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Subject: Equipment cards and balancing mechanics rss

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Thomas Quick
France
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Hi,
I'm currently making my first game (for my friends and I) and it seems I'm gonna have to explain how the whole thing works in order to get any help, and I'm not particularly good at explaining things. So bear with me.

The game consists in a 195 space board (empty, tavern (gives you a recruit), enemy, trap, treasure (gives you an equipment card) and portal spaces (brings you to another random portal)), 11 character cards, trap cards, recruit cards, 4 different tiers of enemy cards, and equipment cards (as well as 3 to 6 character models).

You start the game by picking your character card (each character has 15 to 25 health, 1 to 5 base attack, a max number of equipment cards, and a special ability, different for every character), and placing your their model on the board.
Every turn, you role the 6 sided dice and go the number of spaces, unless you land on a trap space or an enemy space, in which case you must fight an enemy of that tier. You can go backwards, as long as you don't change directions mid-turn.
The first player to arrive at the end wins (I bet you didn't see that coming)
So the combat phase (fight) consists in player/enemy turns. The player starts by rolling the 10 dice (unless it's an ambush(a type of trap), in which case the enemy starts). If it's 4 or more, you deal your damage to the enemy. Then it's the enemy's turn, which works the same way. If you win, you pick the ammount of equipment cards and go forward the ammount of spaces written on the card. If you lose, you discard the ammount of cards and go back the ammount of spaces written on the card.
The first tier of enemies has between 1 and 5 health an attack.
Tier 2 has between 6 and 10.
Tier 3 has between 11 and 15.
Tier 4 has between 16 and 20.
So first question (Finally!). Are the enemy stats completely obsurd? And I have no idea how to set the equipment cards stats (considering there are weapons, armor, shields (and "light"versions of them), and "other" equipment with special abilities but I don't really know if the latter is necessary).
I also don't think the dice is the dice is the way to go for movement but I don't know how else to do it.
Sorry if I go all over the place, as I said at the begining I'm not very good at explaining things.
 
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Phil Vestal
United States
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This isn't going to be as helpful as you might like but honestly the best way will be play testing. You described a lot which was helpful but it seems like there might still be some elements missing. What if a character dies? Is damage always dealt from the dice roles or are there ways to defend other than the roll having to be more than 4?

It's hard to say if the enemy tiers are too strong or too weak without knowing how all the equipment cards help. What you have to balance out is if the 4 tiers of enemy cards are strong enough to hold their own when the characters you play as get buffed up by equipment and such but not too strong so as to make it impossible to win.

I think play testing will help show how much you need to change the stats and such. I don't think you will know if they are absurd or not until you see if the game constantly goes in one direction or if it seems to work out well.

So I would say go have fun playing it over and over and over and be gracious to yourself knowing that you are going to have to change a lot. And then once you think you have it balanced, you will find other holes and change it again! Don't give up but have fun and keep plowing through.

Also, try to get outsiders to play, even when it isn't balanced, so you can watch from an outside perspective and see their thoughts as playing. Did they feel like they had a chance or that it was too easy? The more you play the closer you will get and it might become difficult to see what a fresh set of eyes will see.
 
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Thomas Quick
France
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It's true that I forgot a few details: you lose a fight when your health reaches 0, so when you die, and your health is reset, so all that happens is that you get the negative effects of the card.
That's what I decided for now, as you said, it needs testing.
It's a good thing I have a local board games bar then, isn't it? (Only problem is, I'm in France and designing the game in english, probably not the way to go for testing)
I'm also hesitating if I should add potions which could be used during combat or not, and I think they would be in the treasure card pile, but I'm not sure.
 
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Alex
Germany
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Don't add too many stuff at once.
Maybe first try the fighting-part Vanilla-Style, without any equipment. Look if it's too hard or too easy. If it's too easy, make it harder. If it's too hard, you're probably on to something, since now you've got a good entry point to evaluate the strength of your equipment, how powerful their effects need to be, and how abundant.
 
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Brendan Riley
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Another approach you could take is to use your theme to drive your mechanics. As I read your description, for example, I was surprised to see that you roll to move. What is the thematic purpose in your game for a randomized move? How would the game work if the distance you move became a choice instead?

Another approach is to ask yourself "where is the fun?" By which I mean, which part of the game is the most fun? Is it the fighting? Why have movement at all then -- what if you can just put your character in the fighting area you want to and battle the creatures there?

That said - playtesting early and often is the best advice a game designer can follow. I would start with yourself and one or two trusted friends. Random players in the public are better for much later in the process.

Good luck!
 
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Thomas Quick
France
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wombat929 wrote:
I was surprised to see that you roll to move. What is the thematic purpose in your game for a randomized move? How would the game work if the distance you move became a choice instead?

I completely agree about the movement, any suggestions how I could do non random movement? I tried several different systems and didn't like any.
Also the enemy cards reward you with extra movement, depending on how you move I don't know if this is necessary.
 
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