John Gibson
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About a year ago I started developing a game that used custom I created. Each die face had a different building of a different color and I called these images Factions. I think I came up with a half dozen designs using these 6 icons and none of them were really satisfying.

But once again I had a brainstorm on the bus ride to work while listening to a board game podcast (this time it was The Spiel GenCon Part I) and came up with a game I think will work with my custom dice.

So here is my first stab at the rules which I wrote over my lunch break today. If you read them please give me feedback as to whether this concept is worth pursuing as a game design.

FACTIONS: THE CITY

FACTIONS: THE CITY is a worker placement game where the workers are custom dice. Each player gets 3 dice in their player colour, and each face displays a different faction. These dice are placed on the board in order to perform actions.

Number of Players: 3-4
Playing time: Unknown
Age Range: Unknown

Components:
• 1 game board
• 12 Faction dice (3 in each player colour)
• 4 dice cups
• 80 player pawns (20 in each player colour)
• 80 wooden walls (20 in each player colour)
• 30 unique building tiles
• 6 Bridge tokens
• 6 Apprentice tokens (1 of each faction)
• 3 Monuments
• 120 Faction resource cubes (20 in each faction colour)
• 60 Allegiance resource cubes (30 black, 30 white)

6 Factions


City Map


There are 30 unique building spaces (each one matching a building tile) and 6 river spaces on the city map, surrounded by 24 wall spaces. At the top and left hand side of the map are the 6 Faction icons which indicate faction influence on the city, the primary area being horizontal.

Building Tiles

There are 30 unique building tiles, each with the following features:
Title (Armoury)
Illustration of building
Construction Price Area: 2 Faction Icons which indicate what dice faces are needed to construct this building
Purchase Price Area: 3 Faction cube colours which indicate what cubes the player needs to spend to purchase this building
Ownership Area: Spot for placing a player pawn to indicate who owns the building
Resource Area: 1 Faction cube and possibly 1 Allegiance cube that can be generated as resources during the resource action.
Monument Area: a spot to place a monument if the player builds one on this building.

The Game Board

The game board has the following areas:
Construction Area: This is where the building tiles are placed when drawn at the beginning of each round. There will be tiles equal to the number of players plus one.
Purchase Area: Any building tiles that are not constructed are placed in this area where players can purchase them. Only one worker per round can occupy this action spot.
Bridge Area: Players can purchase a bridge for 1 white cube and 1 black cube and place them on a river space, either horizontally or vertically. Bridges link contiguous spaces across the river. Only one worker per round can occupy this action spot.
Apprentice Area: A player can place a die here and select the matching Faction token that they can use in the next turn. They must use it by the end of the next turn. Only one worker per round can occupy this action spot.
Monument Area: Players can purchase a monument for 4 specified faction cubes and place it on one of their buildings. Monuments will double the resources generated for the row/column the building is in during the Resource Production Action. There are only 3 monuments available for the entire game. Only one worker per round can occupy this action spot.
Allegiance Area: Players can turn in 3 specified faction cubes to get either 1 black cube or 1 white cube. They can do this as many times as they have enough faction cubes. Only one worker per round can occupy this action spot.
Resource Production: Players can produce resources by placing a faction die on either the side or top row of the city map. Doing so causes all building tiles in that row or column to produce resources, regardless of who owns them. A building can generate resources more than once if it is selected by both a column and a row. There are 12 spots for placing workers.
Wall Construction: There are 24 wall spaces surrounding the city. By placing a faction die on either the side or top row of the city map and paying a matching faction cube, a player can build a wall at either end of that row or column. Using a space for wall construction will block a player from using the same space for resource production. There are 12 spots for placing workers.

Setup

• Place the six bridge tokens in the Bridge Area
• Place the three monuments in the Monument Area
• Place the six faction tokens in the Apprentice Area
• Draw tiles from the building deck equal to the number of players plus one and place them face up in the Construction Area
• Select a starting player
• Starting with the player to the right of the Starting Player and going counter clockwise, each player selects a building tile and places it on the matching space of the city map. They then place one of their player pawns on the tile to indicate their ownership
• The remaining building tile goes into the Purchase Area

At the start of each round all players roll their faction dice in their dice cups and then place them on the table, but hidden under the dice cups. Players can secretly look at their faction dice without revealing to the other players.

Starting with the starting player and going clockwise, each player places all their dice on the action spots and immediately performs the designated action. Their dice remain on those spots until the end of the round. After everyone has played, then they can collect their dice and roll them for the next round.

Game End

The game ends during the round when the last building tile is placed on the city map. The player with the most victory points wins.

Awarding Victory Points

• 1 point for every building tile (including bridges)
• 1 point for every wall
• 2 points for every building tile in the player’s largest contiguous group (orthogonally) of building tiles (including bridges)
• 2 points for the longest uninterrupted chain of walls
• 1 point for every monument
• 1 point for every black or white cube

Faction cubes are worth nothing at the end of the game.
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John Gibson
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Some questions:

Dice rolling

Which is better in your opinion?

- Rolling your 3 dice only when it is your turn and then placing them on the Action areas?

- Rolling dice all at once but hiding the results under a dice cup so you can make decisions on how to place them and thus possible cut down on AP / lag when your turn comes?

- Everyone rolls their 3 dice at once all out in the open and then players can figure out what possible actions players will make who are coming after them?

Game End

Which is better in your opinion?

- Game ends during the round when a player places the last tile on the map. This means that the game could go on and on as long as nobody can (or wants to) buy the last tile

- Game plays in a set number of rounds (5 in the case of 4 player game) and ends at the end of the last round, regardless if all the tiles have been placed or not. This could make player actions/decisions more urget, but they might not be able to explore all the games possible options.




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I should also mention that players can only have 5 cubes of any one faction resource (unlimited for the Allegiance cubes) to prevent hoarding.

Question:

I am having the building set out in the construction area so that there is always one more than there are players so there more options for people who are last in the turn. Is this a good mechanic or should a game be tighter?
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I made a small change to the board layout so that you cannot just pick one column and get 5 of the 6 factions when excuting resource production. This will force players to spread out their tiles on the board if they want to get 1 of each resource. This will also mean they will have to excute multiple columns/rows in order to get multiple kinds of resources.

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So I have a bee buzzing around in my bonnet concerning the designing of this game. Part of me thinks it’s not complicated enough to be appealing to gamers. That part of me thinks that I need to something more, like giving each tile some kind of special ability to its owner, or adding roll cards that players can chose that give them a bonus to a particular action that turn.

The other part of me says just make it the way it is, play test and then determine if it needs anything more.

But I can’t thinking about what more I could add on…sigh…
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David Sevier
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Definitely playtest first, then add on. You don't want to ruin an elegant design by tacking stuff on that really isn't needed.
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Mephansteras wrote:
Definitely playtest first, then add on. You don't want to ruin an elegant design by tacking stuff on that really isn't needed.


Wiser words were never spoken, David.
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Here is a prototype of a building tile I just created in Excel.

At the bottom is the name of the building (Barracks) and a picture so you can quickly identify it and distinquish it from the other tiles.

At the top is the Construction Cost Area, which displays the 2 dice results you need in order to aquire this building from the Construction Area of the game board. In this case it is a Military Faction and an Aristocracy Faction.

Underneath it is the Purchase Cost Area, which displays the 3 Faction cubes you would need to aquire this building from the Purchase Area of the game board. In this case youo will need 1 each of Clergy, Merchant and Artisan cubes.

The space in the upper right corner is where you would place you player pawn to indicate your ownership of this building when it is placed on the map area.

Under it is a space to place a Monument piece if you purchase one for this building.

In the bottom right corner is Resource Area which shows you what cubes you would generate if this building was activated during a Resource Production action. In this case you would generate 1 Military Faction cube.



Any questions, comments, suggestions?
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Looks pretty good to me. Pretty easy to figure out and while it's got a lot going on it doesn't seem too cluttered.
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Mephansteras wrote:
Looks pretty good to me. Pretty easy to figure out and while it's got a lot going on it doesn't seem too cluttered.


When I design the tiles for real in PhotoShop I will make the picture/name box bigger in realation to rest of the tile so it stands out more.
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gedin wrote:
Some questions:

Dice rolling

Which is better in your opinion?

- Rolling your 3 dice only when it is your turn and then placing them on the Action areas?

- Rolling dice all at once but hiding the results under a dice cup so you can make decisions on how to place them and thus possible cut down on AP / lag when your turn comes?

- Everyone rolls their 3 dice at once all out in the open and then players can figure out what possible actions players will make who are coming after them?


Start player rolls all dice. Players draft dice one at a time in reverse turn order.

Quote:

Game End

Which is better in your opinion?

- Game ends during the round when a player places the last tile on the map. This means that the game could go on and on as long as nobody can (or wants to) buy the last tile

- Game plays in a set number of rounds (5 in the case of 4 player game) and ends at the end of the last round, regardless if all the tiles have been placed or not. This could make player actions/decisions more urget, but they might not be able to explore all the games possible options.


Ending the game by filling all spaces will tend to devolve into a race to the "purchase" space once the deck of buildings is exhausted. Also, wall placement could theoretically make it impossible for any player to generate the resources needed to purchase the last buildings.

That said, five turns seems too short for the game as outlined. Only 25 out of 30 buildings will be drawn in the first 5 turns of the game. As resources are only produced by buildings, no player will be able to purchase a building until the third turn at the earliest. Personally, I'd funnel more resources into the game, letting buildings produce 2 resources each and maybe giving an alternate means of production. I'd also fix the number of turns by the time it takes to draw--not build--all buildings.

Quote:

Question:

I am having the building set out in the construction area so that there is always one more than there are players so there more options for people who are last in the turn. Is this a good mechanic or should a game be tighter?


With 3 dice, a player will have between 1 and 6 buildings it is possible to build. 5 is probably the minimum number needed to prevent bad rolling from removing a player from the game.

Fewer would be feasible only if costs were more flexible -- say one faction printed on the building and the other used to represent the row or column in which it is placed.
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Krikkit wrote:
gedin wrote:

Dice rolling


Start player rolls all dice. Players draft dice one at a time in reverse turn order.


I really like this idea, Krikkit. Especially having players choose their dice in reverse turn order, then playing all their dice in turn order. The Starting Player gets the last choices of dice, but gets the first choices for spending them.

Krikkit wrote:
gedin wrote:

Game End



Ending the game by filling all spaces will tend to devolve into a race to the "purchase" space once the deck of buildings is exhausted. Also, wall placement could theoretically make it impossible for any player to generate the resources needed to purchase the last buildings.


Just to clarify, the walls themselves will not block resource production; just the action of creating a wall will block someone from producing resources in that same column/row. So any given row or column can only have resource production blocked twice in game. Once both walls have been erected at either end of the column/row, then they cannot be used for wall construction again.

Krikkit wrote:

That said, five turns seems too short for the game as outlined. Only 25 out of 30 buildings will be drawn in the first 5 turns of the game. As resources are only produced by buildings, no player will be able to purchase a building until the third turn at the earliest. Personally, I'd funnel more resources into the game, letting buildings produce 2 resources each and maybe giving an alternate means of production. I'd also fix the number of turns by the time it takes to draw--not build--all buildings.


I’m concerned about the game becoming to resource rich if all buildings produce 2 resources, but at the beginning there would be few buildings to produce said resources, so I think you have a point there. I think I will try it with 2 resources and I can always cut back to one if it gets too out of hand.

As to your last point about fixed number of turns, I think that idea would work. The game could still end without all the tiles placed and still work.

Krikkit wrote:
gedin wrote:

I am having the building set out in the construction area so that there is always one more than there are players so there more options for people who are last in the turn. Is this a good mechanic or should a game be tighter?


With 3 dice, a player will have between 1 and 6 buildings it is possible to build. 5 is probably the minimum number needed to prevent bad rolling from removing a player from the game.

Fewer would be feasible only if costs were more flexible -- say one faction printed on the building and the other used to represent the row or column in which it is placed.


Here’s a thought. I could have 1 less building available to build per turn. So in a 4 player game, on the first turn you would flip over 4 buildings and each player picks 1, in reverse turn order, leaves 26. Then there would be 8 turns of 3 buildings flipped over. On the 9th and final turn there would 2 buildings left and then game over at the end of that turn.

People who couldn’t get a building that turn could perform the other actions that are available in the game. This would allow for the slow build up of resource production until it goes crazy in the final couple of turns.
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So last night I submitted this boardgame to the 2013 Canadian Game Design Awards at FallCon in Calgary, Alberta, Canada:

http://www.fallcon.com/design

Here is the boardgame FACTIONS: CITY in play:


Here is the city map section of the game board:


Here is the player action area of the game board:


Here are the Faction Custom Dice:


Here is the new blurb at the top of the rules and the component list:

FACTIONS: CITY is the first game in the Factions' line of board games. Each game in the series will be using the Faction custom dice.

OBJECT

In Factions: City, 3-4 players compete to have the most influence in the construction of the city. It is a worker placement game where the workers are custom dice; each face displaying a different faction. These dice are placed on the game board in order to perform actions. You are an influence broker in the creation of the city, manipulating the six factions to aid in the construction of its various buildings and its very walls. Victory points are earned for each building you have constructed or purchased, walls erected, monuments created, and evidence of powerful allegiances. The winner is the player with the highest score at the end of the game.

Number of Players: 3-4
Playing time: 60 - 90 minutes
Age Range: 12 and up

COMPONENTS
• 1 game board
• 1 starting player token
• 12 Faction dice
• 80 wooden player houses (20 in each player colour)
• 60 wooden walls (15 in each player colour)
• 30 unique building tiles
• 6 Bridge tokens, double-sided
• 6 Apprentice tokens (1 of each faction)
• 3 White Monument Pawns
• 5 Yellow Construction Pawns
• 6 Green Purchase Pawns
• 120 Faction resource cubes (20 in each faction colour)
• 60 Allegiance resource cubes (30 black, 30 white)

I have play tested this game with my non-gamer colleagues at work and the really enjoyed it.

Wish me luck!
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Nate K
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First game, eh?
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kurthl33t wrote:
First game, eh?


I came up with custom Faction dice first, and I started out with game designs that involved a single kingdom and also multiple kingdoms.

But this game design with the city layout worked out the best, so I think I will use it as the basis for future games.
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It was just announced my game is a semi-finalist in the 2013 Canadian Game Design Awards!

w00t! meeple

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/973015/2013-canadian-gam...
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Woohoo!
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So I made 2 mostly new prototypes of the FACTIONS: CITY and mailed them last night to the first set of judges who will be playing them with their game groups in the coming weeks. I am very excited and waiting with baited breath for the results.

Prototyping tip: I bought to buckets of CENTIMETER CUBES. They come in containers of 500 cubes in 10 colors. They are used to teach kids about counting and colors, but are also great substitute for wooden resource cubes. I used 8 of the colors for game:



http://www.amazon.com/CENTIMETER-CUBES-500-PK-10-COLORS/dp/B...
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I will be making two new prototypes of Factions: City this week and I will be adding a new feature to the building tiles: Action Bonuses!

BUILDING TILE ACTION BONUSES

Each building tile offers the player one of ten different types of action bonuses. A player may only use one action bonus per action.



Building Construction Bonus

The building construction bonus may allow a player to construct a building using only one faction die. If the player is constructing a building that requires the same faction die as the one crossed out in Action Bonus section of a building tile they own, then they only need to supply the other die. For example, if a player is taking the Construct a Building action to build the Sawmill and they own the Palace tile, then they only need the one Craftsmen die to build it.


Purchase Bonus

The purchase bonus may allow a player to purchase a building using only two faction cubes. If the player is purchasing a building that requires the same faction cube as the one crossed out in Action Bonus section of a building tile they own, then they only need to supply the other two faction cubes.


Wall Construction Bonus

The wall construction bonus may allow a player to construct a wall without using a faction cube. If the player is constructing a wall that requires the same faction cube as the one crossed out in Action Bonus section of a building tile they own, then they only need the matching faction die.


Resource Production Bonus

The resource production bonus may allow a player to produce resources once per turn without using a faction cube. The player can produce resources in a row or column that matches the faction crossed out in the Action Bonus section of a building tile they own. This is essentially a bonus action not requiring a worker die. They cannot use the resource production space if it is already occupied by a faction die, even if it is one they placed there. For example.


White Alliance Bridge Bonus

The white alliance bridge bonus may allow a player to construct a bridge without using a white alliance cube. If the player is taking the construct a bridge action, then they only need to supply the black alliance cube.


Black Alliance Bridge Bonus

The black alliance bridge bonus may allow a player to construct a bridge without using a black alliance cube. If the player is taking the construct a bridge action, then they only need to supply the white alliance cube.


Erect a Monument Bonus

The erect a monument bonus may allow a player to erect a monument using only three faction cubes. If the player is taking the erect a monument action, then they only need to supply three faction cubes and omit the fourth faction cube of their choice.


Alliance Bonus

The alliance bonus may allow a player to exchange only two specified faction cubes for an allegiance cube. If the player is taking the forming an alliance action, then they only need to supply two faction cubes and omit the third faction cube of their choice in exchange for an alliance cube. They can do this as many times as they have sufficient cubes.


Apprentice Bonus

The apprentice bonus may allow a player to use a faction die to select any two Apprentice tokens once per turn when taking the Hiring an Apprentice action.


Faction Friendship Exchange Bonus

The faction friendship exchange bonus may allow a player to trade 2 identical faction cubes for any other faction cube as an action but without using a faction die. They may do this as many times as they like, but they can only do so in a single action. This is essentially a bonus action not requiring a worker die.


I think these action bonuses will add more decisions to the game and players will be fighting to get those building tiles with the action bonuses they like the most. With 10 different types of action bonuses, it should add a lot more variety to the game. Thoughts?
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Here is what the building tile layout means:

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So I have made a few more changes to my prototype, mainly to the city map. The building tiles will no longer go on the map, but in front of the player who owns the building. Their wooden house would still go on the map to indicate which building they own. I know that the map looks "busy" but this is a prototype and I am not a graphic designer. My main goal was working with the iconography and make the game playable. I also know that three of the colours (Red, Pink and Orange) look very similar but I was limited by my cube set for the prototype. A published game would use more diverse, easily distinguishable colours.

Action Board


City Map Board


I would like to also change the name of the game. Factions: City is really starting to sound blah to me. Can anyone suggest a good name for a city building, dice-as-workers, worker placement game? I was thinking of using the name of a real city in Germany, like Heidelberg or Cologne. I just want a name that makes people go "Hmmm?" and take a second look.

Thanks for any and all feedback!
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Pretty...
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