Base concept: Several Empires are engaged in the Colonisation of Spaaaace. They have successfully sent out several Colony Ships, and thus colonised several New Worlds, and there they have found Space Gold: huzzah for them.
It is a game of Secret Information: Relativity is a harsh mistress and Human Nature goes with us to the stars: what is going on in the Colonies and what is spoken of in the halls of their Imperial Masters may not be identical, partially because of Lag and partially because of Human Nature.
It is a Co-Operative game: the Imperial Masters must cooperate with their Colonial Administrators or neither one of them will get much in the way of Space Gold.
It is a Competitive game: there are after all several Empires, and each has several colonies, and Human Nature being what it is, being the Best is what it is all about.
Each Player takes control of one set of Imperial Masters and of a number of Colonial Administrators equal to the number of other Players: but these Colonial Administrators are not their own Colonies, but rather those of their fellow Players: their progress is judged by History not upon merely the performance of their own Empire but also of the Colonies they have administrated.
The game is designed for three or four Players. With more, it will very quickly suffer from Difficulties: these difficulties could be decreased by limiting the number of colonies administered, at the risk of engendering Boredom.
Okay, I'll drop the Jolly Imperialist Huzzah voice now. possibly off a cliff.
The idea is that the empire and its N-1 colonies (for N players) are engaged in a number of bilateral non-zero-sum games. The players are trying to outdo the other colonies with their colonies and outdo the other empires with their empire.
Two resources: population and Space Gold. The empire turns Space Gold into population; the colony turns population into Space Gold and more population. Orders and shipments to the colonies and reports and shipments from the colonies suffer a one-round lag. Colonies are somewhere between 'not compelled to tell the truth' and 'not encouraged to tell the truth' in their reports home. Empires can do things to punish colonies, but this only hurts them in the long run, because the colonies are the empire's only source of Space Gold.
Currently thinking that empires are scored on gold accumulated and colonies are scored on the sum of gold and population, or potentially the colonies are ranked by (sum of gold and pop) and then each assigned a proportion of their empire's score based on rank.
There may need to be randomness, or sufficient randomness may be supplied by Human Nature.
More to come.
Each player has a private hand containing colony actions, drawn from a shared central deck.
A colony is composed of a hand of resource cards (?physical (secret) object containing this information, because the number of cards in someone's hand is information we might not want to reveal) and a History (ordered discard) pile. The history pile may be used to reproduce the history of each colony at the end of the game for amusement's sake, or to enable verification of bookkeeping.
An empire is composed of a public hand of resource cards and ?a public 'history' pile for each colony, into which the reports from the colony are put in order.
There is also a (possibly quite short) deck of order cards for each empire; a set of actions that an empire may take; a deck of actions that a colony may take; a deck of Report cards that a colony may make.
Each turn, an empire (one player) and its colonies (other players) are active.
All shipments (q.v.) on the board are picked up. Add the resources to your currently active hand, read the report or orders and add to the appropriate history pile.
The empire takes one action from the list of empire actions. The colonies take one action from their hands.
Empire actions are public: they turn gold into population or other thngs a colony might want, or potentially punish colonies or acquire information from them.
Colony actions are hidden: they turn population into gold or more population. They go into the history pile.
The colonies now may make a shipment home; the empires now may make a shipment to any or all of their colonies.
Shipments from empire to colony: this contains items from the empire hand, plus (secret) orders. Placed face down between empire and that colony.
Shipments from colony to empire: this contains items from the colony hand, plus (public) reports. Placed face up between empire and that colony.
Play continues until some condition is met, probably a certain number of turns.
Actions Empire turns gold into colonists, creates action cards a colony can use, or turns gold into victory points. Colony turns colonists into gold, colonists into more colonists, has a significant degree of randomness.
The randomness is required here, otherwise the empire can work out the colony state from the colony inputs.
Scoring Empires are scored on their accumulation of victory points. Colonies are scored on total (gold + population) somehow.
I think colonies need an additional resource, or we're not optimising the imperfect communication that is the interesting bit of the game. --R?