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Subject: New Hockey Board Game design. rss

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Alan Castell
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Before I get into some of the details, I will give some background.

First off, my education is in statistics. Major, with a minor in computer science. Now that was finished over 20 years ago, and I have been working in the computer industry in sales and management my whole career.

I have been a gamer since 1979 and played the original matagames pocket games such as Warp War, Wizards, etc. I also was a D & D player, Traveler, Metamorphis Alpha, etc.
I was drawn to rules that made sense and did their best to capture the essence.
I played over realistic games such as Rolemaster, which had every detail you could possibly want, but weren't fun due to constant rule look ups and unnecessary steps that impeded the fun. Anyone remember Air Wars by SPI, or even Advanced Squad Leader. Great rules, tons of them, but a tiring game to play because there was too much detail.

That brings me to about a year ago.

As a Canadian, hockey has always been a part of my life. Playing street hockey, or taking over tennis courts in the summer to play out of season. As much as I loved the game, my skill was never one that would let me play at a high level. Football ended up being my sport of choice, but I never wavered in being a hockey fan to this day.
I have a few hockey games, more along the management side than the game side, and the ones that try to capture the feel of the game don't come close.

Hockey it about decisions, plays, and flow. It has line matching, and defensive/offensive strategies that add the tactical decisions just like football does.
With that in mind I started to draw out hockey rinks as a playing board and started to design the flow. How play would pass between players and how they would manage/build forward lines, defensive pairings, and then create plays to get in the best position to score.

Currently, I have the board design, player cards, movement rules, and we will be starting play testing tonight.

Features:
-momentum will be considered as hockey has so much to do with keeping your momentum and speed.
-one timers
-wrist shots
-slap shots
-star players
-deflections
-body checks with the possibility of injury
-offside
-icing
-face offs
-penalties and power plays
-line changes both forwards and defense
-shot blocking
-maybe fighting if I can find a way to have it add to the game and not be a silly distraction.

The game will be played in rounds with X amount of rounds being 1 period.

Each round will have the players setting up what each player will do that round. The decisions will allow flexibility and the ability to make a change with a penalty incurred for making that change.
The winner of the face off will have initiative and either take the first move (player has a breakaway) or make the opponent take the first move (power play where you want to see where they commit certain players).

The game places priority on smart plays. There is still dice rolls so we can apply the statistics that each player is built on. Most of the time, players will be successful in what they try to do and some actions will be opposed, where there will be a competitive roll by the opposing player. A person who knows hockey should be able to beat someone who doesn't most of the time. Enough realism to capture the feel of the game without applying motion physics that pulls game play down.

We are thinking of having a 30 second timer that would start after the face off win and give each player that time to pick the options for each player that he controls.

More details to come along with pictures and session reports.

My goal is to get this on Kickstart.

Stay tuned.....
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Forrest & Ryan Driskel
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Best of luck! You have a lot of details on what you accomplish, but not how, so its hard to comment further at this time.
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Nate K
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Hockey isn't really my thing, but I am curious to see how you handled the design problems of a game like this. Good luck!
 
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Charlie Theel
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No hockey game is complete without at least 30% of its page count dedicated to running a mandatory lockout every 5 years.

It should also come with a Gary Bettman mask, a box of waffles, and a quality replica coin set of the 35 cents Patrick Kane threw at that cabbie.

Edit - You should definitely have fighting. Have it influence momentum/tempo.
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Alan Castell
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LOL, good one Charles.
As for some details, here is what I am working on.

Momentum will be handled as that is a big part of hockey. Each larger square shaped zone (rink is 5 large zones by 12 zone) will be made up of a grid of 3 x 3.

The center square in this grid will indicate that the player had stopped at the end of his last turn.
Position in any of the other 8 small squares surrounding that center one will show that the player is carrying momentum from the turn before, whether it is 1 or 2 squares of movement. The square he is in of those 8 will indicate the direction he traveled.
This will make sure that he first "move" in his next turn has to be either straight ahead, or 45 degrees to each side.

Play will go something like this.....

Each side will have counters to represent certain hockey moves. Check, pass, shoot, block, etc.
Each hockey player has 2 or more phases to his turn. These can be move-move, or move-shoot, or move-pass, or even pass-move, for example.

Face off based on a success system.
Players are rated in 5 categories, skating, shooting, passing, checking, stick handling.
Each category has from 1-5 success dice that form the base pool.
Face off is based on the average, rounded down, of skating and stick handling. So lets say that player 1 has a 4 skating and a 2 stick handling, he would then use 3 success dice for a faceoff.
Most successes wins.
At that point, play pauses as one player will have puck possession, (ties will have rules to break).
You then use counters to assign the basic play for each of your hockey players. You would put these counters face down, and I am thinking of a 30 second timer as hockey is a fast game of decisions.
Once all ten skaters (goalies handled differently) have selected their play, the person with puck control decides if he wants to unveil one of his players first, or make the other person unveil one of his.

You would unveil your play chit, and then move that player, executing the basic play you chose.
You can change the play but with an increased difficulty to the play you are changing to.
Movement will be governed by rules that take into account your previous turns movement. You can't go one direction for 3 spaces and change direction 180 degrees for example, and some moves will require you to roll your skating success roll.

Play goes this way, with each player in turn revealing one of his 5 skaters.

Shooting, passing, checking, blocking, deaks, etc, will all be based on the core statistics that each player will have and have a system that uses a pool of dice.
In most cases, you will succeed at every pass, and shot, but a success in shooting just means you got it at the net where you wanted it, the goalie then has a good chance to make the save.
Things like players in front, etc, will increase the difficulty.

This is a sample showing some of the areas I have worked on. Play test went well last night and I have already started to change some things. Once I have the movement and flow down pat I will work on the shooting/passing statistics.

To be continued.
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Phil Goyette
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I am a hockey fan, board game fan, and hockey board game fan, so I will be watching this one closely. I feel that with a hockey board game you've got to decide how much abstraction you will include and what aspects of the game you are going to leave to abstraction. I primarily play Strat-o-Matic, but I've been looking into other options as I think the SOM Hockey game engine handles the abstraction in an inelegant way (unlike its baseball game).

It seems to me like your proposed game is going heavily in the opposite direction, focusing on recreating every aspect of a hockey game. I'm wondering, how much time do you foresee a full game taking to complete?

I've seen 4th Street Hockey get some great reviews, but the idea of it taking 3 hours to complete a game is a non-starter for me. I rarely get the opportunity to spend 3 hours watching a full hockey game, let alone recreating one on the tabletop. I've been leaning to checking out games like Hockey Blast, which are more openly abstractions.

Either way I'm looking forward to following your progress, and I'd be more than happy to do some play testing whistle
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T. Dauphin
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This looks intriguing. There aren't very many hockey games to choose from. Are there any that people would recommend? I saw one a long time ago that was very complex and very expensive. Don't remember what it was called but wish I could find a copy to check out. Meantime, I tried making my own version. Interestingly, I came up with a board that looks just like yours and used the same 5 ability ratings. Ultimately, I felt I didn't know enough about the subtleties of strategy to create game play rules that would allow those to play out. It does sound like you have lots of detail, which I like, but which can also slow a game down. Would like to see how you make out, and would also be happy to playtest.
 
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Alan Castell
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Thanks guys.
I am sure I will take you up on that as having outside playtesting is always good.
I will be working on having pdf files for the board, etc, or could even give you the dimensions of the board so you can make one, and then pdf you the play pieces as I go.

Working on the rules for movement and think I have found a system that will allow players to carry momentum from one turn to the next. This is a unique system that hasn't been taken from others that I like. Nothing I have seen conveys momentum and that is integral.

The shooting/passing/checking/blocking aspects will be based on a dice pool model that will require at least one success to complete.
Most times a player will make a pass. So if you are going to pass from one player to another player up to the width of the ice (5 zones in my case) this is easy and will be successful 90+ percent of the time.
If we increase the distance, then we increase the successes needed.
The same with putting an opposing player in the path of the pass.
I am looking at it two ways.
I can increase the difficulty (number of successes needed) or use a method that requires 2 success rolls. A "passing skill" roll to pass through the opposing player, and then another to hit the team mate.

Playtesting will figure that one out.

I am shooting for a complete 3 period game that plays in about 1/2 hour per period, or 1.5 hours for a complete game.

As I do the rules, if you guys are interested, we can swap emails and I will get an NDF email from you and then would love your opinions.

I work on this along with raising teenagers and running my company, so it comes in bursts.

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Stacie Winters
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As a hockey fan I am going to be watching this and I would love to help playtest this if possible. This sounds exciting to me.

 
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Alan Castell
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Thanks.
Just working on the draft of the rules.
Capturing momentum has been the most difficult part, and finding a way to easily see who is "gliding" and who is just moving from space to space to hold position.
Each will convey certain advantages or disadvantages.
For example, each player has 2 "actions" per turn. (move-move) for example would move the player one space in any direction (8 directions) and then could move one in any direction from the space he moved to. He is not trying to carry any momentum.
Momentum lets you get to higher speeds and perform more actions because if you moved 2 spaces in one direction, it only takes 1 move action to move those two spaces again as long as you move in the same direction.
I hope that makes sense.
Right now 3 spaces is the highest move you can achieve with a player. From 2-3 is a speed change that costs one action, but the direction has to be the first two moves in the same direction with the 3rd move being either 45 degrees left, straight, or 45 degrees right.
Now if you have momentum going, you can do things like move 2 and pass, pass and move 2, move 1 - pass - move 1, etc.

Will make a lot more sense with some diagrams.
Also, conveying and being able to see past movement and direction is needed but I think I have solved that.
More to come.
 
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Alan Castell
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Ok here is some diagrams from the manual doc I am working on as I tweak ideas.
See if this helps to make more sense.
Remember, each movement zone is actually made of a 3 x 3 grid and the placement of the player counter in that grid helps show momentum, or glide. The flip side of the counter means that glide is 2 or more.

 
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Asger Harding Granerud
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I'm designing two player sports games myself (Soccer + NFL), and have thought about making a hockey game, so I'm definitely interested in this!

The concept about making the 3x3 grid inside each square is both intriguing and troublesome.
- Intriguing because the "momentum" aspect of hockey is well represented by it, easy to manage from a game mechanic perspective, and will likely provide interesting game play decisions, as it involves foresight.
- Troublesome because the grid could make the field seem very "crowded". I am at least very interested in seeing how you will solve the graphic challenge. Not that it is impossible at all

Asger
 
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Alan Castell
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Well you should have seen the board when we had player cards, a dice to mark past spaces for each player, and then also a "plot" wheel for lack of a better description that selected the players move.
Now I have decided to move the player action counter off the board so that the only things that are on the board are the counters themselves.
 
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Stacie Winters
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I was wondering if the move system in Star Wars Miniatures could work in a hocey (sports) game. In SWM the players put a mini directional maneuver token face down next to all ships, and then are revealed in skill (I think its skill) order. Then all the ships move along the maneuver selected, which simulates simultaneous action and ship moving pretty well.

I can see this adapted to a sports game, where each round the players put secret maneuvers down and hidden, like skaters on the ice, and then all get revealed and the players move in some kind of order. Maybe some maneuvers include passing the puck, or shooting, and depending on placement of the opponents it could depend on how successful their pass/shot was. This could include kating/firing arcs as well.

Just an idea for peoples perusal. I think it could work for a soccer or basketball game also.
 
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Asger Harding Granerud
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Stacie_GmrGrl wrote:
Just an idea for peoples perusal. I think it could work for a soccer or basketball game also.


I (think I) disagree

Soccer, basketball and even hockey are all more or less "free-flow" games as I see it. I must admit that I am not a hockey basketball expert, so I may be wrong.
As such, from my perspective long term planning, and commiting to specific moves ahead of time, doesn't reflect the sport very well. You constantly adjust your game, and if it changes the "time lag" is very, very low. Therefore I believe that a you-go-I-go system, reflects that better.

American Football on the other hand, is perfect for some kind of hidden maneuver/activation order, as it supports the "play call" element of the sport perfectly well. Which is why I've used it for Mental-NFL

Regards
Asger
 
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Richard Morris
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What a shame. I hoped this was going to be about hockey, as per the title. But I see that it is not hockey at all, but that funny fighting game they do on ice.

((yes, yes, I know. Just another grumble at the Americanisation of English))
 
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Alan Castell
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I was thinking along that line too.
I have to agree with Asger though.
There needs to be the ability to make adjustments. There does need to be initiative ordering though, almost like the system used in Mage Wars. I figure that each player gets to have a few actions. There needs to be able to have a move/react type of system.
There needs to be the ability to have my player breaking down the wing with the puck, then you have the ability to move into position and then try a check. You roll to make the check, if successful, I get the chance to try to avoid it with a skating roll that is made harder by your successes.
I was thinking along the lines of pre picking moves, but hockey isn't like that.
You shouldn't be locked into shooting the puck if something changes.
It is a learning experience, but a fun one.
 
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Bill Eldard
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Shadrack wrote:
I am shooting for a complete 3 period game that plays in about 1/2 hour per period, or 1.5 hours for a complete game.


Whew! That's pretty ambitious. If you can pull it off, you could have a big winner.

Good luck!

Will the players be a mix of generic capabilities and skills, or NHL?
 
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Stacie Winters
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AsgerSG wrote:
Stacie_GmrGrl wrote:
Just an idea for peoples perusal. I think it could work for a soccer or basketball game also.


I (think I) disagree

Soccer, basketball and even hockey are all more or less "free-flow" games as I see it. I must admit that I am not a hockey basketball expert, so I may be wrong.
As such, from my perspective long term planning, and commiting to specific moves ahead of time, doesn't reflect the sport very well. You constantly adjust your game, and if it changes the "time lag" is very, very low. Therefore I believe that a you-go-I-go system, reflects that better.

American Football on the other hand, is perfect for some kind of hidden maneuver/activation order, as it supports the "play call" element of the sport perfectly well. Which is why I've used it for Mental-NFL

Regards
Asger


I think it would work with hockey if all the players on the ice were 'pre-planned' into their next skate maneuvers all at the same time, and then revealed simultaneously. Then you'd just have to move them all in some sort of skill/rating order... then when all move, the person with the puck can decide to keep/pass/shoot the puck.

In this line of thinking I am also thinking of shooting/passing arc templates that can be used to simulate differing skill levels and/or easier to tougher passes and shots.

But... these are just brainstorming ideas that came to me... not trying to derail what's already been decided upon.

I love hockey, and I am sure I will be getting this future game upon release.
 
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Josh Malbon
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If you have fisticuffs effect the momentum that could be cool. Or dealing with injuries and what not. Protecting a player or lowering another team's checking ability or raising fear.

 
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Loose Cannon
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Make it a Euro style:
collecting Fan-points for fights, and winning.
I'm kidding.
I know some hockey fans that might want this one.
I'll have to keep an eye out.
 
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Michael Gustavsson
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Shadrack wrote:
I was thinking along that line too.
I have to agree with Asger though.
There needs to be the ability to make adjustments. There does need to be initiative ordering though, almost like the system used in Mage Wars. I figure that each player gets to have a few actions. There needs to be able to have a move/react type of system.
There needs to be the ability to have my player breaking down the wing with the puck, then you have the ability to move into position and then try a check. You roll to make the check, if successful, I get the chance to try to avoid it with a skating roll that is made harder by your successes.
I was thinking along the lines of pre picking moves, but hockey isn't like that.
You shouldn't be locked into shooting the puck if something changes.
It is a learning experience, but a fun one.

You could allow each player react to play based on his "mode", or position within the large area. E.g a player with momentum could only react to play in the lagre area in front of him. A player occupying the center location (small square) could react to play within the same large area, representing his ability to react/turn around quick, but not far away.
 
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Michael Gustavsson
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By the way, how is shooting/scoring handled?
 
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As far as momentum mechanism's go you might want to check out the way it is handled in the racing game "Powerboats". This game essentially uses three sided dice which you roll and place. The next turn you can move the number on the die, but you also have the ability to re-roll any of the dice or add new die to increase or slow speed. Using a die to represent each player on the surface could represent the player speed which would carry over to the next time the player is moved (momentum). You could decide to move this no. up or down, but it would take a couple of turns to increase speed, unless the player was elite and could speed up faster than another, ... setting up the possibility of going past or around a defenseman to take a clear shot on goal.

Just a thought ... and good luck with the game design. I'm interested.
 
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Michael Gustavsson
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jasss333 wrote:
As far as momentum mechanism's go you might want to check out the way it is handled in the racing game "Powerboats". This game essentially uses three sided dice which you roll and place. The next turn you can move the number on the die, but you also have the ability to re-roll any of the die or add new dice to increase or slow speed. Using a die to represent each player on the surface could represent the player speed which would carry over to the next time the player is moved (momentum). You could decide to move this no. up or down, but it would take a couple of turns to increase speed, unless the player was elite and could speed up faster than another, ... setting up the possibility of going past or around a defenseman to take a clear shot on goal.

Just a thought ... and good luck with the game design. I'm interested.

If I remember correct, Sean Ross (designer of Pond Hockey) used a similar system, based on Powerboats, in one of his designs. I don´t know how they turned out though.
 
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