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"Nomad's Land": a game of greed and adventure

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Young Grasshopper
Joined: 02/16/2018

The core concept for this game is to design in such a way that it's not so much about whether or not you are willing to take risks, but about which risks you are willing to take.

The components are two decks (item & event cards), a 9x9 tile board, and four miniatures/tokens (one for each player).

All players start in the middle of the board, with a hand of five item cards. On each player's turn, they draw two event cards and move two spaces on the board and reveal all tiles on and adjacent to where they go (different tiles have different effects), they then place their event cards face-up near their place on the board (within 2 spaces). Event cards can range from bandits that must be fought or payed, to merchants that can be traded with, to treasure chests, to curses. Event cards are triggered whenever a player moves to a space with one on it.

The game ends once all players have either died (each player has 5-7 hitpoints, currently undecided on the exact amount) or reached the edge of the board. Players who reach the edge of the board count the gold value of their item cards to see who wins.

Those are the basics, and once I get to playtesting I'll start working on nailing the specifics of different cards and effects. Please feel free to give me any honest feedback or critique y'all might have, as I am certainly not shy towards learning ways to make an idea better!

PS: for simplification purposes, think of this game as a sort of mix between Munchkin and Monopoly

let-off studios
let-off studios's picture
Joined: 02/07/2011
Some Thoughts

Good to see you posting about your project so soon, YG. Your enthusiasm shows...! I have a couple thoughts about your description.

A couple ways to address this. I personally would edge toward a more streamlined, abstract approach, but execution hinges on how you want to present this game.

- Individualized, unique heroes. With this option, the game can offer specialized attacks, unique equipment, min-maxing, team-building, and characterization. Games will likely be longer, since there are a fair amount of decision points related to how the players will deploy their heroes, variable weapon damage, retreat, flanking, etc. I would suggest variable hits-to-kill for the different units, and once a unit is defeated it's out of the game. Lots of room for diversified tactics and methods of play (this is the strength of this style of game, IMO). At its simplest, games like Hero Quest, HeroScape, Talisman, or even Warhammer/Mordheim.

- Abstracted "archetypes." This provides quick set-up and orientation, particularly useful for new players. As opposed to "rolling up new PCs" in a typical RPG, think of choosing "skinny, medium, or fat skaters" in the old-skool NES game Ice Hockey. The general gameplay is similar regardless of the type of unit you choose, but each has its own comparative strengths and weaknesses. With this kind of setup, I'd suggest three states of health: Healthy, Wounded, and Defeated. When a unit reaches the Defeated state, they are removed from the board - possibly returned to the player's supply so they can re-deploy and not feel as if they've lost before the game is over.

I suggest that there be some known areas on the board, revealed at the start of the game, where players can visit with their units. Places like monster dens, ruins, bandit fortresses, etc. These kinds of locations offer a fair amount of risk, but the payoff is an item or equipment improvement that will provide a temporary or permanent advantage against their opponent's units. This encourages players to move across the map, endure random encounters, etc. in an effort to gain an edge for [inevitable?] conflict.

You can build individual goals/objectives into the game as well: visit X locations first, have a unit on X separate locations, deliver A item to B location, etc.

To prevent a stalemate, you may want to implement a time limit. Here are some suggestions on how to execute, each with their own strengths and distinct approach:

- Players can collect X number of specific items first to win. This has the pleasant side-effect of encouraging players to move all over the map, cycling through your Event Card Deck.

- A "doomsday timer" that counts down to the end of the game, regardless of the state of progress for the players. With this, either one or neither player will win.

- A specific location on the map must be held for X number of turns, or until a specific condition is met. This is pretty much the Crown of Command in Talisman.

You're in an interesting "space" when it comes to your design, from the sound of it. However, I encourage you to make some specific choices: go full-on, EPIC ADVENTURE or go for streamlined, pick-up-and-play face-off. If you try to do both and "make a game for everyone," you risk not pleasing anyone at all - most of all, yourself.

This was a fun way to start my Friday. :) Hope it's at least somewhat useful!

Young Grasshopper
Joined: 02/16/2018
These are some great

These are some great suggestions! I am going for the streamlined feel, though, so some of the more complex systems wouldn't quite fit. I'm thinking that any complex parts should be limited to being card-specific and explained on the cards they effect. That way everything is kept in bite-sized pieces of information.

As for character customization, I feel the item cards can have enough variety that people could agree on custom starting hands if they wanted to. I might think about including some enchantment or charm type cards to the item deck :)

As for the varied locations, I do have quite a few ideas, but nothing specific nailed down just yet. I'm thinking that the only locations immediately revealed would be those adjacent to the starting square, but revealing a few more might be a good idea. One thing I'm thinking of putting in is a "wandering cartographer" event card. When encountered, the players may pay a certain amount of gold to reveal a certain number of tiles.

I really liked your idea for alternate win conditions! Only having the "escape with as much gold as possible" condition could lead to a never-ending game of chicken where all four players continue to keep trying to get more gold before leaving. Perhaps there could be an item with infinite value, but it must be taken to the center to be activated first, and once activated it would force random encounters on every move?

let-off studios
let-off studios's picture
Joined: 02/07/2011
Create & Iterate

Play-testing will be the most effective way for you to stress-test your ideas, and/or find out what seems the most fun for your and your target players. You've come up with some general ideas, now it's time to put 'em on the table and see what works best.

Try one new thing at a time instead of everything at once.

It's a tabletop game, not a kidney transplant. You have some time to experiment with lots of different ideas. So pick one and see what happens. :)

Jay103's picture
Joined: 01/23/2018
There's something I'm not

There's something I'm not understanding.. You're on a 9x9 tile board (so these are large tiles). You start in the middle, can move two spaces per turn, and the game ends when you reach the edge? Can't that happen in two turns?

I'm guessing that a "tile" has multiple "spaces" on it, then?

Young Grasshopper
Joined: 02/16/2018
Thanks for bringing this up!

Thanks for bringing this up! Technically, you can reach the edge in two turns. However, once you count yourself finished (which is optional once you reach the edge), you can no longer collect any new items. Thus, anyone who stays in longer and gathers more gold before leaving will inevitably beat you. It's about whether you want to stay in longer and risk dying, or go out early and risk getting passed. Additionally, players who get out (either through the edge, or through death) may still draw and place event cards on their turn in order to mess with players who are still on the board. Depending on how playtests go, I might increase the size of the board, though.

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