Other Wise

And the wallet bone is connected to the bribe bone

Much more work and thought has been going into this project than I’ve had time to document. Some notes:

  • Most important: Scoring is (good_press-bad_press)^2+money. Ties go to highest good press. Player with the most bad press is auto-eliminated

  • Event cards come with money (total defined on card). Other values on events are good and bad press. Good press slightly outnumbers bad press. This guarantees a winner outside of ties.

  • Draft an event higher up the stack results in money from the bank going on lower cards

  • Select an event and resolve it against your network, or play money and resolve it against another player’s network

  • There are three phases per turn: networking, event, press resolution.

  • In networking each player plays two cards, or plays one card and pays money to move one network card

  • In press resolution rounds only one step of the graph is resolved, not the full graph.

  • After all event cards are processed, networking and press resolution alternate until graph is empty

The profits of being all wet

The core problem of the game that the players try to solve is simply that described above: the iterative process of building and modifying a DAG across which both good and bad things flow such that they net profit over the other players from their DAG manipulations by the end of the game.

This is going to be an extremely counter-intuitive game. Great.

Initial theme concept is of competing political campaigns. The politicians are of course self-serving and slimy. The player in the best shape at the end of the game wins the upcoming election and thus wins the game. There is no ranking, merely a winner and a set of losers.

I expect this will be a (near) pure card game. Unfortunately I suspect it won’t fit neatly within a multiple of 60 cards, but I’ll worry about that later. Scaling is probably 3-5 players. Multiplayer chaos is likely a problem, but we’ll see.

Basic pattern:

  • Each player has an (identical) hand of cards, coloured to match their player colour. Each card has on it two values, a ‘good’ value and a ‘bad’ value. The values are likely five or less for each. The exact values are to be determined by some number theory (which I’m assuming will work).

  • There is a deck of event cards. Each card contains two events, one good and one bad. I’m thematically supposing Kovak-style cartoon art. An example card might read, “Your politician has a mistress…who is REALLY HOT! (good)…with more than two legs! (bad). The good events will have a “good press” value, and the bad events will have a “bad press” value. The expected value range is probably less than 7 for each.

  • The event cards are shuffled and a draft pool of at least N+1 are revealed, where N are available for drafting and when one is drafted the N+1’th becomes available for drafting.

  • The game consists of rounds. First is a networking round, then one or more rounds handling the press outfall from an event.

  • In the networking round players iteratively play one of their cards on another player. This may repeat several times until each player has played several cards. Played cards accumulate in front of that player.

  • Possibly a player may spend money to move a previously played card instead of playing a new card.

  • A card is played by placing it face up in front of another player. In this manner each player will accumulate a tableau of cards in front of them.

  • There is then an event round. The active player selects an event from the draft pool. The event comes with good tokens equal to the good value of the good event and bad tokens equal to the bad value of the bad event.

  • The active player must then distribute to good and bad tokens to the cards that players have placed in his tableau. The event is essentially a pair of press stories about the other player’s candidates and the player’s must try and use their social networks to distribute the bad press away from them and to try and “collect” the “good press”.

  • The player must distribute the tokens equally among the cards put in front of him by other players, with the cards with with higher values (of each type) getting priority for tokens of that type.

  • Each player then retrieves the tokens placed on their (cards), and distributes them among the cards placed in front of them which have a higher value than the card they took the token(s) from, with priority again going to highest value. The one change is that the player may keep any good press tokens that are left over after a “fair” distribution (minimum 1) to the cards in their immediate network.

  • Good press tokens are good, bad press tokens are bad. Tokens that have reached the end of their network are collected by the player and define their score.

  • This then repeats with players retrieving and distributing tokens until all tokens have reached the ends of their connection graphs.

  • Next is another network building round, another event selection, another set of press distribution rounds etc, then repeat etc.

  • After N event or possibly an internal metric (one player achieves a state) the game ends.

  • Good press tokens are worth N more than bad press (bad press is better than no press) , player with the highest score wins. Possibly a largest bad press elimination.

    — Possible additional mechanism would allow players to spend money(?) to distribute bad tokens they’ve already accumulated to their downstreams? There are several other possible ideas for mixing in currency models.

    This morning’s shower was good for Corrupt Beneficence; I think got the core of a game put together while the water drummed staccato rhythms on my nape.

An early exposure to the cold — yes it is that small

A recent review of Ruhrtropolis by Scott Tepper got me thinking about players iteratively creating incentive structures, and in particular having players communally create an implicit DAG among themselves in order to predictively profit from incoming events and then having to maintain and optimise that graph across future events.

This feels, nay tastes, like there’s a really neat problem hiding in here that a game could be wrapped around. Something juicy. I’m just having a difficult time isolating what the core problem really is so I can wrap a game around it (in case it gets lonely of course). Grrrr.

The blog title is suggestive of a possible themeing around grubbing ambulance-chasing politicians attempting to exploit public disasters for political profit.