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Subject: WIP - Iron Game Designers - Shattering the Equilibrium rss

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Andrey
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Shattering the Equilibrium

Here's my thread for my Iron Game Designers contest submission.

Game files (English):
Rules:
http://www.box.net/shared/vm1xoisysrnzekv6haap

Faction Sheets:
http://www.box.net/shared/084lfuku6oaazpnnmz2y

Game board (high-ink version):
http://www.box.net/shared/cvht21y7ogo78tsqkyqn

Game board (low-ink version).
http://www.box.net/shared/s8ayslljjomquihaex9f

Elements board (high-ink version):
http://www.box.net/shared/h6pagidqd0ie74t9ucuu

Elements board (low-ink version):
http://www.box.net/shared/lh9r20jdb2p54jeq7z7o

Eurocubes, meeples and miniatures are best used as tokens in this game, but if you don't have enough at hand, you may use these simple chits:
http://www.box.net/shared/68udbll1ch0loxe5q8kf


Файлы игры (на русском):
Правила:
http://www.box.net/shared/vylortkfmq1x5abndbs9

Листы народов:
http://www.box.net/shared/v22iidqr3ajnic986poa

Игровое поле (цветное, на английском):
http://www.box.net/shared/cvht21y7ogo78tsqkyqn

Игровое поле (черно-белое, на английском).
http://www.box.net/shared/s8ayslljjomquihaex9f

Поле Элементов (цветное):
http://www.box.net/shared/jc736y7132o3hufbn2bz

Поле Элементов (черно-белое):
http://www.box.net/shared/503rt5ejecv6caurkbpu


Миплы, еврокубики, стекляшки и миниатюрки лучше всего подходят для этой игры, но если их нету у вас под рукой, можете использовать эти простенькие жетончики:

http://www.box.net/shared/al4n2kqxes1g1ukfvhq8

Pics:







Status: Two races and one scenario playable.

Players: 2 at the moment

Description:
It's a light fantasy wargame where players fight for dominance by converting map's hexes to their race's terrain - elves grow forests, humans build villages, mermen flood the land and so on. Each race corresponds to one of the elements and tries to influence the world with it.

The main feature of the game is elemental pool. This pool is used by all players throughout the game and consists of tokens of five different colors, corresponding to five elements. It kinda symbolizes nature's equilibrium and stuff.

Each turn the players randomly draw some tokens from the element pool. Not only are they used as a resource to recruit units and expand area of influence, but they serve as action points too, players must spend them to move their units and make attacks.
Naturally not every element can be used for everything - expensive things must be paid with specific elements (often associated with your race), and defensive/economic actions often require different elements than offensive ones.

Element pool is also used instead of dice in combat: elven forces, for example, are accustomed to Earth and Water element, but are vulnerable to Fire and Metal. Fate of attacked units is decided by element drawn from the pool.

The thing is whenever you spend element token, you take it from the pool and must add one of the two neighboring "allied" elements instead (for example, when spending Water to move my unit, I don't return it to the pool, placing either Ice or Plant element instead).
Initially there's equal number of each element in the pool, but by taking actions players change nature's balance, for better or worse. With each element spent and replaced you can influence further outcomes, be it combat, economy, or anything else, because everything requires elements of specific types.

Full component list:

• Game board
• Elements board
• Human faction sheet
• Elven faction sheet

(All other components are tokens and units.
If you have other games like Agricola or Runewars to plunder, you're almost ready to play.
Eurocubes, meeples and glass beads work best, but chits probided just in case.)


Element tokens
• Metal 20
• Ice 20
• Water 20
• Earth 20
• Fire 20

Human tokens
• Human Influence marker 15
• Human Dominance marker 5

• Laborers Brigade 5
• Riflemen Regiment 4
• Ironclad Locomotive 3
• Arachnozeppelin 3
• Railroad track 10

Elven tokens
• Elven Influence marker 15
• Elven Dominance marker 5

• Scouting Party 4
• Druid Sentinel 3
• Dendroid Behemoth 1
• Devourer Blossoms 10

Other
• Crystal tokens (optional) 2
• Mine tokens (optional) 4
• Castle tokens (optional) 2


Discuss:
While I'd appreciate any feedback, the things that would be cool to discuss are:

- game title. I'm not in naming mood right now and all I've came up with is "Transfigured Realm" and "Shattering the Equilibrium". It somehow sounds like viable metal band names but I'm not sure it's good enough for the game.

- races associated with elements. I doubt that I'll manage to polish even two races before the deadline, but the full picture never hurts.
Earth - Elves, growing gargantuan forest.
Metal - Steampunk-ish humans with rifles, trains and zeppelins (because no one ever picks regular humans in fantasy games), building their towns and railroads.
Water - some kind of merfolk, swampling and flooding the lands. This could use some work.
Ice - Undead, freezing everything into enormous glacier.
Fire - probably demons, scorching everything and making bottomless pits leading into abyss? Dunno, need your suggestions.

- Each race is supposed to have 3, at most 4 units. If you have something brutal in mind that you would like to play with in the game - let me now.
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Nigel Swan
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Re: WIP - Iron Game Designers - Unnamed Elemental Game
Any way you could work in a steam punk robot. Warmachine wise?
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Andrey
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Re: WIP - Iron Game Designers - Unnamed Elemental Game
Nice idea, I love those! Because of bigger scale I'll probably have to make something bigger. Spider/strider/zeppelin hybrid sounds pretty cool, but if spot for smaller troops opens, I'll definitely consider warmachine-like guys too.
 
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John "Omega" Williams
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Re: WIP - Iron Game Designers - Unnamed Elemental Game
Other element suggestions.

Air: Some sort of avian race. Or for quirkyness, flightless avians who use airships. Was the setting for Hawk and Dove.

Lightning/Energy: Some sort of crystelline race.

Light: Some manner of holographic or chromatic beings. Carnivorous Plants?

Darkness: Go against expectations and make darkness some sort of benevolent bats. Or walking mushroom people.
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Thomas Hanusek
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Re: WIP - Iron Game Designers - Unnamed Elemental Game
Ice- Giants and Frosttitans living on snowy mountains
Fire- Lava and fire Elementals, Fire Wizards expanding a desert
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Andrey
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Re: WIP - Iron Game Designers - Unnamed Elemental Game
I decided to work with humans vs elves for now and make them as playable as possible before moving to next guys.

Playtested three more times.

I've tried to go with considerably different feel and play dynamic for each race, and it seems to work.

Humans tend to spread rapidly as long as enough resources are invested. They can operate outside their area of influence by sending vulnerable, but cheap workers, thus capturing unclaimed resources and catching unsuspecting opponent off guard (it should be noted that it isn't so easy to be unsuspecting while playing both sides).
Alternate approach is to build railroads. They do not only provide means for fast transportation, but also allow to use powerful Ironclad locomotives. It should be noted that humans have difficulties with one particular "Ice/Death" element, and only Ironclads allow to effectively recycle it to Metal, which is crucial to humans.

Elves grow slowly, but steadily.
They don't need workers, since forest grows by itself and even incorporates all resources devoured by it as if it was sentient being.
This makes elves slower, but saves resources for powerful units.
Elven scouts are unmatched within forest areas, and druids help to spread them as fast as possible. Defensive guys with ability to raid nearby territories and retreat back if something goes wrong. These are elves as I wanted them to be. I wish I could say something nice about Treeants, but I forgot to recruit them in all three games

Anyway, I'm having fun.
My next goal is to ensure both humans and elves have at least three viable strategies that could be switched mid-game. After that I'll probably take a shot at third race.

Oh, and I'm trying to come up with interesting win condition. Some variant of king of the hill probably will do.
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Andrey
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Re: WIP - Iron Game Designers - Unnamed Elemental Game
Two more playtests later, Treant rocks, elves got carnivorous plants improvement, druid's abilities are constantly changing and haven't hit sweet spot yet. Druid must be as cool as everyone else, if not cooler. Nah, definitely cooler.

Here's approximate component list.

Element tokens
- Metal 15
- Ice 15
- Water 15
- Earth 15
- Fire 15

Human tokens
- Human Influence marker 20
(Metal element may be used instead)
- Human Dominance marker 5

- Laborers Brigade 5
- Riflemen Regiment 4
- Ironclad Locomotive 3
- Arachnozeppelin 3
- Railroad track 15

Elven tokens
- Elven Influence marker 20
(Earth element may be used instead)
- Elven Dominance marker 5

- Scouting Party 4
- Druid Circle 3
- Treant 1
- Devourer Blossoms 15

Other
- Crystal tokens 8
- Mine tokens 8
- Fortress tokens 4
Those three may be just drawn on the map instead. Tokens may be used for clarity.

- Game board
- Human faction sheet
- Elven faction sheet

It looks like a lot of stuff, but this is actually fully covered with glass beads (I got them from Ikea if I remember correctly) and Carcassonne set with some expansions.
I guess if you collect enough boardgames, at some point it starts to pay off since you already have every game component that you can imagine
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Andrey
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Re: WIP - Iron Game Designers - Unnamed Elemental Game
Half dozen playtests later.
Started to fiddle with skeletons, but there's no time to properly flesh them out ("flesh", get it?). What's worse, I absolutely don't have time to tweak end game timer. Units for elves and humans are pretty much final, being perfectionist I'm still not happy with overall dynamic though.

Here's a shoddy pentagram showing relationship between elements.

Basically you'll need as much element corresponding to your race (Metal for humans, Earth for elves) in the pool as possible, since expanding your area of influence costs you your main element.

Every time you spend element, you must add neighboring element to the pool, so by spending Fire, for example, you'd add either Metal or Earth element.
This means having "allied" elements in the pool is beneficial, because they could potentially bring your main element in the pool when spent.

There are consequences, though. For example, if you're expecting to be attacked, you don't want to have Fire elements in the pool, because all human and elven units are vulnerable to Fire, and the more Fire elements are in the pool, the more chance to draw them when defending.
Of course, when planning to attack, Fire could benefit you, especially considering it often can be used for unit movement.

Now working on faction sheets layout, I hope to put them up tomorrow.
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Andrey
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Re: WIP - Iron Game Designers - Unnamed Elemental Game
Now accepting suggestions on area names.

For starters, you expand your territory by creating areas of influence on neutral hexes. Different factions have somewhat differing ways for establishing and using them.
We've got to name them - humans have towns, and elves have forests (it's actually one huge forest they grow).

Now there are areas of dominance. They are usually built on friendly area of influence as a sort of upgrade and are pretty expensive. Unlike areas of influence, areas of dominance allow you to recruit units (you start with one such area as your base). As with areas of influence, they are somewhat different for each faction.
Now the names. Humans' area of dominance is called Metropolis, but I'm not sure with the elves. Russian language has a word for untrodden virgin and very thick forest, but I don't know of an English alternative which gives quite similar vibe. And elves are new-age-ish guys, so something mystical suits them better.

I'm thinking about simply "Heart", because unlike other factions, elves can only build they forests only if they are adjacent to other forests that somehow trace a path trough the forests to the Heart. In other words, their areas of influence must be connected to area of dominance to function properly.
But then it's getting weird when you build second or third "Heart". "Wilds" sounds nice, but it's somewhat bland.

Other names to consider:
Mines - cannot be built, already exist on the map, allow to convert one "allied" resource to your faction's main resource. It's Water for Elves and Fire for Humans. Something more metaphysical would suit better, but settling for "mines" will be a nod to Heroes of Might&Magic series, in which I've found inspiration for a long time.

Castles - units occupying this hex count as being in Fortification. Not everyone will benefit from it though. Arachnozeppelins don't even care what's below them, while elves prefer forests to man-made fortifications.

Crystals - cannot be built, already exist on the map, must be controlled to gain victory points. Mysterious, but trite. Library? Tower? Rift? I'm at loss.

You can help.
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Timothy
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Re: WIP - Iron Game Designers - Unnamed Elemental Game
First of all, I love the idea and hope you complete this.

Now, I stole these from a yahoo answer: Deephaven, Spellwood.
And came up with these on my own: Hidden Glen, Eternal Thicket, Undying Copse.

I should stop before I hurt myself.

Crystals are stones of power? Could be they be jumping points? Allowing units surrounding the stone to immediately transport to vacant spaces around another crystal.
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Angelo Nikolaou
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Re: WIP - Iron Game Designers - Unnamed Elemental Game
This is very interesting, gives me a Element TD vibe. I'm definitely watching and will playtest when you have something ready
 
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Andrey
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Re: WIP - Iron Game Designers - Unnamed Elemental Game
Here's faction sheet layout, which serves as "low-ink version" as well. It will count as high-ink version too if I won't manage to create some sort of art. And I'm certainly not.





I didn't write the rules properly yet, so the pics probably looks meaningless.
I'm still proud that in just one day I managed to familiarize with Indesign and produce these images. I've worked hard to make them as ergonomic, usable and readable as possible.

At first I wanted to cram both faction sheets on one A4 sheet, but then I decided to place keyword descriptions right on the sheet so players wouldn't look them up in the rules. I didn't get rid of keywords themselves because they sound pretty evocative and help to thematically justify various mechanics.

Looks like there's a lot of misprints [insert whining about deadline here].
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Nate K
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Re: WIP - Iron Game Designers - Unnamed Elemental Game
Random_Phobosis wrote:

Now the names. Humans' area of dominance is called Metropolis, but I'm not sure with the elves. Russian language has a word for untrodden virgin and very thick forest, but I don't know of an English alternative which gives quite similar vibe. And elves are new-age-ish guys, so something mystical suits them better.


The closest word to what you're describing is probably "weald." It describes a wooded or uncultivated countryside. There's also "wilderness," although it doesn't have the same mystical connotation.

What's the Russian word?
 
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Andrey
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Re: WIP - Iron Game Designers - Unnamed Elemental Game
"Weald" sounds nice, thanks. I'll decide between that and "heart".
Russian word is "чаща" by the way.

Moonleaf wrote:
gives me a Element TD vibe

I think it actually plays somewhat like a cross between Advance Wars (a game from GameBoy Advance and Nintendo DS) and Perimeter (PC game) with a touch of Chrono Cross (PlayStation) elements.

Now working on the rules.
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Andrey
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Re: WIP - Iron Game Designers - Unnamed Elemental Game
Phew... Here are the rules! Hope you'll like it.
http://www.box.net/shared/vm1xoisysrnzekv6haap
Feedback before deadline would be great

Renamed "Heart" to "Wealdtree" because it kind of supposed to be a weald... and a huge, giant tree. I guess it'll do for now.
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Nate K
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Re: WIP - Iron Game Designers - Unnamed Elemental Game
Oof. If the rules were shorter, I'd be able to read through them and give feedback now. As it is, I won't be able to study the rules until late this evening.
 
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Andrey
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Re: WIP - Iron Game Designers - Unnamed Elemental Game
No rush Besides, examples and detailed explanations are good thing, right?
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Andrey
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Re: WIP - Iron Game Designers - Unnamed Elemental Game
Here's the map. It's rushed and I'm not happy with it, but for now it will do.
http://www.box.net/shared/cvht21y7ogo78tsqkyqn

And low-ink version too.
http://www.box.net/shared/s8ayslljjomquihaex9f

... and here goes the photo!
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Andrey
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I've just uploaded whole stuff as it was at the moment of submission in case of something gets updated.

http://www.box.net/shared/3qlul2mivao1uvh2g276
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Andrey
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Russian version added.
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Nate K
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Random_Phobosis wrote:
Russian version added.


Замичательно
 
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Aaron Trammell
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This game has made our groups "must play" list! I, personally, am a sucker for anything with a cube pool.

Can't wait!
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Andrey
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At last I've got a chance to watch my friends play the game by themselves. The game looks pretty fun and balanced, it seems that rhythm and main mechanics, as well as most of little things, fell into place.

I've added abilities to areas of Dominance to encourage building them closer to the enemy.
Human workers now can dispose of industrial waste (unwanted Ice/Death Element), destroying terraformed terrain and making hexes adjacent to Metropolis neutral. Elven druids can now enchant pathways around Wealdtree, moving adjacent enemy units away from sacred groves or, alternatively, luring them into traps.
There are some minor tweaks too - some units were changed a bit to better reflect their faction's personality.

Files updated.

If you plan to try the game out, be sure to re-download both faction sheets. A couple of misprints in the rules were corrected too.

I've got some cool ideas concerning other three races, so before trying to redesign the map and decorate faction sheets I'll probably add third faction.


I feel guilty that I played my own game instead of others entered in contest this time, but I hope I'll manage to play others too.
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