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Game inspired by videogame-shooters

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DARE the Vegetable
DARE the Vegetable's picture
Joined: 06/13/2010

Lemme break it down: So I'm a big videogamer -err... PC gamer, and I've been wanting to do a kind of skirmish-y game with the basic game concept of simply running about and shoot each other. The problem is I don't want to have a Pokemon situation.
You know, I attack. You attack. I attack. You attack. If I wanted to play a game like that I'd play Yatzi.

My straightforward question is: How does one make basically "Counter Strike: The Board Game" interesting? What mechanics do I use, do I do something with the board etc.

My second request: Namedrop me some other board games with the skirmish concept. I'm sure most of them aren't re-skinned Yatzi... Except Risk. That is Yatzi lol.

Tack för att du är en bra medmänniska

InvisibleJon's picture
Joined: 07/27/2008
Simultaneous resolution? Rock-scissors-paper?

DARE the Vegetable wrote:
How does one make "Counter Strike: The Board Game" interesting? What mechanics do I use, do I do something with the board etc.

Consider the following:
• Simultaneous resolution
• Rock-scissors-paper

Simultaneous Resolution:
If all actions resolve simultaneously, it feels more like real-time ("Counter Strike") instead of like, "you go, I go." That helps get rid of the, "you attack, I attack," feeling that you don't like.

If all actions are capable of winning, losing, and tying, then every action is an attack or a defense, depending on context. One of the things that made (and makes) Starcraft so enduring is that every single unit, from lowly zerglings to Protoss Archons, has its strengths and weaknesses. It contributes a lot to making the game strategic; attacking or reacting with the correct unit(s) is key to victory.

If you can design an action system where every action is useful in some contexts and weak in other contexts; especially in combination with your opponent's action, then you've created a system where players aren't mindlessly rolling dice to attack over and over again, instead players have to think about what's best for their situation and try to guess what their opponent will do. Once you have that, players can feint and bluff each other and the game becomes a lot more engaging.

Application – A simple example:
We're playing rock-scissors-paper. Each time one of us wins, that player gets a point. The first player to reach 10 points wins.

There's a deck of four cards:
• +1 if you win with rock
• +1 if you win with scissors
• +1 if you win with paper
• +1 if you tie

We each get one of these cards, face down, at the start of the game. You know what your card is (+1 rock), but I don't, and vice-versa (I have +1 scissors).

We throw the first round. Being students of the R-S-P Academy, we both lead with paper. We tie, and nothing happens. The score stays 0-0. Neither of us revealed our card, so we know that neither of us gain a point on a tie.

Second round: We decide to try our specials. You throw rock and I throw scissors. You win and gain a point, and you reveal your card so you can gain a second point. I choose not to reveal my card because it would not benefit me. The score is 2-0, your lead.

Third round: I know that you get two points if you win with rock, so I'm reluctant to throw scissors. You know I know this, so you know I'm inclined to throw paper to cover your rock, which means that you have a good reason to throw scissors to cut my paper. Here's where the "magic" of the system comes in. We both have knowledge that unbalances the desirability/reward of each option, but each option still has the same, "combat value." The game has changed from a mostly-random setup to a web of second-guessing and bluffing.

...One more thing... Imagine what it would be like if there were seven cards in the deck instead of four. Two copies of each rock, scissors, and paper, and one for the tie.

• Simultaneous resolution makes every action an attack or a defense and helps break players out of the, "swapping attacks" routine.
• Making each action act as an attack or a defense, depending on the situation also helps break players out of the, "swapping attacks" routine.
• Adding a simple reward system and a little extra knowledge to a simple, tried-and-true system can yield interesting results.

I hope this helps. I wish you the best of luck!

Joined: 09/07/2010

Good ideas InvisibleJon. I think you're right, RPS would make a great core for a FPS. Maybe some sort of geography/board would also be interesting for running around on so the starting situations aren't always uniform. As maps matter a lot, maybe we decide simultaneously where we go on the map. Certain locations might have good powerups (new cards for your hand such as rocket launchers or grenades) but might also put you in a vulnerable position. Maybe add some probability too? But that'll all just be texture, the RPS should give the core feel.

rcjames14's picture
Joined: 09/17/2010
What's The Feeling You Want?

DARE the Vegetable wrote:
My straightforward question is: How does one make basically "Counter Strike: The Board Game" interesting? What mechanics do I use, do I do something with the board etc.

What do you feel makes Counter Strike interesting to you? Can those elements be recreated in a game with a turn based structure, or does it require real time play? Are you looking for a tactical, move and roll game, like Axis & Allies, Advanced Squad Leader or Memoir44 where you are the commander? Or do you want to play a specific character moving around the board like in Betrayal at House on Haunted Hill, Zombies or DungeonQuest? Or, would you prefer where movement and conflict is abstract like Call of Chthulhu CCG, Battlestar Galactica Board Game or even Munchkin?

Louard's picture
Joined: 02/09/2010
Simultaneous damage resolution

Here's a simple simultaneous resolution idea to makes things less, attack/counterattack-y.
After players have moved their units, they take turns attacking. You keep track of how much damage each unit has taken, with tokens or something, but don't apply (kill units) yet. Only after all attacks have been made do you finally apply the damage. That way a player's unit can't be killed before it gets to attack giving less advantage to the player who shoots first.

rcjames14's picture
Joined: 09/17/2010

In addition to simultaneous conflict, you can even add co-occupancy of spaces as a way to move away from traditional move and attack games. European style gaming often involves a lot of co-occupancy of resources (with varying different rules for how each of the occupants benefits), but most war games tend to assume zones of exclusive control. It would certainly alter the typical American style of a war game if exclusivity was much more amorphous.

DARE the Vegetable
DARE the Vegetable's picture
Joined: 06/13/2010

Thank you for your comments! Reading posts on this forum really gets my mind going, if not in a productive way then at least in a exciting way.

Your ideas really helped my mind advance and I've been thinking a lot about this the last couple of days. I've been thinking about different kinds of videogames and the tactical value of rock, paper, scissor... and how to project those mechanics in the game world.
I had yet to define the theme but while playing Mafia 2 there is little you can do but get rudely smashed in the head with images of suited men in the early half of the 20th century, sporting six-shooters and magic powers...

So my current imagining of the game: I want to portray close quarter cover-clinging firefights with the occasional sword fending and magic.
The fiction is for me an important thing and I'll be using a lot of drawings and portraits to try and give a feel for the fictional world. By now it almost feels like I'm basing the game on a noir novel... one not yet written.

Your comments are a great help!

InvisibleJon: A very inspiring post, I'll definately try to make something of the rock, paper, scissor combat.
I have decided that I want weapons to grant bonuses to certain throws and then have different characters have certain weapons, but I'd have to specify later. It makes positioning all the more important but I believe it'd take more than three combat options...

SwampBug: Powerups is something I really like about videogames. However, I don't know how to fit something like that into the theme I've chosen to go with. Guess I'll be thinking about that.

I agree strongly that the maps themselves are a big part of FPS games and an important element of the map is spawn-points. I'm considering respawning, in which case characters should be easier to kill and a possible objective could be collecting points by taking out enemies.

rcjames14: After reading your post I actually started working through a couple of my shooting games, taking notes while I was playing.
Here are some answers this yelded me:
Players control a party of characters (I'm thinking 3-6) and I want gameplay to be tactical but tense. I'm looking to recreate a very specific feel of tight firefights and shooting from behind cover as well as a noir kind of atmosphere.
I want each character to be it's own class with unique functions in the group.

About co-occupancy of spaces on the board: I want to represent cover in some way. It seems like this subject could bring out some ideas regarding cover...

Louard: Since players take turns moving and attacking with their units this seems like a great way to bridge the turn based elements and the simultaneous elements!

All of your comments are a great help, people!

Currently on my mind:
- Combat...? Awright...
- How do I decide damage...?
- What in the world is this mafia-fantasy theme I've come up with anyway???

treyalsup's picture
Joined: 09/08/2010
Some random thoughts: I've

Some random thoughts:

I've tried to make RSP work in a game without much luck. To me this is not a great mechanic for a "shooter" sim. Ultimately RSP is pretty skill-less and emotionally unsatisfying.

The criticism of most shooters is that they are "aiming games". Well the best players of shooters are good aimers of course but they excel because they use tactics and mastery of the map to their greatest advantage. I would think that positioning and use of the terrain would work best for what you are trying to recreate.

I remember a very good mac game that would be about 20 years old now in which you programmed 2-8 combat robots and then they performed their turn simultaneously against an opponent squad. I always thought that was a great basis for a game: Give your units orders and then everything is resolved simultaneously.

I agree with earlier comments that you should identify what you like best about shooters and then think about what mechanic in a board game best recreates that emotional experience.

I have a friend who has tried to do a boardgame version of a real time strategy game and its a daunting task. Things that are real time are certainly a challenge to convert into board game mechanics: hence the idea of orders and resolution. Creating a turn based game from a shooter or RTS seems to miss the point.

Good luck!

rcjames14's picture
Joined: 09/17/2010

"Tactical", "tense", "tight" and "noir"... all of these strike on feelings that you might find difficult to simulate in a boardgame. Most combat boardgames are strategic, analytical, holistic and transparent. Limited as they are by perfect knowledge and turn-based decision-making, a boardgame might not be the right choice for what you want.

I sense that you need a medium more conducive to surprise, suspense and speed such as cards or storytelling. But ultimately, a digital medium is still probably the best because in that medium, the players do not control the pace or need to verify information.

Louard's picture
Joined: 02/09/2010
A movement idea.

Ok.. this is one I've been sitting on for years now... I suggest it as a way of encouraging units moving as a squad. You see I've got some mechanics kicking around for a quad level military themed game that shares some inspiration with your concept.

So here's how my movement idea works:
-First of all, a soldier may only move once in a turn, keep track of who has moved either through movement tokens or simply by memory. (not so bad if players each command 4 or 5 soldiers)
-Basically each soldier can only move one space at a time.
-However, a soldier may also move to any space adjacent to a friendly soldier as long as there is a contiguous connection between where the moving soldier is starting and the ending space. Sorry if this isn't clear.. I've had a heck of a time trying to put this into words over he years.. here's a crude "diagram"
"A" is the moving soldier, "O"s are friendlies.. "A" can thus move 5 spaces to the right and end up here:

Also, a soldier is not forced to move to a space adjacent to a friendly, this allows you to break squads up into smaller fire teams too.

ilta's picture
Joined: 12/05/2008
I would look at Tanhauser,

I would look at Tanhauser, which does a good job of organizing a map into various line-of-sight "areas," thus avoiding the fiddly "can my guy shoot your guy" question that plagues all tactical games, even relatively simple ones like Memoir '44.

As for gameplay, I think that most of the other posters are right, that this sort of video game is really tough to simulate in a board game situation, and that you'll likely end up with something more akin to a strategy game. With that in mind, two video game series to draw inspiration from:

- Jagged Alliance: in this classic late 90's game, the player controls a squad of mercenaries, tasked with a mission (kill all the bad guys, rescue the hostage, uncover the plans, escape, etc). Game was turn-based, played on an isometric map with fog of war. The main gameplay mechanic was an "action point" system, linked to movement, shooting, and environment interaction (opening doors, picking up weapons, etc). So you could choose between moving around a lot, or aiming carefully. One really cool aspect was the "interrupt" -- if you left points over after your turn, and an enemy wandered into your field of fire, you could interrupt his turn to shoot at him, possibly ambushing and killing him. But if nobody wandered by, you'd lose (most of) these "saved" points. So it was a balance.

The game felt very much like a boardgame (which, in retrospect, was probably why I liked it). It spawned a number of copycats (and was, itself, a refinement of that classic game, X-COM), and they're coming out with a JA3 sometime next year, over a decade after JA2!

- Brothers in Arms. In particular, the first one: Road to Hill 30. A real-time strategy game wrapped in an FPS coating, the BIA series focuses on leading 3-man firesquads in WWII, working in concert to Find, Fix, Flank, and Finish the enemy. The genius of the game is that at any time, you can jump out of 1st person mode to a live map (there's that boardgame again) and direct your fire squad to pin the enemy with suppressing fire, while you send your assault squad around a convenient hedgerow and pick off the cowering enemy. There are two sequels, with constant rumors of a third, as well as a number of spin-offs, but in my opinion the best, and most strategic, remains the first game, with the sequels tending to move too far over to the "arcade FPS" side of things.

In terms of gameplay, using these two video games as your guide might steer you to an action-point allowance system, force multipliers (or penalties) for flanking maneuvers, and cover mechanics that distinguished among "protected," "unprotected," and "suppressed". If you're using dice, then it's simply a matter of saying "for each space you move this turn, subtract a die from your movement" (Jagged Alliance), "if you're firing while being fired upon, subtract X dice" (BIA) and "if the enemy is behind cover, subtract X dice" (all FPS games).

Alternately, and more attractively, simultaneous action selection would be a cool way of doing things. In particular, if you had identical "fire" (effectively), "move" (a lot), and "fire while moving" (a compromise) chits that you placed face-down next to each of your guys, and then resolved them in the order of your choosing while your opponent did the same, it could work very well and the game would move very quickly.

Perhaps your "move" chit allows you three spaces, and gives a penalty to anyone trying to hit you. "Fire" allows you a significant bonus while shooting, but little or no movement. "Fire while moving" gives you two spaces of movement, but a slight penalty when shooting.

pelle's picture
Joined: 08/11/2008

I think team-based FPS like Wolfenstein Enemy Territory or Battlefield could work, if you go up one level and manage the entire team on one player. The soldiers in the game would spawn at specific intervals on some captured spawn point, and then you try to move to capture more spawn points and other objectives. Killed soldiers just go to an off-map box awaiting the next spawn time. When a soldier is waiting to spawn you might be allowed to change its class/type (like you can when in limbo in ET) .

I even have a prototype map and rules for a game like that somewhere. I used area-based movement and some very simple combat mechanic. Most units could only attack within their area and some (eg snipers) could also attack adjacent areas. But I never tested it so I don't know how much work it would be to turn it into something playable (if possible at all). I was thinking something mission-based and totally rip off all sorts of ideas from existing computer games (having barriers you need to bring an engineer to blow up, vehicles that can be driven, ... totally mindless ameritrash yes).

Koen Hendrix
Joined: 11/24/2010
Have you looked at

Have you looked at FPS-imitating boardgames that are out there already? I'm specifically thinking of DOOM and FRAG. DOOM is a team of players versus one overlord (also a player), FRAG is deathmatch-style.

Just a thought.

DARE the Vegetable
DARE the Vegetable's picture
Joined: 06/13/2010
A hasty clarifying

Hello good people and thank you for your thoughts! I'm sorry this post won't be edited: I'm typing this from my cellphone. I believe I need to clarify myself and maybe change the title of this thread. At first I was aiming to make a game portraying an online shooting game but since then my goal has slightly changed to that of a specific setting (which I'd like to elaborate on when I'm not abroad). A setting kind of urban fantasy but in the time and style of the Godfather. Anyway I think I'm aiming for an experience more like Fire Emblem. Have you ever played it? I never saw just guys running up and slapping one another, in my head every attack and counterattack played out in movie format like something from Advent Children. I'm trailing off again... By "tactical but tense" I mean that it would be very much a turn based board game with critical decision making every turn, and the tense aspect would be what I'm bringing from videogames. I'm thinking mostly about a cover-system but I'd have to think about that some more. Your comments are always very helpful! :)

Koen Hendrix
Joined: 11/24/2010
I know of a card game called Yomi

I know of a card game called Yomi that simulates beat-em-up games like Street Fighter, Dead or Alive, etc quite well. It's translated the simultanious attacking and rock-paper-scissors (attack-throw-block) mechanic of beat-em-ups into a card game where every fighter has his own deck of attacks, throws, blocks and special moves, and some can be combo'd toghether. I would definitively describe it as a 'tactical but tense' adaptation of a video game genre with critical decisions at every turn, so maybe it's interesting for you as well.

Have a look at Yomi at


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