The board game is still in early stages of development, and this post is basically for me to get some input to make sure I develop my ideas in the right direction. I am currently bedridden, so creating this post has been an all-day endeavor for me... Hope it is not too overwhelming
Imagine a city in medieval times, perhaps year 1300, where a plague has slowly suffocated a city over many long years of anguish. In the beginning people who contracted the plague simply died, but the more resistant who lived through the first years react differently once infected - losing their minds yet clinging on to a beastly form of consciousness as their bodies slowly decay. These zombies, if you will, group up in packs and hunt the living relentlessly as if eating their brains could restore some of their own humanity. The walls surrounding the city used to be their defense, but the city gate has long since been welded shut - keeping the taint contained and hindering most but the foolhardiest of wanderers and treasure seekers from going in... A few unfortunate souls still find themselves trapped in the city looking for a way out. Can they escape before losing their minds to the zombie plague or will they grow insane long before due to the terrible acts they have to commit to survive...
Picture does not belong to me and serves only to help visualize the setting.
Board type: Medium-large, hexagon tiles. Some terrain to restrict movement. Zones representing houses. Board covers just the city, nothing outside.
Ideal playtime: 60-90min
Winning condition(s): Unsure. Possibly by getting a vaccine (from a crate tossed in by a stranger over the wall, unfortunately breaking all but 1 bottle...), and crossing the wall at some predetermined point (story being that you then present said vaccine to the guardsmen outside, proceed to take it while in their sight, and being cleared to leave.)
Losing condition: Die and become a zombie. Your only 'victory' then is trying to make everybody lose.
None of these are set in stone, but are based only on my own desires at the moment.
Sample of characters that add flavour to the game.
The Plague Doctor: Despite utilizing all his trade has to offer, which amounts mostly to leeches and bloodletting's, this old hardened man of medicine has lost more than his hope of ever curing the plague of this city - as determined as he was a year ago, it is hard to believe (He did after all save countless of victims in other cities) - he has also lost all faith in humanity after being attacked over and over again by his patients in this city. He will have special powers regarding healing and poisons or something of the like.
The Peddlar: Thinking that the sick had need of someone to carry wares directly to their doorstep, and believing like every youngster that he is immune after being unaffected thus far, this hawker of wares came to the city to support his independence from his family since several months back. Having made a small fortune so far, he has been unwilling to leave until quite recently, when a customer rather than being fitted for a new dental device he had ordered bit his middle finger clean off. Special powers include being naively brave, loaded with cash and quite social.
The fire-eater: She eats flames for breakfast, and some doctors believe that is why the plague will not harm her. She came to the city as part of a street performing troupe, but since waking up and finding them all dead and missing their heads she has calmly decided it is time to leave. Powers include nerves of steel (She eats fire for gods sake!), and being utterly hypnotizing.
The boy: Becoming acquainted with death at a young age, this little boy was not overly shaken when his mother passed. He helped her with the kitchen knife as he had been instructed if she ever was to try and bite him. It had time to become no more than a kiss on his skull before he severed her jugular. Special powers: indifference, small stature.
Not the best picture..
The real heart of the game
Insanity: I envision a deck of cards, separate from other piles, from which a player HAS TO draw a card after doing something harmful to another human. The effects of the card would apply to the player immediately and will be mostly negative in nature (not completely crippling), but potentially useful albeit in a risky way. My thought is that players should be encouraged to fight other players (Right now mostly because only 1 person can win, but I need to find more ways), yet would prefer if the other players did it for them so that they could retain their sanity...
Examples of these cards could be provided.
Deck building: In certain places of the map it will be possible to obtain 'loot', although the cards will not be limited to items per say and will contain things like character traits too (gained through some sort of experience on said tile). My thinking right now is that these will come in two types, or maybe one and the same card can be both types. The number of cards you can have in hand is limited, so after playing a while, a player will have effectively built his deck the way he chooses.
Type 1: Instant effect: You use this card at any time to make something happen on the map, or to some statistic. It can be moving a player a step, removing zombies, spawning zombies, giving insanity etc. Not sure.
Type 2: used in combat with other players ( sort of in a Magic the Gathering fashion, but quicker). I am not sure at all about the details here, and just thought of it last night. Another question is how to make it work with zombies, who can not build a deck by themselves.
Combat: I want players to be able to fight at any time they are on adjacent squares with the decks they have built, and there will be some mechanic for fleeing although I am not sure how to make it work with a deck-based system. If a player dies, they become a zombie, and draw from a new pile of cards designed to build decks for them.
I started out designing the whole game around rolling 3x6 dice, but found it to be too random and quite repetitive with all the dice rolls. I want it to be sort of skillbased, but not completely, which is why I think random cards built into a chosen deck over the course of the game is a good approach.
This is the area of the game that needs the most work right now, but as I have already scrapped the dice system after a lot of work, I am hesitant to start again without receiving some thoughts on how to design this. For those of you who have played Munchkin that is one approach, but it seems too simple, yet Magic seems too advanced...I was thinking about introducing a cooperative element in combat as well.
health:Starting out around 20 health, and not automatically regenerating after combat or after a turn etc, I want health to be precious. Fighting a simple zombie should be easy, but there should be a chance for health to be lost. With the dice system this was easy, as I could easily make it a 5% chance per encounter (or so) that a player would lose health. Not sure how to approach that now.
movement: With the board currently measuring 23*24 squares, if I remember correctly, I am thinking that normal movement would mean 3 steps per turn.
death as human: Turn into a zombie. Unable to win for real.
death as zombie: Revenge. Try to kill humans, make sure nobody wins.
Drawn by my artist
Again, not the best example as it is just a draft and not even scanned, but I do not have many in digital format right now.
While I appreciate any input and will respond to all, there a few things in particular I wonder:
1, Is the theme dead?
2, How can I make the tension between cooperating and betraying more central?
3, How to make combat with non-player entities interesting (and short) using a deck-building approach?
Thank you for reading!
Don't do that.
1. No, it's fine.
2. Make sure there are good reasons to do both. Munchkin does a good job with this in the early to mid-game.
3. Have you looked at Eaten by Zombies!? If not, I think you should.
2, I agree, Munchkin does a fantastic job as the cooperative element is always there in terms of helping with fights, while giving you lots of tools for keeping players who get ahead down.
But then again, unlike my game at the moment, in Munchkin there are clear indications of when a player is about to win and getting ahead (Levels). I might have a similar phase when players pick up the vaccine.
3, Thank you for telling me about Eaten by Zombies. I looked at it, and many of the ideas are similar. I like how the whole game is so focused on the deck building aspect, it makes for a very clean game. The cards themselves are more simple than I envision mine to be, which could be both good and bad.
Battles between players in that game, just as in Munchkin, take place only with the zombies as a proxy, whereas a core feature in mine would be direct player vs player combat (Provided I can make the deck building interesting enough for that while still making zombie slaying quick and efficient.)