After some consideration, I decided that I liked the originality of the “building a robot” flavor for a game with a theme of trade. However, as I thought about how to incorporate the idea of making it both competitive and cooperative, I decided on changing the flavor slightly. Currently, I think the game will have players play as engineers that are each building some kind of rocket ship for a space program. Each player wants the space program to succeed, and if any of the players’ rockets fail to meet a certain standard, the program fails and all the players lose. However, if the program succeeds, each player will want to have the most impressive rocket in the program.
I have also thought about how players will gain resources throughout the game. Currently, I am thinking that each player will receive some “funding” each turn. They can use this funding to perform different actions, such as purchasing raw materials, building parts they have the blueprints for, increasing their income, researching to create new blueprints, or improving their infrastructure (which might make it easier to research useful blueprints). For example, if researching means drawing a card from the “research” deck, improving your infrastructure might mean you get to look at the top two cards of the research deck and choose one. Infrastructure is a pretty broad mechanic, and could mean a lot of different things. Maybe it could also reduce the cost of certain materials on the market? Perhaps there could even be an “infrastructure” deck with cards that have effects that improve the player’s infrastructure. Each action might cost a different amount of funding, and players can choose actions until they run out of funding. During their turn, players can also trade materials and blueprints with other players.
For purchasing materials, I think it might be interesting to have a system where some cards from the resource deck are put face up on the table, which represents the materials that are available to buy. Each material card has a different funding cost, which might represent the current cost of the material based on current market conditions. When materials are bought, new cards from the material deck are put on the market to replace them.
Many of these mechanics are inspired by other games I have played before. Namely, Gizmos and The Tea Dragon Society. Gizmos revolves around taking an action every turn to gather resources and build contraptions. These contraptions make your turns increasingly more and more efficient as the game goes on, and is a large inspiration for the idea of building infrastructure. The Tea Dragon Society is a deck builder with a market mechanic in which players can buy cards to add to their decks. This is inspiration for the purchasing materials mechanic. Unfortunately, I do not personally own either of these games, so I have provided some images from the internet to help illustrate these games.
The above picture depicts an example Gizmos board. At the beginning of the game, there are only a few “Starter” cards underneath the players board. They can choose to take one of many actions each turn, including the Pick action, which grants the player a colored orb, and the Build action, which allows the player to construct a Gizmo by paying the appropriate amount of colored orbs. Each Gizmo upgrades one of the player’s actions. For example, one Gizmo might allow the player to take the Pick action whenever they take the File action. Another might allow the player to receive a random colored orb whenever they take the Pick action. These Gizmos can quickly combo into each other, allowing the player to take many actions per turn, with the right setup.
This picture depicts an example market in a game of The Tea Dragon Society. There are actually two markets, one for regular cards (at the top), and another for “memory” cards at the bottom. However, this mechanic is unrelated to my point about the market itself, although it is an interesting mechanic. The mug in the top right corner of each card shows how much it costs to “purchase” that card from the market. Once the card is purchased, a new one takes its place, unless it is a memory card.