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Subject: TLDR; Design Diary rss

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michael brown
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Pretty much every time that I post something on BGG I get helpful feedback, and I am now working to prepare a game that I really like for a design competition.

The game is named Terran League of Defense Robots (ot TLDR for short). It is cooperative, and has a similar feel to the ship battles from the X-Com games. It has an interesting research mechanic, building the robots is a modified knapsack problem, and the fights are fairly simple and clean. The real problem that the players are trying to solve is building a giant fighting robot and fitting all of the necessary parts into it so that it can smash all of the aliens that come at it.

I have till the end of December to enter it into the competition and I want to make it much better before then. It seems that having it out in the eyes of the public would help in that.

I have been thinking about this game since April, however I never started to put anything down on paper until the end of August. Feel free to ask any questions that you might have, critique any part of the game, or offer advice. My next few posts will give more info about the game.

Files:
Here is the current rule document.
Here are PnP files (though the game is still not complete, so probably you don't want to PnP it yet.)
Here is a gallery of all of the cards as they currently stand.

WIP Artwork sampler:
Part Cards:


Aliens:


Technologies:
 
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michael brown
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This game contains the following components:

1 play mat
42 Part cards
25 Technology cards
62 Alien cards
15 Scientist meeples
6 Alien meeples
20 Damage cubes

Part Cards:
Part cards are the things that players use to build their robots. They are divided up into:

Weapons: Things that damage the opponent.
Reactors: Things that provide energy.
Chassis: The part that you mount everything to, provides space and defense stats.
Add-ons: catch-all category for other parts - healing, temporary energy, bonus stats, etc.

All part cards have a name and a subtype on the top of the card. Most parts have rules in the lower left.



Chassis have stats in the lower right (defense and space), and all other parts have size in the lower right.

Technology cards have a cost in the upper right. To build a technology card you must discard an alien card that you have defeated whose type matches the technology card's cost.



Many technology cards are also parts. They look like normal parts, except that they have a cost and are blueish.

Some technology cards are not parts. These cards have rule text along the entire bottom half. They do not have a space score. When you build them, put them in play in front of you.

Alien cards have their name in the lower left, and their type in the lower right. The damage that they deal is in the upper left and the attack symbols that a robot must provide to defeat them are in the upper right.



There are only two special aliens as of yet (though I intend to change that): The Mothership, and the Brainsucker.

The mothership ends the game when you defeat it, and it also comes with a cadre of other aliens that you have to defeat first in order to even fight the mothership.

The brainsucker loses all fights automatically, but as long as it is in play the players have to place more dangerous aliens out.
 
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michael brown
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The thing that made me want to write this design diary in the first place is that I played a third playtest with my wife last night, and we just barely won in an awesome manner.

We started the game by digging through the part deck until we had functional robots - risking the build up of aliens as we did that.

We then started fighting some of the aliens to get corpses to research so that we could start making some tech advances.

We passed up the Dimensional Generator in an early tech draw (which nearly killed us later on... I think that that card needs some serious nerfing, and the other sources of space need to be a little bit better.)



We got a Nanobot Mortar (equipped on my wife's robot, since she had the room for it), and started to fight off some major alien incursions.

I decided to quit fighting and go all out scientist so that I could supply Alison with all the parts that her robot needed to fight all of the new (more dangerous) alien threats.

We started to kill the aliens back down and get them back in check about the same time as the first shuffle happened. The lose condition of the game is when you have too many aliens out, but since you can kill four aliens a turn with a good robot (and Alison had a decent one) we were able to deal with the 2 aliens per round that were showing up. On the first shuffle, however another alien meeple comes into play, and the game doubled in difficulty since we were getting 4 aliens per round at that point.

I then had to step up my science actions to get multiple parts built per turn, and Alison pretty much was non-stop fighting once that happened. We couldn't face the mothership the first time that she showed up, nor the second (because Alison's warrior robot lacked the space (see above dimensional generator comment)), so we had to enter the third shuffle before we fought it. We finally got the Dimensional Generator at the end of the second shuffle.

Once the third shuffle happened, we were fighting a losing war of attrition (with 6 aliens coming out every round, and only about 4 dying every round we were really getting pummeled).

On the second to last round I realized we were going to lose unless I fought off three aliens (with my crappy war robot). Fortunately there was a pile of aliens that looked pretty weak and I used SCIENCE to push out a bad alien from the pile and pull in another weak one. The unfortunate thing about the pile was that one alien was face down, so I couldn't tell for sure if I could defeat it.

As luck had it it was possible for me to defeat it, so we survived one more round.

At the end of my turn I revealed the mothership, and Alison desperately attacked it right as the final aliens that would have killed us were about to arrive.

The mothership came with two of the toughest guards that exist in the game, another mid level guard and a face down guard. We did the math and figured that she could defeat the first three guards while continuously running her repair units and have exactly 6 damage (out of the 6 defense that her robot had). If the face down robot dealt less than three damage to her she could continue on to the mothership, but if it dealt more than three she would lose the parts that would allow her to defeat the mothership.

The face down alien turned out to be a Drone (one of the weakest aliens in the game), so we ended up winning with "ease" at that point.



The open questions that this story raised in my mind are:

* I was playing a scientist most of the game. Why have I not made character cards yet? This game really wants them.
* The chassis all probably need +1 space to make the necessity of having the Dimensional Generator less. Additionally the D.G. should be weaker.
* The reactors all want to be smaller and provide less electricity - we never equipped a big one the whole game, and they are just not necessary.
* Do i want fewer chassis and more weapons in the research deck? Probaby, people like weapons.
* Should I add more aliens with abilities? Probably also

Final thoughts: The mothership was hard. It really felt like winning the game meant something with so much difficulty and so much on the line.
 
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michael brown
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We have played a few more games of TLDR, and it is moving along quite nicely. To answer the previous open questions:
* Why have I not made character cards yet?
I have made them now, and they seem to work well.



* The chassis all probably need +1 space to make the necessity of having the Dimensional Generator less. Additionally the D.G. should be weaker.
I have done this, but apparently +1 space is still not enough. I am working on what that means - probably that some parts are too big or something like that.

* The reactors all want to be smaller and provide less electricity.
This was fixed, and seemed to work out well.

* Do i want fewer chassis and more weapons in the research deck?
Yes, there are now two fewer chassis, and two more weapons, and it seems to help.



* Should I add more aliens with abilities?
I didn't do this... One day I will, though.

I also added a few changes that have not yet been tested:


Alien Destruction and Destroyed Cities

These were made because when we (my wife and I) play, we have such a grueling game, and only sometimes win, so we wanted to make it easier for first time players (since I would assume that most players will not want to play a second game if the first game feels like a crushing wave of constant death.) Basically, instead of adding new alien meeples after every shuffle, you take away locations for foe cards to appear in. This should hopefully make the game easier.

I'll post once it is playtested.
 
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