Daily Archives: June 6, 2014

The (Board) Gamer’s Guide to Supply Management Part XXIII: Oddville

Do you sometimes feel like your Purchasing Department is the Island of Misfit Toys? Then OddVille is the game for you!

Oddly enough, several of you have been hired to build the city of OddVille, home to four powerful worker guilds. You will use your workers to obtain resources, coins and building projects in order to build the most valuable buildings and to gain the favour of guild members.

A city-building card-game, OddVille is a resource management game where, like in your real-world Purchasing department, you have limited resources to secure your contracts (buildings) and competing shareholders to appease (guilds). And you win by securing the most contracts (just like you typically win in OddVille by securing the most buildings).

In OddVille, at the start of the game, each player gets:

  • four worker cards in her colour (which may be used to obtain coin, resources, or building permits) which represent the classes of workers you have available to task
  • nine worker meeples
  • one resource (wood, clay, stone, or crystal)

Just like in the real world, you have a small team and limited resources to work with.

On each turn, a player can take one, and only one, of the following actions:

  • use an available worker (to obtain coin, resources, or building permits), dictated by the current worker classes available
  • build a building

Just like, in the real world, a Purchasing pro can only do one thing at a time — like executing a buy on contract to save money, building up the corporate intelligence, negotiating for a contract, or executing a contract.

The complexity of the game is that each worker, at a different experience level, has different skills, which means each worker can generate different amounts of coin, acquire different resources, and acquire building permits at different costs. Furthermore, once a worker has been committed to a task, that worker is unavailable for another task until your pool of available worker classes is empty (to model the amount of time a worker would be unavailable in the real world) or you are willing to spend coin to reclaim a worker class (as workers will work overtime for money). And, victory depends not only on which buildings are built but where they are built in OddVille (as bonuses can be obtained from orthogonally connected buildings and victory points are often dependent not on the building but its neighbours). (Similarly, sometimes the victory in a negotiation is not in the primary product or service being negotiated, but the value-adds or related products you manage to negotiate a deep discount on.)

Obtaining coin is straight-forward, a worker is tasked and coin is received. In order to acquire a resource, the worker must be given coin equal to the current cost of the resource and tasked with obtaining it, and to acquire a building permit, the worker must be given coin equal to the cost of the building permit desired. The cost of resources depends on how many other players are currently seeking that resource (and go from 0 to 2 coin, as the first seeker is able to acquire extra and sell enough to cover cost) and the cost of building permits depend on the skill of the worker who is negotiating them (and go from 0 to 5). In order to build a building, the player must have the required resources (shown on the permit) and a free worker meeple to staff the building. When a building is built, the player obtains any bonus associated with the building (such as a resource, coin, or guild member) and any adjacent connected buildings in the town. If the player gains the help of a guild member, he or she gets to use the special assistance of that guild member whenever applicable for as long as she has the help of the guild member. For example, if a player builds a building for the blue guild and gains the help of the Human Resources Manager, she can use any worker card to gain any resource (as her workers have access to the special skills of the Human Resource Manager).

The game ends when a player has placed her 6th worker in the city. Her score is the sum of the value of each building she has a worker meeple on, the value of the special guild members she has acquired the help of, and 1 point for each worker meeple on the resources board. (Similarly, the value of a Purchasing department is the value of each contract cut, the value generated for each stakeholder, and the value of value-added services she has managed to obtain on behalf of the Purchasing Department).

OddVille is a very odd little game, but has the advantage that, unlike many more complex worker placement games, you can generally finish a game with 10 minutes per player once you get the hang of it. You can play multiple head-to-head games against your cube mate, or a couple of 3 or 4-player games in a lunch-hour.