Ridere, ludere, hoc est vivere.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Trade triangles in "East India Company"

Perhaps the most infamous trading triangle, slaves
for agricultural products for manufactured goods
Source: African Cultural Center USA
A very brief note on a subtle change to "East India Company" tonight:  In my last playtest, Mike R. recommended that I modify some of the commodity tiles, deliberately duplicating some of the key production or buying tiles so as to strengthen the probability of creating a "trading triangle."  Most students of history are already familiar with the concept - a product is purchased in Port A and shipped to Port B, where it is sold and the proceeds used to purchase B's product.  That product is now shipped to Port C, where it is sold and the proceeds used to purchase C's product.  That product in turn is shipped back to Port A, where it is sold to restart the cycle.

In my existing format, such trading triangles might emerge at random, but I hadn't really contrived the tiles deliberately to make them likely.  I had concocted a fairly mathematical and symmetric pattern of ports and commodities just for the sake of having a set of tiles that made some kind of sense and allowed the game to flow.  But at Mike's prompting, I've gone back and revisited exactly which tiles could be modified to make such mutually reinforcing triangles more likely - thereby making the game more exciting by creating profitable and competitive trade routes.  The prospect of arriving late and trying to ship to markets that have been saturated by one's opponents lends even more urgency to being the fastest and most efficient merchant.

Tonight I spent some time creating tables of distances between ports and the commodities that each buys and sells.  I picked out a few key triangle candidates that most rewarded the fastest ships, and determined which commodity production and buying tiles would be most important to bring those triangles into play.  The result is a new matrix of purchasing/buying arrangements that I will translate into a new set of tiles for the next playtest.  I'm really excited by this latest development; I think it will make the game even more compelling.

[For the record, "East India Company" does not model the slave trade.  I would hope that the reader does not find such a disclaimer necessary; nevertheless, I think it important to clarify that I am not so insensitive as to base a boardgame on human trafficking.]

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