Revisiting my old post about Scrabble variations reminded me of the existence of Richman games. This got me thinking more generally about the class of games where how often you move is something you have control over, which caused me to think of a potentially fun game mechanic.
I don’t currently have a game to attach it to. It essentially works on the following class of games:
- Each player has a pool of tokens unique to them, and the number they have in reserve matters
- A play consists of expending one or more tokens
- Having a low reserve puts you at a significant strategic disadvantage
As an example such game, consider the following territory capturing game:
- Play is on a hexagonal board with up to 6 players. Each player owns a single side of the board, assigned by lot at the beginning of the game. Each side has a coloured token associated with it.
- A play consists of placing a token of your colour adjacent to either your side of the board or an existing token of your colour.
- If someone places a token which is adjacent to an empty square that is also adjacent to one of your tokens, you may immediately respond by placing one of your tokens in that empty square. You may not respond in more than one square simultaneously, but other players can respond to responses. This can cascade indefinitely. If more than one player can respond to a given move, people may decide whether to respond in clockwise order from the player who moved.
- The game ends when no-one can move, either because they’re boxed in or have run out of pieces. At this point you count up the territory owned by each player. A tile is owned if it contains one of your pieces or is in an empty space surrounded entirely by your pieces.
(This might actually be a fun game in its own right. I tailored it to work well with this mechanic, but it could also work well without it)
Given such a game, the game mechanic I have in mind proceeds as follows. Instead of playing alternating turns, what happens is that you have a bag of tokens, mixing from all the players. A turn now proceeds as follows:
- Each player may put any number of pieces from their reserve into the bag. If the bag is empty all players must put at least one piece into it if they have any in reserve. If no players have any pieces in reserve and the bag is empty, the game ends.
- A piece is drawn from the bag
- This piece is added to its owner’s reserve. All other pieces remain in the bag
- The player whose piece was drawn may now choose to make a play or pass.
You control your likelihood of getting to play by adding pieces to the bag, but in doing so you deplete your reserve – in the early game when you have lots of reserve, this may not matter, but in the later game you are limited by the fact that a play consumes as many pieces as you draw, so you may want more pieces in your reserve (e.g. in the example game, not being able to participate in response cascades is a major disadvantage)
Note that Carcassonne is an example of that class of games.
It isn’t quite an example because in Carcassonne you can always draw a tile even if all your pieces are in play, right? So you don’t need to have spare pieces to have a move, which this kinda breaks. You could probably work around that though by simply having that not be the case.
I kinda hate Carcassonne, but this makes me almost want to try it again.