Day 23 - Lens 30: The Lens of Emergence
To make sure your game has interesting qualities of emergence, ask yourself these questions:
How many verbs do my players have?
Lets see... Move, Place, Pick-up, Attack, Ally, Betray, Fight, Recruit are all explicit game actions. There are a bunch of other social verbs like Talk, Plead, Threaten, Negotiate, Plan, etc. that color that layer of gameplay.
How many objects can each verb act on?
For all the social verbs the number would be 5, each of the other players. This goes to show why games with 3 or 4 players are less interesting, many fewer verb targets!
For the other mechanical verbs the number varies... Pick up for instance would have the targets of Path, Base, Warrior, opponents Warrior, and City Head. Also consider that there are 12 bases and 36 pahs (of 6 types) and Warriors from 6 opposing tribes... that's a lot of things to pick up.
Recruiting is probably the most limited verb in that you can only recruit Citizens, though how many you can recruit varies depending on how many Bases you control.
How many ways can players achieve their goals?
For the primary goal of the game, winning by having the most victory points, players will gather have some number of three resources. Ally tokens will be acquired through the Ally verb in challenges. Territories are controlled through some complex combination of all of the verbs, and city heads are acquired through the Pick-up verb in the end game.
That would make ally tokens seem uninteresting except for the fact that you use all of the social verbs in order to create an Ally event rather than a Betray event.
The weakest link there is probably the city heads, but they are supposed to provide a choice in the end game and drive the game to conclusion, they are the easy lo risk low reward end game option.
How many subjects do the players control?
19. Their Pawn and up to 18 warriors. Or possibly 3+, their Pawn and two bases plus any enemy bases they acquire during play.
How do side effects change constraints?
Where players place their paths affects both where other players can place paths and bases but also where they can move.
Where players place bases affects where opponents can place, but also the control of the territories, which factors into the victory points at the end of the game.
Where players place their pawns affects where they can place and pick up but also what other players they can challenge.
It seems like there are a good number of side effects for most of the player actions.