Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Winds of Fate, revisited

Odysseus: Winds of Fate was originally to be about "betting" on whether Odysseus and his crew would make it safely to Ithaca or not, then trying to influence his voyage to the outcome you bet on. I have been unhappy with how my first draft of the game ended up representing that, while I liked some of the ideas, it just didn't come together right. As a result, it's sat un-played and un-thought about for well over a year now.

Recently I realized that I actually had much of the game prototyped, and that I should take the upcoming Protospiel opportunities to maybe try it out again. It might be easier than trying to get together copies of Hot and Fresh or Dynasty, which require more prototyping before they can be played at all.

Today I put a little thought into making the game more directly about betting on the outcome and then influencing the outcome, and I think I like what I came up with.

Originally there were going to be 2 types of 'coins' or scoring chits, and you would win them by "winning" an adventure - you'd get White ones if the adventure outcome was favorable for Odysseus and you'd get Blue ones if it was not. White and Blue represented Athena, who hopes to help Odysseus return home, and Poseidon, who hates Odysseus and wants to see him drown. Players would collect coins in these colors, and depending on the outcome of the game - Success or Failure - only 1 of the colors would score. Or maybe 1 color would score more than the other.

I liked this mechanic so much that I also tried it for All For One briefly - King points and Cardinal points, and the ones that counted depended on which pool ran out first. One problem with the mechanic in both games was that it seemed too "all or nothing" - you could put a lot of work into collecting blue points, and if the game end is White, your efforts turn out to have been worthless. No one liked that very much. Also, it didn't correctly reflect an investment in or betting on the outcome, so it was failing the initial design goal anyway.

The latest idea modifies these White and Blue coins a bit. Instead, there could be coins with Athena on one side and Poseidon on the other. When finishing an Adventure, players would "win" some number of these coins (depending on their performance), and of their reward they could bank a certain maximum amount toward a Successful outcome and a certain maximum amount toward a Failure outcome - basically investing in the game end. They could also withhold some of the coins to be spent during the game, presumably to influence the outcome. Ideally, if you thought the outcome would be Success, you'd always invest the maximum possible into "Success," and you'd withhold some or all of the coins you could have invested in "Failure" to spend trying to influence the game toward a successful outcome.

Originally, the game had cards, and you would play these cards to try and influence which of 2 paths the boat takes each round. Then you would play these cards to influence the outcome of the adventure, which would have an effect on the overall outcome of the game. Now I think the path choice will be based on a blind bid using these coins. I think players will also buy more cards with these coins. Then the card play could work as before (similar to card play in Taj Mahal), with the rewards being coins... more for the 'winner' and fewer for 2nd/3rd place, etc.

At the game end, players will score for all banked coins, where the coins invested in the 'correct' outcome will score a return of 1 coin for every 3 invested - in other words coins in the 'right' bank will be worth 1.33 points while coins banked toward the 'wrong' outcome will only be worth 1 point each.

I think this better represents an investment into the game outcome and then influencing the outcome. I also like the decision of whether to bank the coins for points, or keep them to buy more cards or influence the path of the boat and thereby the Fate of Odysseus.

I'd like to go through the Encounter tiles I made and modify the events that occur, and maybe the powers on the cards that exist. Some will have to be changed to work with this new structure - others could stand to be more fun or interesting. Hopefully I can get this done in the next couple of weeks so I can actually play the game at Protospiel West when i go to GameStorm at the end of the month!


ekted said...

"...betting on the outcome and then influencing the outcome..."

Like Manila or Colossal Arena. :)

Seth Jaffee said...

In Manila you don't have much influence over the outcome of the boats each round, but I guess you do influence the final values of the stock colors, so it's sort of the same thing.

I forget how Colossal Arena works, but I think that's a closer resemblance - you literally bet on certain fighters, then try and make your fighters win. That's more or less the type of game I'm thinking this should be. I'm sure there are others like it... in Acquire for example you invest in the different companies then play to make your companies bigger than other companies.