And today’s card is…
Mechanic: Variable Player Power
Variable Player Powers is a mechanic that grants different abilities and/or paths to victory to the players.
Here we go with another wide-open mechanic. Variable player powers are something that can be utilized with just about any game. The problem is that player powers that are uniform are hard enough to balance in a game. Now give every player a different power and it becomes exponentially more difficult.
Additionally, the word “powers” is really just a placeholder for anything in a game that could be different for different players. In Vast: the Crystal Caverns each player plays a different entity or group and each entity has different mechanics and different win conditions.
The first thing that comes to my mind, especially to help balance the powers is to allow those to rotate. Then that really just becomes a worker placement game or more akin to Puerto Rico in that each turn you choose a different action. So, what if each player starts as a character with a specific power, kind of like Small World. You choose a character and an ability or action type is randomly chosen. Then, throughout the game players can manipulate the abilities to steal them, shift the whole table, etc… This seems like a very chaotic type of game where it would be very hard to plan for the future or build any kind of engine. The goal, however would be that for maximum efficiency each player should end up using each power roughly the same amount of the time.
Forgive me, as I’ve been watching a lot of Marvel movies lately, and the primary thing that comes to mind is the “hero” scene where the camera moves from hero to hero watching each do their own thing to take down the bad guys. We all know my feelings on coop games, so let’s not go there, and I think the hero thing has been done quite a lot. I’m even working on a super-power game already, so let’s not go there either.
What about a factory where each player is the foreman of a particular area. Each area produces a different parts of various machines, and so each foreman has a particular ability tied to that part. But, the goal is to build the machines, not the parts. As such you have to gather the other parts as well. You can do it, but it will be much more efficient if you take over the foreman position for that part. You can’t just take over a position though, you have to prove that the current foreman is less efficient. So, if you produce more parts than an opponent, you can then swap positions with that player. The problem with being more efficient than the other players is that you produce surplus parts, thus making it easier for the other players to obtain those parts.
The game will go over several rounds and the player to gain the most points by fulfilling the most machine orders will be the winner.
The Factory is a set collection game where each player uses their own position in the factory, and thus their own unique action to create components for numerous machines. But really you need to be making all of the components for these machines, so you watch for your opening. When your opponent is less efficient than you, you can report them and swap positions! Being the more efficient player means that you have created a surplus of parts, allowing the other players to collect them that much easier. After a full day on the factory floor, the player who produced the most machines is determined to be the winner!