Competition in Laureate

I think that competition in Laureate is a tricky thing, since there are currently only a few ways for players to really interact with each other. Any kind of competition will be in the form of sabotage, so we can examine the ways in which players can do that. The most direct way to sabotage other players to simply take note of what resources a certain player might need, and attempt to hoard all of those resources to prevent the player from having access to the materials they need to build their space shuttle. Another, indirect way to sabotage players is by simply helping other players. By refusing to trade with one player, they are deprived of the gains that they could have made from trade. On the other hand, if there is a lot of trade between all the other players, they will all benefit from the efficiency provided by the exchange of resources. This puts the player that is “left out” at a relative disadvantage compared to other players.

Overall, it is difficult to work in straightforward competition mechanics, since Laureate really does carry a theme of cooperation with the team. In order to introduce more ways to sabotage other players, I am considering the idea of adding “sabotage actions.” These actions would probably include looking at the top few cards of the resource/blueprint/infrastructure decks and rearranging them. These actions, in addition to costing funding, would also require the player to roll a die or flip a coin to find out if they have been caught taking one of these sabotage actions. If they get caught, they will have reduced funding for their next turn as a kind of punishment for sabotaging their teammates.

I am also planning to have blueprint cards that provide bonuses for also owning certain other blueprint cards. For example, maybe “Reinforced Hull” gets some kind of stat bonus for being on the same space shuttle as “Extra-Power Fuel Boosters” (forgive the bad flavor, I’ll come up with better card names later). This mechanic, along with the sabotage mechanic, will allow players to try to hoard blueprints that have synergy with other players’ builds in order to deny them a better space shuttle. This is partly inspired by some of the auto chess games I’ve been playing recently, in which it is possible to buy up or otherwise acquire units to prevent your opponents from buying them.

The carousel in Teamfight Teactics, which allows players to try to take units that their opponents might want or need
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One thought on “Competition in Laureate

  1. This seems really strong, Patrick. The opportunities for sabotage certainly make for more compelling play, and the possible addition of cards to compel certain acts (or make those acts easier to accomplish) will be an important means of tightening game balance.

    Which brings me to… well, game balance. Obviously, that’s what will make the difference between a memorable experience and an execrable one. Autochess has flourished in part because it takes human beings out of the gameplay proficiency loop and replaces them with rigorously tested, finely-balanced automatons. DoTA2 only works really well when everyone is playing on (nearly) the same level: Otherwise, the whole match is a dumpster fire. But Underlords has minimized human combat input. There are so many choices and perks and combos that it is almost impossible to keep track of it all, especially since combat happens so quickly and largely without hard numbers to support it. But even for novices like myself who seldom take first, there’s a feeling that “I accomplished something.”

    Your task in balancing this mechanic is substantial — and not automated, I’m sorry to say. I cannot wait to see the direction you pursue as these early playtests start to add up.

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