Thursday, June 21, 2012

Land Pieces

Tactile Pieces

More progress on piece fabrication and design. Though the plastic styrene was great to work with it was really unnecessary to take the time and money to make each piece out of it. Instead I used foam board as the material for the tile pieces, land hexes, and city pieces; and used the plastic versions of each as a traceable die. I had originally shied away from foam board worried that the material would be too flimsy, but the 6mm thick foam board proved to be sturdy enough. The thicker material also serves to give the terrain a more 3D feel.

Again I restate my dislike of game boards being scattered when a player bumps the table. Each land hex has two short wooden dowels which affix into matching holes in the tile pieces. The land hexes are not glued to the tile pieces. The whole design is modular and customizable giving players the ability to arrange the land to their fancy.

After showing these pieces to a couple of friends I was glad to hear that they liked the tactile feel of all the pieces, something I feel is a necessary feature for a board game. I point to the board game 7 Wonders as a bad example of this: laying down cards on a cardboard place mat with a pictures of your wonder lacks the tangible feel that should accompany the building of a world wonder. In civ 5 players are building an empire over the course of a few dozen turns, and tactile pieces help give the sense of scale and accomplishment.

A New Plan for the Cards

My original plan for techs and policies was to give the players long standing passive effects such as -1 to cost of upgrading military units (Professional Army) or -3 to cost of settler (Liberty); however remembering dozens of these passive effects would have become too taxing for players in late game. So instead all the benefits granted from techs and policies will be in the form of one-time gifts such as +8 food this round (Civil Service) or immediately select 2 free adjacent land hexes to add to your territory (Monarchy). This is a major design shift from the PC game, since normally early game strategy for techs and policies were selected based on their long term benefits. As a side effect the gameplay will now feel more reactive than preventative/predictive.

Recently I also realized how unreasonable it is for each player to have their own set of decks for tech, buildings, and policies (let alone one for each era). There simply will not be enough table space. Instead, in an effort to consolidate, there will be large communal decks. Each era will have a large deck of cards which will include tech, policies, buildings and wonders. All types of cards are shuffled together and will have the same back (so players won't know which type of card it is until they draw it). This gives more emphasis on the luck aspect and players may encounter an uneven distribution of card types (i.e. a tech glut) but it was more practical in lieu of dozens of decks of cards.

Tech cards are divided into 2 types: economic tech and military tech. Since all players will advance their military with the same military tech cards there will be duplicate cards for each military tech. In play testing this may prove to be an involuntary choke point for some players' military advancement. Again the gameplay now has more emphasis on luck of the draw.

The economic techs are what drive the era advancement; military techs will not count toward era advancement. In order for a player to advance to the next era they need to gain 4 economic techs. There will be no duplicates of economic tech in the deck, instead there will be a large number of unique economic tech each with their own different benefits. No specific combination of economic techs will be necessary to advance era, only the required amount of techs. This will help alleviate the potential problems of tech hording and bad luck.

Policy cards are needed to fill policy branches for a cultural victory. Instead of containing duplicates of each policy there will be a large number of unique policies each with their own benefit. There will only be a few policy branches and only the required amount of policies in each branch will be required for the cultural victory (so player's won't actually be filling the policy branch). Again this will help alleviate the potential issues of policy hording and bad luck.

Building cards will be duplicated in the deck. The benefits of the building cards will be passive and will stack (i.e. Library, Observatory, and University all give +1 to tech roll). This maybe another point of card contention between players. The passive benefits of buildings fall into the fallowing categories: +1 to tech roll, +1 to policy roll, +1 city defense, +1 food, +1 production, +1 gold.

Wonder cards will not be duplicated in the deck. In addition to wonders having a high production cost, they will require a prerequisite building, tech, or policy. Each wonder card will display 3 possible prerequisites but only 1 needs to be fulfilled in order to make.

Place Mats

Each player will have a place mat to keep track of all their stuff. At first I was going to have players lay down their gained cards in front of them but the area to do so would be too large (about 60 cards).

The center of the placement will resemble that of a downtown city with roads and city blocks. The empty lots in the city layout are placeholders for building. When a player constructs a building they will place a city-building piece on the place mat in the corresponding labeled empty lot. There will also be empty lots dedicated to wonders.

The place mat will also have flag poles for policy (1 for each branch) and economic tech (1 for each era). Beads are placed around the flag poles when the corresponding policy/tech is gained. The poles more tactile and they visually advertise to the other players your cultural/science victory progress. The economic tech and policy cards are discarded once gained because they have no passive benefits to keep track of and the cards would just otherwise take up space.

There are three types of military tech: melee (infantry and anti-mobile troop types), ranged (missile and siege troop types), and mobile (mounted and naval troop types). The military tech cards will contain reference information about the troops (defense, cost, etc.). The military tech cards are placed on the mat for later reference during combat.

The bottom center of the placement (directly in front of the player) is reserved for construction projects. Players lay down buildings and wonder cards here and then place production on them. When the production cost is met, the player receives the benefit and the card is discarded. Players can only lay down a number of construction projects equal to 2 + number of cities / 2. If a player wants to make a troop they simply place production next to the matching tech card.

Cutting Diplomacy Victory

City states are a neutral parties and as such would require a player to maintain them (which is always lame). Without city states there is no diplomacy victory; I'm not really sad to see it cut. Instead I will be adding a wonders victory: build 4 wonders to win.

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