Skip to Content

Ninjas scaling walls - Heights in 2D?

13 replies [Last post]
vonbad's picture
Joined: 08/03/2010

Hi guys, this is my first post.

Firstly I'd like to say that im really glad to have found this community and im looking forward to being involved. Ive been interested in board games from a young age and have recently thought about developing a couple ideas of my own.

I am currently developing a boardgame with a Ninja/Assasin theme. Players become a ninja from 1 of 4 clans. Each game is based around achieving goals/missions such as stealing protected objects, assasinating targets ect. whilst avoiding guards, guard dogs and other ninjas.

In order to complete missions the ninjas will have to plan strategies to avoid guards and navigate terrain, climb walls, run across roof tops, jump from various obstacles.

The major problem is I dont want to create 3D terrain for the game and want to just have the game board. I now need to show the vertical heights which each ninja is currently at:


*A ninja is on a roof and the target is in the room directly below.

*A ninja and target are in the same room but the ninja is hanging above the target from the celing.

*A ninja is scaling a large castle wall, how far up is the ninja?

I have thought about a couple of ideas which could be used:

*Having individual player cards with a height scale and a marker, but everything on the board would also need to be represented and I would prefer a system which is quick, easy and obvious to every other player.

*Markers which follow each ninja (gems, stones), but think they may frustrate/confuse players by the continuing moving and mixing up with other pieces.

*Cleverly designed game pieces which somehow have moveable markers/notches on them. But every piece on the board would need something similar and I would like to keep the pieces simple.

I'd like to keep the game relatively simple and easy to play (due to a history of trying to convince and teach "Non-Gamer" friends to play a new game) but also want ninjas jumping from roof top to roof top and hanging from celings ect.

Multi levelled 2D board game, can it be done?

Any suggestions or help will be hugely welcomed.

Thanks again.

Ive tried searching for similar posts but couldnt find any, so please forgive me if this topic has already been covered :)

Pastor_Mora's picture
Joined: 01/05/2010
Just sharing my experiment

Check the image below:

If you are an illustrator, tell me if it's doable. I think it could be.

Keep thinking!

Joined: 05/22/2010
Difficult to say the least!

I think you are going to have problems with multiple pieces sitting on the same space - say a ninja on the roof, another on the ceiling directly underneath, and the target directly underneath that. 3 different pieces at different heights on the same square.

One way to keep it simple could be to create more of a video game style side scroller type, with the 2 dimensions being horizontal and vertical. That way you can still perform all the required ninja moves like wall climbing, rooftop to rooftop, even backwards jumping into a tree if you feel like it!

larienna's picture
Joined: 07/28/2008
I had the same game design

I had the same game design idea.

My solution was to use a square hex map where 1 hex = the maximum vison range of a unit. Or units can see at most in adjavent hex.

Each hex will contains various features like houses and bushes. The location of the player pawn will indicate where is his. Ex: on bushes = hidden in bushes.

It is very hard to implement this theme and it will take me a lot of time before I figure out.

One thing for sure is that you want either to go with a very high level abstract point of vie, or a not so detailed level. because for example, you cannot design an AI to make units move on the board and plan ambush points.

This is why I thought of using larger hex. A ennemy in the hex means that there is an ennemy nearby and my location will influence his detection success. Then everything is a matter of stats or roll to know if you neutralise your ennemy.

dnddmdb's picture
Joined: 01/06/2009
Three areas per room.

I'm not sure how this would work for walls, but this is my idea.
You have a single room. Now, the room is divided into three areas (floor, ceiling, roof). These areas are taken to be on top of each other, in the respective order. Now, there would be certain rules as to how you can move into these areas and how you can interact with other players. For example:
1. Ninja on roof cannot see a ninja in the floor of the same room, and vice versa.
2. When on a roof, a ninja can move from their room to the roof area of an adjacent room for one action.

So, when a ninja is in a room (floor) he places his pawn in the floor area of the corresponding room. If he uses an action to jump so that he clings to the ceiling, he takes the action and moves to the ceiling area of the same room.

Does that seem ok?

Joined: 04/13/2010
I'm with Reefknot's idea.

I'm with Reefknot's idea. Having a video-style "from the side"-view can be illustrated very nicely. This will make it easy to see whether a player is located on the roof, inside the building or in the dungeon blow ground.
Some ideas:
1) have secret passages such as ventilation shafts and sewers that are shortcuts that only can be used by ninjas, but not by other characters. Maybe some of the enemy characters can move through some of these (guard dogs can run through a small opening, but cannot climb walls, guard alligators can only move in the sewers etc.). Some of these passages makes moving very fast (don't use hexes but rather differently sized zones depending on how fast you move in that specific location).
2) at some locations, it is possible to see from the roof-level down to the floor below (windows or doors) which opens up for assassinations from above.
3) use cardboard markers that can be flipped for the characters. This can show whether the character is on alert or not.
4) the ninja cardboard markers can also be used for secret moves. Say that a ninja uses a smoke-bomb. He changes his ninja-cardboard marker to 3 hidden markers stacked on top of each other. 2 of this markers are blank on the hidden side, while one of the markers has a ninja on it. Only the player who threw the smoke-bomb knows which is the true on. During the smoke-ninjas turn, he moves all three markers in different directions. The other players do not know which one is the real ninja and which ones are fake. These markers are revealed if someone gets close enough to see the presumed ninja. Then flip it and see if it was the real one or a fake.
5) to make the world a little bit more 3D, you can use multiple "from the side"-view. What I mean is if you have your first "from the side view" in front of you going from left to right, you can have another "from the side view" below it. At certain points in each "from the side"-view it is possible to move from one "from the side"-view to the next. Maybe the first row is the castle, the one below the castle is the village and the one below it is the forest.
6) At certain locations, the ninja can buy/get stuff in the form of different cards. In the forest, the ninja might find the old grand-master ninja that gives him access to the "special ninja killing blow"-card, in the village the ninja might buy a "ninjato made by the mastersmith" or get a mission at the local tavern.
7) have the different enemy characters move in some simple random fashion. Roll a dice: 1-2 on alert, 3 move left, 4 move right, 5 rest, 6 roll twice

...ok, maybe I should stop writing now...
Good luck!

vonbad's picture
Joined: 08/03/2010
Thanks guys

Some great suggestions so far, thank you guys :)

Your ideas have made me look at my board layout again and game pieces.

Ideally I would like a birds eye view of the terrain so still not sure how to depict the 3/4 layers on top of each other.

Maybe add an extra level down on the scale and colour code each layer? Dotted outlines for the -1 and +1:

+1 (Roof tops, Tree tops). Red dots
+0.5 (Ceilings)
0 (Streets, Allys, Room level),
-1 (Ditches, Sewers, Basements)Blue dots

Each character then swaps its base from a plain base to either a red or blue base each time they change a layer?

Still have a problem with ceilings tho, i'd like the game piece to look or be played differently due to the difficulty of hanging from a ceiling, I have thought about laying the ninja face down to represent its stealth mode, ideally I need the ninja to be upside down or on its back to represent ceiling hanging ?

Lots of thinking!!

Thank you again for the great ideas

Traz's picture
Joined: 04/06/2009
get a CLUE

I like the idea of each room sectioned into different levels. To get an interesting perspective on you might do this graphically, check the old school CLUE boards - the rooms in the corners with secret passages had an elegant design.

InvisibleJon's picture
Joined: 07/27/2008
Consider the old Dragonlance board game...

In 1988, TSR made a Dragonlance board game.

It's surprisingly fun. It does a great job of simulating aerial combat without bogging you down in rules. Obviously, an important part of aerial combat is altitude. An important part of keeping the game fun is being able to adjust your altitude quickly and easily. If you've looked at the pictures, you know that their solution was to put the figures on stacking checkers.

This works really well, and could work well for your ninja game too. If you don't have access to, or don't want to use checkers, consider plastic stacking counters:

I have a bunch of these stacking counters and they're fantastically useful for prototyping games. They make great pawns and tokens, and they're just plain nice.

Regarding multiple ninjas in one space and crowding of pieces, consider:
a) Ninjas can not share spaces, or...
b) Make the spaces so large that multiple ninjas can be in the same space.

Best of luck with your game design. I hope it turns out the way you want it to!

larienna's picture
Joined: 07/28/2008
Still have a problem with ceilings

Still have a problem with ceilings

You can assume stuff. For example, you can assume that if a player has the right skill, when an enemy enter a room, it will automatically try to hide himself and if he can climb on ceiling, he will do so. So climbing to ceiling would only mean better concealment success. You don't need to keep track that he is on the ceiling. But inside or or the roof of a house might be a good idea to mark it since you cannot switch that easily.

red hare
red hare's picture
Joined: 11/09/2009
combine birds eye view and side view

One possibility is to have both POV's on the map. Perhaps in the center of the map have an aerial view zoomed out a bit to include all of the buildings, the roof tops, and their surroundings. Then, ringed around the outer portion of the map, have a 2d view of all of the buildings showing their interior. The 2d side view would allow your ninja to move on the floor, on the wall, and on the ceiling while the aerial view in the center of the map would let your ninja move on the roof and the surrounding areas around the buildings.

How this could work is a ninja could move spaces on the aerial map, from let's say the lawn outside the building and then to a tree and then to the roof. He moves to an access point like an open window and then once he enters, then you would place his piece in the building's 2d side view on the map.

It may not cover all of the aspects you were looking for, but it can help with your problem of 2d/ 3d space

Just a thought!

pelle's picture
Joined: 08/11/2008

Advanced Squad Leader does this with cardboard counters, and it works. There are a number of markers like "Level 1", "Level 2", "Rooftop", ... plus also special markers for units currently climbing at different levels (a cliff or the outside of a building for instance), for being in sewers or a cellar below a hex and probably a few more I forgot. Just stack all the units in a hex with markers inserted to separate the parts of the stack that are at different levels (no markers required as long as everyone are on the ground level). A unit is on the level of the first such marker you find below it in the stack. Other tactical wargames do the same thing, but I think ASL is the closest match since it also handles climbing etc (not allowing units to hang from ceilings though :) ).

The game you describe is in essence a tactical man-to-man wargame. Some of those that focus on combat in built-up areas are bound to also come with detailed rules on how to handle units on different levels within the same area, or units in the same area but in different cover. Before reinventing too many wheels that is probably a good place to look for inspiration.

pelle's picture
Joined: 08/11/2008

If you must use minis rather than cardboard counters, you could use an idea I seen in "3D" space combat games (and possibly some air combat games?) putting a unit on top of blocks to show its altitude. You could have blocks of different color and height, or just use identical blocks but different number of them depending on altitude. Colors might be the best choice though to make it easy to quickly see the difference between a unit hanging from the ceiling on level 2 and another unit standing on the floor of level 3 above. I would prefer blocks (that could obviously be slightly bigger than the unit bases, and doesn't have to be very tall) to having to mess with changing bases, and also the height is a better visual cue than just remembering what different base colors mean.

vonbad's picture
Joined: 08/03/2010
Great reponses

These are all great suggestions !

Im going to try them all out, visiting my local craft shop to get a load of supplies :)

Im really looking forward to playing with movement around the board (simple things eh!)

Then its the biggie.....guard A.I !!!

Ive got a few ideas, but thats after Ive looked at all the previous threads here. Any suggestions to threads?

Cheers again guys :)

Syndicate content

forum | by Dr. Radut