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Brainstorming: Tactical and Building Experiences

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saiyanslayer
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I've been working on a game lately and I'm taking a step back to look at why I'm making it. I could use someone to bounce thoughts off of so I can sort myself out.

The game I've been working on for the last month was basically "Zombicide Meets Robotech" and I am starting to realize I may be making a rookie mistake by trying to convert a game I like into a game I want. So now I'm looking at what I actually want.

My sources of inspiration are XCOM: Enemy Unknown, Zombicide, Mutant Chronicles, Eclipse, and Pathfinder Adventure Card Game.

My biggest question ATM: what gives you a satisfying feeling during a strategy game aside from winning? For me, it is when I look at some of the options available to me and I make something greater than the sum of the parts. I love watching my creations perform well and (as prideful as this sounds) I like having those ideas/creations help my team out in a meaningful way. I like to have my work shine for all to see.

I also enjoy combat in a game. I love rolling and watching several enemy models leave the board. I recently realized I hate Super Dungeon Explore and Decent though: enemies with multiple hit points really grind my gears. It's okay to have a boss or tough enemies to take a few hits, but a player should be able to dispatch mooks easily. I also hate grid movement; I think Zombicide did it right with moving through zones and rooms instead of moving by a grid.

What are your thoughts? What tactical options and character building in a game have you found to be enjoyable?

Kroz1776
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Grid Movement

I wholeheartedly agree with you on zone movement when it comes to games like Zombiecide BUT I think in other games it works very well. I think dungeon delving style games benefit more from zone movement than a strategic game.

To answer your main question? I just love the depth of it all. Making plans and seeing them succeed or fail based on the other person's plans. Sometimes its fun just to recreate a historical battle.

saiyanslayer
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Uhg, Dungeon Crawlers

Ya, I guess my distaste of dungeon crawlers is caused by grid movement.

I used to play a tonne of D&D, Star Wars, and other movement-concious games, but found myself slowly hating them for restricting me. Movements dependant on tape-measuring (Iron Kingdoms, for example) seem to be worse. I've slowly become a fan of how FATE and Cortex Plus deals with movement: it isn't as important as the actions. That what Zombicide is like for me. Doesn't matter if I'm behind a lamppost, going over rough terrain that slows me down, or if I'm just that one tiny square away from melee: killing zombies is more important than that.

You mentioned depth: what is depth to you? Choosing the units dependant on their stats, placing them in the right place, and using the rules to their most effectiveness?

Kroz1776
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What is Strategy?

A famous person (I forget who) once said a battle is won through slaughter and manouver, but the greatest general is he who wins through only manouver. I'd say the most important thing for a strategic game (to be truly strategic) is one that deals with manouver. Chess shows this well. You can play a game of chess and the way to win the game isn't truly to capture more pieces, but to out manouver your opponent. This is why I believe grids are essential to a strategic game, or tape measures but like you I don't really favor tape measures.

If you give me and an opponent an army that is identicle with very low variety of units, the game won't have as much depth as a game with a large variety of units. This is like checkers vs. Chess. Chess has a much larger pool of move combinations for a match than checkers. If every pawn moved in a different manner, this number would only increase. If the sides were asymetrical, this number would grow further.

This is depth for me. A game that has depth causes me to think about what I will do and weigh all my options. It allows me to have a strategy. Some games basically punish you for not following the strategy the designers had in mind. Agricola, for example, punishes you for specializing. A game to have true strategic depth needs to have options. Settlers has some strategic depth to it. I've seen people win with only three settlements to their name, whereas others have won only have built one city. Now the game has no where near as much depth as a true strategic game, but that's what strategy is about, the choices.

saiyanslayer
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Awesome.

Good points. You've given me some stuff to consider.

Kroz1776
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:D

Happy to help!

saiyanslayer
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Depth

I played around with the idea of your depth (and played a long game of Zombicide) and I think I've got a few ideas:

  • A variety of actions is a good thing as long as the actions are meaningful, but maybe giving players one or two actions (no more to reduce complexity) only they can do will add depth. Abilities should be unique and interesting, not "Add one more point of damage."
  • Maps should have alternate routes to allow more choice. Maps should also be changeable between games to keep a game interesting and reduce the chances of being predictable. I will want to limit what features and uses a map can have to reduce the "Analysis Paralysis."
  • A game should reward players for thinking outside the box, not try to limit them. I think this is the biggest lesson I could take away from both what you mentioned and what I think is a theme of Zombicide.
  • Kroz1776
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    I think we're in concurrance

    One thing you hit on that I think is extremely important is that abilities need to be something that give choices and not something like, "You do +1 damage! Woo Hoo!"

    Often times, just the routes that you must move through are enough to create strategic depth. Games should reward players for trying different things, not punish them for not following the "coded" strategy to win.

    saiyanslayer
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    New Plan

    So I've dwelled on the input here, played quite a few different board games, and I think I have a new direction. I was going to go with grid-based combat, but I was struggling to find a way to keep it interesting above the "I shoot, use ability X, and move" and decided on a different approach.

    Players are a group of resistance fighters piloting mecha (more like Gundams and ZOE2 than Battletech) fighting an invasion force of mechas that have taken over their city illegally. Players outfit their mechas, select from a collection of missions (some of those missions are random, other are standard), and attempt to hinder enemies forces. Successful missions (and some failures) provide more equipment, grant Pilot skills cards (represents experience), and create effects to try slowing down the enemy. Missions will be tied to locations on the map, where each location can have an effect on the mission (more gear when successful, harder to be covert, increased chance to damage enemies, etc).

    The Depth:

  • Players choose their pilots and their mecha load-out.
  • Players can choose to do standard, always available missions or can attempt some high-risk, high-gain missions (and can even have more than one player do the same one to improve odds, or do separate missions and improve game progress).
  • Players can choose to go on the same mission together to improve the chances
  • Successful missions will allow players to pick Pilot cards, which grant abilities. These abilities could be a reroll, for example, or could tie into events to lessen the impact of bad cards.
  • Kroz1776
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    Now We're Talkin'!

    I must say your new ideas sound awesome! I love the idea picking your mecha load-out. I have a question about the missions though. Are these missions what you have to complete to win the game, or are they just missions that when completed help you power-up/slow down the enemies? Basically are the missions things that will detract from the main goal but offer rewards that can help you acheive that end goal more easily or are they the steps that lead to the end game goal?

    NakedPin
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    Combat System

    The thought of "decking out your own character" is always a huge plus when I play games so the concept that you are proposing sounds super interesting. However as you mentioned, the combat mechanic is what I feel becomes the main issue. If it DOES become the standard pick what to do, roll then resolve style then might aswell make it into a warhammer mod. That would tap into a community that already is a fan of that battle style.

    If you are looking for a new battle style then maybe something like the Yahtzee mechanic in King of Tokyo. To +1 the mechanic, perhaps everyone rolls and locks into their dices at the same time (or whoever is participating in the same fight).

    Maybe each player has a small deck of cards (~20) that consists of battle moves. A hand of 5, use cards as their face up ability of use it face down to move around. To add to the theme, they need to come back to "refuel" their cards which would be to shuffle their discards back in. Each Mecha has a unique 20 card deck (I saw this mechanic in a racing game prototype that I played the other day and it worked really well!)

    As it seems like battling would be a good ~40% chunk of your proposed game, make sure to make the battle mechanic are as fun, interesting and engaging as possible.

    Kroz1776
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    Just building off this!

    NakedPin wrote:
    Maybe each player has a small deck of cards (~20) that consists of battle moves. A hand of 5, use cards as their face up ability of use it face down to move around. To add to the theme, they need to come back to "refuel" their cards which would be to shuffle their discards back in. Each Mecha has a unique 20 card deck (I saw this mechanic in a racing game prototype that I played the other day and it worked really well!)

    As it seems like battling would be a good ~40% chunk of your proposed game, make sure to make the battle mechanic are as fun, interesting and engaging as possible.

    When you customize your mecha, you could have a small "deck" of cards for each weapon. Thus if you're gonna use your 5" rockets, you would have to play a 5" rocket card (and each of those would be different). Thus if my mecha has lasers, rockets, and perhaps a sword, I'd shuffle those three decks together and then when I attack I play a card. I could easily seeing one special atribute for swords cards is that they get shuffled back into the deck instead of being discarded.

    Anyways, I like that system but all systems have flaws and advantages. Another way is to do combat like Mansions of Madness. I forget the exact mechanics of it so you should check it out through a youtube video or whatnot.

    saiyanslayer
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    Whew, here we go...

    Kroz1776 wrote:
    I must say your new ideas sound awesome! I love the idea picking your mecha load-out. I have a question about the missions though. Are these missions what you have to complete to win the game, or are they just missions that when completed help you power-up/slow down the enemies? Basically are the missions things that will detract from the main goal but offer rewards that can help you acheive that end goal more easily or are they the steps that lead to the end game goal?

    Good question. I think the missions would be both important to prevent the game from winning and, with good gameplay and luck, provide an opening for the players to win before the game ends. So the game would have a standard method to win (defeat the end boss), but could also find other methods to win.

    NakedPin wrote:
    The thought of "decking out your own character" is always a huge plus when I play games so the concept that you are proposing sounds super interesting. However as you mentioned, the combat mechanic is what I feel becomes the main issue. If it DOES become the standard pick what to do, roll then resolve style then might aswell make it into a warhammer mod. That would tap into a community that already is a fan of that battle style.

    Are you talking about the Warhammer game or RPG? What is the mechanic like?

    NakedPin wrote:
    If you are looking for a new battle style then maybe something like the Yahtzee mechanic in King of Tokyo. To +1 the mechanic, perhaps everyone rolls and locks into their dices at the same time (or whoever is participating in the same fight).

    Kinda clever: players working together provide more dice to a skill check, and can use their mecha load-out to add more dice, change dice results, reroll specific dice, or gain automatic successes. You could even have different dice types for weapons that do/don't work well together (d4s for missiles, d8s for firearms, d12s for lasers)

    NakedPin wrote:
    Maybe each player has a small deck of cards (~20) that consists of battle moves. A hand of 5, use cards as their face up ability of use it face down to move around. To add to the theme, they need to come back to "refuel" their cards which would be to shuffle their discards back in. Each Mecha has a unique 20 card deck (I saw this mechanic in a racing game prototype that I played the other day and it worked really well!)

    As it seems like battling would be a good ~40% chunk of your proposed game, make sure to make the battle mechanic are as fun, interesting and engaging as possible.

    I totally agree the combat mechanic would have to be engaging, but I'm hesitant to use cards. Cards that give a specific value seem to leave a bad feeling for me. I think it's because I already know the combat result. May work great in a racecar game (and it sounds awesome), but I don't feel that it would be a great fit. I have been known to change my mind though.

    The battle mechanic would have to be quick, fun, and modular. It would also have to allow skill checks (covert actions, scouting, and maybe leadership so characters with poor mecha choices can do something outside of combat). I also need to penalize players for taking risks.

    Kroz1776 wrote:
    When you customize your mecha, you could have a small "deck" of cards for each weapon. Thus if you're gonna use your 5" rockets, you would have to play a 5" rocket card (and each of those would be different). Thus if my mecha has lasers, rockets, and perhaps a sword, I'd shuffle those three decks together and then when I attack I play a card. I could easily seeing one special attribute for swords cards is that they get shuffled back into the deck instead of being discarded.

    One idea I was playing with is having mecha parts as tiny tiles that can be flipped over when used (rifle adds another die for example). You may attempt more than one mission, but now you've got nothing but your base stats to use. Damage dealt to a mecha would instead force you to put a number of parts into the salvage pile. Each player can repair one part a turn, or one can spend their turn repairing multiple parts for the group (and then jumping in a mission if need-be).

    Kroz1776 wrote:
    Anyways, I like that system but all systems have flaws and advantages. Another way is to do combat like Mansions of Madness. I forget the exact mechanics of it so you should check it out through a youtube video or whatnot.

    Read a bit about it. Inspired me to think of a system where players get different coloured dice related to a skill: covert, combat, leadership, and scouting. There would be a symbol for each of these skills, and these dice may share multiple skills.
    Combat may:

  • have two Combat hits on a 6;
  • have one Combat hit on a 4 or 5;
  • have one Scout hit on a 3;
  • have one covert hit on a 2;
  • have no hits on a 1.

    Covert may:

  • have two Covert hits on a 6;
  • have one Covert hit on a 3, 4 or 5;
  • have one Scout hit on a 2, 3, or 4;
  • have no hits on a 1.

    Mecha Components could add the following effects:

  • Covert hits also count as combat hits
  • Each scout hits adds another combat hit
  • Leadership allows that many dice to be rerolled
  • Missile launchers can be flipped to make a combat die an automatic hit (before/after rolled?)

    That would solve a lot of my issues. Your mecha build creates the pool of dice you always use and determines how good you are at what. Each mission, you just grab the dice and roll. Use your components after the roll to improve it.

  • Kroz1776
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    Shnipaw!

    Sounds cool! I like the idea that you can use your weapons to modify your rolls or add dice. You can also make certain weapons have their own attack parameters. Like a sniper rifle allows you to fire further away, more attack, etc. There's that possibility too!

    saiyanslayer
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    Kroz1776 wrote:Sounds cool!

    Kroz1776 wrote:
    Sounds cool! I like the idea that you can use your weapons to modify your rolls or add dice. You can also make certain weapons have their own attack parameters. Like a sniper rifle allows you to fire further away, more attack, etc. There's that possibility too!

    We're thinking alike: Sniper rifle could be flipped to allow you to add it's dice to mission performed beside your location.

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