Greg's Design Blog

A collection of posts by game designer Gregory Carslaw, including mirrors of all of his blogs maintained for particular projects. A complete index of posts can be found here: https://boardgamegeek.com/blogpost/58777/index
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Wizard Academy Puzzles #5

Greg
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This post is about the solution to perfect victory, but also about the elements of the game's design that made the puzzle work and how they evolved over time. Ultimately this puzzle arose from a situation in the very first playtest, in which one player remarked "What if we use the rotate room spell to seal the mana crystal in a corner and make ourselves fireproof robes? Then the whole building can be on fire and it won't matter." I do enjoy emergent play and like it when people come up with odd solutions, but allowing a perfect defence seemed like it might ruin the game. It would certainly be unfun to be in a situation where you could not lose and could not win and the game did not end.


(Goblins is excellent, you should read it.)

This lead to the inclusion of a rule that prohibited using room actions in any room that was not connected to the mana crystal. Hiding the mana crystal was still an option, but now doing so meant that you lost a lot of your options, so it could be used as a temporary emergency measure rather than a first resort. This had a side effect of making other rearrangements to the academy have more significant effects, in general these were beneficial, leading to interesting choices between sealing a desired passage and keeping some important resource open.

There it sat unnoticed until ~50ish hours of playtesting later I was brainstorming with a group about how to make Imps less dangerous, as in one edition of the rules they were shutting down the game and ruining everything. One suggestion was to make it possible for players to use the Imp's portals to move around more easily, so that they were not universally a bad thing. I did not end up adopting this suggestion, but part of good playtesting is listening to everything that's said and making notes, because nothing is ever truly wasted. Last week when I needed a dimension expert to replace magical trevor and came across this image in the 3dtotal galleries:



It gave me an idea for a character who was less "an expert of dimension magic" and more "a tiny child who wondered through fantastically dangerous places and gets away with it". That fit the general paradigm of characters who had interesting shticks and who don't understand the magic that they use so I wrote the character card. Her ability allows her to trace accessibility through portals, which as well as being good for mobility also allows her to pull up runes in areas that aren't connected to the mana crsytal by traditional routes. Sealing off the mana crystal still isn't dominant, since there needs to be a portal on both sides of the divide for the ability to be effective, but it does open up new strategies. Which brings us to...

Perfect Victory Solution



Klick's lure of power pulls things towards the mana crystal. He moves into the Holy Room, Susie and the demon both move into the library.
He spends a move action to enter the Flux Point
He uses his room action as a move action to activate his staff and summon a guardian
He uses his magic action to cast "Abjure" moving "Enchanted Well" to the top of the deck.

Susie's imp invasion goes off and an imp and imp portal are placed on the enchanted well.
She then uses a move action to move to the workshop
Downgrades her room action to a move action to jump through the portal in the workshop to the portal in the enchanted well
Finally she downgrades her magic action to a move action to activate her staff and summon the second guardian, scoring a perfect victory.

This solution wasn't found, however an alternative was. The Holy Room was supposed to act as a decoy, as Klicks needed to cast "Abjure" but it was only helpful if he didn't boost it. However I had forgotten that guardian was also a sanctuary spell subject to the boost from this room, which makes the following solution possible:

As a move action Klicks summons a guardian using the staff, as it is boosted he can place it into an adjacent room so it goes into the Flux Point.
Downgrading a room action to a move action Klicks uses the staff to summon a second guardian into his space.
Klicks casts "teleport other" moving that guardian into the Enchanted Well, winning the game.

Next week I'll dissect the last pre-hiatus puzzle. How did picking apart an element of the game work as a post? If it's interesting I could start doing that using this slot?
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