Ikim's Boardgame designs

In this blog I will talk about my current design projects. The complete games featured in these pages are: -Shadow Agent -Dystopian: the manhunt plus random ideas and WiPs

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MK18 rules V.1.2

Michele Esmanech
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after some more thinking, I thought that the bonuses given by encounters should not be permanent, but can be used only ONCE per round, and reset at the beginning of the round.
This adds some thinking as to when to use such bonuses.

Another addition: you either use all the bonus, or none at all. So if you had +3 influence, for example, and you wanted to use it, you had to use all the 3 influence in one single enter phase; so you cannot use 1, on one encounter phase, and the other 2 on a subsequent phase.

This also adds to the choices you want to make, in a given turn.

I already made some quick cards... very quick, and the game seems like might work.


As per the areas, here are what I came up with, their explore value, and what you could expect to encounter:

plains, 2 explore, : no encounters
village, 2 explore, : weak allies
keeps: 3 explore: strong allies or weak enemies
mage tower, 3 explore: medium enemy that gives bonuses
mountains: strong enemies

rampaging enemies: 1) orcs: weak that give influence bonus; 2) dragons: strong that give bonuses



This, as I said, is all Mage Knight based, but my aim is to convert this all into a cyberpunk theme, in the Dystopian Universe... I will play test it first as is, and work from there.

The main difference, between the MK18 and the Dystopian18 is that t MK18 will require to conquer a city within round 10; in Dystopian 18 you will need to gather clues (another resource you will keep track on the player board), and you will use when dealing with the murderer, in the last terrain tile, all within 10 rounds.



So, which theme appeals to you, most? MageKnight/generic fantasy, or SCI-Fi/ Cyberpunk Dystopian?

thoughts? ideas?
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Tue Sep 26, 2017 11:45 am
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MK18 (or Dystopian 18... theme and title to come) RULES v.1

Michele Esmanech
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So, here’re the rules:

1- components

1 player board
5 cubes or tokens
18 cards

The 18 cards are the following:
7 action cards (with 1 basic and 1 advance action)
5 basic terrain cards (each divided in 12 areas)
5 encounters (each showing 5 encounters
1 final city tile (to be placed at the bottom of the 5 basic terrain cards

2) The goal of the game is for the player to conquer the city within 10 rounds

3) The game is structed in Runds, each Round is divided in Turns, and each Turn in phases.

Each round ends when the player cannot draw cards from his action deck, at which point the TIME track token (on the player boars) moves +1
Each round consists of turns, and a turn is divided in phases: a) the Explore phase (in which the player can explore/move, b) the Encouter phase, in which the player can (sometimes MUST)) deal with an encounter when entering an area in the terrain; c) the draw phase
A) to move to an area the player, must use cards to generate as many explore points as required by the area

B) When facing an encounter the player draws the top most card of the encounter deck and deals with the encounter corresponding to the color the area the player is in

To deal with the encounter, the Player may use as many cards in his hand of 5 as he wishes, to attack (using attack points, evade points or Influence points to, respectively - defeat the enemy (and gain some bonuses) - evade (to avoid dealing with the encounter, and shuffle it back in the encounter deck and not get any bonus); - gain bonuses using your influence (as per gaining a permanent ally or item)

As I said there are two type of actions in each card: 1 basic (like Attack 2, Evade 1, Inflluence 2, Explore 2... then there are advanced actions, like Attack 4, Evade 4, Explore 5... to trigger the advance action the player MUST discard one other card, along the action card he’s using.

Each card also acts as a 1 of any one action (Attack Evade Explore Influence)



C)in the draw phase, the player draws cards from his action deck, to fill his hand up to 5 cards.

The round ends when: a) optionally, wthen he player so declares b) mandatory whenever there are no more cards in the action deck and in the player’s hand,
In either case, whenever the round ends, the time track moves +1


Bonuses are permanent buff to the actions, and are kept track of in the player board. Such bonuses are added to the actions (basic or advanced) triggered with the cards


To make things more interesting and increasingly difficult, the TIME track also adds to the skill difficulty displayed by the encounter card, so, if you’re on TIME +2 and you encounter a potential ally that requires an INFLUENCE of 3 to give you a +1 ATTACK bonus, you need 5 influence points (3 from the encounter and 2 from the TIME)


Some areas show rampaging enemies that will interrupt your movement and willl attack you, if you enter certain areas: these cannot be evaded, and will give a +1 bonus to your influence

Explore all the terrain tiles, and enter the City, and conquer it within 10 rounds, and you win the game


Tomoorrow ill illustrate the area types and what type of encounters are expected there
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Mon Sep 25, 2017 9:10 am
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Back to the drawing board

Michele Esmanech
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I recently saw the 18 Card Microgame Contest! [2017], and was tempted enter, if not for the challenge to create a game with a 18 card only game with no additional components

While I cannot come up with a way to avoid using some sort of player board and at least 4-5 cubes, I managed to fit a decent game within 18 cards.

At first I made a Mage Knight Board Game version and, as MK18 is a distilled version of a mage Knight, andin fact, in my notepad, I even called it Mk18. It uses a generic fantasy theme where you have to conquer a City within a limited period of time.

Though, the MAge Knight legacy is, on one hand, very interesting as I hope people who enjoy MK will like MK18

On the other, Sush legacy is a heavy burden and, as it is, might seem too generic.

I will keep the generic fantasy for now, but will add the Dystopian theme once the game is settled

So: component-wise it will feature 18 cards, 1 player board and 4-5 cubes: so I will enter the micro game contest i the spring


Stay tuned: next up rules
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Sun Sep 24, 2017 12:01 pm
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Thanks all for The comforting welcome

Michele Esmanech
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Again: thank you all for the kind words

DISCLAIMER: if I make mistakes or typos, please excuse me, it's not like I don't have learn proper grammar or I don't have the appropriate spelling skills, it's that due to my last surgery, I almost completely lost control of my left hand, so I keep making small little mistakes, that the AutoCorrect changes to what it thinks.

To what it thinks


And now, back to the design train of thought

- the components will be the following,, with the following changes to the current version of the game :

1- the game board will be smaller and more approachable as it willl be print paper A4 sized (or what ever format you use in the US).
It will show the same image the previous board will show, but instead of hanving slots for the cards ON it, the stack of cards will be placed AROUND the board itself.

Around the board there will be indications to 10 locations (3 on the longg sides, and 2 on the short sides), each with some special effects (and obviously the type of location (safe, neutral dangerous)

Each stack of encounters will be placed beside the name of the location, so, as I said, outside the board.

In the middle there will be the fixed locations: the armory and the DPD (where players can go and upgrade, and turn the hints into clues.

2- the player board will be a second A4 sheet, with the dice allocation slots on each side, and the suspect bard. As I said, the suspect board will not require any tokens, but the player(s) will have to draw the track with a pencil (hence, the player board will be a printer friendly sheet of paper.


By the way: the clue tokens will be replaced by 4 tokens, which will show: North East West South, which will indicate the direction to draw the"line" on the suspect board. I still have to figure put how to make this a limited thing...

Another change, to make up for the fewer locations, at the beginning of the game (and maybe during the game- if some encounters are met, or at fixed moments), an EVENT CARD will be drawn, that will change the effects of some locations (like the number of warrants to enter, or the effects altogether.


I also thought about streamlining the dice, as having blue dice, white dice, red dice, makes the game not very accessable: I'll see.


Stay tuned
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Sat Sep 16, 2017 7:03 pm
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Lets revamp this... 3 years out

Michele Esmanech
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So... the last time I posted here was July 2014... 3 years away... more than 3 years away... what happened in these three years: A LOT! which explains why I stopped posting and designing games.

In 2015 I was operated a third time from brain cancer, and have been good since... but I still have to take e bucket load of medication;
in november 2016 my father (who was in coma since July 2012 (the day before I was going to be perated the second time), died... since 2015 I even stopped playing games, and almost sold all my collection of games, and got out of the hobby for two months and years (my subscription box had up to 800 notifications, sometimes, and I would discard them all, if not a some threads or geek mails with questions to rules for my games (like for Dystopian: the investigation deck game or Lord of the Rings: The Adventure Deck Game).

Well, lately, and specifically this past August I was on vacation in my mountain house, and I ordered on Amazon Arkham Horror: The Card Game and played it A LOT... and this brought me back to the hobby.

Now, I am fully invested, again.

Being back, means I would also like get back to designing, but, instead of starting a whole new project, which might not even see the light at the end of the tunnel, I decided to fix one of what I consider one of my best works: Dystopian: the manhunt

I know, it might be a bit pretentious to think this game is AWSOME, but I seriously think it has a lot of potential for improvement, but before improving, I need to understand what is wrong with it:

- it's to frikking huge: the map alone is a killer, plus the cards are too many
- the rules a convoluted: not difficult, per se, but they sure need better wording in some places
- the evidence board is cool, but also adds to the bulk and the component size, with the actual board, the tokens, which mean extra rules, extra table space


What I like about the game, and those who played it confirmed it: is that - it feels like you are actually investigating, interrogating people, and gathering hints
- the evidence board, while complicated, is a nice way to randomize the suespect/criminal, showing how your investigation is progressing
- the fact that encounters change their behavior depending on which location you meet them, is cool, but not random, as you know in which type of location you're at, so there is some sort of predictability, which also leads to the possibility to plan ahead.
- the dice allocation system makes for a euro-y mechanic, which is not entirely random, but you can plan and base your decision on the rolls you made, and not only stick with what you rolled alone.



So, how do I plan to solve the issues with the game:

- reduce the locations, which also reduces the size of the game board
- therefore: make the locations as cards
- reduce the number of encounter cards
- eliminated the evidence tokens, and replace the board with a grid where you DRAW your investigation path, instead of placing tokens on (which makes the game less fiddly).


this is a beginning, and will continue improving in the following installments of this blog.

Stay tuned
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Thu Sep 14, 2017 10:51 am
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and the design continues

Michele Esmanech
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Lately I had a lot of things to think about, and game design wasn't actually my priority.
though, I have come up with a solitaire variant (easy and very truthful to the original gameplay) for Android: you can read all about it here: Simple easy solo variant
I have also continued my solo adventures in the Star Wars: Age of Rebellion universe, combining Star Wars Miniatures, RPG elements, Star Wars PocketModel TCG, to create a 360° gaming experience.

But, back on topic.
Yesterday I thought about how the maps could be, and, as I already said, I want to create something that is easy to follow and is easy to understand, without clunky LOS rules and movements.
So, I had a look at the next best thing: the Pathfinding systems seen in Tannhäuser.

The way I have thought it will be, is that the tiles will have a square grid, similar to the tiles seen in Descent: Journeys in the Dark (Second Edition), but, with an added element: each square (or space) will show 1 or more colored dots. The dots will indicate which other spaces the character on such tile will be have LOS to.
Just like in the pathfinder system, if a character is in a space that has the (for example) red, blue and yellow dot, such character will have LOS to other squares that show a yellow, red or blue dot.
If there's only one colored dot, you can only see squares with that colored dot.

It is not colorblind friendly, I know, but if it works, I will come up with symbols, instead of colors, to accommodate the color blinds.


Another feature I have thought about is encounters and NPCs. These will be the villains the player(s) will confront with.
Each encounter (that in the prototype will be shown as a token) will have 2 faces: 1 friendly and 1 aggressive.

The Tile card will determine how many encounters will show up, where, and their alignment. Aggressive encounters will tend to attack; while friendly encounters will be more keen on interacting with you.
Why would you want to interact with an encounter? to gain information.
Yes, because, ultimately, I have decided the game will be set in the Dystopian: the manhunt universe and the players will be investigators who will have to search the underground locations of Dystopia, to look for evidence and find the criminal.
Not for nothing, the game will be called: DYSTOPIAN: UNDERGROUND

I will create the tiles, that will represent bars, pubs, stores, markets, streets, sewers, inside of buildings, and every city location I can think of.

The AI will also be determined by card draws, but instead of using the IF-THEN-OR mechanic, seen in Gears of War: The Board Game and in my Solitaire variant, Gears of War style AI, I will create a sort of flowchart, and the NPCs will follow simple instructions, according to their alignment.
This is still all in my head, but soon I will try these ideas.

BTW: I have learned, from the Print and Play Games News that the 2015 Solo PnP contest will begin from the 1st of January. Expect something more consistent, then.

stay tuned.

cheers
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Mon Nov 10, 2014 5:19 pm
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What if events happened AFTER?

Michele Esmanech
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I took a small hiatus from game design, as I am doing some fiddling around with Star Wars: Age of Rebellion Beginner Game and the Mythic Game Master Emulator, mixed with Star Wars Miniatures (you can read all about it here and here, so, as I am mixing three genres together, to have the most compelling and complete experience, I am, actually designing a game.

But, getting back on topic, I have thought about a few ideas, to add to this new Dungeon Crawl design, I am thinking about.
The idea came to mind, while thinking of a way to play Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game solo using the crossroads mechanic and Descent: Journeys in the Dark (Second Edition), trying to come up with a simple way to implement AO cards in the solo game.

If you don't what the crossroads cards are, it, I'll tell you: on a player's turn, another player draws a crossroads card that has an effect (bad or good, that might or might not involve a vote from the players) that triggers if something specific happens during the current player's turn.

This mechanic, that seems all the rave, these days, involves at least 2 players: one that plays his turn, and the other that checks if the crossroads triggers. As the effects of the event are supposed to be a secret, knowing if the card will trigger or not should remain secret, for it to work properly.

So what I thought is to have the event trigger after the player took his turn, and have the event card say:
IF the player did this "action", then THIS event happens;
or
IF this "thing" happened, then THIS event happens;
or
IF the player moved in "this" place, then THIS event happens;

This would resolve the problem with games like the above mentioned (Descent and DoW), having to have at least 2 players to fully play them.

What has this got to do with the game I am designing? A good solo experience relies A LOT on the opponent you're facing, which should be strong, smart and variable..
Strong, because every solo game should let you win no more than 20% of the time you play it;
Smart, because the AI should resemble as much as possible a real person playing, to provide a compelling opponent to go up against;
Variable, to avoid the solo game to be a puzzle, that, once you know how to beat it, the challenge has faded away.

So, I have thought that, on top of the AI cards, with the IF-THEN mechanic, seen in Gears of War: The Board Game, that I have used to create the Solitaire variant, Gears of War style AI for Tannhäuser, the AI will also have a "hand" of cards, from which 1 card will be drawn after both the player and the AI took their turns (namely, at the end of the round): this card will trigger an event that will add more variability to the game, along with some narrative and some backstory.

So, the game will make the strategy less predictable, both for the player and for the AI, as these events might turn things around; might introduce new elements to the current "scene" along with unexpected changes and variables, that will keep everyone on their toes.

This is a direct consequence to the "RPG moment" I am experiencing with Star Wars: Age of Rebellion Beginner Game and the Mythic Game Master Emulator.
So, a predictable and deterministic action selection and combat system, using dice allocation, will be countered and rendered more variable, with this event system, that might, or might not, trigger an event, according to what happened in the current round.

stay tuned
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Sat Oct 11, 2014 8:34 pm
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Dungeon Crawl: rambling ideas - part 4

Michele Esmanech
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At home, I have a lot Advanced Heroquest + expansions tiles and 3D furniture, plus I have a lot of sic-fi corridor tiles from Space Hulk (I also own Space Hulk (third edition) but this is untouchable).

As for miniatures, I have plenty to try things out, as a former Warhammer 40,000 and Warhammer Fantasy Battles (8th Edition) player, so I will try how things work.

The dungeon will work in a similar fashion as Descent: Journeys in the Dark (Second Edition) – Forgotten Souls, where you'll draw a card, and build a section of the dungeon and have a specific objective, within such section.
The map section will also show spaces where enemies will appear, and, for this, you'll draw a second card, that will tell you where enemies will show up.

So, the dungeon card will tell you, for example this objective: go into Room X, spend 4 Interact, and get out. It will also show 1 to 6 spaces in which enemies will appear, and to see where enemies will appear you'll draw a second card, that will show something like this:
1- A
2- A
3- B
4- B
5- C
6- D

where A, B, C, D are the enemies in your dungeon.

The AI will be similar to Gears of War: The Board Game. I already have a good experience creating such type of AI, with Tannhäuser with my Solitaire variant, Gears of War style AI variant.


Another important thing to add, is how to add tactical play, where movement and LoS really counts.
For this, I have thought a lot of what gives tactical decisions, and, as a former Warhammer player, I figured that, what made movement in Warhammer matter was LoS (90° or 180°), flanks and ranks. Having a particular unit facing a certain way is key, and having it misplaced (showing flanks, or having its LoS blocked by other units or terrain) meant defeat.
This is what I am looking for, and what games like Descent: Journeys in the Dark (Second Edition) and Mice and Mystics don't provide (and what makes them - at least the second one - lighter games).

So, there will be rules that won't allow shooting at an enemy, if there's a friendly character in an adjacent space (you don't want to hit your friend), and if you do, you may hit your friend); and if you attack your enemy from out of his LoS, you gain +1 or +2 attack bonuses. This doesn't mean you'll succeed in the attack, but it will make it easier to attack, as you might concentrate on allocating dice to slots that provide MOvement, instead of slots that give ATTACK.

The only (well, not "only" ) thing that needs to be settled is THEME.

Here are my ideas:
- generic Sci-Fi (ala Space Hulk), where you are a party of space marines against aliens
- Sci-Fi in the Dystopian: the manhunt universe, where you investigators following a suspect within Dystopia
- generic Fantasy, with the usual lot of monsters and heroes
- Star Wars (I am into the Star Wars: Imperial Assault craze
- other

I will create a pool, so, please, have your say

Poll
What theme would you like this dungeon crawler to have?
Generic sci-fi (marines VS Aliens)
Generic Fantasy (cleric, fighter, mage, rogue, VS skellies, orks, goblins, dragons, zombies
Sci-Fi in the Dystopian: the manhunt universe
Star Wars
Other (please elaborate
      11 answers
Poll created by Ikim
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Sat Aug 30, 2014 1:12 pm
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A new (?) dungeon crawl experiance - brainstorming new ideas, part 3

Michele Esmanech
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Dystopian:the manhunt: a worker placement game of investigation, murder and mystery, set in the futuristic megapolis of DYSTOPIA
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After thinking about and reading the ideas posted in my previous brainstorms, I like a few, but I think the there's is a main issue with the eventual future game: there are no in game choices, and a combat will be so deterministic that, apart the random monsters, there is nothing the player can do, to modify (or hope to modify) his odds or winning.

This is what I predict will happen: you have a hand of cards you previously chose, that buff your stats.
Now you encounter enemies… you check the enemies' stats and you deal with them.
What can you do, in this step of the game? nothing… which will make the game flat.

But, what if you can decide, along with how to buff your stats, your starting stats, every few turns.
This is something I have done in Dystopian: the manhunt where you have a character sheet and you have 12 slots (2 rows of 1 to 6 die results) to which you allocate dice results.
Every round, you will roll some dice, and allocate each die to one or the other slot, corresponding to the number of pips you rolled.
Every turn, you will use as many dice as you want, and perform the actions you selected.

so, the player sheet will look like this:
1 2 MOVE 1 3 MELEE
2 3 MOVE 2 1 HEAL
3 1 RANGED 3 4 MOVE
4 4 MELEE 4 1 HEAL
5 3 MOVE 5 4 MELEE
6 2 RANGED 6 5 MELEE

Dystopian: the manhunt rules, page 8 wrote:
When a player receives a wound, he replaces 1 white die (allocated or used) with 1 red die. Red dice work like normal white dice, with the following exception: when rolling a 4, 5 or 6, the die cannot be allocated to normal resource spaces, but HAS TO be placed in the WOUNDS space. As long as the red die doesn't result in a 4, 5 or 6, the die can be allocated to the 1, 2 or 3 resource space, as normal.
Dice in the Wounds space count as being allocated, and CANNOT be used or rerolled. The ONLY WAY to get rid of wound dice (either allocated or not) is to interact with the Infirmary location.
When healed, a wound is replaced back, with a normal white die, which is re-rolled, at the beginning of the next turn.


I have even thought about the name: Dystopian: underground, to represent that the agent will investigate in the undergournd (literally and non-litterally) of Dystopia.
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Tue Aug 26, 2014 10:51 pm
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A new (?) dungeon crawl experiance - brainstorming new ideas, part 2

Michele Esmanech
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Last night I couldn't sleep (due to post dinner coffee I shouldn't have drunk - I am getting old, apparently) so, while turning and flipping, in my bed sheets, I thought about some ideas regarding this new project of mine. And here they are:

- the player(s) will have a hand of 7(?) cards to manage... No more than these. The cards will give +1,+2,+3 bonuses to stats the player/character has.
For example, a fighter has: movement 3, melee attack 7, ranged attack 1, magic 0; a rogue has movement 5, melee attack 2, ranged attack 5, magic 0; a Mage has movement 2, melee attack 0, ranged attack 1, magic 10; cleric has movement 4, melee attack 5, ranged attack 0, magic 3.
A certain item, weapon, spell, or what ever gives bonuses to such stats.

- enemies are represented by cards that require the player(s) to deal with them, by meeting a certain melee attack, ranged attack or magic value.
When defeated the enemy will grant some experience (1 or 2 points) and an item (written in the bottom portion of the card). When the enemy is defeated, the player will take the card and add it, as the item it represents, to his hand (keeping the 7 card limit).
This adds some sort of deck building to the game.

- some items will be one time use, some others will be permanent cards that stick to your hand, until you decide to get rid of it.

- enemies will be of 3 kinds/levels, depending on the tile the players are in.

So, combat will be quite deterministic.

Some items, spells and equipment will give different effects according to the level the player who is using it is. So, the player will keep track of gained experience, and will level up, and will "unlock" new abilities and proficiencies from the cards he already owns.

Kind of like:
War hammer: level 1- +2 melee attack; level 2- +3 melee attack; level 3- +4 melee attack; level 4- +4 melee attack +1 magic

Some items will also give experiance when used in combination with other items (like a wand used with a spell).


The tiles will be designed to promote tactical play, so movement will be key. To do so, there will be hiding spots, places that will block LoS, some others that will hinder movement, and others that will add or reduce the player stats.

The AI will be card based, and will be written on the encounter card itself with the IF/otherwise mechanic seen in Gears of War, that I have also used, with great success in my solitaire Tannhäuser variant.

Speaking of Tannhauser, using some sort of Pathfinder system, will be AWSOME, as it speeds many calculations and gameplay things and issues.


Speaking of theme, I have been thinking about a generic fantasy theme, but only for simplicity's sake: it could be scifi, or it could actually fantasy, or it could be set in The Dystopian: the manhunt cyberpunk universe.

Stay tuned
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Sat Aug 23, 2014 2:05 pm
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