Andrew Commons
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Be forewarned...this is a wall of text....but I am getting stuck in my design at this point and just need some ideas to push me forward on this part of my game.

Been watching the Board Game Design forum for a few months now and have learned lots of things...first and foremost is this group is great at helping out other designers. Now that you have all been buttered up a bit ...I'll start.

I use the term "new" as I know that this group will probably be able to help me find a game that uses a very similar mechanic, but I have not played/seen a game that works in this particular way.

The game is set in medieval England with players taking on the role of emerging lords vying for the title of king and each have armies made up of different troop types:
-Archers
-Crossbowmen
-Macemen
-Pikemen
-Swordmen
-Knights
-Peasants

The players will buy or make weapons within their castles then take peasants from the areas they control and use the weapons to make armies of these different troop types.

Troops will be added to the army in groups of 50 troops of one troop type(seemed like an easy number to keep track of, was not so small as to not be called an "army" and allows easier calculation of the amount of resources needed to make the weapons).

So, for example, the player will add 150 Archers, 50 Macemen, and 100 Pikemen to your army. This army will now have 300 men.

When the army moves to a space upon the map occupied by another opposing army, combat ensues.

For every 50 of each troop type a specific card will be added to the combat deck for your army. So, for the above mentioned army, you will take the level 1 (50), level 2 (100) and level 3 (150) Archer cards, the level 1 (50) Macemen card, and the level 1 (50) and 2 (100) Pikemen cards and make your Combat Deck. The opposing army will take the cards assigned to his army based upon the makeup of his troop types.

Every increase in level of each troop card type gives it the ability to either attack more troops or more difficult to hit troops. The idea behind this is that 150 Archers can hit more troops than 50 Archers. 500 Archers are a more powerful force then 100 Macemen. And so on....

Each player shuffles their Combat Deck, stacks them face down and takes the top three cards into their hand and looks at them. Both players then simultaneously choose one of their cards and play it in front of them and also announce which troop type they are attacking. However, the player can only choose a troop type that is available to be hit based upon the listed troops on the card (see example below). Each player adjusts their army by the troops that have been killed. The played card goes into a discard deck and is replaced by the next card from the Combat Deck. If the Combat Deck is exhausted, reshuffle the discard pile and reform the Combat Deck and continue.

This process continues until one army is killed or retreats from the battle.

I am also trying to work into the process, losing the ability to use cards when your troop count no longer supports the level on the card. Example, in the above army, if 100 Archers are killed, you would not be able to use the Level 2 or 3 Archer card to attack.

Still trying to figure out the process. Should I allow the player to automatically discard from his hand any card that is no longer supported by the troop level on the card and replenish from the Combat Deck? Or should the player be forced to use his attack phase to discard any number of cards from his hand to the discard deck and then during the replenish phase draw back up to the full three card limit? Or a third option, should I force them to hold the card in their hand and make them play the card during the attack phase (with no opposing troops being killed since the attack could not be supported) then take a new card on their replenish phase?

Example of card played during combat:

Level 1 Archer Card

Peasants - 100
Archers - 50
Crossbowmen - 50
Macemen - 0
Pikemen - 0
Swordsmen - 0
Knights - 0

If the player chooses this card to play, they could either attack and kill 100 Peasants, 50 Archers or 50 Crossbowmen. They could not, however, kill Macemen, Pikemen, Swordsmen, or Knights.

To show the difference I have tried to build into the cards, below is the breakdown of the Level 1 Knight Card (Knights in this game are mounted troops rather than leaders/generals/etc)

Peasants - 100
Macemen - 100
Swordsmen - 50
Archers - 50
Crossbowmen - 50
Knights - 50
Pikemen - 0

I was going for the ability of knights to kill more Peasants and Macemen than there are number of knights (since Level 1 knights would mean that there are 50 knights), but they would not be able to kill Pikemen since they tended to be the nemesis of mounted knights.

Any thoughts on games that use this type of combat system so that I can check them out?

Thoughts on discarding unusable cards once the troop level is not supported?

Thoughts on how this might be a cumbersome combat system?

I am trying to move away from the randomness of dice, but still leave some bit of chance in the combat portion of the game, by forcing the player to take only three cards from the Combat Deck and then only be able to use one of them per attack. However, allow the strategy to flow through by giving the player a choice of which troop type does he want to use to attack his opponent and what type of troops is he going to attack. Should he take out his opponents Archers this turn or would lowering the number of Macemen available to attack him back make more sense?

Thanks for any help you can give to me in this.
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Chris Phillips
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Sounds intriguing but I would have to see it bring played I think
 
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Andrew Commons
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I have printed prototype cards, Enough for 3 complete sets (each troop type has 10 levels available except Peasants and they only get up to level 4).

I need to get my group together to playtest the combat portion of the game.
 
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Dan Hammond
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The game that this reminds me of is actually a computer game: Lords of the Realm 2. The army recruiting is very similar and so are the rock-paper-scissors-but-so-much-more-complex-than-rock-paper-scissors unit relationships. Its a great game to boot so I'd reccommend checking it out if you haven't yet.

My first thought on the combat system is that you should use option A where the player gets to automatically discard unuseable cards and immediately replentish them. I might be reading it wrong, but options B and C seem to basically have the same effect: a wasted combat round. This seems a bit harsh and may result in situations where it is impossible for that player (player 1) to recover since the opposing player (player 2) has a 'free' round to disable more of player 1's cards which would then cause another wasted round. Granted, player 2 has no way of knowing if a certain type/level of card is in player 1's hand, but he does know whether or not that type/level is either in player 1's hand OR player 1's draw pile. This can be either a little information or a lot, depending on how many cards are in a typical draw pile (I know I am disabling 1 of the next 3 cards you draw vs. 1 out of the next 15). Since the initial draw is random, you have a situation where a chain reaction could be set in motion by chance which sounds like exactly what you are trying to avoid.

Otherwise, muchas kudos on coming up with a stategic, low-luck, and thematic combat system!
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Jackson Gardner

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The closest game to combat like this is sid meire's civilization the board game. In that game there are 4 units. Artillery, mounted, infantry, and aircraft. There are 4 ranks in each unit exept for air craft which is a special unit that only has 1. During your turn, you may buy 1 of the four units. You said that your game unit hand size is 3. In this game, the unit hand size is 3, but can increase with technology.

Okay, so each unit card in civ is divided into 4 sections by lines. These 4 sections are the 4 different ranks on the unit. For example, when you flip over a card for combat and the unit type is artillery. ALL of the 4 different ranks are shown with their power level next to them. So... if all the units are shown, which one do you play? In civ You pick the appropriate unit rank that matches your tech cards. For example, the tech mathematics unlocks the level 2 artillery unit. So since that is the highest tech for artillery I have, I would play the rank 2 unit.

I have an excellent idea that may help you out. You said that each unit can deal different amounts of damage to different units. What I think you should do is have a stat card for each unit. For example, the Archer may have these stats: attack- pheasants+100 knights+5 and so on.

Another interesting mechanic you can add is the day-night system. Every turn shifts from day to night. There will be a night and day side of each stat card. For example: An archer may have bad attack stats in the day but can do major damage in the night.

You should consider adding things that add adrenaline to the game but not make it stressful. Try adding environmental effects. This will boost the game up dramatically. Maybe the pheasants can take part in religious actions. The sky is the limit. When adding rules you must make sure that the pace feels even and there is lots and lots of fun.

I hope that this was helpful for you. The next step for you is to map out the board and decide how all the components can function with the game. Are you going to use minatures or not? You should scan a sketch of the overview of the entire game and board itself on the computer. This will make it a lot more easier for boardgamegeek. I would be very interested in seeing your progress in further date.
 
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Andrew Commons
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Well to be honest, Lords of the Realm 2 was my inspiration for the game. There are so many things in that game that are much easier to run within the computer environment. I was trying to take the general play of county management and the granular play of the combat in Lords II and turn it into an easier game. There is almost no way to make the combat as granular as the computer game and not turn the game into an 8 hour marathon with lots of time being spent by other players just sitting and watching two armies duke it out.

So I had to turn the combat into an easier process without the combat maps, but also try to keep it strategic. That is why I went for combat decks with a hand to choose which units to use and then make it deeper by letting you further choose which units can be attacked.

I was leaning toward the first choice of allowing a portion of the combat sequence to be discard useless cards and replenish. I would probably only allow the player to only discard once per round. Meaning you have two cards left after playing your one attack card. One of the cards in your hand is now useless due to the attack by your opponent. Discard this card. Replenish your hand to three cards. If one or two of your drawn cards are also useless, then you will have to wait until after the next attack phase to discard your other useless cards.

I can see where you might get stuck once you get deep into a battle and you have high level cards of one troop type and those units have been killed early but you don't get to those cards until later in the battle.

I guess I'll have to play test some battles first.

I have the start of a map. The castle names, player boards, random event cards, mercenary cards, and castle cards done for prototype. Rules are in process and getting close. Working on pieces for the board (armies, castles, merchants)

Another few weeks and I should have a working prototype to so some play testing. That is why I have been trying to finish up the first rule set.

Thanks for the help so far!
 
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Benj Davis
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I like the idea. A diversity of types gives you more options, but less access to powerful attacks. It's cool.

I'd recommend ditching the 50s though. If everything handles in lots of 50 anyway, just call them units. It's neater. Go ahead and say in the rulebook that a unit represents about 50 men, but calling a card "50 Archers" just seems messy to me.
It also allows different unit types to thematically be a different number of people without a problem.

Another option for cards that you can no longer play them, but you can discard as many cards as you want before you draw up.
That way you're kind of off-balance if you lose them, but you can strategic ally draw back to losing units, but your disarray will haunt you.
 
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Andrew Commons
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Ohhh...I like the idea of units. I will need to see how I can work that through the rest of the game.

Your peasants within your castle will gather resources to allow you to build the weapons or you can trade with the merchant for the weapons. Either way I will need to see how to get the weapon units to flow through the rest of the game to allow it to play well in the combat portion.

Great ideas folks! This is really helping me to get through this mental block I have had for a few days now.

Keep 'em coming.
 
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Darrin Bowers
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I like this idea for the most part, but the part about having to remove useless cards from your deck does not sit well with me.

Jackson Gardner suggested the use of stat cards for each unit type, and I don't think you should rule that out just yet. Another way would be to simplify all three levels of attack card into one by simply puting a ratio of attacker to attacked unit type on each card IE - each unit of knights kills two units of peasants, two units of macemen, one unit of swordsmen, or one unit of archers, but may not kill pikemen.

In this way this "knight attack card" is good as long as you have knights in your force.

This method is like putting the stat card on each attack card, but it can be changed up for alternate situations IE "knights attack from flank" each unit of knights may destroy two units of pikemen.
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T. Dauphin
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I agree that the need to match up the card with an equivalent 'strengthed' unit creates a disadvantage or penalty for player. And one that I think is more likely to occur than not, as the chances of your strong unit being cut down seem more likely than your getting the corresponding card early in the game so it can be used. My first thought was the Civilization idea, with each card showing the results for each level. I didn't realize Civilization operated this way, but I like it as a simple solution.
Another possibility is to provide one card for each 50 men/unit, and allow multiple card plays. However, this may add a level of complication that you may not want. YOu might consider including commanders who have command ratings which determine the number of cards they can play in any one turn (possibly the number of discards as well?). It may be that you would want to restrict all the cards played to the same type of unit, ie 2 or 3 cards played would all have to be archers for example. An added level of command might include the ability to play cards of 2 (or more) different types of units. (So, for example, a 3-2 commander would be able to play 3 cards in one turn and could play 2 different units at once.) This method would call for a bigger hand in order to accommodate the increased number of cards played.

Have you considered that every card would not necessarily produce a hit, and might offer a no result instead?
I do think the ability to discard needs to be in addition to a play.
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Dan Hammond
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Zeek Hotep wrote:
Another way would be to simplify all three levels of attack card into one... ...In this way this "knight attack card" is good as long as you have knights in your force.


I think this would definitely simplify things and also make combat more balanced without giving up the feel of your original idea.

However, having each card represent one particular level might be interesting if combat wasn't simultaneous. The advantage of being able to take out on opponent's card first would let you tailor the game to favor aggressive play (attacker plays first) or fortifications (army in the castle goes first). A little lack of balance is not always a bad thing.

Dookiexman wrote:
I was leaning toward the first choice of allowing a portion of the combat sequence to be discard useless cards and replenish. I would probably only allow the player to only discard once per round. Meaning you have two cards left after playing your one attack card. One of the cards in your hand is now useless due to the attack by your opponent. Discard this card. Replenish your hand to three cards. If one or two of your drawn cards are also useless, then you will have to wait until after the next attack phase to discard your other useless cards.


If you definitely want to do simultaneous, this sounds like it would be very fair too. I'd be curious to hear how the playtesting goes. I think this is a really good combat system.
 
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Went to my siblings home to do their taxes a couple of weeks ago and took over two complete sets of army decks, the rules as written up to that point, the random event deck, and the random mercenary deck.

First we did some calculations on how many turns it would take to build enough weapons and recruit the army to get it to a size large enough to conquer a territory without an opposing lord's control. We play tested a fight between that army and the peasants of the soon to be conquered territory. That playtest showed the following things:
1. The original increase in population every turn was WAY-WAY-WAY to generous to not only the players, but the non-lord controlled areas, as they did not have a need to use their population to draft soldiers until they were attacked. So, by default their population was almost too big to conquer by the time the lord was able to build an army. The army did prevail in the fight, but with only one unit left.
-----Note: Change the population increase mechanic to slow the growth of all territories and change the mechanic for NPC territories to something less advantagous to the NPCs. (Done)
2. Peasants could not kill knights....which means lords should build knights to conquer NPC controlled territories.
-----Note: Add an additional card for peasants to kill Knights (Done)
3. The length of time it took to accumulate the population large enough to produce enough resources to start making weapons, and then to actually take those weapons and make an army was way too long (upwards of 8 turns or 2 years in game time of a game that is designed to play 10 years). And this was to just get a small army big enough to take on a neighboring NPC territory, much less another player with a castle.
-----Note: Change the population mechanic and change the number of each resource needed to produce each weapon and the number of resources produced by each unit of population. (Done)

What did work...
1. The discard the unusable cards from your hand and replenish with new cards seemed to work really well.
2. Simultaneous card playing worked well (although we always knew what unit type the army was attacking since they were fighting peasants).
3. There were some times, when the NPC player had to play a card that did not hit any units as that card did not have the capability to "hit" the unit types available in the attacking army (this is where we found the problem with the peasants can't kill knights issue, even though the army had none). I say this did work, as the cards that could not hit, were not invalid cards due to army size, but due to the opposing armies makeup. I liked this as it could come into play where you have valid cards for your army, but they are ineffective cards against that particular opponent. In essence, they are "Miss" cards. It is possible to end up with this being your only card available to play.

What we did not yet playtest was a fight between two armies with one in a fortified position (castle) or a fight between two with neither in a fortified position. Now that I have made the above changes, the next playtest will take on this battle scenario.

We also discussed the turn progression. Some parts of each turn are done by (happen to) every player simultaneously (Random events, Merchant movement, Random Mercenaries), and others are individual actions and thus have to have some sort of turn order. This allowed me to come up with a varied turn order.

Each "year" in the game is split into 4 seasons (separate and distinct rounds/turns) and the VP's are distributed at the end of the 4th season (Winter). The very first turn will be determined by a die roll and then clockwise around the table (standard turn order determination), but then it takes a major veer to the right (or left, not sure). After VP's are distributed, the player with the least amount of VP's gained during the preceeding year will decide their position in the turn order portion of each round, then the second lowest will choose their position, and so on to the player with the most VP's from the last year, who will then be "stuck" with the position left available from the other players. Sort of a stick it to the leader rule. However, since it is based only upon the VP's handed out in the last year and not the overall score, good players should rise to the top, even without getting the most points every year.

I have a few more edits I need to make to the rules, then I will post for the BGG crowd to run through to see where I am going with this game.

I have been working on a map for the game board so that we can get closer to a playtest of the actual game, rather than just the parts of the game. That should be done later this week. Hopefully some more playtest time over the coming Spring Break.

Also, been mulling over in my mind a name for this thing. Can't really come up with anything that doesn't fall into the "there are already 50+ games with that name or variation of that name" bucket.
 
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