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Subject: Thoughts on a Superhero game rss

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Chris Leigh
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Leighton Buzzard
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Hey guys,

I seem to be an ideas person, I have what I think are cool ideas but progressing them into a working prototype is where I struggle That said I've come up with an interesting spin of sorts on a superhero game and wondered if the awesome guys here could offer feedback...

The concept

The game would be in similar vein to Capes and Cowls, with either two heroes duking it out in a city, or two groups of heroes going toe to toe. Rather than an outright skirmish however they are looking to gain renown, and the team with the most renown at the end of the game would be the winner.

The board/setup

The board would essentially be a map of a city, with skyscrapers and high rises in some areas, a residential area, a dock, china town, park and industrial area. I'm in two minds at present whether this would be a board you could form yourself (ala betrayal at the house on the hill) or if its a preset configuration (so just a normal board like tales of arabian nights/fortune and glory).

On the board you would place alert blips in different areas, I see these as one tile spaces which represent people in need, you can with your super hearing (or maybe a trustee police scanner) pick up on the crys for help and will have to get across to the areas and solve the problems that arise there. In addition to this you would place some bad guys, I forsee some sterotypical baddies (thugs, mobsters etc.) these would provide renown when defeated but would potentially damage your hero or inhibit some of his abilities.

One idea I did have (which is definitely way over the top) is to have one light side city board (sunny, and all being well with the world, ala silver age comics) and one dark side city board (with pollution and rain puddles etc, ala bronze age comics) and heroes to match, so if you're playing on the dark board they have character flaws like iron man's alcoholism etc.

Cries for help

The main mechanic would be to run and resolve the cries for help. These would utilise some randomisation factor, either a deck of cards could be used (draw a card and read the event from the park deck to see what you are facing) or alternatively the tokens could be numbered and a book of events could be used, each area containing 20 missions say for a significant amount of replayability. When you flip the blip upon reaching the distress call, you read the scenario at hand. The scenarios would differ significantly, so one of the park encounters might be to save a cat out of a tree for a tiny amount of renown (elastic man would manage this with no difficulty, but the man who shoots laser beams from his eyes might need to get a ladder), alternatively you could have the villan moleman appear in the park with his henchmen and you'd have a real battle on your hands and might even need assistance from your rival and share the glory! The biggest playing issue I forsee (other than the powers of the heroes themselves) is that of balancing these missions, but with work I think it would be doable.

Combat

I see some heroes as less productive at nabbing missions and more at the wading through evil doers. The other way to build renown is to start smashing through the mobsters and thugs who are running riot through the city. Having played enough games with dice to be turned off the dice mechanic, I see the use of powers being crucial to the dealing of dmg and the receiving of dmg, but this is another area which needs a lot more fleshing out.

Player interaction

There won't be a massive deal of player interaction in my current invisaging of the game, and I'd welcome thoughts on how to encourage it, playing Arkham Horror with others often devolves into a 4 person solo game and its something I fear would be a bit naff.

Thoughts on how player interaction could be encouraged:

The blips of information become common knowledge once revealed. If your superhero lacks the requiste skills to perform the mission well then a rival player could come in and beat you to the mission.

PVP combat, no one respects a hero who has been defeated, and if one player is pulling away I don't see why the other heroes cant have a pop at him and knock him down for a turn or two!

Evil vs Good, alternatively you could spin the whole game on its head and have one controlling the evil doers (so a hero and the mobs as henchmen) spreading the mission tokens about as they cause havoc going up against a team of good heroes (almost in a descent sort of vein) I'm not sure I like this concept as much however.

The heroes

I think for the game to be most enjoyable a significant range of heroes would have to be prevalent, as variety is what makes this sort of game fun. One thing I havent decided on is whether to create specific heroes or basic heroes and let them choose their own archetype, with each hero having a basic power (such as a travel power) and then choosing skills from telekinesis, fire, cold, elasticitiy, electricity etc. etc.

I think from a thematic sense heroes specifically set up in a certain way would give the best look, Cinderella the flame wielding step daughter would be a lot cooler than a generic hero wielding flame, but at the same time I like the choice it gives players.

So this is the concept of my superhero game, I'd love some advice or help on how to go further forward with it!
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August Larson
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I like where you're going with this! As far as superhero choices, I think that I'd prefer to be able to customize my hero rather than choose a pre-built one, but if you have a large variety of heroes that are all distinctly different I would be okay with that.

How do you imagine missions being resolved? I haven't played Arkham Horror for many years, so I don't remember how that plays, but I do know World of Warcraft: The Adventure Game where you reveal the details to a mission and it tells you where to put tokens in places to go retrieve and take back to another location etc. Is that what you're thinking?

Possibly a way to encourage player interaction is through having them want to team up Avengers style and take down a huge army of aliens or a gigantic robot etc. If the monster is too big for one to take down, you can need to work together to destroy it. I guess like the Ancient One in Arkham Horror (I do remember that much).

Would heroes be growing stronger throughout the game, getting new powers, discovering themselves, falling in love, etc.?
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Aloha!
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At first read through it seems to share some DNA with Heroes Incorporated as far as theme, general feel and even some basic mechanics. Not that that's a bad thing, but something to be aware of.
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Chris Leigh
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It does seem very close to Heroes Incorporated! Aiee! Though the reports on that game is that its not as fun as the superhero theme would demand.

I am a really big fan of the mission mechanic, basic level missions I saw as either having autosuccess with certain powers or simply take time for those who dont (so the cat up the tree can be mindcontrolled to save it, but your wolverine-esque character spends a turn climbing the tree). I am liking the idea of a similar quest mechanic to WoW (as mentioned earlier)

Now the game is still in its formative stages, my initial plans were to have the odd quest resulting in the rise of the a baddie super villain which players could then vanquish, but alternatively you could have a villain present on the board and the heroes need to complete sufficient missions to level up their powers before they can take him on. I think I prefer the latter, as the heroes have a clear goal to work towards rather than random goals.

I'm starting to veer towards each hero having a movement power and then the players choosing a skill set from a pool. My ideas for movement are as follows:

Teleport - move anywhere in your LoS (pretty epic along the streets but in alleys etc its less useful

Flight - ignoring height move 5 spaces

Super jump - move 4 spaces, when on a building you get a free move (boing!) again height is no issue

Super speed - move 4 spaces, next turn move 8 spaces, next turn move 12 spaces etc. etc. buildings are not scaleable, but you can move a space to represent one flight of stairs (so a 12 story building would require 12 movement)

Webslinging (or as close as IP laws allow) - move 4 spaces, when moving between buildings each building only counts as one space (so you can swing down main street)

These might translate into once per game attack moves too (flight - avoid any melee attack) (teleport - avoid any ranged attack) (super jump - double your first attack dmg as you come hurtling down from the sky) (superspeed - if moving at least 8 spaces by the time you enter combat, gain a free attack and avoid the first attack)

After that you'd be able to pick skill sets. Thinking of descent style xp progression the first innate skill will be an iconic one, and then you can specialise based on the skills required

I'm really benefitting from peoples thoughts, as usual the ideas come pretty easily but cementing them into a cohesive whole is where I am struggling.

Incidentally, from a production standpoint how damaged would the desirability be if minis weren't produced, reading around it seems you'd be looking at an investment of £20,000 to make 5/6 heroes but I dunno if they could be sourced from another mini company for less (I'm thinking asking reaper minis or someone to make them?)
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Aloha!
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Honestly, I wouldn't even be thinking about things like miniatures right now. I like what I'm hearing and I'm fighting the urge to share some of what I've come up with over years of on and off development of my own superhero game. I would wait until you have a good, working playtest version that has survived a few rounds of actual testing before you start thinking production.
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Chris Leigh
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Ye I know I'm totally trying to run before I can walk I just often like to plan ahead
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