Sunday, February 20, 2011

I had a chance to play about half a game with the new approach I described in the previous blog, and that seemed like enough.

On the one hand, it does a couple of things well. Because Monuments are lucrative, and you can only place one per territory, it makes territorial conquest and expansion more important. There are some nice timing decisions -- score now, or wait until I can meet the conditions of one more category on my card? And the decisions about what medium to use to record your Chronicle can be somewhat interesting (or would be, with some additional tweaking).

But overall, it changes the core emphasis of the game in a way I don't like. First, your primary goal becomes meeting as many conditions on each scoring card as you can, as quickly as you can. To move on to the higher cards, you reach a point where you can't keep making progress on multiple categories, and you're naturally forced to specialize -- this is good, but not what the game's focus originally was on. Although specialization is supposed to be viable and lucrative, it's also supposed to be possible to cobble together a composite strategy, eg "Trade Routes and Territorial Expansion", but in this version, if you can't pursue both at the same rate, you'll only be able to score for the category that you're moving fastest on.

There's also a built-in rich-get-richer problem that would be hard to balance out. At some point, it will become hard to meet the conditions of the next card, and your ability to score additional chronicle cards will stall. But, as long as you still have monuments from previous epochs, you'll still be pulling in points, until someone forces you to lose control of a territory (and this is hard); so, the game will really be about scoring quickly and then protecting your scoring machine, rather than going on to try to accomplish greater and greater exploits. And that's really not what the game is about.

So, as predicted, this was a brief excursion, and while I like some aspects of this new idea and may think about it in the background, for now I think my original scheme is vindicated and I can move ahead with bringing it to completion. The next step is to try some new Structures, which should improve the pacing and the territorial specificity of the map. We'll see if it's successful!

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