Tuesday, January 11, 2011

3p solo test

I played through a 3p solo test over the weekend; the final scores were 52/51/50. I think it's a good thing that the scoring seems to be consistently pretty close. The only major change I made was to remove the Disruption tokens. I liked the idea that you could retain control of a territory but not be able to do anything with it because it was "out of control", but in looking for ways to cut complexity, this seemed an obvious one to try. Practically speaking, the only real change is that regaining control of a territory now costs crops (to re-annex) as opposed to gold (to govern). It didn't come up too much in this game as there was little to no combat, so it remains to be seen how it works.

Moving ahead, there are only a couple of things that I'm monitoring at the moment. The first is that the game doesn't just reward advanced planning, it requires it -- if there's an action you want to take and you're not in position to take it configurationally, it can take several turns to set it up, and this can be frustrating. It's not necessarily a "bad" kind of frustrating, but it may be advantageous to loosen the game up a bit.

Second, I'm still not perfectly happy with the spatial elements of the game; there's a a certain equivalence to the territories that may not make the geographic aspects of the game as interesting as they could be. For example, if I need a crops-producing territory, I'm as happy to get Libya as Judea; there may not be a strong reason to prefer one to the other. But my bigger concern is with the structures system; the structures are supposed to modify individual territories, so you're supposed to care about where you place them. But in practice, as long as you have a Colosseum somewhere it's fine; same for a Wonder, etc.

All along, the board has mountains and rivers drawn on it but these are just decoration. However, my thought is that these could become active elements of the game in concert with the structures system, by having a couple of structures take maximal effect when placed on certain features, eg a quarry in the mountains, irrigation on a river. Tying the effects of a structure to its immediate environment, ie by having the structure's power affect only the territory in which it is placed, or its neighbors, could help emphasize this. If some of the structures also "boost" one or more actions, this could be a way to reduce the "advance planning" problem mentioned above (sort of -- you still have to advance-plan to build the structure!).