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Avalanche! Search and Rescue

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dyertm's picture
Joined: 01/14/2014

Hi folks,

I'm new to the forums, but I've been an avid gamer for a very long time. I recently decided to try and design my first game with the hopes of having it published. I've been slowly working on the concepts for a few months now and would love some feed back.

Avalanche! Search and Rescue is a co-op/team game where the players are part of an avalanche response team. The object is to identify and rescue victims before the time runs out. I'm bouncing between a standard square pattern game board (Flash Point) or hexagon based board, but either way it would be a 6x8 design. The game would also include a D6 and D8 dice for random victim placement. I'm also toying with the idea of during game setup to have a certain amount of debris/obstacle tokens that would be randomly placed by dice rolls as well. These would be unmovable objects that players would then have to go around. I would increase the number of these objects for each player playing.

I've done a lot research into avalanche rescue as I was part of a search and rescue organization a few years ago and I have spent a lot of time in the mountains. Generally you have 45 minutes to locate and extract victims. After this point survival rates plummet so I've created a 45 card deck with the game logo on one side and a timer icon on the other. After each player performs their action they would flip a card to indicate time movement.

Movement/recuse mechanics would be as follows. Each player is allowed one action per turn of the following:

a. Movement = 4 spaces in any direction.

b. Rescue Movement/Moving Victim = 2 spaces in any direction.

c. Rescue = If you're last turn ended on a victim token you may choose flip the victim token as your action for this turn.

d. Assist a rescue = If you're on the same space as another player who is rescuing a victim you may forfeit your turn. This will allow the other player to move 4 spaces while rescuing a victim. This also only counts as a single turn and only one time card is flipped.

The board would either have a rescue location on the bottom left, bottom right or both left and right. The player would need to travel to a victim token, perform a rescue and then move the victim to the extraction point where medical personnel would be waiting.

The victim tokens are broken into two categories. The first three tokens to be put on the board face down during setup have an avalanche beacon on one side. These three tokens have either male icon, female icon or a backpack icon. The backpack is used to create confusion and make things more difficult.

The other tokens then have a flag on one side and either a male icon, female icon or backpack. These all start victim face down and would be randomly placed. Once one of the first 3 victims is moved to the extraction point that player would then roll the dice and place a new victim token on the board and play continues. If at anytime the time cards run out the game ends and the team loses.

The reason I broke the tokens into two categories goes back to avalanche rescue procedures. Once the initial response team has reached the avalanche site they determine whether the area is table and safe. They then setup a safe location for extraction and equipment storage. They then do a visual search and beacon search. Once those have been completed they then begin an organized probe search for victims buried. The second set of tokens are meant to represent probe strikes. I've included this part into the rules and when a player rolls the dice and places a flag token on the board they have to call out "strike!" Please note that my explanation here is an overview and is nowhere near complete.

I'm sure I've missed information here, but this is the basics of the game. My inspiration for this game was Flash Point: Fire Rescue; however, the issue I'm having is I don't want it to seem like I'm copying the game and re-theming it. This is one of the reasons I'm flip flopping on the board design. If I use a square grid board then it would be a copy of Flash Point with different art. If I use a hexagon grid it would be more unique, but I'm not sure how people would like it. Also, to note it would be a standard game board, but with a 6x8 grid pattern of either squares or hexagons.

One last thing is I'm working on creating actual named characters, with some basic information and small storyline for each. I plan to illustrate them as well and provide player cards so people playing the game can choose their favorite character. I was thinking it would be neat to create an actual player board that had the actions listed with details for easy reference and then have a punch out on this board where the player could insert their chosen character card. These player boards would also be color coordinated with the game pieces.

Ok, I think that's it for now. I would love to hear everyone's feedback and critiques!

Joined: 07/03/2013
Well, maybe...

As I was reading, I found myself thinking that it sounded a lot like Flash Point, but at the same time, I think that it would have its own uniquenesses that could make it more interesting.

First is the mountainside. Have you considered that it might be much easier for the players to go downhill than uphill? The players could use this to their advantage (especially if it's hex terrain) by allowing movement that includes downhill to require half the move actions. Perhaps there are snowmobiles that are at certain locations that a player can use, or ski lifts, but again, the downhill aspect would make the players have to plan ahead a bit better (he's up there, but he's busy with a victim... maybe he should bring it down to where player two can get them easier and then rescue the other victim because they're already higher on the hill?

Second could be the idea of subsequent snow slides, as though the area isn't completely stable. Perhaps as part of your time tracking deck (a great idea from Pandemic, BTW), you could include cards that trigger random, smaller avalanches that shoot down the hillside (roll a d8 to determine which row of hexes gets hit). If a player is in the path, they get knocked to the bottom of the hill, or other players have to com rescue them so that they can continue to participate in the rescue effort. It could also further bury the victims they're trying to save.

However, players could find equipment in backpacks when victims aren't found (a la Forbidden Desert). It could be that a player can use thermal goggles to reveal a buried victim and see what kind it is. Maybe it's some ski wax that lets the player take downhill actions even faster that turn. Maybe it's more fuel for a snowmobile (Oooh, snowmobiles have fuel...?)

As always, I just throw ideas out there. I think that if you do your best to make the game have different strategies and feel from the game it's inspired from, you'll be just fine. I have bought both forbidden island and forbidden desert even though they're pretty similar because they use the same components in a totally different way and the strategies in each one are drastically different

dyertm's picture
Joined: 01/14/2014
Great ideas...

Hi ruy343,

I really appreciate you taking the time to read my post and provide some feedback. I never thought about the up/down aspect before, but it makes perfect sense now that you've mentioned it. Maybe I can place the extraction point between hex #3 and #4 so you either have to up or go down. I'll have to put some thought into the movement allotted for each direction now and make some changes.

I'm glad you brought up the environmental effects. In my original design notes I had thought about using a standard 60 card deck and adding 15 environmental cards that may help or be a detriment to the players. I will definitely have to go back over my notes, refine the concept and implement it. I like your idea of additional snow slides and will play with that concept this weekend and try to figure out how to make it work and write rules regarding it.

I'll have to give the backpack idea some thought. My biggest reason for adding them was to create a detriment similar to how Flash Point has blank victim tokens. Makes you move all the way through and then you find nothing. Makes it interesting, although extra items might be worth it as well. Hmmm...

I appreciate you throwing those ideas out. They have given me some things to think about and change. I really want this project to be the best I can make it and hopefully if I do that other people will like it too. Once I get a chance to implement some of the changes I'll post back here to see what you think.

Thanks again!


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