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Neil Cotton
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Hi there,

I'd like to try my hand at developing a board game. I have an idea that i'm working on, but the main game mechanic is a roll to move and race to the top type of game (snakes and ladders without the snakes and ladders if you get my drift).

It's 1 - 4 players.

Turn cycle is :
1 - Roll a D6 and move that many spaces.
2 - Take an event card and follow its instructions.
3 - Complete special actions (dealing with other player's traps, fights between players etc)
4 - Collect XP from actions
Move to next player.

There are various things (weapons etc) to collect along the way, battles to be had and traps to be set by other players. There's also a threat that automatically moves down the board top to bottom, whilst you race from bottom to top.

I'm hoping some nice board graphics, cards, playing tiles and storyline help the game along with the narrative that comes from the event cards.

Target market is not really for children - it's 20s and up.

My initial question is: Does a roll to move and race to the top type of mechanism work in modern board games?? I really can't think of another way to make this game work. To get it finalised would take some serious time and probably a bit of cash, so I didn't want to waste 6 months of my life if it's a real duff idea.

Ultimately i'd like to go to kickstarter with it.

Thanks for all of your help in advance.
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John
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Well some games use a roll & move mechanic but it's not a popular mechanic. The only games I've played recently that use it are Jamaica (which is quite popular though I don't really understand why) and Backgammon. In both cases you have some choice over how you move.

My advice would be to create a prototype (don't worry about artwork) and post it here and/or get people you know to play it and see what people think. If the game play is enjoyable then consider the next stage.

Edit - I've also recommend trying (or watching reviews of) as many race games as you can find. Jamaica, Hare & Tortoise, Formula D, Backgammon are some I know of which are worth looking at. Hare & Tortoise is excellent and low luck, Backgammon is the classic roll & move game (though it doesn't sound like any ideas from Backgammon would help you but I don't know really).

P.S. I'm not a game designer.
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nac2311 wrote:

Turn cycle is :
1 - Roll a D6 and move that many spaces.
2 - Take an event card and follow its instructions.
3 - Complete special actions (dealing with other player's traps, fights between players etc)
4 - Collect XP from actions

This doesn't sound that interesting to me, but it could be that I'd find the game interesting if I played it (and has more decisions than I think) or it could be that the game isn't bad it's just not to my taste.

nac2311 wrote:
I really can't think of another way to make this game work.

A variant of snakes and ladders that I've played once of twice with my children is this one where there are 6 tokens with number 1-6 and rather than rolling a die you take a counter and move that number of spaces. It adds some strategy. I've seen other variants where you play cards to move.
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Bojan Prakljacic
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Talisman is an example that roll and move games still have an audience. How you utilize that mechanic and what you build around it, is what matters.

But, 'I rolled a 5, now I must go 5 spaces' is not something game publishers are looking for these days. Apply it in some different way.

When I first played Relic I hated it, I tough it was a Warhammer monopoly. But, later I found out that it is a risk taking game.
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The problem with roll and move is always that without any kind of twist there are no interesting choices to be made and it's just completely random.
So to make it interesting/relevant I think you somehow need to put something in there that gives you back some interesting choices.

Things I've seen done:
- Multiple pawns/figures/whatever, so you can make at least the decision which one to move (Backgammon would fit that category)
- a choice which die/dice to use as they have different risk/reward (e.g. Formula D)
- roll applies to all players and they need to choose how to use it (Jamaica is basically using this)
- you can somehow "modify" your dice (Rattlebones is doing that)
- the thing you move is actually not "you" (Camel Up would e.g. be an example, where you roll and move, but in the end you are betting on the camels you are not just represented by a single one.
Actually now that I'm thinking about it, I'm not sure if there is a game where you could maybe "auction" for which pawn you want to be next round, does anyone know? That could actually be interesting)

That's mostly what I can think of right now, although there might be more approaches to this.
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    See if you can work "scarcity" into your equation for movement. Have something on the field that you can harvest in some way that allows you to adjust your movement roll. That could be just about anything -- a place you land on, something you steal from others, something you earn by yielding movement steps on earlier turns, something you get each turn and can build up. This gives the player some level of control over their destiny, which empowers them on each turn. But remember -- scarcity. It needs to be difficult enough and costly enough to obtain that you don't have a hefty supply lying around. Force the players to give something up in order to get it.

    Roll and move still has its place, but you need to avoid situations where the player is powerless on their turn. It's frustrating for kids, not much better for adults. If they have the ability to save up for a critical situation and expend when it occurs, you add a facet to your game that forces them to choose. That's good gaming.

    Look at the rules for Formula D, in particular the rules for brakes, tires and engine. Formula D is as roll-and-move as they get, but brakes, tires and engine boxes let you adjust your movemnet, let you press your luck. That empowers the player.

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nac2311 wrote:
Hi there,

I'd like to try my hand at developing a board game. I have an idea that i'm working on, but the main game mechanic is a roll to move and race to the top type of game (snakes and ladders without the snakes and ladders if you get my drift).

It's 1 - 4 players.

Turn cycle is :
1 - Roll a D6 and move that many spaces.
2 - Take an event card and follow its instructions.
3 - Complete special actions (dealing with other player's traps, fights between players etc)
4 - Collect XP from actions
Move to next player.

There are various things (weapons etc) to collect along the way, battles to be had and traps to be set by other players. There's also a threat that automatically moves down the board top to bottom, whilst you race from bottom to top.

I'm hoping some nice board graphics, cards, playing tiles and storyline help the game along with the narrative that comes from the event cards.

Target market is not really for children - it's 20s and up.

My initial question is: Does a roll to move and race to the top type of mechanism work in modern board games?? I really can't think of another way to make this game work. To get it finalised would take some serious time and probably a bit of cash, so I didn't want to waste 6 months of my life if it's a real duff idea.

Ultimately i'd like to go to kickstarter with it.

Thanks for all of your help in advance.


As you describe this activity, there are no interesting decisions to be made, and no trade offs to consider.

A randomizer (d6) dictates how far I move. If I cannot influence the distance moved, I have no decision.
A randomizer (deck of event cards) dictates what I do. If I cannot influence the card (in a meaningful way), I have no decision.
You mention "other player's traps" which implies some form of Player Decision/Agency, but if those were dictated by the event cards, then we're back to the Player not deciding, but simply following instructions.
Collect XP from non-decisions.

I don't see where the Player *plays*, only where they *do*.

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In my opinion, the only attention you're going to garner in your stated target market for a roll and move game as described is if it's an ironic one (Magical Athlete) or one where the roll and move is part of an otherwise very expansive mechanic (as was previously mentioned, Talisman).

As was also pointed out, roll and move as a general mechanic is absent of much decision making. It's a small step above Candyland in the sense that the entire game of Candyland is already fully determined after the shuffle and cut of the deck; the only difference with a roll and move is that entropy hasn't fully determined the outcome yet.

Now, if you REALLY want to integrate a roll to move type mechanic in your "race to the top" game, I'd suggest making some cogent decision making. If you're dedicated to a dice roll to determine movement (and you haven't provided much details but said that is the "only" way your game will work, which I found perplexing), perhaps consider the notion of a die roll determining max steps available, and letting the player choose whether or not to take those steps or not.

A few ways to make that an interesting decision:

1. Longer moves cost more. Add in a finite resource (fuel, energy, stamina, whatever) and have increasing costs. Maybe moving 1 step requires 0 energy, but each additional step is (N-1)^2 energy where N = the number of steps taken. So two steps is 1 energy, 3 is 4, but 6 steps is a whopping 25 energy. And then make gathering energy along the way one of the mechanics. Then they can decide if they want to take those four steps right now at a cost of 9 or just 3 for 4. And you can take the math out by just making a chart since it's only six possibilities.

2. Make some of the "stops" compelling places to go. If you use 1 above, have a refill spot. Or have some that award points. So rushing to the top may win, but stopping along the way may get you more points that might let you win instead. Or pick up items that help the race to the top.

3. Asymmetrical characters. Create some deviation in your racers. Maybe you have a slow and steady one -- all rolls of 1 or 6 are rerolled until they become 2-4. Or a spurter - all rolls are increased by 1. Figure out some better balance, these are just two examples.

To give you an idea of how this kind of mechanic (the "race to the top", not the roll and move) can have a good amount of life, there is a game currently on Kickstarter called 10 Minute Heist: The Wizard's Tower which uses it. In a nutshell, players are all thieves starting out at the top of a tower. They move down the levels of the tower as quickly or as slowly as they want, collecting treasure along the way, but cannot go back up. Whoever exits first gets a point bonus, and then the points of all treasure plus speed bonus plus hidden bonuses (secret set collection in a way) are tallied up. It's a very simple mechanic but results in fun play because you have to balance how fast you get out (or how fast you race to get a higher value treasures somewhere) versus collecting as many items as you can.

So, a lot of stuff here. But the basic take-away is -- gaming has evolved beyond roll and move to such an extent that if your audience is people who identify as gamers, it has to be but a small part of your overall mechanic. The days of endless iteration of weaving games with various themes like how to spend money, how to pick a college, how to do household chores, how to recycle, etc, are pretty much over.
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As previous post have said, without meaningful choices, you have an activity, not a game.

Maybe have players roll 3d6 and use a d6 for movement, a d6 to resolve the event, and the final d6 to gain some resource (tokens to add or subtract from a die or to reroll, perhaps). The event should also be determined prior to assigning dice.
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No the mechanic doesn't work. I would recommend perusing this site for a couple months to understand what type of games can succeed, how they can succeed, and go from there before starting your own game.

I really have no idea what your game is, and it may be the best design in history, but spending some time on this site checking out other games may put your ideas into perspectivewhistle
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Matt Lee
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I agree with the others, roll and move only really works if there are decisions to make alongside the roll, otherwise, you're not actually doing anything but passing time.

You might want to check out how Fearsome Floors did movement for the character pieces. Still a race (to get out of the castle), but adding in a monster movement and splitting the moves so that each token will move 7 spaces every two turns, but in a distinct split for each token, gives the game a very unique feeling of tension that roll and move generally can't come close to, though the clever die face swapping mechanic of Rattlebones has a unique tension that works as well.
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Gary Heidenreich
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Huh, a roll and move where the dice are the pawns and you decide on the turn if you want to take the current movement it is on or re-roll. Perhaps the chance to re-roll is gained somewhere on the board making it a limited source to earn and use?

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Didn't read the whole thread but Mice and Mystics has a roll and move mechanic and seems to have a following.

If your game "isn't for kids", compare it to Mice and Mystics and see if it's more complex or less. Mice & Mystics is targeted towards pre-teens I believe.

Granted, the "roll and move" mechanic isn't the reason it's popular, and in fact is probably something that's holding the game back.
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Roll and move can work, though it's pretty boring as a move mechanic.

Roll and move + single track where you are racing to the finish + event cards that affect you or other players = a good exercise to make for a brand new designer. It was one of the first projects we did in a game design course I did in college. Pretty much everyone is familiar with how these games work, so it's very easy to just draw a board and start writing up some cards and get going. By all means, if you are new to game design, do this!

But don't spend 6 months or longer trying to produce it and run a kickstarter for something that no one will find interesting. There are a few ok games with roll and move, and some that aren't so great that still have managed to stand the test of time, but most people have bad memories of awful games (usually involving a license or being rebrands of monopoly) that used this mechanic poorly.

In general, your first idea is probably bad. Try it out (as cheaply as possible) and then learn something from the experience. And then see if you can have some more ideas. Also, try and play a wide variety of games so you can learn what other mechanics are available.
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Neil Cotton
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Thank you so much to everyone that has posted a comment so far. You're all giving me so much positive assistance. Thank you again! I just wanted to send this quick 'thanks' post, but will put together something more substantial to give you a better flavour of what i'm trying to do.
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Neil,

Best wishes to you on your game design.

You may consider another question, which I think is more important, "Is the game fun?" You won't know that until you play-test it. There are plenty of games out there whose mechanics seem uninspired, yet the game is actually fun to play.
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nac2311 wrote:
Hi there,

I'd like to try my hand at developing a board game. I have an idea that i'm working on, but the main game mechanic is a roll to move and race to the top type of game (snakes and ladders without the snakes and ladders if you get my drift).

It's 1 - 4 players.

Turn cycle is :
1 - Roll a D6 and move that many spaces.
2 - Take an event card and follow its instructions.
3 - Complete special actions (dealing with other player's traps, fights between players etc)
4 - Collect XP from actions
Move to next player.

There are various things (weapons etc) to collect along the way, battles to be had and traps to be set by other players. There's also a threat that automatically moves down the board top to bottom, whilst you race from bottom to top.

I'm hoping some nice board graphics, cards, playing tiles and storyline help the game along with the narrative that comes from the event cards.

Target market is not really for children - it's 20s and up.

My initial question is: Does a roll to move and race to the top type of mechanism work in modern board games?? I really can't think of another way to make this game work. To get it finalised would take some serious time and probably a bit of cash, so I didn't want to waste 6 months of my life if it's a real duff idea...



You are asking for honesty and with that in mind, I would not be interested in your game in the slightest. With Roll and Move as your primary mechanic I do not have anything to offer you that would make me interested in it either.
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The Tower of Mystery was this roll and move game that sounds a bit like yours that I came across at gencon at 2009 a while back. I had just gotten into boardgaming and thought this was the best game ever. I even did a review. I was shocked and angered that bad reviews started coming in. But I think it was a prime example of how dated the roll and move mechanic is. Merchant of venus is probably the best title roll and move. It actually is more about route building though, and the roll and move takes a backseat to the unveiling strategy.
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Mabuchi wrote:
nac2311 wrote:
Hi there,

I'd like to try my hand at developing a board game. I have an idea that i'm working on, but the main game mechanic is a roll to move and race to the top type of game (snakes and ladders without the snakes and ladders if you get my drift).

It's 1 - 4 players.

Turn cycle is :
1 - Roll a D6 and move that many spaces.
2 - Take an event card and follow its instructions.
3 - Complete special actions (dealing with other player's traps, fights between players etc)
4 - Collect XP from actions
Move to next player.

There are various things (weapons etc) to collect along the way, battles to be had and traps to be set by other players. There's also a threat that automatically moves down the board top to bottom, whilst you race from bottom to top.

I'm hoping some nice board graphics, cards, playing tiles and storyline help the game along with the narrative that comes from the event cards.

Target market is not really for children - it's 20s and up.

My initial question is: Does a roll to move and race to the top type of mechanism work in modern board games?? I really can't think of another way to make this game work. To get it finalised would take some serious time and probably a bit of cash, so I didn't want to waste 6 months of my life if it's a real duff idea...



You are asking for honesty and with that in mind, I would not be interested in your game in the slightest. With Roll and Move as your primary mechanic I do not have anything to offer you that would make me interested in it either.


    Behold the most horribly timed post in BGG history.
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Another thing. Roll and move is random. It is probably right at the breaking point for most gamers. Adding events that are random would push most hobby gamers completely away. Hell even flying frog games, which is super ameritrashy full of dixe rolling and event cards, put variants to their roll and move. This was in response to player feedback, I believe. Think of it this way. Take 6 years off your minimum age range automatically when you add a roll and move mechanic. Merchant of Venus has additional pretty complicated mechanics that puts it at that 12 or 13+
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One more game to check out is Fearsome Floors. It is a quasi roll and move with a monster starting at the entrance. It is made by the same guy who did powergrid and has a very interesting alternative to the roll and move mechanic, even though it is essentially a roll and move. Even having said that, when my game group played it, they were eager to be done so they could play a "real game". Personally, my favorite roll and move (though it's done with cards and leapfrogging) is Lemming Mafia and again it's considered a "baby game" by my group.
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nac2311 wrote:
Thank you so much to everyone that has posted a comment so far. You're all giving me so much positive assistance. Thank you again! I just wanted to send this quick 'thanks' post, but will put together something more substantial to give you a better flavour of what i'm trying to do.
:D
Welcome to why the bgg community is so great.
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If you really want to keep roll & move, but also have combat in your game, I'd try this:
- On a turn, roll 2 dice.
- Assign one of them to "movement" and the other to "combat".
- Use the "movement" one for how far you move and, if you have a combat, use the "combat" one to resolve it.
- Design the movement system so that high rolls are typically good.
- Design the combat system so that low rolls are typically good.

That way, if a player rolls:
- Both high numbers (4+) : He'll at least have decent mobility
- Both low numbers (3-) : He'll at least have decent combat
- One high and one low : He'll be good at both

The temptation is to make combat and movement based on simmilar systems, where either "high is always good" or "low is always good". But if you do that, say, design a system where "high rolls are always good, whether they're for movement or combat" then the player who rolls both low will just have a sucky turn, and that isn't fun.
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The problem with the roll and move mechanic is that there is no decision, thus there is nothing interesting about it. You roll, you move. You could make it more interesting by having players roll different sided dice and different amount of dice, but doing so drives up the cost of the game while only marginally increasing the appeal of the mechanic.

I don't believe the mechanic is necessarily irrelevant, just that in many instances there are better mechanics that can be used in it's place, where players have to make a choice.

If you are going to use cards anyways and if players have a hand of cards, you could use multipuprose cards that also have movement values somewhere on the card. You might want to balance out more powerful cards to be better suited for movement as well or require someone to have a set of cards to move or something along those lines. Then all of a sudden people are faced with a decision when wanting to move.
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kungfugeek wrote:
If you really want to keep roll & move, but also have combat in your game, I'd try this:
- On a turn, roll 2 dice.
- Assign one of them to "movement" and the other to "combat".
- Use the "movement" one for how far you move and, if you have a combat, use the "combat" one to resolve it.
- Design the movement system so that high rolls are typically good.
- Design the combat system so that low rolls are typically good.

That way, if a player rolls:
- Both high numbers (4+) : He'll at least have decent mobility
- Both low numbers (3-) : He'll at least have decent combat
- One high and one low : He'll be good at both

The temptation is to make combat and movement based on simmilar systems, where either "high is always good" or "low is always good". But if you do that, say, design a system where "high rolls are always good, whether they're for movement or combat" then the player who rolls both low will just have a sucky turn, and that isn't fun.


That is great fking idea. If he doesn't use that, I will. :)
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