Day 32 - Lens 47: The Lens of Punishment
Punishment must be used delicately. Balanced appropriately, it will make your game more meaningful, and provide successful players with a real sense of pride. To examine the punishment in your game, ask yourself these questions:
What are the punishments in my game?
The cost of attacking in the game could be seen as a punishment, you lose your warriors to take out your enemies. They lose theirs and the base they were defending.
Fighting in a Challenge has punishment for both sides. You both lose the warriors you commit to the fight. The looser looses a base.
Being betrayed in a challenge also has a punishment that can be harsh. You lose all of the warriors from one base and your opponent gains that base.
Acting against an existing alliance has the penalty of losing an alliance token for the player you betray while they keep yours.
Not participating in the siege of the city in the endgame has the penalty of not collecting those available victory points.
Why am I punishing the players? What do I hope to achieve by it?
All of the punishments in the game are risk/reward propositions. The game is both packed with player choice and harsh consequences. I hope to raise the stakes of the players actions and reinforce the setting and the theme of the costs of conflict and war.
Do my punishments seem fair to the players? Why or why not?
Mostly players seem ok with the punishments when they see them coming. It's possible for the cost of betrayal to be very high, or for the cost of a fight to be devastating, but that's because of player action. The problem is when it is not clear to the player that they were risking a lot.
Is there a way to turn these punishments into rewards and get the same, or a better effect?
Allowing a different option than damaging the other player is possible. I am not sure if I want to blunt the cut throat aspect of the game by allowing softer outcomes, but it would be interesting to see how that changed the game.
Are my strong punishments balanced against commensurately strong rewards?
Mostly yes, or I have tried to make them balanced. If I see a consistent reaction or outcome that is not what I am looking for the punishment to elicit then I change it and re-test...