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Subject: Nations Dev 3: Complexity rss

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Rustan Håkansson
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Nations is a complex game. It is definitely not a game for everyone. A lot is going on and how well your Nation will do depends on you. There are no dice. There is input randomness (as defined by Geoff Engelstein) in how cards are drawn at the start of every round, but player choice dominates that randomness. You know what your choices are and what effect they will have, but not how the other players will respond to your choices. You are playing against the other players and not against the game.

Nations takes 30-60 minutes per person to play, depending on how prone you are to ponder, experience with games in general and experience with this game. With more players the time per player goes down as player turns are very short and most thinking will be done during the other player's turn.

There are no hidden cards, all options are visible to all players. Complexity is limited by keeping all you do on your player board where new cards are placed on top of old, and that old cards are discarded from the card row. There is a hard limit on the amount of information that can be available, but that limit might be above what is comfortable for some players.

Nations designer diary index (complete, 40 entries)
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Rafael Hannula
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RustanR wrote:
There is input randomness (as defined by Geoff Engelstein) in how cards are drawn at the start of every round

Nations designer diary index (complete, 40 entries)


Who is Geoff Engelstein and where this input randomness is defined? I watched this video from nurnberg (http://boardgamegeek.com/video/26357/nations/game-overview-a...) where they talk a little bit about the setup but it wouldn't hurt to know more
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Rafael Hannula
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According to the video there are about 60 cards per age and only about 15-20 are used in one game. ( 2p - 12 cards, 3p - 15 cards, 4p - 18 cards, 5p -21 cards). Am I correct?
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Rustan Håkansson
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Ludology is a good board game podcast by
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Geoffrey Engelstein
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, they go into theory and deep analysis. Very worth listening to!

They discussed randomness in one episode, my guess from a quick search of the site is that it is this one. There Geoff divided randomness into input randomness and output randomness. Examples:

Input randomness: Shuffle a deck, draw 4 cards face up. All 4 players will buy one. Bid for who chooses first.

Output randomness: Shuffle 3 decks with different focus, all players choose what piles to draw from, they draw hidden cards.

This is a very useful conceptual differentiation. The difference is in if the randomness happens before the choice or after. Another example of output randomness is to choose an action and then roll dice to see what effect that action has.

Early in development we had quite a bit of output randomness, with simultaneous action selection. We concluded that while this was fun and the playing time of 60-90 minutes even on 6 players was appealing, it was not suitable for the type of game we wanted to make.

We have a lot of randomness in Nations, this ensures replayability. Most is input randomness in the form of what cards appear when and where. You know the effect your choices have, the uncertainty is in how your opponents will react.

There is a small but important factor of uncertainty at the start of every turn, as you will make a decision about growing or not, and what type of growth you do, just before you get to see the historical events. This is more towards output randomness than input randomness.
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Rustan Håkansson
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rayffis wrote:
According to the video there are about 60 cards per age and only about 15-20 are used in one game. ( 2p - 12 cards, 3p - 15 cards, 4p - 18 cards, 5p -21 cards). Am I correct?


A total of 74 cards you can buy per age, how many appear in each game depends on how many players are in the game and how many cards they buy. The absolute maximum that can appear is 24 for 2 players and 42 for 5 players. The numbers you list are how many can appear per round, and there are two rounds per age.
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Rafael Hannula
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Thank you for the answers
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