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Subject: Meeples in Spaaace v.2 rss

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Shaun Taylor
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What started off as trying to create a mini-game with Carcassonne road tiles ended up becoming a project brainstormed by my 12-year-old and myself. It threatened to be a clone of Forbidden Island with a new coat of paint early on, but we managed to avoid that. Still in the prototype phase, obviously. I suspect many changes and illustrated examples will be forthcoming.

update: v.2 rules posted in-thread below

http://boardgamegeek.com/article/10152450#10152450

Plot: Farmers have been abducted by an alien saucer. They want to save their cattle and get back on solid ground.

Objective: Each player takes the role of one farmer. The goal is to rescue more abducted cattle than the other players and escape back to Earth before the alien saucer falls to pieces or leaves orbit.



Components: meeples (1 Red, 1 Yellow, 1 Green, 1 Blue, 4 grey, 8 black)
game board
custom d6 (1 red face, 1 yellow face, 1 green face, 1 blue face, 1 alien face, 1 cow face)
37 2" square tiles (1 starting tile, 20 corridor tiles, 4 escape pod tiles, 8 holding pen tiles, 1 alien quarters tile, 2 disaster tiles, 1 escape orbit tile)

Overview of Gameplay:

Players will take turns exploring the ship one tile at a time. On a player's turn they may Move and/or Explore, in any order.

Players may Move freely through the corridors, but their movement ends when they land on a tile that does not have their color indicated on it. Players may "herd" their cattle with them. If they pass a cattle in a tile with their color on it, they may herd that cattle, unless it is in the care of another player whose color also matches the tile (this part needs work). A player may not "double back" along the same tiles in the same turn.

Players may Explore by taking the top tile off of the stack and playing it on an empty space adjacent to the tile they are on. They may choose orientation, and the only placement rules are that it must connect to the tile they are on and create as few dead-ends as possible (ie cannot draw a path to the outer wall of the ship if a path can be drawn to another tile or empty space inside of the ship). Colors need not match.

If a player cannot Explore this turn, an undetermined consequence will befall them. If a player does not Move this turn, they may be found by the Alien (The Alien automatically looks for meeples that have not moved- mechanic undetermined), or their cattle may wander off (random roll of the custom d6).

Right now the distribution of corridor tiles is as follows:

6x 4-ways, with each color represented on each tile.
6x right angle turns, one of each possible combination of R Y G B
8x T-junctions, 2 each of each possible combination of R Y G B

It is important to note that the colors on the tile are good for the entire tile, not just the section of corridor in that color. For example, a 4-way tile is composed of 4 lines, one of each R Y G B color. The red player may enter and exit this tile freely though any of the 4 sides of the tile as they are all considered red for purposes of movement on his turn.


"Holding Pen" tiles will be distributed semi-randomly throughout the first and second half of the game. When they are revealed, a cow meeple is placed inside, and a player may enter the pen to begin herding the cow to their escape pod (which appear semi-randomly in the middle of the game). Their is one entrance on each tile, and the color is for both movement purposes and determining where the alien will escort human prisoners (they will take the red player to the nearest red pen, but will take any cattle to the furthest pen. Distance is determined by number of tiles apart in a straight line and does not use corridor paths to calculate distance).

"Escape Pod" tiles are color-coded by player. It is the player's goal to herd as many cattle here and escape before the ship leaves orbit.

Special event tiles will appear semi-randomly in the second half of the game:

The "Alien Quarters" tile introduces the grey alien meeples to the board. Once per round the custom die will be rolled dictating the Aliens' behavior. Aliens will patrol the ship down paths indicated by the color rolled on the die. If Cows are encountered on that path, they are taken back to holding pens. If humans are encountered, they are also taken to holding pens. Right now, aliens look for cattle first and can only escort one cattle or human at a time. Humans can sneak past the alien as long as they don't end their movement in the same tile that the alien is occupying. What if the human is herding cattle?

The "Disaster" tiles represent disaster on the ship: either caused by asteroids, surface to air fire, or a self destruct sequence. When they appear, a tile on the board will randomly be destroyed. This is determined by rolling two different colored dice: one for the X axis, and one for the Y axis. The board is 7x7, and the center column and row are not labeled or numbered and thus immune to disaster. If both disaster tiles are present, then the dice are rolled twice per round. Any farmers unfortunate enough to be in a struck tile may escape to an adjacent tile that was previously connected, but it unconscious for one round (lay the meeple down). Any aliens or cattle are sucked out into the vacuum of space. The tile is turned over to represent the damage and no other tile may be placed here. This has resulted in players becoming trapped, however.

The "Escape Orbit" tile is the last tile in the stack and begins the end of the game. When is is played, the players all have one turn left to try to escape the alien saucer before it leaves Earth's orbit.

...

So far that is all I have. I am thinking of removing the special event tiles and just putting icons on some of the corridors to trigger alien movement and disasters. We also ran into some problems with the Aliens' pathfinding AI and got stuck in some loops, so we need to clean that bit up. There was a major SNAFU when an unlucky dice roll destroyed the tile with the red player's escape pod. Might solve that by putting the escape pods in the immune X and Y axis of the ship, face down random of course.

Still tinkering with the corridor composition and board shape to make sure that players can move around the ship in a meaningful way and still use the colored routes to strategize. It is a delicate balance of making sure the map is open-ended enough that the players don't trap themselves, but also that there are enough choke points to encourage player interaction.

Any feedback, opinions, criticism, etc is welcome!
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Brook Gentlestream
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Re: Meeples in Spaaace
I think its a neat idea, but maybe it's just because its 2am right now, but I'm a little bit confused as to the reason for color coding the tracks.
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Shaun Taylor
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Re: Meeples in Spaaace
lordrahvin wrote:
I think its a neat idea, but maybe it's just because its 2am right now, but I'm a little bit confused as to the reason for color coding the tracks.


If a tile has your color on it, you can move freely through it. Your movement ends when you decide or when you land on a tile that does not have your color anywhere on it. basically, I was trying to avoid making a roll-and-move, and the idea struck me when I was working on the problem of the Alien meeple's pathfinding AI.

Also- I could explain it better and post more pics if it were not 3 am here snore
 
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Byron Campbell
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Re: Meeples in Spaaace
This sounds great, actually. I agree that the colored tiles is a bit confusing--maybe once you've got a more detailed prototype, you can have the colored lines appear side-by-side rather than segmented off, to make it more clear that meeples can move through a tile even if only one of the segments is in their color? It doesn't sound like it would be hard to do if you used photoshop--just make one default tile with (left to right) yellow, green, red, blue segments coming off all four sides, and a central neutral-colored connector, then make invisible all the lines you don't need in any given tile. If it works like it does in my head (it's 2am here too), that would created colored lines that are actually contiguous no matter what their orientation is.
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Shaun Taylor
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Re: Meeples in Spaaace
kittenhoarder wrote:
This sounds great, actually. I agree that the colored tiles is a bit confusing--maybe once you've got a more detailed prototype, you can have the colored lines appear side-by-side rather than segmented off, to make it more clear that meeples can move through a tile even if only one of the segments is in their color? It doesn't sound like it would be hard to do if you used photoshop--just make one default tile with (left to right) yellow, green, red, blue segments coming off all four sides, and a central neutral-colored connector, then make invisible all the lines you don't need in any given tile. If it works like it does in my head (it's 2am here too), that would created colored lines that are actually contiguous no matter what their orientation is.


That was my second concept (first was colored icons in the corners of the tiles). I implemented your idea on the second set of tiles I cut.
 
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Shaun Taylor
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So here is my second write of the rules, with some adjustments made to make the game more elegant. Most notably- the disaster and alien tiles have been removed, and disaster and alien icons added to corridor tiles to trigger those effects. Cattle/prisoner pens have been removed. the X Y board has been replaced with dice icons on the tiles.

I have a semi-major design decision to make at this point- keep or lose the board. I like the board because then players cannot explore/build out away from other players and it would force more player interaction. I would like to lose the board to save money in production costs. Ideas?

It still isn't near "done"... I haven't decided what exactly happens when an Alien encounters a player or a cow.

Meeples in SPAAACE/ Interstellar Cattle Drift
v .2
by Shaun Taylor

On your turn:

Move or Explore

Move
draw tiles and move til you hit an alien or disaster icon, or a tile that does not match your color.
Move along same-colored corridors until you hit non-same
You may tip any cows in your way, 1 per tile, that are not attached to an alien.
Stand up and stand your cow up.
If you don’t move, roll custom d6 for interstellar cattle drift

Explore
draw top tile and make a legal placement to current tile
If you do not explore, roll for disaster.
If you pull an escape pod that does not belong to you, you may place it anywhere legal on the map that is accessible by that player.
If you pull your own escape pod, the player to your right places it anywhere legal on the map that is accessible by you. You may re-draw another tile at this time.

Disaster
Roll 1 black and 1 white d6
compare result to dice icons in the corners of the tiles on the boards.
flip that tile over. It is exploded. Any cattle on it are sucked out into the vacuum of space Aliens on the tile leap to a random adjacent tile (use custom d6, lay them down). Farmers on the tile leap to a random adjacent tile (use custom d6, lay them down).

Alieneeple movement (at the end of each player’s turn)
If all Alieneeples are laying down, stand them all up and end your turn without moving one.
Move 1 Alien Meeple that is upright. Lay it down.
1 tile? Along a networked path?
Any cattle along its path are picked up (max of 1)
Any humans along its path are picked up if it does not already have a cow or human
Where does it take humans and or cattle?
 
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