Long story short, it’s awesome. The most significant change is that there is a hard level cap on your pokemon (even ones that you have caught yourself) based on the gym badges you have. So before you beat the first gym, the max pokemon level you can have is 20, and the gym leader has a team of 6 level 20 pokemon. This is actually sort of roughly analogous to how my brother and I used to play the pokemon games, with the self-made restriction that each pokemon in your party had to be within one level of every other pokemon.
This means you really have to consider type advantages, train up appropriate guys, and not just brute force the whole game with one pokemon. I’m having a blast so far. Turns out pokemon with a couple important rules tweaks is actually super sweet (and it was pretty sweet before).
There are also a few more very nice quality of life changes such as:
1) Experience is gained much faster
2) There is a built-in 3x speed option
3) The game shows your EV’s if you’re into that (I’m not that hardcore)
By popular demand, I’ve added a wiki for Axes and Acres to compile the full rules/information and such in one easy to reference place. I’ve taken a good stab at getting it off the ground but it needs YOUR HELP to make it as comprehensive as possible!
This commandment is one that I’ve basically adopted in whole cloth from Sid Meier (the game designer behind Pirates, Railroad Tycoon and Civilization among others)! To see some more thoughts on the originator of the idea, check out this sweet design article by Soren Johnson.
This idea is fundamentally tied to a management of complexity/elegance of design. Many games (such as Sid Meier’s!) take their cues as at least partially a simulation of real-world systems. This has the twofold advantage of giving the player a reason to play your game (if they’re already interested in the subject matter) and some basic idea of the way things will work, without you having to explain them (related: Mark Rosewater’s thoughts on Piggybacking and Keith Burgun’s thoughts on theme).
However, strategy game designers need to be include to select only those elements which make for interesting player-facing decision-making. For example, in a war simulation, it may be tempting to include mechanics that revolve around supply lines, solider morale, etc etc. And then you may think that hey (!) I can tie the solider morale into the combat by giving certain bonuses, and cross compare that with the unique background of each solider, and so on and so forth.
How does this even work? What should I care about?
While this may provide value in the exploratory framework of a simulation game like Dwarf Fortress, where the value largely comes from discovering what the mechanics are and what emergent results they produce, it does not provide efficient value in terms of strategy game decision making. It may be very interesting for the designer as they set up the various status tables, modifiers and relationships between them, but so long as the player is not aware of or not considering them as an aspect of their decision, they are not a part of strategy (and therefore the fun/value of playing a strategy game, for its strategic merits).
By including a smaller and more carefully curated set of mechanics in your strategy game, you allow the player to get done with learning the rules as quickly as possible (as fun as they are to design and tweak) and move on to the joy of strategic play! (See also article 1 about Known Rules)
Strategy games need something for the player to consider (re: strategize). However, humans are fantastic at immediately grokking patterns and finding solutions to problems, so it can be very difficult for your system to keep up in the arms race and remain interesting! Some games attempt to remain interesting by having a ton of rules or very complex rules (grand strategy games are a classic example of this). While this does give the player something to think about, I would argue that oftentimes what they are thinking about is not strategy. I would define strategy as more
a) How do I accomplish my goals within these limitations?
b) How do these systems work? What are my limitations?
To that end, in order for the player to be more engaged with the types of strategic thinking I want, they need to know all the rules of the game (or at least the vast majority). This allows them to quickly understand their different options and weigh them against each other, as well as reach out mentally into future turns and still be able to process the chain of events that will happen.
TL:DR : making a carefully considered best guess as to what the correct move is when you know all the immediate ramifications will be is much more interesting than calculating out what those ramifications even ARE and then selecting the one that gives the highest number.