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Subject: WIP - 2014 Two-Player Print-and-Play Contest - The Tain (Contest Ready) rss

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todd sanders
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The Tain


A 2 player card driven wargame (CDG) about the legendary Táin Bó Cúailnge wherein the Ulster hero - Cú Chulainn - singlehandedly held off the army of Queen Medb until the forces of Ulster could rally.

A few things will make this game unique

The Cúchulainn player will have a single hero to combat with versus the many allies and warriors of the Queen Medb player.

There will be no hex map, though there will be locations and the ability to assign warriors to that location. Weather will also be a factor. All play will be with individual card decks for the players.

This game will most likely not use dice, though still have an element of chance.

There may be a set number of rounds.


I am intending though to still build this game as a "card driven wargame" meaning cards will be drawn with both action points and events on them, as well as initiative for the players, which they will use to deploy and order their forces and then perform attacks.

New posts as the game develops in my head. Working currently on a gaming structure and some ideas about how the cards function.


Entry List can be found here - 2014 Two-Player Print-and-Play Contest Submission List
Contest Discussion can be found here - 2014 Two-Player Print-and-Play Contest

Cards and Rules - http://pl123.pairlitesite.com/cards/tain/
as rules are updated they will be version numbered for reference
(current ruleset is 4.20.14)
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Nate K
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Re: WIP - 2014 Two-Player Print-and-Play Contest - The Tain
Sweet! Let the nomography begin.
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todd sanders
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Re: WIP - 2014 Two-Player Print-and-Play Contest - The Tain
so let's introduce a nomograph for this game i have worked up today




you can see there are a variety of lines of information. we will read this diagram from left to right. usually you use a straight edge or ruler to plot the points

the first two lines are 'initiative' and 'attack strength' of the attacking character. the arrowheads represent the higher values

if we line up the points of high initiative and high attack strength (red line) we plot a point on the 'reference line' which gives us our first data point. reference lines are like a small bit of memory that we use to temporarily bookmark something as we do a calculation

now if we continue to follow the red line we can see what happens if the defending character has either a high defense strength or a low defense strength, the 4th line. we plot a new line from our 'reference' point through the 'defense' line to see the 5th line, the 'damage' line


if they have a high defense we see we do some damage because our initiative was high (we surprised them). they will take 2 damage

if they have a low defense we see we do a lot of damage because our initiative was high (we really surprised them and they need to get better armor). they will take 8 damage


if we reverse this and begin with a low initiative and low attack strength) the green line and carry it through we find we do no damage to a high defense character and we do only a low/medium 3 points of damage to someone with a low defense strength

a medium initiative and attack strength against a low defense does 5 in damage (better than us attacking weakly though) 5 out of 8 possible, slightly better than average


now for the fun, i can adjust the tick marks on each of these lines to pitch the damage where i think it should be.

i could make the highest damage be 12 and work back from that so medium damage is exactly 6, or exactly average.

we can also work backwards on the diagram and say if a character has weak defense and suffered high damage we can see how high the attack was


i could also add extra damage lines so if the attacking character is slightly exhausted it could make him do less damage (7 instead of 8) or if he is reallly tired from swinging his sword i could make him do little damage (2 instead of 8)

i could add damage lines for fighting on different types of terrain too, and i could add extra reference lines so that i could plot of 10 or 12 different factors to arrive at a final value

a nomograph is very adaptable once you set up the ranges on the line. if i were to do this with standard row and column tables i would need many more rows or columns and a lot more cross referencing

you can also increase or decrease the distance of each line as well as how far apart one line is from another. this can give you finer scale of detail (good armor vs. bad armor or plate, dented plate, chain, dented chain, broken chain, leather, worn leather, broken leather, woolen shirt etc....) and can also shrink or enlarge your overall diagram for readability


artistically i can place this nomograph on top of a terrain map and put the lines for damage on different terrains actually on their pictorial terrain type which can help a narrative sense of the game, players are actually looking at the battlefield conditions

hope some find this of interest and makes it a bit clearer how nomographs work
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todd sanders
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Re: WIP - 2014 Two-Player Print-and-Play Contest - The Tain
graphic work on the nomograph, overlaying a map of Ireland and the kingdoms of Queen Medb and those of the Ulster

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Vandel Arden
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Re: WIP - 2014 Two-Player Print-and-Play Contest - The Tain
Thanks for the Explanation, I think I understood it now.
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David Sturm
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Re: WIP - 2014 Two-Player Print-and-Play Contest - The Tain
I LOVE nomographs. Learned how to use one years ago while learning how to brew beer. We used them (and a special slide rule) to calculate calcium and magnesium additions to the brew water to get the color of a beer correct. Oddly thrilled to see you using one in this game!!
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todd sanders
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Re: WIP - 2014 Two-Player Print-and-Play Contest - The Tain
thanks David and Josephe. I have used them before in some of my Lassadar games but i'd like to work on making more complex ones

nomographs were in use historically right up until pocket calculators came along. they do add a different spin to a game.


worked some today on the location cards and general layout for the event/AP cards. will reveal more soon as it percolate through the design centers of my brain.
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todd sanders
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Re: WIP - 2014 Two-Player Print-and-Play Contest - The Tain
one of the ideas in the mythic battle i most like is that of Cú Chulainn fighting single handedly against the army of Queen Mebd. each day he would go up against one warrior (some of them friends and father figures) in battle and thereby keep the army at bay.


these sorts of narratives really help me in my game designs, the stories i tell myself. I think one thing that makes the Lassadar games so appealing is that i found those great images of cities to be evocative elements for players


in the game the Queen Mebd player will be allowed to select the location of the fight, giving that player certain tactical advantages.

the forest for instance will hamper the bow skills of the Cú Chulainn player

the bog will hamper spear fighting.

the sand of the beach is tough to fight in if you are wearing heavy armor.

i spoke to an irish friend today and learned some abut the landscape of the Ulster region and then set about finding some 19thC paintings that seemed somewhat expressionist or mythic in quality (actually all of the images i am using in the game are paintings from this time period so i am matching the font choices to it)

you can imagine two warriors meeting in these locations for their duel, each respecting the other's honor



you will also note i adjusted the nomograph symbols some

cross for initiative
target for attack
symbols combined for defense
abstracted wound for damage (numbers in red = reduction due to fatigue, numbers in white = very fatigued)

location will affect weapon usage and fatigue levels of the attacker and defender so the Medb player must use them wisely. they will probably not be able to use the same location twice in a row. the Cú Chulainn player will have to adapt their weapon techniques and may have to remove armor depending on the location

i still think i am bundling quite well various methods in wargames (fatigue/steploss, terrain, combat techniques) without having to resort to a hex map.

thinking right now each player has a deck of 24 cards which allow them to do events, modifiers, AP, as well as chose initiative, and attack and defense strength

then the Medb player gets a deck of warriors and the 4 locations

the Cú Chulainn player gets a deck of gods they can call on for assistance, as per the myth




this myth has proven to be giving me a really great backbone to hang the game mechanics on. just wait til you see the images of Medb's warriors that i found the other day.

from the two main images of Medb and Cú Chulainn (a great find here, the same artist, Joseph Christian Leyendecker (1874 - 1951), painted both of them in the same style) i found i have pulled out an associated color palette that i will use with each deck

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Derek H
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Re: WIP - 2014 Two-Player Print-and-Play Contest - The Tain
Should the Queen not have flesh/pink as one of her colours? Instead of the brown, perhaps, which is a little meh.
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todd sanders
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Re: WIP - 2014 Two-Player Print-and-Play Contest - The Tain
working out the card layouts and how they mesh with the mechanisms in the game

progress of a sort



players each have a 2 card spread for their side, with draw and discard deck positions placed off the main card

Cu Chulainn and all of Medb's champions will have a HP track which marks 'fatigue' and 'very fatigued' levels for damage. each as a base attack and defense number to the right. cards from the event/AP deck will be place horizontally next to these numbers to modify them, and overlapped (so a fighter could be equipped with armor giving a bonus to defense, a blessing of the gods, bonus to attack or temporary extra HP to remove fatigue)

Cu Chulainn also comes equipped with an area for spears and arrows which he will gradually lose over time (tracked with a d20 and a d10 or eurocubes)

He and Medb also have an AP track for attacks. the basic idea is you can bank AP over a set of turns and perform multiple attacks at one time (target icons). banking AP also gets you extra cards in your hand for combat

Medb then has an off card slot for the current battle location and the Location card shows what weapon or armor can't be used in that location and it has an off card slot for Medb's champion

Champion card layouts need work for the backgrounds

next up a look at the event/AP card layout and the 5 things they can do

the double lined ring on each location card then becomes an icon used on the event/AP cards for certain events
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todd sanders
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Re: WIP - 2014 Two-Player Print-and-Play Contest - The Tain
finding the layout of the event/AP cards to be a challenge right now

especially as regards the background of the card. right now the idea is to use some patterns as they would have woven into cloaks and such

so far though the cards are kinda blah. but with other projects out of the way i am sure i will think of something here soon
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todd sanders
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Re: WIP - 2014 Two-Player Print-and-Play Contest - The Tain
getting closer on the event/AP cards

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Chris Schumann
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Re: WIP - 2014 Two-Player Print-and-Play Contest - The Tain
Those cards are very pretty. One humble request is to make the text larger. All caps; thin weights; and small text all contribute to making cards harder to read both for those with even slight impairment (like my old eyes) or to recognize from across a table.
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todd sanders
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Re: WIP - 2014 Two-Player Print-and-Play Contest - The Tain
will be readable indeed. my eyes are getting like yours.

really just trying to get a good layout down at this point
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Re: WIP - 2014 Two-Player Print-and-Play Contest - The Tain
i've worked out the initiative/attack/defense/AP and event actions for each of the 24 combat cards per player, along with certain attack/defense upgrades. you CDGers will have some fun trying to decide what to use a card for

also have the basic design for the God Cards which either player will have a few of in the game

screen shot of my pasteup designboard (i do this to get a sense of how all the layouts are working with one another while i am designing)



at this count the deck will be 72 cards so i will be one of the large games for a change in the contest


no dice needed. will require a few eurocubes to track, but not many.
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todd sanders
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Re: WIP - 2014 Two-Player Print-and-Play Contest - The Tain
just to give a bit more visual interest to the players' hands i've swapped in 3 different background images for the event/AP cards

these illustrations come from "The Boys' Cuchulain", another fine public domain find

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todd sanders
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Re: WIP - 2014 Two-Player Print-and-Play Contest - The Tain
3/4ths of the flavor text quotes are on the Tain event/AP cards. finish those tomorrow as well as the stats for the 6 champions of Medb



then some rough rules and start some playtesting for those interested
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todd sanders
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Re: WIP - 2014 Two-Player Print-and-Play Contest - The Tain
and another quick pasteup board with rough card bleed crops to show how the cards are laid out adjacent to each other for the players and how you can read across the att/def bonuses

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todd sanders
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Re: WIP - 2014 Two-Player Print-and-Play Contest - The Tain
very rough rules outline

on your turn draw back up five cards. if you begin with five or more in hand you do not draw any more. if draw deck is empty, shuffle discard deck and make new draw deck

then
play one card for the event
or for the AP
or to boost stats

then if you have enough AP you may combat
drawing extra cards if AP allows

lay cards out in combat line. first card is initiative
additional cards add to attack total in order. a player does not need to play additional cards for attack if they do not choose to

you may attack several times in a row, depending on your AP. if you do not have cards to spend on initiative it is defaulted to lowest value 8.

other player now plays defense cards from hand and may play one event card to modify combat or add to hand size

nomograph for damage

discard cards to discard pile

cards played to boost stats remain next to champion until an event card causes them to be discarded or that champion is slain (player will not have access to the event/AP/attack or defense options of the card while it is used to boost stats)


Medb player may play event cards that switch the combat location or champion. any damage to the current champion or stat boost cards remain with them when they are swapped for another champion

certain locations negate the use of boost stats, spears and arrows

each player receives four powerful God cards that may be used when an event card is played. that event card is then removed from the game along with the chosen god card

Cuchulain player receives a number of arrows and spears at game start. these may be used in combat to raise attack stat. if used they are not replenished unless certain event cards are played. those cards only allow a subset of arrows and spears to be replaced

as champions lose health they become fatigued, then very fatigued. there is an icon on the health tracks marking these conditions. fatigue and very fatigued affect damage done during combat

game will end if Cuchulain player slays six of Medb's champions. Medb wins if she slays Cuchulain
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Vandel Arden
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Re: WIP - 2014 Two-Player Print-and-Play Contest - The Tain
Great progress on your entry. Will there be other art on each card, or repeating motives?
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todd sanders
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Re: WIP - 2014 Two-Player Print-and-Play Contest - The Tain
if you look above you will see the event/AP cards have three different images on the per player deck to provide some variation

after mulling things over today i think i will dump the idea of arrows and spears. they never really gelled in the game design and i have never quite been sure what to do with them. if the game had dice for attacks then they might make sense as extra die rolls or something

when in doubt, pare it down and cut out the clutter
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todd sanders
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Re: WIP - 2014 Two-Player Print-and-Play Contest - The Tain
cards done, flavor text found

time to flesh out the rules some more and put together a playtest pdf
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todd sanders
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Re: WIP - 2014 Two-Player Print-and-Play Contest - The Tain
a look at all 72 cards for the game



the eagle-eyed will notice i have added some attack modifiers depending on how fatigued the champion is
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Nate K
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Re: WIP - 2014 Two-Player Print-and-Play Contest - The Tain
Your graphic design skills just keep getting better, Todd.
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todd sanders
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Re: WIP - 2014 Two-Player Print-and-Play Contest - The Tain
thanks nate. the real test is how the game plays
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