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Subject: Suggestions for my WIP board game rss

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Jeff Baker
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Currently in development, a fantasy-themed race where players choose their Rider character and a Mount. The track (currently) is made up of 8"x8" pieces (straight and curved) so that players can design their own overall racetrack. The tracks have a grid overtop (1" squares) so that players can easily see which lane they are in and to count how many squares of movement for their Mounts. Also will be a deck of 54 cards (approximately) which players pick up ONE at the end of their turn (max 3 cards in hand).

I am designing this for a younger audience (8+ possibly), but still would like for parents to have fun as well. I would also like to keep the play time to 1 hour or less.

Turn: Movement, Activate a Card, Pick up Card, Discard excess.

Movement: 1d6 squares. A player may change lane ONCE a turn. If movement is obstructed, all movement is stopped in the unoccupied square before the obstruction. If movement happens to be off the official track (ex. into grass), movement is 1d6-1.

Traps: I have approximately 18 trap designs, the majority of which slow down players or throw them back or dismount their riders and such. Originally, players would pick up a Trap card, and on their turn they would Activate a Trap (designated squares on the track). A token (2,3,or 4 squares long) would be placed on the track to designate an Activated Trap. Players who move onto or over an Activated Trap, would Trigger the Trap. Currently I'm trying out, at the end of each round, once all players have had a turn, ONE trap is automatically activated on the racetrack (from the starting line to the finish line). It changes the gameplay, makes it fast and trap-filled.

Cards: There are Special Ability cards, which let the players use their Rider's special ability. And Mount Ability cards, which let the players use their Mount's ability. And Deactivate Trap cards, which let you deactivate a trap. And Trap cards, which do lots of things.

Riders: Currently, each Rider has 2 stats; Power and Riding Skill. If a Rider has a Special Ability card, he/she may Activate the Special Ability by rolling 1d6 and getting over their Power (ex. need a 4+). Riding Skill is used in response to Traps or Special Abilities, preventing the Rider from being dismounted.

Mounts: Currently, each Mount has 2 stats; Power and Agility. If a Mount has a Mount Ability card, it may Activate the Mount Ability by rolling 1d6 and getting over their Power. Agility is used to prevent certain Traps or Special Abilities, avoiding getting tripped up or slowed down.

Tracks: The main track is 4 lanes wide (4") with 2" of grass to either side of the track. However, I'm drawing in bridges and trees and boulders and such to bottleneck the racetrack in places.

I would love to hear some suggestions and opinions and responses. Playing with the wife and kids doesn't quite get me the help I need.

Thanks!
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Jeff Baker
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Re: Suggestions for my fantasy derby game
Should I change any of these game mechanics? Add anything else?
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Nate K
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What happens if a player wants to activate a card and they don't roll high enough? Do they lose the card, or do they just have to try again next turn?

On a separate note, I'm not a big fan of the roll-and-move mechanic. Is there a better way to do movement besides just rolling a d6 and hoping for the best? [edit] Just as an example, what if players roll 3d6 and choose one as their movement, but they have to move exactly that number? Then traps are more likely to be a problem, and you can write up some simple rules for what happens when a player runs into a tree, rock, wall, stream, whatever.
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Jeff Baker
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I'm more than willing to try out new ideas for the game mechanics. To be honest, the current design is very simple and it seems a bit clunky when playing. I unfortunately don't have much experience with other game mechanics to get further concepts to use.

What would be a fun, yet easy way of movement? I would love to have each mount have differences in speed, but without having the faster mounts leave the slower ones in the dirt, unless there is some sort of trade-off to keep things on even terms. I tried out a Move Bonus for each mount (+1 to +4 squares, slow to fast mounts), but the faster mounts obviously lapped the slow ones, despite giving the slow mounts a higher ability to not trigger traps.

Should I do away with the Traps and introduce Attack cards instead? For example, a concept similar to Mario Kart. Players pick up cards that let their characters attack other characters, such as arrows, catapaults, griffon flybys, etc.

Since I have not implemented hit points/wounds for the Riders or Mounts, no character gets hurt. So I'm having difficulty making Special Ability ideas for the Riders and Mounts. The majority of effects involve moving the characters backwards or dismounting the Riders. Should I add in hit points to give the possibility of injuring a Rider or Mount to cause them to drop out the race?
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Nate K
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I don't think hit points are necessary.

Do you keep track at all of which player dropped which trap? Color-coordinated tokens, maybe? Because if you do, that opens up some potential design space.

Additionally, you could have variable-power traps based on the place in the race of the player that hit it. If the first-place player hits it, they get knocked back 4 spaces, any other player gets knocked back 2. That sort of thing.
 
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