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"Searching for clues" - help needed

5 replies [Last post]
Joined: 04/21/2012


I have been designing this game with the help of a couple of friends for a while now. Its mechanics are pretty complex so I won't be going too deep into it right now, but I do need help with one aspect of it. I'll just explain everything you need to know in order to help me - if you happen to feel like doing so. I appreciate any constructive comments even if you couldn't give me a solution here.

I got the idea for this game when I was thinking what kind of game would it be, if I was to combine Arkham Horror / The Mansions of Madness and Afrikan tähti ("The Star of Africa" or "Diamond Hunt" - a popular Finnish children game). The game is set to an alternative present, where a group of people (the players) arrive to a mystic island (the game board) in search of an old relic that is told to hold omnipotent powers. Obviously, there are going to be obstacles but they do not concern this particular topic.

In order to find the relic players are looking for, they must follow [i]clues[/i]. Clues are a deck of cards which is shuffled in the beginning of the game. Then a certain amount of cards are picked from the deck (the amount depends on the amount of players) and others are put aside from the game. The first clue is revealed at the beginning of the game. The clues tell players to go to certain locations on the game board and then do a certain kind of action there in order to find the next clue. The one who solves the last clue will find the relic the players are looking for - and though it won't mean that he or she has won the game, it means that he or she is pretty close doing so.

I see two problems here.
1) The game is not co-operative (well, not completely at least: the players have a common enemy but only one can truely win the game by taking control of the relics power). So, when someone solves a clue, it is kind of odd that every player would get the hint where the next clue is found. Then again, I believe the game would get too messy if every player had to solve every clue.

2) This is the more serious problem. If solving the last clue is the only thing that counts (after solving the last clue you get the relic), why would anyone bother solving the earlier ones - especially since they might make your character hurt or things like that? Should there be some kind of prize after every solved clue? Should solving at least one other clue be a necessity in order to gain the relic? Should solving clues require some work from every player? A combination of the things I mentioned or something totally different? At one point I played with the idea that every player would begin with one clue of their own and work their way from there, but I'm not really sure if that's a good idea either. Every player would be just "playing their own game" and not paying any interest in other peoples actions - and to me the company of other people is the best property in board games.

If you have any ideas, I'm willing to listen :) And if not, thank's for reading anyway.

BlueRift's picture
Joined: 04/01/2012
From What I Gather

From what I can tell, there is one main issue: how cooperative do you want this to be? It seems to me that it should be more competitive than cooperative given that you have a winner, so players are racing to the relic.

If this is the case, I would suggest having a deck of 20+ clue cards that require players to do things. Each player can follow their own chain of clues to get to the relic. This way, each player has to accumulate (and complete) say 5 clues of their own. Players can perform "scoring actions" along the way so that the first person to get 5 clues and get the relic doesn't necessarily win. I think this will also help replay-ability if each game all players are solving all the clues.

If you let us know more about what you're going for, maybe we can offer suggestions more like what you're looking for.

Joined: 08/22/2008
Searching for clues

I agree with Blue Rift. Accumulating clues (set collection) enabling the player to 'go after' the final clue seems like something that might work. I like his scoring actions idea too. With a lot of mysteries, the clues build on each other so working that in somehow may alleviate some of your issue. That way the last clue isn't necessarily the most important one. Each has value.

domd's picture
Joined: 12/15/2008
Strategic Collaboration

Rather than set collection, each player could collect counters that must be managed as a reflection of whether they succeed through individual wit or strategic cooperation. The clue cards could be set in an array, face down, on the playing surface, with a set number of counters equal to the number of players. Prior to solving, other players in the vicinity may offer to collaborate on the solution. When a clue is solved, each player involved collects a counter from the face-down clue card. Uninvolved players may offer a counter directly to the player who landed on the clue to learn the solution after it was solved. When a player runs out of counters they must earn additional counters through clue-solving or other means.

Without knowing the rest of the game mechanics, this could help ensure that collaboration and competition are balanced, and that how each is used becomes a strategic element in itself.


Avianfoo's picture
Joined: 01/31/2012

This sounds like a race. though each person following their own set of clues makes this part of the game sound like a multiplayer solitaire game (if there is enough interaction in other parts of the game this could be fine).

In a clue hunt it makes sense for players to be able to find the same clues and even collaborate on them (the counter idea is a good way of handling this). Though if its competitive and each person must follow the same route of clues then all players know exactly in which order everyone is in the race and catching up might be difficult.

The plan: The first person to discover a clue location must perform some task to uncover the clue. This gives other players a chance to catch up and also gives the chance for other players to collaborate on uncovering the clue. Once the clue is uncovered its much easier for later players to rediscover the clue (or could be automatic).
Another idea is that each clue shows 2 potential clue locations, one significantly more difficult to discover than the other. But the harder location requires less clues to reach the final clue. Mechanically this could be done by providing more counters or having a second shorter clue deck.
A third idea is when a clue is discovered it could be a "break away" clue. i.e. a clue that can be taken by the first person to get there. This means the other players will have to chase down that player to get the clue. It could be a physical item which could be stolen or it could be information which could be copied. though this type of play would require players to have A) different travelling speeds and B) different "preparation" locations that provide bonuses to travelling or items that provide bonuses for the tasks that accompany finding the clues.

Joined: 02/07/2012
How about changing the

How about changing the 'near-win' condition from solving the last clue, to needing to find/use a certain amount of clues?

A classic approach would be the old cluedo trick of having X clue cards, and letting all but three of them be discoverable. The players then have to find out what the three clues that are NOT on the table are. So the players would race to discover the location of the treasure, the key needed to unlock the treasure and some other mcguffin.

Another approach would be to require a player to discover three matching clues before they can unlock the final secret.

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