One of my majors in college was philosophy. I remember studying a theory of social justice by John Rawls. The driving force behind it was what he called the Veil of Ignorance. The gist of it was that if you were to create the rules and social norms of society without any knowledge of what your place in society would be, i.e. unknown gender, age, sexual preference etc., you would have a vested interest in dividing up rights as equally as possible. Since you wouldn’t know if you’d be a member of any privileged group, self-interest would dictate there be no privileged group. This lack of knowledge of one’s place was the Veil of Ignorance.
The idea always stuck with me and I remembered it when trying to come up with rules for how the board would be laid in Gnosis. We could’ve gone with a static board but I feel like it’s too easy for dominant and repetitive strategies to develop from that. We decided early on that a variable board would be more interesting. Sure, it could be randomly generated, but players would still need to decide where their bases were. To be able to make that decision after the board is laid out would lead to those who choose first having distinct advantages.
So, the Veil of Ignorance. No one knows where their base will be when the board is laid out, so each player has a vested interest in not creating an ideal starting point for any other player lest they hand over too much of an advantage.
Players being able to choose how the board was laid out added a new level of complexity to the game, strategizing begins before play even starts. More choices means more ways to get things right, but also more ways to get things wrong. While laying out the board can be a very simple process, it adds a level of depth for players to master over time.