Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Winds of Fate Betting Board thoughts

Chatting with Andrew Schoonmaker just now, we discussed some thoughts for Winds of Fate - to do with the betting board. I wanted to jot them down so I can access them later...

One thing we discussed is an idea I had to change the Timeline bet (which I'm going to start calling the bet on which round the game will end) From "I bet the game will end IN (or near) THIS round" to "I bet the game will last until AT LEAST THIS round." The difference being that if there's no penalty for underguessing, maybe people will be more willing to bet low. However, there's still a bigger payoff if you bet on a later round at the end of the game. There have been some comments (in a "complaint" tone) that it's best to bet long and if necessary, nudge the bet downward with "move bet" rewards than it is to bet lower in the first place. I don't see how that's a bad thing - it makes you want to play for a longer game and value the Move Bet reward higher.

Playing for a longer game promotes the "Dead" and "Stranded" game end conditions more than the "safe return" condition. Is that OK? Is it OK if I change the Destiny Bet thing? It probably is - one could argue that "Safe "Return" is kinda easy to achieve since there re so few space on the board it might be easy to push through. I think if I change the Destiny Bet system (which I think I need to do no matter what), then this might not be too bad a dynamic at all. I could also make Safe Return pay out a little better.

Another idea (that I have NOT discussed with anyone and rather just thought of) is to limit the bets to 1 bet per round, so player 1 gets first pick as to where to place his bet (maybe he chooses round 10), then players 2 and 3 choose rounds 11 and 9, and players 4 and 5 has to choose between 12 (and play for a very long game) and 8 (and play for a shorter game). That could be interesting, but likely unfair (or will be perceived as such).

Another idea (which goes along with the first one, above) is to actually AWARD the Timeline payout as the Round Counter reaches a bet. This would mean you'd get bet chips to work with, sou you could bet long for a better return, or bet short to get a few bet chips to work with. On the face I like the sound of that, but I just don't think it'll pan out the way I want the game to pan out. Note: this could be that you get VPs on the scoreboard and just your initial Bet Chip back - so you get fewer points total (or the same points over several Place Bet actions) but they're more secure. That could work I guess, and would encourage short bets. My concern there is that you may sort of HAVE to bet short to get Bet Chips... BUT maybe if you prioritize Bet Chips from Reward Tiles, then you won't need to get them from the Timeline, freeing you to bet on a more lucrative long range bet.

I think the Betting Board will be interesting - I'll certainly give it a shot. I still like a Timeline bet, and the Destiny Bets can be wrapped into the Betting Board. I think perhaps the initial Bet (Troy Encounter) could be a Timeline Bet, and the rest of the bets could be on the betting board only. Because the Timeline bet will be more (maybe much more) lucrative than the other bets, I kinda like only letting (and in fact forcing) players to just place 1 such bet and that's it. That will help drive your long term strategy. Maybe the payout should be the same no matter what round you choose, to encourage choosing the "right" round rather than the "furthest out" round.

One of the most interesting things we discussed was Bet Exclusivity. I was concerned that everyone would simply bet on the next (or likely next) encounter, and that wouldn't telegraph intentions very much. Suppose for a moment though that each spot on the betting board where you can bet on an encounter (there are 32 of them) could only hold one bet total - then people would be in something of a hurry to grab up the "good" betting spots (some will be better than others each game based on the geography of the randomly distributed Encounter tiles). Also, it will force people into betting on different things than each other, which will start to differentiate their incentives. I really like the sound of this, and I'm not sure but maybe by extension the Timeline bet should work the same way. If player 1 bets the game will end on round 10, maybe player 2 can't pick 10, and has to instead pick 9 or 11... etc. Move bet will still allow you to nudge your bet (maybe anyone's bet?), and as a result of Move Bet, 2 bets could be on the same space (as is the current rule).

I really like that idea, but for it to work I'll probably need to increase the frequency of placing bets. I could add Place Bet to more reward tiles, but I don't want them all to be the same... I could make the bonus for the largest total contribution to the adventure be a Place Bet action, rather than a straight 2vp bonus. That's pretty interesting, at least 1 player will place a bet each turn - maybe that wouldn't even cost one of your own bet chips. Or I could say "Place a bet OR get a Bet Chip" - that would work too. So every 2 bonuses is 1 bet which, if it pays off is 3-6vp - not terribly different than the 2vp bonus from before (and if nothing else, the bet chip is 1vp by itself).

Bet chip value - I had them worth 2vp before, not sure why. I'd like them to be worth 1vp for these payoffs. However, the payoffs could be in points, not Bet Chips, and unused Bet Chips could still be worth 2vp. So placing a bet 'costs' 2vp but could net anywhere from 0 to 6vp. Destiny actions I'm still thinking would give you the chip to make a bet with, so that's just a free 0 or 3 points (just place a chip from supply on one of the destiny bets). Oh, the Destiny bets wouldn't be exclusive I don't think. 2vp per unused bet chip makes Bet "D" on the board pretty unappealing, and Bet "E" only barely appealing. I think those payouts really have 1vp bets in mind, not 2vp bets. I think I've talked myself into 1vp bet chips.

One thing that came up that I think I don't like is the idea of EVERYBODY betting, automatically, in turn order, each round. Never mind Bet Chips, you just get to auto-place a bet. I think that might be too much betting. A maybe better idea is everyone, in turn order, gets to either take a Bet Chip OR place a bet (using one of their bet chips). That could be interesting, as it means any reward that gives you a bet chip let's you place an extra bet rather than just collect a bet chip in a following round. Let's say a game lasts 8 rounds, that's 4 turns taking bet chips and 4 turns betting. For each other bet chip acquired, one of those 4 rounds spent taking bet chips could instead be spent placing another bet. And in theory, the earlier the better so you snatch up the good spaces. In that case maybe the bonus for largest contribution is simply a bet chip.

There's some question in my mind whether you should be allowed to place 2 bets on the same Encounter (assuming bets are limited). Would that be OK? People could put all their eggs in 1 basket (bet 3 or 4 times on the same encounter) and then get a bunch of points at once (save up cards for that adventure). however, if noone else is also betting on that, maybe everyone will team up and make sure that player loses and gets nothing. Maybe that's fine.

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