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Best design for communicating what-conquers-what

4 replies [Last post]
Joined: 01/30/2012
Aircraft example.jpg
Fleet example.jpg
ICBM example.jpg
Matchup v2.jpg

So I've been working on my submission from the December GDS, and I've run into complaints from playtesters. My submission, TRIAD, is intended to be a light, 2-player, 10-minute game that only uses 14 pieces and a 5x5 grid gamemat (in keeping with the design parameters).

I've ended up with a system of 4 unique units, each of which beats and is beaten by a unique set of those units. After around 30 solo playtests with the same ruleset, I've obviously got that system memorized. Unfortunately, I've had a hard time communicating the rules with playtesters. I've used a player's aid, but that won't work for the finished product; the units themselves (1.75" squares) need to adequately communicate what they can beat and what they lose to.

Attached are 3 sample units. At the top, you see the 4 units (ignore the city icon); beneath each one is a broken sword (attacker dies), a broken shield (defender dies), a "bounced" shield (nobody dies), or a mushroom cloud (city is nuked). I feel like the graphics work fine to communicate the results of an attack, but if it doesn't work for players, then it is no good.

Also attached is the table that I need to encode within the units. This is essentially the player's aid that I'd like to have but can't.

There are only possible 4 results when one unit attacks another:
-Attacker dies
-Defender dies
-Both unit die (usually in the case of ICBMs detonating...)
-Nothing happens and both units remain exactly as they were before the attack

So, any better ideas on how to communicate the relationships? Is it hopeless trying to encode complex relationships between 4 different units with a method that fits inside a 1.75" square in an 10-minute game? Or do I just try to find better playtesters...?


Soulfinger's picture
Joined: 01/06/2015
Defining combat results by

Defining combat results by who dies is what has people confused. It's contrary to the majority of combat resolution systems for determining a victor. You want to put an icon for Attacker Wins, Defender Wins, etc, but really, you don't even need the second line showing the broken shield, sword, etc. Just color the unit silhouettes red, green, blue. That eliminates the need for confusing icons, particularly since red = bad, greed = good, blue = Jedi lightsaber is deeply ingrained in every player's subconscious. Diagonal split the colors for a "Both Destroyed" result. Then superimpose a number over the nuke icon for how many cities are destroyed.

JewellGames's picture
Joined: 06/03/2012
I agree that the broken

I agree that the broken shield/broken sword (who loses combat) seems backward of what is normally conveyed.

For example, the term is usually "the attacker wins" (implying the defender dies/loses) instead of "the defender dies".

I do like just straight up color coding the units themselves.
Green = beats, red = loses to, yellow (or w/e you want) = ties, orange (or w/e you want) = both die

Joined: 01/23/2015
Green for 'you win' and red

Green for 'you win' and red for 'you lose' should be clear to everyone (though there are dyschromatopsic players that might find that difficult to read - you could underlay this by texture of some kind). For 'nothing happens' I would use '-' or '0' as symbol, for 'both die' a skull symbol. There colors might be misunderstood.

Joined: 03/02/2014
How's this? A red X right on

How's this? A red X right on the image if I kill that thing, and a space below that thing (towards me) where there is an X if that thing kills me. (I/me refers to the card itself.) If we kill each other, there will be two X's, and if we ignore each other, there will be no X's. This seems intuitive to me.

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