Recommend
 
 Thumb up
 Hide
9 Posts

BoardGameGeek» Forums » Board Game Design » Board Game Design

Subject: Reining in branching options rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Aynsley Saucier
United States
Washington
flag msg tools
Hello all,

I've been working on a game mechanic involving large scenario/encounter cards that feature branching outcomes depending on whether the scenario/encounter was a success or failure. For example, let's say the game begins with an opening choice for the players along the lines of,

"Lord Whats-his-name requests that you do something about all of the bandits around here, does your party patrol a) the Road, b) the River, or c) the Wood?"

The players choose to patrol the Road, so a Road scenario/event card is drawn and the scenario on that card is attempted. At the bottom of the card, the players are afforded two options if they are successful,

"Having thoroughly trounced the vicious rabbit-drakes, the party considers whether to continue following the Road, or check for more dangers in the Wood."

If the players fail the event, they are afforded only one option,

"The party could not stand against the formidable fuzzwumps, and fled headlong into the Swamp."

This cycle is intended to continue until the players draw the Boss Card, where succeeding means completing the quest and failing means losing the game. There are a few design problems that I'm having trouble working my way around here

1) I cannot as yet guarantee that the first card the players choose won't be a boss card (this may be unavoidable), or that the players won't be stuck playing scenario after scenario without drawing a boss card (ideally, I'd like the players to get a boss card by at least the 3rd and at most the 4th draw).

2) I'm concerned that there may be a possibility of having dead ends, wherein the game cannot be completed.

One thing I tried was to include at least one boss card for each possible choice, as demonstrated below.

Level One Quest
The Quest Begins Card x 1
The Road x 3
The River x 3
The Wood x 2
The Swamp x 2
Road Boss x 1
River Boss x 1
Wood boss x 1
Swamp Boss x 1

However, this just seems to undesirably increase the odds of drawing a boss card too quickly. On the other hand, if I add too many more scenario/event cards, I wind up with games lasting potentially twice as long as intended.

What I really need is to find that sweet spot, but I'm just unsure of how to go about it. Any thoughts?
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jeremy Lennert
United States
California
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
For the boss, rather than drawing at random, I would suggest some sort of progress track based on the other draws and/or outcomes. For instance, add +1 progress for each event you draw, and an additional +1 progress if you win the event, and when you get to 10 progress you automatically go to the boss. Specific events could also award more or less progress than usual.

If that sounds too complicated, you could do something like: there are 3 boss cards, but only the last one that you draw counts--the first 2 represent sightings where the boss taunts you and then runs away.



Regarding dead ends, you might consider adding some sort of default effect that happens when a deck runs out. For example, maybe you have searched the entire wood without finding the boss, so you have to backtrack and choose another location to search (from the original starting quest card). This might also come with some additional bonus or penalty attached, depending on whether you want the players to try to stay in one area and how you want them to feel if they do.



Another approach (for both problems) is to ensure that the players are constantly passing through one-way trapdoors that force them towards a conclusion.

Consider this scenario:

1. The players are given their quest, and can choose to search the road, the river, or the woods.

2A. One of the cards in the road deck has the players discover a caravan that has just been attacked by the bandits, with the survivors saying the bandits fled into the woods. At this point, the players MUST go to the woods.

2B. One of the cards in the river deck has the players encounter a fierce storm that forces them to flee into the cave for shelter. The players MUST go to the cave.

2C. One of the cards in the woods deck has the players discover some tracks leading into a cave. The players MUST go to the cave.

3. The boss is in the cave.

No matter where the players go, they eventually end up in the cave.

Road -> Wood -> Cave
River -> Cave
Wood -> Cave

The player's decisions matter in the short term, but in the long term they all lead to the same place, so you can ensure they reach your planned conclusion. This also makes the overall length of the game a little more predictable, in the same way as the "draw multiple boss cards" idea, because the players need to find several key cards in sequence rather than just one.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David Thomas
msg tools
designer
mbmbmbmb
If you want to ensure the players get to the boss in a certain number of moves I'd say have a separate deck for the bosses, or have separate cards for the bosses that are unlocked by succeeding at the other actions.

So maybe they require four successful cards before they can face a boss, and the boss they face is based on their choice from the final adventure card. So it's still a choose your own adventure feel, and they don't know which boss they'll face till they get to that last card.

You could also make the number of cards required to get to a boss a variable that's assigned by the start quest card. So maybe sometimes it only takes 2 cards to get to a boss, sometimes it takes 3 or 4 or 5 depending on which quest they are on. Then have the rewards be variable based on the difficulty/number of cards required to get there.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
patrick mullen
United States
Washington
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
You can encounter the boss in pathfinder on the first turn. But you don't actually defeat him and win until you can close all of his escape routes. After you encounter him you shuffle him randomly into a different location deck.

Every boss card could have a sneak/run away option, so characters who don't feel they are ready to face it can skip that card. If that is the boss you are meant to face, you may still end up back at that deck again, which is fine, as the next time you see that card you will be ready.

If every card except for the boss will move you to a different stack, and every stack has a boss card, you could make the terminal state be that if you move to a deck which only has a boss card left, you are forced to fight the final fight and win or lose. You ensure the game will always reach a terminal state, but the players can still avoid the boss a few times if they encounter him too soon.

(Erm I suppose having some cards in the deck that don't move you is OK too. You just effectively have a terminal state if you end up in a location where you've exhausted movement events)

You could implement an additional time limit where on turn x, or when you run out of food, or whatever; you have to search the current location for the boss and fight them.

If there are any ongoing storylines or goals maybe you lose points for not completing them before you defeat the boss.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Aynsley Saucier
United States
Washington
flag msg tools
Antistone wrote:
Another approach (for both problems) is to ensure that the players are constantly passing through one-way trapdoors that force them towards a conclusion.

Consider this scenario:

1. The players are given their quest, and can choose to search the road, the river, or the woods.

2A. One of the cards in the road deck has the players discover a caravan that has just been attacked by the bandits, with the survivors saying the bandits fled into the woods. At this point, the players MUST go to the woods.

2B. One of the cards in the river deck has the players encounter a fierce storm that forces them to flee into the cave for shelter. The players MUST go to the cave.

2C. One of the cards in the woods deck has the players discover some tracks leading into a cave. The players MUST go to the cave.

3. The boss is in the cave.

No matter where the players go, they eventually end up in the cave.

Road -> Wood -> Cave
River -> Cave
Wood -> Cave

The player's decisions matter in the short term, but in the long term they all lead to the same place, so you can ensure they reach your planned conclusion. This also makes the overall length of the game a little more predictable, in the same way as the "draw multiple boss cards" idea, because the players need to find several key cards in sequence rather than just one.


Thanks for the reply. I rather like this option, so I'm adding it to my "research and test" list.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Aynsley Saucier
United States
Washington
flag msg tools
tentagil wrote:
If you want to ensure the players get to the boss in a certain number of moves I'd say have a separate deck for the bosses, or have separate cards for the bosses that are unlocked by succeeding at the other actions.

So maybe they require four successful cards before they can face a boss, and the boss they face is based on their choice from the final adventure card. So it's still a choose your own adventure feel, and they don't know which boss they'll face till they get to that last card.

You could also make the number of cards required to get to a boss a variable that's assigned by the start quest card. So maybe sometimes it only takes 2 cards to get to a boss, sometimes it takes 3 or 4 or 5 depending on which quest they are on. Then have the rewards be variable based on the difficulty/number of cards required to get there.


I also like this quite a bit, thanks for the assistance!
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Aynsley Saucier
United States
Washington
flag msg tools
I'm getting some mild inspiration from the Pathfinder CG, but I'm trying to simplify it a great deal (IMHO, that game has way too many card types) by taking a few cues from FATE system.

As for time limits, that is actually something I'm working on building into the scenarios, ie. "the party must figure out how to prevent the river from flooding the village with five rounds/turns/etc."

saluk wrote:
If every card except for the boss will move you to a different stack, and every stack has a boss card, you could make the terminal state be that if you move to a deck which only has a boss card left, you are forced to fight the final fight and win or lose. You ensure the game will always reach a terminal state, but the players can still avoid the boss a few times if they encounter him too soon.


I think I may play with this idea as well.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
JT Schiavo
United States
Frederick
MD
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmb
Piggybacking off the progress idea, how about using a clue system? Every time you complete an encounter, you gain a random clue token/card. Clues may have road, river, woods, or swamp on it. Once you have a matching pair of clues, the next time you go to that location you draw the boss for that location instead of an encounter card. This would take 2-5 draws to locate the boss, and then working back to that location, but you could always reward bonus clues on successful encounters if you want to speed that along.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Nate K
United States
Utah
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I'll admit I only skimmed the suggestions, so I may have missed this, but I didn't see it mentioned:

You can leave the Boss card out of the deck during the first shuffle. Once the deck is shuffled, have players cut the deck into two stacks. Shuffle the Boss card into one stack and place the other stack on top.

That way you're guaranteed to have roughly half the deck, at least, before encountering the Boss.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.