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Post 20 Jun 2011, 11:21 am

OK, I just wrapped up the latest game of Explore!
I think it was yet another rousing success and GMPatrick is hosting yet another that is in the later game stages as well, another rousing success from what I am told. The game is incredibly popular (Chad even mentioned it being a Redscape jewel or some similar praise)

The game has now been played approximately 15 times or so? We have had a slow "evolution" of rules changes and additions, even a complete variant of the variant (Hemisphere's) and all progresses well. If you have played, you know the game and your input is appreciated, if you have not played, maybe we can get you into the next game, please read up on the game (I think you will be VERY pleased a game like this exists right here on Redscape) the rules to the basic Explore! game can be found:
and from there you can click on the "Hemisphere's" tab for those particular rules variations.

OK, on to the reason for this posting
(selfish promotion is certainly PART of the reason)
Patrick and I have been tinkering with several new ideas I was thinking of bouncing off you guys. With one game in the books and another getting towards the end, it seems a good time as so many have the game fresh in their minds...

Let me go with some fairly basic ideas, we have fleshed most out further than I will state here:

Please keep in mind the game is supposed to be fairly easy to play and to understand. The more rules we add, the greater the confusion factor I want to avoid! We could add all sorts of complicated rules and that is not wanted!

We came up with an idea to add blimps to the game
spend a turn to build one and in future turns that unit can choose to "launch" his blimp instead of some other order, in doing so, the blimp goes up and the region is scouted from high.
This person will for this one turn only, see everything 2 spaces around, additionally he will see grayed spaces (no further info other than spaces and shapes) three spaces out. (possibly grayed out units in those spaces as well?)
If the unit is attacked in any way (dislodged or not) that turn, the blimp is destroyed forever, he gained no vision and the unit would once again require a turn to rebuild a new blimp.

Portals was an idea we discussed for a while
hidden on the map would be special portal spaces that would transport units to far reaching areas
Quick exploration and crazy dynamics could ensue?

Another idea barely even discussed would be to have multiple players share a power,
Several ways to do this, maybe one controls the armies and the other controls fleets. Maybe several play as a democracy and must vote for the orders to be used, maybe we have several players and each is assigned a unit to order (this would grow as the nation grew of course)

some stuff to get the ball rolling. Let me know your thoughts on thse ideas and any others you may have. Whatever you suggest though please keep in mind it must be simple to understand and simply to run by the GM (I have long had an idea to add resources to the map and trading of resources, each would be able to be added towards a commerce victory and/or possible unit upgrades but while a really COOL idea, this would be insane to have to run and keep track of not to mention explain so many new rules to the players, especially a new player to the game) That saying comes to mind, KISS (keep it simple, Stupid)
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Post 20 Jun 2011, 2:48 pm

Blimps seem a neat idea, but I think it will be a too cheap way to explore. Having only played once I think that the mix of exploring and combat is nicely tuned as is.

Portals will add chaos indeed. Troublesome to balance the map perhaps.

The democracy rules I think are better fitted to another variant. You would need to totally revamp the scoring system.

A lot of negatives (but think of it as me saying the game's already great) so here's an idea.

How about improving movement as well. Same basic premises as improving offense or defense. Orders will be submitted as movement chains (A Mun-Kie-Den). Second (and third?) moves happen after first moves and only if the unit completed it's first move. No combinations of fast moves and other orders, if you force march, you can't do anything else. You obviously can't force-explore since you don't see what's ahead (but perhaps you do with blimps?)
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Post 29 Jun 2011, 5:50 pm

I had an idea on how to do the blimp units.

A blimp is built just like any other unit. It has a sight range of two and can travel over land and water indiscriminately like a wing unit. However, it has an attack and defense strength of zero. Therefore it's simply an exploration unit, unless you take the time to upgrade it (death blimps!)
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Post 04 Jul 2011, 2:18 pm

Would the blimps then take up an army space? Would they only be able to move one space per turn (while seeing two?) and finally, would they be able to build cities?

I would suggest that each city gets a blimp in it as soon as you build it (giving cities a tiny bit of extra warning.) However, I would also like to see this varient played with the ability to upgrade the units speed as well as it's offense/defense (maybe have the units that move two attack at half strenght (like cavelry, if anyone played Tez's ancient mediterainian varient?)
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Post 11 Jul 2011, 8:49 am

good ideas, not sure if I agree with them but I like ideas!
The improved speed, that one would not happen though (not in my games anyways). Too difficult to manage, too much of a stretch in the basic game as well.
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Post 20 Jul 2011, 11:52 am

Two ideas for you:

First, regarding your blimp concept: why not make it so that you can upgrade any unit to having a blimp capability, in the same way that you upgrade it to having an increased offensive or defensive capability. Think of it as an "exploration upgrade". All units start with an exploration score of 1, meaning that they can see 1 space in all directions. At level 2 they can spend a turn sending their blimp up to see 2 spaces for that turn only - a repeatable order. At level 3 they could either have a permanent ability to see 2 spaces or could use the " Lauch Blimp" order to see 3 spaces for that turn only. Perhaps cities can also gain an increased line of sight bonus as they are upgraded. This way you could assign and train specific exploration units, as well as offense/defensive ones.

Second, just thinking that in the Civilization games one can construct roads which allow for increased unit movement speed along them and trade (points) benefits when linking up to another's capital. Not sure if you want to go down that road or not as it could become complicated, but it's an idea.
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Post 20 Jul 2011, 1:40 pm

Blimps being units that could survey around the board (over land and water) with no combat potential is interesting to me; I've always for some reason or other thought it would be cool if you could build statues/monuments/walls or other structures that conferred unique benefits.

I also like the idea that you couldn't upgrade any unit to +2 strength until you have a Level 2 city, and so on, etc and that the number of upgraded units you could field would be restricted by the number of upgraded cities you have.

Not sure I like portals as a "Standard" Explore! variant; but could be a fascinating aspect of a "fantasy" Explore! variant. And that's something else worth considering: keep "Standard" Explore! as is, and perhaps focus on a "Fantasy" or "Sci-Fi" variant of the game. An "Explore! the Realm" or "Explore! the Galaxy" variants where in those games they have characteristic rules changes.

As always though, I defer to Tom's rules-making decisions. You've demonstrated excellent judgment time and again! :)
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Post 20 Jul 2011, 6:46 pm

I like the ideas mentioned but this is done by hand and allowing one to see areas for only a short time makes it hard to keep track of what is seen when, I would want to keep anything gained to be maintained for ease of running the game.

I do like the idea to offer more options and more strategies.
Adding some sort of monuments or whatnot is one of those ideas I had for a long while since it gives that extra option spoken about, it also plays well with the Civilization game we are taking parts from. Maybe making such monuments or "wonders" in non city spaces would make them more vulnerable while also making non-city spaces more important, more choices is always a good idea as long as we keep this as simple and intuitive as possible. But what to offer? Minor things would be best? One past game (not hosted by myself) allowed for "sentinels" to be built, they gave sight two spaces all around them, by keeping them in non-city spaces and "costing" say two turns, that could be a neat adder to start with?
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Post 21 Jul 2011, 1:52 am

You know, something like a statue or shrine might not confer any strategic value, but be worth victory points. Perhaps each player can only build one statue/shrine, but they can capture other player's architectural builds. Then it wouldn't be just cities worth protecting/capturing (aside from exploration points) to win.
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Post 21 Jul 2011, 8:27 am

There's an idea!
It would help both those stay at home types as well as the militaristic types who can capture the shrines (I like to think of them as "wonders of the world" as it is in keeping with the Civilization computer game we are borrowing from)
and like the computer game, if Chad and I are both building the great Pyramid, if he get's it completed first, then I am left out. In the Civ game you get some minor crap back but the time wasted really hurt.
Maybe have a set number of wonders, each taking different numbers of turns to complete, each requiring a certain level to have been met (so many points, so many cities, so many improved cities, improved units, etc) then should Chad beat me to the Pyramids, instead of losing the say 8 turns? I get back half of them towards another wonder if I want to pursue that one?
Maybe have them "controlled" the same way as cities are controlled by occupying at the end of a fall turn? (this allows passage through by a trusted ally)
While this may seem confusing, it should be real easy to track by way of a chart all could refer to, what will it take to build the Pyramid? When can I start the Great Wall? Great Library? The Hermitage? Statue of Liberty? etc.
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Post 21 Jul 2011, 1:20 pm

I'm digging this new idea and I'm running with it.
See if this makes sense so far, I probably have a long ways to go and much depends on the game size/number of players but I think it's fleshed out pretty well so far...

Adding "Wonders of the World" to victory requirement
In addition to point total (and the point total would of course need to be raised) of say 175-200 pts
wonders can only be built on "empty" land spaces (no cities or city site spaces)
should another player complete his wonder before you, you can "bank" 1/2 the turns spent (lost) rounded down, players lose 1 turn per turn not used towards developing another wonder.
"Ownership" passes as would city ownership (occupation at the end of a fall turn)

Each player must own 3 Wonders, 1 from 3 unique groups of wonders as follows:

Ancient Wonders (no prerequisite requirements needed to build)
Stonehenge ...6 Turns to build, = 4 points
Oracle ...7 Turns, 5 pts.
Great Lighthouse ...8 Turns, 6 pts.
Pyramids ...9 Turns, 7 pts.

Intellectual Wonders city based requirements
Hanging Gardens ...5 Turns, = 4 pts. requires 5+ cities to start
Great Library ...6 Turns, 5 pts. requires 3 level 2 cities
Oxford University ...6 Turns, 6 pts. requires 3 level 2+ cities AND 1 level 5 city

Military Wonders unit based requirements
West Point ...5 Turns, 4 pts. requires 3+ offensive upgrades
Kremlin ...6 Turns, 5 pts. requires 5 unit upgrades (offense and/or defense)
Pentagon ...6 Turns, 6 pts. requires 6 Upgraded units, at least 1 of each (offense/defense) and at least 4 armies/4 fleets

Religious Wonders Contact based requirements
Spiral Minaret ...5 Turns, 4 pts. 5 Contacts made
Sistine Chapel ...6 Turns, 5 pts (numbers can vary here depending on game) 6-7 contacts
Notre Dame ...6 Turns, 6 pts. (again numbers can vary) 7-10 ...maybe meeting ALL?

Exploration Wonders Space based requirements
Colossus ...5 Turns, 4 pts must have named 20 spaces
Parthenon ...6 Turns, 5 pts. must have named 25 spaces
Hermitage ...6 Turns, 6 pts must have named 30 spaces (these numbers may also vary on game size)

Modern Wonders Points based requirements
Statue of Liberty ...5 Turns, 4 pts requires 100 points to start
Broadway ...6 Turns, 5 pts, requires 125 pts
Wall Street ...6 Turns, 6 pts. requires 140 points (and again, these would vary on game size)

The idea is to make some limited goals and having limited numbers is big (smaller games may eliminate one of the groups?), conquering these "prizes" could be huge and they need to be well thought out. The military guys will have fun trying to steal them, the infrastructure guys will have fun building and placing them strategically, the middle of the road guys will simply have fun with both. This will make the game play a bit longer, this will give far more options and opportunities as well!

The one thing I am not sure of (shooting from the hip here but that's how I usually think these things out) is what to do if two players complete the same wonder at the same time? Probably not a real probable thing to happen but most certainly possible!?
To simply keep on is not an option, maybe reward both but reduce the points they are worth? (but victory condition is met for having a wonder in that group)
Not sure how to go about this issue off the top of my noggin.
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Post 21 Jul 2011, 5:42 pm

Tom, for what to do if two players complete the same wonder at the same time? Have a tie breaker system, e.g. the player with the highest score at end of turn (not counting the add of the finished wonder) gets to placeit, the other guy gets 1/2 back.

Question, is there risk that wonders wont be built as expected to meat victory criterion to win? What I don't think we want to see is players hold off on the building of wonder until late game when they have neared the points criterion. Instead, I believe we'd want to foster players risking the build/defense of them just like city improvements currently, so that they play a role in the game from an earlier point in time. That said, I cannot envision a requirement forcing a player to build wonders; just like we do not force a player to do anything currently. So perhaps just a curiosity or potential paradox to watch for when played.

As for the blimp, it will happen in a game I have no doubt. Just a matter of sifting through the ideas for their rules above and giving it a shot. KISS has to be the guiding approach to maintain GM sanity. Until this thread I was leaning towards the blimp being an order an army/fleet could employ. But with the notion of blimps acting like wings, I want to ponder that further. Anyone who has a set of rules for wings in dip games please email to me so I can review.
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Post 21 Jul 2011, 5:44 pm

Oh I like the portals concept and see it as an alternative to oceans. I maps I have messed with i have not found it complicated and actually have designed them to add a puzzling twist to the player experience. More later on them, more interested in wonders & blimps at the moment.
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Post 22 Jul 2011, 4:02 am

I like the idea of blimps being zero-strength offense/defense but able to traverse over land/sea. The benefit is you get to travel freely, at the cost of not being able to capture cities or support other units.

Ruffhaus is right about my suggestion of tying unit upgrades to city levels: it would detract from the strategies available. Still, I wish there was some way to destroy an upgraded unit other than trapping it in a disband (which is rare, no?). I guess upgraded units are just part of the game and it's a matter of who can keep up with the Jones' the fastest.

I don't like the ideas of individual monuments per se; I like shrines or temples or sacred statues which each player can be assured of building to completion (uninterrupted, of course). Roadkill is correct though that building them later in the game to fulfill the victory point criterion doesn't boost their role much. There has to be some other benefit to building them earlier on. I personally like the idea of building various structures that make your empire unique due to what you've completed building and/or captured; more than just cities as the sole structures on the board. Would be fun to desecrate someone's sacred temple by razing it to the ground and that player losing the VC points for it but also some other benefit that temple bestowed. Would be kind of cool to see a Holy unit moving around the board, with different properties than the average unit.

Again, I like a colorful board with unique strategic and tactical opportunities outside of capturing cities and the zero-sum element associated with loss/capture. But then, I've always preferred variants to Standard Diplomacy rules, so I'm biased.
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Post 22 Jul 2011, 5:13 am

I agree 100% with the build at the end of the game problem. I whipped up the formula posted without fine tuning it but you should be able to see I at least attempted to keep this in mind, The earliest builders take the least amount of time, there is a built in reason to hurry these people into building sooner rather than later, and my points, why not flip the points as well? Building sooner gets you more points for yet another reason to build sooner rather than later?
also note the ancient wonders require zero prerequisites meaning they can be pursued that much sooner as well.

I can fine tune these number of turns and points and some input there would be nice, but you can see this is in fact something I was at least trying to deal with? I agree 100%, can you see a way to revise these numbers to make the builds happen that much sooner or hey, maybe make the requirements harder and harder than I have while the first wonder in each group is easier? I'm certain we can massage the numbers to effect exactly what we all seem to agree on and by doing so, we have a whole lot more going on all game long!