Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Dynasty revisited, also Hot and Fresh prototyping

As per my New Years Resolutions, I've been putting some thought into both Hot & Fresh and Dynasty. Ariel has been experimenting with the color wheel idea for Hot & Fresh, and says he's got something that will work, and that it's not even that tough. That's good, because even though I've known in my mind for 2 years how it would work, I have yet to produce a working prototype! I now have a deadline... create a map for him to make a board out of in time for him to produce a prototype for me before he goes to New York City this summer (so he can mail it to me from there instead of from Uruguay).

I've also been discussing some of the finer details of Dynasty with Dylan and Nando in the BGDF chatroom. I think I'm feeling more comfortable with some parts of it. Hopefully I can talk them into brainstorming tech advances ("Discoveries") with me so I can get a prototype of that working as well.

In particular, here are some of my recent thoughts on Dynasty:

  • When Settling a village, perhaps a player shouldn't get points at all. I'm a little worried that all players will spend the 1st 6 turns each game just settling. That would be lame - and if it's true I guess I could simply make the setup phase include taking turns settling villages - but I think I'd rather that be part of the game. I'd like people to think about doing things other than Settle, even if they haven't gotten their 6 resources. Maybe if there weren't points involved in settling a village, then that would promote other actions sooner as you might not need further resources to get the Discoveries you want. I'm already thinking of rewarding players who get to a discovery first (see below).

  • Thus far I've liked the idea of having to settle adjacent to a region where you already have a village, to keep people from just plopping villages wherever they like the resources, and to encourage trading. Dylan (dnjkirk from BGDF) thought it would be better to be able to settle anywhere, perhaps with an additional cost for not being adjacent. I just had an idea though which combines his thoughts with something that could help my previous point... players could start with a pawn on the board, and could only be allowed to Settle where the pawn is located. Thus it would take a few turns to traverse the board. This mechanic already exists in the game, but until now it's been after villages start turning into cities. No reason not to start with the Political pawn in play from the beginning though! I think this idea will add validity to Discoveries such as a cart which allows your political leader to move 2 spaces.

  • I had originally figured that each culture would handle discoveries separately, irrespective of what other players discover. However it makes more sense to say that when anyone discovers, say, paper, that anyone else could build on the knowledge and discover paper money. Thus perhaps whenever anyone discovers something, everyone gets to use the benefit, and noone else can discover that thing. This way there's competition for the discoveries for points, but getting the points opens up abilities to all players.

  • I have never been happy with the mechanic for conquering a city or village. Currently, you can just conquer a village with your military leader as an action. Conquering a city requires that you have more cities than the defender. It's too easy to do that, and I think the first person to get a city would likely be able to conquer everybody, and that's no fun. I would like there to be a viable strategy that involves being militaristic, but I would like taking over villages and cities to be relatively unexciting outside of that. Maybe you conquer a city so you can gain access to its resources without having to trade with that opponent every time you want to use it, but aside from that you probably don't conquer much unless you're using a military strategy and have bought the advances which make it easy enough to do so. I think I have come up with a Conquer system that better represents that. Instead of 1 Military leader total, players could get a military leader (or a political leader) each time a City is developed, and each military leader could have some 'strength' (say 2). There would be discoveries such as Gunpowder which would add 1 Strength to each military leader. In order to conquer a village or City, a player would have to get enough" strength worth of leaders in the area... where "enough" depends on how many Villages and Cities (and maybe Military Leaders) the defender has. Perhaps each village has strength 1, each city strength 2, and each military leader in the area has strength 1 for defense (or strength 2 to match their offensive strength). This has the advantage of adding opportunity cost to "going on a war path" - you have to spend actions moving your leaders around the board. It also lends validity to discoveries such as "Hot Air Balloon" (move 1 leader 2 spaces) or some other discovery which allows you to move more than 1 leader at a time.
So I guess with respect to my New Years Resolutions... I'm working on it!

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