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New title and help with fantasy theme in "Horde"

7 replies [Last post]
Joined: 07/29/2008

I designed a fast-playing, highly interactive and relatively abstract Euro a year ago called Pride of the Serengeti. It's a tile-laying game in which you place tiles with "prey" on the board, then surround areas of like animals with your Lion figures to "hunt" them. The game works great, but publishers say it's a little too "old school."

So, I had the idea to change it to a fantasy theme and add some interesting thematic and mechanical layers, including asymmetrical player positions (different races) and card decks with special actions. I also invited my friend and resident expert in this kind of game, Bernd Eisenstein (or Peloponnes fame) to co-design with me.

Instead of prey, we now have different types of resources (building materials, treasure chests, "magic dust", and Goblin Hordes (to fight, of course).

We also have special cards that can be bought with "magic dust" and used either for a "spell" (special action, costing more magic dust) or for its "building" (special action for the rest of the game or endgame bonuses).

There is more, but I am mainly looking for ideas regarding the theme. The setting is something like Middle Earth, in which Dwarves, Elves, Halflings, Wizards, and Humans all compete with each other while also fighting cooperatively against the Goblin Hordes. There really isn't any "fighting" as in an Ameritrash game, however.

Bernd likes the name "Horde" or "Dark Horde" but I don't think it represents the game as a whole, and gives the impression that it's a dudes-on-a-map battle game. Any other suggestions? Something along the lines of "embattled fantasy civ."

I would also like suggestions for some of the resources and landscape tiles you get them from.
Right now, we have:

Enchanted Tower tiles have Magic Dust (for spells)
Goblin Horde tiles have Goblins (duh) to fight (straight up VPs)
Forest Tiles have Wood (building materials)
Dungeon Tiles have Treasure (for set collecting)

I am particularly interested in something different for the Magic Dust. What other resource could be used to produce spells? Books are not found "in the landscape." Possibly magic stones/power gems?

The game plays great and is more of a thematic gamer's game, which is why I want to strengthen the them even more.

Thanks for your help!


chris_mancini's picture
Joined: 05/01/2015
How many publishers did you

How many publishers did you present your game to? It seems a shame to feel like you have to fall back on old fantasy tropes just to make your game more "appealing." I think the prey gameplay is much more interesting; in fact the name "Prey" sounds really enticing!

Do you want to play "Pride of the Serengeti," or do you want to run for your lives in "Prey!"

It sounds like you've taken the revised game a long ways, so I don't mean to sound negative...fantasy has and always will sell, and it's more "comfortable" to many publishers.

Do you have a PNP of the original version?

Some alternatives to "magic dust:"

Tedthebug's picture
Joined: 01/17/2016
Ley lines?

If it is still a tile laying game where you are building the landscape then you could also have ley lines & standing stones for magic power. Perhaps they gain strength the more you have that line up with each other, or benefits if standing stones are aligned correctly in them.

Totally my opinion, but if you went sci fi could it be themed as aliens vs predators vs humans?

Joined: 02/05/2016
Like "Horde", don't like "Goblin"

These things are personal, of course, but the word "goblin" to me implies very well-trodden genre stereotypes. I actually prefer the original theme, but you have to compromise with publishers, I guess.

Could you think up a new name for goblin-like entities? Perhaps shift the theme to some mythology that has not yet seen much media coverage? Something from pre-European South America, or ancient Europe... Or build your own fantasy-sci-fi world, which has crossover appeal without seeming too derivative.

questccg's picture
Joined: 04/16/2011
Needs more story

jeffinberlin wrote:
...The game plays great and is more of a thematic gamer's game, which is why I want to strengthen the theme even more.

Again just a comment - but instead of trying to match the theme of the game - why not simply name your game the "Land" on which the conflict is occurring.

Like if the theme was Goblins vs. Dwarves, you could call the game "ThunderForge" a city in which the Dwarves build weapons to battle the Goblins. The Goblins know if they take that city, the will win the war.

Or if the theme was Goblins vs. Humans, another game name could be "Dark Lords Keep" a dungeon/keep in which the Humans have imprisoned a Necromancer who is attempting to bring the apocalypse by raising the dead. The Goblin want to free him to end humanity reign on the land.

Find a STORY that works for you and then give the "land" a name and from there you can find a TON of good names to match...


Update: Instead of "Magic Dust" why not SCROLLS. And then you could call your game "The Scrolls of Aldyria" (Pronounced: AL-DEE-REE-AH). Again this assumes that the Great Library of Aldyria was build by monks living in a monastery.

Practitioners of the dark arts came in peace to share their knowledge and took part in the creation of thousands of scrolls each with their own distinct power imbued...

See you need some more "story" to go along to find a good title!

Joined: 07/29/2008

Thanks everyone for the ideas.

I have never designed a fantasy-themed game, so while this may not be new to many, it's new to me and quite fun as I am a fan of Lord of the Rings.

I still like the original theme of Pride (players are the Lion huntresses and not the prey)--AND the original gameplay, as it has very simple rules, intuitive gameplay, but yet is very interactive and strategic. It is the type of elegant Eurogame that was much more common 10-15 years ago.

The changes are first mainly mechanical, but a generic fantasy theme is helpful to keep the rules intuitive. The mechanical changes are added layers that include more current elements of popular games (variable player powers, card combos, interactivity of different resources rather than the simple VP scoring of Pride).

In my experience, the theme is often changed by the publisher, and the more generic the theme, the easier it is to taylor it to a particular publisher's wishes.

That said, I would like to still have a title a little more catchy for the prototype than "Another Fantasy Game." Perhaps I'll just stick with "Horde" for now, although it just seems a little misleading for a 1-hour Eurogame.

Joined: 05/11/2010
Do the players control the

Do the players control the cities or the goblins? If they play the cities what about a name that represents keeping the cities alive against trying times. Steadfast, or The Tower is Still Standing or something like that.

Gabe's picture
Joined: 09/11/2014
@questccg - I really like the

@questccg - I really like the idea of naming the game after the "land" that it's happening in. It's an extremely common thing for a Euro to do after all. I mean how many game titles are just names of cities?

Instead of magic dust, you could acquire relics.

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