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Subject: Tower Defense Board Game - could it translate well from digital domain? rss

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Dimitri Sirenko
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So i made this post yesterday but then found a post very similar to mine so I decided to save the admins some trouble and delete the post. But now I am thinking of expanding on the idea a bit more to make my post different.

Essentially, I've been a big fan of Tower Defense games. In particular i remember all the countless hours i spent playing WarCraft 3 mods on battlenet. But i think my most favourite mods were the ones where instead of towers you controlled a character. In a nutshell the mechanics for character defense were pretty much the same, you got waves of creeps coming at you and by killing them you earn money and levels for your characters and then bought and made crazy weapons and armor using what was known as the bluprints/recipe to create epic weapons. I felt that those type of defense games were better because you had more of a connection with your character rather than soulless towers. Plus what i liked about it was the fact that you could move your character freely.

After looking through the other older post here on BGG that addressed TD as mechanics in board games i nearly looked through every playthrough for every game suggested in that thread. But to my surprise I did not find a board TD game that would get me really excited and offered some of the addicting aspects and mechanics.

I guess my question would be, is there an actual market for this type of game. If we assume that I can make a really great TD design using characters/heroes instead of towers, would people actually enjoy this type of game? Or more importantly would a lot of people enjoy this type of game or only a small niche? I guess its impossible to answer that question but i was wondering how BGG community views TD to give me at least a fraction of idea how many people would be interested in something like that.

I was thinking of creating a game where you could have different modes including but not limited to Co-op, VS (where you would be using your resources to send waves of creeps against your opponents while they do the same), and also implement survival/endless mode for those people who really enjoyed that type of TD in the digital format.

So far these are the ideas I am trying to explore
- heroes instead of towers
- allow players to move their heroes all the time so they aren't static
- board or no board? (could go with something like Saboteur where the spaces are suggested by card size and distance between each card; alternatively could actually have a tileable map with terrain affecting your movement/attack/defense abilities
- hero leveling and skill tree (being able to unlock special abilities via leveling that require energy to trigger)
- item drops or item purchasing (no randomness, so you can actually plan on which items you want to build)
- Item recipes where you need to collect or purchase individual weaker items to combine them into epic items that give you special bonuses and perhaps even special abilities that can be triggered for energy cost
- waves of minions/creeps increasing in difficulty with each wave as well as having a boss monster as the last minion of each wave
- i want to make combat interesting and not too random (unless it comes down to being an assassin where you can do critical hits). I haven't thought of what combat would be like but i imagine it would need to be something quick and not too complicated.

Anyway thats a hefty amount of text hopefully i can get some people on board to discuss this and see where this idea can go.


 
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Phillip Harpring
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Castle Panic comes to mind. And when you think about the core values of tower defense, there are lots of existing coop games that seem to fit. Any of the Pandemic-likes, for instance, involve surviving increasingly difficult AI-controlled obstacles until they lose or the win objective is completed. I seem to remember a recent kickstarter for a game that was to be a more direct interpretation of tower defense, but I can't recall the name.

As far as I'm aware, there hasn't been any versus style tower defense in the vein of Clash Royale or Warhammer 40K: Storm of Vengeance. That could be interesting, but any game where players are frequently summoning lots of little things of different types like in those games is at big risk of having too much bookkeeping to be fun. Rum & Bones attempted to translate the MOBA genre, which is a bit like a versus style tower defense to the tabletop with seemingly mixed results.

ETA: Reading your post more closely, it sounds very much like you're talking more specifically about a MOBA-style game than a pure tower defense. In that case, I'd definitely take a look at Rum and Bones. There is a sequel coming next year that intends on fixing some of the things they didn't quite get right, and another game that's taking a stab the genre called LOAD: League of Ancient Defenders.
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Warren Fitzpatrick
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3CreativeMinds wrote:

I guess my question would be, is there an actual market for this type of game. If we assume that I can make a really great TD design using characters/heroes instead of towers, would people actually enjoy this type of game? Or more importantly would a lot of people enjoy this type of game or only a small niche? I guess its impossible to answer that question but i was wondering how BGG community views TD to give me at least a fraction of idea how many people would be interested in something like that.

I was thinking of creating a game where you could have different modes including but not limited to Co-op, VS (where you would be using your resources to send waves of creeps against your opponents while they do the same), and also implement survival/endless mode for those people who really enjoyed that type of TD in the digital format.

So far these are the ideas I am trying to explore
- heroes instead of towers
- allow players to move their heroes all the time so they aren't static
- board or no board? (could go with something like Saboteur where the spaces are suggested by card size and distance between each card; alternatively could actually have a tileable map with terrain affecting your movement/attack/defense abilities
- hero leveling and skill tree (being able to unlock special abilities via leveling that require energy to trigger)
- item drops or item purchasing (no randomness, so you can actually plan on which items you want to build)
- Item recipes where you need to collect or purchase individual weaker items to combine them into epic items that give you special bonuses and perhaps even special abilities that can be triggered for energy cost
- waves of minions/creeps increasing in difficulty with each wave as well as having a boss monster as the last minion of each wave
- i want to make combat interesting and not too random (unless it comes down to being an assassin where you can do critical hits). I haven't thought of what combat would be like but i imagine it would need to be something quick and not too complicated.


First, I hope there's a market, because the WiP I've been working on for the past 2 years is fairly close to what you're talking about - Tower Defense, though I add an exploratory, almost Dungeon Crawl style w/ it. I have player powers that grow as the players defeat enemies.

So, all that to say, I'm hoping to fill that niche. Now, let's talk about your idea. It looks great and I'd love to try it. It would be a bit complicated (as I'm finding w/ my own design work), but I imagine that if you spent time checking into games w/ a similar combat mechanic you'd want, it should be workable. It lends itself to multiple genres - Cthulu, Zombie, Military, Alien, etc. That's a nice open idea for you to work.

I do see the board as probably your biggest challenge. I used hexes and 3 levels that monsters attack from, but mine also had a Tower the heroes were trying to protect while they continued exploring (balancing the two needs). If you have the characters moving, it could still work but you probably need some boundaries to make it work.

I LOVE your different modes. I could easily see this as co-op while simultaneously designing a competitive. I like the idea of 2 MEGA warlords launching attacks at one another and can picture it almost like Magic TG w/ actual monsters moving across the field.

My suggestion - figure out what your base mechanic (goal) is and build toward that. I can imagine this gets unwieldy fast - I know mine did, and it's probably less time to build w/ an eye for the end goal than to build then realized parts of the structure doesn't fit.

I hope I helped!

wf
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Scott
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Orcs Must Die! The Board Game: Order Edition is supposed to be delivering at the end of the year. It has heroes with special powers, a map using tiles for variable setups, different enemy types, leveling is done through improved weapons, there are also upgrade cards for your characters using various items, and there are trap cards that can be used to defend the hallways.

The "tower" is a portal that has a health value. Enemies that make it through the gauntlet and traps and heroes deplete the portals health value.

I didn't see your other thread so I'm not sure if this game was mentioned, apologies if so.

*edit* It also has the co-op of defending your rift and a vs mode of two people sending minions and heroes into their opponents stronghold to destroy their rift.
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Dimitri Sirenko
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warrenfitz45 wrote:
3CreativeMinds wrote:

I guess my question would be, is there an actual market for this type of game. If we assume that I can make a really great TD design using characters/heroes instead of towers, would people actually enjoy this type of game? Or more importantly would a lot of people enjoy this type of game or only a small niche? I guess its impossible to answer that question but i was wondering how BGG community views TD to give me at least a fraction of idea how many people would be interested in something like that.

I was thinking of creating a game where you could have different modes including but not limited to Co-op, VS (where you would be using your resources to send waves of creeps against your opponents while they do the same), and also implement survival/endless mode for those people who really enjoyed that type of TD in the digital format.

So far these are the ideas I am trying to explore
- heroes instead of towers
- allow players to move their heroes all the time so they aren't static
- board or no board? (could go with something like Saboteur where the spaces are suggested by card size and distance between each card; alternatively could actually have a tileable map with terrain affecting your movement/attack/defense abilities
- hero leveling and skill tree (being able to unlock special abilities via leveling that require energy to trigger)
- item drops or item purchasing (no randomness, so you can actually plan on which items you want to build)
- Item recipes where you need to collect or purchase individual weaker items to combine them into epic items that give you special bonuses and perhaps even special abilities that can be triggered for energy cost
- waves of minions/creeps increasing in difficulty with each wave as well as having a boss monster as the last minion of each wave
- i want to make combat interesting and not too random (unless it comes down to being an assassin where you can do critical hits). I haven't thought of what combat would be like but i imagine it would need to be something quick and not too complicated.


First, I hope there's a market, because the WiP I've been working on for the past 2 years is fairly close to what you're talking about - Tower Defense, though I add an exploratory, almost Dungeon Crawl style w/ it. I have player powers that grow as the players defeat enemies.

So, all that to say, I'm hoping to fill that niche. Now, let's talk about your idea. It looks great and I'd love to try it. It would be a bit complicated (as I'm finding w/ my own design work), but I imagine that if you spent time checking into games w/ a similar combat mechanic you'd want, it should be workable. It lends itself to multiple genres - Cthulu, Zombie, Military, Alien, etc. That's a nice open idea for you to work.

I do see the board as probably your biggest challenge. I used hexes and 3 levels that monsters attack from, but mine also had a Tower the heroes were trying to protect while they continued exploring (balancing the two needs). If you have the characters moving, it could still work but you probably need some boundaries to make it work.

I LOVE your different modes. I could easily see this as co-op while simultaneously designing a competitive. I like the idea of 2 MEGA warlords launching attacks at one another and can picture it almost like Magic TG w/ actual monsters moving across the field.

My suggestion - figure out what your base mechanic (goal) is and build toward that. I can imagine this gets unwieldy fast - I know mine did, and it's probably less time to build w/ an eye for the end goal than to build then realized parts of the structure doesn't fit.

I hope I helped!

wf


ohh thats awesome to find some more TD enthusiasts. I would love to try your game in the future whenever it is ready. Thanks for the feedback
 
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Dimitri Sirenko
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bookblogger wrote:
Orcs Must Die! The Board Game: Order Edition is supposed to be delivering at the end of the year. It has heroes with special powers, a map using tiles for variable setups, different enemy types, leveling is done through improved weapons, there are also upgrade cards for your characters using various items, and there are trap cards that can be used to defend the hallways.

The "tower" is a portal that has a health value. Enemies that make it through the gauntlet and traps and heroes deplete the portals health value.

I didn't see your other thread so I'm not sure if this game was mentioned, apologies if so.

*edit* It also has the co-op of defending your rift and a vs mode of two people sending minions and heroes into their opponents stronghold to destroy their rift.


sounds like something i definitely need to check out as a lot of elements seem similar. Thanks!
 
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Martin Larouche
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There's already tons of Tower Defense games in the boardgame market.

Sylvion and Castle Panic are two games that are very close to the description of classic computer Tower Defense games (along with all the other "Panic" games in the series).

Then many coops are actually tower defense games in disguise:

- Apocalypse Chaos has the heroes defend a spaceship from waves after waves of enemies. The enemies run around the rooms where the heroes are located shooting them and the terrain down.

- Ghost Stories has you trying to defend a village from surrounding ghosts that try to reach it.

- Even a game like Pandemic is, at it's core, moving people around to stop incessant waves of enemy diseases trying to cover the board. It's really a defense game in the same vein as the traditional tower defenses, though hidden behind a different theme. Ditto for Pandemic: The Cure.

- Orcs Must Die! The Board Game: Order Edition is an obvious adaptation of the classic? tower defense videogame.

- D-Day Dice is an obvious reverse tower defense game. You play as the invader trying to reach the bunker. The board itself tries to stop you by attacking you every turn. You can choose the path you want to take to reach your objective.
The expansion "Atlantik wall" turns this into a regular Tower Defense. You play as the defender trying to stop the allies advance from reaching your bunker by nibbling at their number of soldiers (health) each turn.
One player plays defense while the other plays on attack (and it can be played solo).


There's lots more...
 
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Cretin Warlord
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The King's Armory is my current favorite Tower Defense game. It pretty much converts a Tower Defense video game (which I enjoy) and maps it to a board game. Also love the drop in/drop out aspect.
And it hits most of your list:
- heroes instead of towers
- allow players to move their heroes all the time so they aren't static
- you custom create the map from tiles
- item purchasing
- waves of minions/creeps increasing in difficulty with each wave as well as having a boss monster as the last minion of each wave
- combat is d20 based with crits and auto misses
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Brian Herr
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I am also a fan of the TD genre (Love me some Bloons!) so I playtested one such board/TD offering at GenCon this year. Unfortunately, the name escapes me. It was fun, but all the small pieces were a tad fiddly. I think the one thing the game truly lacked, though, was the sense of urgency - there was no time pressure. It was co-op, so the four of us were working together to stop the alien horde, and there was no limit to the amount of time we could spend between waves - or even between moves - so after lots of discussion, we almost always came up with at least a nearly optimal move. That's not the case with most video TD games; the enemies just keep coming at you whether you are ready or not, and you keep up or you die. If you're thinking of going down this design road, I highly recommend including an egg timer.
 
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Jeremy Lennert
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If you think Castle Panic is a tower defense, then I take umbrage with your terminology.

Some people seem to think that any game where you are trying to survive a series of swarm attacks is "tower defense". But by that definition, Left 4 Dead, Devil May Cry, and shmups are all "tower defense", which I think is completely ridiculous.

If you take it from me, the primary elements of strategy in a tower defense game are choosing which assets you will deploy (what kind of towers) and where to deploy them (static positioning).

Point defense (protecting something that can't run away or dodge) and escalation (gradually increasing budgets to defend against gradually stronger threats) also seem relevant, but I don't think they're enough by themselves. If your only playing piece is a single hero that can move around at will, then even if you're upgrading your equipment and defending a location, I'm inclined to say that's not tower defense. (Maybe "hero defense".)

Castle Panic, Pandemic, or Ghost Stories basically just have the "point defense" element and nothing else from the list. I like Ghost Stories, but I definitely don't consider it tower defense.

I think it's probably possible to make a board game that focuses on those strategic elements ("which" and "where"), but it would require radical departure from the traditional details of the computer games (which have way too much action to resolve relative to the amount of decisions being made to work as a board game). I can't think of any board games I've played that I feel captured that essence, though.

I played at least one board game (The King's Armory) that specifically advertised itself as a tower defense. I feel that it ran headlong into all the problems of converting tower defense to a board game (too much fiddly detail, not much strategy) and still didn't actually feel like a tower defense. (It felt more like a tactical RPG--and imported the traditional problems of that genre, too, like healing spells that somehow can only be cast in mid-battle, and loot that can be stolen from living monsters but can't be taken off their corpses).

But if you just want a survival game, sure, there's tons of those.
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Bojan Prakljacic
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If you think, basic premise for good tower defense game is to have these mechanics and choices to use them during your turn depending on what you think will be part of the swarm that you need to beat:

- static defense of long range radius with various damage outputs
- static defense of short range radius with various damage outputs
- something to funnel enemies into kill zones
- something to block enemies for fixed amount of time and expose them to longer beating from your defenses
- upgrades for already placed defenses (or future tech)
- non-static defense with flexible range / damage output
- some resources generator (to be spend on your defense machines and upgrades)
- upgrades for resource generators
- enemy spawner
- something worth defending :]
 
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Dimitri Sirenko
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Antistone wrote:
If you think Castle Panic is a tower defense, then I take umbrage with your terminology.

Some people seem to think that any game where you are trying to survive a series of swarm attacks is "tower defense". But by that definition, Left 4 Dead, Devil May Cry, and shmups are all "tower defense", which I think is completely ridiculous.

If you take it from me, the primary elements of strategy in a tower defense game are choosing which assets you will deploy (what kind of towers) and where to deploy them (static positioning).

Point defense (protecting something that can't run away or dodge) and escalation (gradually increasing budgets to defend against gradually stronger threats) also seem relevant, but I don't think they're enough by themselves. If your only playing piece is a single hero that can move around at will, then even if you're upgrading your equipment and defending a location, I'm inclined to say that's not tower defense. (Maybe "hero defense".)

Castle Panic, Pandemic, or Ghost Stories basically just have the "point defense" element and nothing else from the list. I like Ghost Stories, but I definitely don't consider it tower defense.

I think it's probably possible to make a board game that focuses on those strategic elements ("which" and "where"), but it would require radical departure from the traditional details of the computer games (which have way too much action to resolve relative to the amount of decisions being made to work as a board game). I can't think of any board games I've played that I feel captured that essence, though.

I played at least one board game (The King's Armory) that specifically advertised itself as a tower defense. I feel that it ran headlong into all the problems of converting tower defense to a board game (too much fiddly detail, not much strategy) and still didn't actually feel like a tower defense. (It felt more like a tactical RPG--and imported the traditional problems of that genre, too, like healing spells that somehow can only be cast in mid-battle, and loot that can be stolen from living monsters but can't be taken off their corpses).

But if you just want a survival game, sure, there's tons of those.


would you consider Dead of Winter to capture the tower defense element well? Specifically the base defense?
 
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Phillip Harpring
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Antistone wrote:
If you think Castle Panic is a tower defense, then I take umbrage with your terminology.


Seems like you'd have to take umbrage with the terminology used by the OP, as well, since their post is talking about mobile heroes levelling up and surviving increasingly difficult waves...
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Martin Larouche
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Emu Prime wrote:
Antistone wrote:
If you think Castle Panic is a tower defense, then I take umbrage with your terminology.


Seems like you'd have to take umbrage with the terminology used by the OP, as well, since their post is talking about mobile heroes levelling up and surviving increasingly difficult waves...


Yup... i think we found the first tower defense grognard. meeple
 
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Jeremy Lennert
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deedob wrote:
Yup... i think we found the first tower defense grognard. meeple

"Grognard" implies a preference for an older version of something. Capture the Flag is much older that warcraft 3, so if you consider anything with point defense to be "tower defense," it seems more plausible that you are a grognard than that I am.

I'm just being a pedant (someone excessively concerned with formalism and precision). That's totally different.
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Jeremy Lennert
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3CreativeMinds wrote:
would you consider Dead of Winter to capture the tower defense element well? Specifically the base defense?

I've played Dead of Winter only once and don't recall anything about base defense.
 
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Dimitri Sirenko
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Antistone wrote:
3CreativeMinds wrote:
would you consider Dead of Winter to capture the tower defense element well? Specifically the base defense?

I've played Dead of Winter only once and don't recall anything about base defense.


well as i recall, the zombies spawn in every area at the end of each round and one of the areas is the homebase where you can keep your survivors. That area gets filled up and you need to make sure you clear it fast enough and build barricades or the zombies will overrun the "head quarters" basically.
 
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Antistone wrote:
deedob wrote:
Yup... i think we found the first tower defense grognard. meeple

"Grognard" implies a preference for an older version of something. Capture the Flag is much older that warcraft 3, so if you consider anything with point defense to be "tower defense," it seems more plausible that you are a grognard than that I am.

I'm just being a pedant (someone excessively concerned with formalism and precision). That's totally different.


But by your definition, Capture the Flag is not tower defense. I will confess that until I read this thread, I always thought the tower in tower defense referred to the thing you were defending, not the tools you used to defend the thing with.

Under this definition, I would still suggest Castle Panic fits most of your definition. The soldier and spell cards (if you're using the wizard's tower) are the troops you deploy, and the walls around the castle are your static defenses, which can be shored up and replaced, and decisions must be made about which piece deserves that reinforcement.

But you don't gain any power from killing minions, and the waves of minions are randomized, rather than getting stronger.

What about XenoShyft: Onslaught?
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You might want to have a look at Portal of Morth.

I played it only once but I think it fits quite well your expectations:
- each player has one board with several paths
- each player has several characters moving on the board
- Those characters gain experience by killing monsters and can unlock new abilities
- Monsters are coming in waves and are getting stronger after each wave
- You have to cleverly move your heroes to deal damage to the monsters as they trod along the paths
- every time a monster reaches the end of a path, it deals you damage. The player with the least damage in the end wins

Things that do not seem to match your expectations:
- there is no item, no armor, only new stats and attacks being unlocked
- combat is not really a 'cool' thing: the important thing is the placement of your heroes so that they can deal damage to the monsters
 
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Kerstin
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Another one to take a look at (well it's hard to find a copy at the moment, but there is a playthrough of e.g. GameNight) migth be Carnival Zombie.
 
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Jeremy Lennert
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wombat929 wrote:
I will confess that until I read this thread, I always thought the tower in tower defense referred to the thing you were defending, not the tools you used to defend the thing with.

Huh. I hadn't thought of that. That would make a lot of sense syntactically, but I am reasonably certain that is not the accepted meaning. I've played many, many "tower defense" games where your tools are explicitly referred to as "towers", and while there are probably some where the thing you defend is called a "tower" I can't think of any right now.

wombat929 wrote:
Under this definition, I would still suggest Castle Panic fits most of your definition. The soldier and spell cards (if you're using the wizard's tower) are the troops you deploy, and the walls around the castle are your static defenses, which can be shored up and replaced, and decisions must be made about which piece deserves that reinforcement.

In Castle Panic, you don't build defenses, you just make attacks. Even the walls are attacks (they deal damage one time and then disappear; they're more like land mines than walls). You have no persistent assets.

Even if you wanted to consider the soldiers to be defenses, for the most part, you don't choose which or where: you draw the soldiers at random, and each one can only attack a specific location.

wombat929 wrote:

Hm, I forgot about that game (sat through a tutorial at a convention but didn't get to play a full game). Maybe. Probably closer than any of the other candidates I've played.
 
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Dimitri Sirenko
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yeah i guess the more accurate term for the idea i am entertaining here is Hero Defense. So it would probably take more RPG elements into account as well. Still, i felt that because most people are more familiar with a term Tower Defense and the mechanics are very similar I thought easing into the topic by calling it Tower Defense would be more appropriate.

I guess its like a fusion between dungeon crawler and tower defense in a certain way.
 
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Clinton Morris
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The first game that came to mind for me was Dawn of the Zeds (Third edition)

Its a hero centric tower defense game, and with the expandable difficulties, you will be creating Super Weapons and also adding in more routes into your city.

It also sounds a bit like you want to add in an element of player vs player. If that is correct then having a constant threat that travels down the paths (minions from LOL) that will be engaging the heroes.

Also having conscious choices about weapon upgrades and selections could be as simple as Arcadia Quest having upgraded cards after each mission.
 
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Mechs vs. Minions is supposed to be like that, too.
 
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Jasper and Zot was a PnP that I think eventually got an actual printing.

It was inspired by a fairly famous "towerflower defense" game.
 
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