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Subject: Looking for critique - Evil Genius rss

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Chris Leigh
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Leighton Buzzard
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Hi guys,

I've started developing a game and was interested in the communities thoughts on what I've come up with so far! Bit cheeky I know but I thought people might like the concept.


The concept
So you and 3 other players are Evil Genius's bent on world domination. Each has a player board, which starts with an elevator in the central square (this is the entrance to the base)

There are 2 other boards, the first is a map of the world, on this are standard actions that you can perform by placing minions on them (standard worker placement rules at present) these will allow you to collect resources. (My current resources planned are gold, evil plans, organics, chemicals, lasers and machinery). In addition to this events will occur on this board that you can place workers on as a one off action. These will allow you to start constructing a superweapon (stealing plans) or terrorising the world (animating the stone heads of easter island to eat the tourists or destroying the statue of liberty etc)

The final board is an invention board, this will in essence be a 4x4 grid with random placement of inventions. These inventions will all require the common resource of evil plans and then one other resource. These inventions may offer powerups to protect your base (such as the man eating plant) allow you to control rivals minions a turn (such as the mindcontrol ray) and so on.

A turn
The turn will start with worker placement, on the key areas. The events are persistent until someone uses them but will normally require resources as well as minions to utilise. Predominantly these will cause you to rise in notoriety. Normally if you place a worker on a resource will prevent other geniuses claiming it but some inventions may subvert minions to your cause or prevent anyone else collecting resources for a turn (the zombie virus will mean all resource areas are reduced to zero)

The turn would then to progress to the evil genius, who will be able to ponder (in turn generating more evil plan resource), invent (using a combination of resources take a look at one of the inventions available and then they will have access to it, build (using gold you can make improvements to your lair) or make demands of the world (to increase notoriety)

Once a genius claims the right to a superweapon they will start its construction, this is a three part process and will require space in your base and additional resources with each stage. As you move up in notoriety secret agents will begin to appear in your base, without prior investment in traps through the invention board they will be severely hinder a budding genius, either stealing resources or sabotaging superweapons. Minions will be able to stem their movement but this prevents them from actively working on the main board.

Once the weapon is complete the world trembles and the evil genius has bent the world to his will!

So thats the idea, the prototype is coming along pretty well. My biggest problem is the issue between notoriety and the superweapon mechanic. I really like the notoriety concept and it synergises well with the spawning of secret agents to prevent the leader pulling too far away. In some ways I think that having that as a victory point mechanism might work well, with the superweapon simply adding to the total. That said I really like the idea of the person firing up their evil moon laser holding the world to ransom and it feels a bit cheap if they got pipped to the post by someone else after successfully creating it, in that vein I thought the notoriety concept might be better suited to help with the maintenance of being evil, such as ensuring your minions don't leave at the end of the round, or it generating guaranteed resources as different countries cowtow to your demands. I'd really love peoples thoughts on this.

Finally! I am also considering getting some prototype boards made up and then doing some extensive testing. Would PnP be a viable method to get testing running?

Thanks for reading!
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Hugh G. Rection
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You'll probably need to change the name...

Evil Genius, the PC game, already exists.
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Chris Leigh
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Ye I know, its one of the inspirations, along with NOLF and Austin Powers. It's a WIP
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c. w.
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So, if i'm reading this correctly, notoriety is a tracked value per player which causes agents to spawn in your base? Is there are reason why you decided to go this route instead of just giving players the option to use agents on each other? I mean, it sort of makes sense with the theme - evil geniuses stealing things from each other sounds sort of awesome.

To me, victory points are a sort of boring way to decide a game. They're sort of nebulous and uninteresting. Building the superweapon is way cooler than having 8 points or whatever. That being said, if points work better in gameplay, it's not like you can't disguise them as something more awesome. Instead of 8 points, it's 8 superweapon parts or whatever.

I look forward to seeing a prototype and perusing the rules.
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Chris Leigh
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Notoriety started life as victory points, plain and simple, with a choice of routes to victory (VPs or Superweapons)

Now I'm thinking notoriety would work better to thematically represent the countries of the world start to bend to your will. This would mean as you gain notoriety then you would automatically gain resources each turn...
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Alex Bourne
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Sounds interesting. I would interested in helping playtest once you are ready.
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rargran rargran
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Have you considered Notoriety points as a path to defeat? As a player acquires Notoriety points more and more spies attempt to infiltrate. If too many spies infiltrate because a player hasn't spent resources to manage them then the player is "arrested" and the game ends for that player. It doesn't have that EuroGame feel to it, but getting knocked out of a game is familiar to Americans.
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Chris Leigh
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Thanks for that as an idea, its given me a totally new direction to push in. I really like the idea of notoriety killing you off so to speak, by assigning notoriety to all actions and changing the mocking the world action (raising notoriety) to maintaining their front (lowering notoriety) I think it works really well! If you give a big enough modifier to the construction of a super weapon then they still are guarenteeing spies entering those bases but you add another mechanic for the player to balance!

So thanks, this weekend I'm going to try and formalise the rules and get the core game up and running! Exciting!
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Christopher Todesco
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You're not the only one to be inspired by these games. I've got a few prototypes stewing based on this genre as well. So I'll share some of my thoughts with you... The way I looked at it, the PC game Evil Genius works great for the PC, but as it stands has too much going on for it to be a viable board game. Something had to be cut...

My initial starting point was the Lair design/layout, worker placement within the Lair to create the most efficient base of operation, and defense against intruders. This is a big part of the PC game. I wanted to come up with something that looked like games like Dungeon Lords and Carson City for the combo tile/worker placement, and even pure tile placement games like Alhambra and Carcassonne for ideas behind positioning and efficiency. Dungeon Lords was probably the closest ideal, but it still didn't achieve the feel of laying out and defending a secret base like in the PC game.

Even if I came up with something stellar that replicated the feel of the PC game's Lair maintenance in cardboard, it would be very complicated and I'd have to heavily reduce the importance of the dominating the world and researching parts of the game. And while most players of the PC game spend most of their time in the lair, making new rooms, setting traps, sending teams of guards to detain infiltrating agents, the game is really about dominating the world.

So I turned my attention to the world map, and I would abstract the lair management to cards and upgrades.. (I REALLY wanted that tile and worker placement on the Lair board to be a big part of the game, but I just can't come up with a simpler way to do it that doesn't detract from what the game is really about.) When the prototyping of the world map started to take shape, it started feeling a lot more like an area-majority game like Chaos in the Old World. In fact it had a LOT in common with Chaos-- placing minions in spaces on the world map, dominating regions to earn notoriety, upgrading minions, special abilities, the world map fighting back... I'm not saying that my game being basically a rethemed Chaos is a bad thing-- it's a really solid game, and I think the theme fits the feel of what I was going for on the world map.

I'd still like to find a better balance among all of the elements that made the PC game so much fun: Lair maintenance, minion management, defense, exploitation, world domination, research, etc.

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Filip W.
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I'd change the name of "evil plans" to something else, maybe "advanced schematics" or similar. Evil plans is what I as a player come up with, not a resource

It sounds like an interesting idea, I'd love to see what becomes of it when it's a bit polished and streamlined (i.e. when you go into beta testing).

Good luck!
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Chris Leigh
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Really appreciate the feedback good to see i'm not the only one thinking along the Evil Genius lines.

I very much like the analogy with Chaos in the Old World, but I'm not going for the traditional approach to world domination of slowly building a powerbase, its more the development of the superweapon that brings the world to its knees.

Currently I'm working on the basis of it being worker placement ala Agricola, namely a few areas on the board getting more resources each turn, with varying notoriety (which is now a bad resource creating spawns of the spies in your base).

My biggest problem from that approach is that with Agricola and Le Harve, the number of actions available ramp up in later turns. This is something less true of the game I'm currently working as a base. That said Dungeon Lords another similar game remains solid as a constant, and I like bidding mechanism they have there with the minions.

I'm looking for the Event deck to add more variety to the vanilla actions, but now Notoriety has gone from VP victory to a negative then its getting harder to offer unique rewards for the various activities. Perhaps through these one off events you can bend certain countries to your will and these will begin to generate a stream of resources, or a stream of notoriety directed at other players. I quite like how this would work.

The comments on here have been incredibly helpful. The engineering of all this is really hard and I have new found respect for all game designers. Each one of those actions, items, professions in Agricola has been tested and works really well thematically. That in itself is a true testimony to the designers skill.

Here's hoping I achieve a hundredth of that

Incidentally, once I have a bare bones structure how would you guys go further in terms of play testing. I'm gonna try and foist it on friends and my games club (I know Tufty will read this, be prepared!) but would you submit it to the wolves here, or is it worth getting out of the alpha stage prior to letting the world at large have a go?

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Matt Riddle
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sounds neat. I like the theme
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Isaac Shalev
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Enablign players to boost there economy is a constant feature of resource-management games. Players choose different paths to improve their economy. In Agricola, there's increasing family size, but also the occupations and improvements that improve your ability to convert goods, for example. It sounds like by making Notoriety negative, you've lost some of that.

Two quick ideas. One, I think too liteel notoriety and too much notoriety can be bad, but somewhere in the middle should be good. Notoriety shouldn't just be a minus, it should be another resource you manage. You take on more notoriety to achieve your goals, then you have to lay low for a while and let it drop back. Maybe other players' actions could influence your notoriety, in a see-saw (they pull of a major op, they gain 2N, you lose 1N - which, if you had too much, coudl actually be good for you. Also, event cards can influence notoriety better with that approach.

Second idea: If the goal is to build a superweapon before your base is infiltrated and destroyed, AND before anyone else builds one, well, it sounds like you have a time-and-pressure dynamic like in Stronghold. The central mechanic there of take an action and give your opponent action points equivalent to you action could fit into your game, if you elaborate it for multiplayer. It seems like it would change the dynamic of your game so that the issue of number of actions not ramping up each turn wouldn't apply.
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Trystan
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One thing you could do with notoriety is make it so the more notorious you are the less actions you have per turn (the agents are closing in on you, shutting down bank accounts, raiding weapons depots, spying on your headquarters and generally reducing your ability to act).

So say you start with 6 actions per turn, each point of notoriety reduces your actions by one, there would also be actions that you can use to reduce notoriety, and if you ever get down to 0 actions the only thing you can do on that turn is to reduce your notoriety by 1 (so you're not totally out of the game but do have to skip a turn [edit] If you get down to this point you might have to remove minions/base facilities to reduce the notoriety to represent having to go underground or move your base or something, so this would want to be avoided at all costs).

It might make players have to manage their notoriety carefully by taking small steps and moving in the shadows leading up to the big notoriety actions of finishing the superweapon and taking over the world, passing notoriety onto other players also becomes perhaps more interesting.
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Brandon Duhon
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blunder1983 wrote:
Hi guys,

The concept
So you and 3 other players are Evil Genius's bent on world domination. Each has a player board, which starts with an elevator in the central square (this is the entrance to the base)

Thanks for reading!


I think this theme is awesome, it makes me think of Pinky and the Brain. I'd be interested in testing when you have a working model
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Nate K
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blunder1983 wrote:

Incidentally, once I have a bare bones structure how would you guys go further in terms of play testing. I'm gonna try and foist it on friends and my games club (I know Tufty will read this, be prepared!) but would you submit it to the wolves here, or is it worth getting out of the alpha stage prior to letting the world at large have a go?



If you're willing to have a more collaborative design process with all the fine people on this site, then I don't see a problem with releasing the alpha version here. Just understand that you're likely to get some harsh critiques alongside the helpful insights.
 
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Christopher Todesco
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Don'tcha hate it when you have an interesting never-done-before genre idea, then all the sudden everyone's doing it? (Nefarious, Agents of SMERSH, Dr. Shark) Not trying to discourage you, but it does seem to happen to me a lot



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Bernd Weber
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Not to forget Mwahahaha!
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B C Z
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Consider looking to Dungeon Lords for inspiration, as that had the 'world domination' thing going for it, on a much smaller scale.
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