Recommend
 
 Thumb up
 Hide
7 Posts

BGG» Forums » Board Game Design » Board Game Design

Subject: Mining mechanics in a mixed economic/combat game? rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Samuel Wallace
United States
California
flag msg tools
Hi,
I'm stuck on trying to design a economic mechanic for a mining/drilling-themed board game. The game (called Out of Gas, temporarily) involves players building a deck by bidding on action cards from a central deck. Cards would be drawn every turn, Dominion-style, and then return to the discard, only to be reshuffled into the player's own deck later along with purchased cards. These cards allow them to control pawns on a game board, which can move to other territories, drill for gas, attack other players, recruit more pawns, and so forth. Gas is the single currency-- produced by drilling actions, spent on movement, attack, upgrades, bidding, etc. The idea is to force players to optimise between economic and military strategies--at a certain point, with certain cards, it may be easier to attack a weak neighbor and take over their economy than to build your own. But the military strategy can't be strictly dominant-- it's hard to be attacking constantly without running out of gas. Ideally there is a considerable reinforcing feedback between the cards you bid for and the strategy you adopt--if you get a strong military card early on for a relatively cheap bid, you can attack without completely sacrificing your economy.

My problem is that I can't seem to design an economic mechanic that seems vaguely appropriate for mining but is also interesting and gives people a sense that they're actually doing "work" to earn money.

-For example, my current version has a number of "wells" (say, 25 or so) scattered around a hex-board of about 150 squares. Each well has a number, up to 6, but usually 2 or 3, denoting the "refresh" value of the well. You play a Refresh action onto a well to distribute that number of cubes onto surrounding hexes, then play Drill actions to pick up 1,2, or 3 cubes from surrounding squares (basic starting cards allow you to pick up just 1, but you can buy cards that let you pick up more cubes per action). High-number wells are valuable because they let you play more Drill actions in between Refresh actions, but these wells are more centrally located and vulnerable to a neighbor coming in to claim it for himself.

What's wrong with this? It's kind of boring. If you're not being attacked or attacking somebody, you're just accumulating money and spending it on cards that will get you slightly more money. The win condition is exporting a bunch of gas (buy a card that lets you transfer a certain number of cubes per turn from your personal stash to a structure... once you've exported 25, or quantity X, you win). If this is going to be the main mechanic, it would need to be so hard to get to that you'd *have* to militarily expand. Otherwise people just sit around developing their base area and hoping to export gas the fastest.

So what mechanics would feel more active and encourage an interesting combination of economic and military strategies? I've considered things like:

-Pipelines: You need to spend actions to lay down pipelines connecting the wells that you control to your home base. This gives players who invest their money and time in economic actions an infrastructure advantage over players who just attack, but it gives those military players a target to sabotage, etc.

-Area control: Your drilling production is proportional to how much territory you "control". So military expansion sacrifices money now for probable easier production later; you can't just sit in your home sector and control/upgrade a few nearby wells. This doesn't so much "fix" the economic strategy as it encourages military over economy.

-Economic expansion: Design an economic mechanic that requires a player to send his units all over the board, non-aggressively. Maybe you're drilling a fault that has three natural vents, spread around the board, which you need to plug to control pressure (I'm no geologist myself, obviously). Thus economic development feels like a quest or a mission, but you could suddenly turn your "mining" unit into a saboteur and attack the opponent. Adds to intrigue, but I'm not sure how to design such a mechanic.

Anyway, thanks to anyone who reads this and further thanks to anyone bothering to respond. I'm on version 2.5 of this game; I playtested an earlier version and had to revise significantly, so I'd like to nail down a few concrete mechanics.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Sturv Tafvherd
United States
North Carolina
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
stay with the current mechanic for a bit... would it be more exciting if the hex board is smaller? Fewer mines ... scant resources ... force the players to aggressively compete for it.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Sturv Tafvherd
United States
North Carolina
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Somewhat related to area control: can you make the mining "more efficient" for each turn that the mine is in your control? (and the efficiency counter resets every time control of the mine switches hands)
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Werner
United Kingdom
Grimsby
N.E. Lincolnshire
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Hi,

Have you tried only working on one central mechanic? It seems to me that you have two central mechanics i.e. Combat and resource trading.

I would start with one. If you start with a resource trading mechanic and it is balanced, then go on to combat mechs that can mess up the resource and shit balances around.

I don't know, if I have a point but it seems like you are trying to balance to many variables at once.

Werner

1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Capt Ahab
United States
New Mexico
flag msg tools
What about a depletion mechanic for the "home" well? Put x cubes on each "home" well, where x is its starting number. Each refresh action remove 1 cube, reducing the level of the well. This would force players to expand into the central area toward the non-depleting wells.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Brook Gentlestream
United States
Long Beach
California
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I like your thought process all throughout this post. I look forward to seeing your final design, v14.2 or whatever...
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris
United States
Jefferson
Louisiana
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Saw the title and had to check it out. I'm also working on a economic mining/combat game. Haha, strange coincidence! I wish you good luck!
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls