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Subject: Using VP as an action allowance system rss

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Cameron Z
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Hi all

I'm currently working on designing my first game, and I'm considering an action allowance system that actually revolves around spending your victory points to do things. My thought is that this will result in a decision between playing safe and not losing your points, and taking big risk for big reward.

The game will end when one player has a certain number of VPs at the end of a round, so I'm concerned that using VP as currency might wind up prolonging the game.

What are your thoughts?
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Jeremy Lennert
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If the cost is linear (e.g. spend 1 VP for every action you take), I think you are likely to run into problems. The only way people will make progress towards winning is if, on average, they earn more VP than they spend; but if actions give you more VP than they cost, then it's likely the best strategy is to take as many actions as possible.

If you've got escalating costs (e.g. your first action each round costs 1 VP, your second action costs 2 VP, your third costs 3 VP, etc.) then that seems more likely to work; you're effectively saying you can take extra actions (at reduced efficiency) on rounds where it is very valuable to do so, so there's maybe some interesting optimization problems in figuring out when that's worth doing.

You might find that it becomes important to score your first few VP as fast as possible so that you have some available to spend. That might or might not be a good thing.
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Bill Cook
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A lot of Euro games give you a number of action points / workers to place / good to buy / etc. Often you have a choice of resources that get built into a machines that churns out victory points in the end. But there is often a boring option that just directly translates into victory points.

If you think about it, this is almost identical to what you are asking gamers to do. Just making up games rules here - imagine a game where players get $4 a turn and can spend that on gold, poppy seeds or farmers. Their "default" can be to buy 4 gold, which translates to 4 VP at the end of the game. Or they can buy 3 gold and one packet of poppy seeds. Or they can buy 2 gold, some seeds and a farmer. Whatever. The key is that "not buying gold" is the same action as "spending a VP".

Getting back to your game... you need some mechanism to move players along the victory track even if they don't choose to spend VPs on actions. Otherwise the safe option means just sitting there not moving on the VP track. That's no fun. And will really prolong the game. Perhaps VP's droppeth at the gentle rain from heaven each turn. They players can choose to hoard their points, or gamble by doing something fun with them.
 
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Bill Eldard
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EMBison wrote:
A lot of Euro games give you a number of action points / workers to place / good to buy / etc. Often you have a choice of resources that get built into a machines that churns out victory points in the end. But there is often a boring option that just directly translates into victory points.
In Torres, each player can expend 5 action points (AP) on his/her turn. One of the options is to buy VP's with AP's. If a player's VP marker ends atop another player's marker on the VP track, it is moved forward to the next empty space, so in effect, 1 AP expended to advance the VP marker could net 2 VPs.

EMBison wrote:
Getting back to your game... you need some mechanism to move players along the victory track even if they don't choose to spend VPs on actions. Otherwise the safe option means just sitting there not moving on the VP track. That's no fun. And will really prolong the game. Perhaps VP's droppeth at the gentle rain from heaven each turn. They players can choose to hoard their points, or gamble by doing something fun with them.
I agree. Reluctance to expend VPs for actions could bring the game to a virtual halt.
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Billy Lumiukko
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I think that if implemented correctly that can be a good idea.

If one can take actions only if they spend VPs, then you need to make sure that they receive at least some every turn otherwise they might run into a loop: no VP -> no action therefore not gaining more VP...

If the game is about building an engine where you get more VP every turn, I could imagine that there is a risk that players in the last couple of rounds (when they have optimized their engine) do nothing or very little to maximize their VP revenue. That's unfortunately a bit anti-climactic and people tend to prefer games where they can do more at the end of the game, not less.

Those 'problems' can definitely be fixed with some clever design so as long as you keep possible issues in mind, please go ahead.

You should take look at Five Tribes where the 1 money is 1 VP in the end. You may use the money during your turn to take some actions and to get a better position in the turn order track but there are many other ways to get VPs and you can play the whole game without spending any money and still do a lot of stuff.

Good luck!
 
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Jake Staines
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I suspect a lot of the problem you'll have with using VPs to drive actions is a psychological one - people don't want to feel like they're throwing away victory in order to do a thing.

I further suspect that most players wouldn't have the same problem if you just renamed victory points "money" and set the win condition to be the player with the most "money" at the end of the game. Everyone already understands the concept of spending money to make money.

Similarly, there are plenty of games where you manipulate some combination of resources, all or most of which are converted into points in order to determine victory at the end of the game. Again, players very rarely have a problem using these resources to get an in-game benefit, which may give a direct increase to the points-total of all their resources, or may give them some other perk which allows them to collect more points-valued resources later.

Fundamentally, all three of these options have a similar mechanical effect - players set themselves back a little in order to gain a benefit that puts them closer to victory or enables a future growth in victory. But players will often have a slightly or drastically different mentality in each case.
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Jon Vallerand
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DecentDeficiency wrote:
The game will end when one player has a certain number of VPs at the end of a round, so I'm concerned that using VP as currency might wind up prolonging the game.

Unless you're designing an expansion to a published game, that end-game trigger can change, and should if it makes your game better. In general, a game that ends when a certain score is reached should not be mixed with a game where you spend those points, I agree. But maybe make a pool of point tokens, with spent ones going back to the box, and when the pool is empty, the game ends?

That being said, like Antistone pointed out, if the value of an action is higher than the cost, players will do it all the time. This sort of mechanism would work best with actions where timing is important (you can get resources this turn that you can't get [or can't get at that price] the next, for example), or with a heavy denial aspect. Which basically means "the value of an action is not always the same", in which case the main strategic challenge of the game is evaluating each action's value.
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Cameron Z
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Thanks for the replies, guys! What you're saying makes a lot of sense.

Antistone wrote:
If you've got escalating costs (e.g. your first action each round costs 1 VP, your second action costs 2 VP, your third costs 3 VP, etc.) then that seems more likely to work; you're effectively saying you can take extra actions (at reduced efficiency) on rounds where it is very valuable to do so, so there's maybe some interesting optimization problems in figuring out when that's worth doing.
I like the idea of having more actions each turn cost progressively more, I'll look into that further.

Bichaste wrote:
I suspect a lot of the problem you'll have with using VPs to drive actions is a psychological one - people don't want to feel like they're throwing away victory in order to do a thing.
I just used VP as a general term, it won't be called VP in the game, I'll rename it based on the theme.

BillyVMe wrote:
If one can take actions only if they spend VPs, then you need to make sure that they receive at least some every turn otherwise they might run into a loop: no VP -> no action therefore not gaining more VP...
I didn't think too much about what happens when a player has no points to spend on actions, I'll be sure to work with that as I go further.
 
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Nathaniel Grisham

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I think it's already done to some extent in a lot of games. I don't think I've seen VP being involved in an action-point system specifically, but there are a lot of games that have certain actions cost some amount of currency, and that currency itself has some conversion to VP (I think anywhere in the range from 3:1 to 1:1 is fairly common).

The ideas described here are only a little bit different, with the idea being to spend the currency to take more actions, instead of (or in addition to) spending it as the cost of a specific action. So, I think it could work really well.
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Jon Vallerand
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Grishhammer wrote:
I think it's already done to some extent in a lot of games. I don't think I've seen VP being involved in an action-point system specifically, but there are a lot of games that have certain actions cost some amount of currency, and that currency itself has some conversion to VP (I think anywhere in the range from 3:1 to 1:1 is fairly common).

The ideas described here are only a little bit different, with the idea being to spend the currency to take more actions, instead of (or in addition to) spending it as the cost of a specific action. So, I think it could work really well.

I mean, it's basically the concept behind economic games: get money, spend money to improve your income, rinse and repeat, most money wins.
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Aytug Gencoglu
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Others have given very good answers, especially Antistone and EMBison. The only thing I can think of to suggest is to change the endgame trigger, which was suggested before. I am cribbing my suggestion directly from Paydirt. In Paydirt, you mine for gold, and the amount of gold you have at the end of the turn is your VPs. Throughout the game you sell gold to get money, and you use money for everything else. However, how much money you have doesn't matter in the end, only gold. In Paydirt, the game ends after a certain number of turns, give or take a couple. So the amount of VP does not determine the game length there.

I do like the ideas from Antistone's post, though. I think that is a more interesting path.
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Matthew Ware
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One thing you definitely want to watch out for this kind of game is snowballing. If one player gets ahead in victory points, they can take more actions, make a bigger gamble, get more victory points, and repeat this far more than your other players. Naturally, it's okay to have one person clearly pulling ahead as a "first place" position, but if being first place actively rewards them with more abilities to get further into first place, you will run into this problem.
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Shaun Morris
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If done well (see Plague Inc.: The Board Game) this is a really cool and interesting mechanic. If done poorly, it'll ruin your game.
 
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Steven Davies
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Koneko: A PvP worker placement game set in a very Feline Feudal Japan........
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Imho, I love the idea of using VPs in game, but there needs to be a couple of caveats. It has to be an option not a necessity, a choice players can make that leads to extra VPs, which leads to the 2nd caveat; it needs to lead to players being better off for making the choice, either a small but guaranteed gain or a large gain that is a gamble.

One exampke is in Caverna, you can build a room that lets you spend gold (which are basically just VPs) to get resources which, ultimately, prove more valuable than the base value of the vps spent.
 
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Chris Smith
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The Great Zimbabwe does something like this.
At the start, every player needs 20VPs to win. In the game you can take actions that make you have more options or control the economy in the game, but in doing so you now require more VPs to win.

The key to TGZ is knowing if you should, and when, to make things more onerous for yourself.
 
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Bog
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Perhaps a hybrid approach could be interesting.

A player could *boost* their available actions with a set amount of VP. Get a poor hand draw? Sacrifice a VP for an extra card or reposition yoursef on the board to get better resources the next turn. One can mitigate luck factors this way. I could also picture this as a sort of "overdrive" mechanic. Get a strong boost on the individual turn, turning in 10VP for an extra two actions, hoping you will be able to earn back those 10VP and then some. Another player might be able to successfully counter the gambit and leaving you merrily grumbling over the points you just burnt.

- Bog
 
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Jon Vallerand
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BobGatson wrote:
PGet a strong boost on the individual turn, turning in 10VP for an extra two actions, hoping you will be able to earn back those 10VP and then some. Another player might be able to successfully counter the gambit and leaving you merrily grumbling over the points you just burnt.

This only works if the amount of points you get is unsure.
 
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Bog
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JVallerand wrote:


This only works if the amount of points you get is unsure.

That sounds like the kind of situation OP is interested in:

"My thought is that this will result in a decision between playing safe and not losing your points, and taking big risk for big reward."
 
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Jon Vallerand
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BobGatson wrote:
JVallerand wrote:


This only works if the amount of points you get is unsure.

That sounds like the kind of situation OP is interested in:

"My thought is that this will result in a decision between playing safe and not losing your points, and taking big risk for big reward."

You're right. I did not mean that as a counter-argument, simply as pointing out the requirements for this to work.
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Daniel Baba
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DecentDeficiency wrote:
Hi all

I'm currently working on designing my first game, and I'm considering an action allowance system that actually revolves around spending your victory points to do things. My thought is that this will result in a decision between playing safe and not losing your points, and taking big risk for big reward.

The game will end when one player has a certain number of VPs at the end of a round, so I'm concerned that using VP as currency might wind up prolonging the game.

What are your thoughts?

Although its been 2 years since you posted this, I stumbled across it and thought I'd reply. Two games that come to mind that used victory points as currency well are Plague Inc and The Game of Thrones board game.
 
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