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BoardGameGeek» Forums » Board Game Design » Design Theory

Subject: A 'feeling of being attack from behind' co-op rss

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Jacob Woehrle
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I thought of an idea I want to bounce off some people to see if there's something on the market like it that I'm not aware of. Also to see if anyone has idea's of how to put this in a game.

It's a cooperative game where each player plays a different side(north, south, east, or west) of a military base being attacked from every direction. The military base is the game board on the center of the table and the attacking force is represented only on the cards in the event deck. The Events might say something like "Attack on the north flank" at which point the north player loses his shield. If a player is ever un-shielded during an attack on his flank(NSEW), the military base itself takes damage as if it passed through your defense and hit the base directly. Obviously there'd have to be some way to get your shield back up but there's got to be more to it than just spending an action to do so. I'm not sure where to go with that part.

The heart of the idea:
In general, the experience I want players to have at the table is the feeling of everyone facing towards the thing they need to protect and the feeling that behind them lurks the possibility of being attacked any moment. Because the attacking force would be abstracted in a way that they are not represented on the game board, but only on the cards in the event deck, every time you are attacked from a certain direction, its as if you were struck from behind with your back turned.

I'm not sure I really got my point across but hey, feel free to take it somewhere totally different in the comments.

This is my first time posting to the game design forum here on BGG so I'm not entirely sure this is the right sub-forum for this particular post. Please let me know if it's out of place and thanks for reading and commenting.

Jacob
 
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Kevin B. Smith
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I wonder if the "tower defense" idea is sort of in conflict with the "getting hit from behind" idea. It seems like if you're guarding a fort, you would be looking outward, not inward.

To develop the "behind" bit, maybe come up with a theme where each player is working on something intently, with their back exposed. Reading a book, diffusing a bomb, assembling a machine?

Or else have everyone by themselves, maybe wandering in the woods, with your back exposed. Maybe you could choose to spend your attention forward (to make progress) or backward (to defend yourself).
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Francisco Gutierrez
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I agree with Kevin, but would like to add that if you want to emphasize the feeling "that something is lurking behind you", why not go for a horror theme?

Perhaps we are sitting around a campfire and having our nerves broken when something sneaks up behind us.

Or if the threats are supposed to be "attacking" the thing we are watching, how about a Ouija board? Spooks could be appearing behind you and scaring you out of the room, trying to destroy the board (to escape?)
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JT Schiavo
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Frederick
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As far as other games that somewhat feel the same... Ghost Stories.

While your characters are represented on the board and move around trying to solve problems, you have ghosts (event deck) that are played on each of the four sides. This can lead to penalties on that side, or haunters that creep up on that side, and if one side gets overwhelmed it starts hurting that player and possibly the village directly.

As far as the general "from behind" idea... I'll piggyback on Kevin's idea of choosing to spend your attention forward or backward. Maybe there can be several types of action, some outward facing and some inward facing, and each turn the players have to decide which player will take each action. Defend protects you if you get attacked, but does nothing else. Scout lets you peek at some cards to get some idea of what is coming soon. Repair lets you get your shields back up, but fails if you get attacked. Research lets you progress towards victory before time runs out, but fails if attacked while researching. Support lets you take the hit for someone else, but if your own flank gets attacked you take double damage. Each turn the players can debate on which actions must be taken and how to progress before either the base is destroyed.
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Tom Bruno
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Might not be following what has been said very well. but I was thinking that mechanically speaking "behind you" is similar to "not visible" in that the worrying thing about what's behind you is that you dunno what is there. same reason kids are scared of the dark or think there is something in the closet.
I have no idea how you would pull it off without a dungeon master or something. but I could imagine a game where players can only see enemies in a certain area. say a line in front of them representing a flash light in a dark area. If you could have enemies still move and attack even when they are "invisible" then perhaps that would offer the feeling you are after

can't see how that idea would be done without a DM or a bespoke app of some kind, or a player who takes a role behind a screen and has visibility of the enemies that they others dont
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Kevin B. Smith
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I had a new thought: An app-driven game could allow the players to truly get surprised. [EDIT: Ninja'd, sort of!]

Something like: Press a button on the app to indicate that the players are starting to work on a task. Some kind of puzzle to solve, either as a group, or a separate puzzle for each. While they're working, if they don't remember to check the app every X seconds, it would "surprise" them with an attack.

Or maybe the app would be playing a variety of sounds, and mixed into the irrelevant noises would be some warnings of impending doom. If they players didn't react within Y seconds after the sound, they would get attacked. There could be subtle sounds first, and stronger sounds as the threat gets closer, and the earlier the players respond, the better their defense.

Of course, the more time players spend monitoring the app, the slower they would be in solving the puzzle. They could even assign "watch duty" to one of the players, so the game would have to be balanced to still be difficult. Individual puzzles might be better there--maybe there is a stiff penalty if a puzzle hasn't made at least a little progress, so players would at least be forced to switch off as guards.

The theory is similar to the "mind games" video where the viewer is asked to concentrate on something, like the number of basketball bounces, and
Spoiler (click to reveal)
while that's happening, a gorilla clearly walks by on the screen, but the viewers are so intent on the basketballs that they don't even notice.


I'm not sure any of this is practical, but if someone did it, it could be cool.
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Emperors Grace
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You could probably just do this with cards as a coop vs board.

Say for the defusal under fire scenario:

Each turn a card is drawn by one player (rotating) and known only to them.

Each other player must then choose to "defuse" or "guard" by playing a card/token.

The turn card is then revealed showing the event and how many or each status player card/token is needed for the event.

Failure to achieve guard goal results in wounds to the person specified on the card (and deaths make subsequent goals harder to achieve). Damage could also be applied only randomly to those that don't guard, making an interesting choice of who gets to guard.

Failure to achieve defuse goal results in bomb moving up the track toward detonation.

You could spice it up by throwing in limited "gear" cards that manipulate wound/bomb tracks or that let the players sneak peeks and or make limited rearrangements of the event deck. Or maybe a few "lingering effects" where someone has the next turns choice specified for them (e.g. tricky wiring-must defuse) or would take extra damage next turn if they take damage (making them want to guard), etc...

Personally, I'd like to see it as the moment in RotJ where Han and crew are working on the bunker door. He has a choice to face out and guard against attacks/capture or face in and try to get the door open/mission completed before they are captured.

Or as a hackers vs system scenario with the attacks coming from black ICE.
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Emperors Grace
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Just had a thought, you could eliminate the main deck in favor of two dice of different colors.

That would make things a bit more random (as the two numbers wouldn't necessarily always add to the same number) but it would allow for an interesting twist in which difficulty could be adjusted by players or as a gear effect by going up and down dice (d4, d6, d8, d10, d12).

Also might eliminate need for a deck to be printed if the gear becomes tokens but I'd have to think about how gear is obtained then as it couldn't be drawn as an event. Maybe on doubles?

(I'm not sure whether 10 dice would be cheaper than a deck, though.

This might also ratchet tension up as the gear cards would have served as "breathers".

You know what, I might just have to actually playtest/work on this one. It's sticking in my head.
 
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Ben Smith
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As far as mechanics, it sounds similar to Castle Panic. Not sure if that game captures the feeling you are going for, or not.
I think that you could definitely create feelings of tension and anticipation as people see defenses around them crumble and know that they are hanging on by a thread.

Capturing the "attacked in the back" part seems harder. My one thought is that perhaps each player could have both a shield points as well as health points, so rather than having the fort itself have health points, those are distributed among players. When a player takes a hit head on, it removes shield points which can be rebuilt. But when they have no shield OR when a shot comes through from an undefended flank, they take a hit to their personal health points. If any player gets to zero, everyone loses (or, when 2 out of 3, or however you want to do it).

This makes it feel more "personal" because it is YOUR points that get dinged even if it wasn't your fault. If you had a small board or strip in front of each player with cubes or chits on it you could have a top row of shield tokens and a second row of health tokens, and this would help create the "looking out" perspective since it would be in front of each player, and they could see either their front or their back line of defenses take hits and crumble.
 
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