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Subject: Navegador game mechanics rss

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Walther Gerdts
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For those who are interested: Which game mechanics can you expect in Navegador?

The rondel

Yes, it’s there. In fact, we experimented with alternative action selection mechanisms in January, but in the end turned back to the rondel because of its clear advantages: It is an efficient way to organize the choice of actions and plan them ahead. Each action is easy and fast, there are opportunity costs to consider, and you can see what the other players may be doing next. There are plausible sequences of turns, and not so plausible one’s, so there is always room to try out new combinations and surprise your opponents. In the end, the rondel is not what the game is about, it is just a method of action selection, which basically could be applied to a plethora of very different games.

Exploration and uncertainty
Navegador is set in the golden Age of Discoveries, when the Portuguese began to build up their trade empire stretching from Brazil in the West to Japan in the East. Of course they did not know what exactly they would find when sailing the seas, and the players should not know either. An element of uncertainty had to be included to fit the theme. On the other hand, Navegador is a strategy game and being lucky should not decide who is winning. Our solution: When exploring new sea regions, you detect a number of new colonies. Each colony has a certain price, which has to be paid when founding it. The geographic distribution of colonies is done secretly and randomly before the game starts, so that no game is like the other. Moreover, there are hidden colony tokens who do not take part in the game at all, so that you can never calculate which colony is missing. The explorer of a new sea region gets a bonus out of the bank which equals the price of the cheapest newly detected colony. This mitigates the random effect, because you have always the potential to acquire at least the cheapest colony. But sometimes it may be favorable not to found colonies there, depending on your strategy and your choice of actions (sailing/exploring and founding colonies are two separate turns).

War or peace?
As all players are of Portuguese descent and obey to the same king, they do not wage wars against each other. In general, Navegador is a peaceful affair. But exploring unknown waters is a dangerous venture, and ships become lost easily (Imagine there are strong currents, offshore barrier reefs, and Arabian fleets waiting). Loosing ships is a useful mechanic, because it prevents players sailing in front from monopolizing the discoveries, as their fleet then will constantly diminish. And all new ships have to start sailing from Portugal.

The Navegador
There is a Navegador card running around the table (showing Henry the Navigator = Henrique o Navegador), in a way comparable to the Investor card in Imperial, but very different to it. This card may be used for an extra sailing action in addition to your usual turn, and immediately after being used, it goes to the next player. While the players execute their turns in clockwise order, the Navegador goes anti-clockwise. This helps to mitigate the advantage of the starting player, because the last player is the first who may execute the equivalent of 2 turns at once. Of course he can choose to wait until he thinks it is the best time to do so. Blocking the Navegador is not possible though, as the card has to be used within a certain time frame. Apart from working against the starting player’s advantage, it adds a desirable element of uncertainty to the exploration process. The fleet running ahead may be overtaken unexpectedly by a double sailing action of another player.

Game phases
Navegador runs in three phases, which are triggered by the explorations: After the Cape of Good Hope has been circumnavigated, the game enters phase II, and after the Strait of Malacca has been explored, it enters phase III. The game phases have an impact on the potential sailing distance (the later the game, the more regions can be sailed in a single turn), and on prices of additional ships and workers (the later the game, the more expensive they become). Moreover, whenever a new game phase is started, new privileges come into the game.

Workers
Workers are an important element, but Navegador does not apply a worker placement mechanic. Starting with 3 workers you may later employ up to 9 of them. Owning workers is a precondition for being able to acquire new colonies, factories, shipyards, and churches (in addition, those investments have to be paid with money). For instance, as each colony requires the ownership of 2 workers, you can found only 1 colony per turn at start of the game where you have only 3 workers. In order to get 2 colonies in a single turn you need at least 4 workers, to get 3 colonies 6 workers etc. The toughest requirement is for building a church where 5 workers are needed. When using workers they do not get lost, but can be used another time in a future turn again. The only instance where workers are lost is when privileges are acquired. Privileges give victory points, and are paid with a worker (Imagine the worker is not working for you anymore, but instead for the Royal Court of Portugal).

Supply and demand
The player’s colonies sell sugar from Brazil, gold from Africa and spices from Asia on the market, where the prices will fall the more units are sold. On the other hand, the player’s factories need goods from the market, and the more factories are in the game, the more the prices will rise again. Players with many colonies have an interest in high prices, and players with many factories want to have the prices down. This mechanic of supply and demand is applied separately for each type of goods on the market. Managing the market in the right way in the right moment is the key for economic success. Another element of supply and demand exists for the prices of colonies, factories, shipyards and churches. The cheapest items will be taken first, and the more are taken, the higher their prices will be. For instance, the first factory will be relatively cheap costing only 50, but the last factory will cost a stunning amount of 250 Cruzados.

Diversification versus concentration
To develop a proper trade empire a player needs a lot of things: Colonies and/or factories to earn money, ships to explore the seas and found colonies, workers to be able to invest and to acquire privileges, shipyards to build new ships, churches to attract new workers, and privileges to earn victory points at the end of the game. Whereas diversification is usually useful to build up an efficient economic engine, it is mainly a bad thing when it comes to victory points because of the nature of the privileges.

Privileges, or how to build an individual VP-portfolio
The winner is determined by VPs which are calculated at the end of the game. Players get basic VPs and additional VPs according to their privileges, which exist in 5 categories: VPs per colonies (Albuquerque), per factories (Cabral), per explorers (da Gama), per shipyards (Dias), and per churches (Xavier). For instance, each colony gives you 1 basic VP plus 1 VP per privilege from Albuquerque. The maximum one can achieve is 4 VPs per colony when owning the maximum of 3 privileges (with the respective maximum of the other privileges: 5 VPs per factory, 7 VPs per explorer, 9 VPs per shipyard, and 9 VPs per church). Players will therefore try to concentrate on privileges which support their items best, and try to concentrate on items which fit their privileges. This is not an easy task, as the available privileges are limited and there is a tough competition among the players, who have to follow several lines at the same time, if they want to win. In addition, early privileges curb your economic growth, but may be not available anymore later in the game. Overall, players are forced through the nature of the privileges to follow different combinations of strategies, and it is very interesting to watch how those strategy combinations compete with each other.

Influencing the game’s length
The game Navegador will (usually) end one round after the last sea region “Nagasaki” has been discovered. Players can try to accelerate the game by focusing on exploring faster, but who will do it when? Tension will rise throughout the game along with the rising capabilities of the players. I can promise you an interesting combination of many interlocking game mechanics, packed in a 90 minutes strategy game about the Golden Age of Portugal.
See you in Essen!

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Paul Lister
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Sounds great. I will be picking it up on the Thursday morning at Spiel. will it have English and German rules as standard?
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Andrew MacLeod
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Wow. No, check that: WOW! I'm in love with this already. There is nothing in the mechanics that make me go, "Well, I don't know...." I can't find anything I dislike! Well done, sir! And the way you've portrayed the exploration without having the game become a luck fest is fantastic! Nicely themed!
WOW! No, check that: WOW!!!
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Blorb Plorbst
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Thanks for the great summary! Can't wait to see it hit the US Market!
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Matt Tonks
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Wow - this sounds like it has more going on in it than the other Rondel games. MacG, would you say that is true?

Sorp222 wrote:
Sounds great. I will be picking it up on the Thursday morning at Spiel. will it have English and German rules as standard?


I'd bet on it, Paul. If not, then I wouldn't be surprised either if Rio Grande is doing an English version of the game.
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Walther Gerdts
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Sorp222 wrote:
Sounds great. I will be picking it up on the Thursday morning at Spiel. will it have English and German rules as standard?


English rules will be included in the box. Hopefully, French and Portuguese rules will be available online as well.
Moreover, there will be a historical booklet about the lifes of Henry the Navigator, King Emmanuel I, Bartolomeu Dias, Vasco da Gama, Pedro Alvarez Cabral, Afonso de Albuquerque, and Francis Xavier, printed both in German and English inside. Enjoy!
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Andrew MacLeod
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MacGerdts wrote:
Sorp222 wrote:
Sounds great. I will be picking it up on the Thursday morning at Spiel. will it have English and German rules as standard?


English rules will be included in the box. Hopefully, French and Portuguese rules will be available online as well.
Moreover, there will be a historical booklet about the lifes of Henry the Navigator, King Emmanuel I, Bartolomeu Dias, Vasco da Gama, Pedro Alvarez Cabral, Afonso de Albuquerque, and Francis Xavier, printed both in German and English inside. Enjoy!



WOW SQUARED!!!!
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Hélio Andrade
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Rules in portuguese? Now that's refreshing to hear! Good post, very detailed and explicative, i will surely buy it! Can you tell us the sell price at Essen? See you there!
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Peter Muck
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Hi Mac!

Thanks a lot for your great description of the game machanics. Will you post the complete rules in the near future?

Best, Peter
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Julian Steindorfer
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sounds very interesting... all your games have a real unique style..they are real "board" games..
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amacleod wrote:
Wow. No, check that: WOW! I'm in love with this already. There is nothing in the mechanics that make me go, "Well, I don't know...." I can't find anything I dislike! Well done, sir! And the way you've portrayed the exploration without having the game become a luck fest is fantastic! Nicely themed!
WOW! No, check that: WOW!!!


Andrew, this game might be a good excuse to finally meet in person!


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Andrew MacLeod
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squash wrote:
amacleod wrote:
Wow. No, check that: WOW! I'm in love with this already. There is nothing in the mechanics that make me go, "Well, I don't know...." I can't find anything I dislike! Well done, sir! And the way you've portrayed the exploration without having the game become a luck fest is fantastic! Nicely themed!
WOW! No, check that: WOW!!!


Andrew, this game might be a good excuse to finally meet in person!




Preordered it, have you, Josh? Or are you abandoning wife and offspring, and heading off to Essen to snooze a copy, hmmmm?
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Hey, I've created a video channel! Hover over my avatar to get more info! :) - Josh -
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amacleod wrote:
squash wrote:
amacleod wrote:
Wow. No, check that: WOW! I'm in love with this already. There is nothing in the mechanics that make me go, "Well, I don't know...." I can't find anything I dislike! Well done, sir! And the way you've portrayed the exploration without having the game become a luck fest is fantastic! Nicely themed!
WOW! No, check that: WOW!!!


Andrew, this game might be a good excuse to finally meet in person!




Preordered it, have you, Josh?


No, I figured we could play with your copy. ninja

amacleod wrote:
Or are you abandoning wife and offsrpring, and heading off to Essen to snooze a copy, hmmmm?


I wish!! Although if I were to go all the way to Germany, I'd be too busy drinking beer by the stein and exploring castles to fight the crowds at a game festival. So I won't be snoozing a copy overseas, although I could sure use a snooze or a coffee or catch some Zs right about now... snore
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Maarten D. de Jong
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MacGerdts wrote:
The rondel
Yes, it’s there. In fact, we experimented with alternative action selection mechanisms in January, but in the end turned back to the rondel because of its clear advantages: It is an efficient way to organize the choice of actions and plan them ahead. Each action is easy and fast, there are opportunity costs to consider, and you can see what the other players may be doing next. There are plausible sequences of turns, and not so plausible one’s, so there is always room to try out new combinations and surprise your opponents. In the end, the rondel is not what the game is about, it is just a method of action selection, which basically could be applied to a plethora of very different games.

I'm rather afraid I don't buy the above as-is. Obviously the rondel actions themselves differ greatly from title to title, so on its own the rondel cannot dictate how the game it is embedded in will turn out. That said, since the rondels have been carefully designed to put 'logical consecutive actions' as far away from each other as possible, it does impose a certain method of traversing the disc which lends every rondel game a similar feel. Near the end of the game the distances on the rondel become sufficiently prohibitive to cause noticable breaks of pace, whereas in the beginning it usually doesn't really matter what actions you chose as your game needs to get up and running first anyway. (Of course, this stage doesn't last long.) The rondel acts as both a natural accelarator as well as a natural break with fixed settings.

Then there is the fact that because of the size of the rondel all games which use it have to accomodate for about 6 to 7 different actions. You can't have more, you can't have less either. Actions which appear more than once on the rondel will be taken more often, thus artificially strenghtening their role in the game. This can either be a good or a bad thing, depending on how the rest of the mechanics of the game turns out.

Finally the rondel is becoming a major one trick-pony in my opinion. Apart from how the mechanic was used in Imperial the basics haven't changed: there have been no published alternatives with, say, 2 or more rondels (Vlaada Chvátil Vladimír Suchý gave this a try in Shipyard, though), or with alternating opportunity costs, or with exchangeable rondels, or segments which open and close depending on external factors, or ... The fact that in this discussion of Navegador's mechanics you mentioned the rondel first, in a somewhat defensive manner even, should have given you some pause.

In the end I'm just a small time games player; I wouldn't even know where to begin in designing my own game let alone that I would see a project through out of fear of it being not good enough. (I tend to be very critical of my own work.) Still, I can't help but voice the hope that in a future design you begin to experiment with the basic structure of the rondel too.
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Jesse Dean
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Maarten, if you want to see a game that tinkers with the basic structure and idea of a rondel, check out Vinhos.
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Paul Lister
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cymric wrote:

Finally the rondel is becoming a major one trick-pony in my opinion.


If it ain't broke don't fix it As you say if the games are differentiated enough( which, I think, they have been and will continue to be with Navaegador) ) then maybe its OK if the action mechanic is a constant. The multi-rondel in Shipyaed, for me, made playing the rondel THE game and it as a result the game was less than the sum of its parts. Some of your ideas for super charging the rondel sound interesting (and I second Jesse's comment about the Vinhos action election method)however I have not tired of playing games with it yet.
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Quote:
Finally the rondel is becoming a major one trick-pony in my opinion. Apart from how the mechanic was used in Imperial the basics haven't changed


I thought The Princes of Machu Picchu developed the mechanism in interesting ways. Some people would say it doesn't have a rondel at all (strictly true, I guess) but what it does have is obviously derived from one.
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doubtofbuddha wrote:
Maarten, if you want to see a game that tinkers with the basic structure and idea of a rondel, check out Vinhos.

You've got my interest piqued on this one. Would like to get in a play with you at BGG Con.
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Jesse Dean
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I want to play this one multiple times at BGG.Con, so getting a play in should not be a problem. If nothing is going on Tuesday afternoon after we get in, we could give the two player game a shot.
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cymric wrote:
there have been no published alternatives with, say, 2 or more rondels (Vlaada Chvátil gave this a try in Shipyard, though)


Interesting points, but note that Shipyard is by Vladimír Suchý.
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Maarten D. de Jong
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Fixed, thanks for pointing it out.
 
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Thanks for posting this Mac! It was a really interesting read and I'm definitely looking forward to trying out the game at BGG.CON
 
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G. Gambill
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I can't wait for this game! For those of us who cannot go to Essen, does anyone know when this will be available in the USA?
 
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Linda Baldwin
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Definitely looking for this at BGG.con myself.
 
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Jacob Lee
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I have yet to play a game with the rondel, but this one might be the first.
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