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Subject: MinTactic Battles [2017 Mint Tin Design Contest] - contest ready rss

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Predrag Stevanovic
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Entry for Mint Tin Design Contest 2017.



Synopsis:

Two unlikely parties have crossed path at the old cemetery, which is rumored to be cursed. On the quest to find lost Book of Power (sounds familiar...), they will fight to the last man standing (yep, know this one) in desperate desire to gain knowledge and power to rule the world… (oh, come on)
Fight in two acts. First Act: Knights vs Vikings. Second Act: Survivors find few useful items. Then they have a pleasure to meet true source of the scary stories, the…(no spoilers dammit)

mechanics: abstract strategy
players: two
age: ten
time: about ten minutes
perfect information
language independent


design: Predrag Stevanović
Most of the icons: free icons from flaticon.com
Background maps: details from “The Old Cemetery” map by fantastic Brian van Hunsel

Components:

=== Act One ===
18 double-sided tokens
• 10 round tokens – warriors - 17mm (fit on a dime)
• 6 square tokens – commands – 17x17mm
• 2 round hourglass tokens – cooldown timers (2 cubes would work well too)

=== Act Two ===
6 double-sided tokens
• 3 round tokens - 17mm
• 3 square tokens - 17x17mm

=== Common ===

Board
Rulebook
Mint Tin

rules v0.2 - 07.oct.2017. (check step-by-step presentation in second post)
components Act I – 20.sep.2017.

=== PnP 12. nov. 2017. ===
Mint Rulebook v0.94 - imposed pages for double-sided printing
Mint Rulebook v0.94 - double pages in order for screen reading
All Components v0.94
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Predrag Stevanovic
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Re: MinTactic Battles [2017 Mint Tin Design Contest] - idea phase - components in a sec
Hello again,

Main Differences
Some of you might remember my little abstract game Pawn Command, from 2 player contest earlier this year. Well, even though the core mechanic from that game is used in this one, this is a different game in few very important aspects:

Flat Tokens
Having flat tokens, discs for units and squares for commands instead of 3D Chess pieces is first thing you’ll notice. They can stack. And I’ve used that property. This change alone was soo huge, testing it it really felt like something else. It adds more spaces for play and some new rules for stacked units are implemented.
Double-sided
And then, they have two sides, and yes, i’ve made use of that property too. New properties, abilities and commands add another new layer to the strategy.
Theme
How much theme can you apply on such a small game? I just wanted to expand for a bit my little abstract strategy, with few different tokens and rules. And yet, there is this loose generic theme that I slapped on just for kicks. And it kinda snuck up and grew on me and sparked some ideas and made me laugh and design abilities and items around it. Fun time. Very much different game.

So, while i was working on rules (first draft is just about 2 pages), i’ve started to create some images in Inkscape to explain how everything works. Then after a first few turns I thought, ‘ok, i’ll add few more’ and i’ll add explanations below the images. And then i had this silly idea, which turned out to be the rabbit hole…
Here’s where it went so far.

Spoiler (click to reveal)

Spoiler (click to reveal)

Spoiler (click to reveal)

Spoiler (click to reveal)

Spoiler (click to reveal)

Spoiler (click to reveal)

Spoiler (click to reveal)

Spoiler (click to reveal)

Spoiler (click to reveal)


Hope you enjoyed story, and thanks for checking out my entry anyway,

Pedja
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Harshad Deshmukh
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Re: MinTactic Battles [2017 Mint Tin Design Contest] - idea phase - components in a sec
This looks Mintastic!
 
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mike heim
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Re: MinTactic Battles [2017 Mint Tin Design Contest] - idea phase - components in a sec
Subscribed!
 
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Predrag Stevanovic
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Re: MinTactic Battles [2017 Mint Tin Design Contest] - idea phase - components in a sec
Thanks Uber!
That was actually one of dozens of name-mintification candidates

I am still not quite sure about this one, but main part goes from Minimalistic Tactical Battles, which sounds like a potential mini-series. I would have to name this part as 'The Old Cemetery Encounters', or something like that.

Have a good one,

Pedja
 
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Predrag Stevanovic
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Re: MinTactic Battles [2017 Mint Tin Design Contest] - idea phase - components in a sec
Thanks for sub Mike!
 
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Kai Bettzieche
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Re: MinTactic Battles [2017 Mint Tin Design Contest] - idea phase - components in a sec
pecaZP wrote:
Thanks Uber!
That was actually one of dozens of name-mintification candidates

I am still not quite sure about this one, but main part goes from Minimalistic Tactical Battles, which sounds like a potential mini-series. I would have to name this part as 'The Old Cemetery Encounters', or something like that.

Have a good one,

Pedja

Ye olde cemintary encounters?
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Predrag Stevanovic
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Re: MinTactic Battles [2017 Mint Tin Design Contest] - idea phase - components in a sec
schattentanz wrote:
Ye olde cemintary encounters?

Hehe, that's a good one. But two mints would be overkill.

edit: Btw, i've uploaded components for Act I. Linked in original post.
 
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Re: MinTactic Battles [2017 Mint Tin Design Contest] - idea phase - components in a sec
Loving the artwork!
 
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Predrag Stevanovic
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Re: MinTactic Battles [2017 Mint Tin Design Contest] - idea phase - components in a sec
Thanks Patts!
 
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giampiero randazzo
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Re: MinTactic Battles [2017 Mint Tin Design Contest] - idea phase - components in a sec
the graphics are very beautiful!
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One K
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Re: MinTactic Battles [2017 Mint Tin Design Contest] - idea phase - components in a sec
Well, this is how you upgrade the chess.
Good job mate.

Subscribed.
 
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Re: MinTactic Battles [2017 Mint Tin Design Contest] - playtest ready
Isn't that eight-fold board you have in the components simply a pocket-mod? I've made lots of those for various rules and such, but never a board. Neat!
 
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Predrag Stevanovic
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Re: MinTactic Battles [2017 Mint Tin Design Contest] - playtest ready
Thanks etacarinae1965, i like your design work too, cover for Certain Stars especially.
I've used found art which was a great inspiration, don't really have time for full dedication to drawing.

Frostfire_hellforger wrote:
Well, this is how you upgrade the chess.
And thanks for sub Frostfire_hellforger, glad you like it. I don't know about upgrading chess though, it's a big old beast.

GreenTea532 wrote:
Isn't that eight-fold board you have in the components simply a pocket-mod? I've made lots of those for various rules and such, but never a board. Neat!
Thanks GreenTea, i have totally stumbled upon it while trying to pack map in most efficient way.
And, yes, if you leave it on paper, that's perfectly fine. But board goes on the cardboard, and because of folding it has one more cut than pocket-mod. It is a 'T' cut in the middle.
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Predrag Stevanovic
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Re: MinTactic Battles [2017 Mint Tin Design Contest] - playtest ready
Hello everyone!

I‘ve had few playtroughs this weekend and here are some thoughts and changes:

• Draw
One game ended with both players having one command and one warrior. Well, it didn‘t end with either of us winning since we were dancing around trying to outsmart each other by somehow capturing opponent‘s command piece. Attempts were obvious and easily avoided. As a solution i‘ve added third winning option:

a) Eliminate all opponent‘s warriors.
b) Destroy all opponent‘s commands.
c) Pass with one of your warriors behind opponent‘s command line.

This is not tested yet, but it should prevent that chasing around. And, while it seems that it will require more defensive strategies, i don‘t think that will be a problem in a game of this size where opponents can play one turn and they are in each others face already.

• Stacks
I‘ve decided that Uniform stacks of any size can be moved with Horn/Trumpet commands as a single unit too, beside regular unstacking. They lower your unit count and if they get captured you lose two units, so this is a bit of incentive to consider. Overuse is still prevented with cooldown and flip rules so this part seems balanced nicely.

• Act II
Had first solo playtest. Oh, man. Playing the other side, which was meant to be played by the player who was defeated in the Act I, had quite assymetrical feel due to few newly introduced mechanics and changes to existing movement rules. This was challenging, and at the beginning looked impossible to win. Which was just about what i was going for. But i‘ve played against my self and the Boss got me by the skin of his teeth. Even though he has few very nasty looking tricks in the repertoar, he had his own limitations too and that was fun to discover, and exploit. This part needs a bit more playtesting to weed out some possible game breaking strategies that come to mind, as well as those which i couldn‘t anticipate in single playtrough. So I‘ll playtest a bit more before posting this part.

• Mods
Here are some additions and modifications to spice up the regular rules:

No Quarter mode: Skeletons kill any living unit they land on.

Ravenous mode: Skeletons move one step forward orthogonally or diagonally, always choosing to get on top of the unit if possible. First check for opposing units then their own.

Army mode: Uniform stack of any size unlocks special sound commands.
• Weapon Call Advance – all units and stacks move one space forward orthogonally.
• Shield Call Retreat – all units and stacks move one space back orthogonally.
• Helmet Call King – move one of your stacks as a classic Chess King.


And that is all for this update. I‘d like to finish with this invitation:
If anyone is willing to continue playing game from the book i‘ve posted earlier, for the Vikings or the Knights side, that would be great. I‘d be fine with playing either side but it doesn‘t have to be me on the other side (and i am not a master of a game, i just made it). Also, it shouldn‘t feel as a big commitment, you can just suggest best current move for the active party. That way we could get a feel for a game and enter the Act II final battle as a natural progression.
Surely, you must be itchin‘ to get a peek into that Book of Power, ay…? whistle

Happy to hear what you think about this, and thanks for checking,

Pedja
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Predrag Stevanovic
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Re: MinTactic Battles [2017 Mint Tin Design Contest] - playtest ready
I've posted little spin-off in the 24 Hour Design Contest.
Check it out here: Tic Tac Shuffle.



(edit: added picture)
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Predrag Stevanovic
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Re: MinTactic Battles [2017 Mint Tin Design Contest] - playtest ready
 
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Re: MinTactic Battles [2017 Mint Tin Design Contest] - playtest ready
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Re: MinTactic Battles [2017 Mint Tin Design Contest] - playtest ready
Oh man, the artwork is just so good and I want to play right away.
By when are you going to offer the rulebook pdf for download?

Dark.
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Re: MinTactic Battles [2017 Mint Tin Design Contest] - playtest ready
Hello Dark, thanks for the kind words.

I've written this update post below last night, and then noticed that i haven't really uploaded rules in main post. A4 pdf will be done this weekend hopefully, with all changes so far included. It's a lot more work with mechanics than i've imagined it'll be but luckily i like doing it. I am also considering another version of components file with red background for Vikings, like one in the Tic Tac Shuffle.

UPDATE



I have analysed about dozen+ games from this point and i must say that i have underestimated complexity this rather simple and constricted game has. Here are some of the good and weak things that i deal with right now.

--- Pros ---
1. I would win with one side and immediately think about the moves i could have played and maybe avoid loss for the other, than go back to the forks at which i‘ve made decisions and tried other option(s). Not once some seemingly wrong or bad move had led me to better position and even to totally opposite effect (much like this exchange of 2 commands for one command and one unit, which my gut is opposing so intensly). And then, after those changes there would be new forks which just had some new developments that i couldn‘t anticipate.

2. Gameplay is different enough from the games of its ilk and bends usual type of thinking so that i often make obvious mistakes, overlooking mixed effect of command stacking, cooldown or skeleton movement.
I am really struggling to get a sense of some sort of solid underlying winning strategy, best practices etc. (other than aggressive play) which i‘m guessing is good, since good abstracts tend to reveal those after you play them for a while. Playtest. Playtest. More playtest.

--- Cons ---

1. As the game progresses and first exchanges are made, it feels that players don‘t actually have many real options. You play one obvious, logical move, and it seems like game plays itself. But it is not, not completely anyway, and it may be just that lack of bigger picture and strategy on my part. Biggest culprit for this seems to be requirement to move command to activate it. Often you have one or two of your last units in same column as your single playable command and the only decision you can make is where to move it and flip your command token. I can vaguely remember the reasons for this rule, i think that was meant to add dynamic to gameplay. It also adds sound command which activates undead (if it's not already on the horn/trumpet side). I have yet to playtest something like this:
You can choose to activate command in place to move your unit.
Maybe with addendum: ...if there are no available living units in other columns.
Hope to playtest this over the weekend.

2. It also seems to me that first player has light advantage. That can only be confirmed by playing more games against mature players that could make a bit more serious planning and unexpected moves. I‘ve played one learning game against my brother (40) where he started and won. I‘ve played 5 games against my niece who will be 8yo in october, and is my tireless playtester. She plays Onitama and begged me to teach her this „hard game“ (and she actually made air-quotes with fingers when she won, i couldn‘t stop laughing). I‘ve let her play first all of the games and she won three of the five games where i would warn her couple of times of those obvious mistakes so she could correct herself (i made couple of those too, she gave me no quarter). Now i‘m not sure they were mistakes. This should be more clear with number of plays so, playtest.

3. Endgame tends to slip into that one-on-one dance of last units when both players play more defensively and exchange one for one. It is not too often but it happened enough times for me to notice it so… I have changed 3rd winning option since several of my solo tests led to unexpectedly shorter games than i‘d like.

Pass with one of your warriors behind opponent‘s command line
is changed to
If both players are down to one unit, pass with your last warrior behind opponent‘s command line to win.

It works better but still isn‘t most elegant solution. I just feel that something different could be done. Maybe regarding the commands or movement pattern of last 2 units on the board, something.
If you have any ideas, feel free to throw them this way. Even some banal and „wrong“ things can trigger some spark in the right direction so don‘t hold back. It crossed my mind to use Tic Tac Shuffle as a mini-battle resolution when last 2 units get into the range of 2 but it‘s just too much. Have to be something you‘d just walk into more naturally.

--- Act II ---
Act II is in occasional testing phase, it is a big bite. Even with just few minor tweaks and additions of mechanics, it adds a lot of exceptional situations that should be clarified, more than i‘d like (it is very much fun though). Trimming is in the process, and i am not sure if it will end up as a part of the game or as an expansion. If i manage to work out minor kinks and make it work smoothly, i can see few different assymetrical armies added. Definitely step up in complexity, flavor costs.

Don‘t want to end on low note, with cons but eh, i am learning a lot about design through this process and i try to be honest with myself first. Only way to get better.

Overall, game seems pretty much ballanced in the way Tic Tac Toe is, you cannot get far ahead of the opponent if she doesn‘t make mistakes, with a difference that in this game you‘ll always have a winner in the end, if it comes to running across opponent‘s command line. Ballanced but not that simple at all, and since it is not always obvious which moves can lead to victory and which ones are bad, i guess you‘ll get some number of plays until you crack it down completely.

Have a good one,
Pedja

P.S. Sorry for the wall of text but that‘s the sum of last ten days or so, i‘ll try to post updates in smaller chunks as they come in the future.


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Predrag Stevanovic
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Re: MinTactic Battles [2017 Mint Tin Design Contest] - playtest ready
Uploaded Rules v0.2 - link in main post.
 
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Re: MinTactic Battles [2017 Mint Tin Design Contest] - playtest ready
Had some plays this weekend.

RULE CHANGES AND ADDITIONS

1. Commands can‘t be played ‚in place‘.
Current rule:

If command is already in command line, you must move it to other space to activate it. In other words, commands can‘t be played 'in place'.

And addition:

If you can, you must move one of your available units. In situations where that is not possible (for example when you have all of your commands and unstacked units in same column), you will move that single command you have in any other column and flip token.

I‘ve played few games with only „command can be played in place“, and also with addition „if there‘s none of your units in other columns“ and didn‘t like it. It seems to me that option to force or lure your opponent into that situation where he can‘t move any unit is good one. And you could also try to intentionally go into that situation if you have skeleton or two in good positions, since you have to flip command when you move it into ‚empty‘ column (empty meaning without your living units). Which lead me to try and add rule exception:

Moving command into empty column always plays sound, even if command face is already Horn or Trumpet.




2. Unit movement and capturing rules.

I‘ve been thinking how to add some variety to the movement patterns and strategy aside from obvious solution of adding new commands with new patterns. Following are few minor changes that would add to the possible game strategies without creating whole sections of new rules. I am yet to test them properly (tried few solo games and they work well), but you are free to try them out and see how they change the game.

Capturing – This one is not new or unusual in this type of games:

Units can be captured by ‚catching‘ them between two of your units including undead, in any direction. You can capture more than one at the time. Captured living unit turns undead, captured undead unit is removed from the board. Entering space between two opponent‘s units does not have any effect.

Should i allow undead to capture this way too?
Or could they capture only in the direction they are going? (thematically very sound)
Or not at all?





Movement – Very logical and natural:

You can use Shield and Weapon commands to jump with top unit of the stack over one unit in the way.

This ties so well with previous capturing rule…

...maybe i should up the jump range with stack height...?

That's all for the weekend update, hope you enjoyed the program

Pedja

P.S. All of the examples in photos are made for illustrating rules. If you try to 'reverse engineer' or continue end positions in them, it is very likely that you'll hit the wall sooner or later (doesn't mean it can't be fun, if you're into it).
 
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Re: MinTactic Battles [2017 Mint Tin Design Contest] - playtest ready
Great job on the graphic design again!
 
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Predrag Stevanovic
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Re: MinTactic Battles [2017 Mint Tin Design Contest] - playtest ready
Thanks R4D6, really enjoying this years contest. Got a few games printed out, i'll just have to find time to try them out.
 
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