Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Isla Update finally!

So I've decided to finally get my butt together and finish off some loose end projects. I've finally got the updated Isla Margarita rules and downloadables finished. These can be accessed by the link in PROJECT sidebar. Or just click here.

So, how did we get to this version:

The major update involves each Island starting with a Prince, and placing Bridges and Ports moves the Princes around. At the end of the game, whoever has the most Coins on an Island scores VP for the number of Princes on the Iisland. When there were two Prince pawns moving around, people seemed to have fun with that aspect, so in this version I've taken it...TO EXTREME!!! Well, hopefully not too extreme. The other big thing is cleaning up all of the various point tallying systems of Monopoly/Majority/Tie, which was just a headache.

The core game initially was scoring points two different ways, gaining "pure" known points off of the Ports, or "unknown" points off of Bridges. The goal was to get players deciding if an "only Bridges" or "only Ports" (with a mixture in between) strategy was the best. This is still the main thrust of the game.

However, the game inherently has something which I'm defining as "goal compression". The game starts with main goals to capture (the Bridges and Ports) and winds it's way down slowly to no Ports and Bridges as the game goes. I needed some way to keep the player options open as the game crawls closer to the end; otherwise, completely bought out Islands become worthless, Coins left on bought out Islands are worthless, and all players just zone in on the last remaining parcels of goals. So, the Coin VP scoring mechanism was introduced as a third option. And the three mixed together fairly well in playtesting. Well, aside from the tallying-up-your-points part.

(As a side note to "goal compression," the other obvious choice is "goal expansion". And the corollary thing such as "choice compression/expansion". They sort of go hand in hand, and you could probably make a neat, but worthless chart placing games on a graph. Interestingly enough, abstract games seem to tend more towards compression, while themed games trend toward expansion. Maybe I'll bother to expand on this further later at some date.)

Anyway, I decided to add another feature along the way to further emphasize the Bridge theme, and make them slightly more powerful. So, I included essentially 2 Prince pawns that started on Margarita, which could be moved around solely by Bridge placements. Crown collecting became the goal of the Pawns. And while the small bonuses on the Crowns themselves weren't really big enough to chase after, the whole concept was pretty fun. So now that part has been expanded in this version, as noted above.

The Princes now play a bigger part of the game, and I think, certainly a more interesting part of the game, as they are now tied together between the three main things the player can control. Buying a Port or Bridge now additionally affects the Coin scoring mechanism additionally, which I think will be a fairly neat addition to the game.

There was a middle version here, that included the concept of Pirates, which was an interesting attempt to make the Ports a bit more fluid. Using Pirates, players could steal ports; there was concept of low scoring, but easily obtained Pirate ports, etc. This seemed to break the whole purpose of what the scoring of Ports were about. And the decision to buy a Port suddenly became a bleak prospect indeed. Maybe I'll revisit it later. But it has been removed.

I'll eventually post the link to BGDF for whatever ridicule I can muster.


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