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Zombie Fort! (school project) Mechanics

16 replies [Last post]
Joined: 11/08/2012

Hello Mechanics experts!

If you've seen my post in the New Game Ideas forum, you'll see I'm making a zombie game for my board game class.
I'm not sure if it's too early to hammer out some mechanics, but I have to have a playable prototype for Monday's class so there will be something to play-test.

The idea so far is that 4-6 players will cooperatively clear out an old farm house (on some nice zombiemified farm land) of zombies, gather supplies and resources, and barricade the whole house while hoards of zombies attack.
I'm thinking dice rolls and a grid will help determine movement and maybe interacting with things in the house like dressers, closets, etc.

Players can be bitten, and have a certain number of turns before they are considered a zombie (I was thinking 3 turns).
Once a player is a zombie, the other players can kill them, but they'll be more difficult to kill. They can move around on their own and perhaps open doors to other rooms that haven't been opened yet, unleashing any danger that might've been inside. I thought it'd be cool if players want to kill them when they're bitten too (and not a zombie yet), but I don't know if that would help or hurt.

My original goal was to have the game end with a complete barricade of the farm house. Someone suggested a shed that is on the farm land that people have to venture to for supplies, which I like. I thought of having "resource" cards for most things that would require building, but they also mentioned having tools and such to go along with this. I'm not sure how many cards/how complicated it could get, not to mention my general suckishness at board games (I've really only played pictionary, monopoly and a couple of games of cranium, but I generally didn't like them (also candyland and sorry but that's just rolling dice)
Also people suggested having there be a clue found for another location that might be safer, which might be pretty cool.

I don't know where to start! Any ideas?

Joined: 11/08/2012
Thinking of Mechanics

I saw this game called Castle Panic and thought it had some interesting mechanics for how the monsters moved. There were 3 zones on the board and after each turn the monsters were moved forward one zone. If they touched your wall they and the wall were destroyed.
The game encouraged trading cards between players so they could move their resources to where they were needed most. And I thought this might help with people needing to put up barricades in certain areas; so if a person is closer to an exposed window, other players can give him resources to barricade that window.

I'm considering player movement being done with a D6 and the zombie move forward maybe 1 or more spaces after each turn. I thought about having faster/stronger zombies so I was thinking some of them would more forward 2 spaces after each turn. As far as zombies being close enough to players, I'm not sure how they'd move except toward the player that's closest to them?

And now cards. I'm not sure what to do about those.
I like the shed idea, with lots of resources inside of it, but I'm not sure how many resources/supplies I should have and what purpose they would serve. I originally thought about just making a card that says "resources" and making each barricade cost X# of resources, but things like shovels and stuff sounds neat too, I'm just not sure how to make them work.

Also weapons and ammo, I considered having 6-8 weapons people could choose from (like a crossbow, rifle, knife, axe, pistol, baseball bat and crow bar (or something)) and would have special benefits for that weapon (like crossbow you can get your arrows back and knifes don't need ammo) and draw backs (knifes require close range).
Ammo could be stored around the house in dressers and closets or something and people could open these places to see if there's anything beneficial.

Joined: 07/02/2012
More flesh to chew on...

When I suggested the idea of a separate barn or shed, my thought was to have a game board with a grid. The farm house is near one corner and the barn is near the opposite corner. The other two corners would be starting points for the Zombies. You have two teams: 10 Zombies or 12 Survivors. If two people are playing, one is the Zombies and the other is the Survivors. Four players would split into paired teams of each. The Zombies are trying to attack and transform the Survivors before daybreak and the Survivors are trying to kill the Zombies and survive the night. The game would last a certain amount of rounds before sunrise and then the game is over. Team with the most remaining members wins.
The Zombies can add to their numbers by attacking and transforming a Survivor into a Zombie. Survivors could not add to their numbers, but have the advantage of using weapons. Survivors can move 1-6 spaces, zombies can only move 1-3. Each round, all players pieces move the same amount of spaces determined by a their roll. Pieces cannot remain stationary through their turn, so everybody is always moving, doing something.
The Zombies begin in the corners and the Survivors begin in the house. Make a floor plan of the house with doors and windows that must be barricaded, otherwise they are entry points for Zombies. Have exterior rooms that would be barricaded first and an interior room or two that could be used as a last resort stronghold.
The Barn would be the size of a standard deck of playing cards and this would house your draw pile for supply and weapons cards.
Only 2-4 Survivors can make the trip to the barn at one time and can only carry one supply card each back to the house.
The other Survivors would use the turn to either perform a barricade or defend the house. Barricading would require wood and nails from the barn, defending would require weapons or fire. The house could start with a limited amount of each to get the Survivors started, but to properly barricade and defend would require numerous trips back and forth to the barn. The barn could have two or three entrances to access so that the Zombies could not just hang out and mob one barn door. They would have to split their numbers to deal with the house and the barn. Zombies can enter the house through an unbarricaded door or window, but cannot go in the barn. The barn would only house the draw pile.
I could go deeper into the mechanics for barricading and defending, but I'm sure you have already considered those aspects and got them pretty well figured out.

Joined: 07/02/2012
Another Zombie game...

Here's another new zombie card worth taking a look at. It's a card game, but they have some interesting mechanics for using supplies and weapons:

Joined: 10/13/2011
Mechanic Ideas

Right off the top, I can see several distinct areas that you have already identified that will require a mechanic.

One of the first things you mentioned is barricading the farmhouse; you also mentioned interacting with the objects in the house so were you picturing a farmhouse grid map with doors and windows that is filled with furniture? If so, is the furniture pushed/moved to block entrances? Will some furniture require multiple people to move? Could some furniture block a window but not a door? Can the players break the furniture for resources?

For barricades that are not "pushed" into place, is there a time and resource requirement to construct them or just a resource requirement?

How many things can a single player do per turn?

I like the shed idea; lots of "co-op" possibilities as some players go for resources while others provide cover

You mentioned finding things in dressers; is there a "search" action that player perform? If so, is there a deck of cards or a table to roll on that indicates what you found?

It sounds like you are on the right path with weapons; all things that are reasonably found on a farm with some thought for the pros/cons of using them

more to run!

Joined: 07/02/2012
"Fleshing" it out a bit more...

O.K. So if I'm just wasting pencil lead and brain cells, tell me to quite raising my hand in class and to just sit down and shut up, or if my input has been of some help, let me stand up to the chalkboard for a moment or two and give you some more thoughts about the specifics of certain aspects that I have "fleshed out".
Building upon my concept described two posts previous (no need to quote it, it's right above) of the grid playing surface with floor plan of the farmhouse near one corner and separate barn near opposite corner serving as the draw pile, and the two remaining corners serve as starting points for the Zombie horde. The farmhouse should have 5-7 exterior rooms with at least 10 or more exterior doors and windows. It should also have an interior room or two with at least a few doors adjoining the rooms. The barn should have at least three entrances to access the supply cards.
With the idea of having two teams playing either the role of Zombies or Survivors (or a "Zombie Master" controlling the Zombies and all other players controlling the Survivors, ala D&D), here is a rough outline of game play options to chew on:

• Game grid with farmhouse and barn.
• Six sided dice (d6)
• 10 Zombie tokens or pawns
• 12 Survivor tokens or pawns
• Barricade markers to place on door or window which has been barricaded with Wood & Nails.
• Fire markers to place where a Hay & Kerosene fire burns.
* Lantern markers to place where a lantern burns.
• Zombies divide evenly into both "Zombie" corners.
• Survivors begin in farmhouse. If more than one player is on the team divide the amount of how many Survivors each player controls. Deal one card to each Survivor player. In addition to which ever card they are dealt, they also are armed with a primary weapon, either a crowbar or baseball bat. They carry this at all times and can play it an unlimited amount of times without losing it. The primary weapon is close range and can only be used to attack if they land on a space next to a Zombie.

Movement: (Using a standard d6 for all rolls.)
• Survivors can choose to:
A: Move 1-6 spaces depending on roll. Survivors are quick and agile, thus they can move in any direction; forward, backward, sideways and diagonally, similar to a Queen in chess.
B: Barricade a door or window (Must use and discard 1 Wood & Nails card).
C: Attack with weapon. Use primary weapon as above; or use secondary weapon per type (Must use and discard 1 Secondary Weapon card). Roll for miss or hit with each attack, once for each weapon used. 1-3=miss, 4-6=hit. A miss has no effect, a hit will kill.
D: Draw card from barn. Must land in front of one of three barn entrances to draw a supply card. Survivors can only carry one card each back to farmhouse in one trip. If they use a card along the way, they can choose to return to the barn and gain another card.

• Zombies can choose to:
A: Move 1-3 spaces depending on roll (1-2=1, 3-4=2, 5-6=3). Zombies are slow and stagger-shuffle, thus they can only move forward, backward, and sideways but not diagonally, similar to a Rook or a Knight in chess.
B: Attack with bite and claws. Bite and claws are close range and can only be used to attack if they land on a space next to a Survivor. Roll for miss or hit for each attack, once for bite, once for claws. 1-3=miss, 4-6=hit. A miss has no effect, a hit will infect and transform the Survivor into a Zombie and now that piece is added to the Zombie Team.

Card Types:
• Wood & Nails - Used to barricade doors and windows. Place a barricade marker on a window or door. Don't barricade them all unless as a last resort, or Survivors can't get in and out to access the barn.
• Axe, Shovel or Pitchfork - Can be played in the same turn combined with primary weapon. The Axe Shovel or Pitchfork are also close range like the primary weapon and can only be used to attack if they land on a space next to a Zombie.
• Pistol - Short range within a 3 space radius. 3 shots. Roll 3 times, can shoot at multiple targets.
• Shotgun - Short range within a 3 space radius. 2 shots. Roll 2 times, can shoot at multiple targets.
• Rifle - Long range within 6 space radius. 1 shot. Roll 1 time, no multiple targets.
• Hay & Kerosene - Survivors can start a Hay & Kerosene fire to keep Zombies away at a radius of 6 spaces, good for 3 turns until it burns out. Useful for placing near a door or window.
• Lantern - Setting out a Lantern will keep Zombies away at a radius of 3 spaces, good for 6 turns until it burns out.
• Holy Water - Holy Water can be used to turn a Zombie into a Survivor. Holy Water is close range and can only be used if they land on a space next to a Zombie. Roll for miss or hit. 1-3=miss, 4-6=hit. A miss has no effect, a hit will cure and transform the Zombie into a Survivor and now that piece is added to the Survivor Team.

Hope this gives you something to gnaw on...
I'm stepping away from the podium for now as I've got to get back to work on my new game, which has nothing whatsoever to do with Zombies!

Joined: 11/08/2012
Waa~ Awesome!

Both you guys! Awesome questions and suggestions.
You say a lot of what I've been thinking. I love your input and you really help clarify my idea into something that sounds fun!
My main question is what size is the grid? I'm trying to imagine it but it's kind of hard to picture. The more I think about having a 'zombie master' the more I love it! It would be great for play testing and watching my classmates strategy too.
And where would you get the kerosene, hay, holy water, etc.? Would they just be found in the shed or have to be made?
You have many awesome ideas, and I hope you come back! I'll be putting together a rough prototype tomorrow and getting back to you guys on how it plays Monday.

Working from the top :D.
I think that yes it will definitely be a grid layout of a house floor plan with players moving within the spaces (not at the crossed lines... maybe that didn't need clarifying >.>;;) But yes I think your questions about furniture are all totally awesome and "yes" to pretty much all of them, cause it's an awesome idea and I think it would make the game fun.
Barricades I believe will have a time and resources requirement, but probably only one turn or two, that might have to be tested. I'm considering leaving resources as "resources" for now, no separate ingredients, just a card# requirement and time.
A player can move, they can interact with an object, they can attack and... use something? And I imagine they'd have an opportunity to build/make something and there would only be one opportunity per turn.
I'm glad you like the shed idea, it was voodoo's idea :D.
Players can interact with an object (such as search a dresser) and they can draw X# cards from a "loot" deck of sorts that has house stuff that might be handy (like ammo, knifes and keys. and maybe clues to a hidden door that activates an awesome zombie defense system for instant win?)

Thank you for the questions! They really got me thinking. I'll let you guys know what I"m going with for Monday's play test, I gotta sleep on this.

Update: I'm starting the grid at 3/4", 22 squares x 29 squares (i used two unfolded plain folders.) I kind of like it so far! I think I could fit a house, shed and some field on this grid. Cozy but not too cramped, lets hope.

Joined: 07/02/2012
A few answers

1- The grid size would depend on what size tokens or pawns you are using, allowing enough space for the farmhouse, barn and movement between and around. Your proposed dimension should work fine for play testing.
2- The Hay & Kerosene would be one card that is stored and drawn from the barn. This is your "loot deck", as you call it.
The Hay & Kerosene card is used to make a fire which burns for 3 turns. The Holy Water would be another card in the draw (loot) pile, as would the secondary weapons and Hammer & Nails. ALL item to be used by Survivors can be found in the barn. Reread my post concerning how the supply cards are used and played. I think you may have misunderstood how they work.
3- Searching through furniture in the farmhouse seems problematic, unless you come up with a good mechanic for it. I would eliminate the furniture altogether (it is an abandoned house). Having to search through and move furniture around means that you now have to have furniture icons or markers that are just going to clutter up the farmhouse, and you are already at a premium for space.
4- Unless you want to set the whole game up and then just get it over with, I would not include "a hidden door that activates an awesome zombie defense system for instant win". Why play at all if you have that type of possibility. You could play Rock, Paper, Scissors with the same outcome. Play the game all the way through from start to finish. The game should have a rough timeframe to play (rounds, minutes, egg timer, etc.) Thus my suggestion of the "Dusk to Dawn" scenario, where the game lasts a certain amount of rounds representing a full night from sundown to sunrise.
Reread my post, as I think that there are a few things that might have been glossed over.

Joined: 11/08/2012
It was pretty late last night ^^;

Makes more sense now, I'm going to skip the movable objects for now and I can see what you mean by searching through things, although I don't imagine that a family abandoning their house would take their furniture with them. I may still include furniture as "resource piles" that players can choose to break down or not, but I'll see how the spaces look once I get a floor plan or two on the grid. I think those kind of things were on my mind because of games like Fallout3 and such (and that's all I know when it comes to mechanics lol). I'm still open to them, but you make a good point.
Speaking of grids, for now I think this size is perfect, just big enough for players while not being too crowded. Though I'm not sure how would a possible attic/basement be accounted for on the grid without taking up the zombie's area? Would I need separate boards or would it work to just have a 1lvl house?

Rereading your post I have another question. You say "deal one card to each player" are these cards from the loot deck or something separate? I figured they're loot cards but I didn't want to assume.
Does each holy water have only one use? Or are there a certain number of uses you were thinking of?

Joined: 04/08/2012
1 level farm house.

If the grid you have is the right size for the board your using and for what your looking for than a 1 level farm house is fine. I only suggested the attic and basement idea if players needed to get away to get other resources or even better having ways to get down to get to the second floor to the shed outback. Keep up the great work.

Joined: 04/08/2012
Moving furniture for barricade.

I would have the moving barricade: such as furniture: be an instant move if player is close by to the object that can be moved to block. If furniture has been moved to barricade, allow three turns to weigh the outcome for it to become damaged from the zombies piling up at that spot.

Joined: 04/08/2012
Resource pool

You can have a resource draw pool to put up the new piece of furniture. Other things. What about breaking the table legs. Table can be used as door or window blockade. The table legs can be used as torches for protection or throw at the zombies. Or have players run outside to make bonfires lit to keep zombies at bay for two turns of game play.

Joined: 04/08/2012
Zombie pool.

If you are planning for your game to have 4 to 6 players, I would suggest by doubling or triple the amount for each player to handle. 10 zombies isnt enough for a game like this. Just my opinion

Joined: 07/02/2012
Card play

You have just one deck of cards. It is the "loot" pile. It contains all of the items I mentioned earlier. When you deal one card to each player to start with, it is from this same deck. They may get a weapon to start out with or a lantern or hammer & nails, etc. Basically everyone starts the game with something. The Holy Water would be good for one use only. You have a vial of the stuff, not a seltzer bottle. Like all secondary weapons, use it, then lose it. Otherwise you need to keep track of how many times you have fired a shot or thrown the water. When you use a secondary weapon, you use it fully in the same turn and then it is discarded. For instance, the shotgun has two shells in it. Shoot once, then shoot again during the same turn. The shotgun is now useless and goes into the discard pile. It could get overly complicated if you start rationalizing, "Why can't I use the shotgun as a club," or "the hammer could be used as a weapon as well." Use the cards as simply as they are intended to be. The Hammer & Nails barricades one door or one window. Then it is spent. The shotgun fires two shells. Then it is spent. If you need to rationalize to players about alternate uses, be the creative Zombie Master and inform them that "You broke the handle on the hammer" or
"The firing pin on the old rusty shotgun stuck".

If you make the farmhouse one level, with exterior and interior rooms, you don't need an attic or basement. The interior rooms could serve the same purpose. If you have a good mechanic for searching, moving and busting up furniture, then try it out and see how it works. I don't know how to make it simple and elegant. I would just make it an empty house. Maybe the family that lived there didn't just up and leave. Maybe they moved and took their furniture with them or homeless people took it. I don't know of many fully furnished abandoned old farmhouses, but I guess there probably wouldn't be shotguns and lanterns and kerosene either, so it's your game, your call.

The reason I picked 10 zombies, is that amount of tokens/figures needed for the game would work for a play test session. You can always modify the numbers once the game has been run through a few times. If you want to make it a marathon session with enough miniatures to resemble a Warhammer field, then by all means, the more the merrier. It just seems like a lot to take control and keep track of if each zombie or survivor is moving independently doing their own thing.

Joined: 11/08/2012
playtesting is postponed

Someone from Liquid Development gave a presentation so all the Game Design students went to the presentation and none of the programming students played my game :P. Sad but totally worth it to see
I'm going to run it through a few times with the hubby in the next few days to hammer out any big flaws.

The number of zombies I'm not terribly worried about. I will probably add more, but 10 on each team is fine to start with and I figure you can always reuse tokens (I've started with 10 of each card too, not including secondary weapons).
I think that's something I'll have to decide on as far as teams go, if zombies come in waves and are near infinite or if they're finite and just part of a team.
The "DM" idea of improvising weapons is a cool idea and I'd like that (fewer rules to write I imagine) but it'll have to be seen.

I feel like I'll be making two versions of the game, one that plays fast/simple for the class and another for myself that's a little more in depth.

Maybe tonight's episode of Walking Dead will inspire something new! (can't wait to see it!)

Joined: 11/08/2012
playtest complete

My husband and I took the game for a test drive today and ran into a bunch of stuff.

I'm going to have to rethink the way zombies move, cause while my husband was off collecting lanterns and blocking my path, my zombies were inching square by square with no real hope of catching the survivors.
I probably could've gone into a window and caused trouble that way, but it's a little difficult to be threatening when you're only rolling enough to move one square each turn.
Going to have to put a limit on how many times a survivor can attack a zombie with the primary weapon, doesn't make sense to have someone roll till they get a hit if they get unlimited rolls, we just started taking zombies away once his survivors landed next to them. I might limit it to 3 hits.

I like how the game plays, but I feel there are some balance issues.
As far as time limit goes, I was going to do 12 turns but not enough happens in 5 turns to make it so little, I suppose 24 turns would be better but the game needs to be short.

Anyay Just thought I'd update you guys!
Gonna brainstorm some changes.

Joined: 10/13/2011
Modified movement

Maybe zombies could move at a slower rate (1-2 squares) but will "run" faster if they get within a few squares of a survivor? 3-4 spaces per move if they are within 5 squares of a survivor?

Could each weapon be given a maximum number of attempts per turn to hit the zombie? This might provide some more flexibility with weapon design without associating the attack stat with the player.

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