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Die Civilization Design Diary for December 31, 2014

What to report on Die Civilization…Well, there were more playtests and to tell you the truth, some of the changes I made that sounded right in my head were confusing to players at the playtest. There were issues with understanding how things worked (I’d used ranges for purchases rather than straight results…which was a suggestion by one of the testers!) when you rolled a die, what could it be used for? What could be done with it? And so on.

These questions and the fact that suggested changes are making the game more confusing and less fun have me rethinking what I’m doing and forcing me to ask more questions. Let’s stick with the basics:

  • What mechanics do I want?
    • Push your luck?
    • Worker placement?
  • How do I handle Wonder building?
  • How does the game end?
  • What is the trigger for game end?
  • What amount of time is reasonable for a game like this?

The original version of the game had 10 special dice with different arrangements of colors on each face. Each die represented a different tech level and you rolled more dice as you went up in level. The colors granted you a matching cube and you could spend the cubes for effects. The game was tedious and took quite a while to play. Not to mention you were buying cubes to get more cubes and points. Not a super fun game at all. The dice rolling was the fun part.

Since then, I’ve been playing a lot of dice games when I can get them in. Dungeon Roll, Roll Through the Ages, Marvel Dice Masters, Quarriors!, Catan Dice, Zombie Dice, Farkle, Alien Frontiers, Kingsburg and others. Each game helped me to look at Die Civilization in a different light.

Currently, when you want to buy a tech, you have to purchase a die from the tech, roll it, and then hope to get a die face that you need (2-5 on the face, different based on number of same-color squares). Then you spend 8 × Tech Level (TL) in production points to purchase the tech once you occupy all the research squares on the technology. Whenever you roll a die, you get one reroll. It has to be taken immediately after the first roll (you can’t perform any other action that round) so you have to choose what you want to do. But I’ve found that this current method is limiting.

Dice Masters was the key to unlocking the current version of Die Civ but while playing Dice Masters recently I had another idea that shook the foundations of what I was trying to accomplish with Die Civ. What if you simply select a die from a tech and roll it instead of having to buy it first? So if you’re trying for that tech that has a gray die on it, you simply take a gray die and roll it with everything else. Then, instead of trying to match die faces directly, you instead look at a difficulty number and try to beat it with your roll? One of the dice has to be the research color you’re aiming for, but you could use any other dice to boost the value!

Now we’re getting somewhere. This allows the player to do what they want with the dice, they can roll more per turn, and feel like they’re accomplishing something! In addition to the purchase of a research square, effects would also be powered by combinations of particular dice. For example: If you have a gray die and a yellow die (plus any other dice) and you beat a target number you could buy a defense for your civilization. If you roll doubles, you can roll them again, so long as one of the dice matches the colors on the tech you’re attempting to purchase!

Purchasing a tech becomes easier. How? You get to roll your dice to beat the overall tech score after you’ve researched all the squares on the tech. What would be the purchase cost? That’s something I have to figure out. But using exploding doubles may make it easier for players to acquire. And you will still be able to stockpile production points, dice, and failures in order to help you purchase your techs.

Another thing I’ve figured out is the tech tree. Why not treat it like a tech tree? Shuffle cards from each tech level and lay them down on the table in a grid. Each tech points up, down, or straight ahead (to the next tech level in all cases). The player may choose to follow a path to the next tech level. They can go straight down the tree to the end for a deep, narrow tree. Or they can research more than one level one techs to create a broad, shallow tree.

This gives us an end game condition as well: When a player owns 5 techs, they trigger the end game condition. Everyone will get an additional turn after this trigger (finish out the turn, then one final turn) and the game ends. VPs will be the deciding factor with Wonders acting as tie breakers.

How do we handle VPs? Well, in the same way we did before, for now: 2 × TL for the first person and (2 × TL) – 1 for everyone else. The trick is that you have to follow a tech tree path and can’t just jump to the next TL.

Also, about dice: Each tech that you own will grant you an additional die. The die is of a type that matches a research on a tech plus any other dice based on Wonder completion or special powers from techs. So the player has some extra choice and gains extra dice as they complete techs rather than magically when they go up in tech level.

Dice powers will either change or go away with the new system, or perhaps Wonders will dictate dice powers. This is still up in the air. For now, however, dice will have their own powers based on what face is showing (usually a 6).

But with the new system, what happens to the white production dice and the pink worker dice? Well, here’s the trick with that. White dice will represent general goods or “colorless” points. Everyone will always be able to roll one of these. They will probably become a limiter in some fashion, perhaps the number of dice you can use toward a purchase of something that requires production points. Pink dice will still limit the number of actions you can take per turn (that aren’t production warehousing, die stockpiling, or failure stockpiling). But the pink die’s current power will probably change to something more meaningful with the new system.

A lot more change is in store! Seldom does a game start and finish looking and acting identical. I think I’ll see more change as the development of this game continues. And ideas are always popping into my head or being suggested by others all the time. We’ll see what the new changes bring and hopefully we’ll see this thing finished sometime during the new year!

Updated: December 31, 2014 — 10:21 pm
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