Sunday, April 30, 2006

I am attempting to generate a formula that gives a rough guide to the complexity, or perhaps the length, of a Brit-like game. Playing my various B2 scenarios brought this on...

The first attempt multiplied number of areas, number of nations, and number of turns. I added number of players to that, though most of these games are four-player. (I understand 3 player Maharajah is better than 4. I don't know of any game that is best with five.) This gives 40,256 for B2 (37 areas, 17 nations, 16 turns, 4 players). I am not including sea areas because no conflict can occur there, in effect they are merely staging areas.

What I really wanted, though, is average number of pieces on the board, as a gauge of complexity, rather than number of areas. But I only know those averages for a few games, so at first I was supposing that number of areas would be proportional to number of pieces. However, in "Euro-ized" games, especially ones not using dice, the number of pieces per area may be significantly lower.

At some point I recognized that it may be average number of nations on the board, not total in the game, that really counts (since we're accounting for number of turns separately). This is around nine in Brit, and I can derive some figures for my other games to make comparisons.

However, average number of pieces is the best gauge of complexity of movement, so how much one should count the number of nations is open to question.

At that point I have a formula which is average number of pieces times number of turns times number of players.

This latest formula yields 2080 for Caledonia(TM), which is certainly a much shorter game than Brit (3328).

None of this takes into account the time spent in combat. One could assume it is about the same (especially as the published versions of Brit-like games all seem to use virtually the same combat system), but I have a radically different system (no dice) which is quite quick, and table-based systems which are significantly quicker than the old system. I'm not sure, though, how much difference that would make to time as a whole...

I don't know where this has brought me, other than to realize that my Viking Brit may have a length problem (haven't played it yet). Hellenia (TM) comes up large on the originla formula numbers (5,100 on the latest formula), but doesn't seem to be all that long a game; I think that's because there are no big invasions and only a few minor ones, as opposed to Brit where we have big invasions that tend to take a long time to play out. Moreover, in Hellenia(TM) the Hellenistic nations often receive few new pieces each turn owing to the economic system. So my formula may need yet more of a tweak, including something like how many new armies come on the board during a turn whether from appearance (Invasion) or from Increase.

I tried running a formula for Diplomacy, which averages 33 pieces, has 7 players, and lasts about 22 turns (maybe less). That yields 5,082, to 3,328 for Brit. But Diplomacy is a simultaneous-move game; OTOH it emphasizes negotiation, which takes a long time. At any rate, I'd certainly agree that Diplomacy is a longer game than Brit, in general.

Another impracticality: it's easy to count number of areas and number of nations, but harder to know the average number of pieces and average number of nations (I do count, sometimes, in solo play).

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