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War of the Worlds game: Mechanics Versus Theme

War of the Worlds, figure 1. A shody mess of doodles, sketches, inspiration and bad ideas.

(I'm just trying to understand whether I should post additional biog pages or make a 'child page' of the original post? Lets see what happens when I post this...)

It appears to be an age old conundrum: Mechanics or Theme? No-one can agree which is the greater. Obviously, in a game like this it's theme :).

War of the Worlds lays out the two 'sides' of the conflict; Earthlings Vs Martians.
So, a 1v1 game.

The title suggests a 'world-wide-war' scope but in reality the Martians arrive, vapourize some people, trash southern England, and then die after catching a cold, without getting much else done.
It's War of the Worlds, not southern England. I feel I'm going to change this ...

At the time of the story (around the 1895/7/ish) the British were the supreme military power in the world, so their total defeat means the planet is screwed.
Given the overwhelming power the Martians wield it seems odd to evenly match them, so it's going to have to be asymmetric. The Martians need to WIN...

So, given the above, there's an obvious, relatively straight forward war game design that immediately springs forth:

World Wide Map. Earthling solders everywhere all over the map. Martians arrive via rockets, and start slaughtering the Earthing player. Martians have a 90% of winning every battle. All the Martians die after, say, the 20th turn, thanks to a runny nose. The game is an attrition-based thing with the humans trying to outlast the Martians, and the Martians trying to exterminate the vermin. Add some random leaders (for both sides), some random strengths, and some random weaknesses, for replay-ability ...

Perhaps as the Martians die, the human player can take their body/machine and upgrade their odds of winning a battle, to try and slow the slaughter.

Perhaps we can have the martians fire the rockets from Mars which means the human player can workout where they will land and mass troops accordingly.

Don't see any need for non-combatant humans, weed, boats, tanks.

I'm also keenly aware of one other thing - my first designs at anything are usually terrible...


hi. as regards to theme vs

as regards to theme vs mechanic im firmly on the mechanic side. this is purely because i have played lots of abstract games with great mechanics that i love (chess, backgammon, go, tak etc etc) and i have played a fair few theme heavy games with bad mechanics that are awful. there are of course many counter examples and ideally you would have a mix of both, but its easier to fix a mechanically sound game with a reskin than the opposite.

as for your game...
1) dont worry about it only being set in England, make it a world invasion. partly because a lot of people presume it was set in america. also i think it was meant to be world wide but seen through english eyes because thats where wells came from, and it means there can be more of a cohesive plot.
2) an alternative to 1vs 1 might be 1 vs many (a player for the martians, vs many human players) or a co-op (humans vs martian ai)
3) to overcome the imbalance of the species i would try many weak humans and fewer bigger martians. break their machines with your broken bodies.
4) you dont have to play the whole book. one thing to try might be playing as a martian machine, trying to abduct the most humans before you die of the sniffles.
5) there should be a way to kill tom cruise. ( i mean in the game, for his terrible film version, but also as a general statement)

Responding to your

Responding to your comments:
1. Yeah, World-wide seems more fun than just focusing on England.
2. I'm trying to imagine 1vX - my fear is that either we have drastically power up the Martians to compensate for the lack of turns or we take the Earthling player and divide them by X ... which doesn't sound like a whole lot of fun. Mind you, multi-player stuff is often more fun ... it's something to consider for the future.
3. Agreed. The Martians strength is their technology. The humans strength is just the sheer number of them.
4. I don't think there's much of an issue to implement the full book, since, really, not a lot happens; the Martians arrive, kill, wreck stuff, and then die.
5. I think the TV show Preacher already did it :)

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