Game Mechanic For Hire

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Negotiation, 8.28.08

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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.

Possible Uses
-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.

Safeguards
-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!

Phil

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Written by krinklechip

August 17, 2009 at 10:16 pm

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