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What to do with strategy game board?

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wineaholic
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Joined: 10/26/2013

Hey, I'm brand new here, so forgive me if I am posting this in the wrong forum!

I'm a new hobbyist/for-fun game designer, and I am stuck trying to find the best way to deal with my game board for a new game idea. The game is essentially going to be strategy/battle+city building. What I need help with is what to do with the main board. I would like it to be malleable to allow different map possibilities, make sense, and "feel" right. I can sacrifice the malleability so long as it can at least feel like a new game each time.

The activities that will be going on on the board will be the movement of parties of army units (represented as colored/numbered discs) via a set number of movement points, building of strongholds and the gathering of resources. So, I need the unit-movement to make sense on the board, i.e. not be to quick or too slow, but I'd rather it not be just another "carbon-copy" hexagon-based board, I'd rather it stand out in some way.

So far, I have considered these options:
A set game board, with blank white squares denoting where strongholds could be built, and small circles denoting where resources may be collected. My problem here is how to balance the amount of stronghold/resources spaces with the movement and how to actually move the units. (via illustrated paths, via "tent" spaces, via lines that connect all the landmarks similarish to this http://doc-0c-8g-3dwarehouse.googleusercontent.com/3dwarehouse/secure/hh... (which might actually quite nicely regulate speed on different terrains, but be extremely confusing/intimidating looking), or just jumping from landmark to landmark?!)

A grid (like graph-paper-type-grid), where there are no set spaces to build strongholds (you can just build them in any old square/rectangle), with numbers and types of resources available in each square noted on the board. Presumably, one movement would allow you to move from one square to an adjacent square.

Large two-sided hexagon tiles (maybe 3-4 for the entire map), with stronghold and resources spaces denoted similarly to the set board. Yet again, how then would movement work?

I am extremely stuck with what to do, and could really use some new ideas/input! If you need additional information feel free to ask, I tried to give as little info as possible to not overcrowd the question (though I think I may still have overcrowded it...as I always do...). Thanks in advance!

questccg
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Huh?

What are you designing? A "Video Game" or a "Table-Top Game"??? There is no way you can simulate 3D terrain like the link you have shown. During my university studies, I did a 3D terrain project which was kinda what you are showing, it uses a plasma image map followed by texture map on the top to create the colour for the terrain... It looked even MORE realistic than your sample.

But in "Table-Top" gaming, you want 3D terrain? Seriously? If you need ideas, one idea would be: "Forget about 3D terrains in a Table-Top game!" One thing is that MOST board games are viewed from the TOP. So you get a top-most view of the game... They all do, Monopoly, Clue, Snakes & Ladders, Settles of Catan, Ticket to Ride, etc. They MOSTLY all do!

3D is left for Star Trek (and their 3D game of Chess)! Just a joke! But I mean it... If you are going to design a Table-Top game, it will need to use a TOP-VIEW. Even isometric views, I have never seen a Table-Top game use that either.

I take it back, I have seen 3D games such a Jenga and another such games... Can't remember the name, it's not my style of game so I did not pay much attention to it.

Okay, so you want a "different" game each time. You can use Hexagon tiles or Square ones. You could use a MAT which can be rotated in combination with other mats. You can even use cards to make up your *dynamic* board...

BTW your post is so *general* I have no idea what kind of game you want to make... Just don't think about 3D or isometric views... MOST Table-Top games are Top-view!

zmobie
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First of all, I don't think

First of all, I don't think OP was suggesting using a 3d board, and was using that image to illustrate something different.

Second, there have been plenty of board games with 3d boards. HeroScape was a huge deal at one point in time. There are others, that I can't think of off the top of my head. They tend to be mass produced stuff since the cost is obviously much higher... But they are out there, and some have even done well.

I think if you had a nice game, that used a 3d board in an interesting way, you could probably kick start it with a higher goal to offset the cost of the board, and you could make it work. You need something to stand out in this quickly flooding market.

questccg
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Heroscape must be the exception

I looked into Heroscape, watched a 5 part series on YouTube from Tom Vassel and the Dice Tower.

Personally it reminds me of the video game called "Final Fantasy Tactics" (FFT). It is a turn-based game, some players can do range attacks, sometimes a character can be protected by a wall, it takes extra-moves to go up in terrain, etc. Obviously FFT has the added bonus of having SPELLS that can be a special ranged attack in Heroscape. Maybe characters in the D&D sets... Not sure Tom didn't cover that.

BUT for 3D games - Heroscape is an EXCEPTION to board games. Not every game is almost a game of Legos. And Heroscape is very much akin to Legos.

Personally I think 3D games such as Heroscape are a little bit OUT-THERE. They are costly productions to make and they are not the NORM. I still think if you are going to develop a table-top game, to forget about the rare 3D boards from games such as Heroscape and try to focus on more traditional table-top gaming...

But that is just my opinion.

wineaholic
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I am making a board game, not

I am making a board game, not a video game.
Actually, I did not want a 3D board. What I meant to demonstrate is the lines in that picture could be used on a 2d board, and they COULD simulate the terrain by, for instance, being "bunched up" where there are mountains, and being much more spread out in plains, etc. Presumably the tokens would move along the lines, stopping at each cross section, thus moving slower in tougher terrain, and quicker on flatter terrain. But, like I said, I am probably not going to go that route because it would be crowded and confusing/intimidating looking. It was only an idea I played with.

Also, like I said I didn't want to babble on and on that's why it's so general sounding. If you have specific questions, I'll be happy to answer them.

If it helps, the inspiration for the game is coming from Ogre Battle 64 and a little bit of Culdcept saga. The aim is to have small parties of army units (represented by discs) moving around the game board, and when there is a battle it would be fought off the map with cards representing the army units. I guess, I am not sure what you are exactly needing to know...again I am new to this forum! I guess I figured strategy game board was self explanatory. I tend to ramble on and lose people when I try to explain things, and that's because I can imagine it all in my head perfectly, but trying to relay it exactly how I see it is not so easy for me.

questccg
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Something like...

wineaholic wrote:
Actually, I did not want a 3D board. What I meant to demonstrate is the lines in that picture could be used on a 2d board, and they COULD simulate the terrain by, for instance, being "bunched up" where there are mountains, and being much more spread out in plains, etc. Presumably the tokens would move along the lines, stopping at each cross section, thus moving slower in tougher terrain, and quicker on flatter terrain. But, like I said, I am probably not going to go that route because it would be crowded and confusing/intimidating looking. It was only an idea I played with.

Okay here is a simple way to simulate terrain:

  1. Cut out a Hexagon shape.
  2. Put the word "FOREST" on the top of the Hexagon.
  3. Put on the REVERSE SIDE: "Dense forest, takes 2 turns to traverse."

And there you have it: a tile which is part of a terrain, that has a movement penalty... Do you need something more complicated??? You could add something like "Defensive BONUS, +3 DEF." so that there could be a variance on what happens should your character battle while in the forest!

In this terrain tile, the player is LUCKY he gets a bonus from it... But here's another example with a penalty:

  1. Cut another Hexagon shape.
  2. Put the word "SWAMP" on the top of the Hexagon.
  3. Put on the REVERSE SIDE: "Foggy swamp, takes 3 turns to traverse."

You could add a PENALTY this time like "Defensive PENALTY, -1 DEF. Offensive PENALTY, -2 ATK".

So in this terrain tile, things go south real fast... Not only does it take 3 turns to traverse, there are 2 penalties while in the "Foggy swamp".

If you don't like Hexagons, you could use 2.5" x 2.5" Square cards... They are ALMOST Poker size, but the height is incorrect (should be 3.5"). Instead of being cards it could be Chipboard 4/4 which means 4 Colour process on both sides (colour on both sides)...

If you're not convinced, you could ADD MORE to the tiles... Something like a *Random Encounter* (not your opponent but some creatures in the "Dense forest" for example). Like "Roll 1d6, if you roll a 1 or 2, random encounter with a pack of Wolves". Obviously instead of WRITING all of that, you could use a "SQUARE DICE SYMBOL (with a six) -> 1, 2 = Wolf Pack". You could use CARDS for the random encounters or a lookup table in your rulebook. Personally I would go with *Random Encounter cards* - but a lookup table is also possible.

Let's say you use a lookup table INSTEAD:

  • Health: 3
  • Attack: 3
  • Defence: 2
  • Range: 1
  • Quantity: 3

So if a player encounters a Wolf Pack, he will need to defeat 3 wooden pawns (one for each Wolf). So you would place 3 wooden pawns on the tile along side your pawn/meeple...

And there you have it, terrain tiles with movement, bonuses or penalties and even *Random Encounters*.

You still WANT MORE??? Okay, you could add "Special Attacks" if you use *Random Encounter cards* as opposed to the lookup table... "Special Attacks" could vary from one creature to another...

So you have terrain tiles with movement, bonuses or penalties, *Random Encounters* with Special Abilities!

Note: the two (2) tiles I designed do not have a ROAD... But if they had a road, maybe there would be no *Random Encounter* (for example)...

questccg
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Not 100% certain...

But I'll tell you how your board can be UNIQUE from all the other games.

Instead of using Hexagons or Squares, you could use Puzzle-Pieces!

Now what this means is that you need to standardize the Puzzle-Pieces such that they mostly fit together. Personally I think it can be done. Why would you want this?

  1. Never seen a game that had tiles like this.
  2. The board would stay FIRMLY connected.

So let's just explore the concept a little bit. If you look at the 4 *corner* pieces, you should have 4 possibilities for each piece: top-left, top-right, bottom-right and bottom-left. If you look at pieces on the border. they could border each of the 4 *sides*. And then you have the inner pieces.

I'm not 100% sure if this can be done... It's just an idea.

You were looking for something *different* your board could have. This concept is pretty UNIQUE. So your board would be like a Puzzle but instead of having pieces that fit in only one spot, your standardized pieces can fit into MANY spots... Corners MUST go in corners, border pieces MUST be a piece of the border and inside pieces can go anywhere on the INSIDE...

When a player lands on a piece, you can take the piece and see it's information. You could place NEAR to where you pawn is (inside the empty spot of the puzzle)...

Again just some ideas... since I think that's what you are looking for.

wineaholic
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Thanks for all your input,

Thanks for all your input, questccg!

I'm not sure puzzle pieces would fit the feel of the game, though it certainly would be unique.

I think I might try using large hexagon pieces so the board can be changed up, and possibly use a honey-comb over lay pattern on each hexagon that would regulate unit movement and allow for terrain effects. If that doesn't work, I'll experiment with a square grid instead. I guess what I was mainly stuck on was trying to find a movement system that wasn't based on moving from one hexagon-space or one grid-space to another, but I'm not sure that's even possible. I'll just have to give in and put some sort of pattern on the board probably.

questccg
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Need to make a picture to explain...

wineaholic wrote:
I guess what I was mainly stuck on was trying to find a movement system that wasn't based on moving from one hexagon-space or one grid-space to another, but I'm not sure that's even possible. I'll just have to give in and put some sort of pattern on the board probably.

It is possible if you design MARKERS on your tiles. Like for example, you draw a Zig-Zag line and place *circles* on it... So if it takes 3 turns to traverse the tile, you would have 3 circles... It's sort of hard to explain.

Wait I will draw something up in Illustrator and upload it. Just to see if this is what you are thinking...

Update: Check the following thread: http://www.bgdf.com/node/13420

pelle
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puzzles

There are games that use puzzle pieces (large flat tiles that are puzzle piece-shaped, or actual small wooden puzzle pieces), eg Excalibur (80's strategy game, but assemble to same map every time) and some children's and trivia games that use them to make different roll-and-move-tracks for every game.

But for this type of game, not sure what the benefit would be compared to just using rectangular geomorphic map boards like many existing games do. Is it worth the extra production cost just to get the little whatever-they-are-called things on the sides to keep the pieces attached to each other?

http://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/22845/games-with-geomorphic-mapboards-...

Not sure what you are after with movement that is not just from tile to tile, but I can't think of many games that have something different.

Star Borders Humanity has smaller map boards with point-to-point maps on each, that connect when placed adjacent, so you can build up bigger maps.
http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/86406/star-borders-humanity

Fields of Fire have a random map made up of playing cards placed in a rectangular grid, but movement is not only between cards, but also between cover ("micro terrain") (buildings, generic cover, entrenchments etc) that are placed as cardboard markers on each card, so a lot of time you move units just between different cover locations on the same tile, and less frequently do you order them to move on to an adjacent card. There is no tracking of the relative location of cover in a card, you can always move or fire between any of them (or to/from just being on the card without being in cover, which is sort of an extra possible location).
http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/22877/fields-of-fire

pelle
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wineaholic wrote:So, I need

wineaholic wrote:
So, I need the unit-movement to make sense on the board, i.e. not be to quick or too slow, but I'd rather it not be just another "carbon-copy" hexagon-based board, I'd rather it stand out in some way.

BTW this is probably the worst reason there is to pick a mechanic for your game. Use whatever works best. The commonly used movement mechanics I know of are common for good reasons and they are well understood by players. Don't change to something inferior just to change. It's different if you wake up one morning and have a fantastic idea that feels like it will make your game superior, then of course you should explore that, but if you want to deliberately be different almost any other part of a strategy game will probably work better than the movement system.

wineaholic
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I do like the idea of

I do like the idea of stopping points, the example you gave might be able to work.

I think I have a much more solid idea of what to do now, most likely just going to give into the the hexagons but I'll see if stopping points might work with that too.

Pelle,
Thank you for your input as well. I guess I was hoping there was a better way to do movement, but it looks like the best way is just tile to tile/space to space. Or maybe I'm just not creative enough to think of a better way...

Thanks a ton for all your help guys, I am now much less stuck! :)

wineaholic
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So here is the type of board

So here is the type of board I've decided to play test the game on first. Obviously, it needs to be realigned in the future as the edges don't quite match up (could probably be disguised in the artwork/design), but really the purpose is to see if this will work or not.

I decided to choose straight edges rather than having the edges end with the jagged edges of the smaller hexagon pattern as I think the smooth edges just look cleaner and more inviting in some way. Presumably, the tiles would be double-sided and versatile, allowing for several different maps in different shapes.

http://i.imgur.com/8OOJeRc.jpg?1

http://i.imgur.com/d7ebSKB.jpg?1

I'd like it to be inviting, appealing to players not only of strictly strategy/high-brow games but also to players of things like Settlers of Catan or Agricola. I'm going for a bit more simplicity than your average strategy game, though I'd still like a balance so there is enough complexity for the veteran players as well. This is the goal, anyhow.

So, tell me what you think! I realize there is a problem with the edges matching up and flowing correctly. This I think can be solved, But other than that?

X3M
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I have some questions if you

I have some questions if you don't mind.

Did it take long before you had those hexagon maps?
What computer program did you use to get the hexagons right? If you tilt 60 degrees, or 120 degrees, does it still fit?
Or did you do this with a pen and ruler?

Eventually I had to go old school and used an old version of paint. And the printing went right.

May I suggest that you go through the hexagons at the edges? But I guess you need to think of something for the half and thirds of the hexagons.

wineaholic
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What I did was found a

What I did was found a hexagon shape on google images, put it into OpenCanvas4.5 (happened to have the program on my computer, or I probably would have downloaded and used photoshop or fireworks instead) and made the white transparent. Then I just found an image of a hexagon pattern through google, put it in OpenCanvas on a seperate layer, made the white transparent again, then scaled/rotated/moved it so that it fit okay in the larger hexagon, then printed and cut them out. Took maybe 5 or 10 minutes.

Yeah, I'll have to play around with fitting the hexagon pattern in there better. Mostly, I just made this up real quick so I can test it out to see if I even want to use this type of board and see if it will work/fit the game. If it does, then I'll put time into perfecting it and adding landscapes and such.

questccg
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If you have difficulties

If you find trying to align all the hexagons together a challenge, you could go to a SQUARE mat with hexagons in it... This will be simpler to get the aligning correct especially along the borders.

If this STILL is a challenge, you can do in what I have seen in another game is use a Square mat with SQUARES in it... This is a simple as it can get.

In the game that used that, they used *walls* to control the movement in the mat. And obviously you could rotate the map to your liking and place several mats next to each other. Different game every time...

pelle
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I made this hexmap generator

I made this hexmap generator that you can run online in your browser:
http://hexmaps.appspot.com/

And this more complex version you have to download and run in Inkscape:
https://github.com/lifelike/hexmapextension

Either just make rectangular-shaped maps, so to make a hex-shaped one you would have to manually select and delete the hexes and hexsides you do not want (a very quick thing to do though).

I agree it is a lot easier to make hexes in rectangles line up correctly. Both my tools have support for enabling creating sheets that tile horizontally or vertically (just tick the appropriate checkboxes).

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