The initial concept is to add special powers that break or extend the rules for the bearer. That’s the simplest and thus lowest risk implementation. However it is also largely uninteresting. A single special power doesn’t do enough to develop arc for the game, which is the whole reason for considering SP&R in the first place. Okay, combinatorial special powers then. Players may acquire multiple special powers and may then use them freely in interesting combinations. Hurm. Freely. Maybe not — why not apply the single global resource currency to the SP&R as well? Nice idea, not sure how to make it work. In particular calculating correct costs could be a problem, especially for the combinatorials.
The bigger problem is how to distribute the SP&R. Ideally the mechanism would involve significant player decisions, opportunities for aggressive competition and would involve no random elements or player luck. (The game is otherwise a perfect and certain information game) Simple purchase has pricing problems, drafting has luck-of-the-draw problems, tieing it to the turn order auction is appealing but perhaps overwrought.
The current concept is to split the SP&R into two types:
1) Each of the scoring action point selections also comes with a SP&R which may be used by that player for that turn only. Remember that the scoring action point selection also provides the least action points (and resources) of any of the sections. The SP&R tied to scoring rounds will need to be interesting without being overly compelling. Pot sweetners, not game throwers. As most of the scoring action selections have only 1 or 2 action points when 6, 7 or 8 is common for the top, this should be farily easy. The kicker is that there is one action selection set of 6/5/5/4/4score (4 player game). The SP&R on the scoring 4 will require care.
The concept implementation simply notes an SP&R along with the score instruction for the smallest action selection. If a player selects the scoring action they’ll also see the SP&R that accompanies it.
There’s also a pleasant side-effect given the current production. Currently the action selects are on cards, a column of numbers down the left hand side of each card. This allows the card set to be shuffled and then displayed as a spread stack so that all the numbers are visible with the cards still stacked. By putting the SP&R at the bottom of the card along side the score instruction, the stack can now be spread at a roughly 45 degree angle so that the numbers along the side and SP&R along the bottom of each card in the stack is visible. Cute.
2) The game board consists of 23 hexes, of which 4 are water (and thus useless barriers), 3 are Constantinople (or whatever the new theme dictates), and 4 are fixed and adjacent to the starting locations. That leaves 12 hexes which are placed randomly, two of them albeit very close to the starting locations. The players already compete for plurality on those hexes — which not also provide a SP&R with each of the 12 hexes and have it won by the plurality player? The base idea is that the first player to accomplish plurality on each hex gets the SP&R for the rest of the game. The question is when the SP&R award is made?
2a) Possibly award the SP&R only upon scoring? This could tend to leave SP&R awards until the late game due to insufiicient incentive gradiens and thus may provide too much of an impediment ot scoring in general. It could also encourage scoring if the SP&R are particularly attractive. Player’s might score even if it puts them nominally behind just to get desired SP&R’s earlier. Other players might deliberately sploit that relationship to get high scores early while sacrificing SP&R gains. Tough call. Given that the game is epxected to be either 8 or 10 turns long, this seems possible but suspect.
2b) Immediately upon the end of the full turn (all players) on which the first plurality for that hex was accomplished. Sub-question: Is a monopoly on the hex acceptable or must it be a competitive plurality? Monopolies will greatly reduce the total number of SP&R issued per game as many hexes don’t provide enough VP profit to compete for.
The initial working model is to assign SP&R at the end of every full turn in which new pluralities (or monopolies) were accomplished. This should bring out almost all SP&R within the first 4 - 5 turns of the game, which seems about right. The concept implementation is to randomly distribute SP&R cards directly on the hexes. As turns end with pluralities the cards are awarded to the players with ties being unfriendly. As a distribution system this has the advantage of being mechanically simple and largely uninvasive of the rest of the game.
3) Are SP&R immortal? A possibility would be to make SP&R use cost a resource (probably from supply), and to limit the number of times a given SP&R could be used. Physical representation could be by placing tokens on circles marked on the SP&R cards. All circles filled == no more SP&R. This also would encourage amusing games of tempting other players to exhaust their SP&R for tactical advantage too early.
3a) If the re-use count for an SP&R is too small then the game arc may tend to peak in the centre with a somewhat grinding end-game. If it is too large it might as well be uncounted. However use-count limits does allow an accidentally over-powered SP&R to be reined in. Ideal would be having half to two thirds of all SP&R exhausted by the end-game, thus creating increasing tension and angst over when exactly to spend the last SP&R opportunity.
3b) Making unused SP&R counts worth VPs could encourage the amusing temptation games noted above. Certainly it seems an interesting decision opportunity. Possible representation for unused SP&R VPs would be to note the VP value in each circle. In the end game, score the highest VP count in any exposed circle for each SP&R card.