Recommend
2 
 Thumb up
 Hide
19 Posts

BoardGameGeek» Forums » Board Game Design » Board Game Design

Subject: Status Effects in Games rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Andrew Lowen
United States
Fallbrook
California
flag msg tools
DeliveranceTheGame.com
badge
The battle between Heaven & Hell will soon be waged at your table. Deliverance is coming...
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Hey guys,

This primarily applies to dungeon crawlers, but could also apply to other games too.

I've been working on status effects for my game, and I am justifiably concerned that adding too many will be just too much to remember... I don't want to look at the rule book or study charts to remember what the 25th status effect "Blorked" means. Amirite??

But conversely... is there such a thing as too few status effects in a game? Add as many as makes sense you might say, but what if there was only 1 buff and 3 negative status effects to the game?

Maybe more specifically, related to my game, here are the status effects:

Poison (DoT)
Paralyze (Equivalent to stun - cannot act)
Shroud (Cannot be targeted)

Empower (Buff)

Am I missing mechanics that would by default add fun and value to a dungeon crawler? Is there anything that you expect to be there debuff-wise that isn't covered by a Dot, Stun, and Shroud?

I was thinking of adding a few more to round things out - somewhere around 5-6 debuffs and 3 buffs would be nice. What do you guys think?
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Joe Kell
United States
Lino Lakes
Minnesota
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Diseased or cursed are sometimes good.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris Ferejohn
United States
Mountain View
California
flag msg tools
badge
Pitying fools as hard as I can...
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
The ones I see most commonly are:

Dazed (minor debuff)
Stunned (major debuff, sometimes a more 'serious' version of Dazed)
Restrained (can't move)
Poisoned (sometimes minor debuff, sometimes DoT)

There's less consensus on buffs, though Inspired, Focused, and Blessed (if that's appropriate for your genre) seem to show up a lot.

There can definitely be too many status effects. Too few? I mean, I guess, but I can't think of a game off the top of my head where I'm like "boy, I wish there were more status effects to keep track of".
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
JPotter
United States
Tulsa
Oklahoma
flag msg tools
I enjoy designing / manufacturing game components and upgrades. Got a project? PM!
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Does it have to have any status effects? I mean yes they add variety and options, but you seem to be trapped in to thinking the game has to have them, and are possibly forcing them in.

As for keeping track, in wargaming circles, if a unit is disrupted, routed, wounded, or even killed (and the position of the corpses are important to gameplay), it's marked with a chit.

Mark the character or creatures card or mini with markers of some kind? with tracks / dials / numbered chits to indicate strength of effect and remaining duration?

Can get fiddly but not too bad if status events are relatively rare and/or the number of units is relatively low..

Anyway, if it's physically marked, it doesn't have to be remembered.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Oblivion Doll
New Zealand
flag msg tools
Avatar
Lowenhigh wrote:
Shroud (Cannot be targeted)


This sounds like it's a "buff" in a way too. Being immune to targeting (and presumably to most attacks) is a way to improve a character's defense. That isn't necessarily a direct buff, of course.

In that event, it seems like you have 2 negative and 2 positive status effects, which seems balanced and a reasonable number. Or am I missing something?

As for the question or number of status effects, even just having a "poison" or "DoT" effect and some way to apply a buff effect can easily be "enough" - and when you have only those 2 things, it can be reasonable to not even include an explicit section in the rules for status effects since it's just "poison" and "buff" and they can be covered in the rules covering whichever action phase they can be applied during.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
James Arias
United States
Sanford
FLORIDA
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I think it depends on how your game is designed.

For my own dungeon crawlers and RPGs, I've been building a list of effects based on what I see in MMoRPGs, RPGs and other board games and trying to categorize them (e.g. Stun and Daze are variations on same thing to me).

A lot of the most common ones involve slowing or preventing movement, adding/subtracting actions or turns, bonuses or penalties to actions, damage over time.

Most board games I've seen seem to have 3-5 status effects (I think one of the D&D recent editions is the worst at like 15-20).

Agree with tracking them with counters /tokens, that makes it easy.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jeremy Lennert
United States
California
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Lowenhigh wrote:
But conversely... is there such a thing as too few status effects in a game? Add as many as makes sense you might say, but what if there was only 1 buff and 3 negative status effects to the game?

I don't think there is such a thing as too few. You could have one well-designed status effect and that would be totally fine.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Joe Reil
United States
Barre
Vermont
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
To comment on one specific type, I find the stunned/paralyzed model of taking away actions (and sometimes entire turns!) to be very un-fun.

Maybe give a penalty to certain types of actions or restrict them in another way but just taking them away is a serious fun-suck, IMO.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Joe H
msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Tales of the Arabian Nights has many status effects. The game comes with a deck of small cards that have a copy of each status effect for each player. When the player gets affected they take a card and place it in front of them until effect ends.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andrew Lowen
United States
Fallbrook
California
flag msg tools
DeliveranceTheGame.com
badge
The battle between Heaven & Hell will soon be waged at your table. Deliverance is coming...
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
RedShark92 wrote:
To comment on one specific type, I find the stunned/paralyzed model of taking away actions (and sometimes entire turns!) to be very un-fun.

Maybe give a penalty to certain types of actions or restrict them in another way but just taking them away is a serious fun-suck, IMO.


Good point. I agree with this. I am considering the inability to use an "attack" action as a result of paralyze, though they could use other types of actions. Players would have two actions per round. But if it feels un-fun during play testing, I'll change it.

My thought on "Paralyze" is to generally give players a choice of consequences or requiring a dice roll that can be manipulated by certain cards before the effect takes place, so it doesn't feel totally out of the player's control. Just a thought.

At this point, I have yet to include a "stun" ability that removes you from the action completely. I think that might only happen if you go to 0 HP but could potentially get revived by an ally.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Oblivion Doll
New Zealand
flag msg tools
Avatar
RedShark92 wrote:
To comment on one specific type, I find the stunned/paralyzed model of taking away actions (and sometimes entire turns!) to be very un-fun.

Maybe give a penalty to certain types of actions or restrict them in another way but just taking them away is a serious fun-suck, IMO.


Limiting a player's actions forces harder (and therefore more involving) decisions. Removing their actions takes away played control and makes them feel powerless. For some games (and some players), that loss of control and power can be thematic, and can be fun. For many people, playing games is something of a power fantasy, and losing that power negates the purpose.

EDIT: Reply came while I was typing... removing ONE action from a player out of 2 seems reasonable. If you were making the player unable to act at all on their turn, that's when it becomes un-fun. Playtest to confirm, but my instinct would be that it'll force harder decisions and be a challenge, not a barrier to enjoyment.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andrew Lowen
United States
Fallbrook
California
flag msg tools
DeliveranceTheGame.com
badge
The battle between Heaven & Hell will soon be waged at your table. Deliverance is coming...
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
aesthetocyst wrote:
Does it have to have any status effects? I mean yes they add variety and options, but you seem to be trapped in to thinking the game has to have them, and are possibly forcing them in.

As for keeping track, in wargaming circles, if a unit is disrupted, routed, wounded, or even killed (and the position of the corpses are important to gameplay), it's marked with a chit.

Mark the character or creatures card or mini with markers of some kind? with tracks / dials / numbered chits to indicate strength of effect and remaining duration?

Can get fiddly but not too bad if status events are relatively rare and/or the number of units is relatively low..

Anyway, if it's physically marked, it doesn't have to be remembered.


This is the plan. Chits will indicate what status you're affected by, how much damage, and when you suffer Effects based on a simple color code that relates to a battle phase. This way, you will have one less reason to consult the rule book over and over.

Currently, my status Effects are limited to the following:

Paralyze, Poison, Blind, Stun (negative)

Empower, Accurate, Shroud (positive)

That seems like enough for now. Poison can also stack. I may rename it disease, but poison seems like something that takes an immediate effect while disease takes longer to have an effect.

I can share what these abilities do if anyone wants to know, but I figured keeping it simple and more high level would be better for this discussion.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
++++ ++++
Greece
flag msg tools
.. is here!
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Too many status effects are 'definitely' a bad thing, indeed!
Are too few bad as well? No, not really.

In most DCs, we see some classic/generic effects such as: poisoned, stunned, blessed.. As well as cursed, immune, enraged, etc..

However, if your game is generally 'lite' (few components, enemy behaviours, events, etc), it can include way more status effects. Ones that could help in bringing out the theme of your game better too.

Share with us more about your game if you like (setting, heroes, etc..) and we may be able to come up with a better answer!
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andrew Lowen
United States
Fallbrook
California
flag msg tools
DeliveranceTheGame.com
badge
The battle between Heaven & Hell will soon be waged at your table. Deliverance is coming...
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
darkabolisher wrote:
Too many status effects are 'definitely' a bad thing, indeed!
Are too few bad as well? No, not really.

In most DCs, we see some classic/generic effects such as: poisoned, stunned, blessed.. As well as cursed, immune, enraged, etc..

However, if your game is generally 'lite' (few components, enemy behaviours, events, etc), it can include way more status effects. Ones that could help in bringing out the theme of your game better too.

Share with us more about your game if you like (setting, heroes, etc..) and we may be able to come up with a better answer!


The setting is modern day in the spiritual realm, that people cannot see, all around us. Angels are player characters, and Demons are game controlled bad guys.

The premise is that you're basically the elite Navy SEALs of the Angelic army, and you are on a mission to infiltrate and break a notable Demonic Stronghold. Actions of people, for good or bad, are thematically introduced as things that unknowingly give Angels or Demons some benefit or hinderance, which are displayed in a number of ways in addition to the status effects we are talking about.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
++++ ++++
Greece
flag msg tools
.. is here!
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Oh I see.. Sounds very different from the typical DCs Im used to! With a setting similar to that of 'Constantine', in which you've already introduced some thematic effects.
Now since the game will be focusing on those 'human action-effects', there doesn't seem to be a need for an extensive number of 'buffs'. Still though can't say that with certainty.. Best of luck with your game and keep asking for players' feedback!
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andrew Lowen
United States
Fallbrook
California
flag msg tools
DeliveranceTheGame.com
badge
The battle between Heaven & Hell will soon be waged at your table. Deliverance is coming...
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Thanks man. Ya, the way I have organized it, you will draw a Card through "prayer" in addition to a few other ways. It will be like an angel drawing on the power of human actions that glorify God and receiving a blessing from God, or receiving a delivery from a messenger angel or something. 3/4 of the cards are defensive and 1/4 are offensive cards. Careful use of your hand of cards is essential to survival and victory.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andrés Santiago Pérez-Bergquist
United States
Mountain View
California
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
One reasonable compromise for a scenario-based game is to have a variety of status effects, but only use a very small number in any given scenario. There may be fourteen different effects, but Caves of the Spider Queen only uses Poisoned and Immobilized, while Pits of the Demon Lord only uses Burning and Blinded. Player abilities can add a few more, but then it's Alice's job to remember what it means when her paladin Stuns an enemy and it's Bob's job to explain what happens when his bard Charms something.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Sturv Tafvherd
United States
North Carolina
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Status effects are great. They can add variety on top of existing base mechanics. I like the idea of just having a few of them used for specific scenarios.

If you can integrate the status effect such that they feel like they join up seamlessly with base mechanics, I think that will help reduce the feeling that you need to track "yet another thing."
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Dylan Thurston
United States
Ann Arbor
Michigan
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
One example of a status change that works pretty seemlessly is Robo Rally's mechanism for taking damage, where you gradually get fewer and fewer options. (Both editions are worth looking at.)
 
 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.