Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Eminent Domain: Oblivion progress

By way of update:

I have had the opportunity to play about a game and a half of EmDo with the new Oblivion stuff, and so far it's worked pretty well. Here's what I've made so far:

* Clout tokens: I have about 32 tokens with Politics icons on the back and a random role icon on the front. These are drawn randomly when following a Politics role, or as an action using the Market tile:

 * New Planets:
- 1 each of Fertile, Advanced, and Metallic with a Politics icon
- 2 Prestige planets with a replenishing Clout token

* Agenda board which goes "around" the Central Card Display (maybe easiest in the end to just replace the CCD with a new board that incorporates everything):
(I think I want to increase the costs by one, 3/4/5/6/7 rather than 2/3/4/5/6. Also, I'm not sure if I need 5 up at a time.)

* Agenda cards, with global effects which players can bring into and out of play:
- Gain +1vp when you trade at least 1 Food
- Gain +1vp when you trade at least 1 Water
- Gain +1vp when you trade at least 1 Iron
- Gain +1vp when you trade at least 1 Silicon
ACTION: Discard 1 Food and 1 Iron to collect 3vp
ACTION: Discard 1 Water and 1 Silicon to collect 3vp
ACTION: Discard 1 Iron and 1 Silicon to collect 3vp
ACTION: Discard 1 Food and 1 Water to collect 2vp and 1 Clout token
- Each player gets: Hand size +1 for each Permanent tech in their empire
- Each player gets: Hand size -1 for each Permanent tech in their empire (min 3 cards)
- Advanced planets are worth +1vp
- Fertile planets are worth +1vp
- Metallic planets are worth +1vp
- Warfare costs are reduced by 1
- Warfare costs are increased by 1
- Colonize costs are reduced by 1
- Colonize costs are increased by 1
- Research costs are reduced by 1
- Research costs are increased by 1
- Each player draws 1 more card per Survey role
- Each player draws 1 fewer card per Survey role
- When activated, return an Upcoming Agenda to the bottom of the deck. Agendas cost 1 less Politics icon to activate.

Additional ideas for Agendas:
** Whenever a player collects Influence, remove 2 Influence in the supply from the game as well.
** Players may spend Influence to boost or follow any role (return it to the supply)
** Player may trade Clout tokens as if they were resources.
** Each player draws 2 fewer cards per survey role. Each player may keep 1 additional planet per survey role.
** [POL] -> [SURVEY] 
** [POL] -> [WARFARE] 
** [POL] -> [PRODUCE] 
** [POL] -> [TRADE] 
** Discard [POL]: [POL]->[RESEARCH] this turn or ACTION: [POL]->[RESEARCH] this turn
** Discard [POL]: [POL]->[COLONIZE] this turn or ACTION: [POL]->[COLONIZE] this turn

* Market tile with the following abilities:
ACTION: Draw 1 Clout token
ACTION: Trade 1 resource for another (the new resource does not need a resource slot)
Improved Market
* ACTION: Draw 2 Clout tokens then discard 1 Clout token
ACTION: Trade 1 resource for another (the new resource does not need a resource slot)
ACTION: Trade 2 resources for 3 other resources (the new resources do not need resource slots)
* Get +1vp when trading at least 3 different types of resources in one Trade role

Thoughts after playing with these:
* Some of the agendas need to be more potent. For example, instead of reducing research costs by 1, maybe it should reduce by 2... making research VERY hard to do while that Agenda is in play.
* I might have too many trade-centric or resource-centric, agendas. Do I really need the 4 that say "Gain +1vp if you trade any of ~this type of resource?"
* The Market tile could be simplified. Specifically, Improved market doesn't need to generate additional resources - it can just let you trade 1-for-1 twice, and it vacates the resource slots, which is handy.

New ideas: No tech cards, and annexing planets with political influence!
I am toying with the idea of not including any new tech cards in Oblivion... I feel like there are too many techs out there. But I have some effects I want in the game such as RECONing the Agenda deck, messing with Upcoming and Active Agendas, and interacting with Clout tokens. I was going to make just a couple of tech cards - maybe 2 of each type, to keep from bloating the tech stacks any more than necessary. 

But maybe I could do without adding any new techs at all. In Escalation I introduced Bustling planets, planets with Actions in their game text space... they all cost a Destroyer to attack, or 4 colonies to Settle. Perhaps I could put the effects I want in Oblivion onto Bustling planets!

However, I am designing each expansion to be usable with the base game only - I don't want people to be forced to use Escalation (and the Fleet tile) in order to play Oblivion. So I cannot have these new Bustling planets cost a Destroyer to attack. I could just give them "normal" warfare and colonize costs, but that seems boring. Thinking about it, I do have a new resource in Oblivion... maybe I could have these new Bustling planets cost Clout to flip! It'd be like you're annexing planets with your political influence!

So, how to do this? Here are some options that come to mind:
* Put POL icons in both the Colonize and Warfare costs, and explain in the rules that you flip these by doing an "attack" or a "settle," and boosting it with the correct number of POL icons (from Clout tokens, Politics cards, or planets in your empire)
* Replace the Colonize and Warfare costs with a new "Annex" cost (in POL icons), and explain in the rules that the way you flip these planets is by using the Politics role (use all Politics icons played to either: 1. activate an Upcoming agenda, 2. remove an Active agenda, or 3. Annex a planet)
* Like the previous bullet, but have the Annex cost in addition to the regular (higher than average) Warfare and Colonize costs - so they are expensive planets, but you could do better via Politics.
* Have an Annex cost (in Politics icons - either in addition to or instead of Warfare and Colonize costs), and then have the Market tile (change the name to Political Influence tile?) say "ACTION: Annex a planet" (explaining in the rules that that means splaying the required number of POL icons).
* On that note, have such an action, and explain in the rules that ANY planet may be Annexed, where the Annex cost is equal to the Warfare cost + the Colonize cost (in most cases this is 9). Then I wouldn't need to print a separate Annex cost on the planets (though I could still make new planets with an Annex cost that's either instead of or that's less than the normal Annex cost for the planet).
* I'm sure there are other ways to do it as well, but I will stop here.

Please let me know what you think, especially about the new idea for Annexing planets, and putting actions on them instead of making new tech cards!


Josh 'Dagar' said...

Hey again Seth,

glad to hear again from Oblivion! My thoughts:

- why do you have 32 clout tokens? Which symbols are more common on the backs than others? (32 is not divisible by 5 or 6, so the role icons are not equally distributed, it seems)

- if you feel there are too many '+1 vp for a certain resource' type, just put two together, making it +1 vp if you trade 1 food or 1 silicon and so on. Make it so that the pairs are not the same as in 'discrad these two and gain 3 vp'

- I'd say keep the slots of agendas more limited would be a good idea. Maybe one per player, or even -1 of that? That would make reconing the agenda deck more useful as well...

- I have only played the base game (german version, no expansions out here, but will get both from the exotica kickstarter), and played mostly two player games (and many of them, so I know what I am talking about...). With only two players, colonizing is superior to warfaring for multiple reasons (I can elaborate if you wish), and even with more players, if the majority takes warfare, colonizing seems better (had only about 15-20 games with 3 or more though). So I'd say at least in two players without any other expansion get rid of reduced colonize costs.

- I'd also not reduce research costs with only the base game, for getting 5 or 7 symbols (the region where it gets really interesting) is easy enough already, and we nerfed adaptability (up to two of your survey icons can be used to boost any role) for it can be an 'I win' button if the game does not end very soon after it is purchased.

- Drawing one more planet on surveying sounds like a very good idea

- More agendas that influence the agenda display would be nice, like the last of the ones you used, I think.

- According idea: * If you lead (alternatively: follow) role x, discard one clout token of your choice (alternatively: random). * If you lead role x, draw one card less in the following discard phase (is it called that way in english?)

- Remove influence from the supply: what do you mean by this? Politics cards? Clout tokens? What happens if the clout tokens are all gone?

- Idea: agendas show the political interactions between factions. It would be cool if a player could achieve the 'president' or 'chancellor' title with according benefits in the agenda part of the game. Of course, the title could also be taken by some other player during the game.

About the market tile:

- I'd not bring politics stuff in there, as it is the market tile.

- Maybe have some mechanics that consider all the market tiles as one market, e.g. gain +1 vp if you trade a resource not on any players market tile (assuming you store the resources gained by the market action on there)

- I'd not further strengthen trading different resources. In the base game, with the technology that gives you extra vp for every different resource produced as well as the one for traded, there are two strong cards for having different resources vs one promoting having much of the same resource(Yes, abundance might help a bit with the same resource, but for us, its back side is always chosen since it is much more versatile). Why not +1 vp when trading 3 of the same resource instead? Again, I have no experience with the other two expansions, but I'd figure that with the new crystal resource from exotica, this rift might even get more severe.

Part 2 incoming...

Josh 'Dagar' said...

Part 2, still about the market tile:

- In general, I think the market tile makes the improved production techs much more desirable, as you cannot produce without according cards, but you can trade, and the two roles are linked. Maybe some more 'production only' stuff would be nice to balance the two out, maybe as agendas (produce one resource if you traded away at least 3) or having more produce clout than trade clout tokens?

- Freeing resource slots indeed is already a big bonus, maybe you are right about improved market. You could bring some more player interaction / dependency in there instead (promote trading stuff that is rare or common in all the empires)

Annexing planets with influence:

- Sounds cool and might bring more diversity to the 'colonize or warfare' game, but then you'd need to bring a lot of annexable planets into the game.

- If you make it additional to col/war, make the planets worth more, like having two a vp more than normal, or a resource slot (in the base game, planet benefits were carefully balanced (more symbols, resource slots or cards meant less vp, so players transit from non-vp benefits to maximum vp planets over the course of one game)

- What I'd like to see as thematic concept is convincing the council of the necessity to colonize or attack certain planets. Mechanically, you'd have to resolve the 'annexing' (politics) part some time before col/waring this planet. Accordingly, you could opt to neglect that extra step and lose the vp of the planet (as your extensive warmongering / expansionism is not received well in the political world). There could be interesting interactions with the agenda part as well...

- actions on planets sound cool, but might lead to overpowered combos pretty fast. Maybe instead make them improve other actions slightly (actions, not roles...)

- No new tech cards: Is okay, but maybe you could also alter tech cards already in the game and expansions to more fit to the elements Oblivion brings in (politics symbol on bureaucracy/ its other side, something using the market actions twice, ...)

Maybe there is something else I wanted to comment on, but that's all for now (got to return to studies...)

Hope some of these ramblings are useful!

Josh 'Dagar'

Seth Jaffee said...

Thanks for the comments Josh! I'll respond to a few of them here:

32 Clout tokens:
Frankly it's because I couldn't fit more on the page. I don't expect them to run out (not sure what to do if that happens - I'd rather assume the supply is "infinite") - and I expected less demand for Produce and Trade, so I left a few of those off.

Number of slots:
My concern of reducing Upcoming slots is that there might not be something desirable for players - I want there to always be something that at least some players would be interested in.

A bigger concern is about reducing the number of Active agendas - if there are too few slots, then the Agendas can be removed too easily by just Activating more cheap ones. I want the effects of an agenda to be in play for a significant time (unless someone goes out of their way to remove it).

Reduced colonize and Research costs:
I agree, those are the 2 most powerful symbols, and it might be best to not reduce those costs (and in fact, I'm not sure I did include those. I was making that list from memory, and it's not 100% accurate). In any case, if there ARE agendas that reduce Colonize or Research costs, maybe I should remove them!

Removing influence from the supply:
This effect may not be very interesting. The idea is that it could rush the game end trigger. but in the end it's not necessarily helpful, and therefore not desirable and probably doesn't need to exist.

Market tile:
I just arbitrarily chose the term "Market tile" when I thought it could let you trade resources for other resources. I could call it a "Lobby" tile, or a "Political Influence" tile.

I think I do want the effect to let you exchange resources, as well as draw Clout. After that I am flexible as to the effect.

Alternatively I could make *2* reference tiles (Market tile and Politics tile), each with its own use, and its own "Improved" version... but that seems like a lot of work rather than combining them into 1 tile. One idea I had was to make players pick which side to improve (start with exchanging goods 1-for-1 and drawing 1 Clout, then upgrade to either better trade powers OR better politics powers). That might be weird graphic-design wise though.

Different resources vs the same resources:
Remember that resources are just a reflection of the planet they come from. So if you can produce 3 of the same resource, that means you have three of the same planet type in play, and therefore qualify to get any tech of that type from the whole stack. On the other hand, if you can produce 3 DIFFERENT planet types, then you don't necessarily have access to ANY level 2 techs. In the expansions there's some Diverse technology that aids this situation, but I don't think it would be bad to reward it in this way as well. I certainly don't want to reward multiples of the same resource too much!

Annexing planets:
This is a new idea. I could do like I did with Hostile and Bustling planets in Escalation - there are 9 planets which require a Destroyer to attack (rather than fighters), and 6 which require a Battlecruiser. I could add like 12 planets that require Politics. every player has access to Politics icons, even if they have to spend actions drawing Clout tokens to get them.

But then there's the other idea, where planets have regular costs (so they can all be attacked or settled), but you can Annex ANY planet (even base game planets) by adding up the warfare and colonize costs and spending that much Politics icons. That might cause a problem with Civilized, Hostile, and Bustling planets from Escalation though.

Lots to think about! Thanks again for the comments. :)

Anonymous said...

+1 to the idea of using 'clout' as an additional mechanism to acquire planets; I'd suggest both planets you can't conquer (even with an Escalation battle cruiser) but can 'negotiate' into your sphere of influence, and those where clout helps but isn't enough on it's own.

Which immediately let me to think of spending actual influence to acquire other planets, in the 'it takes money to make money' vein. Maybe influence+clout greater than some limit gets you 'control'

I'm not sure how that would interact with not wanting to go produce/trade, and I don't know if the 'spent' influence should go back into the pool or out of the game, but that's your job, isn't it? I'm more of an idea guy

And yes, I know enough authors to know ideas are cheap. Making them work on the other hand...

caitano decadiz said...

... And, any combat system or war expansión?

Seth Jaffee said...

@caitano - I'm not sure what you're referring to with the combat system or war.

The game will still have warfare, but that's to take over planets. There's not a lot of direct interaction in Eminent Domain unless you get Escalation, then there's a little bit.

The politics stuff adds a little bit of political player interaction, and I'll probably include a promo pack for use with Escalation (like Agendas that are more directly interactive perhaps? Or that relate to Reparations - increasing them or decreasing them for example).