Sunday, March 10, 2013

Eminent Domain: the Dice Game?

A little while ago I had a thought about how Eminent Domain might be ported into a dice game (EmDice?) - and tonight John and I gave it a sort of test run. After a few minor revisions, here's the current status of the rules-in-progress for that game.

Eminent Domain: the Dice Game

24 (30?) Role Symbol Dice (6 per player) (perhaps more for "+1 Die" effects)
27 Planet tiles (9 of each Advanced, Fertile, Metallic)
XX Fighter tokens
XX Resource tokens / VPs (these could be the same thing)
Draw bag

* Each player takes 6 dice and rolls them into their Empire.
* Each player takes 1 Start planet at random. Return unused Start planets to the box.
* Shuffle all planet tiles in the draw bag
* Determine a Start player via any method you choose.

Game Turn
Players take turns choosing roles in order to Survey new planets, Flip them, Produce and Trade resource, and do Research. On a player's turn, that player does the following:

1. Choose a Role. 
There are 6 roles to choose from (Survey, Warfare, Colonize, Produce, Trade, Research). The player can freely choose any role.

2. Boost the Role.
The player may use any number of dice in their Empire to Boost the chosen role. Roles may also be boosted with role icons on planets or techs controlled by the player. The active player

3. Resolve the Role.
The effect of the role is carried out. See below for the effects of each role. Each opponent in turn order may choose to Follow or Dissent. All dice used are re-rolled.
* Follow: An opponent choosing to Follow a role may use any number of dice in their own Empire with icons matching the chosen role (as well as icons on planets or techs controlled by that player), to carry out the effect of the role for themselves. All dice used are re-rolled.
* Dissent: An opponent choosing to Dissent a role may re-roll any number of dice in their Empire that all share the same symbol. This need not be the symbol of the chosen role!

Remember, whenever a die is used, it is then re-rolled!

Game End
Play continues until... [I'm not sure yet!] When the game is over, Influence is counted 2 Influence for each face up planet (+1 Influence bonus as indicated on some planets), 1 Influence for each resource traded during the game, 2 Influence for each Level 2 Technology, and 5vp for each Level 3 Technology. The player with the most Influence is the winner!

Remember, when resolving the chosen role, the active player may count 1 additional role symbol.
Survey (I have 2 thoughts on this, not sure which is better)
Option 1: Draw 1 Planet tile from the draw bag for each Survey icon. Keep one of them face down in your Empire, an return the rest to the draw bag.
Option 2: There could be a display of face down planet tiles that cost 2/3/4/5/6 Survey symbols to take, with the rest of the planet tiles in a face down draw stack. Maybe you can even look freely at the planets in the display. Choose any of those planets you can afford, then slide the rest of the planets down and draw a planet from the stack to fill the missing slot. This is more fiddly, but there are some things I like about it - including the minimum cost of 2 Survey, and the incentive to aim for a specific planet rather than just take "whatever's on top of the deck" so to speak. Option 1 also removes that option, as in this version you cannot see the back of the top Planet card.

Collect 1 Fighter for each Warfare icon. Leader: Attack a planet instead.
When you Attack a planet, discard a number of Fighters equal to the Warfare cost and Flip the planet.

Settle 1 planet. You must have as many Colonize icons as the Colonize cost of the planet.

Produce 1 resource for each Produce icon. When producing a resource, place a Resource token on a planet in your Empire. Each planet can hold 1 resource token. Produced resource tokens with no planet to place them on are returned to the supply.

Trade 1 resource for each Trade icon for 1 point each. When trading a resource, take a Resource token from a planet in your Empire and place it into a Score Pile.

Pay the appropriate cost and satisfy the platen prerequisite to advance your Technology marker on one of the Technology tracks on the Tech Reference Board. There are 4 tracks on the Tech board: Advanced, Fertile, metallic, and Diverse. The first 2 spaces in each track cost 3 Research icons, and require 1 planet of the appropriate type. The 3rd (and maybe 4th?) spaces cost 5 Research icons, require 2 planets of the appropriate type, and are worth 2 Influence. The 4th (or 5th?) space costs 7 Research icons, requires 3 planets of the appropriate type, and is worth 5 Influence. The Diverse stack is a little bit different, it requires 1 planet of each type.

Each Technology confers a bonus of some kind. Potential bonuses can be:
* +1 Die
* +1 Role Symbol
* Survey die faces = Warfare die faces (and Research = Trade, and Colonize = Produce)
* +1 Influence per Trade Role
* +1 Influence per Produce Role
* -1 to all Warfare costs
* Research icons can be used to Boost or Follow any role.
* When dissenting, re-roll 2 different role symbols
* When Surveying, keep 1 additional planet


Peter Schott said...

I'll admit to being intrigued by the idea of Eminent Domain in a dice format. I don't think my wife would appreciate it as much, but there's just something about rolling a fistful of dice. :)

Steven O'Shea said...

I am intrigued as well. Of the two options for the Survey Role, I definitely like #2 better, even if it is a bit more fiddly.

Josh 'Dagar' said...

Hey Seth,

I know this blog post is a bit dated, but scanning through the last three months' posts I did not find anything on EmDice, so I thought why not post here:

I like the idea as such of a EmDo dice game, because dice versions aof older games are quite popular nowadays, and rightfully so. Dice allow you to manipulate what you can do in ways not really feasible on a game driven by hands of cards.
I would argue though that following a role and then rerolling your used dice could lead to quite big advantages for lucky players. Games in general and EmDo specifically are often designed the way that you get stronger at what you can do throughout the game. If you intend to keep the game at most as long as the original EmDo (and dice version usually play faster than their card counterparts), this might be a huge problem for balancing. In my opinion one of the most appealing aspects of EmDo is when you COULD follow a role, but you might want to draw the extra card instead and use that same role on your turn for the bonus instead. Likewise, I would find it more coherent with the original as well as better balanced (just from thinking about it, of course) if you used dice to follow a certain role or would be able to reroll one die (either roll a used one to 'refresh' it or reroll an unused one that does not fit). This way you would have similar drawbacks from following a role as in the base game of EmDo (less useable dice vs less cards in your hand).
You could back these mechanics up by techs that let you reroll more dice in specific (e.g. only if the enemy plays warfare) situations or reroll dice just used for following immediately, either as 'faction specific' (similar to Escalation) or as permanent technologies. Similarly, you could have some 'perks' in there that punish others for following your role (or for not following), e.g. they MUST reroll one of their unused dice if they followed your survey. One-time use bonus symbols are another element that immediately springs to my mind, but this entry is getting too long already.

If you care for some more discussion with me about this, feel free to contact me via BGG.


huge EmDo fan Josh 'Dagar'

Seth Jaffee said...

Hi Josh, thanks for he comment. I love when new people comment on my blog - it means someone read it :)

I'm no entirely sure what you're saying about EmDice - I'm guessing you haven't seen the more final rules...

It's tough to remember all the iterations of a game design! But I do recall that at one time (and according to this post we're commenting on), players immediately re-rolled dice used to follow.

I since then realized that was too good (see this post: and changed it so that once used, you don't get to re-use a die until the end of your turn. However, when you Dissent, you get to re-roll one of those used dice back into your supply.

I think that's just what you're suggesting here.

You can see the current/latest rules for EmDice here:

Looking at that it looks like the standard Dissent is actually just re-rolling active dice of a single icon, but there are some "Re-roll +1" abilities which allow you to re-roll extra dice, and those extra dice can be from your Used pile. So it's more like the card game.

One of my friends (David Short) was pretty adamant that this dice game version of EmDo was lacking one of the best bits - the deck learning. He suggested adding some kind of track for each role, which you advance each time you choose that role, and which gives you bonuses as you go up... so like for every 3 spaces up the Warfare track, you get an extra Warfare symbol to use.

I haven't implemented that, because I felt like it was getting too clunky. I;'m not trying to exactly model the card game here (I could do that better with cards) - I just want the feel of EmDo in a dice game.

Seth Jaffee said...

... That is to say your "deck learning" is on a much smaller scale, and it comes from your dice building up particular symbols as you don't use them.