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Forum Based Wargame

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Currently untitled, I'm in the midst of developing a war boardgame meant for play on message boards.

For those who wish to immediately peruse the in depth rules:

[From the Rulebook]
What is the Wargame?
The Wargame, using the temporary name 'Bloodied Lands', is somewhat similar to a board game, and is played on a message board or forum. Between five and fifteen players can fit on one map, each player representing the leader of a nation of creatures from common (and uncommon) fantasy settings.
Each player posts up to once a day with their intended researches, unit movements and other declarations, advances his civilization, and eventually aims to conquer each other player.

What Happens?
The game starts with each player deciding what race they would like to play, and then assuming control of that race in day 0 of the wargame. Each race has its own set of special rules, sees different growth rates for building, researches and population growth, and starts off with varying values in money, population and leaders.
Each player posts once a day with his or her actions, spends money on researches, makes treaties, trades and sending armies to fight other players.
Each night, at a scheduled time, a game-master tabulates each action, and moves the units around a map, all simultaneously. The game-master figures out what researches finish when, who sees population increases, spell effects and the results of each battle. After half an hour to an hour of work, the game-master posts the results in a daily update, and each player gets more funds, to research and declare actions once more, before the next update.

How Do I Win?
A player wins most often by leading an army of his people against each other remaining player, and killing them. This is a game with a great flexibility, however, and players can win (or lose) by virtue of magic spells, diplomatic strangleholds, acts of gods... to list but a few.

I'm a great lover of variety, and this is evident in the sheer volume of rules, the number of playable races (40 total, 50 planned for version 4.5) and the number of options available to each player.

In version 1, there were no written rules, and both players and myself winged it. Researches took a random amount of time, and the game became a micromanagement nightmare. What's more, a level 1 research for one player gave different results than it did for another. Pure chaos, fell apart on (suprisingly) day 30.

In version 2, I set out the time limits for researches & building, clarified a number of points (namely racial benefits/weaknesses) and so on. There was a minimal amount of battle seen, and the game finished on day 45 due to the sheer number of players that had to quit due to vacation times and such.

3.0 was simply further clarifications. Rather than have interest for stored money, the fifth commerce advancement brought 'taxes', which gave you money for the amount of land (tiles) you controlled. Much easier to keep track of, and I hoped it would draw players to want to take more land. I laid out monetary rewards for the first player to conquer another player, and figured out that half the reason players wanted to avoid war at all costs was that they had no idea how it would turn out. I stopped 'winging it' for battle results, and drew up the math for unit values, benefits of troop researches and so on. 3.0 finished as a losing player sought shelter with another player, and finished the massive doomsday ritual, (5 days to cast, easily interrupted, result: everybody loses.) It bears note that I took over for an absent player, and due to my frustration in the slowness of the game, I was the player that helped the other guy cast Doomsday. Finished on day 50.

3.5 was the first serious play. In 3.5, there was the first conquering of a player through military force (odd, as that was the original intent). Serra, playing the 'erudite' (research centric, small population) boomed ahead through each of the six categories of advancement, and won by using airships and bombs to crush the players one by one. 3.5 was the first game to be won by a player, believe it or not. Finished around day 30, if that.

4.0 is the current game in progress. With 4.0, I provided the rulebook, 40 races total, details on each of the numerous categories of magic, and also provided alternative paths. (Instead of pursuing magic & divine, a player can pay a relatively small cost, and go for shamanism.) 4.0 rule changes changed 'taxes' to 'resources' to clarify things for those who wondered why such high taxes didn't make their people miserable. This game, having my most intelligent players from previous rounds, is rather competitive, and seeing intelligent action from all sides.
4.0 can be found here.

4.5 is the next slated release. The reason I'm posting here...

  • Primary problem I'm looking for ideas to solve: in the event of war, both players lose units, and become vulnerable to attacks from other nations. If you kill 50 enemy units, you still lost maybe 10-25 yourself, and you'll lose in the long run against any other attacker.
  • Race ideas. I'm trying to stick to rather standard fantasy, with a mild lean towards steampunk. I'm a strong defender of variety, and I need ideas that aren't just different names, but have their own unique mechanic/balance.
  • Alternative research ideas. Currently, there is just Shamanism & Sorcery as alternatives.
  • Any glaring balance issues my players & I have missed spotting?
  • Playtesting. 4.5 will begin around mid-late January, and I'm currently weaning out the uninteresting/weak players from each round, requiring fresh faces & ideas.

It bears note, just to be safe: © 2004, "Bloodied Lands Wargame", EB, JM.

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