Laruna: Age of Kingdoms - "Complexity"
So once you go down the rabbit hole of a heavy, strategic game like LAOK you run the risk of losing sight of the forest for the trees. What I mean by this is that a game of this nature is inherently more complicated than many types of board games people play, thus we allow for much more strain of thought on the player than would normally be desirable for a board game. After all, tactical and strategic thinking is what a fun 4x game is all about. Well, that and the devious laughter when you betray an ally. Or the cheering when you finally Sack another players kingdom. Or the heart crushing feeling of someone playing a spell you didn’t account for. Anyway, you get the idea.
The reason I point this out is because it does often happen that in an effort to allow people more to think about, we accidentally go too far and make something needlessly cumbersome or tedious. The problem I’m pointing to right now is with Upkeep in LAOK. Upkeep is a game term representing how much Food resource must be spent at the start of a players turn to keep their kingdom healthy and peaceful. Now Upkeep through the development and initial playtests saw several versions but the longest standing and most recent was for Upkeep to be calculated on a players turn. The final number would come from combining the upkeep generated from the kingdom’s population, the total number of units fielded, as well as any world events, spells or agendas that might also be contributing. Yikes!
In the early goings of a game, this proved a momentary thought, not a distraction. As games went on and the situation of each player got more and more involved, this math became obnoxious for some players and worse, many players would accidentally miscalculate which would negatively impact the game.
In steps a tweak. The solution to this came to me and I felt immediately foolish for not thinking of it sooner. Upkeep could be changed to a simple tracker mechanism on the players kingdom mat. Now, whenever something took effect, they would immediately adjust their Upkeep value. If a card’s effect should expire - they just adjust the Upkeep tracker. All that was required was a small redesign of the Upkeep bar on each of the Kingdom Mats. Now instead of players having to do late game mathematic gymnastics, they will only have to move their tracker and when it comes time to pay Upkeep, just look at their mat for the value and pay that amount of food. Quick and easy.
So far this has been a subtle but necessary change that allows players to reduce a process that was once a slog to a snappy and effortless action.