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Train robbery push your luck game

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Itsdan
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Joined: 05/19/2013

I have a train robbery themed push your luck game in mind. I'm a fan of Incan Gold's simplicity and a few things will seem familiar to those who have played it. The overall goal would be a cooperative-to-a-point feel. Below are my general thoughts on how it would work but I'd welcome feedback and suggestions to make it more interesting without being too complicated.

The players will be a team of robbers about to board a train, each player receiving a unique player character with a special ability (public) and some equipment cards (private). The players will 'enter' a train together, moving from car to car collecting loot and encountering 'hazards'. Hazards will primarily be overcome with equipment or dice based skill checks but could mean someone getting left behind, that is the 'to-a-point' part of the cooperative aspect.

On the table will be a "train cars" deck, identical background, when flipped over they will reveal a train car. The train car will have a "type" (box car, passenger car, etc), color coded corresponding to a 'reward deck'. Certain cars will carry more rewards but with more corresponding risk. Run around a cattle car all you want and you'll probably be okay but, not going to find much in there. Some cars may also have a particular requirement or limitation to them (no equipment may be used in this car, that kind of thing).

What I'm really working on is the loot-acquiring mechanism. I want to try something a little different and here's what I've thought of but haven't prototyped yet:

Each player draws a card from the correspoding reward deck for the type of car they are in. "Treasure" cards are added to each player's personal pile (but not 'banked' yet). Hazard cards however are dealt with by the group as a whole. Those will be dealt with by cashing in equipment cards or possibly having to leave a player behind depending on the severity of the hazard.

After a round of treasure seeking, players can choose to keep searching the car or to move on. Any players leaving at the same time then split the treasure they have in their personal stash, and that amount becomes banked. This is the major deviation from IC, in which you split treasure as you go with the people remaining in the car. This also offsets the issue of people who draw hazard cards not getting treasure, they have an option of trying to leave 'with' someone who has a lot so they get a share.

Players who leave wait between cars until anyone remianing in the car has left. Subsequent groups who leave also share their loot but only with people who exit the car with them, giving an incentive to staying longer. Unlike Incan Gold where it wasn't unheard of to go 10+ rounds in a temple step I'd only expect this to last 2 or 3. The issue it may create is if there's only one person left they can rack up a lot of points. Perhaps when half the group has moved on the others are compelled to.

After that a new train car card is drawn, any specific rules satisfied, and it begins again. Game would likely end after a number of cars adjusted for how many players there are or something similar.

questccg
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Better Ending

Itsdan wrote:
...Game would likely end after a number of cars adjusted for how many players there are or something similar.

I did not like the "End Condition". I think it's kind of BORING. What I would propose instead is this:

-Player's BOARD the train at the beginning of it (2nd car), the car directly attached to the LOCOMOTIVE.
-The END GAME is reached when the "Caboose" car is picked.

http://www.greatamericantrain.com/images/caboose_rio_grande_lg.jpg

The COOL thing about this is that player NEVER NO WHEN THE END OCCURS (until it happens). This also will tend to make players MORE GREEDY as the game goes on. Early player's might be cautious but as the card (and cars) go by, the odds of reaching the caboose go up!

The WINNING PLAYER is the one who has the most treasure (tallied up). I think this adds a "nice" spin on your game. I like the concept... And I think this ending sounds more fitting for your game.

Good luck with your game!

Note: The number of Cabooses in a deck can vary according to the number of players playing the game. So if there are two (2) players playing, there would be 2 Cabooses. In a four (4) player game, there would be 4 Caboose. The reason for this variation is that it takes MORE time with four (4) players to leave a car than in a 2 player scenario. So obviously the NUMBER of cars should be reduced in a four player game... This is just another idea...

Itsdan
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One of my considered win

One of my considered win conditions was drawing a locomotive card singling there were no more cars. I tend to think of edge cases so I was concerned about the experience if it was drawn super early. Perhaps that's just a reality. Or they could board multiple trains, perhaps using treasure to buy new equipment between rounds. The. A short round wouldn't make the game seem arbitrary.

Thanks so much for commenting, I agree your ending works much better.

regzr
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Joined: 05/27/2012
win conditions

Itsdan wrote:
I tend to think of edge cases so I was concerned about the experience if it was drawn super early.

I agree with questccg of players not knowing exactly when the game ends and that causes players good stress.

Just random thoughts. Too early end could be avoided so that the deck is been built in two parts. First take four (or how many you like is minimum) random car cards. Secondly mix the stop game card with another four (or how many you think is the maximum) car cards and put the 5 cards under the first 4 ones. Now stop card is drawn somewhere between the fifth and the nineth. Then put some extra cards under all that.

Maybe there could be more than one unique character per player. Then the "deleted character" doesn't leave its player outside the game, because player could continue with the other dude.

The train robbery theme is great! Push your luck is also an intuitive choice here.

-regzr

questccg
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The other thing is...

As you suggested, if trains are not comprised of TOO MUCH cars and end rapidly, you can have a rule that player's need to rob four (Preset number) of trains. This gives you the option of having rounds that allow you to "buy new equipment" or other. The good thing about this, is players who are falling behind after the first train can then take higher risk with the next train to try to catch up!

And I too don't believe a short train makes the game less playable... On the contrary, it setups the possibility for rounds (as you have cited).

Itsdan
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I like the idea of splitting

I like the idea of splitting the deck, or perhaps they lay out 3 cards to start the train and ignore ending cards just for that initial seeding, same result.

I think the one thing I was missing was some incentives for player interaction. I'm considering if a player draws a hazard card, the other players can choose to help them or not. Not helping May harm or eliminate that player but give them a "take that" effect. So let's say in a cattle car you draw "angry cow kicks you off the train". Other players can help you at the cost of resources, if they choose not to the card states you try to grab onto someone on the way out the door and end up taking them with you. Perhaps with a die roll if it's a powerful ability.

Something like a veto power, "save me or I'm taking one of you with me"

Itsdan
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regzr your thought of having

regzr your thought of having multiple people per player would help out with what I saw as an issue scaling the game down to 2 players. If the core of my mechanic is timing your interest in 'leaving' the train car for the next one so that you can leave alone (if you have a lot) or with someone (if you want to force them to share), it doesn't hold up as well for 2 players.

An earlier idea had been to have each player draft a 'team' and independently rob a train, but it seemed too much like multiplayer solitaire and I prefer the feeling of reluctantly working together.

Perhaps electing to leave or not will be open instead of closed vote.

bonsaigames
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Random Ending Determination

You could have a deck of train car cards, split them in half and shuffle the Caboose or Engine (whichever ends the game) card into one half and put that half on the bottom of the re-combined deck.

This is all of course if you want the game to end randomly.

Itsdan
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I do want it to end randomly,

I do want it to end randomly, I may need to balance the increased risk of staying longer and longer with increased reward to encourage 'daredevil' type maneuvering but yes. I need to come up with a prototype deck to try out. My main mental block will be balancing as players are eliminated or leave voluntarily. If I build a deck that say out of 4 players, each drawing a 'reward' card, 1 will encounter something nasty, by the time it gets to 1 player they could likely draw more cards before finding a hazard. It's all a little loose with the player interaction and I'm not certain my whole 'split the treasure when you leave the train car' thing will work out, but I'm happy enough with it to playtest it next time I have people over.

questccg
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The Sheriff?

Itsdan wrote:
...My main mental block will be balancing as players are eliminated or leave voluntarily...

I would *propose* a change of thinking: make the trains SHORT, make the game about *ROUNDS* and robbing SEVERAL trains.

An idea I had about intensifying the game is the following:

-When the first player gets kicked (eliminated) from the train, he becomes THE SHERIFF.

The *Sheriff's* goal is to capture the remaining train robbers (Round'em up). This would MOTIVATE players NOT to leave a fellow robber in a lurch! They know if they leave one member behind - the sheriff will come to capture their @sses! ;)

Just an idea - seeing as you want to encourage players to help each other out. The consequence of NOT HELPING is getting the additional HEAT (with the arrival of the Sheriff).

Note: If HE (The Sheriff) succeeds in capturing all the remaining robbers, he WINS the game... And the robbers lose. If only one robber escapes (via the Caboose), then all players can start a new robbery (each one of them being a robber as before).

Something akin to the *Leader* of the gang get's away - and starts a new gang. BUT the player who becomes the Sheriff, each time he captures a robber, he wins all their treasure (all points). So it's another way to win - because in the end you count points.

Itsdan
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Questccg I like the sheriff

Questccg I like the sheriff idea. It could also be conceptual, instead of a player becoming the sheriff it could be an abstraction that makes it difficult to collect more items. Increased notoriety or something among the gang. Something perhaps reminiscent of 'security' in Infiltration.

Itsdan
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Thought up a variation,

Thought up a variation, curious what people think. This would make the game a little more luck based by adding dice.

Players are in a train car, the player starting the round draws a card. It may be an 'event' that affects the whole group, or it may be a piece of treasure. If it's a piece of treasure it required a roll to determine if you get it, or what happens if you fail. Players can increase their odds of collecting the treasure by having other players help them. So lets say you need to meet a minimum roll of 5 to collect a treasure, you can try to snatch up the loot yourself with your 1 die, or someone can help you by adding their die, but if they do so, this counts as their turn for the round. They can't help anyone else this round, but by helping they do take half the value of the treasure. Of course someone could try to grab the loot themselves, keeping it all, they wouldn't be obliged to accept help.

So in a 4 player game:

1. Player 1 draws a treasure, requires a roll of 5 to collect and has a value of 10
2. Player 1 and 2 agree to work together to take the card, Player 1 rolls a 4 (not enough) but player 2 rolls a 3 and their score together is enough to grab it.
3. Player 1 and 2 both collect 5 'point' tokens
4. The play then moves to player 3, only player 4 is now eligible to help this round.

'Starting player' would change each turn since there's an advantage to having more people available to help.

Possible things needed to keep it balanced: It may work better if, when a treasure requires a roll of say 5, that one of the players involved must roll that or higher, NOT to combine the score. This still increases your odds of success when more players are involved but not as dramatically.

questccg
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Two things...

The only thing that I don't like is "#3. Player 1 and 2 both collect 5 'point' tokens"... That means your game requires COUNTERS or chips. I personally dislike games that have TOO MANY pieces. And in your case you will need a lot of "winks" to keep track of score.

What I propose is that PLAYERS have a SCORECARD (like golf). Car #1: 5 pts., Car #2: 3 pts., etc.

You could LAMINATE the scorecard and use markers. (I know it is entirely possible, ask Amaz about it):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6t4zZ5pSoQ (Video with talk about laminating the word cards)
http://www.bgdf.com/node/13081

This way you can also LIMIT the amount of cars (before players draw the Caboose). Since this seems to be entirely possible, I would examine the *Laminated Scorecard* with markers.

The other possibility is using a PLAIN SHEET OF PAPER and EXPLAINING how to keep score (Car #1: 5 pts., Car #2: 3 pts., etc.) This might be the cheapest and EASIEST way to do it. This way you don't need to manufacture anything (like a scorecard) and all you need to do is EXPLAIN how to keep track of score on a sheet of plain paper!

You could use the GOLF format (1, 2, 3, 4, etc. are the cars), under each one are the FOUR players playing. After 10 cars you total the amount of points. And then you repeat, for the next rounds (1-10). Something like that... This method also allows it to be evident what player has chosen to help and therefore SHARE loot. So if it's Player #1 and #4, you will know because the scorecard will tell you... It will be OBVIOUS.

Just my idea - instead of collecting too many tokens.

Note: Whatever happened to the "Press-Your-Luck" mechanic... In your last post, players ONLY get to SHARE ONE treasure... I have a way of RESTORING the mechanic. Here is my explanation:

1. Player 1 draws a treasure and it requires a 5 to claim 10 points.
2. Player 1 has three (3) DICE to earn it. Each time he USES a dice, it GETS REMOVED leaving LESS DICE for the NEXT treasure.
3. Player 1 can work with Player 2 and then they have six (6) DICE COMBINED. But HERE is the key point: EACH treasure they EARN get a PLUS (+?) BONUS, So +1 for Treasure #2, +2 for Treasure #3, +3 for Treasure #4, +4 for Treasure #5 and +5 for Treasure #6.
4. Player 1 and 2 can collect up to SIX (6) Treasures BUT IF THEY FAIL before STOPPING => They LOSE EVERYTHING.
5. Player 1 and 2 can decide to STOP rolling DICE and collect the shared treasure they have accumulated.

This WILL ENCOURAGE players playing TOGETHER. Why? Because otherwise they can only collect at most 1 or 2 treasures. Playing together IMPROVES the ODDS and can allow players to get 3 or 4 TOGETHER (In the case with 2 players). I would RESTRICT playing combined to two (2) player MAXIMUM...

And so forth... That brings back the "Press-Your-Luck" mechanic that makes the game more exciting!

Note 2: You can ADJUST/FINE TUNE the +? BONUS values . Like instead of +1/+2/+3 ... It could be +2/+4/+6 ... This FINE tuning can be PART OF THE CARS conditions. For example Car #1: "Double Bonus", Car #2 "Standard Bonus", Car #3 "Standard Bonus", Car #4 "Triple Bonus", etc... The bonus VARIANCE should be SPECIFIED on the CAR CARD ITSELF.

questccg
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The COOL thing

Another note about the "Press-Your-Luck" mechanic above is the Treasures you will get are RANDOM. So it is entirely possible that a HIGH value card is one of the FIRST cards and LOW value cards is one of the LAST cards.

What this does is TEMPT the player to GO FOR IT, in the case of the LAST cards...

This adds TENSION to the game, because players WILL BE GAMBLING with their LUCK.

Just something to think about...

Example: 2 Players have accumulate 20 points (4 cards) using 5 dice. The 5th card requires a 2 to claim 5 points. They have 1 LAST dice to do it... It is VERY TEMPTING, since the odds are HIGHLY in favour of going for it. The only way they can LOSE is by rolling a 1!!! This kind of GAME PLAY is VERY EXCITING!

Note: You will need to UNBALANCE the Treasure Deck. What I mean by this is TO ADD RISKY cards like "Roll 2 and claim 10 pts." Why? Because when these seemingly *unbalanced* cards appear LATER in the rolling sequence... IT MAKES IT EVEN MORE TEMPTING TO GO FOR IT!!! For a low scoring card, you may say: "It's not worth rolling the last dice for 5 points and lose the 20 points we already have." BUT if it is "Roll a 2 and claim 10" that is a HUGE REWARD for the RISK... That is 5 POINTS FOR EACH OF US!

questccg
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+1/+2/+3 ... Bonus values

About the FINE TUNING of the Bonus values, I was thinking that some cars like "Livestock", "Passenger Car", etc. should use the "Standard Bonus". And cars like "Upscale Passenger Car" or "Bar car" could use "Double Bonus". And cars like "Sleeping Quarters" or "Elite Passenger Car" could use "Triple Bonus"...

Something like that... The BONUS varies according to the TYPE of Car.

questccg
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Treasure DECKS

I was thinking some more about the BONUS (And when it becomes DOUBLE or TRIPLE). And my thinking is this:
You should have a separate DECK of Treasure cards for each bonus.

So if the car says use the DOUBLE deck, you use the treasure cards from that deck. Same goes for the TRIPLE deck.

The reason that I am thinking this is because each DECK can be tailored to make it's use THRILLING. Like maybe the "Standard Deck" has a lot of AVERAGE Treasures. Whereas the "Double Deck" and "Triple Deck" have more variance (Highs and Lows, easy and hard).

Itsdan
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questccg first off thank you

questccg first off thank you so much for taking the time to contribute so many thoughts and idea towards fleshing out my game concept. I'm typing my reply as I read through your notes so if I comment on something you later address I apologize upfront.

I did say point tokens but it could just be a scoring track or something. I was more trying to describe a mechanism in which a player can ask for help to claim a treasure card but at the cost of sharing the value. As for losing the press your luck, I didn't describe that well. That would be maintained by having the players only 'bank' their claims between cars. Event cards would have to be capable of knocking the team out of the train (or out of the car). Or players could leave the train early still but the whole idea of sharing your loot 'between cars' would be replaced by the dice pooling.

I like your overall dice rolling idea (although the guy worried about adding too many components just added a lot of dice to the box :) ). I like the idea of each player having a pool of dice they can contribute. Were you suggesting they could contribute as many of their own dice as they desired (increasing their odds of getting the current treasure) but leaving them fewer dice to contribute to the next one? You describe a bonus for each treasure they collect, were you suggesting + to the total rolled, to each die, to the # of dice? I'm interpreting it as to the total.

And yes I see where with this mechanic the treasure cards can be used to also give bonuses. A few cards could perhaps be cashed in for effects, so you have a treasure worth 4 points OR play it to reroll any number of dice, something like that. The bookkeeping get's rough if you're using a scoring track and have to subtract points though. That's originally why I would have used cardboard tokens. you COULD use tokens within a round then score on a scoring track once you 'bank' by leaving the train car. That would keep the number of tokens much smaller.

questccg
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Sometimes good ideas

Itsdan wrote:
...you COULD use tokens within a round then score on a scoring track once you 'bank' by leaving the train car. That would keep the number of tokens much smaller.

I agree that's a good solution.

The idea behind the bonus was a way to ENCOURAGE players to RISK their treasure in hopes of getting more. The Bonus would be applied as POINTS to the *total amount of treasure* (point value) for that turn. If you have a train car that says "Triple Bonus", that really makes the player hungry for more rolls and more treasure.

You only need one (1) dice - but they could be ROLLS. So a player get's 3 rolls to earn up to three (3) treasures. Pooled with another player, that would mean 6 rolls (and potentially 6 treasures). Obviously I would include the bonuses because that is what gets player wanting to roll some more.

Note: Some Treasures will be hard like roll a 4 or 5, and some are easier like roll a 2 or 3. So having MORE dice rolls improves the odds and gives a chance to win the bigger treasures if the roll is hard (4 or 5). But it can also spur a player to take a chance if it is an easier roll (2 or 3) with a decent point value (8 or 10, etc.)

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