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War of the Worlds game: more players?

I felt I had my game concept down. Martians, Earthlings, technology, extermination, Black Gas, disease ... but I felt like it was missing something.

I was struggling for a while. And then finally, I went around a friend's house and played a four player game of Root.


I see. I need two new races.


  • I play some multiplayer games at work; Coup, Exploding Kittens, Condottiere, Cockroach Poker, Skulls. And the dynamic with several players is fantastic. It's more fun than the two-player games I have: Hive & Gwent (which are still awesome).
  • Boardgaming is a social activity and a game supporting 2-4 players should be more appealing than one supporting only 2. So it should sell better.
  • Every other "War of the Worlds" game is two-player, so this is a unique selling point.

I considered the straight-off-the-bat-obvious ideas for making this a three or four player game:

  • Each player controls a different part of the armed forces at the time; Army, Navy, and the (experimental in the 1890s) Airforce.
  • Each player controls a different army? British, German, Ottoman? Each one with different tech/units etc.
  • Two players control the Martians - one conquesting on Earth, one on Mars? ... maybe?

None of this worked. I wanted to keep the asymmetry already present in the game with new races. They must all look, play and be fundamentally different.

I went back to the book, searching. And after a while, I figured them out.

Introducing the new races; The Red Weed and the The Venusians.

The Red Weed
The Red Weed player is flora not fauna. A literal weed. Not even sentient. Can't even.

The book suggests the Weed is an unintended Martian hitchhiker. Its job in the story is to provide 'foreshadowing'; it dies from disease before the Martians do.

But in my game, some horticultural idiot GRAFTS some weed onto a nightshade plant. It survives. The new weed armed with genetic code to survive viruses, fungi and the like grows super-fast.

The Red Weed is an expansionist race. The Weed makes seeds, which germinate into more plants, which in turn make more seeds. It can't fight, or attack. It's a plant after all. Its goal is to cover the planet.

The Red Weed player's game is about genetic material. It will evolve every turn, gathering new genetic material. It will encounter new plants and gain new abilities from those plants. It also gathers genetic errors and has to stave off genetic collapse when the errors accumulate. The player will have to manage the rise and collapse whilst trying to expand to cover the world.

The Venusians The book mentions the word "Venus" just five times. It suggests that the Martians launch a successful assault against Venus after the failure of the Earth invasion. That's about it, and didn't give me much to work with.

Venus itself is a funny old place. Our closest (well, maybe ) planetary neighbour, most of what we know about it was discovered only recently. Back in the 1890s, almost nothing was known about it due to its dense cloud layer.

We know now that it's basically Hell. Someone standing on the surface of Venus experiences the same pressure as being a mile under the ocean. It's also 460 degrees Celsius (lead would melt on the surface). And there's a 500 mile an hour hurricane blowing constantly. So, if you live there, you are probably pretty tough. And you live either in the clouds (made of acid), or underground.

My Venusians live underground, and are tough mole-like people. Their aim coming to Earth is to terraform it into a Venus-like planet they could survive on. They intend to do this by pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and raising the CO2 level. The Venusians can't survive directly on Earth yet - they'd explode due to a lack of air pressure. So they have to do everything remotely from Venus by sending over robots.

Their goal in the game is to raise the Carbon Dioxide level from 0.04% to 15%. This will cause everything on planet to suffocate.

The Venusian Player plays an economy game. They create three mines. Each one mines a single resource each turn provided they aren't destroyed. They can spend those resources fixing stuff, making more robots, or burning it to raise the CO2 level. They also need to contend with the fact that they are sending orders from Venus, and there's a time-delay ...

Along with the Earthlings and The Martians, that's now the four races I now have in the game. Time will tell if this was a good idea or not... :)


Robur and Nemo

If you're willing to go with a mashup as the previous poster suggested, perhaps you want two invading races balanced by two earth-preservation races. You can turn to Jules Verne for that: I suggest Robur the Conqueror, from the novel of that name. He is the captain of the Albatross, a great ship of the air held aloft by helicopter blades. Robur has the power of air superiority and wins by subduing all of the other players and becoming Master of the World (the title of Verne's sequel to Robur the Conqueror).

Or sticking with Wells, consider the Selenites from "First Men in the Moon". (I don't like this idea so much because it's not clear how the Selenites would differ from the Martians, though.)

Just some food for your thought. Your ideas sound fun; good luck!

I've never heard of Robur

I've never heard of Robur (although my classic sci-fi knowledge is abysmal) but that doesn't mean he's not an option. I shall definitely investigate.

I'm also interested in the Selenites, although their story appears to show they aren't very 'war-like' and they live on the moon. So, I would need to find some motivation for them to join the fight, and to figure out how they would do it, without, as you say, making them too "Martian-like". They do have Cavorite though...

And... I did have some leftover ideas from the Venusians ...

Nemo is interesting, but kind of 'water-focused'. My maps isn't going to involve that much water, being focused mostly on land, so I fear he might not have a lot to do. But definitely an interesting character ...

Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote

Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote some great stories set on Mars and Venus as well that could be used for a mash-up. He also had a series about Earth being invaded (but it would be a bit spoilery to mention what series... read all of them of course to find out!). His Pellucidar books are also fantastic, and opens up new possibilities. But it might be difficult to merge any of those series with Wells' world.

No, I need spoilers!

I need spoilers! Gimme pointers!

If I go down the idea of a 'treasury' game, of many different games, then there's no problem bringing Burroughs work in...


Well, OK. Earth is invaded in the Moon Trilogy. Quoting Wikipedia: "Part 1 was begun in June 1922 under the title The Moon Maid, Part 2 was begun in 1919 under the title Under the Red Flag, later retitled The Moon Men, Part 3 was titled The Red Hawk. As evident from its name, Under the Red Flag was originally set in contemporary Soviet Russia, with the Bolsheviks as villains; as this was not popular with the publishers, Burroughs transferred it to a science-fictional setting, with the evil Communist-like "Kalkars" taking over the Moon (in the first part) and then the Earth (in the second part, with the help of a renegade Earthman) and being finally overthrown in the third part."

It is a pretty strange trilogy, but I rather liked it. Gets pretty dark and post-apocalyptic. Would work as a long strategic game, with the war against the Kalkars going on for, if I remember correctly, several centuries if not longer. Seems like the original versions (serialized in some magazine) was old enough (pre-1924) to now be in the public domain thanks to US copyright law, but the book version from 1926 (that is easier to find online...) is still in copyright in most countries for a few more years.


Not to go too far afield of your original inspiration, but... You could go for an HG Wells mash-up and include the Morlocks of "The Time Machine" fame.

I've been re-reading The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen lately, and literature mash-ups worked exceptionally well there - though I never saw the recent film adaptation and can't speak for it. But the books, and their concept, are excellent. You can plumb Wells' works as I imagine they're in the public domain.

Any other stories by Wells that could serve as fodder for a mash-up?

I actually read the same book (L.o.E.G 2) recently as well...

... and had the same idea.

I'm now thinking to pivot the idea, from World of the Worlds game to 'War game' with various 'books/races' inserted into it.

I've done rough treatments already for races for "The Cultists" (by H.P. Lovecraft, trying to summon an ancient one), The Mummy (trying to bring Set into the world), and The Asguardians (Thor, Odin and Loki, searching for Thor's weapons).

Then the players can pick a set of characters from a book and have a massive fight!

The Martians vs The Norse Gods vs The Cultists vs The Mummy vs The British Army vs The Weed... sounds hilarious! Everyone plays differently on the same map ...

Perhaps call it ... "Dark Tales" or "Gods and Monsters" or something ...

Now, I need to think about The Morlocks, the Selenites, the Lost World, Dr Moreau ...

having many races will

having many races will certainly make it more interesting.
the morlock suggestion could work well for future expansions (you might need to vary from the text a bit and say they're basically mole men).
of course you should complete this game before you start on expansions but there are plenty of great classic scifi to plunder. seeing a verne expansion would be interesting (a cpt nemo faction? wrangling dinosaurs?) and i would like to see your red weed vs john wyndams triffids

john wyndams triffids

Sadly, John Wyndams works aren't in the public domain yet I think :(

Yes! I was going to say the

Yes! I was going to say the same thing about Triffids!

I think a battle royale of classic earth invaders is a brilliant theme and it seems like it'll give lots of opportunity to overcome some of the broken-ish game issues you mentioned a while back.

About Venus...wasn't Out of the Silent planet set on Venus? One of the classics was anyway. If so, you could use that race as inspiration.

Edit: no, it wasn't Silent Planet. It was a novel I read years and years ago and always forget the name of, and always confuse it with Silent Planet. How annoying!

The sequel to Out of the

The sequel to Out of the Silent Planet is called Perelandra, and it is set on Venus.

I've not read much classic sci-fi

I've not read much classic sci-fi so I might need to get reading!

i want to suggest the works

i want to suggest the works of edgar allan Poe. though his stories are generally short and macabre he is considered by many to be the father of science fiction. for your game i suggest "the unparalleled adventures of hans pfalll" that inspired verne moon trip stories.
as a completely unnecessary aside poe also wrote "eureka" that talked about black holes and the big bang 30 years before einstein was born. its an interesting poem but almost impossible to read.

reading through the posts here it looks like you have enough material to make a dozen games. and thats great, but i would advise making (the first, base game) small for now. concentrate on only a few factions and make sure the basics are nailed before adding to it. its really easy to add every thing you can think of to a game but try to restrain yourself.

Reading through the posts...

wob wrote:
reading through the posts here it looks like you have enough material to make a dozen games. and thats great, but i would advise making (the first, base game) small for now. concentrate on only a few factions and make sure the basics are nailed before adding to it. its really easy to add every thing you can think of to a game but try to restrain yourself.

I agree .... but ... the problem is that the base game should be able to support the future expansions. By that I mean for example, my current rough treatments for the Asguardians, Mummy and Cultists revolve around ancient artifacts, and the liberation of said artifacts from Museums and tombs (for comparison, the Army and Martians revolve around collecting people). So I need to include references to Tombs and Museums on the base map to ensure that they can play on it.

So, I kinda need to have a good idea of what the expansions could be, so that I can support it. Otherwise future expansions will end up boxed into whatever the limitations of the base game are.

This I think is really just thinking up reasonable key plots and motivations for each race I might want to consider adding. This is why I'm asking for any good copyright-free stories and characters :)

Obviously, this may all be pointless if the base game never makes it ... :D

if you keep your sites vague

if you keep your sites vague id london, that can contain any number of things for later expansions without adding things you dont need yet.

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