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Re-assignable piece stats - how to do?

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Spiralbound
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I have a game design which I've never been able to elegantly produce. The core concept is each player has a set of pieces (8, 10, 20, whatever). Each piece has 5 attributes which govern their behaviour: movement, attack, range, defence, & repair. The idea is for players to customize each piece by assigning points to these stats, resulting in a unique group of pieces for each game, permitting players to develop varying strategies for what combinations of piece assignments they use.

Anyway, the issue I keep banging my head against is how to physically produce pieces for this game.

I've tried having 5 dice atop each piece indicating attribute values, but this requires huge numbers of dice and makes each piece rather large. Similarly, sticking pegs into a piece requires large pieces and sacks of pegs. I even thought of having five numbered dials on each piece, but the pieces are still large and now expensively complex to make.

The two "best" solutions so far are:

1) Give each small piece a number, symbol, or other obvious identifier an to the side of the game board have a reference sheet listing the assigned attributes for each piece. This introduces data lookup activities into the game, and slows things down. Neither of which are appealing.

2) Have each piece dry-erase coated so players can write & rewrite the five numbers on each piece. This "works", but is hardly elegant or attractive looking.

Does anyone have a better idea for how to implement this in a visually appealing and functional way?

dangoodmanx
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Joined: 11/07/2019
I would use X-Wing as an example

I really like the way that the Star Wars X-Wing miniatures game handled this. Each unit had a miniature and a card, and the bases for the miniatures has a slot for a numbered token, and you could place the corresponding numbered token on the card that went along with the mini. If the mini was unique, you didn't need a number, but if you had 5 different tie-fighters, for example, you could number each one, and know which tie fighter was associated with each card.

You could then add tokens to the cards for damage, etc... it didn't seem too complicated to "look up" the info from the cards as needed to during the game. By comparison, I think that having the info for all pieces on one sheet will make it more difficult to quickly find what you're looking for. You could use the dry erase approach on the cards if they need to be unique every time, or have sheets of printed paper to track the stats.

Forgotten Waters has an interesting approach for creating unique characters, where they have paper stat sheets with attributes that can increase over the course of the game (by filling in boxes) and they have something like 30 or so stat sheet variations (with limits on different stats for each). They had other non-stat stuff with randomness thrown in for fun as well.

It makes it seem like you got a somewhat random character, but is less work than rolling stats or assigning points at the beginning of the game. You could easily have variations on the starting stat values as well.

Just some ideas.

let-off studios
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Cards + Clips

dangoodmanx wrote:
I really like the way that the Star Wars X-Wing miniatures game handled this. Each unit had a miniature and a card, and the bases for the miniatures has a slot for a numbered token, and you could place the corresponding numbered token on the card that went along with the mini. If the mini was unique, you didn't need a number, but if you had 5 different tie-fighters, for example, you could number each one, and know which tie fighter was associated with each card.
I think this is an excellent place to start, particularly if you don't want your design process to be bogged-down with fabrication concerns and the weight of the individual pieces.

To facilitate further customization, I'd suggest using clips affixed to each card, indicating the unit's ability scores. Slide them up or down to indicate Attack, Repair, Defense, and so on. These could be adjusted even mid-game depending on the circumstances.

dangoodmanx
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Just thought of another one

This requires some extra fabrication, but Cthulhu:Death May Die has a really cool tray system, where the player card goes inside of a clear plastic tray, and the top of the tray has indentations for the player to place little plastic pieces to represent the different stats on the card. The pieces line up with the stats and you move the piece when the stat changes. It's pretty cool, and keeps the pieces from moving during play, which is a problem in games where the pieces just sit on top of the board (Eclipse, Power Grid, etc...).

Spiralbound
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A bunch of interesting ideas

A bunch of interesting ideas there and some solid advice about just forging forward with development ant not letting a technical detail bog down the whole process. I hadn't thought of individual cards per piece. That would allow players to use groupings of them to aide in tracking which ones differed from others. If I limit the piece count to 10-12 per player it should be manageable yet still allow enough variations in balancing different piece abilities - especially if the cards are small enough, maybe biz card size or so...

Sliders are a neat idea and would avoid the dry-erase route, which can get messy, and would allow for stats changing through damage or advancements. Numbered tokens per piece would work. I've been assuming it would be too much of a game play interruption to keep referencing off-board stats, but if a popular game like X-Wing used it to good effect, it can't be THAT bad.

I'll hold off on custom tray inserts just yet, although I bet that would look pretty cool.

I'll move forward with these ideas and see what it looks like. Thanks for the feedback everyone.

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