Archive for the ‘Rules’ Category
And another one gone, and another one gone… ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST!! Player elimination, while not for every game, adds a level of tension and danger when it can be implemented. Often, you are eliminated when you run out of resources (Monopoly) or out of units (Risk). That may be great most of the time, but surely we can eliminate them as possibilities while looking at these options…
-Poison. A player with the most of a given resource ‘Bad To Have’ at the end of the game is eliminated before final scoring. This is a fun one that is used to good effect by Cleopatra and the Society of Architects. Players are trying to help build a temple. Some goods are less expensive, but are considered ‘corrupt’; using them forces you to take corruption tokens. At the end, most corrupt player is fed to the Crocodile God. Like in Cleopatra, it is best if the ‘Poison’ resource is kept hidden to add to the level of uncertainty at the end of the game. You could even take it further by having each corruption counter have a different value…
-Only Faster Than You. At set intervals, the player with least of ‘X’ is eliminated. More for shorter games (or rounds with players returning to play next round), this form of elimination encourages frenetic play of attempting to attain what is needed to not be eliminated. Musical chairs is a good example of this. Players scramble to find a seat at given intervals with players unable to being eliminated. Take a survival style game where you are periodically being chased by a bear. At the end of each chase, the player in last place gets eaten. Rounds would consist of frantic gathering of food for energy (to help you run faster) and setting up traps for your opponents (to trip them up). Combine with random round length and you have a good recipe for nervous breakdown… that is what we want for our players, right?
-Tall Nail Gets Hammered. The first player to accomplish ‘X’ is eliminated. Similar to Poison above, the elimination actually happens during play instead. Take a court intrigue game where players are positioning themselves to inherit the throne once he is assassinated. In order to position oneself, a player must gain favor (or be given favor by other players) of various chancellors and such. If one player ends up with favor from most or all of the chancellors, the king gets suspicious and has the player executed for his treachery. Ooh! What if instead, it was EACH player that has X occur? For the example above, that would be even better. You could frame ALL of your rivals instead of just one… Struggle of Empires also has this as an endgame elimination possibility. If your country ends up with too much unrest, the people revolt and dethrone you (and this could happen to multiple players…).
Well, I’ve eliminated the other options already, so it’s time to eliminate this article.
Keep on designing, yo!
Up next, we have this lovely article about auctions. It is guaranteed to have at least THREE different ideas on how to do auctions. If you want more, check out this other article that hit the auction block a year ago… Now, do I hear 10?
-Multiple currencies. There are multiple types of money and each one trumps the others in certain instances. Revolution! by Steve Jackson uses this mechanic to great effect; money is the lowest, blackmail trumps money and force trumps everything. Another way to do it is to have each currency vary in its strength. Say we have a Thief-style game where you are stealing different kinds of jewels. In order to evade getting caught, you need to bribe guards that favor different types of jewels, with the player bidding the favorite of the guard being the only one not to get caught.
-Closed Economy. There is only X money in the game which exchanges between players. Ra and is a good example of this kind of auction system. In Ra, whatever number ends up being the winning bid is part of what is up for auction next round with the winning player taking the number that was part of the current auction. You could expand this to include the things that you are purchasing, as well. Take a bazaar style game. Each turn, animals, gems, food and so forth are put up for auction. Not only can you bid money, but previous acquisitions (at a predetermined dollar amount) to gain what is put up for auction. Whoever wins puts everything auctioned into the center to add to the next auction.
-Action Point bid. For a twist to action point games, auction off the actions for the round for action points. Say we have a gold rush game. Actions would be revealed (pan/sluice for gold, explore for new stakes, etc.) that would then be bid on with the action points each player has for the round. More action points spent thematically means that player took more effort than everyone to profit from the action. Once all actions have been claimed, the round ends. Any action points that are left over at the end of a round would be lost since action points (usually) refresh each round.
50,000?! Going once… going twice… Sold! This Mechanic of the Day is finished.
Keep on designing, yo!
I motion that this Mechanic of the Day be about voting. Voting encourages player interaction in hopes of each player convincing the other players to vote their way. While not for every game (partly due to voting needing at least 4 players usually), it can add a kick to your game if used properly… and shouting matches.
-Victory Point Distribution. Players vote how victory points are distributed. Mostly for party games (Nanofictionary), this would be an interesting way to shake up scoring. With the caveat of not being able
to vote for yourself, it adds another level to cooper-tition. In a senate game, players could be trying to pass specific laws and legislation for themselves while working with everyone else. At the end of the round, the points available are based on what passed the floor; One player gets 5 points, one player gets 3 points, etc. as listed on each law.
-Rule Change. Players vote on whether a change to the core rules of the game is implemented. A staple of civ games, this allows the players to alter how the game is played by democratic choice. However, you may end up with a playerset that refuses to change the rules. To mitigate that, have an effect if it passes OR fails (TI3). In a kids’ camp game where the players are camp councellers, the rules changes could open up new parts of the board (new hiking trails) or make new actions become available (new kayaks for kayaking).
-Special Ability Assignment. Players vote for who should get a special action or ability. This one is especially good for causing cognitive suffering. Super-shiny Ability is drawn that everyone wants but only one player gets. How do you decide who gets it(aside from yourself)? In a Swiss Family Robinson-style game, Abilities could include
rationing more food for yourself (The Food Rationer), access to additional supplies (The Builder) and so on.
The motion has carried and has passed. I declare this Mechanic of the Day complete. Ajourned.
Keep on designing, yo!
It’s time for another Mechanic of the Day… Today, we shall delve into a few ways to utilize role selection. Role selection is where each player chooses a ‘role’ for the current round to either take a specific action, get some sort of bonus, or both. Lets look at some of the choices, hm?
-Single Action Role Selection. Players choose a role that has a single, specific action. In a game where you have only one action per turn and it is determined by the role you choose, it allows players to completely customize their strategy to their playstyle; provided there are enough roles available. Say you have a sandbox game where you can
build sandcastles, moats, etc. for points. Roles could include actions for gathering sand, digging trenches for a moat, building, and so forth.
-Special Action Role Selection. Players choose a role that grants a special action in addition to standard actions available to every player. Puerto Rico uses this form of role selection. It allows for the same kind of customization as Single Action Role Selection, only on a smaller scale, as everyone gets the basic action tied to the role. In a restaurant game, Roles such as Head Chef could allow you to spice up a meal for extra points in addition to your other actions, while the Maitre De action could allow you to rearrange customers.
-Reverse Role Selection. Players choose what action they CANNOT take for the round, or a penalty they must play with for the round. For an interesting twist of cognitive suffering (which we all want), have the players try and choose what they won’t be allowed to do for the round. Take a TV Programming game. If you take the writer role, you can’t
rearrange time slots; while the director role cannot draw new shows for the round.
There’s a few for ya to choose from…
Keep on designing, yo!
A day of rememberance. Today’s mechanic is memory and how it can help make your games a bit more interesting. There are those who argue having something that is hidden once claimed by a player only favors those with superior memories. There are others who say it encourages players to pay attention on other players’ turns, so you roughly know what their score/resources/money is…
-Hidden Board Seeding. Players seed areas of the board with positive and negative cards face up. Once all cards are seeded, the cards for each given area are turned face down and shuffled together. As players enter/explore an area, cards are resolved from the seeded stacks, one at a time. This is more of a rough game of memory; you *know* you placed a really good card in spot X, but didn’t my opponent place something quite nasty, as well? In a pyramid
exploration game, players could seed treasures, extra items and traps to the board to discover and possibly be crushed by.
-Take and Hide. Players take a card/token/money, which is then turned face down. This is the most basic iteration of the memory mechanic. It encourages players to pay attention to everyone else’s turns, as to possibly offer a lucrative trade with them later or thwart their bold maneuverings. In a stock market game where owning a certain number of given stock gives you a bonus, the stocks bought by players could be kept secret after they are bought. This creates a tension of, ‘How close are they, again?’, and allows for surprise trades and declarations of the stock bonus.
Was there more I was going to type? I’ll let you know if I remember…
Keep on designing, yo!
Oio! The LHC, or Large Hadron Collider just came online today! It’s an exciting day for science, especially since the world didn’t get eaten by strange matter. (In reality, it did; just no one noticed.) Anyway, in honor of the LHC and how mind-bendingly fast it causes particles to move, today’s mechanic is speed, both in implementation and tracking. Most games couldn’t care less about how fast you’re going. But for the ones that do, there is a big difference between first and fifth gear…
-Gas, Pedal, Floor. Players play combinations of cards to change /maintain speed. This works better in a game with a more frenetic pacing than one that takes a long view of a race; faulty engines, bumpy roads, etc. Lets say it’s a race game with a Keystone Kops feel to it; each player has a (terrible) team of people on a rickety vehicle that must win the race. Each round, you get a hand of cards that include cranking up your vehicle, speed boosts (by leaving
people behind), and things that let you ignore road conditions (Extension ladders over pot holes, etc.). To start moving and maintain speed, you’d have to play a ‘Crank’ Card, followed by a move card, and then a… A caution is that it can suffer from ‘Milles Bornes’ syndrome; if a player doesn’t draw a start card, they go nowhere until they do while other players shoot ahead…
-Crash Probability. Players roll dice (either custom or standard) to determine their speed/handling/etc for the round. The roll is checked on a table against their speed the previous round. This one makes for fairly quick turns. As a player, you choose how you move, roll, check the table for your roll against what you want to do, and move accordingly. Without other mechanics to flesh the game out, though, it is a very dry, yet effective, mechanic. In a Formula One racing game, the table could have the various speeds, probability for proper turning for each speed, and what is needed to speed up/slow down.
-As Fast As I Want. Players each have a track that indicates what their speed is and may change it as an action to what they wish. This allows players to determine how fast they go each round on the fly. This is less for race games than say, pick up and deliver. For example, in a stage coach delivery game, you can pick your speed each round. Going slower is safer, as the horses don’t tire and a bump in the road is less of an issue. However, how else will you get that package delivered on time for big points?
Zoom! That post went by fast! Thanks for reading. There’s more to come!
Keep on designing, yo!
Wakka wakka wakka! For today, I am to be doing the ‘reaction’, or action in response out of turn. There may be times when you want players to be able to act out of turn, be it to add to theme, for added suspense, what have you. Most commonly, acting out of turn means cancelling what an opponent did. While decent at adding suspense, there are other ways to use this mechanic…
-Salt the Earth. As an opponent is about to take an area, you destroy it/expend it to keep them from having the area at full capacity. This is better used in contentious area control games and military games. Opponent forcing your units out of your base? Burn it on the way out! For a more Euro approach, in a business game where hostile take overs are possible, just as your opponent is about to buy you out, you could wreck the company internally by reducing workforce or selling needed machinery. The cost for the reacting player is that it is resources wasted to do so, and the chance to regain what was lost is nil.
-Victory for Some. Just before an opponent is about to do scoring for an area/tile set/winning bid, you jump in on the scoring as well; either gaining points of your own or stealing what should have been theirs. This is best realized where the trigger for scoring is kept hidden in a player’s hand; allowing players to jump in unexpected. A good example would be an artifact set collecting game. At any time during their turn, a player could enable scoring once they think the current set of artifacts they are collecting can get no bigger. Other players may react with ‘Imitation Artifact’ cards from their hand to mooch off of the fame of the real deal the scoring player had actually played.
-I’ll do that FOR you. As a player is about to take an action, another player interjects and takes the action instead. If not done properly, this particular iteration of reaction can be quite inbalancing; the game this is used for would need to be really frenetic, with the theft of an action commonplace across the board. A good example of this would be a bank robbery game. Players would perpetually be stealing each other’s actions in trying to get the most money and get away before the cops show up.
-Parting Shot. Just as a player takes an action, an opponent interrupts and takes their own action first. The action taken will typically be of the ‘last grab at stuff’ or ‘hit and run’ variety. A military example would be activating bowmen to fire at advancing infantry out of turn. In the Euro vein, say it’s a street market game of selling goods to customers. Just as you are about to sell to a lucrative group of customers, your opponent activates his shop
cryer and steals some of your business.
Keep on designing, yo!
Oio. Today we shall focus on the ‘Upkeep’ phase of a game and how to keep it interesting instead of tedeous. Upkeep is typically the payment of resources to maintain army forces, buildings, etc in empire building games. Not paying upkeep when required usually involves something being discarded.
-Multiple Payment Options. Normally, upkeep is paid with money or a specific resource. Give the option to pay with multiple things: cash, resources, action points, etc. This allows for players to do unconventional strategies without worrying about having to have a consistent cash flow. For example, in an empire building game, a player could go almost straight military without cashflow and pay upkeep by giving up an action or two for his turn. He may not do much on his turn, but whatever is done will HURT other players… A LOT.
-Sacrifice to pay costs. Instead of outright discarding something you cannot pay for, have discarding it generate resources for upkeep cost. This can help prevent a cascade failure from a bad turn and not being able to pay any upkeep the following turn. So instead of losing everything, you only lose a few units or buildings and pay for the rest.
-Pay others’ upkeep costs. Allow players to pay each other’s upkeeps, if they want in exchange for VPs. This could create an interesting dynamic in an empire game. Picture a five player game. Two players are pursuing balanced strategies, one player goes straight economic, and two players go straight military. The straight military players
may have trouble paying their upkeep cost on their own, and the balanced players can only afford their own upkeep. The economic player could pay most everyone’s upkeep with ease. In exchange for, say, military protection, the economic player could agree to pay the upkeep for one (or both…) of the military players; getting a fair number of
VPs in the process, as well.
Keep on designing, yo!
Oio, peoples. Negotiation is the name of the game today. This can be another mechanic that is difficult to utilize, as it does require players to reach an agreement in order for the game to continue. However, with proper safeguards to ensure eventual agreement, it can create a rewarding, if tense, play experience. I’ll address both possible ways to use negotiation and possible safeguards to assure negotiation.
-Number of actions. Instead of each player having, say 3 actions each, what if there were 10 available to players for the turn? Initially, players start with no actions for the turn. They must negotiate and try to divvy up the actions in some way, with players getting the less than optimal number of actions receiving compensation from the board and players getting more actions having to pay the board in some way.
-Price of resources. Players must negotiate with each other over the price of given resources. This works best where each given resource (or two) is controlled by a different player and can have a very dynamic effect from game to game. Say it’s an industrial game. There are lumber, steel, and bricks as resources. In one game, the player controlling lumber is stingy and refuses to let anything go for under an outrageous price even if he is sitting on a lot of it. This would cause a lumber shortage for that game. If the same player does the same thing with steel in another game, it is a completely different dynamic (assuming the materials have varying value and use).
-Turn order. This can be tricky. Players negotiate for when they take their turn. If you have the player who goes last be a fixed thing that players take turns being, players could offer the last place player money, goods, assurances of cooperation, etc. to get the top spot. The last place player chooses the offer they like most and give that player the first play for the round. Continue down the list in the same way.
-Penalty. The most effective way is to find some way to penalize your players for not agreeing. It could be all players involved pay X money/resources for not agreeing once it can be determined that there will be no agreement. The penalty needs to be severe enough to scare the average negotiation into agreement, while not so severe as to outright cripple players.
-Die roll. If players just can’t see eye to eye, force it. Once it can be determined that there will be no agreement, roll a die. Even favors one player’s offer, odd favors the other player’s offer. The danger here is that the player that can better benefit from the die roll may always do so just to hope for the die to fall in his favor. So, you could do both a die roll and some penalty, as well.
Remember: Game softly, and carry a big… meeple? Keep on designing, yo!
Today’s mechanic is another that is oft overlooked: end game triggers. They can be straightforward (Candyland), or allow random game length (Palazzo). Lets has a look…
-First to victory. In a game where is victory is a pre-set thing, such crossing the finish line in a race game, the game can end when one player wins. It is straightforward and can cause much jostling in close games. It can also be utilized as ‘first to X points’. When one player starts getting close to winning, there will usually be a desperate grab for points in an attempt to outdo the leader. Good stuff.
-Set number of turns. When a set number of turns have passed, the game ends. This, coupled with limited actions during a player’s turn, can create serious tension. A set number of turns also helps keep play time down, as well.
-When ‘X’ happens. …’X’ being some event in the game; be it a player runs out of pieces, builds a big monument, etc. This end game trigger lends itself to variable game length well; as players will play different from one game to another.
-When no further actions are possible. Allow the players to continue until they can go no further. This lends itself more to games where actions involve placing pieces on the game board in some fashion. As space on the board runs out, so do available actions.
It looks like the end article trigger has hit… Keep on designing, yo!