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Startup on Wargame

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ottovonguericke
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Joined: 03/09/2010

I'm working on something which is a lot like a war game, but it's on a much smaller scale. More like gangster warfare fought on the territories of a city. That's not too important, but it explains why I want to start the game the way I do. Because the game is not too complicated, the attacks and defenses will probably be a lot like "Risk" (dice rolling). But I wanted each person to start on only one territory, and then spread, eventually coming into conflict with one another. The thing is, it would probably be very boring and not seem like too much was going on. I feel like there needs to be something there to fight against (civilians, businesses, etc.) but at the same time, I don't want the set-up to be too complicated or cumbersome.

Any ideas folks? Maybe I could have different individual challenges in the beginning (though I have no idea what) to occupy this part of the game before the "gangs" clash with one another. There are cards that I want to award for taking over territories that form part of a potential monopoly (bootlegging, extortion, etc.), but again, if it was just moving one step at a time, then getting a card and nothing else, it would be extremely boring and tedious.

All in all, I want the conflict between teams to get started quickly, but I wanted a bit of a different format than the standard war game where everything is already set in motion. Please please please, help me with suggestions, or point out a game to me that does this successfully. Thanks a lot!

Nestalawe
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Startup on Wargame

Hey Otto,

Yeah this is a tricky one in wargames. You want to get into the 'fun stuff' (the fighting) early on, but not too early, and not before you are ready for it. But then part of the fun is building up and preparing for the actual fighting.

It may be worth checking out some Session Reports over at the BGG, especially for games similar to what you may be looking at creating. Check out 'Gangs of New York' and read a few session reports to get a feel for how the build-up part of the game goes, and then the fighting.

Many wargames have small skirmish types battles to begin with, while players jostle for territory, then as they build up and get more forces etc, the battles get bigger and more intesnse.

It also depends on how much 'other stuff' you want to include in the game. What do players do apart from fight eachother? It sounds like your combat system is pretty basic, so you have the opportunity to make other parts of the game interesting as well.

What is the focus of your game? How do you win? What is the aim? Are you just trying to wipe out the other players or are you trying to control a certain amount of territory etc? I have found that the winning conditions of a wargame can affect the gameplay a helluva lot. The players ned to be aiming towards something, otherwise all they do is wander around fighting eachother - there needs to be a purpose for the conflict.

I havent played GONY, but what I hear (and quite like the idea of) about it is that border are fairly fluid. With certain vehicles etc you can move quite fast. This works well in this kindof theme. Units will be in vehicles most of the time, so think about how far your units will be able to move each turn.

How long do you want the game to be? How many turns do you think the game will last? 10 turns? 20? Then think about at what stage of the game you want conflict to begin - a quarter of the way into the game? Half way? Or from the beginning? How long does it take to bring in reinforcements, all that kinda stuff.

Once you get a feel for how the overall game should play, then you can start breaking it down some more. Try and think about the flow of the game.

Ok, so more practical thoughts -

Sure you can have 'Neutrals' in the game, but it is never as satisfying fighting them, and what happens if you get beaten up by the neutrals?

Part of the game could be your forces heading into the city and recruiting neutral gangs. They could start in different places each game, and be different from eachotehr in some way. So the game could start with the players heading into the city and setting about hiring local gangs to fight for them (hiring or 'persuading' etc.). Maybe you can bribe enemy gangs to join your side. Depends on what 'level' your game is.

'Who' or 'What' does a player represent? Maybe the players represent a single gang who set about recruiting individual members. Maybe a player is some dodgy corporation who is funding the gang warfare. Etc etc.

Could you have hidden movement or other hidden info? Maybe players do not know exactly where each other are before they start fighting, but once they 'stumble' across eachother then its all out war...

Also, what era is your game? Modern? 80's? 20's? etc etc...

Anyway, ranting on, blah blah blah, keep the thinking flowing...

Nestalawe'

jwarrend
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Joined: 08/03/2008
Startup on Wargame

The game "Throneworld" does something similar to this; players start in well-separated areas of the board and expand by taking over neutral planets, until their empires eventually abut.

I think in a gang-related game, it makes sense that you'd have your own "turf", but there's no particular reason that the players need to be far apart -- after all, gangsters have cars. So you could allow players to try to gain a foothold anywhere on the board, but also give an incentive to gradual expansion such that consolidation of one area is also a good strategy.

Good luck!

-Jeff

OutsideLime
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Startup on Wargame

Jeff's idea is interesting (as Jeff's ideas usually are)... allow players to decide where they begin, and let them work out the pace of how they interact with each other themselves... of course a good game design will "guide" the players into conflict along a reasonable timeframe... you should never have an eternal stalemate where players abut each other but choose not to interact... conflict must be prompted by some demand, eventually.

Letting players choose their start points means that the map must be well-balanced to support that.. For example, areas of quick gain potential should be seeded with negative factors such as poor defensibility or more resistant civilians. (without being certain of the framework of your game, more specific examples are tough to offer.)

A different option could be this:

The city is already under the control of an existing but weakening criminal syndicate. You and the other players represent new gangs from out of town that smell blood and want in on the action. This way, there is an enemy to be fought early in the game - and along the same sort of lines that players will be fighting each other - but players will have to contact and conflict each other eventually in order to win the game.

~Josh

Nestalawe
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Startup on Wargame

OutsideLime wrote:
... and let them work out the pace of how they interact with each other themselves... of course a good game design will "guide" the players into conflict along a reasonable timeframe... you should never have an eternal stalemate where players abut each other but choose not to interact... conflict must be prompted by some demand, eventually.

Yeah this is the tricky thing with wargames like this, and something I am having to deal with in one of mine. How to have a fairly 'freeform' structure where players can do a variety of things, and need to, but where they still 'need' to interact. Why would you want to attack another player? What do you gain? Some wargames have combat systems where both the attacker and defender lose out in a fight. One example is a game like Twilight Imperium 3, where some players argue that it is not always worth getting into a fight, as both sides will just lose ships, while a third player can later swoop in and clean up.

So players need 'reasons' for conflict, or 'demand' as Josh puts it. What do players gain by attacking someone else? When you can answer that, then you can start to think of how players will build up to that point, what will be the catalyst where a player will decide to make an attack on the other player? Then you can start looking at the wider game and work out how much needs to happen up to that point...

NetWolf
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Startup on Wargame

You could always have a randomly built map from a deck of "streets" similar to the mechanic in Zombies!!! byt Twilight Creations. Basically (In one of the game variants) each player draws a street at random from the deck each turn and places it on the existing map. From there the city is slowly built allowing the players to venture further and further into the city itself.

larienna
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Startup on Wargame

I have played an old game recently at my game club. It called "Wizard's quest" and you can see it on board game geeks.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/310

Each player has a portion of territory and all other territories are occupied by Orcs which is a common menace to all players.

The method to set the trouble is simple.

Each player has a set of 3 treasures. The treasures are spread through the island. The player must try to recover his 3 treasures. These treasures can either be in Orc territory or in another player's castle. So you will eventually need to attack a player to get what you need to win. There is also a decoy false treasure.

ottovonguericke
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Startup on Wargame

Thanks a lot. All you guys have given me something to think about. I'm gonna try and lay out the basics of what the players have to gain and lose, in a more structured way, and then come back later. Thanks again!

ottovonguericke
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Startup on Wargame

Actually, one other question... If I were to have neutral territorries, or a weakining criminal syndicate as Josh said, what would be the best way for these territories to "fight back" that could make gameplay stimulating before the actual players first clash?

Phil_D
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Startup on Wargame

well, they could "make trouble", independant factions could have a random chance of launching raids into your territory each turn.

Also, maybe smaller factions will be able to "gang up" on larger player factions, maybe every independent territory in base to base contact with a hostile bordering your area could lend support to the "raid", the severity of which could be determined by how nasty you've previously been to them and thier neighbours!

Just some thoughts.

#Phil

NetWolf
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Startup on Wargame

What if you simply make it more static and have pre-existing, stationary factions on certain tiles that have to be defeated prior to acquiring that space for your own territory? Each map tile could have the number of Henchmen abbrviated on it so that the they can be placed easily when the map piece is laid down.

For example:

Luigi's
Worth 3 territory points (Not sure how you're calculating the win)
Henchmen: 3
Toughness: 4 (You must roll a 4 or higher on d6 to defeat each henchman. Again, not sure how you are working the combat.)

Cannery Row
Worth 5 territory points
Henchmen: 8
Toughness: 3

larienna
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Startup on Wargame

If I take again my "wizard's quest" example ( I am starting to love this game) look at the map.

The map is divided in 6 regions which are also divided in 6 territories. All region and territories have a number from 1 to 6. As you can guess, the number are used to select a territory by rolling 2D6.

In this game, at the beginning of each turn, each player roll a die, the rolled region get 1 additional orc on each territory occupied by orc. When a territory has 4 orc, it goes on rampage.

Now how do you determine where it rampage? You select the adjacent territory within the same region which has the lowest number. If the orc occupies a castle, you select the lowest number of the adjacent region and then the territory.

As I look back at this game, there is a lot of interesting features for a game designer. The game is not too complicated, the combat resolution is simple, the AI or the orcs is cool and the division of the map is clever.

voncougar
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Startup on Wargame

I like some of the ideas that have been mentioned already, some pretty interesting stuff.
Something similar would be the way Attack! has their government factions that you can sway. Similarly you could have factions here, and when players come up against them they can deal with them according to how close they are to each other?

Torrent
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Startup on Wargame

Another game to look at it Vinci.http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/60

Each territory starts with a neutral token, that you defeat like any other token. It provides some resistance at the beginning, but without allowing the neutrals to actually win.

xantheman
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Startup on Wargame

I was working on a street gang game for Z-Mans monster game contest using criminal gangs of movie monsters. My idea was to have the board be a section of city divided into city blocks. Each city block would have a card delt face down at the beginning. These cards would be a mix of good and bad encounters giving the exploration stage of the game a real feeling of exploring the unknown.

You could try expanding quickly by sending scouts into as many blocks as possible as fast as possible but you would lose your scouts when you run into resistance. You could expand slowly and steadily by sending a large group of gangsters around to take new turf for you but, you may fall behind a player that gets lucky using scouts.

Basicly it adds an unknown factor to exploring and taking new turf. You may find some new recruits in the next block over or you may find a local gang that doesn't want you in their turf. You could also add a mechanic were a revealed local gang could be convinced to join your gang through some kind of influence.

scopa
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Startup on Wargame

How about a police force which every player controls? They could use this to shield their area whilst they build and stop another player running away with the game.

Xyvius
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Startup on Wargame

not sure if it would work within your scheme but you could also use a "recruitment" phase. SO that the players have to "recruit" members from surrounding areas before they are strong enough to branch out into other areas controlled by other gangs..

just an idea.

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