Taking an idea forward – “Missions”

Picking up from last time, I needed a way to handle the possibility of more than 2 players playing the same “Protection” card on a given turn. Thematically, even if there were 3 groups of guards protecting the woods, there are only a fixed number of hours in the day, so adding more resources to that action wasn’t going to work. Glass Road handles this by allowing other players to play their duplicate card for free, with each player getting only half of the cards potential benefit, but:

a) I didn’t want to make duplicate cards a negative, rather it had to be a strategic consideration each turn;
b) There are still more mechanics to add to the game, how can this tie into the worker placement aspect?

I began looking at other games in my collection for concepts that might fit with the theme and the current mechanics. Two games that stood out for me immediately were Lords of Waterdeep and (although I don’t have it yet) Forge War. Both of those games have Quest cards that players take from a supply and then spend their resources on for a greater reward when completed. There are a few reasons I like this type of mechanic:

  • They introduce obvious and visual goals into the game;
  • They give players a reason to accumulate resources in the game, as well as a way to spend them;
  • They add some randomness into the game, but not in a way that can negatively impact players (i.e. bad dice rolls with no mitigation);
  • They are thematic and (arguably) fun.

When considering the quests from both of the above-mentioned games, however, I realized that I still needed to adjust how these quests would work in my game, as the “Resources for victory points” wasn’t exactly what I was searching for. More on this in a little bit…

So, after deciding that I want to introduce “Quests” into the game, I needed to incorporate this into the mechanics, specifically in this card selection phase. I didn’t want each “Protection” card to double as a Quest, that didn’t really make sense thematically, nor did it give me much hope of resulting in anything remotely usable in terms of what would be on the cards themselves. After pondering this for a while, I started trying to play out scenarios in my head:

Jon, Sam, Jason and Ryan are all playing the game in that particular turn order. In Phase 1, each player picks the Protection card that they wish to use on this turn and places them face down in front of them. Jon reveals his card first and it is ‘Protect the Woods,’ which he then places on the appropriate spot on the board. Sam then reveals his card, which is also ‘Protect the Woods.’ He needs Lumber on his turn, so he also plays this card, placing it on the board tucked under Jon’s. Jason plays ‘Protect the Quarry’ as he wants to harvest some Stone on his turn and Ryan reveals ‘Protect the Woods’ as well. Since both Jon and Sam are already protecting the woods, Ryan instead uses his ‘Protect the Woods’ card for the “Mission” effect – he can choose one of the 3 face-up Mission cards or draw the top card of the Mission deck and he can also choose to start this Mission immediately.

This was, ultimately, what I decided that I liked the best. In this case, using a Protection card in this way allows a player to have additional options that are otherwise not available, namely drawing a Mission from the top of the deck instead of from the face-up selection as well as having the option to start it immediately. The trade-off here is one where the player gives up the possibility of getting free resources and instead is presented with an “economy of action” situation, that is to say, selecting a mission and starting it with one action rather than two.

My goal here is to create gameplay situations where this may be a highly desirable outcome for a player; they get a choice of available Missions before anyone else does in the turn and they are able to start it immediately as well, which is otherwise a separate action. With this determined, I needed to figure out just what these Missions are and how they fit into the game.

As mentioned above, I did not want Missions to be straight conversions of resources into victory points (or other resources) – instead I wanted them to be time-sinks where Players were investing actions into them for a pay-off. In most worker placement games, resources are renewable and in the majority of the games I have played, there are typically far more ways to spend resources than there are to accumulate them. On the other hand, however, time is almost always a fixed resource, so giving up actions is often a very conflicting choice.

Knowing this, I needed to determine what the Mission cards were actually going to be. If I don’t want them to convert resources into victory points, what are they going to actually do? Since the resources in the game have already begun to establish themselves as building materials, going on Missions to bring back more Wood doesn’t fit thematically, particularly not when there’s the possibility of taking that action every turn anyway. Once again, I started looking at other games in my collection for inspiration and of everything I looked at, Castles of Burgundy actually gave me the best idea. In the next instalment, I’ll be talking about the turn order track, why it’s going to be longer than the usual turn order track and how it’s going to tie into the Missions.

(Header image from BGG user Cephalofair – https://www.boardgamegeek.com/image/2059297/forge-war)

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One thought on “Taking an idea forward – “Missions”

  1. Pingback: Taking an idea forward – Missions Continued & Turn Order | Board Game Strategies

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