In Microbrew, how you win is up to you!
Sometimes you want to make the Brewmaster proud. Sometimes you want to brew the perfect beer, serve it to a customer who’ll appreciate it and they’ll be loyal forever.
Other times, your Copper brewing kettle is a swirling mess, people are thirsty and you really want to hire that extra brewer. Maybe you take the time, work your Copper, clean up and take the long view, but maybe you just bottle any old rubbish, make do and gather the pennies. The perfect beer can wait for another day.
Plus, maybe it doesn’t matter if your beer isn’t perfect as long as you’ve got enough money to run an advertising campaign…
There’s lots of different levels to goals. At the highest level (what we call the global goal), it’s the easiest to define: In Microbrew, the goal of the game is to have the most loyal customers.
We like games that, whenever you go a level “below” that goal, the “how” adds more “or”. We like Caverna despite the fact it’s goal is gather abstracted victory points because it has very clear lower level goals with lots of “or”: How do you collect victory points? You can farm *or* you can mine *or* you can adventure. Even better than that, you actually do all of these *a bit*, but the circumstances of the game, the actions of your opponents will influence your decision of where to place your primary focus.
In Microbrew, the “how” of the global goal defines the following major goals: You can gain loyal customers by:
- Serving a perfectly brewed beer to a customer whose favourite beer is that recipe
- Advertising for a new loyal customer
- By completing this game’s reputation objectives
In turn, these each require their own minor goals. For example, how do you Advertise for a new loyal customer?
- Use the bottle action to fill your recipes with anything then do other stuff while it ferments.
- Use the serve action to give bottles to thirsty customers who will pay you the most.
- When you have enough money from the above, use the Advertise action to “buy” a loyal customer.
This creates a web of actions, that spread out from a single start point and then collapse back into a single goal. The balancing of the strands of this web is the art of games design - too many and your game is overwhelming, too few and it’s just not interesting. Each needs a “cost” too - and the cost should allow for planning, optimisation *and* opportunism and rely on factors that change. Again, let’s look at the Advertise action:
- Advertising in the early game is cheap, but gets more expensive as the game progresses and it is always more cost effective for the trailing player. (Changing factors)
- If your opponent is hogging the brewing actions, maybe you should just bottle poor quality beer to avoid giving them extra actions. (Optimisation)
- If there’s no no sign of the customer who’s taste matches your ready beer, just serve it to someone who pays well and spend the money on an upgrade (Planning)
- If your opponent is nearly ready to serve a perfect beer, you can cost them actions by serving a mediocre beer first. (Opportunism)
And that list isn’t even exhaustive. Simple systems can massively enhance the players need to have to think strategically as well as tactically if they’re built right, and that sort of thing can really enhance their enjoyment.