Sunday, November 17, 2013

MicroCiv (my attempt at a microgame)

I mentioned in my last post that Michael has gotten very interested in microgames. The other day I thought I would see if I could make an interesting game with minimal components, so after giving it some thought I have put together a prototype on Friday, solo tested it that night, and got a chance to try it out with a couple people at the Ides of Gaming game day Saturday. This is just a first draft, and I can already see several things I'd like to update, but for a first draft the game certainly worked, and for the most part I think it worked pretty well. Here's the gist of it:

A tiny, epic game for 2 players

EDIT: Files have been deleted - game has been updated and set in the Eminent Domain universe and is now called Eminent Domain: Microcosm.

16 MicroCiv cards
10 Territory tokens
5 Technology tokens

* Shuffle the 16 MicroCiv cards and deal 3 face up into the supply.
* Mix the Territory tokens face down.
* Give 2 Technology tokens to each player and place the 5th token in the center.
* Randomly determine a start player.

Game Play:
Beginning with the start player, take turns adding cards to their hand and playing actions to explore and conquer territories and make discoveries to increase their Population. On your turn, you do the following:

1) Draw a card from the supply, then, if cards remain in the deck, re-fill the supply from the deck.
2a) Play a card from your hand and resolve the action printed on it, then place it into your discard pile. Some actions allow you to reveal additional icons (from your hand, Territories, or Technology) in order to get a better effect.
2b) Return all cards from your discard pile to your hand.

Game End:
When the deck is exhausted, continue play without refilling the supply when cards are drawn. When the last card is drawn from the supply, the active player finishes their turn and the game ends. Players collect all cards from their hands and discard piles and determines their Population (score):
* Each card has a scoring condition at the bottom, indicating its Population value:
** 1 Population per Territory controlled,
** 1 Population per Territory in Spoils,
** 1 Population per Tech advantage (your Tech tokens minus your opponent's Tech tokens)
** 2 Population
* There are 4 cards and 1 Territory in each color. For each color, count 1/3/6/10 Population for 1/2/3/4+ items (cards and Territories) in that color.
* Some Territories indicate that they score additional Population.

The player with the most Population wins!

The Actions:
Reveal Explore icons and take a Territory with that cost. You may look at your Territories, but keep them face down. You may reveal a Territory at any time to gain its benefit.
Reveal Conquer icons. Choose a Territory (owned or not) and reveal it. if your revealed Conquer icons meet or exceed the Defense value, put the Territory into your Spoils. You do not gain the benefits shown.
Note: Territories owned by players benefit from 1 additional Defense!
Take 1 Tech token from the center OR opponent discards 1 Tech token to the center. Reveal 3 Discover icons to repeat this process.
Any time you have more Tech tokens than your opponent, take the Technology Advantage tile. Technology Advantage gives you 1 Conquer icon, 1 Explore icon, and 1 additional Defense for all of your owned Territories.
There are 4 unique Culture actions.
* Swap this card with a card from the supply.
* Pick up and immediately play 1 card from your discard pile.
* It there is a Tech token in the center, take it. Return 1 card from your discard pile to your hand.
* You may play this action before or after drawing a card. Move any number of cards from the supply to the bottom of the deck in any order, then replace them with cards from the deck.


Scurra said...

And there I was, about to reply to your previous post with the comment that if you were looking for something to do, you should try a microgame because the constraints are really interesting. I've been doodling with various ideas myself (indeed, I too have a MicroCiv game!) and it's a good design exercise.

There are certainly some interesting ideas here, and I quite like the pseudo-deck building aspect and the choice between playing and drawing.

Seth Jaffee said...

I played a few games tonight with some friends, and I've updated the rules a little bit. Here is a summary of the changes - the rules above have been edited to reflect them:

* Players start with no cards in hand, rather than 2.
* Territories owned by players have Defense +1

That's it - doesn't sound like much, but it makes a pretty big difference. And I think it's for the better.

It was pointed out to me that in a 2 player game, the color scoring thing is dumb - both players will always score the same amount! Well, that's not entirely true, if you include the Territories that are colored as well. I'm considering changing the cards that score a straight 2 Population to "1 population for each card/Territory of color X" (one for each of the 4 colors) - instead of each color scoring all the time.

Alternatively, I might change that straight 2 Pop score to "1/3/6/10 Pop for 1/2/3/4 "Pop" icons (which would be Culture icons, I suppose). But I'd still like to do something about the color scoring.

Starting with no cards in hand is better for a couple of reasons. For one, it extends the game to 8 turns rather than 6. I'm wondering if the game will work with 3 players... it might take adding a couple of cards, but with 3 players, 6 turns might not be unacceptable. I might give it a try. I'm not sure what 2 cards to add though, maybe more Culture actions?

Seth Jaffee said...

I played MicroCiv several times at BGGcon and got some good feedback, made some good changes...

I've updated the file in the link above to reflect the updated cards and rules. It's a significant change to the Territories, and to some of the cards, and I've added 2 cards.

With 18 cards I am hoping to see if 3p will work. 6 turns per player may be too few, but maybe for 3p there could be a "final round" sort of thing where you don't draw but you get 1 last chance to play, and maybe 7 turns would be enough.

Enjoy, and let me know what you think!

Scurra said...

I have now got your revised file and hope that I will manage to give it a go sooner rather than later.