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Yet Another Tactical Fantasy Wargame

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Julius
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Joined: 12/31/1969

Ever notice how you always seem to have ideas for 50 or so board games floating around in your head, and never get a single one done? Well, it is time for me to shift another semi-completed game to the back burner while I pursue another idea before I lose it.

I love card driven board games. I've been playing with various ideas for a wargame where each unit (one unit = one man) is represented by a card, and each is unique. The problem is translating this to a game board. Last night, I had a pseudo-brilliant idea: What if each card was the size of a hex on the board? Obviously, you would need 2" hexes to accomodate these hex-shaped cards, but the idea got some gears spinning in my head.

Here are my thoughts:
Three Attack Types - Melee, Ranged, and Magic. These compare to three defense types - Light, Medium, and Heavy:
Melee is good vs. Medium, Poor vs. Heavy
Ranged is good vs Light, Poor vs. Medium
Magic is good vs. Heavy, Poor vs. Light

Units would have one attack type and one defense type, so a mounted knight (a powerful unit) might have Melee 3, Heavy 5, for example. A damage value would be attributed as well. This knight might deal 3 damage per attack.

Attacking would be done via dice. Roll a dice to attack. If you meet or beat the opponent's armor, you deal damage.

Melee attack ratings add to the dice roll. Ranged attack ratings would indicate range (Ranged 4 = 4 hexes of range). Magic... I'm not sure of yet.

Hit points:
In the past, I've worked hard to scrap 'damage counters' from games (I dislike messing with counters where possible). With the hex shaped cards, you could print HP around the outside of the hex itself, and drop each card into a hex-shaped 'dish' (for lack of a better term). You can rotate the cards to line up an arrow on the edge of the dish with the unit's current hp - much like a rotating base on a miniature. Different colored dishes denote ownership by different players.

Movement and Range:
With larger hexes, movement would have to be kept to low numbers - perhaps 2 or 3 hexes for an average unit.

Actions:
Units get two actions per turn - Move twice, Move and Attack, Attack Twice, Move and use a Special Ability, etc.

What do you think?

clapjaws
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Yet Another Tactical Fantasy Wargame

Being a sucker for fantasy games myself, I like the sound of what you’ve described. A Quick thought popped into my head while reading your post – how about a rolled up map as your game board? Instead of the standard folded board – you could roll out a nice big tablecloth sized map of terrain, with hexex faintly defined over nice artwork of the terrain. The backside could be blank hexes for players to fill in, or a completely different area such as a dessert or something. Rolling up the map might allow you to store a tube containing the hex troops inside it. I guess the troop damage trays (bowls) would be hex shaped though, not necessarily the troops…

I’m not sure if you can justify magic being good vs. heavy, and not good vs. light. What would be the reason(s) for that (in terms of your game world)? Magic could be treated as an extra, optional sub-system, if it becomes too powerful (in the advanced rules section maybe?).

Julius
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Yet Another Tactical Fantasy Wargame

Well, thus far, all of my games only see casual play, so production hasn't quite come to mind yet, but my map does roll up :)

As far as the magic vs. heavy idea, I 'borrowed' (*cough*stole*cough*) the idea from Warcraft III - the different attack types (normal, piercing, magic, siege, hero, chaos) deal different percentages of damage to the different armor types (unarmored, light, medium, heavy, fortified). For example, siege rocks fortified armor (the kind used by buildings), but piercing is very ineffective against it. In Warcraft, magic attacks deal more damage to heavy armor.

A friend suggested I drop the varying armor types altogether, and instead use a generic defense rating that is common for all units. He also thought the 'magic' attack type was a bit vague, and I should drop to only melee and ranged. Spellcasting units can have spells printed on their cards, something along the lines of 'Fireball - This unit can spend an attack action to target a hex with an explosive blast. Units in that hex, and all adjacent hexes suffer a 2 point attack. Use this ability once per round.'

He also thought both melee and ranged attack types should get an attack bonus (added to the die roll), rather than just melee. He also suggested that die rolling will slow down the game, and that I should make attacks automatic... though he does play a lot of magic the gathering.

Desprez
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Joined: 12/01/2008
Yet Another Tactical Fantasy Wargame

You might also consider using magic as a modifier to normal attack and defence modes. (You have melee, ranged, etc. and then those can all be either normal or magical)

I a fantasy game that I am creating, a unit with a magical defence is completely invulnerable to normal attacks. To harm it, you need a unit with a magical attack. Units with magical attack can hit both magical and normal units.

I had considered using different levels of magical power, but it was out of scope for my game.

Now for your game, you might not want to make magic offereing complete invulnerability to normal attacks.

Perhaps you could treat magical defence as an additional layer of armor, something that reduces damage by a discrete amount. Depending on the amount, this could make some powerful units invulnerable, or just slightly better. But if attacked with a magical attack, maybe you could say that the magical portion of the armor is ignored.

Similarly, magical attacks could add a certian amount of damage, unless attacking a magical defence, as above, in which case you simply ignore the magical damage.

This could be combined with multiple levels of magic too.

Jebbou
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Joined: 07/29/2008
Yet Another Tactical Fantasy Wargame

Personally, I find that giving a unit a damage enhancement against another specific type of unit is more appropriate for videogames, where calculation of combat results is more transparent to the player.

Having played a small number of tabletop wargames (Warhammer40k, Necromunda, Mage Knight), I really prefer seeing different abilities and characteristics (strength and weaknesses) given to types of units, and then you use them as you wish. This gives the game designer more flexibility when creating the units for his game (you can mix any abilities), and a lot of flexibility for the player who creates his army.

For example, instead of giving the cavalry a damage bonus versus archers, you could give them a "charge ability" which would make them move faster (reach the archer before they can fire).

An example of flexibility could be that you can create a cavalry unit that is also an archer. Or a flying creature that is close combat, versus one that is magic user. An heavily armored rock throwing cyclops? Anything can be created when you do not limit yourself to: Mage > Heavy > Light > Range > Mage

Jeb

Julius
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Yet Another Tactical Fantasy Wargame

You're right. It adds a thick, unnecessary layer of complexity, doesn't it? I think I'll scrap the different armor types altogether and go with a standard 'armor rating' across the board.

Don't worry: the point of having cards AS units would be to give each a special ability. Each card will have some ability printed on it that makes it unique - that is the spirit of the game.

I'm going to try and remove all rolling of dice, as well, in order to make it more strategic. I like games that rely less on luck and more on skill. I'm going to rely on a simple system where 'Attack - Defense = Damage.'

Magic as a standard attack type will be removed (though there will still be a melee/ranged distinction). I'll just have magical effects as special abilities. Since all units will have either a melee or ranged attack, spellcasting units will most likely either have a weak attack, or they will be able to alter a stronger attack type in interesting ways.

Hmm... enough for now... must create factions...

clapjaws
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Yet Another Tactical Fantasy Wargame

If you stick with the bowl/tray idea that your troop cards rest in: how about making the trays do more than hold the card. Since its a hex - why not go ahead and number the sides, and have a little arrow on your troop card that points to the side that represents its current hp? That way, you remove the need for damage counters, plus now you have a way to show a magical effect that increases a troop's hp beyond the norm - slightly reducing the need for magical effect counters too.

I guess the downside is that all players will be able to see the health of their opponent's troops - if that's supposed to be hidden.

Alternatively - the hex sides could represent the armor/defense value instead. Or attack power, or movement speed...

Julius
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Yet Another Tactical Fantasy Wargame

clapjaws wrote:
If you stick with the bowl/tray idea that your troop cards rest in: how about making the trays do more than hold the card. Since its a hex - why not go ahead and number the sides, and have a little arrow on your troop card that points to the side that represents its current hp? ...

I guess you missed the point - the trays are exactly for that purpose. I plan on putting an arrow on the edge of the card holder, and number the edges of the unit's cards to represent hit points:

Julius wrote:
... With the hex shaped cards, you could print HP around the outside of the hex itself, and drop each card into a hex-shaped 'dish' (for lack of a better term). You can rotate the cards to line up an arrow on the edge of the dish with the unit's current hp ...

The scale of the game is squad based tactical (handful of units per side), so if I do end up using counters, it is likely that I won't have to do anything special in order for people to remember which counter is which.

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