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Subject: Explaining the influence cubes rss

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Roberto Verde
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Thematically, how I could explain to my friends (and me too) the action of picking the influence cubes? I imagine, when I go to market (with, for example, a brown "faith" cube on) or to church (with,for example, a orange "skill" cube on) I could speak with merchants or priests, and they tell me that a friend of them can help me about church or travels...

What do you think?


Sorry for my english
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Ilias Sellountos
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Interesting...

I had this conversation with a friend of mine when explaining the game recently:

Me: "This is not a worker placement game. You do not choose an action by placing a family member, you choose an action by picking up one of the cubes associated with it. You then can use the cubes to pay for that or future actions."
Friend: "I want to know what each of these cube colore represents."
Me: "Who cares? The iconography on the board is very clear. A Pink cube is a pink cube."

I had to find the actual meaning of the cubes in the rule book. After many games and many people I showed the game to and I still had not bothered with that or been asked that question before.

I guess my point is: Everything on the board clearly shows colored cubes. Trying to remember thematic explanations will probably be much more confusing to most people than helpful.
 
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totonno wrote:
Thematically, how I could explain to my friends (and me too) the action of picking the influence cubes? I imagine, when I go to market (with, for example, a brown "faith" cube on) or to church (with,for example, a orange "skill" cube on) I could speak with merchants or priests, and they tell me that a friend of them can help me about church or travels...

What do you think?


Sorry for my english


No worries, your English is perfectly understandable!

I have the opposite view from the previous poster. I like to think about theme in my games, and how theme and rules relate. And theme can sometimes help remember rules as well.

I find that the influence cubes are quite thematic. I see them as various skills that the individuals of your family develop through the generations, sometimes where you least expect it. The theme of the game is the intricacies of daily village life, and this fits perfectly. Think of it like a D&D character that is increasing their various skill levels.

For example, say you pick up a "persuasiveness" cube in the Family area. You had to persuade a particularly picky potential father-in-law to let you marry his daughter. Now your skills at persuasiveness (Green cube) can be used in the Market (you have to pay Green to participate there), where it comes in very handy when haggling to be persuasive.

I find it helps to also think of things as over generations of a family, since that is also part of the strong theme of the game. Say for example you pick up a Brown "faith" cube at the market. Perhaps you had a deep spiritual conversation with a particularly religious customer. Now religion plays a larger role in the life of you and your family, and it results in a son eventually becoming a monk (paying that Brown cube at the church to enter the church hierarchy).

The theme is definitely there if you look for it!
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Nick Case
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totonno wrote:
Thematically, how I could explain to my friends (and me too) the action of picking the influence cubes?


I thought they were raffle tickets
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Roberto Verde
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I agree with YoursTruly when He says; "Perhaps you had a deep spiritual conversation with a particularly religious customer." It's exactly what I mean in my post. Than you all fo answers and the opinion about my English.
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Ilias Sellountos
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JohnnyDollar wrote:
I have the opposite view from the previous poster. I like to think about theme in my games, and how theme and rules relate. And theme can sometimes help remember rules as well.


Hehe. Interesting. I find that the most common reason for getting rules wrong is the assumption of a thematic explanation instead of a more careful reading of the rules. cool
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Shemar wrote:
JohnnyDollar wrote:
I have the opposite view from the previous poster. I like to think about theme in my games, and how theme and rules relate. And theme can sometimes help remember rules as well.


Hehe. Interesting. I find that the most common reason for getting rules wrong is the assumption of a thematic explanation instead of a more careful reading of the rules. cool


Yeah, one should never assume a rule based on theme
But, given a solid initial understanding of the rules by the teacher, I've found one of the most effective ways to teach a game is by using thematic explanations as mnemonic devices. As a player getting taught a game, I also get more out of the experience if the teacher does this; it just feels more fun than "push cube A to get victory point B"...
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Mathue Faulkner
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JohnnyDollar wrote:


No worries, your English is perfectly understandable!

I have the opposite view from the previous poster. I like to think about theme in my games, and how theme and rules relate. And theme can sometimes help remember rules as well.

I find that the influence cubes are quite thematic. I see them as various skills that the individuals of your family develop through the generations, sometimes where you least expect it. The theme of the game is the intricacies of daily village life, and this fits perfectly. Think of it like a D&D character that is increasing their various skill levels.

For example, say you pick up a "persuasiveness" cube in the Family area. You had to persuade a particularly picky potential father-in-law to let you marry his daughter. Now your skills at persuasiveness (Green cube) can be used in the Market (you have to pay Green to participate there), where it comes in very handy when haggling to be persuasive.

I find it helps to also think of things as over generations of a family, since that is also part of the strong theme of the game. Say for example you pick up a Brown "faith" cube at the market. Perhaps you had a deep spiritual conversation with a particularly religious customer. Now religion plays a larger role in the life of you and your family, and it results in a son eventually becoming a monk (paying that Brown cube at the church to enter the church hierarchy).

The theme is definitely there if you look for it!

I like this explanation, but it does fall apart a bit when you have to actually give up the cube. If I learn a skill, then I shouldn't 'unlearn' it after I use that skill in another area.

Looking at it from the generation standpoint with the monk, the monk's son should retain a significant amount of spirituality. It shouldn't all be spent as it is in the game.

I'll still explain the cubes in context of the skills, but the cubes really act as more of a resource than a skill....
 
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Maybe you're not "unlearning" the skill but currently showing that family member's extent of knowledge in a skill? That way when they pick up another cube of the same color - it is like that same family member showing more of what they learned and how far.
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Jim Bobson
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I'm not a fan of this 'Coloured cubes = something more than a coloured cube' shenanigans. It was exactly the same thing for me in Lords of Waterdeep. A white cube was a priest, but you never said 'I'll take a priest', it would be 'I'll take a White cube'

The only way to really install the link between the cube and the inherent meaning behind it is to make them not coloured cubes.

So as a very simple example, in Village you have Skill, Persuasiveness, Faith and Knowledge.

For Persuasiveness, instead of a green cube, you could have a small money token (Which implies that greasing somebody's palm persuades them to help you out)

For faith, well it's used in the church and travelling, so you could use something related to the church (Like a cross symbol) or a small Saint Christopher medallion (As he was the patron saint of travelling)

Knowledge, perhaps a brain token, or a book, or something to imply smarts

Skill, perhaps a small tool, a hammer token or something of that sort.

I think something like these would greatly improve the *theme* of the game, though perhaps not the game themselves. I think it would be great to say, 'Right, I've taken the Saint Christopher token, so I know instantly that can be used in Church or travelling'

However, tokens like that will obviously increase the base cost of the game, and will probably mean the action areas would have to be bigger to cope with the bigger and more varied tokens, on a board that is already incredibly busy.

So I think it would be an improvement in one small sense, but would hurt the cost and playability of the game, which is a big no no.

Perhaps I'll make my own!
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GANDON Fran├žois
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Good question. I happen to play Village a lot these days - and another (very good) game in which players pick cubes - although a true worker placement game that one : Lords of Waterdeep. I like them both very much. And in both cases, I have quickly decided that the cubes' "meaning" was rather pointless. In Village, I just select an action I wish to perform and pick whichever cube I need, no matter what it represents - just because I will later exchange it against something else. In Lords of Waterdeep, the thematic background is stronger : white cubes are clerics, black cubes rogues, purple cubes magicians... And guess what? After a few rounds of our first game, it was only about "picking a purple cube", getting two "whites" and exchanging them whenever appropriate to complete Quests...which soon became as thematically irrelevant as the resources themselves. Does it prevent the game from being great? Not at all. It has become one of our favourites.
As a conclusion, I would say that as long as the mechanic is strong and the game fluid, the thematic meaning of resources (cubes, discs, meeples, whatever...) does not matter too much.
 
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Mathue Faulkner
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Mangoose wrote:

However, tokens like that will obviously increase the base cost of the game, and will probably mean the action areas would have to be bigger to cope with the bigger and more varied tokens, on a board that is already incredibly busy.

In order to keep the randomness, it's also important that all of the tokens retain the same shape. It seems that the only way to do that would be to use cardboard with photos, but I like the cubes much better...
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mfaulk80 wrote:
Mangoose wrote:

However, tokens like that will obviously increase the base cost of the game, and will probably mean the action areas would have to be bigger to cope with the bigger and more varied tokens, on a board that is already incredibly busy.

In order to keep the randomness, it's also important that all of the tokens retain the same shape. It seems that the only way to do that would be to use cardboard with photos, but I like the cubes much better...


For the seeding! Doh! Forget everything I said, cubes are fine
 
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Mangoose wrote:
mfaulk80 wrote:
Mangoose wrote:

However, tokens like that will obviously increase the base cost of the game, and will probably mean the action areas would have to be bigger to cope with the bigger and more varied tokens, on a board that is already incredibly busy.

In order to keep the randomness, it's also important that all of the tokens retain the same shape. It seems that the only way to do that would be to use cardboard with photos, but I like the cubes much better...


For the seeding! Doh! Forget everything I said, cubes are fine


Would be easy to do with cubes with silhouettes of the shapes you mentioned as stickers. Think block wargames like Commands & Colors: Ancients but smaller.
 
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Mangoose wrote:
I'm not a fan of this 'Coloured cubes = something more than a coloured cube' shenanigans. It was exactly the same thing for me in Lords of Waterdeep. A white cube was a priest, but you never said 'I'll take a priest', it would be 'I'll take a White cube'

The only way to really install the link between the cube and the inherent meaning behind it is to make them not coloured cubes.

So as a very simple example, in Village you have Skill, Persuasiveness, Faith and Knowledge.

For Persuasiveness, instead of a green cube, you could have a small money token (Which implies that greasing somebody's palm persuades them to help you out)

For faith, well it's used in the church and travelling, so you could use something related to the church (Like a cross symbol) or a small Saint Christopher medallion (As he was the patron saint of travelling)

Knowledge, perhaps a brain token, or a book, or something to imply smarts

Skill, perhaps a small tool, a hammer token or something of that sort.

I think something like these would greatly improve the *theme* of the game, though perhaps not the game themselves. I think it would be great to say, 'Right, I've taken the Saint Christopher token, so I know instantly that can be used in Church or travelling'

However, tokens like that will obviously increase the base cost of the game, and will probably mean the action areas would have to be bigger to cope with the bigger and more varied tokens, on a board that is already incredibly busy.

So I think it would be an improvement in one small sense, but would hurt the cost and playability of the game, which is a big no no.

Perhaps I'll make my own!


I agree with your commentary.
For me, it's the only weakness in this game : the cubes are only cubes and they are too abstract to name them !
And in LOWD, i have no problem to said "priest, warrior", .. because they represent more things for me !
Maybe in Village, we can use your idea with some modification in the game ...
 
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Mangoose wrote:
I'm not a fan of this 'Coloured cubes = something more than a coloured cube' shenanigans. It was exactly the same thing for me in Lords of Waterdeep. A white cube was a priest, but you never said 'I'll take a priest', it would be 'I'll take a White cube'

The only way to really install the link between the cube and the inherent meaning behind it is to make them not coloured cubes.

So as a very simple example, in Village you have Skill, Persuasiveness, Faith and Knowledge.

For Persuasiveness, instead of a green cube, you could have a small money token (Which implies that greasing somebody's palm persuades them to help you out)

For faith, well it's used in the church and travelling, so you could use something related to the church (Like a cross symbol) or a small Saint Christopher medallion (As he was the patron saint of travelling)

Knowledge, perhaps a brain token, or a book, or something to imply smarts

Skill, perhaps a small tool, a hammer token or something of that sort.

I think something like these would greatly improve the *theme* of the game, though perhaps not the game themselves. I think it would be great to say, 'Right, I've taken the Saint Christopher token, so I know instantly that can be used in Church or travelling'

However, tokens like that will obviously increase the base cost of the game, and will probably mean the action areas would have to be bigger to cope with the bigger and more varied tokens, on a board that is already incredibly busy.

So I think it would be an improvement in one small sense, but would hurt the cost and playability of the game, which is a big no no.

Perhaps I'll make my own!
The problem with this is that the cubes are supposed to be drawn from the green bag at random. If the tokens are all different shapes and sizes, whoever is in charge of drawing the tokens will be able to influence what tokens are available at what locations. Theoretically, you could draw cubes and then replace them with tokens, but that would still require either memorizing what color cube corresponded to each token, color-coding the tokens, or consulting a lookup table, which will add unnecessary delay to gameplay.

If you wanted to draw little icons on the cubes, that might make some headway in differentiating them (K, P, S and F) but that's a lot of work in my opinion.

Yes, the abstractness of the cubes takes away from the theme immersion of the game. But the fairness of a random draw needs to be maintained. (For much the same reason, while I'm replaced all my Agricola cubes and discs with meeples, I still keep a few of the cubes in the box just in case someone plays the Veterinarian card.)
 
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ryudoowaru wrote:

If you wanted to draw little icons on the cubes, that might make some headway in differentiating them (K, P, S and F) but that's a lot of work in my opinion.



I still think stickers (like in block wargames) would be easier than manually drawing icons, it would preserve the random draw but also make the theme connection stronger.
 
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I'm still at a loss as to how to explain why taking a cube allows you to do the action associated to the space you took it from.

Collecting the cubes as resources for later use makes sense. The mechanics are good and make for a fun game, but I can't visualize how the theme integrates with the process of taking a cube to allow actions?

Re-tweaking the balance of the "time" resource such that all actions required a time component may have aided the theme. I.e. to produce an item you have to spend, say, 1 time unit to go to the production buildings (just for the privilege, in addition to the cost of producing goods) and in that time you gain a resource cube as a by-product of having spent time there. I'm not suggesting that this is necessary for the game, but it may have helped shore up the theme a bit.

The well "action" is what truly breaks the theme of the cubes for me, though. That, and the variable costs for travelling, make perfect sense from a mechanical point of view but I can't imagine how the theme should apply in either of these cases.
 
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umchoyka wrote:
I'm still at a loss as to how to explain why taking a cube allows you to do the action associated to the space you took it from.


JohnnyDollar already covered it above. It's not that the cube allows you to do the action, it's that while you were doing the action, you acquired skills or traits.

JohnnyDollar wrote:
For example, say you pick up a "persuasiveness" cube in the Family area. You had to persuade a particularly picky potential father-in-law to let you marry his daughter. Now your skills at persuasiveness (Green cube) can be used in the Market (you have to pay Green to participate there), where it comes in very handy when haggling to be persuasive.

I find it helps to also think of things as over generations of a family, since that is also part of the strong theme of the game. Say for example you pick up a Brown "faith" cube at the market. Perhaps you had a deep spiritual conversation with a particularly religious customer. Now religion plays a larger role in the life of you and your family, and it results in a son eventually becoming a monk (paying that Brown cube at the church to enter the church hierarchy).
 
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UnknownParkerBrother wrote:
umchoyka wrote:
I'm still at a loss as to how to explain why taking a cube allows you to do the action associated to the space you took it from.


JohnnyDollar already covered it above. It's not that the cube allows you to do the action, it's that while you were doing the action, you acquired skills or traits.


Right, that part makes sense -

Except why can't I use an action without taking a cube, then? I have to acquire a resource cube in order to use an action? This is what makes no sense (thematically).
 
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umchoyka wrote:
UnknownParkerBrother wrote:
umchoyka wrote:
I'm still at a loss as to how to explain why taking a cube allows you to do the action associated to the space you took it from.


JohnnyDollar already covered it above. It's not that the cube allows you to do the action, it's that while you were doing the action, you acquired skills or traits.


Right, that part makes sense -

Except why can't I use an action without taking a cube, then? I have to acquire a resource cube in order to use an action? This is what makes no sense (thematically).


The resource cubes are life's experiences. You can't go through life without life changing you. EVERYTHING you do in life affects you in some way. Those are the cubes; skills you learn as you go through life. Every action you take in the game, propels you forward in life, adding some experience (skill) to you or your family.
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