2/6/2011-Saganomics

This last week I have been looking at the resource mechanic of Force Points within Star Wars Saga Edition and it has not been going well.  The issue has centered on the perceived lack of value for this resource.  I have come to painstaking conclusion that Force Points do not contribute anything to the themes or setting that is the essence of Star Wars, leaving the interpretation of this resource only as a game mechanic.  So, now we move on to look, as a game mechanic, if is it successful?

From an economic stand point there is all the incentives in galaxy to use this resource, or at least use all your points but one.  (I say this, because you can use one of these points to save your hero from death-hence you want to keep at least one in reserve so you can keep playing your hero.  If you save your hero from death, then just tread lightly until the next level.)  There is nothing but incentives in using these resource points, there are no penalties-just gains when using them-so why do players dismiss their value?  Players should have their heroes burning them left and right, yet they don’t.  Mine don’t at least. 

The reason why they lose value is because there is too much psychological cost to using them.  See, most economist view things from a risk/benefit perspective.  Risk representing the chance of lost or penalty while benefit is a gain or bonus, Force Points do not have any chance of lost so therefore there is no risk.   Unfortunately, they don’t really understand cost-economist call cost “investment.”   You invest a Force Point to get a result.  From a player’s perspective, Force Points are a cost; you are paying for a result based on a deal described in game system.  This is where it all breaks down, because everyone wants a fair deal.  A fair deal is always based on being fully informed, which is exactly the opposite of what Force Points do.  This is a psychological cost that the player cannot accept and ironically increases the Force Points value by not spending this resource.

When you spend a Force Point you roll an extra D6 to your normal die roll, this is your bonus for “tapping into the Force.”  The issue is that you could roll a 1 or 2, which probably will not help your roll, thus you have wasted the Force Point.  Most players don’t know what the target number they are trying to roll over, which makes it even more difficult to choose spending the Force Point.  Do I need just three more points to hit this guy or do I need to roll a 6 on that Force Point.  Essentially, spending the Force Point does not risk a penalty, but does not guarantee success either.  If you hold onto your Force Points, their value is greater because of their potential; they could be all sixes that you have not rolled.  Once you spend them, their value has been casted.

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