Game Dev Diary - Starfall Forest

Game development diary for my new children's board game Starfall Forest (formerly known as 'Stardust'). And oh, it's a board game that doesn't use a board..
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Overview of the rules

Martijn Althuizen
Noord Brabant
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I've come to the point of the development process in which it's time to put the rules down on paper. After that's done, it's time for the blind playtests; having people try the game out all by themselves.
I'm sure I'm going to be needing a few rounds of blind playtesting before the rules will written out good enough for players to indeed be able to figure it all out without any help. But that's what the blind playtests are for!

Here's a quick write-up of the rules that will the basis for the first draft of the rules booklet:

1. Premise & Goal

Players are fairies that each try to collect 5 fallen stars as this will give them enough stardust (the life-force of fairies) to return to their home among the stars. All fairies will eventually manage to return home. But who will get there first?

The race to the stars is on! But beware.. There are venomous snakes about. Try not to get bit as this will cost you the precious stardust you so desperately need to go back home.

2. Game setup

Build up the base forest as shown on the image below:

Each player then gets a tree, a fairy (in his/her own color), a snake and 3 heart meeples.

Determine the starting player. (note: how to do this is yet to be decided)

Next come four rounds in which each player in turn does the following:
round 1: knock down a tree by placing it flat on the table
round 2: add a tree (standing upright) that's reachable via at least one other tree (note: the tree's position must fit/extent the grid of the base forest)
round 3: place a snake at a tree or in between two trees
round 4: place his/her fairy at a a tree

The starting player takes the five dice. All dice are identical D6's and have the following layout:

3. Game turns

In each turn a player does the following:

- Roll all dice that haven't yet been set apart. The very first roll of the game is always performed with all 5 dice.

- Set aside any dice that show a star, except if a shooting star is also rolled. A shooting star cancels out a star. Example: If two stars and one shooting star are rolled, only one star is set aside.

- Once 5 stars are collected, a star will fall down into the forest. The player that rolled the fifth star gets to choose at which tree the star will land. If multiple stars are collected in the same roll that completes the set of 5, then the tree the star lands at will be knocked over.
Stars cannot be placed at just any tree:
- the star has to be placed at a tree that's at least 2 steps away from the player's fairy (ie. the player has to roll at least 2 fairies in order to get to the star)
- there can be no other fairies at the tree (a star can be placed at a tree with a snake though)

- If a star was placed in the forest, the next player gets to roll all 5 dice again.

- Move his/her fairy and/or one or more snakes based on the outcome of the dice rolls. A dice showing a fairy means a fairy can be moved 1 step. A dice showing a snake means a snake can be moved 1 step. Example: If you roll 2 snakes you can move a single snake 2 steps, or two snakes 1 step each. Players don't have to move their fairy or any snakes if they don't want to (even though they may have rolled fairies or snakes).

- Pass the dice that were not set aside on to the next player (clockwise)

4. Moving fairies

Fairies always move from tree to tree. Shown in the image below are the valid paths between the trees that form the base forest:

Fairies can not end a move at a knocked down tree. They can go to a knocked down tree but they must in the same turn move away from the knocked down tree again.

Fairies cannot go to trees with snakes. Snakes can also block paths in between trees. The images below show how snakes affect the available movement paths (green paths are valid, red paths are unavailble).

There can be more than one fairy at a single tree.

5. Moving snakes

As shown above, snakes can be at a tree or in between two trees. For a snake it makes no difference if a tree is standing upright or if it's knocked down.
When a snake is at a tree it can move to any adjacent tree. It can also move from being at a tree to being in between two trees, with one of the trees then being the tree it came from.
If a snake is in between two trees, it can move to an adjacent 'in between' spot. It can also move to one of the trees it's in between of.

There can be more than one snake at a single tree or in between two trees. Snakes never block one another, they can only block fairies.

6. Collecting stars

If a fairy reaches a tree with a star, it gets to collect the star. A fairy can visit multiple tree with stars in a single turn and hence collect multiple stars in a single turn.

If there are multiple stars at the tree a fairy only gets to collect a single star upon reaching the tree. As long as a tree is not knocked over a fairy can stay at the tree and collect a second star in the next turn. Only moving to the tree twice will get the fairy two stars from the same tree in a single turn.

7. Getting bit

If, at the end of the player's turn, a fairy is still at a tree with one or more snakes, then the fairy will get bit. Once for each snake that's at the tree. And each bite will cost the fairy one heart. So in order to prevent getting bit a fairy will have to move away from the snakes, or the snakes will have to be moved away from the fairy.

A previously collected star can be swapped for 3 hearts. If a player has no hearts remaining and then gets bit again, he/she will have to swap a collected star in order to get back hearts to need to discarded because of getting bit.
If a players needs hearts but he/she has no previously collected stars to swap them for, then his/her fairy succumbs to the attack. The fairy has to be laid down flat on the forest floor. While a fairy is immobilized, the player that the fairy belongs to still gets to roll the dice and, if the dice allow so, move snakes and place new stars in the forest.
Before the fairy can be moved again, it has to be revived. Whenever a new star falls down into the forest, regardless of which player gets to drop the star, the star will be drawn toward the weakened fairy. The star's dust will revive the fairy instantly, restoring it to it's original health of 3 hearts. After this the star is removed from the forest and play continues as normal.

8. Going back home

If a fairy manages to collect 5 stars it has gathered enough fairy dust in order to return home. The fairy ascends to the stars, leaving Starfall Forest behind.
The player whose fairy has managed to return home stays in the game. He/she still gets to roll the dice, move snakes around and drop new stars if the dice so allow. Of course any dice that show fairy can no longer be used because his/her fairy has already left the forest.

9. Variants

I plan on including the following variants:
- Scaredy-snake variant; In this variant the snakes are afraid of being out in the open too. They can only be at a tree and not in between trees.
- Star Fluke variant; In this variant fairies get to collect ALL stars that are at a tree in a single visit/turn.

That's pretty much it! Now to put it decent writing..
I always have great trouble writing rules. So I'm now off to see if I can get a friend to help me out!

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Subscribe sub options Thu Feb 16, 2012 7:25 pm
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