Nov 9, 2010

Long-Overdue Changes

As I said previously, once Titans of Industry was going to be looked at by a publisher for the first time in nearly two years, I knew that there were some changes I wanted to implement. This past weekend I tested those changes and the results were astounding.

The first major change was to change advancements from randomly drawn cards that could only be purchased by one player to the tech tree pictured at the right which can be explored by all players. This significantly reduced the randomness of the game.

The other big change was to alter how building real estate moved the game's timer forward.

Previously, the game's three Ages would each end when a specific number of real estate had been built. This led to a problem where each player refused to build the final real estate to end the age because they would then definitely not be the last person to affect the markets. The game would stall for many rounds as it was in no player's individual interest to trigger the Age's end. It also led to analysis paralysis as each paler's turn was calculating what would happen if the Age ended immediately.

The new method has cards drawn from a deck based on how much real estate has been built. This eliminates the stalemate because players can still build real estate without it being absolute certain that the Age will end immediately. It also means that as long as a single real estate has been built, that the game will move inevitably, if slowly, towards a finish.

I had my group playtest these changes this past weekend and the result was a satisfying game that took about half the time of previous playtests. In fact, it finished so quickly that I tweaked the new mechanics to slow the game back down slightly.

I made a few other minor changes and sent it out today. BGG.CON is a week away, so it is time to try to relax and not obsess over what else I could have done.

Not much chance of that.


  1. Any chance you might remove the luck altogether?

    I know you'd have a eager audience if you did.

    In fact, I'd seriously consider publishing it myself if TMG passes on it.

  2. It certainly is possible to remove 100% of the luck and make the game completely deterministic. I would need to find a different way for the Titan cards (hidden end-of-game objectives that score large amounts of points) to work.

    It would also mean reverting to the previous Age-end mechanism, which I think would be a mistake as it would introduce the stalemate back into the game. Maybe there is a new Age-end mechanism I could use that would be deterministic without being susceptible to the stalemate and analysis paralysis. I need to brainstorm a bit.

  3. I don't necessarily think it would be bad to have a fixed small set of "objective" cards. See Container for a good example.

    IMHO, let the market (players) determine the economy. Games like Container, Wealth of Nations, Master of Economy, Planet Steam, and others in that category shine for this very reason.

    Keep in though that I probably don't have the current rules (certainly not with your recent changes) -- the copyright date on them is 2008.

  4. IIRC, Container's objective cards are generic color swaps. The Titan cards are currently much more varied. They have things like "have the largest facility" or "own the most real estate".