Euro Thrash
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Terraforming Mars' method for tracking resources seems pretty efficient for lots of pieces. Why dont more games like Caverna or Agricola do this?

Advantages:

- just need 3 uniform cube sizes and a player sheet to track a lot of different types (you could probably make do with only 1 or 2 uniform pieces depending on the game too [using number chits and a giant resource symbol for clarity may be better?])

- minimizes a lot of space. No need to search for the right matching pile of resources

- reduces setup and cleanup, significantly cutting their time

- cheaper to produce

Disadvantages:

- may get busy on the resource board (?)

- if one resource is bumped too much, it may be harder to tell which pile it belongs to (could be fixed with long roads from Catan or separate card resource markers)

- colored or shaped pieces may be more fun

- more impersonal and more disconnect from the theme (?)

- location matters in some games (ex wheat resource in Agrciola field, coal and oil in PG market on power plant cards)

- cannot do limited resource quantities (ex 7 gems only in Splendor)

What are the major other advantages and disadvantages?

What are your thoughts? Can anyone analyze this resource tracking system in depth for me, comparing to others please?
 
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I dont know if this is related so I wanted to keep this post semi separate. I am partly reminded of miniatures in combat game.

From an "efficiency " and information standpoint, it makes way more sense IMO to use a card + cheap plastic standee, since cards can hold more information and are more easily switched and stored.

Theres still disadvantages like miniatures being easier to grab/move and the big one of course being the evocative atmosphere they help create imo.

Would you say this is a similar analogy? If anyone can provide thoughts about this in-depth, I'd appreciate it too. Thanks.
 
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Eurothrash wrote:
Terraforming Mars' method for tracking resources seems pretty efficient for lots of pieces. Why dont more games like Caverna or Agricola do this?

Advantages:

- just need 3 uniform cube sizes and a player sheet to track a lot of different types (you could probably make do with only 1 or 2 uniform pieces depending on the game too)

- minimizes a lot of space. No need to search for the right matching pile of resources

- reduces setup and cleanup, significantly cutting their time

- cheaper to produce

Disadvantages:

- may get busy on the resource board (?)

- colored or shaped pieces may be more fun

- more impersonal and more disconnect from the theme (?)

What are the major other advantages and disadvantages?

What are your thoughts? Can anyone analyze this resource tracking system in depth for me, comparing to others please?
I think you've covered all the major pros and cons. I'm actually not a fan of the resource tracking in TFM. In general the graphic/component design of the game is poor, but I really like it anyway - which is a testament to what a great engine it has. IMO the shiny cubes clash aesthetically with some of the other components, but they certainly are functional. The player aid should have used dials for production as it is way too easy to bump and lose track of everything. Also graphic design 101, they should have placed the production tracks between each resource stockpile so it is harder to accidentally commingle anything.
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Jeff Forbes

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Some thoughts:

Terraforming Mars focuses on income, not quantity of goods. You gain income, mostly. Occasionally you gain resources. The need to track income makes things a bit more involved.

The player boards that come with Terraforming Mars are fussy - they are asking for some sort of an upgrade (Double layered, acrylic piece, or wooden). Without it, one bump and everything gets messed up.

Differentiation of resources is much more important in worker placement games. The use of different colors for different items is a useful means of reading the board. The quantity thing isn't a big deal, but the appearance of each good is. Being able to see what the resources are from across the table is very useful. If you're looking at a board with a bunch of same color cubes, it increases the chance that you misunderstand what the resource is.

In games with more spatial thinking to do, even if simple (Such as Agricola), it greatly clarifies what you're looking at.

For example, if you have a farm that has 3 different kinds of animals spread around 6-8 different spaces - how do you differentiate what animal is what type? Do you add another piece?

Most of these games are easier to play with unsorted resources. It's a misnomer that you need to sort them. This isn't the case for everything, but try playing Caverna with just a few piles of goods - rubies/ore, building resources, and animals and agrimeeples. You will be shocked at how easy it is to grab 3 wood when you just dump it in a pile.

In Terraforming Mars it works well because you're not using your resources in other places. You have a board that abstractly represents how many of something that you do have - and that's literally all you need. In the case of other games, you're actually using the bits in ways other than paying for something else, so you can't just have them all in one place. Each location where they are used, you'd need to identify them somehow.

In short, you may lose some storage efficiency, but you gain efficiency in representing a more complex game state.

I largely agree with you regarding miniatures, but I don't see these as an equivalent comparison.



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jforbes wrote:
Some thoughts:

Terraforming Mars focuses on income, not quantity of goods. You gain income, mostly. Occasionally you gain resources. The need to track income makes things a bit more involved.

The player boards that come with Terraforming Mars are fussy - they are asking for some sort of an upgrade (Double layered, acrylic piece, or wooden). Without it, one bump and everything gets messed up.

One would hope that with the gazillion dollars they made on the first edition (at least by hobby boardgame standards), that a second edition would at least have a 2 layer player aid so that each resource area is recessed with a border so that it's not so precarious...
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m3tan wrote:
IMO the shiny cubes clash aesthetically with some of the other components, but they certainly are functional. The player aid should have used dials for production as it is way too easy to bump and lose track of everything. Also graphic design 101, they should have placed the production tracks between each resource stockpile so it is harder to accidentally commingle anything.

Couldn't you fix this easily by just stealing some big roads from Catan and using it to separate the resource areas though?
 
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Lazer de Vos
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It's less fun.
 
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In fact, in the game I am designing, I had to deal with quite a lot of resources to be manipulated. I went from the classical 1 cube = 1 resource in different colors (too much manipulation, too long), to counters (okayish but a bit messy on my prototype, could be ok with adapted components), to TFM kind of recsource counting: 5 discs for storing 5 different resources, 2 sizes of cubes (feels great!). So I think TFM way to manipulated is better adapted to manipulation of a great number of resources, where you often pay different kinds of resources or transform one into another.

I would not claim that agricola would be better this way, but for sure I believe that TFM would be messy with agricola-like resource counting (in Agricola you do not gain 30 food each turn )
 
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Thanee
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m3tan wrote:
One would hope that with the gazillion dollars they made on the first edition (at least by hobby boardgame standards), that a second edition would at least have a 2 layer player aid so that each resource area is recessed with a border so that it's not so precarious...

They are getting that, actually...



Unfortunately, for some reason, they considered it a good idea to make it "promo content".

Bye
Thanee
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Martijn Vos
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Despite some interesting similarities between the games in general, Terraforming Mars and Agricola (I have no experience with Caverna) do very different things with their resources, and I don't see how Terraforming Mars' approach would work for Agricola.

In Agricola, it matters where your resources are as well as what they are. Which animals are in which field? Did you plant wheat or vegetables here? Adding a separate resource tray like TM has would take up a lot of extra space for no real gain. The amount of resources you've got in Agricola are much lower than in TM; the only one that may get above 10 are wood and food, whereas in TM, several may get above 10, and money is consistently above 20 (and much more later in the game). Meanwhile, Agricola doesn't share TM's need to keep track of production.

Different games have different needs, and while I love both of these games and see a lot of similarities between them, this is very clearly an area where they are different.

Eurothrash wrote:
Advantages:

- just need 3 uniform cube sizes and a player sheet to track a lot of different types (you could probably make do with only 1 or 2 uniform pieces depending on the game too [using number chits and a giant resource symbol for clarity may be better?])
All of that is on top of what Agricola already has. You still need the farm layout, you still need to know which type of animal is where. So you will need more different types of resource tokens, where you will rarely use the big ones.

Quote:
- minimizes a lot of space. No need to search for the right matching pile of resources
You need more space per player for the additional resource tray. Not to mention that you still need some way to distinguish between different types of resources when they're on your farm. And you don't need to search for the right kind of resource if you keep them separate in the first place. (We use tiny bowls, which is almost perfect. Tiny bowls that can close so we can store them in it would be even better.)

Quote:
- reduces setup and cleanup, significantly cutting their time
Those closeable bowls I want would do more to cut cleanup and setup time.

Quote:
- cheaper to produce
Sure, but also more boring and less immersive than having resources in the colour and shape of the thing they represent.

I think the games have very different needs. In Terraforming Mars, the different kinds of resources are currencies that aren't really treated in very different ways by the rules, making the difference more abstract. Having a separate resource tray with different buckets for the different resources (including the production track) makes the featureless blocks work perfectly fine.

In Agricola, the resources are more than currency; you plant the wheat and vegetables, the sheep stand in fields, wood accumulates on the board before you pick it up. Using featureless cubes would make it less visible, less tangible. And there's no advantage to using cubes because you never need to represent 40 of the same resource. You work in smaller amounts.
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Martijn Vos
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m3tan wrote:
One would hope that with the gazillion dollars they made on the first edition (at least by hobby boardgame standards), that a second edition would at least have a 2 layer player aid so that each resource area is recessed with a border so that it's not so precarious...
There are some excellent solutions available on Etsy.

But yes, this is easily the biggest problem with Terraforming Mars: it's far to easy to bump the production markers out of place.
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mcvos wrote:
Despite some interesting similarities between the games in general, Terraforming Mars and Agricola (I have no experience with Caverna) do very different things with their resources, and I don't see how Terraforming Mars' approach would work for Agricola.

Yes, basically this.
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I like the resource tracking system for Eclipse a lot better than that for Terraforming Mars.
In Eclipse, you have a resource track, and you place resource markers in different colours on the correct space on that track. You move the counter up when you get more resources, and down when you spend them.

I made my own version of that for TM; it should be somewhere in the download section.
 
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