Friday, October 2, 2009

Stubborn Designer

This post will at least be partly musing about my game Equilibrium.  Tasty Minstrel Games are considering publishing it, but want some more interaction.  I already discussed forms of interaction in an earlier post, so I'm not going to re-hash that.  Instead, I'm going to try and reason out some more "communal score cards" since Seth over at TMG has had some luck playing with them.

What's the theory?

A score card that *you* play to the center of the table, but everyone could score.

What are some working examples?

You know those score tiles added in the first Race for the Galaxy expansion.  That's pretty much exactly what they are thinking.  Only the players get to choose them.

How are the RftG ones designed?

Some work on the "Most" principle.  Others work on the "First" principle.  The inverses would of course work (Least and Last).

What parts of Equilibrium could have "Most" / "Least"?

Well, the quantity of each color left.  This one was obvious and these score cards existed from the very beginning.  They work well.

Total quantity of cards left in the deck.  It'd have to be a reward for "Most" since a reward for "Least" would encourage someone to play until their deck was gone.

# Of Permanents? - Not really since there's only 3 permanents in the game.

# Of Fulfilled Personal Score Cards? - Don't want to award "most" since that would be a "win more" situation.  Could reward least, but that would maybe encourage someone to play out their deck...  Still, it could be worth it.

What Parts of Equilibrium Could have First / Last Goals?

Well, I went with the really simple "First to play a pair of these" cards so far.  They seemed to work well.
You could do something simple like "First to play one" cards too and just give a paltry 2-3 VP for them.

You could do "First" or "Last" to quit.  That would add a little more tension to who goes out when.

You could do "First after..." cards.  Such as "First to play a Public Score card after this..." sort of thing.  But resolving ties would be a biyotch.  Maybe "First person to be the only player to play..." would work.  That could be interesting.


So, after those musings, what types of cards could make the cut?

3+3 for Most Red/Blue/Yellow
3+3 if Most Cards
3+3 if Least Personal

3 VP for First
12 VP for First Pair
4 VP for Next Permanent
4 VP for Next Public Score Card
3+3 VP if Quit First

This design theory can be tough :P


  1. Here are a couple of my general thoughts so far on Communal Score Cards:

    - It makes you pay attention to other players and what they do - otherwise you can completely ignore them, play whatever you want to play, and then see if you win. I think this is a step in the right direction.

    - Not all scoring should be like that (or at least not all "score X for Y red cards). I never really thought it should, but it was illustrated by a playtester who played like 2 cards and then quit, knowing he'd score for every single one of the score cards we put down. Sure, he had a lot of cards in his deck, but he was still able to smash us silly. That's not only boring, but surely not the intent of the design!

    What I initially thought was that lower scoring, less efficient scoring cards would be 'personal' (only you would score for it), while larger scoring, more efficient scoring cards would be communal - so playing one opens up the option for other players to score it too. I thought maybe players could either play some cards then see that they have a lot of Yellow left, so score a big scoring Yellow card or something. Or else they could see someone else play such a card, then try to save their Yellow to score it.

    Obviously the "most" cards work well as communal score cards.

    - Regarding your ideas for Firsts and First pairs, and etc... I think it might be problematic if you have to somehow track who was the first to play such and such - suppose 5 of those cards hit play in the game, who was first to play each? Is it easy enough to remember? What if 2 players remember it differently? Also, since play is simultaneous, what happens if 2 people score a 'first' at the same time (I presume they'd both get it).

    - It might be even more true with these kinds of scoring cards (especially "quit first" cards) that there needs to be an unambiguous mechanism for quitting.

    I haven't thought about this game too much lately, as I've had other things to work on, but I think these ideas are interesting and may well add the needed interaction to the game. Probably better than the drafting idea Mike had at first!

    Keep up the good work!

  2. Thanks for the feedback Seth.

    I'll just hit on implementation of what I suggested:

    3 VP if 1st:

    Can't be played if any others have been played. And yes, all those who play it at the same time can score it.

    12 VP if 1st Pair:

    Again, can't be played if Pair already exists.

    Next Permanent:

    Could be "Claim if ONLY you play a permanent this round. Available the turn after it has been played." So if two players play a permanent it will just wash.

    That one would be lotsa fun since permanents are generally worth less as the game goes on anyway. Still need to be careful about giving too many points such that you can win on an empty deck. I'll have to crunch that.

    Gak. Back to work for me.


Behave. Your mamma could read this.