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Technopoly

A simulation game of mining, invention, construction and trading by Kevan Davis and Ben Wray.
Wednesday the 18th of June 2003

A game for two or more players, Technopoly sees robot workforces inventing and building machines, discovering and mining the raw materials required to construct and fuel them, and trading both machinery and materials with other organisations.

Technopoly is an extension of the trading simulation game Bounty, with a more pedantic ruleset and a structured invention system.

(The game is still somewhere in the realm of beta-testing; it's playable, but doesn't really encourage as much interesting trading as it should. It could probably use a rule saying that any card can be played as 'Fuel: 1A' or 'Fuel: 1C', and possibly a random system of fuel-selection)

Game World

The world of Technopoly contains Objects, some of which have special Attributes assigned during their initial invention or discovery.

Although Objects may be given appropriate units of measurement (tonnes of rock, square metres of textiles, heads of sheep), these units are equivalent for game purposes - it takes a Robot equally long to build or mine one unit of anything, and endgame scoring is simply a totalling of units.

Objects are either Machines or Fuel - those with attributes which include an "Activate:" trigger are regarded as Machines, the rest are Fuel.

A particular type of Machinery already exists, and is immediately available to all Players - the Robot.

Game Cycle

Each Player starts with a hand of three Attribute Cards, and two Robots in play. If a Player ever runs out of Robots, a single, new Robot is immediately airdropped to them.

Players take turns, in sequence. During each turn, they may either:-

When everyone's taken their turn, that's the end of a round. At the end of every round after the tenth, roll a 20-sided die; if the roll is equal to or less than the round number, then the game ends.

When the game ends, the Player who owns the greatest number of Objects (excluding Robots, or any Objects whose Attributes affect scoring) is declared the winner.

Robot Tasks

Fuel

Some Machines require Fuel to create or operate, and some Fuels require other Fuel to be expended in their mining.

During the Invention of an Object, cards may be played specifying that that Object "requires Fuel". In such an event, the inventing Player must nominate a type of Fuel from those that have been discovered, excluding those which were discovered by the inventing Player. If no such Fuel is available, he or she must wait until one becomes available, and select that.

(If a Player plays a "requires Fuel" card on one of their own inventions, however, they are allowed to choose their own Fuels for it.)

In the case of cards which require two or more Fuel, the inventor may either choose multiple copies of the same Fuel, or a variety, with the same restrictions above.

When Fuel is "burnt", it is destroyed. You can only burn Fuel which you own.

Example: Colin creates a new Object and gives it the attribute Automatic. Aleric responds with "Fuel 1A"; it must burn one Fuel per activation. Colin chooses Electricity (discovered by Boris, who traded its Mining Rights away, earlier in the game).

Colin then adds the Destroyer attribute. Aleric doesn't respond, but Boris responds with "Fuel 3C"; it requires three Fuel to create. Colin chooses one Electricity and two Titanium (discovered by Aleric, but already traded and stockpiled by Colin).

Colin has now invented the Death Ray, which requires 1 Electricity and 2 Titanium to build, and 1 Electricity to fire.

Trading

Players can agree to trade at any time, even during other players' turns - the game stops while the trade is debated and either resolved or abandoned, and play then continues.

As well as trading Objects with one another, Players may also agree to trade Technology and Mining Rights (giving other players the ability to create or mine particular Objects). Players may choose to either share or surrender such rights, when trading. ("I'll give you joint mining rights for this Kryptonite, if you give me sole possession of your Phonebox Technology.")

Players may also trade Attribute cards from their hands - either displaying them openly, announcing them without showing them, or simply trading them as unrevealed face-down cards.

Trading can involve a promised game action, as either assistance or threat ("If you give me ten Soil, I'll give you back half the Nitrates that my Earthworms produce from it", "Give me ten Gold or I'll attack your Robots!"), but it's up to the traders to trust that their opponent will remain true to their word.

Attribute Cards

These should be copied onto cards and placed in a pile in the centre of the table. Either copy them by hand onto index cards, jot the titles onto cards and refer to a printout of the rules, or print and cut out this Dvorak-format Technopoly deck.

Positive Attributes

AutomaticMay not be activated by a Robot; is instead able to activate itself, once per turn.
EcologicalIf a Machine, any Fuel can be used to fuel its activations.
InvulnerableThis Object cannot be destroyed, even when burnt as Fuel. This takes precedence over all other Attributes.
PlentifulWhenever one of these Objects would be created, two are created instead.
Protective Other Object types you own may only be attacked if you own more of them than you do of this Object.
Rapid-FireIf a Machine, it may be Activated twice per turn (by the same Robot, or by itself if Automatic).
ResearchedThe next Attribute card added to this Object by its inventor may not be responded to by opponents.
RetaliatoryIf an Attacker loses a battle against this Object, the Attacker is destroyed.
Self-Replicating Object is able to make a copy of itself, once per turn.
SyntheticSelect an existing Fuel, when you invent this. This Object may be used in place of that Fuel, when fuelling or constructing Machines.
AnalyserActivate: Destroy a Machine you own, and gain the Technology for it.
AttackerActivate: Attack an Object as if this Machine were a Robot.
ConvertorActivate: Change a Fuel Object you own into any other Fuel.
CopierActivate: Generate a copy of an Object you own.
DestroyerActivate: Destroy any Object.
LiberatorActivate: Choose an Object, and roll as if attacking it. If successful, you may steal that Object instead.
ManipulatorActivate: Invent a new Object, or create a known Object, or activate a Machine, or Attack another Object.
MinerActivate: Create two copies of a Fuel you have Mining Rights for.
MonitorActivate: Look at any opponent's hand.
ResearcherActivate: Draw an Attribute card at the end of this turn. (If you use this multiple times in a turn, you still only get one card.)
ScavengerActivate: Create a copy of an Object which was destroyed or burnt since your last turn, and which belonged to an opponent.
SynthesiserChoose an existing Fuel, when you invent this. Activate: Generate that Fuel.
TransmitterActivate: You may choose to add or subtract ten from the endgame roll, at the end of the round. (Multiple usage doesn't increase this.)

Neutral Attributes

Fixed This Object cannot be stolen or traded.
MysteriousAny Player may skip their turn to remove this Attribute and replace it with one from their hand.

Negative Attributes

Fuel: 1ARequires 1 Fuel to be burnt per activation.
Fuel: 1ARequires 1 Fuel to be burnt per activation.
Fuel: 1ARequires 1 Fuel to be burnt per activation.
Fuel: 2ARequires 2 Fuel to be burnt per activation.
Fuel: 3ARequires 3 Fuel to be burnt per activation.
Fuel: 1CRequires 1 Fuel to be burnt per creation.
Fuel: 1CRequires 1 Fuel to be burnt per creation.
Fuel: 1CRequires 1 Fuel to be burnt per creation.
Fuel: 2CRequires 2 Fuel to be burnt per creation.
Fuel: 3CRequires 3 Fuel to be burnt per creation.
Fuel: 1A*Requires 1 Fuel to be burnt per activation. Whoever plays this card may choose the Fuel.
Fuel: 1C*Requires 1 Fuel to be burnt per creation. Whoever plays this card may choose the Fuel.
Fuel: 1PRequires 1 Fuel to be burnt every turn. If the owner declines to burn the Fuel for this Object, the Object is destroyed.
ElaborateThis Object requires 3 Robots to create or activate.
EvaporatingAt the end of your turns, you must destroy one Evaporating Object you control.
FlawedThis Object is abandoned during the design stage, and can never be mined or created.
FragileThis Object will automatically lose, when attacked.
HazardousIf a Machine, the activating Robot is destroyed, when activated. If Fuel, the Robot activating the Machine it is feeding is destroyed.
High-Maintenance At the end of a Player's turn, destroy all High-Maintenance Objects they own which were not monitored by a Robot during that turn.
IllegalIf you own any Illegal objects, you cannot win the game.
InertThis Object cannot be used to fuel anything.
LimitedIf a Fuel, it can only be mined during this round and the next three.
NoisyWhen created or activated, no other types of Object may be created or activated in the same turn.
One-ShotIf a Machine, it is destroyed immediately after being activated.
PollutantCounts as -1 to score, instead of +1, during endgame.
PollutingCreates a "Waste" Object (the inventor may name it) every time it is created or activated. (Such Waste Objects count as -1 to score, during endgame.)
SlowIf a Machine, it may not be activated if it was activated during the owner's previous turn.
UniqueEach Player may only own one of these; excess are automatically destroyed.
UnpredictableWhenever this Machine is activated, its owner nominates an opponent - that opponent makes all choices required by the activation ability.
UnstableIf one of these Objects is destroyed, all other Objects of its type belonging to its owner are also destroyed.
UnstoppableAny Player able to create this Object must create two of them per turn, before doing anything else.
WorthlessThis Object counts for nothing when totalling scores at endgame.

(From this, Robots are effectively Machines with the "Automatic", "Manipulator" and "Worthless" attributes.)

Playing Face-to-Face

Technopoly can either be played with massses of counters on a tabletop (where each type of Object is represented by a different token; coins and glass beads are good), or by each player simply keeping track of their status on a sheet of paper.

If playing with counters, you might like to agree beforehand that each type of counter is a finite resource - if you run out of a particular type of Object counter, then no more of that Object can be mined or built (at least until the existing stockpiles are destroyed or burnt).

Playing Online

Technopoly can be played online using any medium that implements a shared deck of cards, although you can play cardlessly by numbering the Attribute Cards and assigning them by a die roll, if you trust your opponent and don't mind getting duplicates.

The Dvorak Engine can be used to track the cards, if playing the game on a MUSH - a Technopoly deck has been prepared.

From playtesting, the easiest way to conduct a game through an online messaging system is to declare Robot Tasks, process any Invention and Trading conversationally, then announce your own status to signify the end of your turn and the start of the next. (This status can be noted down in a text editor, and pasted across to the conversation.)

Boris : "One of my Robots invents a new Object. I give it the Synthetic attribute; it's a Synthetic form of Colin's Thistle. Any response?"

Colin : "Hmm. Yes, it's also Fragile."

Boris : "Okay, I'll leave it there. I'll have 10 Robots create 10 Plastic Thistles, and 2 of them make 2 more Robots."

Boris : "Status: 15 Robots, 7 tonnes of Sandstone, 10 Plastic Thistles."