Five Year Plan: A Collectivist Deck Building Game – Co-opetitive Design Conundrums

A while back I had an idea for a deck building game that’s co-opetitive in nature.  The initial idea was a shared deck for all players, with a “communist” theme of shared resources, and goals for a five year plan.  The goals would be based upon players roles as commissars (Commie-Tsars ;)) and each player would be required to produce a certain amoung of a given type of good.  If all succeeded, then the game would continue til the end.

The cooperative aspect would be based on that need for everyone to succeed.  If anyone failed, then the game was over.  I’m not sure if I like that aspect.  I definitely don’t want a player-elimination scheme..  Perhaps a player would lose points/reward for not succeeding.

Anyways, the rewards would be for players who went above and beyond their production.  There would be tiers of success so if you were able to go beyond the minimum, you would get greater glory/recognition.  The Commissar of the Five Year Award (a la Worker of the Year).

I have a lot of concepts mulling around based upon a 4 fold division of labor (Agriculture, Industrial, Military, Intellectual/Arts).  I also have a vision of leveling up “workers” from one to another kind based upon an educational process/schooling (by paying “intellectual” cards to “teach” them).

There are stacks like the kind you can purchase cards from, like in other deck builders.   You can obtain some of these stacks of cards by conquering them by paying military cost to acquire it and bring it into your commie empire.  Each stack would represent a region of the country won over by your revolution.

Another way to obtain certain stacks would be investing (via intellectual resources) in a Tech Tree which would unlock more stacks of higher level tech.

But all these things can be done via a competitive type game.  There’s no sharing of resources much in what I just mentioned, and my biggest concern is contemplating just what it means to have shared resources in a game like this.

There are two ways I can currently see to implement this:

  1.  A shared deck.  The issue here is that if everyone shares a single deck, all players choices become diluted in the larger scheme, and it makes it harder to really build what you want.
  2. A shared hand.  I like this concept in theory.  The idea here is that you have 2-5 players.  During a round, each player has a personal hand of cards, and they place a number of cards (depending on number of players) face up in front of them, and reinforces the by adding cards as necessary to make a 5-card hand.

Basically:

5 Players = 1 card per player played face up.

4 Players = 1 card per player played face up.  Draw 1 card off the top of the communal deck.

3 Players = 1 card per player played face up.  Draw 2 cards off the top of the communal deck

2 Players = 2 cards per player played face up.  Draw 1 card off the top of the communal deck.

The shared hand scheme here utilizes the concept of a shared deck to reinforce a player’s hand.  I suppose it could be reinforced from a given players hand, based upon who the “current” player is.  That gives a slight advantage to the player whose turn it is (assuming <5 players, natch) and gives a feeling of control.

In terms of resources, one of the things I’m thinking of is a personal “deck” of resources separate from the collective.  Part of that is a player being able to requisition a card from their hand to their personal deck.  It is this personal deck that a player “scores” when it comes time to determine the year’s end success or failure.

The reason I like this aspect is that it allows for a way to manage the collective deck and not be at the whims of other players, while building ones personal resources to be used (I’m not sure, how, exactly this personal deck would be used, except, perhaps as a way to “buff” your hand by adding cards to choose from if you don’t like your current hand, perhaps.)  The interesting aspect comes in the competition for taking a resource as a personal  thing, while denying other players access to this.  The idea there then is that while it benefits you in one way, it might hurt you, by denying resources other players are needing in order to purchase cards from the stacks, perhaps.  That might be good to hinder your opponents because your goal is to exceed your quota while minimizing theirs.  But you don’t want to minimize their production too much, lest you all fail.  Further, if you minimize their production, you’re also minimizing your production, because at some point you might need a resource they are creating for their goal.  A “tragedy of the commons” sort of effect if everyone goes stealing cards for their personal stash.

So I have some ideas that I think might be interesting, but I feel like they are lacking… something.  I’m worried that this balance between personal/collective is going to be hard to pull off.
I plan on having some effect cards like “purge” to allow players to consciously trim the deck or something like “famine” that would be a more random deck trimming effect.

Perhaps instead of a collective deck, or even a collective hand, there is a collective pool that players can play their cards towards to succeed.  So basically it would all be individual decks like Dominion, but to succeed at the goals of your role, you have to give up/contribute some of these resources to the Central Committee in the center of the table.  The question there, of course, is how that would play out.  Are these resources unavailable?  Would they have a reduced effect (that is, say, they’re only 50% value of their stated value when used from the center vs personal pile)…  I dunno.

So this is my biggest vexation, right now.