If all resources are plentiful, this idea works marvels. But what if resources are not plentiful?
An example of scarcity
Imagine a game of Catan in which the sixes and eights are on forests, while meadows have only the 2, 12, 3s and 11s. There most likely will be a great surplus of wood, while sheep will be in very short supply.
Either I give you 10 Euro right now, or I’ll give you 10 Euro in a year. Which do you prefer?
Under normal circumstances you would prefer the money right now. Because maybe I’ll forget in a year or have gone completely bankrupt by then. And spending money now is way more fun than knowing that you can spend it later.
Thus, people generally have a preference for getting things sooner rather than later. With a technical term this is called the “time-value” of something (or even more technical, the “time-discount”).
Time in board-games
Time in board-games works somewhat differently than in real life: In a game of Chess it’s not uncommon to think for many minutes of real-time, in which nothing happens within the game. Then in a second you move your rook and the board has suddenly changed.
Once upon a time I was interested in balancing the game I’m working on (Voluntarios) using excel sheets. Finding nothing I got to writing. And writing. And writing. The result was a series on in-game economics, of which this post is the next installment.
Being unable to find anything on “using spreadsheets to balance a board-game”, I decided to dig into the subject myself. I started writing and quickly found that it spawned a whole lot of other subjects that were important to get to a final conclusion. These all loosely fell under the heading of “in-game economics”. Why not go into all of that? The result is a series of posts on the subject, of which this is the first.
We all have some idea of what “resources” mean in a game setting. They are the wood and stone and sheep and other “raw materials” that allow you to get to the more important stuff.
And as a first approximation that is correct. But there are many more resources in a board game. In this blog post I’d like to delve into the concept of “resources”, to get a better understanding of what they are and what they can do.
First order resources – raw materials
”I’ll give you a sheep and a wood for your two stone!”
Nowhere does the idea of resources become more clear than in a game of Catan: With some lucky dice throwing you get stuff which you can then use to build something that helps you to win the game!