A significant portion of the game surrounds efficiently meteing out token resources over the duration of the game. While this is interesting, it is a single pass decision space (there is no opportunity to revisit investment decisions or change gross investment patterns). Perhaps it should be multi-pass (ie support more adaptable and responsive strategic structure depths).
I’ve a fondness for games which allow exchange of victory points for in-game advantage. The best ones (for my tastes) support giving specific other players (potential) victory points. The more general case involves sacrificing personal victory points for position (equivalent in the zero sum view). I generically prefer the targeted distribution simply as it allows players to competitively position themselves for handouts and I have a particular fondness for games in which players can create emergent dependencies; positional structures in which it is in a player’s positional self interest to help another player win as the most effective (or even only) method of improving their own position (KaiVai makes extensive use of this pattern and it is a common feature of good Age of Steam and 18XX play). A possible application to Pax Mongolica could allow VPs to be sacrificed to re-acquire previously spent tokens. A more(?) entertaining form which hews closer to my interests might allow a player to resurrect tokens by simultaneously resurrecting a larger number of tokens for another player. eg PlayerA resurrects N tokens for cost X, which results in PlayerB also receiving 2N resurrected tokens for free (rations and costs TBD). As a result players would explicitly (plan to) position themselves for positional handouts from other players…positional prostitution.
Thematically this is a mess. I’ll probably have to change the tentative Viking/Varangian theme again. A small loss. I’m a more concerned that the game is too mechanically rich, too many layers in the mechanical layer cake: network building, combat, player-elected scoring, turn order auctions, area influence, resource (exchange) management., special powers and roles (which I’ve never felt good about). Time to start pruning again?