Monday, June 08, 2015

EmDo resources - differentiating them... is that a thing?

Ever since Eminent Domain came out, there have been people who were disappointed that the 4 resource types in the game are not more different from each other. While there are a few techs that reward you for either trading a variety of different resources or for specializing in one resource type, other than that Food, Water, Silicon, and Iron are equivalent.

This has never bothered me in the least - the resource type is merely a reflection of the type of planet that produced it. I could have used a generic "resource" token, but I opted for the more flavorful resource names and colors. I was a little surprised when people complained about that, citing it as one of the reasons the game was "obviously not finished" (the differently sized ship tokens being another such reason), though I guess I shouldn't have been.

When working on the first expansion to Eminent Domain, I wanted to address the complaints people had. As you can see in Escalation the different ship sizes have meaning, putting the complaint that "they're different sizes but all just 1 Fighter" to rest. I explored the possibility of using resource costs to differentiate the resources, but I realized that (a) tech cards already have planet requirements (which is the same as specific resource requirements), and (b) it was PHENOMENALLY painful to try and recall which cards cost which combinations of resources.

So I've been of the opinion that differentiating the resources is not a thing that matters at all, and I haven't tried to do it - with the caveat that in the future Oblivion expansion (the political agenda one), there could be agendas that reward trading a particular resource (again, that just rewards trading if you have a certain planet type in play).

Today I had an idea that may go along with those types of agendas, and focus on there being some meaning behind which resources you have...

In Escalation we have a Fleet tile, and in Exotica we have a Mining tile. Perhaps in Oblivion we can have a Market tile which allows you to trade one resource for another. That way, no matter which actual planets you have in play, you might be able to make use of those types of agendas. It could look something like this:

Action: Exchange 1 resource for another (store it in the same slot the traded resource came from)
Research: Spend 3R to upgrade to Improved Market

Improved Market:
Action: Exchange 1 resource for another (store it in the same slot the traded resource came from)
Action: Exchange 2 resources for up to 3 other resources
+1vp whenever you Trade [with a qualifier - like maybe when you trade 3 different resources, or when you trade 3 of the same resource perhaps. Or maybe just whenever you lead Trade?]

The thrust of Oblivion is supposed to be agendas and clout. Agendas are global effects that players can bring into and out of play via a new Politics role. Clout is like role symbols you can save up to be used later. I plan to have just a few techs in the set, dealing with the Agenda display and with clout. But I think there could be room for a Market tile in the expansion as well, to allow players a way to take advantage of some of the Agendas that have to do with trading particular resources, or potentially to use in conjunction with those few existing techs that reward diversity or specialization. Improved Market might be nice just as a way to produce resources as an action!

I like the sound of this, so I wanted to jot it down so I don't forget. If not a Market tile, I'd probably want some kind of Lobbyist tile or something that dealt with Clout or Agendas in some way. I hadn't really thought about that yet.


AlexC said...

Sounds pretty good. Giving each player a built-in way to make the resource types matter is a good way to deal with the complaint/confusion of "why ship with all these different colour bits when the difference is so rarely relevant".

One note: I'd suggest you use a different word than "Trade" for the action of turning one resource into a different one. Perhaps "exchange" or "convert". "Trade" is a term which has a strongly-established meaning in EmDo, and even your proposed function of Improved Market uses the word "trade" in two different senses.

One option to consider might be making one tile combine the function of the Market and Lobbyist. It's a little hard to find a flavour that makes sense for something that both manipulates resources and interacts with political agendas and influence, but it might be doable. It's up to you whether you'd consider it a good thing if the players using the tile for Lobbying purposes find themselves able to occasionally do some bonus trading, and the players using it as a Market find themselves sometimes able to improve their Clout.

Seth Jaffee said...

Alex - you're absolutely correct. In casual conversation I'm often not precise enough with terms. Fortunately before EmDo went to print I changed the tech titles from "Advanced Survey" etc to "Improved Survey" (since "Advanced" already had a meaning).

Here I think the word would be "Exchange."

I think the market/lobbyist could warrant further thought. Potentially the initial tile could offer some basic exchange (1 for 1) action, as well as a similar weak Clout activity (Perhaps "Draw a clout token and then discard a clout token"), then upon upgrading maybe there are 2 options, so you can upgrade to Improved Market (which helps you trade) or Improved Lobby (which helps you with Clout) - with the original basic action still available of course.

Just thoughts off the top of my head here.

Seth Jaffee said...

An example of how this Market Tile could be useful...

Imagine an Agenda that gives everyone "Action: Discard 1 Food and 1 Iron to collect 3 Influence."


"Silicon may be discarded to boost or follow any Role."

These types of Agendas would reward players for having particular resources in play, which means having particular planets in play. With a Market card, a player without the right planets could take advantage of the Agenda (though at a higher cost - gotta spend actions exchanging resources).

Seth Jaffee said...

... So, what would a Lobby/Improved Lobby tile do?
"Whenever you draw Clout, draw 1 additional token and then discard one."?

"Action: Draw 1 Clout token."?

"Discard any 2 Clout tokens to gain any one role symbol."?

Just thinking out loud.

The Physicist said...

It always bugged me that the resources were functionally identical in EmDo. My first instinct was to question why to even bother having different types if that was going to be the case. On the other hand, I certainly can relate to not wanting to put people in bad situations by making things too type dependent; the annoying situation in Race for the Galaxy where your production and consumption worlds don't match comes to mind (ironically, they tend to counter by having lots of any resource consumers). I'm glad to see that you are heading for a middle ground, where the differences matter but don't create frustration.

Seth Jaffee said...

@The Physicist - It's like I've always said.. I COULD have just called them generic "resources" - made them all the same, and not worry about what they were called or what color they were. I went for the more thematic (I thought) version, where each planet type had it's own resource type.

I'm 100% certain if I'd gone that route, the same number of people would have complained about how it bugged them the different planets all made the same type of resource.

It just goes to show, you can't please all of the people all of the time. :)

I am happy with the potential use of Agendas to make people want a particular resource type - especially with a Market tile allowing players to exchange a resource they have for one they don't.

I'm unsure though that I want people to be storing resources in the 'wrong colored' slots though, that might lead to confusion. So I'm thinking about providing a couple of slots on the Market tile to put the resources you've exchanged for onto... but I want that to be distinct from slots you can produce into (I don't want people to simply have new spots to produce into from the get-go)

Any thoughts on how to handle that will be greatly appreciated!

Hmm... maybe the "exchanged for" resources need not take up a slot, you just put them "in your empire" like Fighters... so by exchanging you're also freeing up a slot to produce again. That works in a way - like "Trading" but for other resources instead of for Influence (which means "Trade" isn't the wrong word after all, AlexC!)

the Trade action tells you to trade resources for influence, you discard the resource from the resource slot and take an Influence token into your supply. If I said "Trade a resource for another resource" - by that same logic you'd discard a resource from a resource slot, and then take the other resource into your supply.

And that kinda works thematically, as you'd be trading away the production from that planet and receiving something that isn't production on that planet.