Version 0.5 – Game mechanics test

City of Sharing version 0.5 introduced a full set of intervention and funding cards.

The site map/game board was also populated with contextual information for each of the plots on site.

Developing the stats for the funding cards introduced the requirement for a dice roll to represent the chance involved in securing funding in the real world where you are competing against like-minded organisations.

The rules for the test:

Version 0.5 draft introduction and rules

The game test was played with three players and was more successful than the previous tests but came up against a number of issues with the game order and mechanism that slowed it down too much and made the players rely too heavily on the Facilitator.

It was not reflecting the original purpose of the game. The players needed to be able to negotiate together to find the appropriate funding to go with the interventions. So a negotiation phase was added in to the sequence of play during the game:

  1. Year Start – Wildcards/predicted changes drawn – not used in this version
  2. Planning phase – 2 min. For players to decide on which interventions to propose and place them on the table – time alone to consider their options.
  3. Pitching phase 1 min. Players take turns to explain why and how the CLT should implement the intervention they selected. – players choose cards partially on what they thought the actor they had would do but mainly by the restrictions of funding (the game mechanism). There needs to be enough funding options for players to make decisions based on what they prefer as well.
  4. Negotiation phase – 5 min. All the players discuss the proposed cards with the help of the Facilitator to decide how each intervention could be achieved and whether multiple interventions could be combined. – this was added in to bring back the ability to combine cards and for players to contribute together. However, it is not quite what is needed. It worked okay with 3 players but with a larger group could lead to ‘louder voices’ dominating others. It tended to negate the voting as un-achievable options where ruled out but this could be fixed with more low-level funding options. Also, with the complexity of the scoring system, it meant there was too much input required from the Facilitator.
  5. Voting phase – Players put their voting token on their favourite proposal. The winning proposal gets implemented. – at the early stage of the game which was played all the players had agreed during the negotiation phase, so this became redundant. However, voting is an essential principle of how CLTs work democratically so I feel it must be represented in the game. This will require a reworking of the turn phase and balance to ensure players need to make a decision between multiple options.
  6. Funding Phase – Any rolls required are made and points deducted required to achieve the funding needed to play the interventions. If not achieved, the interventions can’t be played, representing real world risks and failures.
  7. Implantation Phase – The Facilitator draws the proposal onto the board. – players did this as I didn’t have time. Need more discussion of how it should be.
  8. Year End – Pass two cards to the player to your left and pick up a new one if you have used a card. – need to define a standard hand size that doesn’t overwhelm players. Need them to also be able to discard cards that they are not interested in at all. Can these be recorded?

Components ready for the v0.5 game test

The players enjoyed the game and gave good feedback. Some quotes:

“some sort of counter needed to clearly track the People Power and Timebank hours”

“more early game funding required”

“Quick funding options; car boot sale; bake sale; council grant”

“needs to be easier to differentiate the spaces available on the board and tie them in with the options on the intervention cards”

“Abacus type slider for tracking the scores”

Fundamentally the game play needs to be simplified so that the players can get on with discussing ideas with minimal input from the Facilitator.

The scoring system, or at least mechanism for tracking it, was too complicated taking up too much time to calculate and keep track of.

I will develop the idea of an abacus type slide system.

I will make a large number of changes off the back of this test which will be outlined in the next blog text and become version 0.6.

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