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Subject: Gauging interest in a COIN game with a science fiction theme rss

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Scott D
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I am a huge fan of the COIN series, owning all games but Andean Abyss (which I've pre-ordered on P500). However, I'm also a big fan of science fiction, and I wish there was a science fiction-themed COIN game. So, off and on for the past few months, I've been pulling together some ideas I have for a five-player COIN game with a science fiction theme. Without going into too much detail, I have a way of getting around the mathematical limitations of a five-player card deck and the inability to use licensed material for the theme. I've devised five factions, ideas for "world" background, and some very basic rules/possible cards. However, before I start spending serious time on this idea, I would like to gauge interest in both a five-player COIN game and a COIN game with a science fiction theme.

Any feedback, comments, or interest would be appreciated.
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Seriously?
 
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Robert Forrest
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I like the idea, but can't imagine how the fifth player works.
 
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Brian Train
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With six you get Dune.

But seriously...

I'm not sure what you mean about the mathematical limitations of a five-player card deck.
You just have to have sets of 120 cards in the Event Deck, one for each of the 5-factorial possible combinations of faction order.
So 240 or 360 cards, for two or three each, but that's getting a lot like work.
So you have worked a way around that?

And why the (presumably self-imposed) licensed-material limitation?
Is it for anything else than marketing?
The beauty of a science fiction setting is its absolute freedom - you don't have to pay any attention to actual history, nor to any licen$ed property, still less to any "canon" or chancroid "fanfic".
You can make it all up.

Brian
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Tom R
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I wonder if you could get around the event deck issue by having the fations at various levels of power/ability, and having the weaker teams act first more often? Would take a lot of balancing to get right.
 
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Jesse Edelstein
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Sounds good to me! I'd be interested to know what kind of setting and factions you're looking at.
 
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Scott D
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ltmurnau wrote:
I'm not sure what you mean about the mathematical limitations of a five-player card deck.
You just have to have sets of 120 cards in the Event Deck, one for each of the 5-factorial possible combinations of faction order.
So 240 or 360 cards, for two or three each, but that's getting a lot like work.
So you have worked a way around that?
I mean that having enough cards to have all the faction order combinations with five faction would make for way too big of a deck unless you only had one card per combination (which would make it too susceptible to "gaming" which orders could never come up again). I'd prefer not to give away too many specific details about my way around this at this point, but suffice it to say that one faction plays by somewhat different rules, leading to only four faction symbols on the cards and the standard deck size. That the fifth faction plays by different rules fits the "story" idea. (Brian, if you'd like to know more specifics, I can PM you.)

ltmurnau wrote:
And why the (presumably self-imposed) licensed-material limitation?
Is it for anything else than marketing?
The beauty of a science fiction setting is its absolute freedom - you don't have to pay any attention to actual history, nor to any licen$ed property, still less to any "canon" or chancroid "fanfic".
You can make it all up.

Brian
I think I was unclear here. What I mean is that GMT wouldn't go for using licensed material due to the cost of obtaining use of the license. So the "limitation" is that it is very time-intensive to create an entire "world story" in addition to the game. Sure, there's a ton of freedom, but the "history" must be created entirely from scratch.
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Brian Train
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Scottland wrote:

I mean that having enough cards to have all the faction order combinations with five faction would make for way too big of a deck unless you only had one card per combination (which would make it too susceptible to "gaming" which orders could never come up again). I'd prefer not to give away too many specific details about my way around this at this point, but suffice it to say that one faction plays by somewhat different rules, leading to only four faction symbols on the cards and the standard deck size. That the fifth faction plays by different rules fits the "story" idea. (Brian, if you'd like to know more specifics, I can PM you.)

[snip]
I think I was unclear here. What I mean is that GMT wouldn't go for using licensed material due to the cost of obtaining use of the license. So the "limitation" is that it is very time-intensive to create an entire "world story" in addition to the game. Sure, there's a ton of freedom, but the "history" must be created entirely from scratch.
I think I see what you're getting at there.
Sounds interesting!

And if GMT (or anyone else, but I imagine GMT is the only one with pockets remotely deep enough) won't go for licensed material, then I think you're probably just going to have to make something up.
Or have a bunch of fans write it for you.
They'll do anything for exposure.

Brian
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Scott D
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ltmurnau wrote:
And if GMT (or anyone else, but I imagine GMT is the only one with pockets remotely deep enough) won't go for licensed material, then I think you're probably just going to have to make something up.
Or have a bunch of fans write it for you.
I've actually already created the framework for original material but want to see if there'd be interest in such a game before working on fleshing out the details (since that will take a lot of time). I'll keep in mind your suggestion around fan help.
 
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Derry Salewski
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I mean... what coin game has bombed?

make your game.
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Francisco Gutierrez
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I understand that people enjoy wargames for different reasons, but one my favorite aspects of wargaming is learning about the subject.

I've only played two COIN games, A distant plain and Fire in the Lake, but both caused me to read a few books about each subject. Heck, even just reading the historical background notes for each card is interesting.

I truly mean no offense, but I wouldn't be interested in a sci-fi wargame because it has nothing to teach. A game with a license game might get me interested in its source material, but I don't think that would be as "good" as actual history.

I will admit, though, that I've seen players turned off by COIN games because they knew nothing about the source material.
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Scott D
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joetaco wrote:
I understand that people enjoy wargames for different reasons, but one my favorite aspects of wargaming is learning about the subject.

I've only played two COIN games, A distant plain and Fire in the Lake, but both caused me to read a few books about each subject. Heck, even just reading the historical background notes for each card is interesting.

I truly mean no offense, but I wouldn't be interested in a sci-fi wargame because it has nothing to teach. A game with a license game might get me interested in its source material, but I don't think that would be as "good" as actual history.

I will admit, though, that I've seen players turned off by COIN games because they knew nothing about the source material.
Understand the concern here, though I will say that a science fiction COIN wouldn't be much different than 95% of the games on the market in that respect. For instance, I don't want to learn about Ancient Egypt after playing Ra, nor do I care to learn about French merchant trading history after a session of Le Havre. From what you've said, I gather you enjoy historical wargaming more than just any game that depicts war themes generally. And that's fine. I appreciate the input!
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David Goulette
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I, for one, would love a sci-fi COIN game despite the fact that I like the historical games too.

My only concern with 5 is that the game will be really long. I have always thought that there needs to be a 3 player coin game. It would move more quickly I think, and it could potentially be very cutthroat.

 
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Gabriel Conroy
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Sci fi COIN: yes absolutely; have had many thoughts along these lines and would love to see one.

5 players: no thanks, would never play it with that many!

World building and theme: Certainly approve of not going for an existing theme; cost and restrictions make it not worth it. However, I would say this: don't waste too much time trying to develop a world history and setting, or at least, don't put too much of it in there. You only need to hint at things; people can fill in a lot with their imagination. A great example of this is the first edition of Imperium by GDW. It was released before there was any of the Traveller backstory, and yet it was immersive and enjoyable.



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Georg Bauer
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Since I usually play COIN games solo, a 5-player COIN would mean I have to handle 4 bots? Nope. I actually don't get to play them often enough due to the amount of work it is to handle the 3 bots, so I guess I would skip a "monster COIN" (and even multiplayer, the amount of times where I actually get 5 people together for a deep game is quite low, so even there the 5 players would be just added overhead due to the bots that need to be handled)

SciFi COIN on the other hand, I would be totally fine with.
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Mark Turner
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I think it would have to be a licensed sci-fi property, or risk missing out on a large portion of the potential market.

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Gabriel Conroy
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MrMT wrote:
I think it would have to be a licensed sci-fi property, or risk missing out on a large portion of the potential market.

I doubt whether more than a very small proportion of the supposed market for licenced sci-fi settings would be receptive to a COIN game..

Also, only a small number of sci-fi settings have a genuinely large potential market.
 
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Cracky McCracken
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Star Wars would work well for four. Sith, Jedi, Empire & Rebellion.

But that ain't gonna happen...
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Gabriel Conroy
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Should add, if there were a licensed setting, it would as likely be a turn off as an attraction for me, particularly if it were Warhammer 40k or Star Wars. Never liked the former to start with, and thoroughly sick of the latter.
 
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Pete Martyn
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I'm sick to death of licensed properties. If your worldbuilding was creative enough that it didn't just feel like a re-skin of something I've seen a million times, that would be a draw.

A little leery of the five-player count but also very curious as to how you'd approach it. I say do it!
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Scott D
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achates wrote:
Should add, if there were a licensed setting, it would as likely be a turn off as an attraction for me, particularly if it were Warhammer 40k or Star Wars. Never liked the former to start with, and thoroughly sick of the latter.
From what I understand, you needn't worry: GMT is a no-go with licensed properties due to cost.
 
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Rex Stites
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Scottland wrote:
joetaco wrote:
I understand that people enjoy wargames for different reasons, but one my favorite aspects of wargaming is learning about the subject.

I've only played two COIN games, A distant plain and Fire in the Lake, but both caused me to read a few books about each subject. Heck, even just reading the historical background notes for each card is interesting.

I truly mean no offense, but I wouldn't be interested in a sci-fi wargame because it has nothing to teach. A game with a license game might get me interested in its source material, but I don't think that would be as "good" as actual history.

I will admit, though, that I've seen players turned off by COIN games because they knew nothing about the source material.
Understand the concern here, though I will say that a science fiction COIN wouldn't be much different than 95% of the games on the market in that respect. For instance, I don't want to learn about Ancient Egypt after playing Ra, nor do I care to learn about French merchant trading history after a session of Le Havre. From what you've said, I gather you enjoy historical wargaming more than just any game that depicts war themes generally. And that's fine. I appreciate the input!
In the games you mention, the theme is utterly irrelevant. The fact that nobody wants to learn about the "history" of that theme is not surprising, as the game has very little actual connection to the theme. People play them purely because of the game mechanics and the problem they present to players in order to "win." In such games, the theme is not an actual selling point of the game. Such games will stand or fall based on gameplay alone. The theme may initially intrigue some people, but in the end they're not going to play it (or not play it) based on its theme.

Proposing a Sci-fi theme implies that theme actually matters--i.e., that you're not proposing a mechanically driven Euro, but a thematic "experience" type of game. Unlike a Euro, such games need tell a story. I think that's where the combination of COIN series and un-licensed subject matter present a likely insurmountable stumbling block. As good as the COIN series is at representing various historical subjects and providing insights into those subjects, and as good as they might be from a pure game/Euro perspective, the system isn't good at narrative building. The model is very high level and abstract and just doesn't have enough details to build a story on its own. To make a sci-fi (or fantasy) story work requires a lot of world building. Starting with a licensed pre-built world that players are familiar with would potentially give players enough to start with that the COIN model would allow enough immersion into the narrative to draw people in. But starting from scratch, I have a feeling the game would feel cold and detached--i.e., like a soulless euro.
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Wamba the Fool
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Sci-Fi is not a turn-off for me, but 5p is. If it had really good and easy-to-grok bots so that I could play 3p-2b or 4p-1b that might be ok but it would be a weakness the rest of the design would have to overcome, not an advantage that would make me excited to get to the table.

You could make the simulationist grognards really mad and set it in a generic fantasy world!

Good luck! The world can always use more COIN in it!
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Scott D
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rstites25 wrote:
In the games you mention, the theme is utterly irrelevant. The fact that nobody wants to learn about the "history" of that theme is not surprising, as the game has very little actual connection to the theme. People play them purely because of the game mechanics and the problem they present to players in order to "win." In such games, the theme is not an actual selling point of the game. Such games will stand or fall based on gameplay alone. The theme may initially intrigue some people, but in the end they're not going to play it (or not play it) based on its theme.

Proposing a Sci-fi theme implies that theme actually matters--i.e., that you're not proposing a mechanically driven Euro, but a thematic "experience" type of game. Unlike a Euro, such games need tell a story. I think that's where the combination of COIN series and un-licensed subject matter present a likely insurmountable stumbling block. As good as the COIN series is at representing various historical subjects and providing insights into those subjects, and as good as they might be from a pure game/Euro perspective, the system isn't good at narrative building. The model is very high level and abstract and just doesn't have enough details to build a story on its own. To make a sci-fi (or fantasy) story work requires a lot of world building. Starting with a licensed pre-built world that players are familiar with would potentially give players enough to start with that the COIN model would allow enough immersion into the narrative to draw people in. But starting from scratch, I have a feeling the game would feel cold and detached--i.e., like a soulless euro.
While I see where you are coming from, I could also suggest that games like Twilight Imperium, Android: Netrunner, and Eclipse all rely on worlds built from scratch. In many cases, these games also are pretty abstract. In the case of Netrunner particularly, the game relies completely on the cards to give life to its world, and I see no reason why a COIN game could not do the same. Would the need to "fill in gaps" with one's imagination appeal to everyone? Of course not. However, I think there are people who would actually prefer to do so. Certainly, several people have posted here to that effect. And, really, the theme appealing to some and turning off others is no different than any other COIN game in that regard: I know many people--including me--do not start with the recommended Cuba Libre because they have no interest whatsoever in the Cuban Revolution.

Additionally, playing a sci-fi COIN game whose history was built from scratch would be similar to playing any COIN game whose theme is entirely unknown to the players (Colonial Twilight's theme, as an example, is not something I know anything about). Sure, in CT's case I can go look up the history, but I can also enjoy the game without doing so and learn a little about the conflict through the cards and the event background blurbs in the playbook.

Thanks for sharing your perspective. I started this thread specifically to get divergent opinions.
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Scott D
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wamba_the_fool wrote:
Sci-Fi is not a turn-off for me, but 5p is. If it had really good and easy-to-grok bots so that I could play 3p-2b or 4p-1b that might be ok but it would be a weakness the rest of the design would have to overcome, not an advantage that would make me excited to get to the table.

You could make the simulationist grognards really mad and set it in a generic fantasy world!

Good luck! The world can always use more COIN in it!
One thing I took very seriously when considering the idea of a 5p game is how difficult it could be to get 5p to the table. So, I've tried to design the factions in a way that would make the game amenable to any number of players from 1-5 without feeling forced (after proper playtesting and balancing, of course). In particular, I think the structure of the factions gives the game serious potential to fill a 3p COIN game gap.
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