1) How many players/teams should the game allow for?
This question is quite important as it can determine how challenging the game will be, along with how inclusive it is for small or large groups. For example, the game of Bluff doesn’t work with two players because both players know exactly what cards the other player has. We want to understand if the same conflict will occur in our game, and if so, decide whether or not we want the minimum number of teams to be three or greater. We can do this by creating a basic version of our game using pieces of paper to symbolize shields and nukes, and play separate games with 2, 3, and maybe 4 teams to understand how the game pans out, whether it is too easy or difficult, etc. Personally, I believe this game will work optimally with 3 players/teams, since it opens the possibility of strategic allies/betrayals, but does not overwhelm the players by having too many factors to consider.
2) How many nukes and shields should each team hold?
This question is hard to answer right away, but it is important because it determines how fast or slow the game will progress, and if the game will become too easy or hard to win. We can test this out by playing multiples rounds of the game using the method from above, varying the number of nukes and shields each time. If we really wanted to test out many possibilities of how the game will play out, we could potentially write a computer program that runs test of game and reports the average number of rounds it takes to complete the game. Of course, it would be a little difficult to model the players’ behaviors when they make alliances or other promises during the deliberation phase, so it might not be the most effective use of our time. I’m thinking that 2 nukes/3 shields or 3 nukes/4 shields will be the best combination since it makes the nukes more scarce than shields.
3) Should players know who they were attacked by?
This question determines how players will react to attacks in the next round. If a player knows that they were attacked by a certain team one round, then they are more likely to retaliate in the next round. However, if they don’t know which team attacked them, then it becomes increasingly more difficult to know who to nuke next. Even with knowing who nuked you, however, there are a new set of strategies players could take knowing that another team will retaliate. Both versions might be equally effective, but we can determine which works better through multiple plays in either version. I think knowing who attacked you could still lead to some very interesting strategies and gameplay, while lessening the confusion of which teams you should focus on.
4) Should there be time for deliberation, and if so, how long?
Deliberation time can exist to allow players to make decisions amongst their teams and between teams about what the next mode of attack is. However, it can also become an interesting way to trick other teams, which adds a new layer of complexity. In contrast, if a team is able to follow through with their actions, it creates trust between teams and teams can decide their plan of attack accordingly. We can test out multiple iterations of the game with no deliberation, 30 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute and 30 seconds, and 2 minutes in order to see which is most optimal. I think there will most likely be a need for deliberation, and as the game progresses, there will be a need to use up a full two minutes to discuss.
5) How do we incentivize players to use their nukes in moderation?
Given that nukes can destroy other teams, it is possible that a team continues to just nuke other teams without any strategy. There needs to be some sort of opposition to this that makes it harder for a decision to be made. This could be naturally moderated by the fact that you lose a nuke every time you attempt to nuke another team, so you would want to make sure you only use it when you need to. Additionally, we could make a different version where you can only choose one option per turn, like shielding, nuking, or doing nothing. Another possibility is creating a rule where if the total number of nukes dropped is greater than a certain number, then it ends in world destruction, and no team wins. We can play test with all of these versions. I’m not sure which will be optimal, but the last version seems to add an interesting challenge for players to balance between attacks and cooperation.