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Subject: I need suggestions for my game rss

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Andrei Pitiku
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Hello everybody,

I made an account here because I need your suggestions regarding the board game I'm developing right now.
It's called President of America and it's about a political game about the political race to the presidency. You have one month to win as many states as possible so that you will be the next president.
Players: 2 to 4 - you can be a republican, democrat or independent
Board: the map of the USA with each state and the number of electors for each state
Cards: Each player has the same cards, about 15. Each card is an action that will bring you popularity. For example you can hold a speech with brings you 10% popularity in that state, or you can go on TV which will bring you 20% popularity - on each card you have 2 options: local action or national action. The local one is cheaper but it will increase your popularity only in the state you are in while the national one costs more money but it will bring you popularity in all states(more in the one where you are in and less in the others)
Rules: You have 30 days to get as convince as many people as possible so that you get the votes at the end of the month. If you reach 80% in one state it becomes locked and it's yours no matter what other users will do. Otherwise another player can come and take your popularity. If you use one card (the speech) you are not allowed to use for the next 2 turns, you have to use other cards (the idea is that you don't play the same card over and over again).

I'll stop writing now I started with the idea of making a simple, easy game and it got more and more complicated. I'm afraid it's too complicated and that is why I'm here - I want to hear your opinions and suggestions on how to make this simpler. The game would have a big board (USA is pretty big) and you have to keep track of every player's popularity in the 50 states which is not easy...

Looking forward to learning from your experience!

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Steve
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Sounds like Road to the White House, which I've played and has more game mechanics than you've described. There's also 1960: The Making of the President which I haven't played.

Have you tried either of these to see how they manage complexity?

I always liked RTTWH, but I seem to be in a minority. In that game, which ignored party affiliations, you had a stance on various issues and then brought issues into popular debate. An advanced mechanic introduced dirty tricks as well.
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Jake Staines
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pitiku00 wrote:

I'm afraid it's too complicated


You've already overcome the first hurdle, then - it seems a lot of people are content to keep adding complexity and who cares if the game takes ten hours!


pitiku00 wrote:

The game would have a big board (USA is pretty big) and you have to keep track of every player's popularity in the 50 states which is not easy...


Here's my first thought: does the board have to represent the 50 states individually? I'm not an American, so maybe I miss some subtleties, but could you not bunch some of the states together and aggregate their electoral college votes, or something? If nothing else, a 30 turn game with 50 capturable areas may model the actual approach to US electioneering fairly well (candidates end up with 20 states definitely voting for them each and then squabble ferociously over the remaining ten) but also may not be fun!

Next thought: don't track popularity percentage in a state/region for each candidate explicitly, but just have players drop 'influence' or 'popularity' tokens on the board for that region. At the end of the game, the player with the most tokens in a given region wins those votes.
Depending on how your other mechanics work, maybe you could also have other modifiers - in California a Democrat who places any number of tokens in the state can also place one extra token for free, 'cause it's a Democrat-leaning state; a photograph of presidential candidate B urinating on a war memorial in his college days surfaces, remove one of his tokens from every region he has a token in... and so on.

Perhaps make different states cost different amounts to place tokens for different candidates to reflect that region's political bias. So going on TV and announcing your new plan to raise revenue by taxing smoothies and tie-dye t-shirts will go down better in Texas than California and your popularity boost in in those states will reflect this.

Were it me, I would try and weight the number and groupings of regions via the electoral college votes to make it as unlikely as possible for a tie to result. If you went with a simple majority of regions (each region has the same number of votes) then simply having an odd number of regions and some tiebreaker mechanism for each region would do this for a two-player game, but for more than two players, or variable-vote regions, it's a bit tricker!
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Andrei Pitiku
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@Steve - no I haven't tried that but I'll sure have a look at it now - thank you !!

@Jake - first of all I would like to say thank you for the long feedback
I was thinking of playing with the USA map in front as it's more realistic and it gives a better feeling. The thing with the states is that depending on the population in each state, it has a number of electors so to win you need to have 50% +1 number of electors. For example one state can have 2, another 5 but California that is bigger can have 10 - so you need to set up a strategy, either you fight for the big ones with the rest of the players, either you go for the smallers ones and block them(once you hit 80% popularity).

But you had a brillian idea with the tokens, it would eliminate the high number of cards required (which would keep the production costs down also) and you would play only on the map so I can make it bigger since you don't have anything else besides it (just these popularity tokens). I had in mind dirty cards also which would attack other players and reduce the popularity in certain states - but you would have to pay for them and you would draw them for a stack (the initial cards are the same for everybody, face-up and you pay what is written on them). The problem I see with tokens - they are adding tokens based on what? I mean when do I add a token of 10% and when do I add a token of 25%? Or were you thinking that a token has 10% and that's it, you can't do anything to add more than 10% from one shot?

As for the players, I was thinking of a starting region for each so you can have something to build on. Like you were Arnold you would start with high pop in California. I was thinking of setting a starting region for each player so that in the first days of the campaign you can easily get the states that are near you and only then the battle with the other players begin.
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Jake Staines
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pitiku00 wrote:

The problem I see with tokens - they are adding tokens based on what? I mean when do I add a token of 10% and when do I add a token of 25%? Or were you thinking that a token has 10% and that's it, you can't do anything to add more than 10% from one shot?


I would forget about percentage points in particular and just focus on the tokens, myself. If you have two popularity tokens in a region and your opponent has one, then maybe you have 66% and he has 33%, maybe you have 30% and he has 15%... it doesn't matter, because you have more than him and you're going to get the college votes from that region when it comes down to it. (Are you planning to model the states which share their votes out in proportion as well?)

If you have variable popularity bonuses in your game already, then try with variable token gains as well.

I do like the idea of making it easier to target local states rather than ones far from your support base, I have this image in my head of popularity growing like mould spreading (quite an apt analogy for politics!) until it meets an interface with another popularity zone!
 
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Joe Salamone
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Bichatse wrote:
just have players drop 'influence' or 'popularity' tokens on the board for that region. At the end of the game, the player with the most tokens in a given region wins those votes.


This sounds too much like 1960: The Making of the President. But I do agree that the method of tracking popularity in each state should be something other than percentages. That sounds like it could turn into a lot of math that could slow down the pace of the game.

 
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Andrei Pitiku
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I was thinking of making tokens marked with 10%, 20%, 50% etc so that it would be a math problem But I guess that if I take out the percentage and play it just with tokens it's better...

I had a look at the 2 games, the first one is too simple and the 1960 one it's too complicated so I would try to go for something in between (from the complexity point of view). But I don't want something based on cards - I want to take out the luck variable as much as possible.

The idea is to start with a fixed amount of money and use them to gain popularity and you have to use them wisely. There will be 'bad cards' which you will pay for them and I was thinking of creating an income source - states that you locked. If a state has 10 electors let's say you get 1 million $ every week/day and if you have a state with 3 electors you get 300k$ every week/day.
 
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and don't forget Divided Republic as another presidential election game to look at for comparison. It's set in the 19th century, but might give you ideas for gaming a national election.

But out of curiosity why only a month? The full campaign process, from forming an exploratory committee before the primaries to election night, is more like 18 months. Even skipping the primaries there are 4 to 6 months of general election campaigning to do. By that last month most states have already swung one way or another and everything is focused in a small handful of states.

I'm not criticizing, just curious about the decision from a design standpoint.
 
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Michael Dew
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Now, if only you could make the actual campaign only take one month...
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Meaker VI
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Bichatse wrote:
I would forget about percentage points in particular and just focus on the tokens, myself. If you have two popularity tokens in a region and your opponent has one, then maybe you have 66% and he has 33%, maybe you have 30% and he has 15%... it doesn't matter, because you have more than him and you're going to get the college votes from that region when it comes down to it.


This is similar to what I would've said - give each player some chips that represent locked states, and cubes/tokens/counters for their influence in a state. Any player who both has more tokens than their opponent and has more than X (4?) tokens locks a state. Maybe they must also have more than X more tokens than their opponent.

The only thing that is important with the tokens is the proportion of yours to your opponents; so if you have 2x as many, you don't need to have 16 to their 8, you only need to have 2 to their 1. You can probably use that to keep token numbers down somehow. Using a D6 or 2 per state instead of tokens might help you track numbers, but isn't as intuitive.

Each card gives you some number of tokens in that state/the country/states that already have your tokens/states that don't already have your tokens/ etc.

It'd be good to include some kind of randomization factor for when things go sideways; you think you've got popularity but don't actually win.

It also might be worth considering to allow attack cards/actions - you can remove a players' token(s) in targeted states or across the country.

Sounds like it'd be component heavy no matter how you do it, but not necessarily complicated.
 
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Andrei Pitiku
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One month - because I think 30 turns per player are enough and because here you are allowed to campaign one month before and that's all (not for the president, but at the local elections like mayor)

As I said before I was thinking about some cards that you can use to damage your player, to release a certain rumor that will hurt his pop in 1,2 5, 10 states, dunno exactly I think it would depend on the card and on how much you pay for it (I was thinking of making 2 or 3 decks depending on strength - the stronger cards costs more money but if you use them wisely it can bring you victory)

And I have in mind another round - the final debate. Where again it would be something based on cards that you buy them during the game and again stronger cards cost more money. And I was thinking of doing something like Trump Cards with them - 3/5 subjects on the card and each with a different score and the players propose a subject one at a time...
 
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Most US elections now a days are won or lost in what's known as Battle Ground States or Swing States. Basically, California is almost always guranteed to vote Democrat, so Republicans don't waste time campaining there. Much like Democrats avoid Texas cause it's a pointless waste of money to campaign there for them.

Nevada, Florida, Ohio etc. they all flip back and forth in their support of either party which usually means a win in thoes states is what determines an election like Florida did back in 2000.

So if you really want to cut down on how much needs to be focused on, just use the swing states as the ones to fight over and that'd cut out about 75% of needed time to get to every state.

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Jonathan McFarland
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I haven't played the two games mentioned above, so forgive me if my ideas are old news.

What about representing the different number of electors in each state with open circles? Candidates play their Influence tokens on a circle, but other candidates can stack their tokens on top the existing tokens to override them. So when building popularity in a state you have the option of playing in open token slots (giving speeches, running positive ads, kissing babies) or playing tokens on top of another candidate's tokens (negative ads, opposition research). You could cap the number of tokens that could be played on a single stack so there would be a strategy to how high you build a stack in order to be the one to cap it. Or you could count who has the most in a stack to determine who wins that piece of the state's electors. California and New York would have many open circles to place tokens while the less populace states would have few.

I like the idea of national versus local influence (that certainly played a big part in our most recent election), and I think grouping some of the states by region could be useful. They wouldn't need to be clumped together for the electoral votes, but there could be cards that affect certain regions: "natural disaster hits Eastern seabord", or "candidate caught on film mocking southern accent".

EDIT (to add this idea): With this idea you also have the option to play a quicker/realistic game where most of the map starts with tokens on the slots and the battle-ground states are the most likely to swing versus playing with a more open board where all the candidates have a shot at building coalitions across different states.
 
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