Games Design

I have been unbelievably busy this week.  On top of all the usual work stuff, I have a deadline to write a novel in about six weeks – which is ‘interesting’ to say the least.  However, I have been thundering along, and it looks like I might just make it!

Hence the lateness of this post this week, right in the tail end of a Friday afternoon.  Last weekend, I did not get to do any painting, having dedicated both days to some game design projects I had to get out of the way.  However, they are to do with gaming, so I can talk about them here!  I also had a rather remarkable game of 40k in the week, but I’ll leave that to another post, hopefully sometime this weekend.

Goblin Slammers

This is a very simple card game that we are planning to release at the bottom end of the year.  The basic idea is based on a very old card game I used to play at school called Slam (you likely know it by another name).  Players lay cards down on a pile, in sequential sequence according to the score of the card.

Take that idea, make the scores a ‘fighting’ ability for various orcs and goblins, and you have a big scrap in a goblin tribe!  The first playtest went flawlessly – however, as someone pointed out, you could play the game with a normal deck of cards, so why bother buying into this game?  Well, aside from having pretty artwork, I spent part of the weekend trying to figure that out.  In the end, I came up with;

  1. Decreased the score range of the cards from 0-13 to 0-6.  This also increases the intensity of the game, as it is far more likely players can put down a card (there being fewer numbers in the range).
  2. I added ‘event’ cards that players can throw down to stop play.  They then follow the instructions on the card before continuing.  This provides natural breaks in the (very fast-paced) game, but also allows for goblin-style sneaky tricks, like the Surprise! card that halts all other players but allows you to continue playing, or the Traitor! card that lets you swap your entire store of cards with another player – great if you are falling behind.
  3. I added more cards overall so the game could support up to four players.  This is complete anarchy, but is a lot of fun.

I like Goblin Slammers because of its simplicity, its pace, and because it has no set ‘turns.’  You have to be quick to win it!  I also cannot help feeling the mechanics could be useful in other areas.  I was thinking perhaps of a Top Gear licensed game, where you compete on cars but every now and again, one of the boys or the Stig turns up asd an event and gets you to do something.  Have to meditate on that…

Sedan Chair Racing

This came about from a conversation with a local store owner who remembered a years old board game.  As he described it, I could not help thinking the general concept would work as a card game.  The general idea is that 2-4 players take the part of nobles in Renaissance Europe, all getting ready to go0 to the Countess’ ball.  They have to recruit four bearers for their sedan chair, then race to the ball before any other noble.  Along the way, they can stuff up the recruiting for the other players (making sure someone has a really tall and really short guy on one side, for example), and engage in various Dastardely Deeds on the way – like sending another team the wrong way, perhaps.

The original version of the game had some issues.  The bearers had too great a range of ‘running’ scores, so they were decreased, and the game had originally been split into two distinct sections – recruiting, then racing.  If you finished recruiting, you had to wait for everyone else to finish too.  Now, if you have four bearers, you have the choice to stick around and maybe get a better team, or start racing, whether or not anyone else is ready!

This is another game that will see further development, with a chariot version planned for next year.

Dark Eon Assassin

This is our first real boardgame, and one I am really looking forward to.  In a nutshell, it is a solo game where you play a high-tech futuristic assassin that has to infiltrate a palace and knock off the Tyrant of Acheron.  This game is pretty solid now, but it had a few tweaks last weekend.  I went through and gave all the weapons names (so, instead of a Laser Pistol, you have a General Arms Mk IV Laser Pistol – it just adds a bit of atmosphere to the game), and also finalised the card decks, deciding which cards should stay and which should leave.

I also wrote a six page ‘graphic novel’ that will serve as an introduction to the game.  This is something I have always wanted to do but, it turns out, was much more difficult than I thought it would be.  Any way, you should be able to see the results around September.

Fleets of the Fading Suns

This is the first supplement for A Call to Arms: Noble Armada, and is pretty much complete.  However, the playtesters drew my attention to a few areas that needed going over once more.

We had an issue with the Vuldrok fleet in that ther smaller ships had pretty poxy weapons but seriously good armour.  This was an easy fix, as the armour was just decreased and the Attack Dice raised for them.  However, I kept their Galliot as it was – a weapons poor but heavily armoured boarding ship is very different from those of other fleets and as the Vuldrok are all about boarding, it seemed to be a perfect fit!

The Vau also had some issues, whereby they could just sit at the back of the table using Special Actions and pound the enemy.  Not very interesting.  I puzzled over this for a while but, in the end, it was another simple fix (most of the best fixes are!). The Vau can allocate extra power to various systems on their ships, giving weapons, movement or shields a big boost.  I first made a rule that said they could only do this while not taking a Special Action (forcing choice and avoiding nasty stacking effects), then removed the range boost they originally had when powering up their weapons.  They can still be all kinds of awesome, but now they have to mix it up with the other fleets to be so.


A Call to Arms: Star Fleet

Yeah, I saved this one to last – and this took me an entire day to work through.

The Star Fleet rulebook is actually pretty complete, having been written earlier this year.  However, there were some things nagging me, and I am also just starting to get playtester feedback.

The biggest thing I did was just about double all Damage and Shield scores, while lowering Hull scores.  This means ships are much easier to hit, but can take more damage.  I feel this simulates the TV show and films much better, where you see the Enterprise getting savaged by the Reliant’s sustained phaser fire – yet it can carry on fighting despite having all the criticals in the world.  This change is being playtested now, but I feel it will make this game feel very different to other A Call to Arms settings.

I also trimmed the fleet lists to reflect what is actually going to be released in the first wave, adding various ships that were missing.

Then I hit the playtest comments, and there was a host of things to go through here.  Rules for Labs and Away Teams were added, seeking weapons now actually track across the table (though that has raised some issues), Klingons had a big reinforcement to their front shields, reflecting their style of combat, and much more.

Star Fleet is going to be demanding a lot of my time over the next few months, so expect to see regular updates.

Next post: What happens when a bunch of Space Wolves unexpectedly meet fist-throwing Flesh Tearers?



One Response to “Games Design”

  1. Terry OCarroll Says:

    “The biggest thing I did was just about double all Damage and Shield scores, while lowering Hull scores. This means ships are much easier to hit, but can take more damage. I feel this simulates the TV show and films much better, where you see the Enterprise getting savaged by the Reliant’s sustained phaser fire – yet it can carry on fighting despite having all the criticals in the world.”

    Interesting. Yes, this also gets more of the feel of the games IMO. A typical cruiser can be crippled with massive hull damage, weapons knocked out, and damaged engines but the hardy captain yells, “We still have a probe launcher to fire at them!! Helm, ahead best speed!”

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