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Board Game as background for a novel

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laurenpburka
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Joined: 08/09/2009

I'm finishing up a fantasy novel (no really, contract and all that). In the story the characters play a board game. I've written down some ideas, but I would like to get it more detailed, and preferably playable, so I can write about actual games. If I can get the game playable and at least modestly entertaining, I'll probably GPL the rules and make a board pdf available for download.

The two players are land and water.
The game is played on a hexagon grid board.
Counters look like little bridges (though for prototyping purposes they'll probably be pennies)
Half the counters are land, half are water, like black and white in chess.
They are placed on a board straddling a hex boundary.
Hexes with more water bridges belong to water. Hexes with more land bridges belong to land. Hexes with a tied number belong to no one.
Players take turns placing individual bridges.
The player with the most hexes wins.
External conditions (days of the week, for instance) may affect some rules, most likely the start conditions.

Questions

What are starting conditions? Where is the first bridge placed?
When does the game end (probably when the tokens are gone).
Should moves after the first one be restricted to contiguous hexes? Will playing that way generate deadlocks where unfilled hexagons are still on the board while no moves are possible? If it's non-trivial to create a deadlock, could that be a legal game winning condition?
How big is the board?
Is the 'best' shape of the board hexagon, based on having a pleasingly symmetrical shape?
Since the number of possible hexes is even, how are ties resolved? Is it possible to prevent ties?

metzgerism
metzgerism's picture
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Joined: 06/19/2009
laurenpburka wrote:I'm

laurenpburka wrote:
I'm finishing up a fantasy novel (no really, contract and all that). In the story the characters play a board game. I've written down some ideas, but I would like to get it more detailed, and preferably playable, so I can write about actual games. If I can get the game playable and at least modestly entertaining, I'll probably GPL the rules and make a board pdf available for download.

The two players are land and water.
The game is played on a hexagon grid board.
Counters look like little bridges (though for prototyping purposes they'll probably be pennies)
Half the counters are land, half are water, like black and white in chess.
They are placed on a board straddling a hex boundary.
Hexes with more water bridges belong to water. Hexes with more land bridges belong to land. Hexes with a tied number belong to no one.
Players take turns placing individual bridges.
The player with the most hexes wins.
External conditions (days of the week, for instance) may affect some rules, most likely the start conditions.

Questions

What are starting conditions? Where is the first bridge placed?
When does the game end (probably when the tokens are gone).
Should moves after the first one be restricted to contiguous hexes? Will playing that way generate deadlocks where unfilled hexagons are still on the board while no moves are possible? If it's non-trivial to create a deadlock, could that be a legal game winning condition?
How big is the board?
Is the 'best' shape of the board hexagon, based on having a pleasingly symmetrical shape?
Since the number of possible hexes is even, how are ties resolved? Is it possible to prevent ties?

How many hexes go on the board? On a standard beehive grid with equal sides, the number of possible hexes is always odd (1, 7, 19, 37, 61, 91, 127, 169, 217, 271, 331, etc etc).
The game might end when a player "controls" a certain number of hexes, but it should be a high number (like 40%).
The shape of the board might not be best as a pure hexagon, since it is only two players - the players can use that extra space in one direction and it mixes up the game a little.

A lot of this you are going to have to decide for yourself. Frankly, if this is a piece of literature, you can be vague and simply imagine the game based on theme and play-style, and don't really have to do the meat of the project (mechanics and rules). However if you want this to be a full-fledged board game that possibly supplements your novel, you know what needs to happen.

Traz
Traz's picture
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Joined: 04/06/2009
simple game requires simple solution

Here ya go -

You may not place a bridge in a hex, or in a hex that surrounds the hex that you placed a bridge in your last turn.

You may want to add a piece - such as a flag, or unique token - for both players to mark where they played the previous turn.

Check out CHESSMEN OF MARS by E. R. Burroughs for the classic use of creating a game to drive the plot for a novel.

laurenpburka
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Joined: 08/09/2009
These are great ideas.

These are great ideas. Goodness, I haven't read any Burroughs since high school!

The ideas are particularly useful because in the book the game is supposed to require a lot of memory such that messing with your opponents' concentration is an important tactic. While novices might use additional types of counters or whatnot, no memory aids would be allowed in serious play. Since I have terrible memory, I'd never be able to play. :)

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