The Alea Analysis, Part Two: Princes of Florence (#4), Adel Verpflichtet (#5), Traders of Genoa (#6)

This continues my series of updates and revisions to the Alea game articles that I wrote for my personal blog in 2009, as I played through Alea’s entire series of (then) 22 games. For Ra, Chinatown, and Taj Mahal, see the first article in the series.

Big Box #4: The Princes of Florence (A)

Author: Wolfgang Kramer, Richard Ulrich
Publisher: Rio Grande Games (2010)
Alea Difficulty Scale: 6
Other Articles: Review (11/03), Alea Treasures #4 (10/12)
My Plays: 3+, with more predating my logging games (2+ when I originally wrote this)

Princes of FlorenceAn auction and resource-management game where you’re acting as a patron for the arts, collecting various sorts of creators who will produce “works” for you; however, you have to provide your clients with the best conditions possible so that they produce the best works, and that means purchasing the buildings, landscapes, freedoms, and other things that they want.

The game is played out over seven rounds, during which the minimum requirements for the production of a work slowly increase. Each round you’ll get to win one auction (which can get you one of six things you need to produce works) and then you’ll get to take two actions (which allow you to get other things you need to produce works — and to produce the works themselves). At the end of the game, points are based largely on the quantity and quality of works you produced, with some bonuses for buildings, extra landscapes, extra builders, and possibly for cards that you purchased.

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The US Elections as Bad Game Design

Though this blog often looks at game design through the lens of published games, that’s not the only possible source of great game design ideas. A few years ago I wrote an article about burning freeways here in the East Bay — and the auction that followed — because I thought that it too had some neat ideas that could be applied to gaming.

And that brings me to the current day.

This Tuesday is, of course, the day that the United States will be electing its president. I encourage you to get out and vote as it is (once more) likely to be one of the most important elections of our generation.

However, I also find the presidential election to be an interesting example of game design. Looking at it from the euro point of view, the presidential election is essentially a big majority-control game. There are 51(!!) regions, each of which has a different value. The winner is the player who gains control of the most valuable collection of regions.

More than that, the presidential election is, in my opinion, an example of very bad game design. The game design is so horribly flawed at so many different levels that it’s somewhat surprising that we’ve only had two Constitutional Crises in my lifetime (when the unelected President Ford took office and when the 2000 election ended in an effective tie).

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