Sunday, October 15, 2017

Game mechanics: Role Selection

Today, I'm going to look at the Role selection mechanic in boardgames. Now Boardgame Geek has no specific entry for this, but rather has a Variable Phase Order entry, which is more broad, and not quite suited for a good discussion of the workings of games. The games I'm going to consider have something along the lines of a lead/follow mechanic with relation to actions.

Puerto Rico and San Juan- These two games are heavily related, and the role selection works the same, so I'll lump them together. The games are played in rounds, with the first player rotating each round. In turn order, each player will choose a role to take, which others can execute as well, but the active player gets a bonus. That role is not an available choice again until the next round. The roles are slightly different by game, but both include captain, builder, and merchant.

Race for the Galaxy- This game is also related. The designer of Puerto Rico asked the designer of this to work on a card game version. They eventually split projects, and this one came later, but has a lot more options. There are 3 expansion arcs for the interested, each of which take the game past 4 players. I won't detail those here, but before anybody tries: the arcs are not supposed to play together! Besides, the card pool gets HUGE.  The roles here are similar to San Juan's, but here, there are two major differences: simultaneous action selection, and role modification.  Each player has a set of Role selection cards that they choose from simultaneously, then execute phases in order.

Both Race and San Juan also build tablueas of cards for each player. In Race, the cards in tableau also let you take actions based on the symbols you have, letting you do more than just what you selected. Cards pay your costs in this game(and San Juan), and are also your goods(shown facedown below).

Related to Race for the Galaxy is Roll for the Galaxy, a dice game with tiles set in the same universe. Each player has a pool of dice, rolled behind a screen and assigned secretly. One die chooses an action that WILL happen, while the rest line up as rolled, and may execute based your choice or those of others. Your dice let you find planets/tech to settle/conquer/develop, sell goods,and are goods.

Glory to Rome is a near mythical game now, due to project mismanagement. But, it is a great game to discuss here. Like Race for the Galaxy, cards perform a lot of functions. Here, they have your role on them, are patrons to improve you action, are material, are buildings, and points, all dependent on where they sit in relation to your player board. The other players could follow the action by playing a card of the role as well, or decline and draw. (pictures of the 2 most known versions below)

I would be remiss if I did not mention the last game I reviewed here. Villages of Valeria has a lot in common with many of these games. You're building a village and hiring adventurers. There's less multifunctionality here, and that will make the game feel closer to Puerto Rico and San Juan. But, the role chosen has no effect on what is eligible for the next player to choose.

As usual, none of these are just that mechanic. The mix of ideas, player interactions, and cost/benefit analysis makes each of these a different creature.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

No comments:

Post a Comment