Today’s second idea is based on a variation of the assistants mechanic in Rudiger Dorn’s Istanbul (that won the Kennerspiel des Jahres 2014). In that game, you have a stack of assistant discs that you move your worker with, and whenever you take an action, you have to leave one of your assistants behind, or pick up one of your assistants that was previously left in this place. My idea takes these assistants, and instead makes them generally available to everyone.
Day 62: Wandering workers in Istanbul
Each player has a master worker, who is moving between different locations on a map. Generally they will have a number of different assistants with them, which are not their assistants per se, but can be any of the five colours of assistant (who are all good at doing different jobs).
On a player’s turn, they must move their master worker to a new location. Each route has a certain colour or colours marked on it, which denotes that you must have at least one assistant of one of those colours to traverse that route. You can move as far as you want, provided you have the right colour in your stack.
Once you arrive at a new location, you have a choice to either drop one of your assistants off, in which case you get to use the ability associated with that assistant (for example, one might give you the good of that particular city), and then you place it in the city. Other actions will even bring new assistants from outside the game into your stack, for example. The catch is that each city can only have at most one assistant of each type left in it at any one time. The other option is to take one assistant from the city that is already there, adding it to your stack.
This is the central mechanism, and it could really do with a theme around it. I was thinking possibly of an adventuring-style theme, where the different colours are warriors, wizards, rogues, etc, but maybe that theme has been overdone already. I was also thinking that the locations could be tiles, that you randomly place on the location spaces each game, to give some variety. In any case, what do you think you could wrap around this mechanic to make an awesome game?