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Hordes of Monsters...

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TwentyPercent
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Joined: 12/25/2012

Hey Folks

Does anyone know of a dungeon-crawler board game where the heroes face hordes of monsters?

I've played many dungeon crawler games where the heroes face anywhere from a couple monsters at a time to upwards of 10 monsters. But I'm working on a cooperative game where I want the heroes to be facing a sea of monsters (upwards 20-30 monsters). Most of the monsters will be one-hit kills.

My next question is:

Since the game is cooperative, monsters will follow very basic rules to determine what attack to use and who to attack. What options do you all see for activating/operating the monsters?

Every Monster Phase, each monster will have two actions: Move & Attack (or Move & Move if not within range of a hero).

Thanks for the input everyone!
Twenty Percent

questccg
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Why?

My question is pretty simple: "Why?"

Is this supposed to be a "King of The Hill"-type of scenario? Or is this supposed to be a LARGE Battle (sort of like historical simulations)?

I can't really picture a "Dungeon Crawler" to have 20-30 monsters, on what tiles are they supposed to reside on?

Just curious...

let-off studios
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Last Night On Earth

You may want to look into the Last Night On Earth (LNOE) series of games. With expansions include, I recall seeing a couple dozen zombies on the game board at once. Some of the more recent zombie games may be dealing with more creatures.

HeroScape allows for large sets of units with several actions possible per turn, but it breaks up monotony and long player turns by allowing movement of one "set" of a player's units at once.

I'm still fond of the very simple but dramatic BattleMasters move mechanic. Actions and movement were determined by a deck of cards. Simply flip a card and see what units are depicted. Those are the units that have action(s) that turn. When all relevant units are resolved, then you flip another card, repeating this until one side is victorious.

Arkham Horror has an interesting mechanic, similar to BattleMasters: flip a deck of cards and that indicates what units move, as well as the direction they move. There's a little more to it, but that's generally what you do to control the enemies in that game - which is also a co-op.

As for options organizing and orchestrating the creatures, there are varying levels of complexity you can explore. You named one already, but to me that sounds like it could become overwhelming and fiddly to assign two actions to each monster. In LNOE, a zombie (controlled by the player) could move one space, or attack. Cards allowed for additional actions, but it is typically one action per turn for the creatures.

I'm not going to bother with a question like,"why?" I'd rather learn the "how." Best of success to you on this project! :D

questccg
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let-off studios wrote:I'm not

let-off studios wrote:
I'm not going to bother with a question like,"why?" I'd rather learn the "how." Best of success to you on this project! :D

Well I would still like to know "Why?"

As it seems there are other games out there, so you might want to explore those. But typically the "dungeon crawler" genre, is exploration followed by skirmishes and usually Boss-type levelling.

And since I looked at "Battle Masters"... I kind of was disappointed about the whole "historical battle" scene. Looks like it's been done.

So please feel free to share you thoughts on using HORDES in a Dungeon Crawler... Seems fairly innovative!

Update: I also forgot that minis are competing against "Golem Arcana"... and so that's some pretty cool "microdot" technology to compete against. I don't think the mini-genre is what you want to achieve... Some sort of other experience you want players to enjoy...

TwentyPercent
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Quote:You may want to look

Quote:
You may want to look into the Last Night On Earth (LNOE) series of games. With expansions include, I recall seeing a couple dozen zombies on the game board at once. Some of the more recent zombie games may be dealing with more creatures.

You are right; many zombie games can have tons of monsters. Zombicide also can have many monsters on the board at once.
Quote:
HeroScape allows for large sets of units with several actions possible per turn, but it breaks up monotony and long player turns by allowing movement of one "set" of a player's units at once.

I've wanted to play HeroScape, but haven't.

To give a little more insight into the combat mechanics, there are two phases: the Hero Phase and the Monster Phase. Each hero will have three actions during the Hero Phase (attack, defend, spell, move, use potion), and then each monster will have two actions during the Monster Phase (move/attack or move/move). Monsters will act in order of closest to furthest to the heroes.

I'm shooting for a D&D style combat, in which each Hero/Monster phase will simulate a brief period of time (like in D&D, a round is 6 seconds). So I would prefer to avoid only having certain heroes and/or certain monsters act during their respective phase, but for each hero to act and each monster to act; it just seems more realistic to me.

Quote:
I'm still fond of the very simple but dramatic BattleMasters move mechanic. Actions and movement were determined by a deck of cards. Simply flip a card and see what units are depicted. Those are the units that have action(s) that turn. When all relevant units are resolved, then you flip another card, repeating this until one side is victorious.

Arkham Horror has an interesting mechanic, similar to BattleMasters: flip a deck of cards and that indicates what units move, as well as the direction they move. There's a little more to it, but that's generally what you do to control the enemies in that game - which is also a co-op.


I've considered using cards to determine which actions/targets/movement patterns monsters will take each phase, but felt dice provided more excitement. (Cards do have a place in the game, though. There is a "Random Encounter deck of cards players draw to determine which and where monsters spawn.")
Quote:
As for options organizing and orchestrating the creatures, there are varying levels of complexity you can explore. You named one already, but to me that sounds like it could become overwhelming and fiddly to assign two actions to each monster. In LNOE, a zombie (controlled by the player) could move one space, or attack. Cards allowed for additional actions, but it is typically one action per turn for the creatures.

I'm not going to bother with a question like,"why?" I'd rather learn the "how." Best of success to you on this project! :D


With as many creatures as I want on the board, complexity needs to be minimized; simpler is better. My initial designs and prototypes were way more complex, and orchestrating them was mind-numbing and overly time consuming.

Right now, the design involves rolling 2d6 for each monster: 1d6 determining which "tactic" the monster uses (which attack, when the monster has multiple options), and 1d6 determining which hero it attacks (ie nearest, furthest, lowest HP...this is a custom die).

While that may seem daunting with 20+ monsters on a board (20-30 monsters max... most of the time probably 10-15), after a round or two, it takes as few as 5 seconds to operate a simpler monster (50-80% of monsters) and 15 seconds to operate a tougher monster (20-50% of monsters). My main goal is to make activating the monsters simple, seamless, and quick. Most of the time playing the game will be during the Hero Phase, since that's when players actually make choices.

Quote:
Well I would still like to know "Why?"

The "why?" is simple: I'm shooting for a specific style of game.

My major inspirations are D&D and Diablo. D&D (really Baldurs Gate) because the players are role-playing a single hero each to create a party of heroes in a turn-based, top-down environment adventure RPG. Diablo because I like the idea of having heroes fight against hordes of monsters, most of which are easy-kill minions with a few tougher monsters out there.

Players will have to consider going first for the easier one-hit-kill monsters, or focus-firing on the tougher monsters with stronger attacks (and many of them able to boost the smaller minions).

Quote:
As it seems there are other games out there, so you might want to explore those. But typically the "dungeon crawler" genre, is exploration followed by skirmishes and usually Boss-type levelling.

The game will be less "exploration" (like D&D: Ravenloft board game) and more narrative (like Mice & Mystics). Each game session will be a quest that has it's own specific setup/environment, pool of monsters that can spawn, and objective. So the game isn't about exploring as much as playing through a story and efficiently winning a tactical combat scenario.

Some quests will be as simple as "travel through the stage, kill the minions, and defeat the boss", while others will be a "King of the hill", "Rescue & Escort the NPCs", or "Recover the hidden artifact" quest. Many of the chapters will not even have a boss; the challenge/variation comes from the specific objectives and setups.

Quote:
Update: I also forgot that minis are competing against "Golem Arcana"... and so that's some pretty cool "microdot" technology to compete against. I don't think the mini-genre is what you want to achieve... Some sort of other experience you want players to enjoy...

I don't know anything about Golem Arcana. At quick glance on BGG and their website, it looks like a ton of fun and innovative.

TL;DR I <3 D&D and Diablo, and am shooting for that style of tactics and scale of combat.

questccg
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TwentyPercent wrote:I <3 D&D

TwentyPercent wrote:
I <3 D&D and Diablo, and am shooting for that style of tactics and scale of combat.

Well if that's the case you should refer to those OLD DragonLance "game modules" that helped the DM in determining what actions to do, depending on when/where the party is.

BigOleBob had designed an adventure book around "Alone in the Dark" - and then the game expanded into something bigger. I have my game "Monster Keep" and I have a similar need for an RPG story mechanic... Something that allows for events and mini-quests to occur.

I'm not fully invested in "Monster Keep", so I can share my thoughts regarding RPG elements - because I'm not sure this game will ever see light of day!

But getting back to D&D, having some kind of DM management book would make the game more interesting...

Update: I am very interested in a form of DM book to go along with "Monster Keep". Something to link a short story (of an adventure) along with items to be found which can be used later.

I am drawing heavy inspiration for "Betrayal on House of the Hill" (BHH). But I want asynchronous quests/stories. Where as BHH has multiple stories, the game seems to lack in terms of depth. I am closely following the 2 Phase game - BUT in my game I am "seeding" the Keep with all kind of events/encounters/items during the first phase. And then when the Lord of the Keep is revealed, he plays as the Keep's DM and tries to eliminate the other players.

The key difference with BHH is the "seeding" aspect. Much like BHH first phase, you EXPLORE the Keep - but you don't earn any loot. All you are doing is "seeding" the Keep and waiting for the Lord of the Keep to reveal himself.

So naturally, it makes sense to add some kind of "Mini Quest Book" that goes along with the game.

"Monster Keep" has several innovative features - but the "seeding" mechanic is what brings the game to life. Of course any of the players can become the Lord of the Keep, and so you want to make sure to seed the keep with enough encounters and quests/events so that the 2nd Phase is also a challenge. So players play both sides of the game in 1st Phase and ultimately one player faces the other players when the Keep comes to life!

Soulfinger
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TwentyPercent wrote:I want

TwentyPercent wrote:
I want the heroes to be facing a sea of monsters (upwards 20-30 monsters). Most of the monsters will be one-hit kills.

I saw that D&D inspired you. Have you played 4th edition, because heroes facing 20+ 1hp monsters pretty much sums it up. It plays more like a board game than a role playing game, so it may just be perfect for you. You are describing what's called a "grind."

If you are designing a game though, the biggest consideration you face is that the reason people have a handful of monsters on the board at any given time is a simple matter of economy. Limited monsters allow the company to include attractive plastic figures, which drive sales. 20+ for an encounter means cardboard chits, and how many players want to be placing and picking up dozens of chits each turn? You have to factor in the willingness of the players to perform rote tasks when designing a game. Added to that, you end up having to sacrifice quality for quantity, more monsters but with limited consideration for the rules and tactics that enrich most games. That's why a game like Gauntlet works great as a video game but would be frustrating to play on a game board.

Overall, it sounds like you are exploring the wrong genre of game. A wargame, like Warhammer 40k, Warmachine, Malifaux, Infinity, or one of the games produced by Mantic will probably suit you very well.

TwentyPercent
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D&D Model is Good... Looking for Variants

Quote:
I saw that D&D inspired you. Have you played 4th edition, because heroes facing 20+ 1hp monsters pretty much sums it up. It plays more like a board game than a role playing game, so it may just be perfect for you. You are describing what's called a "grind."

Yes, the 4ed D&D board games are a great example, and I like the scale-ability for a multiple players. I am shooting for something similar, in terms of ease of operation of monsters, but I am just exploring other options for orchestrating monsters.

In the D&D games, monsters are placed every turn that the heroes explore. In my game, the entire board is setup at the beginning and there is no exploration. So new monsters get added through "Random Encounters." Players roll a d10 for each player (that's how it scales), and if any result in a 10, they draw an Encounter Card and place the specified monsters in the specified zones. That's just my variant of monster encounters.

So I'm looking for means to operate the monsters. In D&D, order of play is "Hero 1, Monster Group 1, Hero 2, Monster Group 2, Hero 3, etc..." In mine, there's a Hero Phase (all heroes take their turn) and thena Monster Phase (activate all monsters).

I'm just looking for a very simple means of operating the monsters. And by simple, I mean each monster shouldn't take more than a few seconds each. The reason why it shouldn't take long to activate each monster is because the rules should be simple. If that monster has 2 possible attacks and 3 possible targets (heroes within range of the attacks), then something as simple as a Preferred Attack & Preferred Target dice roll can quickly make those determinations. Then it's as simple as physically moving the monster and making the attack (an adjustment of health and/or status, as necessary). (I should say that attacks are automatic in my game... no dice rolling required.)

Anyways, talking through it really helps, so that seems like a fairly simple system. Even with 20 monsters on a board, it shouldn't take but a couple minutes max to operate that many monsters.

Quote:
If you are designing a game though, the biggest consideration you face is that the reason people have a handful of monsters on the board at any given time is a simple matter of economy. Limited monsters allow the company to include attractive plastic figures, which drive sales. 20+ for an encounter means cardboard chits, and how many players want to be placing and picking up dozens of chits each turn? You have to factor in the willingness of the players to perform rote tasks when designing a game. Added to that, you end up having to sacrifice quality for quantity, more monsters but with limited consideration for the rules and tactics that enrich most games. That's why a game like Gauntlet works great as a video game but would be frustrating to play on a game board.

To be honest, I'm not too worried about this. I agree that the more units included in the game, the more expensive the game gets to be. But there isn't just two options: highly detailed, medium/large sized miniatures and then chits. Games like Defenders of the Realm, D&D, and Myth use miniatures that are smaller and they include many of them. Yes, these games are a little more on the pricier side, but they aren't completely way out in left field. As a player, I really enjoy the size and detail of these miniatures, and think a board with 20+ miniatures looks exciting.

So yes, there is a balance of quantity, quality, and price-point. Other games have managed to find a good spot in each category that players find acceptable. I believe it's achievable.

Quote:
Overall, it sounds like you are exploring the wrong genre of game. A wargame, like Warhammer 40k, Warmachine, Malifaux, Infinity, or one of the games produced by Mantic will probably suit you very well.

This is where my lack of experience comes into play. I've never played a war game like these, and I probably have a lot to learn by playing these.

However, I don't think my game is in the wrong genre. There are games that do what I'm looking to do (D&D, Myth, DotR), and I can find a happy medium; it's just going to take some time, effort, and thinking outside the box.

The "thinking outside the box" is why I'm here; I just want to hear what others have to say about the matter and are thinking. Everyone has had a lot of good input and have been able to point me in some good directions.

Thanks for the input Soulfinger. If you disagree, agree, or have any other commentary, I would love to hear it.

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