Lines of Fire prototypes are progressing nicely. I have improved the graphics and created some better-looking tokens -- the wall tokens even have a fitting physical texture on one side because I glued them on some rough packaging cardboard.
Besides improving the looks and layout, I'm mostly focusing on polishing and modularising the rules. Some of the things that I added after the first prototype will now be in a separate game variant. In the end, there will probably be 3 or 4 game variants that are composable i.e. you can play with several variants at the same time. I hope that won't turn out to be very confusing, and will feel natural. The variants I'm thinking of are:
The core rules will then be for a short game with player elimination, and not very thematic since the Priest abilities will not be used. It should be quite simple to learn and will be what's recommended as the first play. In addition to combining the variants, players can also choose to play on a square or hex board. I am thinking of adding other boards with square spaces, but don't have concrete plans. A couple of players have asked for a much larger board, but I don't think its such a good idea for most players.
Besides the polishing work, I have a few design issues that I'd like to solve somehow, but find really difficult to solve elegantly.
1. Speed power-ups are too good.
The bomb power-ups are pretty much useless in the core game, beyond 2-3. Maybe some players would use 4 but that's rare. So you do want some bombs, but not a lot.
The range power-ups are both good and bad: they allow you to bomb someone from further away, but it will be harder for you to get away from your own bombs. You may want them, or may not.
The speed power-ups are always good: more steps is always better, giving a good chance of surrounding someone with bombs. You always want more speed power-ups!
Range power-ups seem the most balanced: they give an advantage but perhaps a disadvantage as well. Bomb power-ups are not ideal in the core game as you can't use more than a few. In the "Wrath of the Gods" variant you can use them (and all others as well) to pay the cost of using abilities. But if one player ends up picking up a lot of speed power-ups, and the others get almost none, that gives him a big advantage.
I guess ideally the other players would co-operate somewhat against the speediest one, but it doesn't seem to happen. What could be an elegant disadvantage to having lots of speed power-ups?
What do you think? What could be the downside of having lots of movement steps?
2. Turn order is quite important some times I'd like to make the turn order more balanced. Currently the first player token moves clockwise each round, but with 4+ players that's quite a few rounds of your neighbour going before you. The only way I've thought of solving it so far is to have a concept of "odd" and "even" players where odds go first if the first player is odd and so on. This sounds too clumsy to even try at a playtest.
Hmm.. wait a minute. What if the player with the least amount of speed tokens always goes first?