As mentioned in the earlier blog, we aspire to a “mid-Atlantic” gaming experience for Crimson Sands.
The primary way we are trying to achieve this is by allowing two distinct styles of play: build or battle.
For example, it is possible, with a careful approach, to win the entire game of Crimson Sands avoiding all conflict. To do this you, as a player, simply concentrate on building your trade capacity and outmaneuvering your opponents to valuable goods and trading opportunities. This will require some hard choices of taking longer routes or simply avoiding some parts of the map altogether.
Alternatively, a player can go out into the desert looking for a fight, ploughing through encounter cards. Eventually they will end up battling any raiders found hidden underneath.
Both trade and battle will gain the player the prestige needed to win the game. Spending coins earned from trade is a more predictable path to prestige but offers diminishing returns over time (as the masses become jaded by your spectacles and largesse). Meanwhile, battle is irregular (you have to find foes) and chancy (you might be fighting more foes than you expect). Some players may take a mixed approach depending on their current circumstance (and whether the Raider Queen has appeared herself or not yet).
Furthermore, battle, when it occurs, is not directly player on player. The current player’s caravan guards fight encountered raiders. While all the other players move the raiders miniatures and choose targets, they have been drafted into this duty. This approach has three advantages that increase player enjoyment. First, there is no direct way for multiple other players to gang up to militarily eliminate the unlucky odd-man out (this always seems to be me in Kingmaker and similar games). Secondly, it avoids any of the “Hey, why are you attacking me?” grudge game dynamics that can develop. Finally, it gives the other players something interesting to do while waiting for their turn (other than scheming, of course).
In the next article on Crimson Sands game design we will talk how chance is introduced, but does not take over the game.