Without God or Democracy There Is Just This...

Back to the development of this cooperative game set in a mythical version of classical Greece, and I've been discussing ideas for the game with a few people on BGDF and working on the basics for an initial prototype.  Having got through some far-too-complicated-or-fiddly ideas, I have got to a basic engine to build the game from.  The real guts of the game should be dealing with conflicting and sometimes painful demands from the gods and the people, but to make that work there needs to be some form of an economy.

What I have settled on is there being seven different commodities that can be produced: food, wine, cloth, wood, stone, bronze and silver.  I'm not sure what they will all be used for, but they seem a reasonable representation of different things that might be important in a setting like this.  I have discarded the idea of using either counters or score tracks to tally the amount of each commodity you have, and just have a load of locations that can produce things, and each of them either has things you can use or they don't.  A game like this could easily become a spreadsheet control exercise, so I am choosing to make it hand-wavey, with simple levels of "yes, we have access to wood" rather than "we have 17 units of wood".  (I note that this isn't entirely dissimilar to my approach in "Explore and Settle" -- am I developing a personal style here?)

Anyway, explaining this with words is probably harder than showing you a picture.  So here is my first pass at a player board to track stuff.  Actually, that is a lie, it is about my fourth pass.  Here it is...

It's not flashy because it's an early prototype. Hopefully it's usable.
So what you see above is your city state.  There is your city itself and two provincial regions nearby.  Within these regions are squares representing locations that can produce the various commodities. At the start of each player's turn, a production card is flipped over, naming two commodities that can be produced, and each player may choose one of those commodities and place a marker on each location they control that produces that commodity and doesn't already have a marker.  Channeling a little bit of Catan there -- opportunities happen on everyone's turn, though I have a minor concern that as there is a decision to make for everyone, that may slow the game down in some groups, but that is something to discover with playtesting.

Controlling a location? Well, you control a location if it is in a region on your board and nobody else has an army parked in that region, or you control a location on someone else's board if you, and only you, have an army in the region.

Which brings us to armies.  At the moment, I am thinking of a very simple mechanism where if, at any point, there are more armies of one player in a region than all other armies, then the minority armies are destroyed; anything else results in a stalemate.  This basically means that there can be situations where if you have one army controlling one of my provinces, and I need to reclaim it to use the resources, I have a choice of putting one army in there so you can withdraw or disband your army on your next turn, or I send in multiple armies to just wipe you out and clear the region quickly.

Back to those commodities.  Basically you can spend them to buy or do things.  So far I see bronze being used for armies, wood for ships (I actually typed wood for sheep there before correcting!), stone for temples, food for either maintaining or growing your population (will get into that another time), silver for upkeep of units (and probably to build anything).  I'm not sure if wine or cloth will be used for anything; if they aren't useful, I'll drop them.  I have an idea for trading with overseas powers, but that can wait for now.  When you use a commodity, you just remove a matching marker from a location.

That's enough for now.  I need to keep working on making this thing rather than just writing about it.  Next up: those demand cards to make things both difficult and interesting...

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