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desperate for suitable theme (pic of boards included)

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NewbieDesigner
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-Everyone has their own empty player board that gets filled up with tiles by the end of the game (far left pic is empty board, middle pic is board being filled up).

-Players will be placing tiles and matching colors and shapes to advance up 4 tracks (far right pic that all players share movement on), e.g. place a red square next to a red circle and advance up the red track.

-Players will collect objects on the tracks so there will be some set collection and race for resources elements. One track will be just have powers to help make progress on other 3 tracks (move extra space for instance). The tracks don't necessarily have to be in straight lines like below. Winding and branching is fine.

An exploration theme seems natural but I can't think what the main player boards that move player pieces up tracks represents? I'm stuck on integrating the matching of colors and shapes on the individual player boards with the track advancements (pretty happy mechanically thank goodness).

One idea I had is players are deep sea explorers and get dropped into the ocean from a ship in one of those old atmospheric diving suits with an umbilical cord attached. But what do the individual playing boards represent? Some sort of control panel that keeps track of and moves 4 divers? Seems very tacked on with the color and shape matching.

Anyway, take a look at the board and track and let me know if you can think of other ideas or how to make the deep sea one work.

Thanks in advance as always.

MarkD1733
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Elements

Looking at the four colors, I immediately thought of the four elements. The geometry can be anything that...but reflecting the elements along with the colors. That said, could this be a theme about trying to unlock the balance in nature, a la druids?

537h
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Rival groups of

Rival groups of scientists/wizards/alchemists/etc. competing to find a cure/spell/philosophers stone/etc.? Breakthroughs on one track can effect progress in other areas and can give teams other tools to use or something.

ilSilvano
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Archeologists?

The first thing that comes to mind for me is: archeologists looking for ancient coins/artifacts.
Each tile is a digging zone, in each zone you find 4 ancient coins. If you can match a coin with another coin in another zone, you know you may have "found something" (like, there is an ancient town below that zone).
Coins are from different civilizations, so you keep track of the ones you are the leading expert.

Orangebeard
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Along the lines of digging

Along the lines of digging for treasure, maybe the players are mining for gems or precious metals and are following a vein in the rocks.

I also thought it looked a bit like an electrical circuit.

let-off studios
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Suggestions

DEEP SEA DIVER
One of the columns could represent available oxygen, and would deplete each turn. The other columns could represent different types of treasures uncovered by the divers. When there's a match, increase the corresponding column by 1.

Additionally, matches could also indicate hazards, and this could be represented by a column on the chart. Maybe there's a shark, squid, or other testy underwater creature tailing the diver. too many matches and the diver is the creature's next meal.

Players may also be able to 'purchase' one-shot items that help them on a future turn. Flood lights, harpoon guns, metal detectors, chum buckets, coral reefs, etc. can have various effects on a player's board or that of opponents. If players share the same board, then face-up tiles can represent area already searched.

OTHER IDEAS
Some stuff that might not have been suggested from previous posts.
- Flea Market/Merchant District: connecting vendors and customers. Obviously connecting two merchants or two customers together wouldn't help. Maybe all players could be on the same game board (the "Market Square"), and are competing to make sure their product is the most popular offering at the Market.
- Couples on a dance floor. Each column indicates the popularity of a new dance move at the party.
- Participants in a riot or uprising. Connect two rioters together or two cops together. Based on the level of columns, a faction's endurance is reduced. A player's secret agenda is to support the cops, support the rioters, or some other third party/parties with a specific outcome.
- Genetics/evolution. Each connection represents a favourable genetic pairing, increasing general traits of an organism (strength, agility, defense, etc.). The player whose organism best matches a card showing a specific criteria/challenge wins.
- Each pairing represents two individuals contracting a disease. Whichever disease infects the most people is the "winning plague."
- Smuggled goods. Add tiles to all the spaces face-down. Players choose a pair of tiles to either uncover, or rotate 90-degrees left or right. When a colored match is made, the tiles are moved and the pieces are slid tetris-style to fill in the blank spaces. When all tiles are removed, the player whose column has the highest total wins.

So there are a few off the top of my head. They're a dime a dozen, but it sure is fun coming up with them. But remember: it's all about the execution. :)

NewbieDesigner
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Thanks for the suggestions so

Thanks for the suggestions so far. Nothing is grabbing me yet (thought of two of them myself already) but keep them coming and no idea is too weird or quirky. :-)

NewbieDesigner
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Thanks let-off, I posted my

Thanks let-off, I posted my last response before I saw your post and will check it out now.

let-off studios
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Kingdoms by R Knizia

You may also want to check out "Kingdoms" designed by Reiner Knizia. It allows for tile placement, but scores rows and columns at the end of the game. All players share the same board but can augment the score multiplier for a given row or column, and the player that has the highest value in that row or column claims the points (or penalty) for it.

http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/119/kingdoms

Perhaps a stretch beyond what you're seeking, but maybe it will provide for some inspiration.

NewbieDesigner
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I think the deep sea diving

I think the deep sea diving idea works well with the track advancement mechanics but I'm not sure what to do about the individual player boards. It seems like they would represent a captain on the ship communicating with the divers and telling them how deep to go, etc. But what does matching symbols filling up the player boards represent?

let-off studios
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Matched Symbols

Matched symbols could represent discovered treasures, hazards, or items. If two symbols are placed next to one another but they don't match, perhaps the items are too damaged to be considered salvageable/usable.

NewbieDesigner
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Any idea as far as something

Any idea as far as something on the individual player board representing movement? The way it plays now is a symbol match results in a collected resource and a color match results in a movement up the track. On one track, color and shape are both movement since it involves being chased by something. At this point I have 5 "mini game" ideas for each individual track. One side of the board has 4 tracks that use the same idea for each track. The other side of the board has 4 different mechanics for each track. Your oxygen level one will probably replace one idea that was just ok in practice.

let-off studios
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Player Tokens?

Have you tried just placing a Player Token on a tile the player has just placed/flipped? It seems strange to me to move a track from one end of the other, and then collect or count tokens of the same colour as the tracks in a different way. Having a little player token shaped like a diver moving across the ocean floor would be cool and interesting-looking, in my opinion.

Why count resources separate from the tracks? Either that, or explain why you'd be collecting resources in one place and tracking something else in another. What would be the other thing needing to be tracked? I can imagine treasures (maybe several different types), oxygen/time, and health being tracked. What else can you think of?

NewbieDesigner
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One side of the board has

One side of the board has four split tracks (one shape, one color per track like in the pic here, so 8 total). This is more of a stock market/press-your-luck mechanic. Each turn you play a tile on your personal board and advance up the track on the shared board that corresponds to the symbol matched on the tile. So you can advance up several tracks per placement depending on how many symbols get matched. Also, at the end of each round a "disaster" tile gets flipped over that corresponds to a track. On the third flip of the same track, all pawns on one side of a dual tracks reduces to zero. Also, on each turn, you can cash in the progress you made on a track for points. After cashing in, your track advancement is reduced to 0 on one of the dual track. So the idea is to sell before the market crashes but you can push your luck to keep going up the tracks. I can see this working with the diving theme with oxygen running out or perhaps going deep into a cave collecting items before giant eel attacks or something like that. One more wrinkle is 4 special tiles that are drafted before each game. They are places in the 4 middle spots of the individual player boards and get activated when covered up (things like extra movement, some protection against crashes).

The other side of the board (think of Keltis that has multiple expansion boards to play on) still has 4 tracks but they do different things. One just enhances powers of the other three tracks. One is a set collection. And one you are racing for the middle of the track to collect items and then racing back to the beginning of the track while being chased by a piece that starts at the other end of the track but ends up on where you start (there is a deck to move the chasing piece, e.g, move 3 spots, move 1 spot, etc.). If it catches you, you have to drop collected pieces.

Hopefully that makes some senses.

let-off studios
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Go For It

Well hey, it sounds like you have a bunch of mechanics sorted out already. So put together a prototype and see how well everything works for you and what you envision, especially with the diver theme. :)

NewbieDesigner
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Yeah, I'm probably 75% done

Yeah, I'm probably 75% done on mechanics but got stuck on theme (as still am as far as individual playing boards that propel track movement).

questccg
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Strange to me

I don't know how you can design a game without already knowing it's theme?!

To me this sound strange. Is it because the game is an "abstract" type of game or is there some other reason?!

All my games have a theme and build upon that theme:

  1. "Quest AC" - doing quests (Fantasy Medieval)
  2. "Tradewars - Homeworld" - deck-building Sci-Fi style
  3. "Crystal Heroes" - 2 player duels (Again Fantasy Medieval)
  4. "Monster Keep" - 4 person Dungeon Crawler (Again Fantasy Medieval)
  5. "All-Stars GM" - Traditional Hockey cards (Sports)
  6. "V for Victory!" - 6 person Risk "WWII"
  7. etc.

I find it unusual to design a game without knowing what the theme of that game is supposed to be...

Best of luck with your game!

questccg
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Oceanic Coral Preservation

Based on the Diver-theme, what if it had to do with preserving the Oceanic's Great Barrier Reef and the divers would be trying to collect MATCHING pairs of corrals like starfish (both MALE and FEMALE).

Just my 2 cents!

Cheers...!

Update: Makes for a very educational game - because corals are usually very colorful and they come in all kinds of shapes...

Like starfish can have a sexe and "mate" but can also reproduce asexually and even change sexe! Don't know about other coral... Would need to dig into it further... But maybe it's worth YOUR time to look into this theme!

Update 2: From wikipedia = "Individual heads grow by asexual reproduction of polyps. Corals also breed sexually by spawning: polyps of the same species release gametes simultaneously over a period of one to several nights around a full moon."

Update 3: This is awesome = http://www.gbrmpa.gov.au/about-the-reef/corals/coral-reproduction

Sort of a mating ritual for corals in the GBR... Pretty interesting stuff... Especially the section on "Mass coral spawning"!

NewbieDesigner
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"I don't know how you can

"I don't know how you can design a game without already knowing it's theme?!"

This one started as a particular theme but gameplay evolved so much that the original theme didn't work anymore.

QuestCCG- very interesting. I will research some more tomorrow and I like the idea of bright colors.

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