I must admit that a lot of my game ideas involve hidden and simultaneously revealed information to some extent, it is such an interesting method of interaction in many games. Today’s idea sees players as local city politicians, wheeling and dealing to impress the right people. In the end though, they need to listen to the people who will get them elected, or who will give them the most money!

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Day 23: City Council

Each player is a member of a City Council who over the course of the game will decide where to use its limited funds and influence to improve certain aspects of the city. The individual players have vested interests in certain parts of civic life, and will do their best to ensure that those projects that help their supporters are approved.

Every round a certain number of proposal cards are turned face up to be viewed by all the players. These cards detail different actions that could be taken by the council to improve certain things, for example, fixing the city’s roads. The card has several effects, grouped by the total amount of support that is needed to gain that effect. Take the roads card. With modest support, some of the roads are fixed, and life for residents and commercial businesses is improved somewhat. With strong support, many more roads are fixed, and this has the additional benefit of improving the public and private transport around the town, making it more popular with tourists. These improvements are summarised by changing the level of various aspects of city life: popularity, happiness of residents, satisfaction of businesses, and so on.

Each proposal also has a number of prestige points that a player gains for lending any support to it (as long as it is successful), as well as a bonus for the player who gave the most support. In addition to this scoring, each player also has a secret group of constituents that they have to satisfy, and who will score them a certain number of prestige points depending on their level at the end of the game. There are more secret goals than there are used in a single game, so there are a number of groups that have no special support.

The mechanism by which players lend their support to these various proposals is partly open and partly secret. Each player has 5 tokens in their colour, numbered 1-5, which represent their power on the council (with 5 representing the strongest support). The negotiations on the proposals start with an open discussion, where each player in turn must play one of their tokens face up to one of the proposals. A further restriction is that each proposal must receive exactly one new token each discussion round, so that at the end they all have the same number of tokens.

The next round are closed negotiations, where exactly the same thing happens, except every player plays their token face down. This process repeats two more times, one face up, and one face down, with the round ending with each player having one token left in their possession (which they don’t play).

Then all the tokens are turned face up, and each proposal is resolved based on the total support it received. Each player gains the appropriate number of prestige points, and then new proposals are dealt out for a new round. Once the proposals are all gone, the game ends, and players score their additional points from their secret supporters.

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There is possibly a lot more room in the game for how the various proposals interact with each other, rather than simply tracking a level on a table. You could have a real city on a board in front of you, which is somehow changed based on the passage of the proposals, and that certain proposals can create combined effects that are not strictly defined on either card. For example, if you build lots of parks and fund local culture, maybe a major festival applies to be held in your town, providing a boost to the economy. There could also be ways to be shamed if you have the lowest visible support on a project that fails, such as losing points, even if there were face down tokens on the same project that were lower than yours! Do you think this mechanism suits the game?