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Axis Mundi

Axis Mundi

Hello. My name is Peter Thull and I am a new member here. For that matter, I am pretty new to board games.

Here is the rule book for the one and only game I have designed, Axis Mundi:

Axis Mundi Rule Book

At this point I am producing the game to begin play testing, which I am very excited about.

What is Axis Mundi?

Axis Mundi is a 3 player competitive racing game that is played on a multilevel, hexagonally-gridded game board that represents an island with a dormant volcano at its center. There are 5 unique characters that players can choose from, each with their own special powers.

Players start at equidistant locations at the island’s coast and race to the center hex, the Axis Mundi, a gateway to Heaven and Hell.

Upon entering the Axis Mundi, a player becomes either an Angel or a Demon, gaining other-worldly powers that make them very powerful. Before closing its gate, the Axis Mundi sends a burst of energy throughout the rest of the island, upgrading the other players’ powers.

The Demon or Angel must return to their pier on the island’s coast to win the game, and the other players must stop them from reaching it. If they succeed, all players revert to their former less-powerful selves, and the Axis Mundi gate re-opens.

Design Goals / Design Philosophy / Game Mechanics

Primary Game Mechanisms: Competitive - Racing, Action Selection, Hand Management, Grid Movement, Variable Player Powers, Deterministic Combat Resolution with Modifiers and Cardplay

Secondary Game Mechanisms: Set Collection, Hidden Movement

Known Knowns, Known Unknows: In the game, there are multiple warehouses that display power cards. Any player can move to a warehouse and take a desired card, but then all the other players will know that they hold that card in their hand. On the other hand, players can draw cards from a deck. While they won’t know what card they will be getting, the card will be added to their hand without the other players knowing what it is.

Death as a Tactical Mechanic: The game does not have player elimination. If a player ever “dies”, they fall down the mountain into a Power Hex that heals half of their hit-points. Killing your opponents is primarily about positioning them, and even about committing suicide to position yourself. And, of course, the disuse of permadeath keeps everyone in the game until it ends.

Attacks without Dice: In order to make the game about tactical decisions rather than random outcomes, if a player chooses to engage in combat then the damage from it is automatic and not based on a die roll. The Attacker automatically suffers 1 hit point loss and the attacked automatically loses 2. Eliminating the randomization of combat helps players plan all of their turn’s actions in advance and avoids them feeling that the outcomes of their in-game actions are out of their control.

Atypical Attacks: The goal of attacks, in most cases, is primarily to move opponents, not damage them: Attacking an opponent moves them backwards. If they are on a corner hex, the attack pushes them down a level. This is a big deal because it will take them a full turn to move back up that level.

Too Much Good Stuff: There are tons of powerful cards in the game, but a player’s hand can only hold 5 cards. Choosing what to hold onto and what to discard is crucial.

Rotation: To add another layer of complexity, and to scratch that “mental image itch”, the levels of the board rotate in a set number of degrees at the end of each game round. It’s a little puzzle with big ramifications that the players always need to be thinking about.

Multitasking: Each player has a spirit animal Familiar that can be sent on tasks while the player completes other actions.

Simultaneous Upgrades: When there is an Angel or Demon on the board, all the other players instantly become more powerful in order to fight it. This is for game balancing, and also to modulate the tension and drama over the course of the game. Everything gets turned up to 11 if someone is getting close to winning.

Competition / Co-operation: During the normal phase of the game, players are competing against each other. When there is an Angel or Demon on the board, all the other players must work together to try to stop it from winning.

A Monkey Wrench: One of the character’s variable player powers are specifically designed to mess with the other players in mischievious ways.

A 2-Level Hit Point System: Wounds can be acquired, 4 of which cause a loss of 1 hit point. Managing wounds is a mini-game within the game.

Variable Player Powers Reward Different Playstyles: The player that plays as The Mischievious will perform well in the game if they excel at visualizing moving objects. Griefers will enjoy playing as The Malignant. To play The Scrounger well, one must excel at remembering what cards have been played. Players who like to participate in the action from afar will find The Beastmaster a good fit.


Good Luck

Hope that your playtesting goes well. The game looks intimidating and that it will take a long time to play a single game from beginning to end. Hope it turns out as epic as you imagine it to be. :)


Thanks for the kind words. I did a bit of playtesting myself and then brought it to some hardcore gamers to playtest. That was a very valuable experience for a number of reasons: seeing how the rules of the game were interpreted and seeing the level of interest. The tactics of the game are relatively deep which is an issue with playtesting because different playtesters have different levels of understanding of the game's nuances. I am currently re-balancing and refining the gameplay, editing and improving the rule book, which I will soon submit to The Game Crafter Sanity Test. I eventually want to submit my work to publishers.

I agree that it could be intimidating for some people. But I think it's comparable to a "rule heavy" game I'm familiar with (Robinson Crusoe) and others that I have heard about (Mage Knight, TI4). The player's turns are quick, and there's not a lot of downtime according to the testers.

I need to playtest with more groups for more feedback, time and health permitting. But it has been a fun exercise.


I should have also mentioned that I made a succinct Reference Sheet for the players to use while they play. It has a Round Summary and a list of all the possible Player Actions. I am adding a Wound matrix to the back of it that will be an easy reference for players to calculate how many Wounds they will take from moving through hexes during their turn. This Reference Sheet was a big help during the playtesting. I will add it to the rule book for my next upload to BGDF for anyone that would like to check it out. :)

And what of this "design"???

Are you "Happy" with it? Are there aspects you need input for?? Have you had the game "playtested"???

When I think "Island" or "Volcano", I think "Survive" the old game with Hex tiles that were of three types: Sand, Forest and Rock.

I don't get much of an "island" vibe from your game. It looks like a bunch of "hexes" and disconnected because of the white (or transparent) layers which also confuse me too.

Here's what "Survive" looked like:

It looks more like a "island" with the three (3) types of tiles.


Hi and thanks for your thoughts.

An attempt to answer your questions:
I would say I am pretty happy with the game for the stage it is at. I have done some playtesting (see my reply to the other comment) but unfortunately progress in this direction has slowed down due to some health issues.

The island theme has to do with the game's lore, which is very loosely based on a book called S. It references an actual real ancient mythology called Axis Mundi, which ancient people believed was a physical location on Earth that connected it with Heaven and Hell. Since ancients believed that the heavens revolved around the Earth, I envisioned a stationary gateway that the Earth shifted around. I originally thought of levels that rotated more the further away they were from the central Axis Mundi gateway. But for a better gameplay mechanic, I did the opposite, which actually is more in line with the mythology of the Earth being static while the Heavens revolve around it.

The shape of the game's play area is designed to start the players equidistant from the central Axis Mundi hexagon. As it is a racing game, that design choice is to keep it fair. As the players get closer to the center, they get closer to each other, which starts the player interaction.

So, this "island" has an unnatural/fantasy type theme, quite different than Survive (which I am only slightly familiar with) which looks like it is based closer to reality.

I agree that the white spaces between the rings of the levels can be distracting and that it is unquestionably ugly. It is "dead space" and is only there to allow the levels to be rotated without game pieces being knocked off. But remember, this is just a prototype that I worked up using my limited Photoshop skills.

I have envisioned possible solutions, such as a multi-level plastic tray that holds the individual hexes and allows each level to spin like a lazy Susan. Using this contraption, the "dead spaces" could be completely empty. Alternatively, I think this game would be awesome in augmented reality, which would eliminate the need for dead space entirely!

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