. Each hole has a number beside it corresponding to the desired value (1 through 3) as the ships value changes the flags are moved to the proper hole and fit in. the Unit for obvious reason sits firmly in the middle.

Just a thought.



I was thinking something like this, except instead of moving the flags to different holes, you just added more pegs instead. So if your speed was represented by white pegs and your durability by black pegs, a 3/2 ship would have 3 white pegs and 2 black pegs in it.

Kind of like the cars from The Game of Life.

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damian isherwood
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Putts wrote:
Warbringerd wrote:
What about having a base for each unit in the same fashion as battlelore or tide of iron. With the difference being that the units are solidly attached and there are instead 3 hole on either side for two markers.

One marker represents speed and the other durability. Each hole has a number beside it corresponding to the desired value (1 through 3) as the ships value changes the flags are moved to the proper hole and fit in. the Unit for obvious reason sits firmly in the middle.

Just a thought.



I was thinking something like this, except instead of moving the flags to different holes, you just added more pegs instead. So if your speed was represented by white pegs and your durability by black pegs, a 3/2 ship would have 3 white pegs and 2 black pegs in it.

Kind of like the cars from The Game of Life.



Actually I like this better, you could have your units moulded like ships and wagons with the holes on top much like the cars pictured in life.....Good call meeple
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Stefan Alexander
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Sorry for dropping off for a while, a weird thing happened. I was tracking all the cool replies to this thread, checking whenever I got a notification email. And then the replies just stopped, I figured that was it and there were no more ideas.

Turns out that I had opened an email on my iPhone, looked at the new reply, then deleted the email. But I forgot I wasn't logged in on my iPhone, so BGG's notification system didn't think I'd checked, so stopped sending me emails. I guess it doesn't register a view when I click on the email link - only if I'm logged in and see the thread.

Just wanted you all to know I didn't just lose interest in this.

I really like some of these options. Thanks for all the time you invested in this! The need for a good universal upgrade solution has been intensified since I added airships to the mix!

The way I see it, there are a few types:

Storage in each unit, or the base:

Dice, cubes, pegs, rings, cones, cardboard tokens, smokestacks, pictures of sails (or other things), or some other kinds of markers. There's some great ways to represent the different upgrades, and it's fun to put things in other things - gamers don't get to do enough of that. In all seriousness, there's a reason the Game of Life has that - because it "feels" like an upgrade.

pete belli wrote:




fFish wrote:




Putts wrote:

I was thinking something like this, except instead of moving the flags to different holes, you just added more pegs instead. So if your speed was represented by white pegs and your durability by black pegs, a 3/2 ship would have 3 white pegs and 2 black pegs in it.
Kind of like the cars from The Game of Life.


Warbringerd wrote:
What about having a base for each unit in the same fashion as battlelore or tide of iron. With the difference being that the units are solidly attached and there are instead 3 hole on either side for two markers.
One marker represents speed and the other durability. Each hole has a number beside it corresponding to the desired value (1 through 3) as the ships value changes the flags are moved to the proper hole and fit in. the Unit for obvious reason sits firmly in the middle.


Player mats:
These are the most efficient solution, especially with Cogentesque's suggestion. It's more "game-like" and less "toy-like", not sure which I prefer actually...

Nich wrote:
Each player has a color
Each player has 6 ships and 6 caravans in ther color
Each ships is numbered 1-6
Each caravan is numbered 1-6
Each player has a player mat. The player mat is split in half, left half are Caravans, right half are ships. Each half has numbers 1-6 and each number has 2 short tracks for speed/durability that are marked with little cubes.

Per Player:
24 cubes, Player Mat, 6 ships, 6 Caravans


Cogentesque wrote:

The easiest would be Nicholas's (player mats) all you need to do is give the units inconsequential types. Say one caravan is pulled by donkeys, another has a big umbrella on it, the third has two horses (or what not) and then on the player mats each caravan would be displayed. Then its easy to go "Ahh yes, my donkey caravan has 2 speed" which would solve that problem.


Sails/Flags:
Old Gamer's "sails" are a really interesting variation on the "objects in each unit" idea:

old_gamer wrote:
...there is no need to represent a value of 1 - the lack of a marker is sufficient.

Ship speed: Sails? A speed one ship has no mast (they have to row!), a speed two ship has a low sail and a speed three ship has a high sail. If you can have a mast (30mm plastic rod?) with a sail (plastic square) attached 1/3 of the way down it, then putting it in a hole in the centre of the ship will give you the low or high sail, depending on which end of the mast you put in.

For the others, I've got nothing.

Good luck with your game!



Now THIS is a really cool idea. "0" is not a valid state, so I get all 3 states out of one component. Sails don't work for caravans, or airships, but flags would be acceptable. It's like pegs, but you need fewer holes, and it's a little more thematic.


Stormtower wrote:

(edit)
Realistically, however, if you were to take your game to a publisher, they'll probably figure out exactly what your components will be. And if they decide that colored poker chips is the best, that is what will be published.


This is a really good point, and I agree. I'm spending time on components now because:

1. I think it will make a good first impression, and maybe get a foot in the door, then if they cost it down later that's OK. Also it's easy to visualize simpler solutions (like poker chips) so I might as well do the work helping them visualize the harder solution.
2. I have a problem - I have a lot of fun making really nice components for my prototypes. It's often a waste of time, since the components change a lot early on and then I've spent hours making a prototype I only play once, whereas scraps of paper would have been more effective. However it's an addiction and I realize reason #1 is just justification for my poor behaviour
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David Cheng
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I have some ideas. Speed & durability are two factors which are contradict to each other. If you want more durability, you may need to sacrifice some speed & vice versa. So upgrading a ship or caravan to maximum speed AND durability is not very realistic.

If you prefer minis to cubes, I'd like unique minis for each class.
Let say six ship models each has corresponding stats as follows:
1-1, 1-2, 1-3
2-1, 2-2
3-1

For caravans, you can have donkey, horse, camel & elephant. So donkey is the basic caravan of 1-1. Elephant has highest durability while horse has highest speed.

In this way you need a total of 10 - 12 different minis.
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Ultracheng wrote:
I have some ideas. Speed & durability are two factors which are contradict to each other.


You could limit the number of upgrades to 3 per conveyance. Then you would have to balance Speed v. Durability in an easy way.

One alternative to modifying individual board pieces, would be to have a sheet for each player with 6 areas representing the 6 transporters where players can place cubes or chits to represent their Speed / Durability / Cargo. Each player would have numbered pawns / tokens for the game board which correspond to the numbered areas on the sheet.
 
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Dave G
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If you use heavy card compoenents, you can just stack them. If they are in a square shape it will be easy to move them around, circles will work too. It will also make the actual game a little cheaper t produce. Use non-card components if you realy want the game to have nicer components for other items that you cannot upgrade.

One game that did this well was the Sim City CCG, you just played a new card over the old one to upgrade.

If you really want to use better components, then you could use a base that you upgrade. You would have one solid colored base that the ships or whatever sit on. Then when you upgrade you use a clear component to play over the solid colored one that changes the value you want. Then you place the component back on the stand. If the stand is metal, then little magnetic pieces could be played on it You should be able to get al kinds of stands at the local hobby shop plastic and metal. You can buy magnetic "paper" that you can put through a inkjet.

One other option is to use cut cardstock you can put behind the component. The Seargents game did this ad it looked like it would work well. I have not played that game tough so it may not.

If I was making a miniature game, then you would just include certain pieces that you put magnets in. Then the user swaps in the upgrades during play.
 
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