Sunday, December 23, 2012

Captains of Industry - devlog and components

It's been about 6 months since I posted anything substantive about Captains of Industry, though I have played the game at least once or twice since then!

I have been meaning to get it back into regular rotation and work out the final details I've been meaning to get to. The game is scheduled to come out next year, so the time for finishing touches is now!

I played a game on Thursday, and afterwards put some work into finalizing the couple of things I have always been meaning to finalize...

Techs and Tech Trees

Michael Keller and I went through the techs themselves and I'm pretty happy with the ones I've been using - though I think there may be some discrepancy between my versions and his which will need to be reconciled before this process is through. However, the structure of the tech trees has never sat well with me. It's almost as if no matter what L1 techs you get, you can get almost all the L3 techs later - sometimes without even getting a L2 tech in between. I thought the tree branches should be more specific.

Now I've constructed a slightly more regimented version which I think will feel better, where each branch supports a particular strategy or player profile, yet there's plenty of reason to advance in multiple branches:

Research branch:
L1: +1vp per Research you sell
L2: ??? (see below, maybe none)
L3: At the end of the game, +1vp for each Advancement that at least 1 other player has bought

Steel branch:
L1: +1vp per Steel you sell
L2: Unlock secondary Steel market
L3: Before determining demand, you may sell up to 2 (1?) goods from each market

Lumber branch:
L1: +1vp per Lumber you sell
L2: Unlock secondary Lumber market
L3: Before determining demand, you may sell up to 2 (1?) goods from each market

Stone branch:
L1: +1vp per Stone you sell
L2: Unlock secondary Stone market
L3: Before determining demand, you may sell up to 2 (1?) goods from each market

Facility branch:
L1: At the end of each Age, +1vp per Facility you own
L2: Your Facilities each produce 1 additional good when they produce goods
L3: Expand each of your Facilities once (they do not produce)
Money branch:
L1: $5 discount on Overtime Production (is this too good in Age 1?)
L2: $1 discount on buying goods (maybe swap with L1?) (Or maybe +1vp per Oil/Machine parts/Corn you sell?)
L3: Collect $50
Real Estate branch:
L1: At the end of each Age, +2vp for each Real Estate you own
L2: Swap a Real Estate in play with an unused Real Estate of the same level
L3: Build 1 Real Estate without paying for it

As you can see, several questions remain, but this is what I'll try for the next session. I have been wondering if it might be cool to say that buying a tech that has already been bought by someone cost a little more (1 additional Research) than if you're the first player to get that tech. If that's true, then a L2 tech in the Research branch could be "You need not pay the additional Research to buy tech that's already been bought by another player" or something like that. I don't know if that additional cost is a good rule in the first place, but it might be a good thing to try out (along with that tech).

Captain Cards

I redesigned the Captain cards with certain things in mind, and I'm pretty happy with the new format. They used to be fairly all-or-nothing, and now most of them are more incremental in nature. I didn't like punishing a player for doing ALMOST enough work to get the max score for the card, but scoring nothing for it. Now you get partial credit. Here's an example card or two:

Unnamed Captain Card #X:
Score 1vp for each level of your Foundry.
Score the following bonuses (individually) as well if your Foundry is...
Your largest Facility... 1vp
The largest Foundry in play... 2vp
The largest Facility in play... 3vp
 The LEVEL of a Facility, as well as its size, is the number of goods it produces.

Unnamed Captain Card #Y:
Score the following bonus if you end the game with...
1 Residential Real Estate... 3vp
2 Residential Real Estate... 6vp
3 Residential Real Estate... 10vp
4 Residential Real Estate... 15vp

(I need names for the Captain cards!)

Age/Game End Trigger

I like the current Age End trigger, but there have been some lingering questions about it. Here's how it works:
There's a Progress deck with 3 City cards, 3 Rural cards, and 3 Recycling Rural cards. At the end of a round, if at least 1 Real Estate was purchased that round, a Progress chip is added to the board (max 3 chips), then a card is drawn for each Progress chip. Any City or Rural cards stay face up, while Recycling cards are shuffled back into the deck. When all three City cards have come up, the Age is over.

I like that mechanism, and it's specifically designed so that you never know for sure if any given turn will be your last. Originally you would know that for sure, and there were problems with that - this system fixes those problems, but has some issues that need to be resolved.

1. Suppose all the Real Estate is built in Age 2 (the game lasts 3 Ages)... I think this is very unlikely to happen, but I think it is possible and the rules need to cover it.

2. Again, very unlikely to happen, but it's technically possible for the game to never end (or more realistically just to feel drawn out at the end), if you constantly shuffle the last City card to the bottom of the stack of 4.

As the tagline to my blog implies, I like to kill the maximum number of birds with the minimum number of stones... here's a solution that could fix both of the above issues:
When the last Real Estate is bought, the game ends at the end of the round.

I feel like that has to have come up before, and I wonder if it isn't already a rule that I've simply forgotten.

In addition to that, I think the granularity of the Progress mechanism may be helped out if the deck were modified a little bit to this:
4x City cards, 4x Recycling Countryside cards - use 4 Progress chips. Age ends when any 3 City cards are drawn.


I have given a little thought to the components for this game:

Board: This could be TMG's first 6-fold board, to encompass a square-ish playing area as well as the tech tree. Or it could be more like Belfort with sections of board that fit together (preferably with jigsaw technology to keep the sections together). I have been thinking that an image of a large, industrial gear could be good, with the spaces for markets and Real Estate divided by spokes of the gear.

Price Markers and Goods:
* The goods should be small, round cardboard coin-like chits (with player/company logo!) so that they stack and don't take up too much space.
* Price Markers should be wooden bits, approximately 10mm deep x 16mm wide x 24mm tall, in the shape of a $ - with the line down the middle being about 8mm wide, so the base that it stands on is 8mmx10mm). I think little $'s would be perfect price markers, and that shape should be easy to do.
* Money could be 1/2 size cards. People don't like paper money, and mini-cards are easy to pass back and forth (happens a lot in this game). Money could also be cardboard coins, but I think that's not as good, personally. However, if it were cardboard, then there would be no need for extra Dominance vp tracking - just put a $5 token in your score bin.

Score Bins:
When someone buys a resource from you, you score 1vp, and the easiest way I've found to track this is to simply take the goods marker that was just bought and drop it right into a scoring bin. I'm currently using little plastic cups, but obviously something cooler and more thematic would be preferable. I would like to make a sort of piggy bank out of punchboard material, something along thee lines of Merchants and Marauders' treasure chest or Cleopatra and the Society of Architects' corruption banks. In this case perhaps a piggy bank look would be good - but failing that (since a pig is a very organic shape which may be impossible to do well), perhaps an actual bank would work (and one like that picture would probably work easily, similar to the treasure chest above).

Real Estate Cards:
I think the RE cards could be 1/2 size cards - they'd fit better on the board that way, and all they convey is 3-5 demand icons.

Facility Cards:
Facilities could be full size (poker size) cards - these cards have a Build cost, an Expand cost, a production icon (or 2), and an Overtime Production Cost icon.

Captain Cards:
Captain cards could be full size cards as well, preferably with the image and name of one of the famous (or more obscure) Captains of Industry on it - thematically linked to the benefit of the card if at all possible.

No comments: