Risto Pietilä
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Summary


The game is 2-4 players, 60-90 minutes. Players start with some money to buy land. They chop the forest to gain wood, build farms and houses, set up quarries and mines, build more, start to export metal ore and factory products and build a town filled with beautiful buildings granting victory points. All play the same board. The quests (=VPs) and buildings that are eligible to be built are selected different every game.

Similarity

Catan - Board layout, resource types, road placement, components

Dominion - Cards (in this case: buildings) to be played are selected from a big pool resulting in completely different plays, several identical buildings

Le Havre - Actions to convert resources to more valuable ones, ideas

Unique mechanics

(I have had no knowledge of a precedent although of course there are such and I would like to hear of them)

Action Selection Mechanism - Play goes clockwise old-style. There are around 15 different actions in the game. A player can take any actions he wants and (nearly) as many times he wants. The trick is that the first action is free, and 2nd-7th action cost an increasing amount of money. The money goes to:

Citizens' Spending Pool - Players spend money to pay for actions, plus to activate workers from the town residents to do anything. The money goes to common pools that the other players can activate and empty if they have certain buildings or resources.

Forced Redemption - You can demolish any building that the others have built, provided that you can replace it with a bigger one, and compensate the previous owner by paying him the sticker price of the old building. The trick is that the land is waaay more valuable than the sticker price of the buildings and gets more valuable as the game progresses. Also if you can fit more buildings to the same hex, you can even steal the existing buildings.

Quests - These are the victory points, some of them are granted irrevocably for big projects, the others represent lead in a certain race, such as "most science buildings". If a player can get hold on a certain number of quest cards, he is immediately the winner.

Components


12 plains hex tiles (yellow)
7 hills hex tiles (brown)
The design of an individual hex does not matter, all plains hexes are identical in their abilities and so are the hills.

60 coin tokens (gold, money, $, c)
30 food cards (F)
30 wood cards (W)
30 stone cards (S)
30 metal cards (M)
30 things cards (T) 3M). (All resources are worth $1 when sold and cost $2 to buy 1, and $3 to buy 2.)

An alternative would be to rebuild the Mine. There is one hex with James' quarry. Redeeming that would cost $4 and building the Mine is 3 Metals. But I only have 2! The third I would get by going to market as a first action and spending $3 for one food and one metal (yes, it is possible!). Then $1+1F to empty $5 from Drink, and with that money $2(action)+$4(redeem)+3M to build a new Mine. Smooth.

"But wait - because of James' building the road (that increased the number of "IP" giving more discount to build next to it), and Jill's forced redemption (by giving the money both to me, and to the CSP pool because it consumed so many actions, the pools are aflush with money) it may be necessary to empty the pools and deny the money to the other players. And maybe to "build up the defences" of B1 hex, the only one I have next to the Square. (Having hexes next to the Square is an asset, because they get by far the best discounts to the building cost, and premium buildings have a restriction that they cannot be built except on Square.) 2 Metals would update a Shack to a House, not a big gain except to eke up the redeem value $6->$8 and gain a third Bar, making it worthwhile to empty $3 or $4 from Drink because I receive $3 (the current 2 Bars are worth almost nothing, as I can only receive the first $2 and that would be reasonable only if the total action count per turn is 1 or 2.

Then again by going to the market and spending $6, I would receive 3 stones (the trading in stones was opened when the Road was constructed since my last turn) and 1 food. As a second action I would develop and build a Townhouse (requires stone, and renders almost all opponent bars obsolete because the townpeople would only drink in my saloons). Then I could empty Drink pool for my benefit and also Food. I would probably have this lead around 1-2 turns, or as long as the others believe it is tolerable. Perhaps next turn I get to produce metal and further my long term goal..

Or what if just skip the market, and build 2 Farms with the resources I have, produce $1(action)+$2(workers)->4 Food, and sell one to gain $5 (-$2 action). No need to go to market, at least this turn.

What Jack decided to do, is revealed after a couple of entries..

Actions


You can get actions by:
- paying the steeply increasing activation cost (first 1 is free)
- using your free action cards provided in the setup (3 player game = 9 free actions)
- some buildings grant you free action cards (the best and most versatile), one free action per turn (excellent), a selected action phase per turn (good) or some fixed bonus per turn (nice).

11 Empty Food
If you have a food resource card, you can spend it (put to supply) and take all the money in Food pool.

12 Empty Rent
You may initiate this action if there is at least one room on board. Starting from you and proceeding clockwise, give each player a coin from Rent pool per every room they have on board. Continue until there are no more coins in Rent pool.

13 Empty Drink
You may initiate this action if there is at least one bar on board. Starting from you and proceeding clockwise, give each player a coin from Drink pool per every bar they have on board. Continue until there are no more coins in Drink pool.

20 Pan for Gold
Take a coin from supply. This you may always do.

30 Purchase Land
If there is still land that has never been purchased by any player, you can do it. In one action, all land to be purchased must form a contiguous block (of any size and shape), and you must pay $1 per hex. Upon purchase, you can immediately uncover the exploration tokens from the purchased hexes, and collect the winnings.

40 Chop Forest
You may chop any contiguous block of forested land (plains that still has forest on it). The price is $1 per hex of chopping. In addition, if some of the hexes that you chopped belonged to another player, you must pay $2 per such hex to redeem the land. If some of the hexes were unpurchased in the beginning of your action, you must pay $2 per such hex to the CSP, and may collect the exploration token. In all cases, you receive all wood plus all the hexes convert to your ownership.

51 Produce Food
All buildings that produce something in "51", do it now. A typical such building is the Farm, whose activation costs $1, and it produces 2 food. You are free to activate only a subset of your eligible buildings if you so feel.

52 Produce Stone
All buildings that produce something in "52", do it now. A typical such building is the Quarry, whose activation costs $1, and it produces 2 stone. You are free to activate only a subset of your eligible buildings if you so feel.

53 Produce Metal
All buildings that produce something in "53", do it now. A typical such building is the Mine, whose activation costs $1, and it produces 3 metal. You are free to activate only a subset of your eligible buildings if you so feel.

60 Market
In market you can exchange coins for resources and the other way around. Any number of transactions, both buy and sell, can be made during one market action.
Selling: All resources can be sold for coins at a price of 1 coin per 1 resource.
Buying: You can buy 2 resources (which need not be same) for 3 coins, or 1 resource for 2 coins.
• Special rule restricting the trade of Stone: Stone may not be bought or sold, until the Road Builder quest is completed.

70 Develop
You may build any buildings to one hex, or one building to several hexes, which hexes must form a contiguous develop area. You must have enough resources to build + money to redeem the land if applicable. Black huts in develop hex and neighboring hexes give discount according to their number.

See ->Develop (Special Article).

80 Special
This action phase is reserved for the use of some cards, whose activation costs an action. It is mentioned in the cards.

90 Quest
If you have completed permanent quests or attained a lead in competitive quests, now is the time to take the corresponding card(s) in your possession. If this causes you to reach the number of quests required for victory, you are the winner!

Thank you!!

I have 26 quests and 47 buildings, of which 12 quests and 19 buildings are selected to every game. It is a fully functional colorful prototype, except that the art is not there yet.

Questions, comments, would anyone like to play such a game??
 
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Emmanuelle S
France
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I would love it! This is my favourite history period!
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Kim Williams
United Kingdom
St Just
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Sounds good - it sounds like there will be a lot of interaction between players which is always a great thing!
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Risto Pietilä
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Risto Pietilä
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Emmanuelle, Kim, thanks for great feedback!

Above is a photo of the current components, what I need to do next is to print the building tiles also in color. Now they are quite pale compared to the quest, building and resource cards.

Yes, this is a game where you constantly have interaction, but at the same time this is not a kingmaker game. The active way to take others' properties is to redeem them, but the price to pay is fair, and in a sense set by the owner of the hex! (An empty hex is worth $2, and then it is $1 per resource cost of the buildings on the hex.)
 
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Risto Pietilä
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Jack continues thinking and finds a killer combo


"OK now, wife is starting to give her 'husband thinks more than he ought to -looks'.. after such a great move last turn that's understandable..

But hey, what is that undeforested hex behind those 2 new buildings?? It gets +2IP, and I suddenly have money to become an industrialist. Let's build a Furniture Factory there!

Starting situation:
$9, 2 Metal
1 hex w/ Mine, 1 hex w/ 2 Shacks (on Sq/Rd, 1 Room, 1 Bar each), 2 empty plains hexes
Food pool $5, Rent pool $3, Drink pool $4

Action #1 (cost $0): This I like, so many things for the price of one action. I pay $2 to Jill for the hex, chop forest for $1 and build the FF for 2 metal. The wood gained in the process is reserved for better use.

Action #2 (cost $1): $1->3 metal, $2+2W->8 things. Factory in action.

Action #3 (cost $2): I paid the last 2 money to action activation cost. Now we are in the market, and I sell everything to gain $11 and spend $6 to 3 wood and 1 food. Metal I did not want to sell, but had to: need money to run the engine. Wood is necessary for the factory.

Action #4 (cost $3): It is almost a wash to pay $3 and a bought food, to gain $5. But if I let it go, there'll be $7 in Food next turn, a windfall for James who produces food. This way the other pools benefit more, and I have a minority share if someone else empties a large Rent or Drink, because of my rooms and bars.

Turn end: The money spent in actions ($6) and production ($3) is distributed in the pools equally, resulting in Food $3, Rent $6, Drink $7.

I now have:
$7, 3 Wood
Same hexes as before + FF hex redeem value $6.

If metal = $1 and wood = $1.5, and hexes at redeem value, I have increased my net worth to $33.5 from $27, in one turn. This is a solid play, considering that in the beginning the "pan-for-gold" turns are worth $1.
 
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Derek H
South Africa
Johannesburg
Gauteng
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I'd be up for playtesting; and could also help with rules proof-reading.

The game sounds like Settlers of Catan (old favourite) crossed with Glen More (new favourite)!
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Risto Pietilä
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Thanks Derek,

Yes I need to work on the rulebook a day or two. I quite recently fixed the '1 turn = several actions' concept, and the rulebook is not entirely consistent with all the ramifications. I hope to be able to post it here soon!
 
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An excerpt of the rulebook. The part that I needed to rewrite. So now everybody is clear of the game engine:
- players take turns
- every turn consists of one or more actions
- taking an action costs increasingly more money

Feedback appreciated!


Gameplay

The game is an economic game. Everything you do consists of actions. In the beginning, you only have a few action opportunities available, during the course of the game you unlock all the 15 regular actions, and depending what cards are on the table and what buildings you have built, there will also be special actions to choose from.

You may take several actions per turn, but they come with a price. You must pay for the activation of the action (the "time"), as well as the required payment to make the desired result happen (the "work"). Most of us are quite familiar with the idea that we need resources to build a house and money to pay the workers to operate a mine. So let us consider the action activation cost a little, since that is a more novel concept:

[Here is a table stating:
1st A = $0
2nd A = $1
3rd A = $2
4th A = $3
5th A = $5]

Your first ordinary action is free. You can do anything, and, as this is an economic game, you want to do something that is the most profitable thing in your action space. This is not a game of scarcity: you never need to pay anything, unless you want to accomplish something. You get ahead even just by panning gold every turn. Panning gold as an action gives $1.

If you want to pan more gold than just one coin per turn, you realize that the actions get so expensive that it does not work out. Sometimes paying $1 to get $1 may be advantageous (as it increases the money in circulation) but seldom is it profitable to pay $2 to get $1.

The taking of more actions per turn makes more sense when your production engine is running. Let us take mines as an example. Mine says "53: $1->3M". This means that by paying $1 wages, you get 3 metals. The metals can be sold for $1 apiece or used to build buildings. If capital is not a problem, I would suggest running the mines twice per turn. The first run generates a profit of $2, and the second one, with its $1 activation and $1 wages, also makes $1 profit.

In case we have 2 mines, we can profitably employ even more actions. Every time they produce metal, 6 metals is generated from $2. So in theory we are willing to pay even $3 to make it happen. In practice, running just the mines, 4 times in a row is costly: 4 times $2 for wages, $0 + $1 + $2 + $3 for activation. This is $14 and generates 24 metals. You rarely have $14 lying around in the beginning of your turn, and also want to accomplish other goals during play. A more realistic example would be to run the mines twice, then go to market and sell the metals for cash, purchase some stone (because certain buildings require stone) and use the 4th action to build the building.

The game is designed so that in the early game players don't generally pay money for actions. Midgame is underway when players pay $1 or $2 for their last action. In the mature game phase, 4 actions is the norm for leading players, leaving the extra-expensive $5 fifth action for special situations. The choice, how many actions to take, is however always and entirely up to your discretion - play every turn as long as you feel it's economic. After all, this is an economic game.

To speed up the play, you start with some money, $2 to be exact, and an iron will to make things happen. The will manifests itself in free action cards (in the prototype they are Knights; 2 players get 10 of them each, 3p get 9 and 4p need to survive with just 7 free action cards). A free action card is accepted as payment for the action "time", instead of cash. You just take the action, and when finished, you can continue playing. The cash price of the next action only goes up when you pay cash. You may spend however many free action cards per turn (which is fun), plus the standard money-activated actions, plus - of course - extra actions.

An extra action is a privilege that you can gain if you own certain buildings. For example, Opera House says: "EA70. (You may develop.)" This means that you can use the extra action once per turn as payment for the develop action. If you do not take any develop actions this turn, the card does not benefit you. If you take more than one, you get one of them free - unless you have several instances of the building: in this case they all grant the benefit once per turn.

Some extra action cards define a special action (something that normally cannot be done) and then grant its activation for free, typically once per turn. This paragraph is short, but you will find this to be a central feature in the game.

Some cards may define special actions but not give them for free. In this case the actions have to be quite strong. An example is from the Thanksgiving card: "Action A80: You may pay 2F to the supply. If you do, take this." The card is a Quest card, so the first one paying an action and organizing a dinner (paying 2 food), permanently gets one of the 12 quests in the game. The number required to win is 6 for 2p, 5 for 3p and 4 for 4p game.

During one action, you may use once, all buildings that can be activated during that type of action. Farms work only in action A51 ("produce food"), but you can use all your farms during the same action. (It makes sense to have several of them, it is called economies of scale.) Factories, on the other hand, work in all actions A51-A59, which makes it possible to combine them with any other production. If you plan to just run the factory alone, you just arbitrarily choose which production action to call it.

Reactions (in the card: *Interrupt*) are triggered by things that happen during other players' turns. There are no options, they just happen (to benefit you) when you have the right buildings. During others' turns you never need to make any decisions, and are therefore free to observe their play, think about your own strategy, or go for some sandwiches.

Sideactions do not "consume" an action. They are called from inside other actions (ex. freebuild).

All money spent in actions - the activation costs, worker wages, building costs (when monetary), and endowments - goes to Citizens' Spending Pool. (Only in action A60 "market" the transactions are with the Supply, and CSP is not involved.)

During the turn, the money is first collected next to CSP. The turn ends when the player distributes the money to the various pools in CSP. This is a sign to the next player that the turn has ended.
 
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Nathan Woll
United States
Warsaw
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I think the game sounds really good.
What is the significance of the numbers related to each action?
You have knights, thanksgiving and an opera house. What is the theme?
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Risto Pietilä
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Nathan,

The numbers are just the "serial numbers" of an action. The game is really intuitive to play and they are not really needed if someone knows the rules and can judge the ambiguous cases of other players. The numbers are the definitive ruling of whether some buildings can be used together, in one action, which is a huge benefit. They can, if they share the same action number.

The theme of the game is currently quite weak. The players start with a 19-hex board full of forest and during the course of the game, around 7 hexes see major development in many phases towards a town with residences, science, cultural and administration establishments and monumental buildings. In the outskirts there are some factories, mines, quarries and farms (these large buildings are not so valuable but require an entire hex of land, forcing them to the outskirts). Until the very end of the game, there will be totally undeveloped hexes in the side of the board which is opposite of the Square. See my photo a couple of messages earlier. The square is in the center column, second from bottom hex.

It happens in the U.S., in the beginning of 1800s, as a mining town in a remote region. The enterprising players make it a bustling town in the course of about 130 years. The milestones are the founding of the town (Square), constructing a road to outside world (Road Builder), being selected as a town that is intersected by the great railroad (Railroad) and the late game things include a monumental Cathedral, an Eiffel Tower, World Exhibition, Highway System and Tram Network.

The 47 buildings are however quite generic, and I'd like them to be more thematic, perhaps to even mimic an actual U.S. town with its historical buildings and happenings. Now there is this library-aqueduct-granary thing that has been around since the invention of cardboard.




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Risto Pietilä
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Today we have a playtest evening in my home. The new rulebook v4.00 is almost ready. We aim to:
- see how the new playermats work (if it is practical to have partially redundant info)
- experiment the number of Organization points (previously: willpower, represented by Knights cards)
- try out the "Beginners' Set" of buildings, similar to the Dominion "recommended set"
- general brainstorming
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Bordertown - Playtest Report 16.08.2012


Playtest report

We were able to play two 3-p games, with one player changing. The first game took us 1:45 hours (incl init) and the second one 1:15 hours. I spent plenty of time explaining the strategic options both before and during the game.

The first game was even between me and Olli. We did not employ handicaps, which would be easy with the new Organization-tracker. (Just give the better player less Organization). We all had 9 at the start. Olli's production engine was 2 Mines ($2 -> 6 metal) and I had 3 farms ($3 -> 6 food). In practice, the farms were clearly inferior but I eked out victory right before Olli would have got it his next turn. Joose's general gameplay was not good enough to match us.

The photo above is from our 2nd game, with Theo (white), Joose (amber) and me (blue). Theo's opening move was a bold Shack+2*Farm (he got 2 money from exp.tiles, enabling such a building spree). Joose went for a quarry but I got lucky with my land purchase, shooting some game (+1 food), and was able to empty Food pool (1F -> $4) right before Theo who had planned to be the once to empty it.

The game went on with quite weak production. The best "engine" was Theo's 2 Farms, that only generates $2 per action and is therefore just not good enough. He should have built 3-4 of them, or preferably just 1, or none- anything but 2. Metal you can at least use for building even if you have too little of it, but 2 farms is a nonworking choice.

Theo told later he mimicked strategies that had worked in the ancient versions of the game. But so many things have subtly changed since 2011 in the game balance that he fell behind, and staged a complaint that "the midgame was boring because all the buildings out there seemed too expensive for their use". My counter was to tell that "you are supposed to build a functional production engine first, such as 2 mines, 2 quarries, or anything with a factory" (factories are not included in this beginners' set of buildings though).

Theo is a formidable player, beats me in some games. This time his getting crushed was because of several factors:
- He sat to my left. I intuitively play such that I avoid to leave windfall gains to the Citizens' Spending Pool (CSP).
- I was lucky with the exploration tile "food". Well it was a 5/12 chance that either me or Joose would have got it but that being me hurt Theo the most.
- Sitting in fire with 2 farms.
- I redeemed the C3 center hex from him for $4, he squandered the money and did not make a counterredeem. This game needs to be played aggressively.
- Did not grasp the concept of Infrastructure Points (IP). If the Art Museum says it costs 15 stone, Theo did not even consider that it would be possible for him to build (he did not produce stone, and it would cost $3 for 2 stone in the market). I'll explain this later in my Winning Move -section

Joose played a solid game, but too weak. Having just 1 quarry means you really need to know the value of the buildings since you get to build comparably few of them. He did not yet have this knowledge, having played only about 3 games with the "Bordertown-20" version. His moment in the sun was to jumplevel to build a Hotel, which immediately rendered all the other bars in town obsolete, giving Joose 100% control over the Drink pool, which he retained till the end.

I dominated the game. It must be noted that in the first game Olli had a realistic chance to win, this time the others did not really have much chance. I had received much money from emptying the pools in the early game. So I passed both Thanksgiving (1 quest for 2 food) and Founder (1 quest for 2 stone) and once the Square was firmly in place (by Joose), I used the money to buy and redeem land around it. The others could not respond, as going for the quests had emptied their war chest.

I never built any production. I was doing so well just emptying the money pools that I realized a production engine needed to be a really good one to be able to compete with my current playstyle. 2 mines would be a bare minimum, and setting up such a thing would cost money and time. As long as I was ahead, I could as well just play the money game. An additional advantage of that is, I suck more money out of the CSP, denying it to others and weakening their game. By being a producer, I would contribute to the town economy, benefitting other players. So I don't really think I should have gone for production, I believe leeching was a brilliant strategy in just this environment with beginners.

Winning move and analysis of IP mechanic



The buildings in Bordertown create combo possibilities. The set we had on the table included:
Theater (2 available) - extra action to produce food every turn
School (2) - +1IP to every building project
Workshop (2) - free action: change any resource or $ to any other resource or $, once per turn
Opera - extra action to develop every turn

Theo built neither of the Theaters, to his peril.

I, on the other hand, built both Schools and managed to get 1 Workshop, plus later the Opera. This enabled me the winning combo:

I start with 3 quests, whereas the other both have 2. I don't have any production, there is little money in the pools, and I only have $3 and 2 wood in my hand. Certainly they don't believe it's over.

But I'm going to show how the "Resource number" in the tile does not equal "building cost". As a free action, I change a coin to a stone. Then I announce the building of Art Museum (15 stone). Whaaaaat?!!!

It is there in the photo, in hex C1. When building the Art Museum, cost calculation is as follows:
resource number: 15 Stone
board IP credit from great buildings: -7 IP
credit for "merging" (demolishing) 2 great buildings to the Art Museum (AM special rule): -6 Stone
Credit from 2 schools: -2 IP.

15 - 15 = 0. So I only need to pay 1 stone because it is the minimum And the "Lover of Art" quest is mine. One more to go.

And there is more - Art Museum card says that when the citizens receive this prized institution, they are willing to freebuild any building with resource number of 6 or less, for free at a cost of 0 resources and 0 actions. Anything.

Of course, there is not so great buildings (anymore) there to be built for just $6. But there is Suburb, which gives 2 rooms and nothing more. Soviet-style building with no shops or bars. Perfect for snatching back the Rent Baron quest, that Joose had taken from me earlier. By this freebuild Suburb, and another one that I built with my first $0 regular action (since Art Museum was an extra action because of my Opera - which by the way got merged with the Museum, so the next turn it would not profit me anymore..) and 1 wood (6-6 = 1), I comfortably beat Joose with 7 rooms to his 5. With Statue Builder, Lover of Art, Science, Welfare and Rent Baron, I proclaimed myself winner.
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John McD
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This sounds neat, certainly what you are aiming at seems really good.
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Risto Pietilä
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If I could make a PnP demo scenario, would you be interested? What do I need to take into account?
 
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Kim Williams
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St Just
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rpietila wrote:
If I could make a PnP demo scenario, would you be interested? What do I need to take into account?


I'd definitely be interested in having a play, and we're happy to PnP!
 
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Emmanuelle S
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entwife wrote:
rpietila wrote:
If I could make a PnP demo scenario, would you be interested? What do I need to take into account?


I'd definitely be interested in having a play, and we're happy to PnP!

+1 ! Would definetly be interested to PnP
 
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Damien Seb. ●leoskyangel●
Malaysia
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I play games not to win, it's the gathering that's important - Thanks for the tip Cate108!
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Same here, seems like an interesting PnP build.
 
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Risto Pietilä
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Re: WIP: Bordertown - Development of a Town in the 19th Century goes PnP!
Hiall!

Nice to hear that so many would appreciate a PnP scenario.

It would contain the rules, player aids and player mats
- 55 building tiles 30x30mm
- 12 quest cards
- 20 building cards
- 19 exploration tokens

Everything else I believe you can salvage from other games (see list of resource cards/tokens, etc. in the OP).

We have playtesting nights both Thursday and Friday, if at least 2 people show up. Probably we can decide, what buildings will be in the PnP version. I plan on having a balanced mix, where going for food, stone or metal, all would have a chance of winning.
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Playtest report 23+24.8.2012



Thursday

On Thursday we played one 2p game. Dennis, a newbie, decided to take the quarry-square-road route. I built a production engine around 4 farms and 2 theaters. The farms have a horrible efficiency as such, so 2 theaters were needed to make it possible to produce and sell enough during one turn. (A theater gives an extra action to produce food.) Consider the following TEA's:

Case 1: 4 farms, must pay for every action:

Action 1 ($0): EmptyFood: 1F -> $6
Action 2 ($1): ProduceFood: $4 -> 8F
Action 3 ($2): ProduceFood: $4 -> 8F
Action 4 ($3): Market: 15F -> $12 + 2S
--------------------------------------------
Total 1F + $8 -> 1F + $12 + 2S

In this case, we pay a staggering $14 to the pools, and manage to generate $4 + 2 stones. This profit, $7 in money terms, is 33% of the turnover. In real world this is a nice profit margin, but in a 2p game of Bordertown it means that you give the opponent a chance to profit more of your operations than you do. Furthermore, the actions were getting so expensive that you did not even have time to build anything.

So, let's see what a difference the two theaters make

Case 2: 4 farms, 2 theaters make 2 productions free:

Action 1 ($0): EmptyFood: 1F -> $5
Action 2 ($0): ProduceFood: $4 -> 8F
Action 3 ($0): ProduceFood: $4 -> 8F
Action 4 ($1): Market: 15F -> $12 + 2S
Action 5 ($2): Develop: 2S -> Observatory
--------------------------------------------
Total 1F + $4 -> 1F + $10 + Observatory

Now your cash balance is up $6 instead of $4 and you had the chance to build that building you were planning! What is more, the starting balance (working capital requirement) was reduced from $9 to $5!! The money paid to the pools (and therefore partly to the opponent) was reduced from $14 to $11.

Farms cost an equivalent of $4 and theaters $5 to make.

Who won?

Me. After spending about 1,5 hours to build up the engine, I finished the game in two turns. We played with the "standard set", the one that is supposed to be almost equal opportunity for all production lines: stone, food and metal (and nothing - I won a 3p game producing nothing just some time ago). The standard set allows for a wonderful food combo, as described above. That is also the set in the hopefully-forthcoming PnP version.


Friday

This was a tougher night. Three probably best players of the game were summoned together. We used random sets of quests and buildings. In the first game, I pulled out a miracle victory (3 quests in one turn) from the hands of Olli, who was in a clear lead during the whole game. The second game saw Olli trying to delay the opening moves. I sat to the left from him and did not profit from the pools. Consequently Theo managed to gain an early runaway lead, and quickly won. Because of his victory I dropped the handicap (I had been playing with 2 less Organization) and we proceeded to what would be our final game.

Theo started solidly with a Quarry, Olli took the Farms route and I made a few mistakes, the worst being trying to play Farms, when the board in my analysis allowed strictly one farm player. As I was the last to select my production line, I should have changed my plans. It was a long game and in the end I managed to almost make good of the mistakes. When Theo pulled together his last quest, I sat next to him, 1 round behind. Also Olli said he would have won in 2 turns.

It played beautifully - of course it was a bitter thing to lose, but I like soveryvery much the fact that the early assessment of the viability of different strategies is possible to make, and crucial to success. Even I cannot play "the second farmer" if there is no such ecological niche in the game, considering the quests and buildings selected!!

For the reason above mentioned, the worst player starts and best player goes last. It is possible to make a game very boring if everybody tries to do the same thing.

I should have gone to all-factory production at the moment when I foolishly started agriculture. Consider the following TEA with 2 FF's and an Observatory:

Case 3: 2 furniture factories, 1 observatory (-$1 prod. cost):

Action 1 ($0): Produce: 4W + $3 -> 16G (yes, 'things' are now 'Goods')
Action 2 ($1): Produce: 4W + $3 -> 16G
Action 3 ($2): Market: 32G -> 8W + 4S + $14
Action 4 ($3): Develop: 4S -> Hotel
--------------------------------------------
Total 8W + $9 -> 8W + $11 + Hotel

Our balance is increased by $2 and we buy 4 stone and build something. This is quite smooth an engine, isn't it. Well, yes and no. The working capital requirement is $21. A n00b would never be able to operate this. That's why factories are not in the basic set. With experienced players these really big sums of money are prone to cause AP. The instant you stop operating the factories and sell your working capital, it's quite literally possible to buy the whole board. So you have all the options in front of you every turn.





 
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Issues raised in gameplay and balance



Variance in the output of pools arising from different production lines

It matters a lot, whether you sit after a farm player or a quarry player. If a farm player produces 2 times with 3 farms and then goes to the market, he leaves $9 to the pools. If a quarry player fires one quarry once, empties some pool and develops, he leaves $4 to the pools.

So let's consider that you are the quarry player, whose modus operandi is to produce as much stone as possible with the money raised from Drink, and then build quest buildings with the stone.

If your turn starts with no money, and there is X money in Drink, what happens basically:

X = 0 && X = 1:

Action 1 ($0): PanForGold: 0 -> $1
Action 2 ($1): PanForGold: 0 -> $1
----------------------------------
TOTAL: 0 -> $1

X = 2:

Action 1 ($0): EmptyDrink: 0 -> $2
Action 2 ($1): ProduceStone: $1 -> 2S
----------------------------------
TOTAL: 0 -> 2S

X = 3:

Action 1 ($0): EmptyDrink: 0 -> $3
Action 2 ($1): ProduceStone: $1 -> 2S
----------------------------------
TOTAL: 0 -> 2S + $1

X = 4:

Action 1 ($0): EmptyDrink: 0 -> $4
Action 2 ($1): ProduceStone: $1 -> 2S
Action 3 ($2): Develop: 2S -> Townhouse
----------------------------------
TOTAL: 0 -> Townhouse.

See, a player with no money and one quarry can build a Townhouse in one turn, provided that there is even $4 in Drink! But if the previous player also plays Quarry-strategy, and empties Drink, and leaves after himself only $1 or $2 in Drink pool, the next one is hampered significantly.

How? To decrease the velocity of money.

One approach would be to make it slower for the new money to enter into pools. For example, only half would be distributed. Then there would be an extra waiting-pool for the money, the size of which on average equals the spending per one player-turn.


Organization points

This is a mechanic that we probably need to get rid of after all. It is too difficult to explain to beginners that:

Actions require money to accomplish, because you need to pay the workers.
Actions also require money to activate, because that is the rule.
Unless
a) it is your first free ($0) action
b) it is an extra action
c) you pay using organization points.

No, you are not allowed to pay organization points in lieu of monetary payment in general. But yes, of course in practice you can do that, since you can always take a new action to pan for gold, and use the resulting coin to pay for the content of the action.

A. So, you want to quarry stone? You have money. Good. You only pay one action (the first one is free), and $1.

B. So, you want to quarry stone? You don't have money. Kein Problem! You pay one action to make money and take another one (cost=1OP) to quarry.

This is not yet as elegant as it should be. Dennis suggested that we get rid of OP by giving the players a huge stack of money instead. I am a little averse to that, since it would lead to huge land grabs in the early game, and possibly making it very difficult for the last players to enter into game. It would also cause an enormous boom in the pools, and, as a result, in real estate, completely wrecking the delicate balance we have built in the early game.















 
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Risto Pietilä
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Current World Ranking

1. Risto Pietilä 1353 6 games
2. Theo Kurtén 1281 4 games
3. Lauri Keinänen 1000 0 games
4. Dennis Grebasch 900 1 game
5. Joose Sauli 810 2 games
6. Olli Rajamäki 656 4 games.
 
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Risto Pietilä
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What's going on? - Game dissection - Action analysis

I have played ~7 solo plays and one 2p game. The issue is the action purchase mechanic. I am already 100% sure that we do not want to have different roles that give special privileges. Rather, a ProduceFood is always ProduceFood for you, and nothing for the others. A player needs to select ProduceFood instead of Market, and the opportunity cost of taking action A is the lost opportunity of taking action B.

What is uncertain, is how to give the strategic flexibility in the number of actions. There are several approaches that have already been tried:

- One action per turn; the player who takes most profitable actions wins
- One action per turn + extra actions; the extras have a huge impact on the game
- One free action per turn + you can purchase more actions at increasing prices + extra actions from buildings
- as the above + special concept Organization points, which can be used as payment
- similar, but instead of Organization, players are given more money in start ($8 vs. $2)

The gameplay varies somewhat naturally, whether you are allowed to do 1 or 4 things per turn. But the total number of actions per game is rather constant. It depends on the Quests, but the median is about 70.
 
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