Other Wise

Understanding Wabash Cannonball

The most valuable thing about a share is not how much money it will make, but how it will change the incentive pattern among the remaining players.

The second most valuable thing about a share is the degree to which it makes a company viable (early game).

The third most valuable thing about a share is the revenue it may/will generate.

If you own shares in the company that the player to your right holds, you want that company to reach Chicago more than the player who holds shares in a company that the player to their left also holds shares of.

The mine and forest fields are excellent ways to devalue companies you are not invested in: just cut them off and make it impossible for them to reach Chicago.

Don’t forget Detroit.

No company has to reach Chicago. Sometimes none of them will.

Choosing actions and then doing nothing can be a useful way of controlling the game length.

Time the Wabash and control incentives carefully. It can be a very profitable company. Or not.

It is up to you to ensure that the incentive structures of each other player aligns with your personal pursuit of victory. Partnerships are a wonderful thing. A 2/2 split of the B&O is a beautiful thing. Or not. A 2/2 split of the NYC can be even better. Or not. A 1/1 split of the Pennsylvania is highly unstable.

Use stock dilution to find and break partnerships.

Wabash games are won not through accurate bidding or careful ROI control but by establishing positions such that the other players, through their own greedy self-interest help you win using their actions on their turn.

Track individual earning rates versus cash holdings. Typically one player will have a much higher income than the others, but lower cash holdings. Whether the game ends with this general dividend or the next will dictate who wins.

A typical game length is between 3 and 5 general dividends (inclusive).

Also posted to BGG.

Naming declavier

Seth Jaffey mentioned using tokens to track player investment in City States, each player having a limited supply and needing to allocate them judiciously. The idea has merit, but not I think where Seth was thinking.

A core problem with the current nascent design is transports in the mid and late game. There’s simply little to reason to build them as they’ll generally benefit others more than the builder. The core problem here is that by the early mid-game each player will already have established investment presence in all the City States, thus causing the end-game to devolve into a series of simple localised efficiency struggles. Having transport, aka communication, fall out so severely in the end-game is uninteresting and needs address.

Nothing determined yet, but I’m mostly musing along the following lines:

  • Players start with no/few tokens.

  • Players may opt to buy additional tokens at certain game events (probably building events?)

  • Players may assign tokens either to transport or to infrastructure in City States on specific game events (research/building?)

  • Players with transport tokens in a CS are paid cash every time transports are used, proportional to their plurality (land and sea differentiated?)

  • On tech upgrade of a City Centre the player with the least tokens plus any players within +2 tokens of that are cashed out of the city and paid cash proportional to the current value of the CS. All remaining players must then discard one token from the CS. Removed/discarded tokens are either returned to their players or perhaps discarded back to supply

  • On subsumption of a City Centre by another CS the players in the acting CS are rewarded with cash proportional to their token plurality and the value of the subsumed City Centre

Feeping Creaturism

City centre ranges:

T4 may yet grow by one. The T6 Metropolis not only has infinite range (and is thus not shown), but also marks one of the end-game conditions. Board size across player counts will necessarily be a function of the above.

Fiduciary notes

Ooof. That wasn’t so easy. The main changes are adjustments to the action costs for the different buildings and their products. A few buildings were lost in the process and the tech tree had to be adjusted to suit. None of the changes were particularly large but they are rather sweeping. For instance, the ramp of action costs was flattened, so that late products don’t cost many more actions than early products. That has the happy effect of putting the driving focus on the tech tree and the resultant building rotting.

Fife and snares

A simple pass through the building graph annotating each node with the action costs of the products required as inputs on each building. Oh dear. Oh dear this is bad. Action ranges for drains run between 3 for a Granary and 15 for a Shipyard or even 22 for a Train Station. Not good at all. The top end should probably be no higher than 15. It wouldn’t hurt for the lowest drain to bump up a step either.

Percussive reduction

I added a secondary red graph to the technology graph which maps the inputs to the buildings within the various technologies. As the clear linear layering of the technology tiers was lost in the new display form I also coloured the nodes for each tier. The results are quite interesting and surprisingly close to what I’d expected. I’m specifically pleased that the tree orientation and node weighting has coarsely ordered the technologies and buildings into the order the players will generally want to build/research them, at the same time calling out the clearly ambiguous sections with nodes at similar heights. Nice.

Nando, I suspect unwittingly, persuaded me last night to lose the Tier 0 buildings. Losing them gives the game a faster start, possibly trimming around 30 mostly irrelevant minutes off the play time. A fair trade.

A similar colouring exercise on the building graph groups produced:

Carting the demiquaver

Quite a few changes here:

— About as close as I’m going to get to a final building set at this early date. There are 52 of them, which has a pleasing familiarity to it given the vacuity I’m building this game on.

— Added a key.

— Buildings continue to be coloured for their primary terrain constraint. Currently everything is bound to a single terrain. I’d like to make a few bivalent later, eg paddocks, but there’s no rush

— Buildings are shadow coloured per their primary resource cost for construction.

— Technologies are coloured for their primary resource cost for research.

— The above two mean that the building and tech cost graph edges have been removed. This makes the graph much cleaner and more readable.

— Dark edges mark the tech graph. Light edges mark the building input/output graph.

— I’ve not marked money inputs or how many of an input are required or output.

— Technology tiers are marked and grouped. The intention is that when a City State researches something in a new/higher technology tier, that ALL buildings in the City State at tier-2 will be instantly removed from the board, including any product markers on them. (It is possible that I’ll change this to build a building instead of research, but that’s a fairly small change). It is left as an exercise for the reader to see the rather severe problem that this tier-2 destruction poses for a budding City States as well as the matching implications for game strategy and timing for players.

Hooking the tuba

I’ve tweaked the below posts to display smaller images while providing links to the original hi-res images.