Skip to Content

IT Network Themed Strategy Game

1 reply [Last post]
Joined: 01/15/2016

Hey everyone! Recently I got inspired to design a board game. Caution, long post ahead!

I've been writing a bunch of stuff down in excel and trying to come up with something coherent and playable. I've only been at it for a week, but already my ideas have changed and evolved a bunch of times. So I thought I'd post here and see what people think.

TL;DR: Way too many ideas for a single game. How do I truncate these and make a concrete, coherent, playable game?

Concept 1
The first concept I came up with drew inspiration from Castles of Burgundy with some elements from Ticket to Ride . In this version players would start out with Task cards like in TTR and that would be the goal for the player to work towards. (with an in-game option to draw and select more tasks) The task cards would require some sort of IT Network to be built. These networks would be built out of different devices: Routers, Switches, Servers, Desktops, Laptops, Firewalls, Wireless AP's etc.

Originally I wanted to do something involving dice rolling (think Castles of Burgundy or Bora Bora) but in this game your dice roll would equate to your buying power for that round. Players would have their own player board where they are building their networks, and the main board would be where you go to purchase devices. To balance the luck aspect of dice rolling I thought to have devices possess special abilities that could manipulate your dice or in some other way level the playing field (e.g. between a player who rolled two 1's and a player who rolled two 6's). So that led me to assigning abilities to the different device types (and if possible loosely tie that ability in with the theme).

So how do these abilities work? Well I thought, once the specific device is on your board you can use it's ability on your turn, but using it would involved flipping it over from an "Operational" to "Non-Operational" state, and in order to get it back you would have to pay a cost. Also, any "Non-Operational" devices in your network would not count towards your task at the end of the game.

In addition to this, there would be optional cards that could be drawn/purchased in the game that would in affect be Attack cards (I'm struggling with the name). This is to try and increase player interaction and at the same time help tie into theme i.e. the Firewalls ability lets you block/ignore attacks in same way.

The most challenging aspect of this concept was trying to balance 1. the associated costs of things and 2. task requirements (they have to be easy enough to obtain possibly multiples of, say about 3 - 6, but challenging enough that the players would need to actually strategize to complete them. Also, I worry about a situation where say for example the task card requires 4 Routers, 3 Switches, and 2 Servers, what happens in mid to late game when you've gotten those, can you then just sit there and collect more and more task cards hoping you have already completed those tasks?)

Anyways, that started to get complicated so I started over:

Concept 2
This one focused more on the worker placement aspect of it, more akin to Lords of Waterdeep and got rid of the task/goal requirement altogether. The goal of each player would be to build the largest functional/connected network.

Devices: Routers, Switches, Firewalls, Wireless AP's, and simply End Devices (Desktop, Laptop, Servers), additionally there would be cables needed (think roads from Catan) in two different forms Fiber and Copper. In this version you would still have player boards for building and the main board for purchasing, but on your player board you would have spots specifically for Routers, Switches, and End Devices. separated by some sort of building or area assignment on your player board. You can build any device in any of the appropriate slots your board, but they wouldn't count as in your network until you connected them together. The types of devices/cables mattered too, so like you could only connect routers to other routers or switches (not End Devices) Switches could be connected to anything really, and End Devices would only connect to Switches. Wireless AP's could be built in the same spot as Switches, which would allow your to build X amount of End Devices in it's zone without cables. Router to Router connections would NEED to be Fiber, Router to Switch and Sw to Sw connections could be Fiber or Copper, and Sw to End Devices would NEED to be Copper. Maybe there would be some sort of rule that says you can't build in a new zone until you've connected a Router from another zone there or players could still be allowed to build in those zones but they wouldn't be able to make connections until they connect a Router to another zone.. something like that.

This time I named the attack cards, Virus Cards which would be some way for the players to attack each other. Again the Firewall would protect you somehow. This time though, I was thinking that there is just one designated spot for a Firewall on your player board and if you have one instead of whatever the attack is, you just loose the FW and are then forced to get another (if you want that protection in the future).

Again I struggled with how to manage money? Does this one even need money, or is it just based on worker placement? When a player uses a spot is it then done? How many workers do they get to start out with? Is there an option to get more workers or will the game give you more as the rounds progress?

Once again I had too many questions and not enough answers... back to the drawing board!

Concept 3 (last one, I promise!)
This go around, I tried a new approach. Instead of designing my own, I'll just design a game hack or re-theme. So I started with Power Grid as my basis, but as that progressed I think it became more Lords of Waterdeep than it did PG.

What's new? Bidding!

Task cards are back, but this time players have to bid on them, and I believe I've come up with a pretty creative take on bidding that I have yet to see in a game (probably already exists though).

I've always complained about the way Projects get funded in real life (I work for the state), if the proposed plan is over X amount, we have to get bids from different vendors and the policy, no matter what is that the lowest bid gets the contract (which I detest!). Translate that to the game, instead of players needing the money to make bids and outbidding their opponents in how much they will pay for a contract, the players take on the role of the Vendor and are bidding for contracts from various different entities and the lowest bid wins. Example, during the bidding phase there are different contracts out that the players will take turns bidding on and the contract could specify that the client doesn't want to spend more than X (i.e. bid can't start higher than that number) then players will determine what they think they can complete that contract for and when they win they get that much money to try and complete the contract. Then it would move to the purchasing(actions) phase. This is really where it kind of goes awry and I don't know how to reign it in. All my previous questions from the other two concepts apply and then some.

Back to the contracts - There would be different types of contracts: Private, Education, and Healthcare. These would coincide with a new action spot available to the players: Loan/Subsidy/Grant. Which I hope will create incentives for going for different contracts. If you are working on a Private contract you can get a loan, but any outstanding debt at the end of the game would count against you. If Education, you could get a Grant of X amount. If Healthcare you get a Subsidy, which would essentially be a Grant except at a cost to the other players (preliminary idea is that it would be each player pays 1/Nth of X amount where N is the number of players and X is half (or something else) of the acting players winning bid [Say he won the bid by saying he could do it for $10. He would get the $10 at the time of bidding but if he didn't have enough he could get the Subsidy by going to the action spot for it, then each other player would pay him 1/Nth of, in this case, $5] it gets complicated and needs revision obviously). I also thought that these award amounts for Loan/Grant/Subsidy could be dependent on the addition of a reputation track.

Either just a single reputation track, or each player could have 3 reputation tracks (one for each type of contract) so if they had a lot of reputation with Private contracts they could get a bigger loan (or maybe they could not have to pay back as much of the loan). More Education reputation = more grant money, etc.

Then, since you got the money for the contract immediately after winning the bid, completion of the contracts could then award Reputation in that type. Instead of players actually building the network, players would just be turning in the devices when the contract was complete. (This is why it starts to feel a lot more like LoWD) But what is that money used for then if the game uses limited action spots? I thought maybe have it to where each action spot (Buy Router/Buy Switch/etc) could have an increase cost associated with going there, instead of limiting the number of players that can play at that spot. Example, the first player to play at the Buy Routers spot can purchase routers at $1ea, but then the next player $2ea, etc (more like PG). But that still begs the question of how many actions does the player get?

Other thoughts:
Service Contracts awarded for completed contracts (a source of Income basically; some (or all) contracts once completed would provide a constant income or benefit in subsequent rounds/phases during an upkeep phase of sorts (I think this puts it dangerously too close to a rip off of LoWD).
Maybe the contracts have turn limits? So after X amount of turns you start getting negative reputation. Could that be part of the bidding process (players assess how many turns they can complete the contract in, either in addition to or instead of money)?

Joined: 03/02/2014
OK. It was TL, and I DR.

OK. It was TL, and I DR. Sorry. :) But I did skim the headings, and I have a couple of hopefully helpful comments.

The subject matter could be fun if you take it very over-the-top, with Dilbert-ish humor on the types of problems and goals that IT people face. I'm afraid that I think your serious view, with realistic contracts would be kind of dry.

The approach of Lords of Waterdeep meets Ticket to Ride has a lot of appeal to me, though I would have said TransAmerica rather than Ticket to Ride. (It's like the socialist version of TtR, where almost all of the tracks that you lay are for common use, and you only have a very few private-use-only tracks that you can place in key connections. I could see a similar thing, where you are building VPNs using common connections, and have just a very few private areas protected by firewalls.)

Specifically, i'd love to play a worker placement game in which players are, together. building a single network with all kinds of crazy gizmos and combinations. In building the network, the players have certain goals, which may be private or public, and which might conflict or overlap.

I could see this being on a fixed board, or even a free-form "board" made of hex cards that grows as the game goes on. For the most part, a piece, once placed, would be fixed, but there might be a few options to allow for destroying and/or modifying parts that are already there. It could start on a very sparse fixed franework that identifies regions, just to make the goals make sense but still be challenging.

For instance, a goal might be: "Give Boston Managerial Staff control over a soda machine used by the San Francisco Programmers." You'd need a soda machine card placed in the San Francisco section (perhaps by another player, who is trying to do some other goal), upon which you place a controlled-remotely token, and then the corresponding controller token inside the Boston section, all connected appropriately. The result is that you get a free programming action each turn (another meeple).

Syndicate content

forum | by Dr. Radut