Skip to Content

Zomb... Traitor Mechanic

15 replies [Last post]
SuperioR
Offline
Joined: 09/20/2010

Hey,

I've been designing some games back 'n forth for about a half year right now, and I tend to start on new games way to often. Most of the time its because I tend to make the game too complex and lose interest in it. This time I've tried to keep it simple, but thought about a interesting mechanic and need some input on it.

At the moment, I'm working on a co-op zombie game, where the players are locked in a house and need to survive against waves of non-player zombies that attack the house.

Basically, each player receives a hand of 5 blood cards at the start of the game, these cards represent a portion of the blood in their veins. There's two types of blood cards, 'Pure' and 'Infected'.
At the start of the game, their hand only consists of 'Pure' cards. The players hands of blood cards are kept secret from the other players.
The remaining blood cards form a blood deck.

So lets follow Player A from the start of the game, which means Player A has 5 'Pure' blood cards.

Player A then needs to smash some zombies in close combat to save ammo, but fails to kill everything and gets wounded by the zombie.
At this point, since he gets wounded by a Zombie, he needs to draw 1 blood card from the blood deck.
He draws a card and notice its infected.
This means that player has to discard one 'Pure' blood card. (When wounded, draw 1 blood card and discard down to as MANY infected cards as possible). When discarding blood cards, discard them face down.
So Player A now has 1 Infected card and 4 'Pure' cards.

After each game round, the players enter a "infection spreads" stage, and their infection (if they have one) might spread.
This means each player draws 1 blood card from the blood deck, and then:
- If they had one infected card previously, they discard down to as many infection cards possible
- If they didn't have an infected card previously, they discard down to 0 infection cards

So lets say Player A drew an Infected card, this means he now has 2 Infected cards and 3 'Pure' cards. (But if he would have drawn a 'Pure' card, his hand would have stayed as it was)

Okay, but whats the point of all these cards?

Basically, if the character ONLY have infected cards, he becomes a traitor and gets his win conditions reversed.
Additionally, if the character only have infected cards and gets killed, he doesn't die but instead becomes a Player controlled Zombie.
If a Human player (a player with 1 or more 'Pure' blood cards) gets killed, their character dies and they get a new one, unless the reserve characters are depleted, in which case the Zombies win.

The main problem I see with this mechanic is the following.

Theres 3 different ways of discarding blood cards after you've received them;
A - If wounded (or some other cases) discard down to as MANY infected cards as possible
B - In the "infection spreads" phase, discard down to as MANY infected cards as possible if you already had one, else discard so that you have 0 infected cards.
C - If healed (or something positive like that) discard down to as FEW infected cards as possible

The main point to remember is that you always have the same number (5) blood cards on your hand at all times. But it could get tricky to remember what to discard when.

The next problem is, you'll have to trust the players not to discard the wrong cards. This isn't a problem around here, as we really don't cheat, but what do you guys think about that?

Do you, more experienced designers, find more problems with this mechanic? Do you think its overly complicated?

Theres quite a lot of other interaction going on with these cards, like having players beeing able to show one of their cards to the other players to prove his loyality, or getting to look at 1 random blood card belonging to a player.
Players also have to face the dilemma of shooting other players before they turn Zombie to make it easier in the long run, even if it depletes the reserve characters. Or maybe as a 'Traitor' claim thats what you tried to do, but instead just have fun killing them.

Thanks for taking the time to read my wall of text,
SuperioR

le_renard
le_renard's picture
Offline
Joined: 10/08/2010
I like the atmosphere and the

I like the atmosphere and the mechanic so far... there's definitely something to do with this...

( in my own project, some characters can get infected by an infection slowly turning them into werewolves... once bitten, they have to roll one or more - depending on the character - bless/curse dice during some specific Moon Phases to see if the infection spreads into them... )

SuperioR wrote:
The next problem is, you'll have to trust the players not to discard the wrong cards. This isn't a problem around here, as we really don't cheat, but what do you guys think about that?

I think you can't rely on this... People around me don't cheat, but you should avoid letting the possibility to do so...

SuperioR wrote:
Or maybe as a 'Traitor' claim thats what you tried to do, but instead just have fun killing them.

Thematically speaking, this is probably not my idea of a zombie behavior ^^

A few questions :
- Can a traitor ( fully infected ) be healed ? If not, what's his Blood cards use ?

You should try "Forbidden Island" ( by Matt Leacock, who designed Pandemic )...

SuperioR
Offline
Joined: 09/20/2010
Thanks for the feedback

Quote:
I think you can't rely on this... People around me don't cheat, but you should avoid letting the possibility to do so...

The problem with this mechanic is that you have to discard in secret, other wise the other players can figure out if you have infected blood cards on your hand or not (even possibly how many you have). And even if you discard openly, the game sometimes forces the player to discard so that he keeps as many infected cards on his hand, how can the players know he's doing that if they don't know his entire hand?
I'm having trouble thinking of a way to prevent people cheating about that.

Quote:
Can a traitor ( fully infected ) be healed ? If not, what's his Blood cards use ?

At the moment, yes. If players heal him, he draws 2 blood cards, and then discards down to as few infected cards as possible. Meaning he'd in best case scenario be healed by 2 (if 2 'Pure' cards were drawn).
This is something that I'll have to keep in mind after play testing and stuff.

Quote:
You should try "Forbidden Island" ( by Matt Leacock, who designed Pandemic )...

I've played Pandemic a lot, haven't tried Forbidden Island though, as I've heard its a simplified version of Pandemic. As I don't have the capital to buy too many games, I prefer to get more unique games that satisfy different needs :)

Thanks for the feedback, much appreciated :)

sloan_man
Offline
Joined: 04/26/2011
Discarding in the open might

Discarding in the open might actually add to the atmosphere.
Think about pretty much ANY zombie movie. There's always that one dude that gets bitten and starts to look worse and worse, the other characters need him around to help out but there's now the ticking bomb problem of a potential Zombie in their midst.

The main issue then would be tweaking the mechanics so that the Players won't just turn a gun on a character when they start to get sick, Make each Player character essential to being able to pull off a flawless victory.

bonsaigames
bonsaigames's picture
Offline
Joined: 12/20/2010
Player States

I think the issue may come from your player states mechanic. You currently have four states for players; Pure, Infected, Traitor, and Player Controlled Zombie. It seems like that is too many for what you are trying to do. You may want to remove the Traitor State to simplify things. Going from Pure to some level of Infected, to PC Zombie sounds more like the genre you're trying to simulate.

Also check out Battlestar Galactica by FFG (you can read the rules online for free) for their take on traitors in our midst. Although contrary to my above advice they do provide for Cylon Sympathizers. :)

SuperioR
Offline
Joined: 09/20/2010
Great feedback

bonsaigames wrote:
I think the issue may come from your player states mechanic. You currently have four states for players; Pure, Infected, Traitor, and Player Controlled Zombie. It seems like that is too many for what you are trying to do. You may want to remove the Traitor State to simplify things. Going from Pure to some level of Infected, to PC Zombie sounds more like the genre you're trying to simulate.

Also check out Battlestar Galactica by FFG (you can read the rules online for free) for their take on traitors in our midst. Although contrary to my above advice they do provide for Cylon Sympathizers. :)

I think you might be spot on with the comment about too many states. I'll rethink about having the "traitor" and instead just make the players skip that phase and turn into PC Zombies when they lose the last pure blood card.

I guess the biggest loss with that change would be the moments when you try and decide if you should kill the player or not, since you dont know which side their on.

The good part is that it'd keep the same "slowly turn sides" idea, which could be interesting since you start to notice some players start to help less etc... Just have to tune it so it isnt always best to help out fully until "turned".

Oh by the way, I really enjoy BSG, one of the best thematic games i own :) really one of my biggest inspirations.

SuperioR
Offline
Joined: 09/20/2010
sloan_man wrote:Discarding in

sloan_man wrote:
Discarding in the open might actually add to the atmosphere.
Think about pretty much ANY zombie movie. There's always that one dude that gets bitten and starts to look worse and worse, the other characters need him around to help out but there's now the ticking bomb problem of a potential Zombie in their midst.

The main issue then would be tweaking the mechanics so that the Players won't just turn a gun on a character when they start to get sick, Make each Player character essential to being able to pull off a flawless victory.

The problem is that I really like the suspence of not knowing who is the bad guy and who isnt, basically who to trust in games that require trust. It would still work fine, but the suspence wouldnt be the one that I'm trying to bring to the players.

But if other ways arent working, ill have to consider changing the mechanic so that its harder to cheat but more open.

SuperioR
Offline
Joined: 09/20/2010
More on the states

bonsaigames wrote:
You currently have four states for players; Pure, Infected, Traitor, and Player Controlled Zombie

Thinking more about this, theres really "only" three states:

Human: 1 or more 'Pure' cards
"Traitor": No 'Pure' cards
Zombie: A player that has been killed when he didn't have any 'Pure' cards.

But as you said, not 100% sure it would fit the theme of the game, but I don't think theres more player states than in BSG really.

Oh also, the "Traitor" name is really bad and doesn't fit at all. Transformed Human?

bonsaigames
bonsaigames's picture
Offline
Joined: 12/20/2010
Why create an enemy?

Maybe I don't understand why the other Players would kill the "traitor". Once killed, is a PC Zombie less effective or dangerous than a "traitor" Player? What penalties make it undesirable to kill a Player early? What benefit is there to killing a "traitor"?

I agree that the term "Traitor" doesn't fit the genre, perhaps "Overcome", "Mad", or "Lost" would be better.

Levi Mote
www.bonsaigames.net

SuperioR
Offline
Joined: 09/20/2010
In a way...

The idea was that once they make the change to Zombie they'd lose the ability to use many of the items (But would still be able to use the simple items like an Axe or such). They'd also lose some speed, but in return gain more durability and the ability to infect other players. Basically not worse but different.

Thats the current version at least. But its too early to tell which way to go since I'm not yet sure about the core mechanics.

Thematically it makes more sense having the players turn zombie immediately when they lose their last 'Pure' card. So I'll have to try it out both ways and see which works better.

About players being able to cheat fairly easily, do you think thats a problem? Should game mechanics in general try to stop cheating, or is it okay to have a mechanic that forces players to do something but the other players don't know if its done properly?

Edit:

In a way they have to become less powerful, since the humans already lose 1 player from their team PLUS having that player now trying everything to stop you. And all while the humans have a lot of NPZ to worry about.

bonsaigames
bonsaigames's picture
Offline
Joined: 12/20/2010
Cheater, cheater

As far as the potential for cheating goes; whether it is a cooperative win condition or an individual win condition you have the same problem. It is advantageous and easy for the players to cheat.
I don't think it is thematic or necessary to keep your hand hidden. In a coop game the group can work to prevent their ally from turning and in an individual game other players can work to speed / slow the infected's change. Either way, I understand the desire to build suspense, but I don't think you need hidden cards to do it.

Levi Mote
www.bonsaigames.net

disaac
Offline
Joined: 02/26/2011
Some thoughts...

This game has some elements that do sound very intriguing to me. Particularly the Pure and Infected Blood cards in hand which determines how close a player is to turning to a Zombie.

So here are a few commenst I have so far:
I was quite confused for a while when I read
"When wounded, draw 1 blood card and discard down to as MANY infected cards as possible"
I would have probably stated it more like "... back down to 5, keeping as MANY ..."

I am also one of the many who think that the game should not leave the door wide open for cheating. I would prefer that the discards were face up. If this is the way the game goes, then you could say that as soon as a player must discard an infected blood card when they should be discarding pure blood cards, then that is the point where they completely turn into a zombie.

Now, this would still leave an issue with the infection-spreads phase since players could still cheat by discarding infections when they already had an infection, or vice-versa. One way around this might be by instead of drawing a card and discarding based on what you had previously, perhaps everyone just discards one of their pure blood cards. If they were already infected, this would increase their percentage of infection, and if they were pure, they would remain pure. You may need to balance this with starting with a larger number of pure cards in hand, or reducing how often this phase occurs.

One other thing I was thinking about here was how else could the blood cards be used. Perhaps when you perform an action, you must reveal a number of pure blood cards relative to the effort required by the action.

Anyway, as I said, just some thoughts that I had on this game. Hope to see how it turns out. Keep us updated.

t0tem
t0tem's picture
Offline
Joined: 04/21/2011
I like the pure/infected

I like the pure/infected blood mechanic. I think there's alot of potential there, well done!

SuperioR
Offline
Joined: 09/20/2010
Thanks for all the feedback

Thanks for all the great feedback guys.

I think I'll run with your way of discarding it disaac. Discarding open and if a player is forced to discard pure blood cards but cannot, they turn Zombie.

Also, I've been thinking about using the blood cards with actions. The way you suggest would work nicely to simulate the players "dumbing down" if they require 3 pure blood cards to do action X, but cannot since they're too infected and been losing their minds and can't operate difficult things anymore.

Another idea would be some actions requiring X infected cards, to represent the players gain some other traits when they've started to convert.

About the infection stage;

I've been thinking about changing it so that only players who has a wound token draws 1 card in the infection stage, and the same players discard 1 pure blood card. This means that players with only pure cards but who have received a wound can start to gain some infection, but I don't think I have a problem with that (maybe their infection was so small it couldn't be noticed.. etc).

Doing it this way would make it really fast and simple, and would work with the open discarding mechanic.

Theres certainly a lot to think about, and hopefully theres something to be used in this mechanic. :)

SuperioR
Offline
Joined: 09/20/2010
Current version

So the current version would be:

At the start of the game each player is given the same amount of pure blood cards as the players characters Health attribute.
~ These cards represent the blood rushing through the characters veins. The more cards they have, the more resistance they have against possible infections.
~ Additionally, the Health attribute determines how many wounds a character can receive before dying

At the end of the players turns (the infection phase), each player with a wound token draws 1 card from the blood deck and then discards 1 pure blood card.
~ This represents the infection possibly spreading.

Whenever a player receives wounds from a Zombie, the player draws 1 card from the blood deck and then discards 1 pure blood card.
~ This represents the character having a chance of getting infected by a zombies bite or scratch

Whenever a player is "cured" (*), the player draws X cards from the blood deck and then discards the same amount of cards, keeping as many pure blood cards as possible.
~ This represents the character getting a blood transfusion or something similar that might reduce the characters infection

If a player only have infected blood cards on his hand, he immediately reveals all his cards and the player is turned into a Zombie (ZPC).
~ This represents the character losing control over his body and turning into a Zombie
(Other way would be; If a player has to discard pure blood cards but have no remaining pure cards, the player is turned into a ZPC.
But it should have the same effect?)

When discarding blood cards, the players discard the cards face up.
~ This represents other characters seeing signs of the infection if a character is suffering from one.

(*) Cured might not be a good name to the action, but Healed wont work since Healing removes wound tokens and not infected blood cards.

bonsaigames
bonsaigames's picture
Offline
Joined: 12/20/2010
Looks good

Feels thematic and clean. Good work!

Levi Mote
www.bonsaigames.net

Syndicate content


forum | by Dr. Radut