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OverRealm Update 3/17

Hey everybody!

This board game design hobby has a real ebb and flow to it – I haven't been very active here for several months because I took a break from working on OverRealm, but now that I've jumped back in, look where I am! It's nice to be back, seeing familiar faces and new ones too.

In October, I was convinced OverRealm was in a great place, to the point where even some of you guys played it (shout out to let-off studios!). I even brought OverRealm to Metatopia 2016, where I got to watch my game be played by strangers – a first. These were instrumental in enhancing OverRealm, because contrary to my beliefs, it wasn't as far along as I had hoped. Let's jump in to what worked about it, and then what didn't work.


Minions – Watching players discover the little interactions between minion cards was fun to see. Some of their nuances were lost to players, which I liked – that showed me that repeated plays still had depths to uncover. With only four minions in a player's hand at one time, and no costs associated with playing them, my goal was to have each minion be equally appealing for different reasons. That was a success.

Heroes – With six playable heroes, I really want to make sure that they each have their own feel and that their mechanics feel thematically relevant. Players grasped the concepts quickly and grew attached to their styles. Instead of playing as various heroes, players always stuck with the same one, but also read the others.

Simplicity – Players grasped the flow of the game very quickly, to the point where I barely had to interject (only with some card interaction questions). That's huge for me. Also, as a subset to this, I found that, and this may sound somewhat mean-spirited, but players who may not be as smart as other really enjoyed my game.

Dominance – My dominance mechanic replaces tradition monster attack power. Minions have a dominance number, and players sum the dominance of their minions to see who's is higher. Players liked how straightforward it was and that it eschewed what you'd normally expect from a game like this.


Combat – Playing minions is only half the game. The other half is an RPS combat system that directly impacts minions, both yours and your opponents. The major problem with how I implemented combat was that it impacted the entire game too much, to the point where which minions you played had no impact in who won. One player realized this as I explained the rules and played both minions and combat cards randomly...and won. He didn't even read the cards. That was tough to watch, but it was necessary to show how flawed the implementation was. Players also thought combat was overly punishing to the loser – the winner got a benefit and the loser didn't.

Crumbling Synergies – Synergies between minions is a fun, crucial component to the game, and players that lost combat in the early goings could lose important minions. This has a negative snowballing effect that players did not like.

The consensus was this – everything in OverRealm should revolve around your minions and hero because they're the best parts. Combat should funnel into the minions more.

After months of thinking and tinkering, I've made some changes to OverRealm that make it a better play experience. These were my changes:

Combat – There used to be three different combat options to match the RPS relationship. Now there are five. There's a closed loop of:

Attack beats Power-Up, Power-Up beats Counter, Counter beats Attack

This is what existed before, and still remains intact (although now Power-Up greatly impacts your minion synergies). If a player loses combat with one of these options, they still get to use a weak version of it, so combat isn't a complete loss. Players can try to leverage this knowledge from players to better predict what they might play!

I have added a Defend card to combat. Defend beats all of the above options – attack, power-up, and counter. You can't play it every turn, it has a small penalty, lets you skip the dominance phase if you think you might lose it this turn, and even prevents your opponents from using their weak combat action. This allows players to build their boards with more minions for fun synergies in future turns.

Lastly, I added a Burst card to combat. Burst beats defend but loses to attack, power-up, and counter. It's the strongest combat card in the game, but you have to really think your opponent will defend to make it worth it.

I essentially made an RPS system within an RPS system that allows player more maneuverability and options, making for a more engaging phase in the game, while also making sure that it compliments minions more than disrupting/ignoring them. My intent for this game since the beginning was to make an RPS combat game where players' boards affects what action they might select. These changes definitely enhance that concept.

The only other change I made to OverRealm was the addition of Loadout cards. Each hero now has three unique Loadout cards that they select to start the game with. These have additional, permanent abilities that enhance minion synergies and give heroes an altered playstyle.

After watching and playing games with these changes, I'm very pleased. I'm finally at the point where I want to play OverRealm for fun. That's a cool feeling.

Thanks for reading, and feel free to check out the OverRealm rulebook here:


Forever "tweaking"

You of course know the 90% rule: the last 10% is usually the toughest part to get all of the kinks out of the game.

If just penned about 6 hours worth of rulebook writing... And to be real honest, while writing the rules - I too had an "itch" for some minor re-think regarding the expansion.

I may still need to revise to be 100% certain that the rules are clear enough.

But it's a "good" hobby - isn't it?!

Cheers mate.

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blog | by Dr. Radut