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Base Mechanics - Too Much?

6 replies [Last post]
Joined: 01/23/2014

The game that I've been designing on and off for about 7 years now has hit several road blocks. The most recent stopping point was an overload of mechanics (too many for the one game, overcomplicating). I'd like some input on what I have left after stripping the mass of game down to what I consider an actual jumping-off point:

The game centers around two huge mechanics:

1) Tile-based (chess style) Combat and movement, each tile is unique and there are 30+ tile units in the game.

2) Resource acquisition/area control.

Players have these 'engines' that produce resources each turn and have to protect them with their tile combatants while launching attacks at other players to get a footing on their engines to gain the resources they are making.

Resources are required to purchase more powerful (and just plain more) tiles throughout the game, with the most expensive tiles requiring the most control over the resources of the game. The tiles don't guarantee victory, however, but rather have unique movement and attack mechanics that give the player with the more expensive units the upper hand (a stun mechanic on an expensive tile holds the enemy units in place so my units can slip past easily).

The movement of these tiles is based on a semi-random deck of "Action" cards: 15 "1 Action", 8 "2 Actions", 4 "3 Actions", and 3 "0 Actions". At the start of each turn, players draw one card for each tile they have in play and can delegate the cards to however many tiles as they wish, but cannot split the actions on one card to move multiple tiles (A 3 Action card only lets me move my Tile B 3 times, not my Tile B and Tile C 2 and 1 times respectively).

The mechanic that I want to implement is a deck-building system to give players a less expensive way to spend their resources, while improving their cards simultaneously. The players would choose between buying Action cards (going up to 5 Actions and various other improvements per card) or better Tiles, thus improving the chances that they could move where and how they wanted or fight/control the map better with better, more unique units.

Are Area Control, Tile Combat (a la Chess), and Deckbuilding (in addition to Army building) too many different mechanics for one game, or does this sound reasonable enough to be enjoyable?

Thanks for your input in advance and I apologize for the long post!

Noimage's picture
Joined: 04/01/2015
Every Person Likes a Certain Game

Every person likes a different type of game. This game does not seem too bad to play and sound enjoyable to me (I'd play it). For me though I like complex games that have a vast majority of mechanics and complexity behind them. If you plan on playing this game with people like me or want to produce a game like that its perfectly fine. The good thing is that you are aware of its complexity so you can choose which route to take. However, if you are wanting a nice easy game that can be learned really fast and jumped into quickly I would suggest breaking down the mechanics to a less complex level. Overall, create what you invision and stick with the game you want to make. Hope this helps.

Joined: 01/23/2014

It definitely does, thanks for the advice and supportive commentary!

Tbone's picture
Joined: 02/18/2013
Some Concerns.

The only thing that would irritate me is the action cards. I guess they aren't a terrible concept but its just one more thing to do and it seems like an unneeded step to be honest. It would also mean less cards and more tiles!

To me (opinion) the more components that could be in the game the less engaged and focused I am. I love card games because all you need is one component.

Although, one component can't do EVERYTHING efficiently, especially in complex games (for the most part).

Of course you could always role for actions. But looking at your design your grid seems to be pretty big. plus people like to role more than they like to draw. And dice are easier to maneuver than cards on a flat surface (in terms of picking up and putting down in a fixed position).

I love tiles. They work similarly to cards in that they can hold information but they are thicker and easier to move. The only drawbacks are storage and they lack convenient shuffling.

In terms of mechanics, I am not too overwhelmed (yet). I guess it depends on how deep the combat, resources, abilities, and attributes of the cards are.

Joined: 01/23/2014
Great Feedback!

Thanks for the criticism! I originally thought of dice, but they never seemed to work in a way that felt organic; it felt too constricting in this case. The Action cards are super simple in their visual design, they are like playing cards minus the suits, and they allow a player to move a tile as many times as the card says, but the tiles themselves have reference cards (those are what you look at as you are deciding which to buy) that give you all the information about the tiles in a clean way (no wall of text, includes a picture of the related tile for clarity). This does incite a bit of cross-referencing with new players, but it has proven a more effective means of showing players what everything does than putting the info in the rule book or a separate reference book, or just putting the info on the tiles (big mistake!).

As for convenient storage and shuffling, I have in mind a bit of a Dice Masters/Quarriors idea of buying a tile, putting the card for that tile face-up in front of you, then putting the tile in a bag with the rest of your bought/killed tiles for a bit of unpredictability in tile playing to mitigate "running away with the game" and give weaker players a slightly better chance of coming back.

Joined: 03/30/2015
I kind of agree with what Tbone said...

At this moment, it sounds like the action cards fill a simple enough role that they could be replaced with something like dice (unless you make the cards themselves more complex, which seems like something you want to avoid). Of course it's your game, so whether you'd want to use dice is simply a matter of whether you find a system you like or not.

I had an idea while reading your post; have you tried a dice assignment system? You could roll a number of dice equal to your resources (or however you're managing the action cards now) and assign them to different units according to their needs (for example: a stronger unit might require a 5+ in order to get an extra move, whereas a weaker unit might only need a 2+). That way, you'll still have the random element of the dice, but it'll feel tied to the kind of unit you have. Dead of Winter used a similar mechanic to great success.

Of course, I'm not sure what your personal definition of organic is in this case, so maybe dice simply won't do. Either way, I think your idea of having a tile bag is pretty good, as long as it doesn't matter which side of the tile is showing. ^_^ I'm excited to see more of your game, both theme and mechanic-wise.

Joined: 01/23/2014

I hadn't thought of dice assignment at all, actually! That sounds like a great way to add variety without random mechanics for complexity, I'll definitely re-evaluate the use of dice in that way! Thanks for the idea!!

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