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Randomized Board Ideas/Options

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Hiko
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Hey designer friends. I'm working on making a randomized board for a game and I'm kind of at a road block. I was originally going to use hex tiles but I'm worried that it will look too much like a knock off of Settlers of Catan. What are some other options for creating a randomized board that is different every game?

questccg
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I have seen
  • Poker cards used to create a dynamic board.
  • Square cards used to create a dynamic board.
  • Square mats used to create a dynamic board. See The Game Crafter.
  • Invader mats used to create a dynamic board. See The Game Crafter.

With the mats, you can rotate them and have more combinations. With the cards, well it's 100% different each time...

Ristora
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I wouldn't dismiss the idea

I wouldn't dismiss the idea of hexes too quickly. Some people might find themselves more interested in your game because some aspects of the map are similar to a game they have already tried. If a Settlers type of map configuration works best for the game you are designing, then let your design distinguish it from Settlers.

pelle
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Also there are many other

Also there are many other board shapes to arrange the hex tiles in than that one that looks Settlers.

Another option is a blank grid that you place randon tiles or markers on for more varied maps (each could have a mix of different markers).

Fields of Fire does some neat tricks with a deck of terrain cards plus cardboard markers for adding micro-terrain on cards.

Yamahako
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Not to be Pedantic, but when

Not to be Pedantic, but when deciding on the board you have a few important things to consider, and none of them are what another game is doing.

By stating that its looking similar to Settlers if you use Hexes, I'm going to assume that each part is a unique "space" to the game, and you aren't trying to incorporate multiple spaces to share an individual tile.

Assuming you want each "space" to have the same area. you will need to use one of the three tile-able polyhedrons (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiling_by_regular_polygons) which means you'll need to use either Triangles, Squares or Hexes.

There are three important elements about each of tile-able options.

1. Fitment - The more complex the shape (number of vertexes), the more the tiles will tend to stick together and separate less during play. Tile weight has something to do with this too, and base material friction can also be a factor.

2. Design - Depending on the needs of the tile, certain shapes will be better or worse for displaying the relevant information that your game needs to process. As an example, if you are trying to convey a lot of text, a square tile might be best - because the nature of the text can be best expressed in that shape. If you are designing a 3 player game, it might work really well to use a Triangular tile because you orient information towards three viewpoints.

3. Degrees of Freedom - This is the most important from a game design perspective. Because, I'm assuming, each piece sits next to another piece, the interaction between those pieces can be limited by each shape. Interactions could happen at vertexes and or sides.
A triangle would have 15 potential vertex degrees of freedom, and 3 side degrees of freedom.
A square would have 12 potential vertex degrees of freedom, and 4 side degrees of freedom.
A hex would have 12 potential vertex degrees, and 6 side degrees of freedom.

You can use configurations of shapes too - for example aligning 4 squares in tetrad configurations each containing 4 "spaces" Or you could combine multiple triangles together in order to improve the fitment. In each of these cases, it would be important to also consider the implications of permanent adjacency of tiles and see if that is something that improves the randomness (not makes it more random, but makes the random that exists stronger for the game). If being unique is super important to the design - however these all will cost significantly more money to manufacture because special dies would need to be crafted.

Kroz1776
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Terra Mystica

Ristora wrote:
I wouldn't dismiss the idea of hexes too quickly. Some people might find themselves more interested in your game because some aspects of the map are similar to a game they have already tried. If a Settlers type of map configuration works best for the game you are designing, then let your design distinguish it from Settlers.

My wife saw the back of Terra Mystica and instantly asked, is this related to Settlers of Catan. I laughed so hard because I knew the style of game it was and it is NOT settlers of Catan. Even after I explained this to her, she was still super interested in the game, so sometimes this can be a very good thing.

KrisW
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No Hex For Me

Try dropping in at a floor tile store or checking out their web pages.

let-off studios
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Offset Grid

I've always been a proponent of the offset grid: using squares, but having one row half a square's width to the left/right of the next. The result is a square space with the mobility options of a hex grid. Familiar, simple, and likely easier to produce.

Hiko
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OK. How 'bout this?

Ok, let's say that I did want to stick with a hex board. What would be some good ways of making it unique and interesting? I would still like to make it distinct enough for people to want to make room for it in their game closet, if you know what I mean.

ps- thanks so much for responding you guys. Being able to bounce ideas is such a help.

questccg
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Interesting concept...

I don't know what the *setting* of your game is... I will assume *Steampunk* because it probably is (Not!).

So here is my concept. When placing the hex tiles, they must be placed next to a similar tile.

Okay I know it sound *dumb*. But let me explain how this would work:

  • So you need to place tiles following rules that same-type terrain is next to each other.
  • Effectively what this would do is create *sectors*. In a Steampunk game (of Sci-Fi) this could be large areas controlled by different factions.
  • Every player contributes towards the design of a faction's territory... and it is random every time you play the game.
  • This type of ORDER is different because it DIVIDES the game...

Unlike in Catan where everything is RANDOM, with this concept you will land up with is sectors that can be controlled by factions.

You could have some tiles that can be used in ANY sector, like a *refugee camp* (again with the Steampunk theme).

Ristora
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kroz wrote:My wife saw the

kroz wrote:
My wife saw the back of Terra Mystica and instantly asked, is this related to Settlers of Catan.

We just played our first game of Terra Mystica and I said jokingly that next time I saw a "What do you recommend as the next step after settlers" thread on BGG, I would reply "Terra Mystica" so that peoples heads would explode :)

Hiko wrote:
Ok, let's say that I did want to stick with a hex board. What would be some good ways of making it unique and interesting? I would still like to make it distinct enough for people to want to make room for it in their game closet, if you know what I mean.

Well first off, you could have different kinds of terrain than Settlers, different number of terrain types than settlers, and different importance placed on tiles than in settlers (in Settlers you get resources based on terrain, you could do something different that fits with your game). I think someone mentioned micro terrain features as well which I think sounds super cool.

Hiko wrote:
ps- thanks so much for responding you guys. Being able to bounce ideas is such a help.

You're very welcome.

Hiko
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Here's the concept

Hey guys. Thanks for the ideas.

So after some thought my concept is this.

There will be a boarder with only the edges of an island (or peninsula) on it. Within this boarder there will be an irregular shape into which the randomized hex tiles will go.

Thematically it as a trade and merchant game. Each tile will produce a set amount of resources every round. You can buy and sell resources in most of the tiles (some will be left barren). So the idea is to buy low in one area, move, and sell higher in another.

I was thinking about putting some ports on the boarder that would stay constant, but other than those, the towns/hexes would be different from game to game within that same island shape.

Does this sound like it would be fun and interesting?

questccg
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Theme

Hiko wrote:
...Thematically it as a trade and merchant game...

Umm... Two (2) types of games people were saying to STAY AWAY from (there are plenty already) are:

  • Zombie games
  • Merchant games

You should re-theme the game into something NEW. Themes less used are things like Sci-Fi or Steampunk... This is not to discourage you... just saying there are a LOT of games in those two (2) categories.

You could maybe go with a Mech Wars theme with giant mechs... I personally would like to see a Mech Wars type of board game in which you control a faction and try to defeat your opponents. Sounds cool...

Or something like Soldiers of Fortune, where it's military style game with different nations...

let-off studios
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Don't throw it out yet...

If you're dead-set on making a merchant game, then some other aspect of that game need be unique - not the genre. As long as your approach is novel, it has potential in selling.

In the case of a merchant game, there are other things that may change the game to be a bit different from the usual:
- the types of commodities being sold
- the nature of the island/environment
- how and when transactions take place: with the "bank" or between players
- how players interact with one another
- the win condition and different tactics to be the best/most effective player

There are more, but I hope you see my point. There's no need to reinvent the wheel to make a sellable game. Take what people are familiar with, and tweak it so it becomes a unique experience among many.

For some direct advice to you: yeah, it sounds fairly typical at this point, and not something I'd be spending too much time with. What makes your merchant game stand out from the rest? Once you find a unique, engaging answer to that question, then you have more of my interest...The game stops being about buying and selling, and starts being about that unique aspect to your game.

chann23
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Do you have a way to make it

Do you have a way to make it balanced? Like is there the possibility that one area of the board is just loaded, and whoever starts there will have an unfair advantage?

questccg
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Balancing things

chann23 wrote:
Do you have a way to make it balanced? Like is there the possibility that one area of the board is just loaded, and whoever starts there will have an unfair advantage?

That's why I think my idea of factions and dividing the board up into sectors would be a good idea. I have not seen this, although I think it could work for a Steampunk, Mech or Military themes when you build up in your sector and try to advance further into an enemy's territory. Although I normally design *Card games*, I can see the potential in this type of board set up.

Instead of doing like "Settlers of Catan" where you know what each tile will produce, you could create RANDOM resources that vary per tile... So on one turn you produce 2x iron and on the next turn you produce 1x rice.

I guess I have a vision of divided territory, where it could be like the Americans in one area and the Vietcong in another area, etc. If this was a remake of the Vietnam war (for example).

I would like it if anyone could *refer* me to a game that does this type of division into factions/territories. I have never seen anything like this before...

The only *downside* I see is that the board won't be exactly random, you'll always have like four (4) sectors, etc.

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