Bolt From The Blue : Fiscal Fantasy

I am what you might call an “Inspired Designer.” The majority of my game ideas strike me like a bolt from the blue – powerful and unexpected – typically with at least the 3 basic questions answered, but sometimes with entire outlines of the game as well. That doesn’t mean the game is done, of course, but it does let me get rolling much faster than my “planned” games are. So, to give you a peek at what is currently on my mind, I will post these ideas up as I get them in posts tagged “Bolt From The Blue.”

OVERVIEW

Fiscal Fantasy (the working title, of course) is a Fantasy Capitalism Game. Each Player has a Castle from which they spawn Peasants to work and control the surrounding land. Resources can be sold to the King (the Market) for Gold. Simple enough for a Market Manipulation game so far, no?

The spice is that Gold can be used not only for Improvements but also to hire Adventurers. Adventurers can go on Quests to kill Monsters to defend their lands and acquire Treasure (a random result – anything from Spells to affect the global market to nothing at all). Importantly, they can also raid or sabotage rival Players’ resources.

The final element is deal-making. Players can make Contracts with each other for basic actions (trade Resources, attack Monsters, raid other Players) both to enhance the Intervention element provided by Adventurers and to permit wealth reallocation (i.e. rich Players hire poorer ones to sabotage their rivals).

PROBLEMS

(1) The basic paradigm feels similar to Settlers of Catan – specifically, Cities & Knights. As a result I must take care to distance my mechanics (and style!) from Settlers lest I be labeled a “me-too” game.

(2) Mixed-Mechanic Market Manipulation games are inherently tricky because the margin of success in Market Manipulation games is (and should be) razor-thin. As a result, extreme care must be taken to ensure that both the Market and the other mechanics are perfectly balanced – if one is sufficiently better than the other, the game loses half its value.

CONCLUSION

My great hope for Fiscal Fantasy is that I can make a more accessible Market Manipulation game. Having recently played Martin Wallace’s Automobile I can well understand how many people feel intimidated by Market Manipulation games. Additionally, I think the Market Manipulation game genre is ripe for expansion. Most Market Manipulation games have a strong focus on the Market aspect of the game, typically with some lighter mechanics around the edge to distinguish them.

More on this game as it develops!

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