Friday, May 06, 2011

Kings of Air and Steam - thoughts on action economy

Originally (well, when *I* first saw it)) Kings of Air and Steam was played over 7 rounds. Often players had a whole lot of nothing to do in the final round. demand would completely dry up such that there were cubes on the board that could not be delivered at all, all the other cubes having been delivered already.

To fix this I simply said "hey - let's cut that last round off, and only play 6 rounds!" This worked very well, as now players had things to do all the way through the game. It's still the case where you'll Pass an action or 2 near the end of the game rather than spend money, but I thought that was acceptable. So I've been happy with the 6 round game thus far.

However, taking another look, I think that actions really aren't tight enough. Players are still passing actions, even if only a couple, and they are upgrading their Airship and Train more than enough. I'd like to see Actions be in shorter supply so that players will not be able to build all their depots, upgrade both their Airship and their train all the way, and still be able to make all of their deliveries. If Actions are more valuable, then Character Abilities that amount to a free action here or there will have more value to them.

What I should really do is figure out about how many upgrades I expect or would like a player to make, and see how many actions that leaves them to do deliveries, and look at how many deliveries I think a player should be able to make in a game. I quickly looked at that just now, and I figure a 5 round game might actually work really well. 20 actions could break down something like this:

7-8 Upgrades (some Train and some Airship)
5-8 Depots
8-10 Delivery action
And a couple of Route Adjustments or partial delivery actions (moving part way to the destination).

Note that if you spend 16 actions upgrading both your Train and your Airship and buying 8 Depots, then you'll only have 4 left to make deliveries. Maximized that's probably 10 cubes at about $14, which probably won't be enough cash to win. 6 deliveries averaging 2.5 cubes/delivery and averaging $14/cube might be enough to win.

I think 5 rounds (20 actions total) may be the way to go! Time to try it...

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