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.
In a previous post I wrote about “resources” as part of a series on in-game economics. Of course something isn’t just written and then “done”. The piece got me thinking further, so I thought I’d share a bit more with you.
In this post I want to go into the “temporal” aspect of resources.
Resources are transient
One important insight I had was that all resources (in board-games) are transient, meaning that at some point they will be gone.
For things like wood and stone, which you “spend” to build say a building, this is pretty clear. Once you’ve used a given wood card or token, you cannot use it again until you somehow produce more wood.
There are however many resources within games which seem to be permanent: A city you build in Catan, the spaces on the board of Monopoly. And within the game they most certainly can be.
But that’s the thing: Games end!
And that means that everything within your board-game has a limited lifetime.
A foray into “balancing a board-game using excel” turned into an exploration of “in-game economics”. This is the second post in the series. The first is about “resources” and the ideas presented there are used in this post; reading it before continuing here might be a good idea.
In this post I want to take the concept of “resources” one step further and look at how resources relate to each other, taking a look at cost and value within the economics of board-games.
Let’s start by taking a look at real world economics.
Real world economics
Most people won’t be able to tell you exactly what “economics” is, but most will have an idea that it has something (or a lot!) to do with money.
In modern times they would be right. But money did not always make the world go round.
During the agricultural revolution life was fairly simple. You sowed your fields, harvested what came up, raised some animals and ate most of what you produced. If you had some left you could barter that with your neighbors: My grain for your sheep (is this starting to sound like Catan yet?). People traded resources.