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NEW EDIT 1.23.2012:

I like the Special Powers I came up with so much I think they should always be part of the game: Forget about rolling the die at the start of each turn. Each player can, once per game, ignore one cave-in drawn while Mining Dangerously (but not a cave-in precipitated by another player's use of a once-per-game power). Each player can also, once per game, cause another player's presently-being-mined Tunnel Level to be hit with the equivalent of a "Cave-In (Escape)", just before the Mining player draws a card (usually either his final safe card OR a "Mine Dangerously" card if the mining player has indicated he's going to push his luck and draw another card). Finally, each player can also "manipulate the gem market" once per game during a Gem Selling Round, after everyone has set their For Sale lot but before they have revealed the lot. The manipulator re-draws the value for any one gem, but everybody must stick with the lots they indicated.

As an alternate use for the die, I am thinking the die should be an optional roll whenever you draw a Cave-In while Mining Dangerously: you can thereby try to preserve your presently-mining Dwarf's tentative, about-to-be-lost gem haul but in so doing you risk further catastrophe.

Something like this:

Blank = no effect.

Gem = You get the gems you've mined out to safety just in time, "banking" them in your hand instead of discarding them.

Rubble = You cave-in (NO escape) the presently-being-mined level as well as the level indicated on the card. If the Cave-In card was an "Escape" cave-in, it becomes a non-Escape cave-in, killing any of your Dwarves on both that level and the presently-being-mined level and discarding all their tools (and any pumps). If (one of) the level(s) indicated on the card is the same as the presently-being-mined level, your opponent to your left picks a different level to also be caved-in.

Tunnel = The Cave-In (of the same type) happens in a Tunnel Level of the opponent to your left's choice instead of the Level indicated on the card.

That's one idea for the die, anyway. Possibly disallow it on the final turn of the game, as the negative consequences wouldn't be nearly so bad (since the Dwarves/Equipment being risked wouldn't have to be repurchased).

I tried out the following rule for the Dwarf Thief and think it works well. He costs 6 Gold as written and can be used exactly as written. (Note that in a 2-player game this is a 4 gold net swing per turn, so he's worth buying even on the 5th turn.) But the Thief can ALSO be used to steal gems (likely worth more than 2 Gold/turn), but at greater risk. (Notice a pattern here...?) During the Dig phase you place him in front of any opponent's row of Tunnels to indicate he'll be stealing gems from the opponent this turn. During the Mine phase, after the opponent has settled on the positions of all his Dwarves, you pick a Tunnel Level and place the Thief at that Level. If and when the opponent has a Dwarf at that Level bank his gems, you steal one and only one - if the opponent has multiple Dwarves you can only steal from one - at random. However, if that Level of the opponent's Tunnel Caves-in without Escape or Floods without a pump or raft, the Thief dies! If you decide to leave the Thief in the same opponent's Tunnels from one round to the next, he can only move one level away next turn. You may also decide, during your Dig Phase, to pick him up and place him (a) in your own area to steal 2 Gold or (b) in a different opponent's Tunnel Complex, placing him in a specific Tunnel Level after that opponent has positioned his Dwarves in the Mine Phase. (I'm considering but have not tried the following: If the opponent has a Raft and there is a Flood, your Thief returns to your opponent's hand and now belongs to him, grateful that his life was saved by the opponent's cautious planning.)

Black Diamond added and played as written, which I like a lot more with the inflated prices this variant uses since it's not such a big-money lucky draw, but is still a happy result.

I'm really leaning towards rolling dice for the Gem Base Prices to speed things up. d4 (red) rubies, d6 (green) emeralds, d8 (blue) sapphires, d10 (clear/silver/white) diamonds. We are still drawing two cards for each and adding them together at present, however, and are playing that if a "Not Buying" result comes up for either number drawn for a gem that gem is indeed off the market this turn (barring market manipulation).

I realized it makes no sense to have Masters EVER be cheaper than Journeymen, so we now draw just one card to set the Dwarf prices.

Also: we now play that "On Strike" means just that: In addition to being non-purchasable, Masters/Journeymen (as appropriate) must all be picked up with their tools and placed in your hand and not used during a turn in which they are on strike.




So far this is just tested with Two Players. I think it should work perfectly well (or even better, with regards to its Gem Selling market mechanic) with 3 or 4 players, although I am a bit worried about running out of Dwarves and Tools in those circumstances.

In many respects the game plays per rules-as-written-and-then-clarified-on-BGG. In many respects it is different: players will be presented with more tough choices and will in almost every case CHOOSE to face danger for a better reward. Most of the time in the game as it's written there's really no choice: of COURSE you mine with your equipped Dwarves (in descending Tunnel Order) - if they die they die, if not you get more stuff. You're not really risking anything.

SETUP:

The Provisions cards will see a LOT more action. Rather than having a single card show all the prices for that turn, players will flip cards for every result needed. This will be detailed below. The prices must be recorded using markers (dimes, meeples, fake gems, whatever) on price tracks.

On a sheet of paper, make the following Tracks, labelled as follows:

"START OF TURN BUY PHASE"
"Lanterns" 1-3
"Picks" 1-3
"Journeyman" 1-4 and STRIKE!
"Master 2-4" and STRIKE!

"GEM PRICES"
1-10. (I use 4 "gem" markers from my girlfriend's craft box to track all the prices on this one track: 1 red, 1 green, 1 blue, 1 clear.)

"END OF TURN BUY PHASE"
"Lanterns" 1-3 and 'Not Selling'
"Picks" 1-3 and 'Not Selling'

"TURN TRACK"
1-6

Hopefully somebody with some sort of graphic design talent likes this and can work something up.

In the mean time, here's what I am using:



I immediately sleeved my cards since they're clearly not going to stand up to much if any shuffling. In one of the Ruby sleeves I put a piece of paper indicating it's actually a Diamond, so my gem mix is a nice and tidy 10 Rubies, 8 Emeralds, 6 Sapphires and 4 Diamonds. This probably isn't strictly necessary, but I definitely think it will make the Gem Selling phase described below work better since there's more likely to be competition for Diamond sales (see below).

*************

Each player gets 10 Gold. Randomly determine a start player. Give the other players an extra coin for every spot at the table they are removed from the start player.

For now we are determining turn order per the rulebook (least tunnels open, least Dwarves in the tunnels), with least money (loans are subtracted from money) being an additional tie-breaker before simply passing the turn marker as a last resort. That may change.

Shuffle all decks. Do not remove any gem cards regardless of the number of players. Add all 4 Floods cards, all 4 Pump cards and both Rafts. Each player arranges his Tunnel Cards 1-5 left to right face down in front of him.

Flip 2 Dwarves face-up per player (4 total in a 2-player game). Flip 4 Tool cards per player face up (8 total in a 2-player game). Nobody starts with any cards in their hand.

If at any time a player goes broke and has no dwarves (or simply wishes to do so) he may take out a 10 gold loan. He gets 10 gold from the bank and takes a "loan marker." (We use a green poker chip, since we use poker chips for the money.) At the start of each turn thereafter, he must pay 1 gold interest. Immediately after paying the interest, he may pay the loan off by paying 10 gold to the bank. If the loan is not paid off before the end of the game, he must subtract 12 gold from his final score for each loan.

Flip a Provisions card and set the Journeyman Price indicator to match the Journeyman Hire Rate given on the card. Then flip another Provisions card and do the same for the Master Hire Price. [EDIT: SEE BLUE BOX update, only flip one card to determine both Master and Journeyman price.] Flip a third card for the "Start of Turn Buy Phase" Pick Price and a fourth for the "Start of Turn Buy Phase" Lantern Price. Use the "Tool Buyback Rates" on a fifth and sixth Provisions cards to determine the "End of Turn Buy Phase" Pick and Lantern Prices, respectively. If you get an "On Strike" or "Not Buying" result, mark the appropriate box except that "Not Buying" becomes "Not Selling" for "End of Turn Buy Phase."

(Note: If you've analyzed the Provisions cards, you might have noticed that Picks are slightly cheaper than Lanterns on average but sell back for more on average, which makes little sense given that their game functions are identical. In this variant, Picks are still a little cheaper at the beginning of the turn, but now the Lanterns are on average cheaper if you wait until the end of the turn, after everybody's mined, sold gems, etc., so they're balanced but different.)

(Note: I have tried a couple variations of ideas designed to "use up" tools but nothing was quite right yet. In any case, tools are relatively cheaper in this version, and this is intentional - while it will hurt to buy expensive tools, the real game comes when you go Gem Mining and set foot into the volatile world of wholesale Gem Sales.)

Before you determine the prices of the four gems, SHUFFLE THE PROVISIONS DECK!

Flip TWO cards and add the results together to get the "Base Price" for Rubies. Mark it on the Gem Price track. Flip two more cards and add them to do the same for Emeralds, two more for Sapphires and two more for Diamonds. A "Not Buying" result is treated as zero.


START OF TURN "SPECIAL POWER OF THE DAY" PHASE

EDIT: I will leave the text intact to explicate the powers, but per the blue box above we are now playing that each player receives each power to use once per game and experimenting with another use for the die (to save gems lost to cave-ins at risk of more/deadlier cave-ins).

Each player get to roll the die once at the beginning of the turn.

If she rolls the Tunnel/Mine Entrance/Timbers (you know the one) Icon, that player will be able to either (1) dig an extra Tunnel Level for free [no dwarf or tools necessary or (2) "reinforce" a dwarf who draws a Cave-In when Mining Dangerously (see below), thereby IGNORING the Cave-In and either stopping safely or pressing on by drawing another card and continuing to Mine Dangerously.

If she rolls the Gem Icon, she will be able to re-draw any one gem's prices at any point in the Sell Gems phase, including just prior to the players revealing what they are selling in that Selling Round (see below). She should first reshuffle all Provisions cards to ensure the result is totally random. (Note: all players must still sell the gems they had previously secretly allocated to be sold, even if the price is no longer so advantageous to them. This represents the player's mining company manipulating the wholesale market with rumors, insider information, etc.)

If she rolls the Rubble Icon, she will be able to effect a "Cave-In (Escape)" on one tunnel belonging to one opponent. This must be declared during the Mine Phase, just before the opponent has drawn a card for that tunnel (assuming there is a dwarf there). If the opponent has already drawn all his cards for that phase and has not indicated he intends to push-his-luck and "Mine Dangerously" (see below), it is too late for this Cave-In to be used to force the opponent to discard the gems the dwarf in that tunnel has mined thus far. I get that this probably makes little sense right now. It will when you get to the part about Mining.

If she rolls a blank, she gets to roll the dice an extra time next turn and pick the result she wants.

Now conduct a regular "Buy Phase" using the prices indicated on the various tracks (which are no longer married to one another by limited card combinations).

(Note: This is the part of my Dig Deeper variant I am least happy with: regardless of price, purchase decisions here are generally pretty obvious, perhaps moreso than the original game - you have to buy the stuff to mine the gems, period. Having players auction off the available cards, maybe in quasi-Goa style seems like the obvious solution to create a natural market, but that could really slow things down with 3 cards per player being auctioned. Maybe if they were auctioned in "lots" somehow? Anyway: for now, just do it the regular way.)

(New Note: Having played again, I am less bothered, but would still be tickled to find a way to integrate the price information on the cards with another mechanic to make this a bit more interesting. On the other hand, unless it was GOOD and FUN, it might be best to leave the meat of the game in the Mining and Selling areas, since there's not much inherently exciting about buying Picks and Lanterns. [Pumps on the other hand...])


DIG PHASE

This is handled pretty much per the regular game.

Per clarifications elsewhere on the geek, digging with a dwarf does NOT count as his move for the turn. That is, an equipped dwarf in your hand may, for example, dig Tunnel Level 3 but then move to Tunnel Level 2. Tunnel Levels collapsed by Cave-Ins (turned upside down but left on the table) MAY be re-dug.

A dwarf can be returned to your hand during this phase if he has not been used to dig a new tunnel, but neither he nor his equipment can then be used again this turn.

On the other hand, an unequipped dwarf CAN be played from your hand to an already open Tunnel Level containing an equipped dwarf and then be used to take the equipped dwarf's equipment and move with it to an adjacent level, while the dwarf originally in the Tunnel can then be returned to your hand or moved or whatever.

Because Tunnels can be re-dug, adjacency for movement purposes is strict: Level 2 is NOT suddenly adjacent to Level 5 if Levels 3 and 4 have Caved-In. It is adjacent to Level 1 and the Caved-In Level 3.

Tunnels must still be initially dug from Level 1 to 5. A Dwarf can skip moving through intervening Caved-In tunnels only by coming back to your hand without doing anything during the Dig Phase (and thus not be used to Mine this turn), then re-placed on your "board" the following Dig Phase in whichever open Level (or Caved-In level, assuming the dwarf is equipped) you like.


MINING PHASE

This is where things get fun, IMHO.

All Dwarves and Pumps must be moved to their "final positions" before any mining is conducted.

Only one Dwarf can mine at Level 1 and Level 5. Up to 2 Dwarves can mine at Levels 2 and 4. Up to 3 Dwarves can mine at Level 3. (There are a few reasons for this rule: at the low end, it limits the utility of Apprentices; at the high end, it forces the player to spread out, making it harder to have all Tunnel Levels covered by pumps and limiting the availability of bonus cards.)

Players TAKE TURNS mining, one dwarf at a time. This ensures that one player can't rob the deck of disproportionate amounts of gems, leaving the other player with a freshly reshuffled deck chock full of Floods and Cave-Ins.

For now, we are allowing players to select the order in which they are mining, but due to the fact that mining in descending order of Tunnels is so frequently the obvious strategy, we think it might work well to do a blind chit-draw, where each player must mine the same Level drawn in the order they are drawn. (That is, a 2 is pulled from the bag, so every player mines level 2. If a player has multiple dwarves on a Level, only 1 mines until all other players have had 1 dwarf mines, then the second dwarves mine in player order, etc.) Either that or mining Tunnels 1 through 5 in ascending order, which will increase the pressure on the Dwarves in the higher levels.

If you are playing with less than four players, shuffle a spare pile of Tunnel Level Cards. Flip the top card over. The Tunnel Level revealed will be the first Tunnel Level to be mined by all players this turn. If a player has multiple dwarves on that level, only one mines in the first "round" for that Level. Once all players with a Dwarf on that level have taken a turn mining that Level, players' "second" Dwarves on that level take their turn in player order, etc. Once all Dwarves on that Level that players wish to mine have mined, draw another Tunnel Level card to determine the next Level.

If you have 4 players, drop some chits numbered 1-5 into a bag and draw them one at a time to achieve the same thing with less engaging artwork.

(Note: While this removes the choice of who to have mine first, in most cases that choice was obvious. What this does by de-optimizing the order is increase the variability of the situations players will face when deciding whether to have each of their Dwarves Mine Dangerously.)

Each Dwarf gets a number of "Safe Mining" draws that is generally equal to the number of mining draws he would get in the regular game. There is one exception to this general rule: Journeymen CAN Mine Level 5 and "safely" draw three cards if they do so (one plus the Level 5 bonus of two cards). Other than that, apprentices draw one "safe" card each in Levels 1 & 2; Journeymen draw 1 "safe" card each in Levels 1, 2 and 3 and two "safe" cards at Level 4 and 3 "safe" cards at Level 5; Master Dwarves draw two "safe" cards at Levels 1-3, three "safe" cards at Level 4 and four "safe" cards at Level 5.

ALL DWARVES MAY MINE BEYOND THESE "SAFE" LEVELS/NUMBERS OF CARDS, but doing so will constitute "Dangerous Mining" (see below). For example, an Apprentice can decide to take, one at a time, additional cards beyond the one safe card they are allowed at Levels 1 and 2. A Journeyman can take (e.g.) a third card at Level 4 or a second card at Level 2, but these will be "Dangerous". One exception: Apprentices can only mine up to Level 3. (Note that ANY cards they take at Level 3 will be Dangerous.)

Any Floods or Cave-In cards drawn during these safe-cards become "Duds". Nothing of value is found, but nothing bad befalls the to-this-point cautious and careful Dwarf (or your other Tunnel Levels). Only good stuff can happen. All Gems drawn by the dwarf are placed in a pile on the table. They DO NOT go to your hand YET.

Once all Safe Mining draws are exhausted for a given member of your dwarven workforce, you must decide if you want that dwarf to press his luck and "MINE DANGEROUSLY!!!!" If you decide to Mine Dangerously, you may continue to draw cards from the deck one at a time until you (1) draw a Flood; (2) draw a Cave-In or (3) decide to stop.

(I am toying with also forcing a die roll for each card beyond 1 extra, with a rubble result = instant cave-in on the Mining Dwarf's level. 2nd extra card = roll once, 3rd extra card = roll twice, etc. EDIT: However, since each passing card adds to the number of gem cards "at stake", this is probably not necessary as the tension builds quite naturally.)

If you draw a Flood and have no Raft and no Pumps, all your dwarves at all Tunnel Levels drown and their equipment is lost. Additionally, all the gems the Dangerously Mining dwarf that caused the Flood drew thus far are lost in the flood and placed in the discard pile.

If you draw a Flood and have ONLY a Raft, all the gems drawn thus far this turn by the Dangerously Mining dwarf are likewise LOST and placed in the discard pile, BUT all your Dwarves and Equipment at all Tunnel Levels are placed safe and sound in your hand.

If you have a Pump at the Tunnel Level with the Mining Dwarf, you not only KEEP all gems he has mined thus far this turn, your dwarf stays where he is and MAY continue to Mine Dangerously (i.e. flip cards and suffer full consequences). If you have a Pump at any other levels, Dwarves at those levels remain where they are, unharmed. Any Dwarves at a Tunnel Level without a pump, however, drown and are lost UNLESS you also have a Raft to carry them safely back to your hand.

(Note: there is a reason to own both a pump and a raft.)

If you draw a Cave-In: D'OH! Mining Dangerously has backfired and there's nothing you can do (unless you rolled a Tunnel Icon at the start of the turn and can thus ignore the Cave-In)! Your dwarf loses all gems he has mined thus far this turn and that dwarf's mining-turn is over. Your other Dwarves on his Tunnel Level CAN take their turn mining if they have not yet done so (after all other players have taken their turn mining this Level with one dwarf).

(Note: Again: A Cave-In does NOT stop all mining on that level. Otherwise, it would far less tempting to "Mine Dangerously!!!" with your first Dwarf of two or more on a given Tunnel Level, and I want players to be constantly faced with the "do I or don't I" choice.)

If the Cave-In affects a Tunnel Level you have opened (face up), flip that Tunnel Level upside down. Any Dwarves/Equipment there are lost in a regular Cave-In or placed in your hand in an "Escape" Cave-In.

If you decide to Stop before drawing a Cave-In or Flood (or before Mining Dangerously at all), all gems that dwarf has drawn are now placed in your hand, safe and sound.

Rinse and Repeat, flipping a new Tunnel Level card (or drawing a new Tunnel Level chit) in turn until everybody's Dwarves have mined. If you don't take any risks, you'll (very probably) get some Gems. If you push-your-luck and Mine Dangerously, you could end up with a LOT more, but you'll be putting everything each dwarf's found thus far at risk.


GEM SELLING PHASE

There is no tool selling. There IS a volatile Gem Selling Market affected by which gems players try to sell quickly (while demand is highest) and how many of them they try to unload.

The Gem Price Track was set at the beginning of the turn to indicate the current "Base Price" for each gem, which can range from 1 (if a "1" and a "not buying" are drawn) to a 10 (6 and 4 for Diamond).

The Gem Selling Phase takes place over a variable number of Selling Rounds.

In each round, each player secretly determines a number and type of Gem she wishes to sell next. (Note that the market will give the best price to the earliest sellers of each given gem type, but if multiple Mining Companies [i.e. players] are selling the same type of gems the auctions and middle-men to whom players are thematically selling will always favor smaller, easily moved lots with the best prices.)

To secretly indicate what gems you are going to sell each Selling Round, it generally works fairly well to place these cards topmost in your hand (facing you) with a 2nd type of card behind the last gem of the type your are including the For Sale lot, then do a "1, 2, 3, shoot" reveal of everybody's choices. (I think a player screen/board or some custom cards with numbers would help a lot here, since sometimes you won't have appropriate "dummy" cards in your hand.)

You do NOT have to sell every gem of a given type you are holding.

Each gem type revealed is resolved in turn.

If only one player is selling a type of gem this selling round, that player automatically takes "first position" in the marketing for that gem. She receives a sum of gold for each gem she is selling equal to the Base Price +1. Additionally, the very first individual gem of each type sold each turn gets an additional bonus of +1 gold. For example, if the Base Price for Rubies is 3 and you reveal 2 rubies and nobody else reveals rubies, you will receive 9 Gold: 5 for the first Ruby and 4 for the second Ruby.

If two or more players reveal the same TYPE of gem, the player selling the SMALLER quantity "sells first" and thereby "takes the edge off" the market demand. She gets the +1 per gem "1st seller" bonus as well as the +1 for the first individual gem bonus. In the above example, if a second player had revealed only 1 Ruby, he player would get 5 Gold for his Ruby. The other player would now be in second position.

The player in "second position" (by ascending numbers of gems-of-the-type currently being resolved) sells for each gem for its Base Price -1 in a 2 player game; or Base Price, period, in a 3/4 player game. In the above example, if this was a two-player game the player selling two Rubies would get 2 Gold per Ruby, or 4 Gold total. If it were a 4 player game, she'd get 6 Gold.

The player in "third position" sells for Base Price -2 per gem in a 3 player game or Base Price -1 per gem in a 4 player. The player in "fourth position" in a four player game sells that type of gem for Base price -2 gold per gem.

In the event of a two-way tie (i.e. each player allocates the same number of gems being sold) for first position for a given gem, each player receives the Base Price, and the next available position is third position. Ties for second position each sell at Base Price -1 in a 3 or 4 player game (and leave only fourth position in a 4 player game). A tie for third position in given gem's market in a 4 player game means both players sell @ Base Price -2.

Typing this makes it sound way more complicated than it "plays". Just make a table for your game size. For example:

2 PLAYER
Winner: Base Price +1 per gem, +1 additional bonus
Loser: Base Price -1 per gem.

Note that if you reveal a gem type, you MUST sell the gems you revealed at the price indicated. If the penalty means you would get 0 gold per gem, you receive gold equal to half the number of gems you are selling, rounded down.

After the first selling round is complete, conduct further selling rounds the same way, with each player secretly choosing a number of gems of one type to sell, until everybody has indicated they do not wish to sell anymore by either verbally dropping out or by revealing a "dummy card" (i.e. Dwarf, upside down, etc.). Players dropping out may not take part in further selling rounds this turn.

Note that in multi-player games, players may at times be revealing gem types/amounts that have already been sold by one or more players in order to attempt to secure 2nd or 3rd position in the pricing market.

Finally, a player may drag out his sales of a given type of gem over multiple selling rounds in order to depress the price to hurt another player believed to have stockpiled a large quantity. This IS legal, and will further depress the sales price -1 per gem for each "extra place" so created.

For example, in a two player game, if a player has 2 Rubies and the Base Price of Rubies is 3, he might decide to reveal only one of them, (hopefully) winning "first position" in this turn's "Ruby Market" and thereby selling the Ruby for 5 Gold. During the second Selling Round that turn, he might know an opponent has five Rubies and get sneaky: rather than trying to secure first place with another gem type, he now reveals his second Ruby in order to also secure "second position" in the Ruby Market and thereby knock the price for any subsequent sale of Rubies this turn down to a mere 1 Gold, costing himself 2 Gold (since his second Ruby sells for only 2 Gold instead of the 4 Gold it would have garnered if sold in a lot with the first Ruby) but also possibly costing his opponent SIX gold. If his opponent had indeed selected his 5 Rubies for sale, he's hardly getting paid. If not, he's probably going to have to sit on them until next turn, when he might just consider breaking up his lot in order to avoid the same situation again.

(EDIT: Note that our last game turned on the fact that my girlfriend had SEVEN Rubies in her hand and decided to allocate them all for sale at the same time I foolishly selected my 3 Diamonds: she got a whopping 36 Gold (4 base + 1 for first market position = 5 gold each, plus 1 for the first Ruby) in that one sale, which I could have cut almost in half by allocating my lone Ruby for sale. And she didn't even HAVE any Diamonds, so I had the corner on that market regardless! [I thought she had one. Stupid me.])

Remember that any player rolling the Gem Icon at the start of the turn may shuffle the provisions deck and redraw the base price for any one gem at any point during the Gem Selling Phase. Other players should keep this in mind. For example, a player with no Diamonds on a turn where the Diamond price is very high and several Diamonds were mined might let everybody get set, then invoke his Gem Market Manipulation ability to redraw the Diamonds and, potentially, crash the market to a comparatively small 4 or 5 (or less) per stone. Conversely, if a "1" and a "Not Buying" came up at the start of the turn to set the Ruby price at 1 and you are stacked with Rubies, you may let everyone get set, then redraw the Ruby value and sell your stockpile at a much more attractive price, netting 1st place and 1st gem bonuses, to boot. Of course, redrawing the price might have negligible effect or even backfire, but if done at the right time it can have a massive effect.


END OF TURN BUY PHASE

Once selling is complete, any remaining un-purchased Tools may be purchased for the prices indicated by the "END OF TURN BUY PHASE" Pick and Lantern tracks (which were, recall, set using the "Tool Buyback Rates" flipped over at the beginning of the turn). This is a good way to pick up tools cheaply, but you have to take what's left over and you lose a turn's usage.


MAINTENANCE AND WAGES PHASE

All unpurchased Tools are "flushed" to the discard pile, as are all unpurchased dwarves.


START OF TURN PHASE

All players pay interest on any loans (1 Gold per 10 Gold loan outstanding) and THEN pay back any loans they are able to pay back (10 Gold payoff).

Master Dwarves draw 1 Gold wages, regardless of whether they are in your hand or in a mine.

Reveal 1 new Dwarf per player, and reveal THREE (not two!) tools per player. This is to ensure that pumps/rafts see the light of day while not precluding the availability of picks and lanterns.

Decks are re-shuffled only when needed (besides the Provisions deck, which except for convenience I'd almost rather shuffle for each individual draw. Actually, I am considering whether using [appropriately colored] dice to set prices might not be faster [d4, d6, d8 and d10 for the gems?], although when creating this variant I did set out to use the game parts as they are provided in such a way that a player taught this variant might believe the parts were created with this variant in mind. The only "problem" with this "vision" I have right now is the fact that "Tool Buyback Rates" is printed on all the Provisions cards. If I do go with dice, I may use the Provision card backs in their sleeves to hide new "victory point goal" cards I may try to work in - see below).


OK, that's the variant as it stands right now.

Right now, most gold wins.

I am seriously considering whether a theme of "all the Dwarven mining companies are trying to contribute to the making of a GREAT BEJEWELED WHATSIT in honor of the Dwarven King/Nation/Hero" might now be a good idea, wherein you have to (1) turn a profit to win, but also (2) consistently contribute surplus gems to a "charity" project at each step along the way. Basically, have a "victory points" market/currency that trades at a different rate than the "Gold-based" market, forcing you to balance the need to keep your company solvent with the need to bask in the glory of the adoring dwarven nation/king/whatever. It was with this in the back of my head that I first had the idea to inflate gold scores by effectively doubling the average gem sale price, but the higher basic gem prices lent themselves so much better to the creation of a market mechanic (which could thereby affect those prices significantly but not TOO significantly) that I kept them even when I set this idea aside for simplicity's sake while working out the Mine Dangerously/Safely idea and Gem Market idea.

SECOND EDIT: Quick thought regarding possible mechanic Great Bejeweled Whatsit Variant Variant: Any time you win First Position in a given gem's market, you may magnanimously forego selling (all) the allocated gems in order to donate them to the further gemification of the Dwarven Nation's Great Bejewled Whatsit. By doing so, you will allow other players the chance to take First Position ("Promoted" players may NOT then similarly sacrifice their First Position) and make big money, but you will score Glittering Glory (i.e. Victory) Points equal to the Base Price of the gems you are (now not) selling. Thus, whenever you win a "coup" in the market by winning first position for a large number of relatively valuable gems, you will have to decide whether to take the cash or take the points (and, in all likelihood, hand your opponents extra cash). If you donate too may gems and end up insolvent, the shame of running your company into the ground and ruining the lives of your workers makes your donations worthless and your victory point total flips to negative. Note that I have no idea how this will actually play out in terms of creating interesting/tough decisions regarding sales v. VPs.

I welcome any and all comments, criticisms and, especially, suggestions to make this better.

(EDITED TWICE, mostly for clarity but with some small changes and additions [and some details on the Great Bejewled Whatsit Idea in the 2nd Edit.])
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Jason Fordham
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Re: Dig Deeper - My Nascent Variant With More Decisions, Tough Choices, Player Interaction and (IMHO) Fun!
Incredible, for a few reasons:

1.) to see a variant written and posted to BGG for a game one designed. Cool.
2.) to see all of these great ideas to make the game more exciting. For the record, I am not at ALL threatened by this very cool set of changes. Wow!
3.) I cannot wait to test it!

I especially like the Provision Deck shuffle, the flipped-over collapsed tunnel cards, and the Dangerous Mining.

Cool. Very Cool.
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Now that I've had time to digest your great variant, I have a few comments, questions, and a clarification or two regarding game play.

Comments in red below.

tobyjason wrote:
So far this is just tested with Two Players. I think it should work perfectly well (or even better, with regards to its Gem Selling market mechanic) with 3 or 4 players, although I am a bit worried about running out of Dwarves and Tools in those circumstances.

In many respects the game plays per rules-as-written-and-then-clarified-on-BGG. In many respects it is different: players will be presented with more tough choices and will in almost every case CHOOSE to face danger for a better reward. Most of the time in the game as it's written there's really no choice: of COURSE you mine with your equipped Dwarves (in descending Tunnel Order) - if they die they die, if not you get more stuff. You're not really risking anything.

SETUP:

The Provisions cards will see a LOT more action. Rather than having a single card show all the prices for that turn, players will flip cards for every result needed. This will be detailed below. The prices must be recorded using markers (dimes, meeples, fake gems, whatever) on price tracks.

On a sheet of paper, make the following Tracks, labelled as follows:

"START OF TURN BUY PHASE"
"Lanterns" 1-3
"Picks" 1-3
"Journeyman" 1-4 and STRIKE!
"Master 2-4" and STRIKE!

"GEM PRICES"
1-10. (I use 4 "gem" markers from my girlfriend's craft box to track all the prices on this one track: 1 red, 1 green, 1 blue, 1 clear.)

"END OF TURN BUY PHASE"
"Lanterns" 1-3 and 'Not Selling'
"Picks" 1-3 and 'Not Selling'

"TURN TRACK"
1-6

Hopefully somebody with some sort of graphic design talent likes this and can work something up.

In the mean time, here's what I am using:



I love the idea of a Player Board such as this--I wanted a Board for the game, but production costs said, "cards only; CARDS only!" So this is great!

I immediately sleeved my cards since they're clearly not going to stand up to much if any shuffling. In one of the Ruby sleeves I put a piece of paper indicating it's actually a Diamond, so my gem mix is a nice and tidy 10 Rubies, 8 Emeralds, 6 Sapphires and 4 Diamonds. This probably isn't strictly necessary, but I definitely think it will make the Gem Selling phase described below work better since there's more likely to be competition for Diamond sales (see below).

*************

Each player gets 10 Gold. Randomly determine a start player. Give the other players an extra coin for every spot at the table they are removed from the start player.

I really like this idea. How do you feel about this being a regular Version 2 Rules update for the base game, while we're on the subject?

For now we are determining turn order per the rulebook (least tunnels open, least Dwarves in the tunnels), with least money (loans are subtracted from money) being an additional tie-breaker before simply passing the turn marker as a last resort. That may change.

Shuffle all decks. Do not remove any gem cards regardless of the number of players. Add all 4 Floods cards, all 4 Pump cards and both Rafts. Each player arranges his Tunnel Cards 1-5 left to right face down in front of him.

Note to the gaming community: The Flood, ten-card mini expansion includes the Floods, Pumps, and Rafts that Toby is referencing here, so it won't be in the base game content.

Flip 2 Dwarves face-up per player (4 total in a 2-player game). Flip 4 Tool cards per player face up (8 total in a 2-player game). Nobody starts with any cards in their hand.

If at any time a player goes broke and has no dwarves (or simply wishes to do so) he may take out a 10 gold loan. He gets 10 gold from the bank and takes a "loan marker." (We use a green poker chip, since we use poker chips for the money.) At the start of each turn thereafter, he must pay 1 gold interest. Immediately after paying the interest, he may pay the loan off by paying 10 gold to the bank. If the loan is not paid off before the end of the game, he must subtract 12 gold from his final score for each loan.

I like this loan mechanic. It seems fair and the interest payments sound fun, in a thematic way.

Flip a Provisions card and set the Journeyman Price indicator to match the Journeyman Hire Rate given on the card. Then flip another Provisions card and do the same for the Master Hire Price. Flip a third card for the "Start of Turn Buy Phase" Pick Price and a fourth for the "Start of Turn Buy Phase" Lantern Price. Use the "Tool Buyback Rates" on a fifth and sixth Provisions cards to determine the "End of Turn Buy Phase" Pick and Lantern Prices, respectively. If you get an "On Strike" or "Not Buying" result, mark the appropriate box except that "Not Buying" becomes "Not Selling" for "End of Turn Buy Phase."

Really, really clever use of the Provision Cards to create a variable market.

(Note: If you've analyzed the Provisions cards, you might have noticed that Picks are slightly cheaper than Lanterns on average but sell back for more on average, which makes little sense given that their game functions are identical. In this variant, Picks are still a little cheaper at the beginning of the turn, but now the Lanterns are on average cheaper if you wait until the end of the turn, after everybody's mined, sold gems, etc., so they're balanced but different.)

Designer's note: Picks are cheaper to make (for Dwarves) than Lanterns as lanterns are more complex and fragile. Picks hold up to dents and dings better than Lanterns do, so their resale value is a little higher. Lanterns tend to come back to the shop in need of repair.

(Note: I have tried a couple variations of ideas designed to "use up" tools but nothing was quite right yet. In any case, tools are relatively cheaper in this version, and this is intentional - while it will hurt to buy expensive tools, the real game comes when you go Gem Mining and set foot into the volatile world of wholesale Gem Sales.)

Before you determine the prices of the four gems, SHUFFLE THE PROVISIONS DECK!

Flip TWO cards and add the results together to get the "Base Price" for Rubies. Mark it on the Gem Price track. Flip two more cards and add them to do the same for Emeralds, two more for Sapphires and two more for Diamonds. A "Not Buying" result is treated as zero.


START OF TURN "SPECIAL POWER OF THE DAY" PHASE

Each player get to roll the die once at the beginning of the turn.

If she rolls the Tunnel/Mine Entrance/Timbers (you know the one) Icon, that player will be able to either (1) dig an extra Tunnel Level for free [no dwarf or tools necessary or (2) "reinforce" a dwarf who draws a Cave-In when Mining Dangerously (see below), thereby IGNORING the Cave-In and either stopping safely or pressing on by drawing another card and continuing to Mine Dangerously.

If she rolls the Gem Icon, she will be able to re-draw any one gem's prices at any point in the Sell Gems phase, including just prior to the players revealing what they are selling in that Selling Round (see below). She should first reshuffle all Provisions cards to ensure the result is totally random. (Note: all players must still sell the gems they had previously secretly allocated to be sold, even if the price is no longer so advantageous to them. This represents the player's mining company manipulating the wholesale market with rumors, insider information, etc.)

If she rolls the Rubble Icon, she will be able to effect a "Cave-In (Escape)" on one tunnel belonging to one opponent. This must be declared during the Mine Phase, just before the opponent has drawn a card for that tunnel (assuming there is a dwarf there). If the opponent has already drawn all his cards for that phase and has not indicated he intends to push-his-luck and "Mine Dangerously" (see below), it is too late for this Cave-In to be used to force the opponent to discard the gems the dwarf in that tunnel has mined thus far. I get that this probably makes little sense right now. It will when you get to the part about Mining.

If she rolls a blank, she gets to roll the dice an extra time next turn and pick the result she wants.

Can you further clarify:

Turn one, she rolls a blank.
Turn two, she rolls a blank.

Here, there is no picking, she just gets no power, right?

But,

Turn one, she rolls a blank.
Turn two, she rolls a rubble Icon. She will pick nothing or Rubble?

edit: never mind, I read it again and figured it out. She rolls the die TWICE on Turn 2 and then chooses. I got ya!


Now conduct a regular "Buy Phase" using the prices indicated on the various tracks (which are no longer married to one another by limited card combinations).

(Note: This is the part of my Dig Deeper variant I am least happy with: regardless of price, purchase decisions here are generally pretty obvious, perhaps moreso than the original game - you have to buy the stuff to mine the gems, period. Having players auction off the available cards, maybe in quasi-Goa style seems like the obvious solution to create a natural market, but that could really slow things down with 3 cards per player being auctioned. Maybe if they were auctioned in "lots" somehow? Anyway: for now, just do it the regular way.)

Yeah, I had this same issue with making the market system--it was running too long no matter what I did, so I backed down, for better or worse.

(New Note: Having played again, I am less bothered, but would still be tickled to find a way to integrate the price information on the cards with another mechanic to make this a bit more interesting. On the other hand, unless it was GOOD and FUN, it might be best to leave the meat of the game in the Mining and Selling areas, since there's not much inherently exciting about buying Picks and Lanterns. [Pumps on the other hand...])

Ha, ha. Yes. Pumps are awesome, aren't they, and Sean's art just makes it all that much better!


DIG PHASE

This is handled pretty much per the regular game.

Per clarifications elsewhere on the geek, digging with a dwarf does NOT count as his move for the turn. That is, an equipped dwarf in your hand may, for example, dig Tunnel Level 3 but then move to Tunnel Level 2. Tunnel Levels collapsed by Cave-Ins (turned upside down but left on the table) MAY be re-dug.

A dwarf can be returned to your hand during this phase if he has not been used to dig a new tunnel, but neither he nor his equipment can then be used again this turn.

On the other hand, an unequipped dwarf CAN be played from your hand to an already open Tunnel Level containing an equipped dwarf and then be used to take the equipped dwarf's equipment and move with it to an adjacent level, while the dwarf originally in the Tunnel can then be returned to your hand or moved or whatever.

Because Tunnels can be re-dug, adjacency for movement purposes is strict: Level 2 is NOT suddenly adjacent to Level 5 if Levels 3 and 4 have Caved-In. It is adjacent to Level 1 and the Caved-In Level 3.

That makes perfect sense, and this is one of the major most-cool parts of your variant, the flipped-caved-in-tunnel-cards. I want to integrate this into DIG 2.0, as well!

Tunnels must still be initially dug from Level 1 to 5. A Dwarf can skip moving through intervening Caved-In tunnels only by coming back to your hand without doing anything during the Dig Phase (and thus not be used to Mine this turn), then re-placed on your "board" the following Dig Phase in whichever open Level (or Caved-In level, assuming the dwarf is equipped) you like.


MINING PHASE

This is where things get fun, IMHO.

All Dwarves and Pumps must be moved to their "final positions" before any mining is conducted.

Pumps being carried there by Dwarves per the R.A.W., or in the variant can pumps (and tools) be relayed there as long as a dwarf is in the sending Tunnel and the receiving Tunnel?

Only one Dwarf can mine at Level 1 and Level 5. Up to 2 Dwarves can mine at Levels 2 and 4. Up to 3 Dwarves can mine at Level 3. (There are a few reasons for this rule: at the low end, it limits the utility of Apprentices; at the high end, it forces the player to spread out, making it harder to have all Tunnel Levels covered by pumps and limiting the availability of bonus cards.)

Players TAKE TURNS mining, one dwarf at a time. This ensures that one player can't rob the deck of disproportionate amounts of gems, leaving the other player with a freshly reshuffled deck chock full of Floods and Cave-Ins.

That happens in the base game on Day 6 (especially) and it's a design choice I wanted to change, for sure.

For now, we are allowing players to select the order in which they are mining, but due to the fact that mining in descending order of Tunnels is so frequently the obvious strategy, we think it might work well to do a blind chit-draw, where each player must mine the same Level drawn in the order they are drawn. (That is, a 2 is pulled from the bag, so every player mines level 2. If a player has multiple dwarves on a Level, only 1 mines until all other players have had 1 dwarf mines, then the second dwarves mine in player order, etc.) Either that or mining Tunnels 1 through 5 in ascending order, which will increase the pressure on the Dwarves in the higher levels.

Interesting, but you haven't tested this, yet, right?

If you are playing with less than four players, shuffle a spare pile of Tunnel Level Cards. Flip the top card over. The Tunnel Level revealed will be the first Tunnel Level to be mined by all players this turn. If a player has multiple dwarves on that level, only one mines in the first "round" for that Level. Once all players with a Dwarf on that level have taken a turn mining that Level, players' "second" Dwarves on that level take their turn in player order, etc. Once all Dwarves on that Level that players wish to mine have mined, draw another Tunnel Level card to determine the next Level.

If you have 4 players, drop some chits numbered 1-5 into a bag and draw them one at a time to achieve the same thing with less engaging artwork.

(Note: While this removes the choice of who to have mine first, in most cases that choice was obvious. What this does by de-optimizing the order is increase the variability of the situations players will face when deciding whether to have each of their Dwarves Mine Dangerously.)

Each Dwarf gets a number of "Safe Mining" draws that is generally equal to the number of mining draws he would get in the regular game. There is one exception to this general rule: Journeymen CAN Mine Level 5 and "safely" draw three cards if they do so (one plus the Level 5 bonus of two cards). Other than that, apprentices draw one "safe" card each in Levels 1 & 2; Journeymen draw 1 "safe" card each in Levels 1, 2 and 3 and two "safe" cards at Level 4 and 3 "safe" cards at Level 5; Master Dwarves draw two "safe" cards at Levels 1-3, three "safe" cards at Level 4 and four "safe" cards at Level 5.

ALL DWARVES MAY MINE BEYOND THESE "SAFE" LEVELS/NUMBERS OF CARDS, but doing so will constitute "Dangerous Mining" (see below). For example, an Apprentice can decide to take, one at a time, additional cards beyond the one safe card they are allowed at Levels 1 and 2. A Journeyman can take (e.g.) a third card at Level 4 or a second card at Level 2, but these will be "Dangerous". One exception: Apprentices can only mine up to Level 3. (Note that ANY cards they take at Level 3 will be Dangerous.)

Any Floods or Cave-In cards drawn during these safe-cards become "Duds". Nothing of value is found, but nothing bad befalls the to-this-point cautious and careful Dwarf (or your other Tunnel Levels). Only good stuff can happen. All Gems drawn by the dwarf are placed in a pile on the table. They DO NOT go to your hand YET.

Once all Safe Mining draws are exhausted for a given member of your dwarven workforce, you must decide if you want that dwarf to press his luck and "MINE DANGEROUSLY!!!!" If you decide to Mine Dangerously, you may continue to draw cards from the deck one at a time until you (1) draw a Flood; (2) draw a Cave-In or (3) decide to stop.

(I am toying with also forcing a die roll for each card beyond 1 extra, with a rubble result = instant cave-in on the Mining Dwarf's level. 2nd extra card = roll once, 3rd extra card = roll twice, etc. EDIT: However, since each passing card adds to the number of gem cards "at stake", this is probably not necessary as the tension builds quite naturally.)

If you draw a Flood and have no Raft and no Pumps, all your dwarves at all Tunnel Levels drown and their equipment is lost. Additionally, all the gems the Dangerously Mining dwarf that caused the Flood drew thus far are lost in the flood and placed in the discard pile.

If you draw a Flood and have ONLY a Raft, all the gems drawn thus far this turn by the Dangerously Mining dwarf are likewise LOST and placed in the discard pile, BUT all your Dwarves and Equipment at all Tunnel Levels are placed safe and sound in your hand.

If you have a Pump at the Tunnel Level with the Mining Dwarf, you not only KEEP all gems he has mined thus far this turn, your dwarf stays where he is and MAY continue to Mine Dangerously (i.e. flip cards and suffer full consequences). If you have a Pump at any other levels, Dwarves at those levels remain where they are, unharmed. Any Dwarves at a Tunnel Level without a pump, however, drown and are lost UNLESS you also have a Raft to carry them safely back to your hand.

(Note: there is a reason to own both a pump and a raft.)

If you draw a Cave-In: D'OH! Mining Dangerously has backfired and there's nothing you can do (unless you rolled a Tunnel Icon at the start of the turn and can thus ignore the Cave-In)! Your dwarf loses all gems he has mined thus far this turn and that dwarf's mining-turn is over. Your other Dwarves on his Tunnel Level CAN take their turn mining if they have not yet done so (after all other players have taken their turn mining this Level with one dwarf).

(Note: Again: A Cave-In does NOT stop all mining on that level. Otherwise, it would far less tempting to "Mine Dangerously!!!" with your first Dwarf of two or more on a given Tunnel Level, and I want players to be constantly faced with the "do I or don't I" choice.)

If the Cave-In affects a Tunnel Level you have opened (face up), flip that Tunnel Level upside down. Any Dwarves/Equipment there are lost in a regular Cave-In or placed in your hand in an "Escape" Cave-In.

If you decide to Stop before drawing a Cave-In or Flood (or before Mining Dangerously at all), all gems that dwarf has drawn are now placed in your hand, safe and sound.

Rinse and Repeat, flipping a new Tunnel Level card (or drawing a new Tunnel Level chit) in turn until everybody's Dwarves have mined. If you don't take any risks, you'll (very probably) get some Gems. If you push-your-luck and Mine Dangerously, you could end up with a LOT more, but you'll be putting everything each dwarf's found thus far at risk.

These are some fun rules. How do you feel about the maintenance or upkeep of the choices? Maybe create a reference sheet with the choices/paths during this Phase?


GEM SELLING PHASE

There is no tool selling. There IS a volatile Gem Selling Market affected by which gems players try to sell quickly (while demand is highest) and how many of them they try to unload.

The Gem Price Track was set at the beginning of the turn to indicate the current "Base Price" for each gem, which can range from 1 (if a "1" and a "not buying" are drawn) to a 10 (6 and 4 for Diamond).

This is great for strategy!

The Gem Selling Phase takes place over a variable number of Selling Rounds.

In each round, each player secretly determines a number and type of Gem she wishes to sell next. (Note that the market will give the best price to the earliest sellers of each given gem type, but if multiple Mining Companies [i.e. players] are selling the same type of gems the auctions and middle-men to whom players are thematically selling will always favor smaller, easily moved lots with the best prices.)

I love the variable market, for sure!

To secretly indicate what gems you are going to sell each Selling Round, it generally works fairly well to place these cards topmost in your hand (facing you) with a 2nd type of card behind the last gem of the type your are including the For Sale lot, then do a "1, 2, 3, shoot" reveal of everybody's choices. (I think a player screen/board or some custom cards with numbers would help a lot here, since sometimes you won't have appropriate "dummy" cards in your hand.)

Can you just stack them face-down on the table and cover them with your hand?

You do NOT have to sell every gem of a given type you are holding.

Each gem type revealed is resolved in turn.

If only one player is selling a type of gem this selling round, that player automatically takes "first position" in the marketing for that gem. She receives a sum of gold for each gem she is selling equal to the Base Price +1. Additionally, the very first individual gem of each type sold each turn gets an additional bonus of +1 gold. For example, if the Base Price for Rubies is 3 and you reveal 2 rubies and nobody else reveals rubies, you will receive 9 Gold: 5 for the first Ruby and 4 for the second Ruby.

If two or more players reveal the same TYPE of gem, the player selling the SMALLER quantity "sells first" and thereby "takes the edge off" the market demand. She gets the +1 per gem "1st seller" bonus as well as the +1 for the first individual gem bonus. In the above example, if a second player had revealed only 1 Ruby, he player would get 5 Gold for his Ruby. The other player would now be in second position.

The player in "second position" (by ascending numbers of gems-of-the-type currently being resolved) sells for each gem for its Base Price -1 in a 2 player game; or Base Price, period, in a 3/4 player game. In the above example, if this was a two-player game the player selling two Rubies would get 2 Gold per Ruby, or 4 Gold total. If it were a 4 player game, she'd get 6 Gold.

The player in "third position" sells for Base Price -2 per gem in a 3 player game or Base Price -1 per gem in a 4 player. The player in "fourth position" in a four player game sells that type of gem for Base price -2 gold per gem.

In the event of a two-way tie (i.e. each player allocates the same number of gems being sold) for first position for a given gem, each player receives the Base Price, and the next available position is third position. Ties for second position each sell at Base Price -1 in a 3 or 4 player game (and leave only fourth position in a 4 player game). A tie for third position in given gem's market in a 4 player game means both players sell @ Base Price -2.

Typing this makes it sound way more complicated than it "plays". Just make a table for your game size. For example:

2 PLAYER
Winner: Base Price +1 per gem, +1 additional bonus
Loser: Base Price -1 per gem.

Note that if you reveal a gem type, you MUST sell the gems you revealed at the price indicated. If the penalty means you would get 0 gold per gem, you receive gold equal to half the number of gems you are selling, rounded down.

After the first selling round is complete, conduct further selling rounds the same way, with each player secretly choosing a number of gems of one type to sell, until everybody has indicated they do not wish to sell anymore by either verbally dropping out or by revealing a "dummy card" (i.e. Dwarf, upside down, etc.). Players dropping out may not take part in further selling rounds this turn.

Note that in multi-player games, players may at times be revealing gem types/amounts that have already been sold by one or more players in order to attempt to secure 2nd or 3rd position in the pricing market.

Finally, a player may drag out his sales of a given type of gem over multiple selling rounds in order to depress the price to hurt another player believed to have stockpiled a large quantity. This IS legal, and will further depress the sales price -1 per gem for each "extra place" so created.

For example, in a two player game, if a player has 2 Rubies and the Base Price of Rubies is 3, he might decide to reveal only one of them, (hopefully) winning "first position" in this turn's "Ruby Market" and thereby selling the Ruby for 5 Gold. During the second Selling Round that turn, he might know an opponent has five Rubies and get sneaky: rather than trying to secure first place with another gem type, he now reveals his second Ruby in order to also secure "second position" in the Ruby Market and thereby knock the price for any subsequent sale of Rubies this turn down to a mere 1 Gold, costing himself 2 Gold (since his second Ruby sells for only 2 Gold instead of the 4 Gold it would have garnered if sold in a lot with the first Ruby) but also possibly costing his opponent SIX gold. If his opponent had indeed selected his 5 Rubies for sale, he's hardly getting paid. If not, he's probably going to have to sit on them until next turn, when he might just consider breaking up his lot in order to avoid the same situation again.

(EDIT: Note that our last game turned on the fact that my girlfriend had SEVEN Rubies in her hand and decided to allocate them all for sale at the same time I foolishly selected my 3 Diamonds: she got a whopping 36 Gold (4 base + 1 for first market position = 5 gold each, plus 1 for the first Ruby) in that one sale, which I could have cut almost in half by allocating my lone Ruby for sale. And she didn't even HAVE any Diamonds, so I had the corner on that market regardless! [I thought she had one. Stupid me.])

Ha ha. That had to hurt.

Remember that any player rolling the Gem Icon at the start of the turn may shuffle the provisions deck and redraw the base price for any one gem at any point during the Gem Selling Phase. Other players should keep this in mind. For example, a player with no Diamonds on a turn where the Diamond price is very high and several Diamonds were mined might let everybody get set, then invoke his Gem Market Manipulation ability to redraw the Diamonds and, potentially, crash the market to a comparatively small 4 or 5 (or less) per stone. Conversely, if a "1" and a "Not Buying" came up at the start of the turn to set the Ruby price at 1 and you are stacked with Rubies, you may let everyone get set, then redraw the Ruby value and sell your stockpile at a much more attractive price, netting 1st place and 1st gem bonuses, to boot. Of course, redrawing the price might have negligible effect or even backfire, but if done at the right time it can have a massive effect.


END OF TURN BUY PHASE

Once selling is complete, any remaining un-purchased Tools may be purchased for the prices indicated by the "END OF TURN BUY PHASE" Pick and Lantern tracks (which were, recall, set using the "Tool Buyback Rates" flipped over at the beginning of the turn). This is a good way to pick up tools cheaply, but you have to take what's left over and you lose a turn's usage.


MAINTENANCE AND WAGES PHASE

All unpurchased Tools are "flushed" to the discard pile, as are all unpurchased dwarves.


START OF TURN PHASE

All players pay interest on any loans (1 Gold per 10 Gold loan outstanding) and THEN pay back any loans they are able to pay back (10 Gold payoff).

Master Dwarves draw 1 Gold wages, regardless of whether they are in your hand or in a mine.

I like this!

Reveal 1 new Dwarf per player, and reveal THREE (not two!) tools per player. This is to ensure that pumps/rafts see the light of day while not precluding the availability of picks and lanterns.

Yep, having The Flood expansion shuffled in does change the need for a larger shop inventory! Good call.

Decks are re-shuffled only when needed (besides the Provisions deck, which except for convenience I'd almost rather shuffle for each individual draw. Actually, I am considering whether using [appropriately colored] dice to set prices might not be faster [d4, d6, d8 and d10 for the gems?], although when creating this variant I did set out to use the game parts as they are provided in such a way that a player taught this variant might believe the parts were created with this variant in mind. The only "problem" with this "vision" I have right now is the fact that "Tool Buyback Rates" is printed on all the Provisions cards. If I do go with dice, I may use the Provision card backs in their sleeves to hide new "victory point goal" cards I may try to work in - see below).

I agree, the problem with making variants--if you are OCD--is that you are working with components not necessarily designed for your variant. Most people can overlook (or use a Sharpie to make adjustments) but I cannot do that very well. I like your idea of creating a new set of cards.

OK, that's the variant as it stands right now.

Right now, most gold wins.

I am seriously considering whether a theme of "all the Dwarven mining companies are trying to contribute to the making of a GREAT BEJEWELED WHATSIT in honor of the Dwarven King/Nation/Hero" might now be a good idea, wherein you have to (1) turn a profit to win, but also (2) consistently contribute surplus gems to a "charity" project at each step along the way. Basically, have a "victory points" market/currency that trades at a different rate than the "Gold-based" market, forcing you to balance the need to keep your company solvent with the need to bask in the glory of the adoring dwarven nation/king/whatever. It was with this in the back of my head that I first had the idea to inflate gold scores by effectively doubling the average gem sale price, but the higher basic gem prices lent themselves so much better to the creation of a market mechanic (which could thereby affect those prices significantly but not TOO significantly) that I kept them even when I set this idea aside for simplicity's sake while working out the Mine Dangerously/Safely idea and Gem Market idea.

That would make a nice theme, for sure!

SECOND EDIT: Quick thought regarding possible mechanic Great Bejeweled Whatsit Variant Variant: Any time you win First Position in a given gem's market, you may magnanimously forego selling (all) the allocated gems in order to donate them to the further gemification of the Dwarven Nation's Great Bejewled Whatsit. By doing so, you will allow other players the chance to take First Position ("Promoted" players may NOT then similarly sacrifice their First Position) and make big money, but you will score Glittering Glory (i.e. Victory) Points equal to the Base Price of the gems you are (now not) selling. Thus, whenever you win a "coup" in the market by winning first position for a large number of relatively valuable gems, you will have to decide whether to take the cash or take the points (and, in all likelihood, hand your opponents extra cash). If you donate too may gems and end up insolvent, the shame of running your company into the ground and ruining the lives of your workers makes your donations worthless and your victory point total flips to negative. Note that I have no idea how this will actually play out in terms of creating interesting/tough decisions regarding sales v. VPs.

I welcome any and all comments, criticisms and, especially, suggestions to make this better.

(EDITED TWICE, mostly for clarity but with some small changes and additions [and some details on the Great Bejewled Whatsit Idea in the 2nd Edit.])


Again, I cannot wait to try this out!
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toby
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Hey Jason,

Glad you dig it.


NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! I have no idea what happened. I had a comprehensive reply typed out, hit submit and the entire thing is gone (except for my first witty line).

AHHHHHHHH!!!!!
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Jason Fordham
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Note to Toby:

Save in notepad.
Never trust.

:o)
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toby
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OK, this will be WAY more bare bones than the original.

Regarding the die: if you roll a blank, next turn you roll twice. That way you increase your chances of rolling a non-blank and just maybe have the option of two powers to choose from.

Pumps are played as written and assumed to have their own crew, so they can move on their own 1 space per turn.

We have now played the "random Tunnel Level mining order for all players", which is why the original text is crossed out and replaced with firm language (using a spare deck of Tunnel Level cards to determine order). It works beautifully and ratchets up the tension of the Mine Dangerously mechanic since you'll be forced to expose your higher level miners to danger if you push-your-luck when lower Tunnel Levels are drawn first. It also makes it a piece of cake to keep track of who has mined and who hasn't.

Any method for secretly bidding your For Sale lots should work fine. We're honest, so sometimes we'd just pull the cards out of our hand at the same time. Anybody trying to cheat (1) sucks and (2) would be pretty obvious, I think. In a multi-player game it might be helpful to have 4 Market Position tracks and colored markers for each player to keep track of which positions are still available and who's selling what for how much. This would be superfluous in a 2 player game.

Regarding "the maintenance or upkeep of the choices" during the Mining Phase: there really is none, especially once Tunnel Level order is the same for everybody so it's easy to know who's mined and who hasn't. It "plays" something like this: "OK, next Tunnel Level is... 4. I've got a Journeyman and a pump there, so I'll draw two safe cards. Cave In (Escape) Level 3. That's a DUD. Ruby. Meh. Hmmm... Ok, I'll keep going. Emerald. Better. Um... Keep going... Flood! Pump stops that here, but my Apprentices in Level 2 get washed away. At least I already "banked" their mining for the day [earlier, pre-example]. I'll go again. Ruby. Geez. I need big money here. Let's see... 2 Rubies and an Emerald. I'll keep going... Diamond! STOP." Pick up the Rubies, Emerald and Diamond, add them to your hand, next player mines level 4, then everybody takes a turn with a second dwarf there, if any.

Dear BGG interface: Please don't delete everything but the first two lines of this reply when I hit submit!
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The Count
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Mr. Game Designer

When I got this game I immediately started thinking it needed a variant or fixing of some sort, but I decided to take it -as is- to my gaming group. (These guys are serious gamers.) Always ready for a new game, we tried and were loving the theme right until the cave-ins kicked in, and random everything else in this game. They all hated it, and one said that "If i wanted to play a broken luck game I could play Yahtzee, and save myself the rulebook read."

We really like the basics of this game, but it really needs that 2.0 or 1.5 rulebook with some of the changes you have been talking about. It can be just to print out, and I need it to work with the game components I already got on kickstarter. (don't want to have to buy a whole new game just for a rulebook)

Some of the ideas in this "deeper" variant would help for sure. Anything that reduces pure luck or adds more decision-making would please deep gamers, even if it is more complex.

I understand many people do like the version as it is now, but I think a large amount of the gaming community was hoping for a 'deeper' game. You can make everyone happy by having variants. Luck people and their rules, and strategy people with the 'deeper' rules.

PLEASE make an official 2.0 or a 'advanced variant' rulebook, Mr. Game Designer! We want to like and buy more of your game! Don't wait for expansions or reprints to fix it. If you make the game good now it will pay dividends in the long run.

An official print-out rulebook with decreased luck will save at least my copy from the never-played closet.
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Those 2.0 rules are in the works!

Of course there are other projects vying for my time, but you can expect the new (free) rules PDF by April.

We are testing five "fixes" for strategy.
We are testing several variants, too!

But, as you say, there is room here for options for both kinds of gamers.

Thanks for the inspiration, though!



Jason
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The Count
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It is awesome that you are willing to take criticism and new ideas towards your game in a positive way.

All this interest in changing your game is a compliment. If we didn't think it worth tweaking, we wouldn't bother.

I anxiously await the upcoming rulebook.

Edit: you to your
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Jason Fordham
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practicedrifter wrote:
It is awesome that you are willing to take criticism and new ideas towards your game in a positive way.

All this interest in changing you game is a compliment. If we didn't think it worth tweaking we wouldn't bother.

I anxiously await the upcoming rulebook.


It's been in the works practically since the game went to print, but, I want it to be as "right" as it can be. The PDF will be the same full-color book, with the changes included as a Strategy Variant. In other words, the existing version will default to a family-fun version, and the new variant will include the reduced-luck, more strategical options.

I'm glad that there is interest, and I appreciate your taking the time to inquire. I appreciate the compliment. DIG was a very fun game to design. I love the idea and the world of the game, so it'll be nice to get some more feedback once the official strategy options are released.

Thanks!
Jason

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