Jens Thernström
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Wasteland survivor

Hi all, this post is going to discuss an idea for a board game that me and some of my friends are working on and I would love some input and criticism on it.

This is the first bigger game that we try to design, previously we have designed a couple of smaller games but we aim a bit higher this time. The post is going to be a bit long and I will try to be as concise and to the point as I can.

If you are interested in a particular part of the post it is structured like this:

Input and questions are more than welcomed!
What’s the thought behind the game?
The story.
How will the game play: the quick and dirty.
The specifics of the game.
The map
The factions
The missions
The math behind the missions: or face-palming ahead.
So how do I score points in this game?
Perks: or another reward for missions.
The events: or breathing life into a board game.

Contact information.

Input and questions are more than welcomed!
Board gaming have quickly grown as an interest of mine and I was at an early stage interested in the mechanics behind the games. I’ve found myself buying and playing games more on basis of the elegance of their mechanics than anything else. But designing a game by yourself have proven to be a daunting task and to receive some input from people that are in a similar situation or already have mastered the process would be greatly appreciated. So please ask questions, give feedback and share your thoughts on this idea of mine.

What’s the thought behind the game?
For quite some time I have been irritated about board games that feels sterile and flat, not responding to the actions of the player, not presenting a believable and living world to interact with. So is it possible to design a game that changes with the actions of the players and where the actions you chose to do actually leave an impact of the game world? Quite a daunting task right? This game is an attempt to accomplish that, let me explain where we are at the moment.

The story.
The player finds herself in the gritty reality of a post-apocalyptic wasteland where six factions is competing for power and control over the lands future and potential. Starting in the wasteland as a nobody, without an honest claim to your name and with no reputation you start to build up, to create something. Traveling through the wasteland you start to build a reputation as you encounter strange locations and people, a reputation that precedes you as you arrive at the gates of one of six factions in the wasteland.

The factions are the imperials, the rebels, the nomads, the ghouls, the raiders and the old world order. And throughout the game you will accomplish quests for some of the factions, rising in their ranks and by the end of the game you will have helped to bring the faction to prominence in the wasteland leaving the land changed.

How will the game play: The quick and dirty
Each of the six factions are represented by a token that corresponds with the type of mission that they will give you the most. For example the imperials have the most political missions available whilst the old world order will give the player military quests.

At the start of the game the players draft starting icons that will give them an initial focus, the drafting is done when each player have six icons in front of them, a chance of getting one of each.

The starting location is in the middle of the wasteland, equal distance to all the factions HQ’s. Traveling through the wasteland the players will draw encounter cards using a system similar to the one from star trek: fleet captains where when entering a space the player rolls a d6, the results determine if an encounter card is drawn or not.

At one end of the map the Imperial, rebels, old world order and nomads fight for control over the largest city in the wasteland. At the other end of the map the ghouls and raiders try to eek out a small part of land for themselves.

When the player reaches one of the HQ’s they will be able to spend actions to draw missions. The missions are icon based. For example 3 military icons and 1 broken military icons means that the reward of the mission is 3 icons and the difficulty is minus 2 dice. So if your character have 5 military icons when you try to accomplish the mission it means that 5 icons minus 2 broken icons leaves you with 3 dice for the test. Rolling a 5 or 6 means that you succeeded.

The players will be given more and more rewarding missions as their reputation grow (the number of icons they have) and they will advance through the ranks of the factions until a winner is decided.

The specifics of the game.
In this section I will discuss the different components of the game and how they will function and interact with each other.

The map
The map is a standard board with hexes for movement. One side of the map consists of the capital city where the Imperials, rebels, old world order struggle for power. Outside the gates of the capital the Nomads have erected their camp. In the middle of the board is the wasteland that players have to dare to cross to get to the ghouls and raiders. The wasteland will also be the scene for many quests.

The wasteland is organized in a 6 rows 10 columns kind of a way allowing a d6 and a d10 to be used for coordinates of mission placements but more about the missions later.

The factions
The game have six factions, each faction have a counter point. The easiest example to use for this is the imperial and rebels locked in a power struggle for control over the people and the technology that the imperial have kept for themselves for far too long.

This struggle is represented by a power wheel similar to the ones present in Chaos in the old world. When players complete certain quests a part of the reward is to turn the wheel one step towards their faction’s side, giving them better perks and restricting the access of the players that are struggling for the opposing faction.
There are three such wheels as each faction share a wheel with their sworn enemy.

The missions
The missions are divided into three acts with increasing reward and increasing difficulty. The mission system can be described as sharing similarities with the buildings and their costs from 7 wonders. Each faction gives predominantly one kind of mission with the odd chance of providing a mission that is not fully in line with the faction’s agenda. For example the imperials will mostly give political missions but from time to time they will also need help with trade or military missions.

The missions are icon driven, with un-broken icons representing the rewards and broken icons representing the difficulty, i.e. how many dice you have to subtract before making the roll. Think skill checks in games such as Arkham horror but instead of gaining items that provides +5 fight you have to complete a mission and building your reputation as for example a fighter to get a bonus for future military checks.

When you spend actions to take a mission you draw 2 mission cards, choses one and places the other face up for other players to take at a higher action cost.

At this time you are probably wondering about how you score missions and I will explain that after I explain my attempt at doing the math for the missions.

The math behind the missions, or face palming ahead.
So math is not my strong suit so I would be surprised if this is the optimal way of doing things or if it is all correct calculations but here we go.

The missions will be divided between missions that you do at the place you receive them and missions that you need to travel too, these missions needs to have a higher reward since players spend time to get to them. There also needs to be an increase in difficulty and reward and this is my idea of how to achieve this.

In act 1 each mission will have 1 – 3 symbols. In act 2 they will have 3 – 5 and in act 3 they will have 8 – 13.

This gives an increase in reward of about 60% between doing a mission in the city you picked it up and a mission that you have to travel to.
It also gives an increase of about 40% of the amount of icons available between acts.

So to give an example an mission in act three that takes place in your HQ will sport 8 icons and a mission that you will have to travel to will have 13 icons.

These icons will be divided between different types, for example a mission to establish a trade route will have both political and trade icons.

This is my idea of how to divide the icons in the different acts.

Act 1: 1-2 icons.
1 icon = 1
2 Icons = 1/1 2

Act 2: 3-5 icons.
3 Icons: 3 or 2/1
5 Icons = 5 or 3/2

Act 3: 8 – 13 icons.
8 Icons: 4/4 or 5/3
13 Icons: 8/5 or 5/3/2

And the difficulty of the missions is at the moment this:

1 Icon = 0 broken
2 Icons = 1 broken
3 Icons = 2 Broken
5 Icons = 3 Broken
8 Icons = 5 Broken
13 Icons 8 broken

So how do I score points in this game?

If you have played Ora et Labora this part of the explanation will be easier to follow, but I will do my best to explain.

The scoring is done through a dial, think the hand of the clock advancing each round. At the base of the dial is numbers in sequential order from 0 to 10, at the clock itself is 6 tokens, 1 for each mission type of the game. At the start of the game each token is worth 0 points as they all are located at the position closest to the dial. As the dial advances each round leaving the tokens in its dust they will also increase in value as the numbers tick by.

We enter the fray at turn 4, the tokens have not been moved, but the dial has ticked 4 times thus giving the tokens a worth of 4 each. You as the player have just completed the important task of cleaning out the slums of rebels that are frightening and kidnapping the inhabitants of the capital. The reward of the mission was 2 tokens, adding them to your existing 3 token gives you 5 tokens when you are ready to count the points for the missions.

The mission token for that mission type is worth 4, multiply this with your 5 tokens and advance your score 20 glorious points. When you are done counting take the mission token used and move it from the number 4 place on the “clock” and move it down to the 0 spot. The next round it is once again worth 1 point and the other tokens are worth 5 points since they were not used the last round.

This also leaves room for players doing a small and quick mission just to prevent an opposing player to score huge points.

Perks or another reward for missions

The perks of the game connects missions and the power wheels previously discussed in the post. A higher position of the power wheel grants you access to higher level perks but that’s not all you need you also need an opportunity to draw them, this is where the missions come in. As an added reward of completing some missions you will in addition to taking the points for the mission also be able to draw 1 perk from the appropriate level depending on where the faction’s power wheel is located.

A perk is a special ability that increases your options on your turn and increases the interaction between players.

Events: or breathing life into a board game.

The event deck is a way to increase the vivid living nature of the waste land, sandstorms, bandit raids and social uprising is a few of the things that will affect the players. But you will not be blindsided by the events, the many soothsayers of the wasteland keeps everyone informed about what’s going to happen the next few rounds.

Three events are face up at a time, 1 on the current event place and 2 at the future event places. At the end of each round, when all players have completed their actions you slide the current event of its location, move the 2 others down one space each making the next in line the current event for the new round and then you draw an event card an places it face up on the now empty number 3 spot.
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