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Subject: [WIP] Those Who Came First rss

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Mr Highseas
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Hello everyone! I don't remember if I mentioned it here or not, but I am working on a game about exploration/colonisation, and I wanted your professional opinions. I would describe the game as The Settlers IV (video game) meets Catan. The basic premise of the game is that several kingdoms each send a group of colonists to an unexplored land to colonise it. At the beginning of the game, all of the land, except for the  starting colony of each player, is empty. As you move onto a space, you place a tile there, and it will have a resource on it with a number, similar to Catan. Unlike Catan, you must build a "Workhouse" on the tile and occupy it with a worker to collect the resources. When the number on the tile is rolled, it fills up with resources, which can be collected by the workhouse. Most workhouses can be upgraded, and workers can move between the workhouses until they receive an occupation, which makes them better, but locks them to one workhouse. You can make settlements to get more workers, and the settlements can be upgraded with different buildings. Once certain buildings are made in a settlement, it can expand to have more population. There are "soldiers" in this game, but I intentionally made them much worse than their first iteration because I wanted players to focus on exploration and expansion, not militarisation. The "Raiders", as I call them, can raid enemy settlements to reduce them by one level and steal some of the player's resources. You win the game by having (x) number of settlements, 3 metropoli  (which is the highest level of settlement), or by amassing (x) amount of wealth. I am currently undergoing internal playtesting, so all of this information is subject to change. 

So what do you guys and girls think?
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Mr Highseas
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A Note on complication
I was thinking about the game, and I came upon a thought; I like the direction it's going, but I'm worried that it may be too complicated with too many pieces. Right now, my prototype that I am playtesting with has 21 different kinds of pieces to place on the board, with most of them being workhouses. There are also (currently) 15 different buildings to place in the settlements, and 10 different occupations that the workers can take to specialise themselves. Is this too much? I thought that an easy fix would be to replace all of the individual workhouses with one universal piece, which could then be upgraded to be better. 
Example:
Currently, wood is collected by placing a woodcutter's house on a forest, then placing a worker on it. It can be upgraded to a Sawmill to collect more resources per turn, and the worker can be given an occupation of Forester to receive more resources when the number is rolled. Clay is gathered by placing a Clay-gather's house on a swamp and occupying it. It can then be upgraded with a kiln to receive extra resources. 
This is four different pieces, which would necessitate four different designs, and therefore I would need to make all the pieces as chits. Would it be better to just have one piece that represents all of the workhouses? I think it would be, but I wanted to have the opinion of experienced veterans. 

Also, is it better to have iron ore and gold ore, which then have to be smelted using coal to get gold and iron, or is it better to just have the mines give iron and gold to begin with? I am pretty sure the rule of K. I. S. S. applies to both of these questions, but I am not sure. 

Thanks in advance!
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Nate K
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That does sound a little too complicated if you're trying to catch a piece of the Catan market. You may want to dumb things down a bit more. The simpler, the better, with these sort of games. Your target market likely isn't looking to play a game that accurately simulates all the aspects of colonization, they're just looking for a fun Eurogame.

:twocents:
 
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Mr Highseas
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Thanks for your input!
I agree that it is probably still too complicated for most people; and I have had a thought that maybe I should make it a lot simpler, and then pit all the extra rules as an expansion for people that want more granularity, like myself. If I do that, it's very similar to Catan: Cities and Knights for the base game. What do you think?
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Yi Sheng Siow
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In general, the whole thing is too complex.

I can't see the actual game, but...
21 different pieces to place,
15 buildings and
10 occupations...

That's too much. I don't understand what the 'pieces' are, but my suggestion is try the most fun 3 of each type and see if its fun overall as a game. Less is more.
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MLeis
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Mrhighseas wrote:
Would it be better to just have one piece that represents all of the workhouses?

Also, is it better to have iron ore and gold ore, which then have to be smelted using coal to get gold and iron, or is it better to just have the mines give iron and gold to begin with?
If I understood you correctly, then these are two completely different questions.

The first one is essentially about the look of some components of the prototype, and has nothing to do with the mechanics or the complexity of the game itself. As for the answer, it definitely would be easier to create the prototype using just one general shape for workhouses. Then again, going the other way wouldn't necessarily make the pieces too difficult to differentiate either. That's because players would then, too, be able to see on which tile the piece is placed and to use this information to understand what piece it is. So they wouldn't necessarily have to memorise 21 different shapes.

The second question deals with the actual complexity of the game, i.e. with its mechanics. Here one can't really say that simple games are better than complex games or vice versa. They're simply different and both have their spot under the sun. Hence, whether you should make your game simple or complex depends entirely on what kind of game you want to create (and perhaps on whom you see as potential buyers). It's not something anyone else can suggest to you or decide for you.

Having said that, remember, that complex games are more difficult to design, to balance and to sell to publishers. One of the main worries is to handle the complexity in such a manner that it remains logical, intuitive and easy to grasp to the players. (In that respect you are actually on the right track when thinking hard about the components early on.)
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Herc du Preez
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Sounds like a fun game so far.

Without knowing the exact details of how the game works here are some thoughts:

First off: Workhouses. Keep it simple. 1 workhouse picture for all workhouses. Need an upgrade? Flip over the workhouse and get a "level 2 workhouse" that is on the other side. That is 1 flippable tile for all X resources. Though if you feel adventurous you *could* make special tiles for each resource but this is purely for aesthetic reasons and makes the game much more fiddly.

I don't really see the problem with multiple occupations. At most you need 2 different worker-pawn types. One that wanders (not clear on how that works) and one that is stuck to the workhouse. Military could just be cards or a track somewhere so no new pawns required for that and raiders could be a die roll.

As for the resources themselves, if you want to get really fancy I think a dial would work nicely if you want it to be public knowledge. If not, wooden cubes behind a screen or Catan-esque cards representing the resources could work.

my 2c.
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Mr Highseas
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Thanks for all of the input, guys!
My original question about the workhouses was that each different type of workhouse required a different piece and cost different resources. That is why I was concerned about the complexity. I can see that this is way too complicated, so for now, there is just one workhouse, that you flip to get to level two.
Raiders are what I am calling the military, because you use them to raid your opponents' settlements, and protect against the same. If two raiding parties meet, they roll off, similar to Risk, and if your party wins, the other one is pushed back with one casualty. You can pillage a city by getting two successes. Pillaging reduces the city one level, and the raiders claim one resource from the raided player.
Much as I like the idea of cards or a dial to show what resources each player has, they would have to be cubes, as they are paced on the table first, then collected one-by-one. Say you have a forest(7) with a level one workhouse on it. When a 7 is rolled, it receives six wood cubes. Each turn, your worker takes one of those cubes and gives it to you. If the workhouse was level two, it would give two wood cubes each turn. Then, when a 7 is rolled again, the forest receives cubes until it has six again. I think I should just drop the occupations, as they are fiddly.
The workers don't need to travel to get to different workhouses; they are either in a settlement or in a workhouse. the other pieces are the moving ones, namely the Raiders/Soldiers, the Settlers, and the Thieves.
I have also been wondering how best to handle the town buildings. Right now, they are way too complicated, but I don't know to make them simpler. They don't require pieces, but currently, they require bookkeeping to tell which cities have what. Town buildings are what tracks how much the settlement has grown. When five new buildings have been made, the settlement can grow to the next level. The individual buildings don't really matter, but I thought they did at first. How best should I track which city has what?
So, I've taken into consideration everything that's been said, and come up with this:
Two types of workhouse
Four pieces, two of which have three levels
No occupations
Buildings don't need to be represented individually, but need to be tracked per city.

Thanks again!!

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Herc du Preez
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I like cubes. I am just wondering if 6 cubes per workshop might be a bit too many? 3 or 4 seems more manageable. But these numbers can be tweaked during play-testing.

As for Town buildings. If we assume each person has one town or, like Catan:Cities and Knights, no matter how many towns you have they all have the same buildings in them, then you could go with a single "town board" for each player. Much like Puerto Rico. The actual buildings themselves on the town could be specific building pieces that are placed on the board. why? Its simpler. and you get a better sense of achievement for building bigger and better buildings.

The other approach is to have a more complex multi-town system (I think Civilization the board game does this?) It could be done with separate (smaller) town boards. What I like about this method is that it opens the option to capture another players town including buildings. The separate smaller towns could also incorporate the workshops into the town itself (that's where they would be after all) and the resources would be gathered from around the town. Though each player would have to be limited to around 5ish of these smaller towns and maybe 1 or 2 large cities.

Course these are vastly different games with different playing times.
 
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Mr Highseas
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Yeah, six was just an arbitrary number I assigned while working out the main bugs. I'll probably change it eventually.
As for the matter of the cities, multiple city boards were what I was trying to avoid. I had a suspicion that there was no easy way to do it, but you guys are much better than me at this. A thought I had was that you would have one city board for your main/first settlement, and when it expanded, it would allow two settlements to expand to the level it just expanded from.
Example: Jim's main settlement is a level 2 settlement. When it expands to level 3, it will allow two settlements to expand to level 2. When it expands again, it will allow two settlements to expand to level 3, which will each allow two more settlements to expand to level 2.
This negates having to track the buildings for each settlement, as it is assumed that each of them progresses at the same rate, just set back a bit. Is this a good idea? Or would having your main settlement have a icy board, and the others not be able to expand be better?
 
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Rocco Privetera
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I think you could get by with say 2-3 buildings (if using tokens you might want to stick to 2 or 4 buildings to take advantage of sides).

Type one = Basic. You can gather resources in a given area, but only a limited amount (one token per turn). The type depends on the hex, so a Basic on a Field = a farm, a basic on a mountain = a mine, etc.

Type two = Settlement. These don't gather resources but make people or military or raiders.

Type three = Town or City. These gather two res per turn, and also possibly make or hold people. Can be upgraded from one or two.

Something like that. Why do you need a "mine" building since you can't put it anywhere but a mountain?

 
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Mr Highseas
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I have been thinking about doing that. I think I'll run a few games where I try it with just the bare minimum of buildings, and a few using a couple different types of buildings, and see which one fits the style I'm going for best.
As for the mine question, it used to be that each type of workhouse had a different recipe for constructing it, and did different things. However, that is too complicated for this game, and now there is one workhouse with one recipe.
Thanks!
 
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Herc du Preez
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Don't see why a workhouse in a forest can't have a different recipe to a workhouse on a mountain. But simpler is usually better so having a single recipe for all workhouses makes sense.
 
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