Friday, January 09, 2015

Killing your darlings... Crusaders end game scoring, revisited (also potential expansion content)

A couple of days ago I posted an idea I had to simplify the end game scoring for Crusaders: Thy Will Be Done.

Basically, I had this convoluted end game scoring phase, that was based on a relatively simple concept, but was very time consuming, confusing,and cumbersome. It was the Wave of Destruction scoring, which I liked thematically (and even mechanically) - but in the interest of player understanding and ease of play I wanted to simplify it or replace it with something else.

First i tried simplifying, removing a range and thereby reducing the amount of work, but only by a tiny bit. Then I tried replacing it with something else - a majority bonus for Land Value of each type of building. That did simplify it, a bit. It was tough because I didn't re-print my prototype map, so players couldn't simply add up their own Land Value, but I was able to try it a few times with me adding things up...

I GUESS it was simpler overall, but it wasn't great. It was still fiddly and cumbersome, and it was no longer as strong thematically. I just wanted something to hang my hat on when a player has to decide which building they want to build, and where they want to build it. In the end though, maybe that's not really as big a concern as it used to be. Since the game's (and this mechanic's) inception, I have added the end game bonuses for the level IV buildings - maybe that will suffice as end game bonus for buildings.

With the game as it currently stands, I think maybe the buildings do a good enough job of supporting different strategies, so maybe it doesn't matter which ones are built where, specifically - players will have buildings they want to build for their benefit, or to build toward that level IV end game bonus.

So maybe the correct decision is to eliminate the endgame scoring for buildings altogether - just lop off the Wave of Destruction wholesale. THAT would certainly simplify it! I tried it in a game tonight, and compared it to both the original Wave of destruction scoring, as well as the newer Land Value scoring, and it turns out the finish order was exactly the same in all 3 cases. Both the Wave and Land Value cases ended up with a much larger spread between 1st and 3rd, while not counting any bonuses resulted in a much closer game (14 points vs about 60).

I think I like just leaving off the end game scoring. As a result I may have to revisit a few other things...

* The majority bonus for Slavs and Prussians are potentially too high at 9 (4 for 2nd in a 4p game). but maybe not.
* Should there be a majority bonus for Saracens now that Buildings don't confer endgame bonus? I don't think it's really necessary - the end game bonus for the other 2 is to differentiate them from each other.
* Maybe I should add a few points, or points for specific buildings, built at the edges of the board, to maintain a desire to fight your way out there. Either that or maybe there should be fewer spaces on the board, so you MUST fight in order to clear spaces to build
* Without the end game bonus calculation, maybe I should try harder to figure out a different game end trigger, then instead of awarding Influence as each building is built and each Crusade is fought, I can just add all that up at the end. Most 3p games had been going about 27 rounds, with a few more like 23. Maybe a turn timer that just lasts 25 rounds is in order (like each round is a Month and the turn track is a calendar). I'd prefer if the game end were a little bit variable and relied on player action, but maybe a strict 25 rounds would work.

In other news, I was thinking about what could possibly be in an expansion for this game (down the road, if appropriate). The obvious answer was more Factions, though I've just about run out of things to try for that.

I also thought of a few new Building type that players could have...
* Monastery I: No effect
* Monastery II: +1 Action Cube (add an action cube to your Rondel (in the active Build bin))
* Monastery III: +1 Action Cube (add an action cube to your Rondel (in the active Build bin))
* Monastery IV: +1vp for each Action Bin with 2+ cubes at game end.
This would require 4 building tiles and 2 cubes for each player.

* Keep I: Upgrade one Action bin
* Keep II: Upgrade one Action bin
* Keep III: Upgrade one Action bin
* Keep IV: +1vp for each upgraded Action Bin at game end
This would require 4 building tiles for each player.

* Marketplace I: Remove any level I building from your player board
* Marketplace I: Remove any level I - II building from your player board
* Marketplace I: Remove any level I - III building from your player board
* Marketplace I: Remove any level I - IV building from your player board
This would require 4 building tiles for each player. It would function as sort of like a wild. The Marketplace tiles would be worth 0vp, but you would get the points and the ability of the tile you remove. I think you could remove a building tile even if you haven't built the lower level buildings of that type... for example, say you build your first 2 Marketplaces and remove a Bank and a Farm, and you've built no Castles. When building your third Maketplace, you could remove your level 3 Castle, gaining +1 Knight and +1 Crusade.

I thought it might be interesting if you could only build these buildings on top of existing Churches/Castles/Banks belonging to an opponent (it would be too easy if you could build a Keep on top of your own Castle). That way, when building a Church, Castle, or Bank you open up a spot for an opponent to build a Monastery, Keep, or Marketplace.

I could use 1 more idea for a building to go on top of opponents' Farms (or whatever). So far all I've got is maybe this one:
* Name? I: You may leave unused cubes in their original Action bin
* Name? II:  You may distribute counterclockwise
* Name? III: When distributing, you may skip an Action bin 1x/tun
* Name? IV: When distributing, you may drop 2 cubes into the same Action bin 1x/tun  
This would require 4 building tiles for each player. I'm not sure if this is so good, but it's the only effect I could think of offhand. Perhaps level IV should have some scoring thing instead (2 points per Knight? 2 points + 1 per Knight?)

I also started to think about whether the game could support a 5th player... I think the board might need to be bigger, but maybe I ought to try it just to see.

No comments: