Challenge: Make a thousand year game.
Yesterday I came up with the skeleton for the game. Today was... not especially productive.
I did play the game a bit and went through some minor iteration, but the game is largely unchanged. Some of things I did try either seemed to have little effect or pushed the game in a direction I didn't want it to go. I'll go ahead and list them out so that you can see what happened.
1) I added a score bonus for capturing pieces. I knew going into this change that it was going to favor more aggressive strategies, but I was not prepared for just how much it pushed it. It made all out aggression the only strategy. You see, with the original scoring, when you take an opponent's connected piece you loose the opportunity to to place a second piece, there by putting yourself 2 virtual points in the hole. Your opponent also lost 2 points from the board, so score wise it evens out. Initiative wise, the offensive player gains a little bit, but the defensive player also has the opportunity to end the game more quickly, which can be critical. It also made it so that whoever went second almost always won. Which was boring. So I'm not doing it.
2) I gave captured pieces back to the players. This had very little effect on the game. It made it go on for a turn or two more, but it also swung the game to a slightly more defensive play. Since the middle square is worth so many points, it pulls players toward the middle while the other scoring mechanics pull them back toward the sides. With this change, there was more of an opportunity for defensive players to make up the ground lost on the point lose, but you don't have the ability to end the game any earlier. Kind of a wash, but I don't think that it is worth it.
3) I made it so that the center square was only worth 10 points if it is connected. Now we are getting somewhere. This makes aggressive strategies really plan ahead. You have to take and defend the center AND your connection. This is good. I think that I will keep this one.
4) I increased the number of tokens from 15 to 25. This loosened up the game and gave you a margin for error. The game is still very fast, but upping the minimum round count from 7 to 12 makes a big difference in the way the game feels. It feels a little bit more like go (slower and more methodical) and less like tic-tac-toe (so few moves that it hardly feels like there is any strategy). I like it, although I'm not sold on that number exactly. It sounds nice and round, but there might be a better number. I'm open to more changes in the number of tokens.
So for tomorrow, I will just play the game a bunch more, hopefully with more people. I want to see what happens when more brains start processing the rules and what kinds of tactics they come up with. Till tomorrow then...