Sunday, May 22, 2011

Rodeo Drive

[This is an old post which I never published. I don't like having those around, so I have edited and published it.]

Rodeo Drive was at one time the title of a work in progress using the Bluff Auction mechanism I've been discussing recently. Here's one of the early posts from late 2007 describing how the game was coming together.

I think the basic structure will be to the effect of...

Some items will be "up for bid", and each person will roll some color dice (like the ones used in Wizard's Tower or Carolus Magnus). You won't know what your opponents rolled, only what you rolled. Then players will bid on the different items, which will effectively have some cost. The bid will be, in effect, how many times you think the cost is represented among all the dice people have rolled. For a simple example, suppose the item cost 1 Blue. If I thought there were 3 blues rolled among all players I might bid 3 blue on the item. If you wanted the item, and thought there were more than 3 blue, you might bid 4 blue on it. Then I could either pass, thinking you have overbid (or 'bluffed'), or I can rebid. On my turn if I'm winning the bid, I must pass. As soon as everyone passes, dice are revealed and the item is awarded to the player who bid closest to the correct number without going over.

I think the way it will work is that there will be more than 1 item up for bid, and players will probably bid on more than 1 item at a time.

So far there are 3 ways we've thought about going with this...

1. Straight scoring - as you win, say, Blue, you get better at winning blue, but each subsequent Blue is worth less and less points. So you are stronger to win future Blue things, but you'd rather win Red or Yellow because they're worth more points to you.

2. Special powers/emergent strategy a la Puerto Rico or Caylus - the item you win is like a building in Puerto Rico that gives you some ability or resource. Then you use the buildings you get to purchase things, convert resources to points, etc.

3. Area control/area placement - when winning, say, Blue, you put your house on the board in the Blue region. There would be maybe 8 spaces in each region, and the spaces would be connected by a web of roads, a la Thurn and Taxis or Web of Power/China. You'd score points per region (as mentioned, each successive house in a region is worth less points to you than the last), and you'd score points for chains of houses. The more houses in a chain, the higher the score for that chain.

That's where we're at currently, mulling over these options. We tested the Liar's Dice mechanic and it definitely seemed to work for a multiple item auction.

So comment on this post with what you think a good direction for this game would be, the simple, sort of abstract game, the divergent, multiple power building route, or the area control/placement scoring.

As to theme, we were racking our brains trying to think of something that works that way - something that is rewarded for "bidding" as much as possible without going over a certain number. So far the thing we thought of that best represents that is someone who is very rich, who will always buy the most expensive thing he can afford. So the dice represent different shoppers (each color is a different shopper), and the number of their color that comes up is their 'credit limit' - they're looking to buy the most expansive thing they can afford, and players are offering them things at a particular price (and for some gamey reason you can't offer the same price as your competitor). I'm not sure how that would fit into any of the 3 listed structures above, but it at least fits the Liar's Dice mechanic.

[edit 5/2011]
Since this post was composed, I have revamped the game and changed the theme (twice). For a while the Bluff Auction was a time travel mechanism, and players were going back in time to collect artifacts which were (until now) lost, damaged, or destroyed in history. Recently that theme has changed to one in which you're simply bidding for actual items with actual money (more recognizable), but if you bid 'too much' then your funding won't come through and you'll have to rescind your bid.

Now the items up for bid have abilities/bonuses on them, which are in effect until you Exhibit them, thereby scoring them.

1 comment:

Matt said...

I don't know quite how it could work, but how about you're a Guild of Thieves, and each night you try to fool each other in order to get the rights to rob certain properties in the town.

Perhaps each of the colours belong to a certain guild, such as blue being the wizards guild, red being the fighters guild and so on, and as you burgle a certain type of building, more of them are looking for you - which is good, because it gives you more information about what members of that guild are doing (and hence more information that you can use the next night in the bidding).

There could be different sections in the city, and you could score points for having the majority of buildings burgled in a particular region, as well as scoring bonuses for having the most of a particular guild city-wide. Also maybe as you burgle from each guild more and more you lose access to their services which could help you during the game (e.g. if you haven't burgled any wizards guilds you can reroll a dice each night, or something like that).