Author Topic: Roguelike Design Principals in Strategy Board Games  (Read 8299 times)

guest509

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Roguelike Design Principals in Strategy Board Games
« on: May 05, 2014, 03:33:08 AM »
I just put together my latest board game. I start studying for the California Bar tomorrow so wanted to put a quick game together before that, and for me board games come together quick. I have tons of bits and pieces, so can throw together prototypes any time.

I made an empire 'dudes on the map' style board game, think Risk/Axis and Allies/Conquest of Nerath, etc... I found that the roguelike design principals of procedural map, time as a resource, limited actions per turn and space helped solved some of the major problems with big empire games.

Some of those problems include long play times and long down times. Lots of counting too. With the huge time commitment players who are eliminated are left to do nothing for forever, and with long turn times it's just boring as hell all around. Also the maps are the same every time, that's boring.

So in my empire game I start the players on a hex grid. The grid is only 7 hexes to start. 6 hexes around a central black hole (sci fi them FTW!). The center is impassable (without a special card), so you end up fighting around the sides, things are very tight. Very close, like our favorite roguelikes, you are immediately into it with adjacent enemies.

This hex grid is randomly created each time, different planet types and what not give bonuses.

I think the biggest principal that I brought over from RL design is the shortness of turns. Time is your resource, you are counting up your territory and collecting resources. In my game you can do one of 3 actions on your turn, it takes about 5 seconds to do you turn. You can place dudes, move dudes or place a new map tile (expand/explore the map, another RL feature). The choices are fun but easy enough you don't need to think on it forever.

It works fantastic. Instead of a sprawling axis and allies or risk experience taking up an entire evening you have a quick to set up, quick turning game with lots of death right away. Short enough and fast paced enough that you can play again and again.

Playing and designing RL's gave me the idea for a modular map, even though they are common in modern board games. Short discrete 'time as resource' mechanics are also common (see Chess) but designing around it as a way to eliminate all the counting every turn to create a faster pace was definitely a great thing.

So there you go.

Rules are here, rough draft, as it's just me and my friends playing. Not going to release it to the public.

Note there are power cards and terrain rules we are still playtesting, so I didn't list them.
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Space Dudes On A Map

Victory: Own 5 planet tiles at the BEGINNING of your turn.

Pieces
-Planet Tiles
-Ships
-Troops
-Space Stations
-6 dice

Set Up
-Black hole in the middle, 6 planet tiles around the black hole. Place space stations equal distance apart on the tiles, in a 4 player game players will start adjacent to one other player. Place 1 ship and 3 troops with the space station.

Owned Planets
-Owning a planet requires troops on the ground and NO enemy ships in orbit. If there are enemy ships in orbit the tile is contested or blockaded.

Play Sequence
-Dice for first player, play proceeds to the left.
-On their turn a player may choose one of the following (Build/Move/Explore):
   -Build: Take 3 build actions.
      -Place a ship with a space station.
      -Place a troop on any owned planet tile.
      -Place a space station on any owned tile (takes 2 actions). Note you can place a station and then a ship in one turn.    
   
        -Move: Move any of your ships to an adjacent tile. 1 ship can carry 2 troops along with them. See COMBAT below.
   
        -Explore: Draw a tile (they should be face down). Place it next to 2 other tiles. Move one of your ships and up to 2 troops to the new tile if desired.

Combat
-If ships belonging to different players cohabitate the same tile after all moves are complete, and either side wishes it, a battle takes place. Roll one die per ship, up to 3 dice. Remove enemy ships on a roll of 4+. Attackers may retreat back to their original system any time. Troops die in space combat if there aren't enough ships to carry them (2 troops per ship). If defending ships are eliminated troops carried in by the attacker may now drop and fight a ground battle. Ground battles are handled just like space battles. Attacking troops may retreat back to space at any time.

-Ships in orbit of a planet with enemy troops are said to be 'contesting' or 'blockading' a system.

Other Rules
-Stacking: Only 5 troops, 5 ships and 1 space station max on each tile.

Advanced: Power Cards, Wormholes, Asteroids

guest509

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Re: Roguelike Design Principals in Strategy Board Games
« Reply #1 on: May 05, 2014, 03:38:04 AM »
Most strategy style games allow many actions in a turn, most Roguelikes do not. This affects the feeling of pacing in a game.

Following this principal when designing this little board game made this one a real winner. We'll definitely be pulling this one out again on game night.

There is a Sun Crusher!!! card still to be tested. Oh yes.

Edit: Our recent game lasted 7 turns each and took about 30 minutes. 3 players, with 3 lead changes, highly contested. Love it! It's so quick that if someone gets out ahead too fast they win, no slogging through another hour just to be sure.

Edit 2: Pieces are from Star Trek Catan and old Risk cubes for ground troops (and dice).

Endorya

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Re: Roguelike Design Principals in Strategy Board Games
« Reply #2 on: May 05, 2014, 07:42:46 AM »
This is the type of thing that I personally need to experience to have an opinion as my brain needs to be visually stimulated. I really wish I could say something better. Do you have any pics?
« Last Edit: May 05, 2014, 07:00:12 PM by Endorya »
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guest509

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Re: Roguelike Design Principals in Strategy Board Games
« Reply #3 on: May 05, 2014, 10:10:46 PM »
I don't. And I know exactly what you mean.

It's hard to picture it in your mind.

But think of some of the long slow strategy games you have played or the board games like risk that take forever chucking dice and counting provinces. Now shorten the turns to be quick and limited, like in a roguelike.

I'll see what I can do about pics.

guest509

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Re: Roguelike Design Principals in Strategy Board Games
« Reply #4 on: May 05, 2014, 11:35:59 PM »
Here we go, it looks like this. I'm using these pieces and this set up.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/image/1556814/star-trek-catan

Note it's the standard space empire style set up. Put tiles down, build ships, attack. He 'short turn' innovation inspired by roguelikes keeps the game moving quickly. Very short turns. Move your dudes, build some dudes or place a tile to expand the map/explore.

EDIT: I plays a bit like the game Hellas but with more theme and less wonky rules.
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/image/1411961/hellas

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Re: Roguelike Design Principals in Strategy Board Games
« Reply #5 on: May 06, 2014, 02:22:53 AM »
He 'short turn' innovation inspired by roguelikes keeps the game moving quickly. Very short turns.

Good call.  Nothing ruins a board game faster than long turns.

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Re: Roguelike Design Principals in Strategy Board Games
« Reply #6 on: May 06, 2014, 07:38:56 AM »
Here we go, it looks like this. I'm using these pieces and this set up.

I lost the count of times that me and some friends of mine abandoned Risk campaigns out of boredom, but this one does look fast paced for a board game. I would really love to see a video of your game in action with director's comments and everything.  8)
« Last Edit: May 07, 2014, 08:00:07 AM by Endorya »
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guest509

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Re: Roguelike Design Principals in Strategy Board Games
« Reply #7 on: May 07, 2014, 04:18:02 AM »
Yeah that would be great. When we get the power cards in I'll look into doing that. The power cards are going to be incredibly over powered and game breaking, but everyone has them, so we'll see how it goes.

Not sure when the next game night will be. We do them infrequently, but next time we'll be testing the card mechanics and maybe some new terrain (asteroids, wormholes). Will try to film or at least do some pics with explanations then.

I know what you mean about Risk. What a freakin' terrible slog. If you like Risk style games you might check out Conquest of Nerath or Nexus Ops. Same idea but faster, way more fun. I'm too freakin' old for a 4+ hour game anymore. 1 hour games are fine, shorter is better. Not that I wouldn't do a long game, but there's always at least one player with a wife or something so can't stay long.

Endorya

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Re: Roguelike Design Principals in Strategy Board Games
« Reply #8 on: May 07, 2014, 07:13:10 AM »
Yeah that would be great. When we get the power cards in I'll look into doing that. The power cards are going to be incredibly over powered and game breaking, but everyone has them, so we'll see how it goes.

One of the reasons to why I ceased playing Magic the Gathering was in fact about it having power cards making the game too luck depending and unfair, breaking completely all its strategy elements. But since you say that power cards in your game are among every player, I guess that luck / power is equally distributed. I just hope it doesn't break the strategy factor.
« Last Edit: May 07, 2014, 03:31:55 PM by Endorya »
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Endorya

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Re: Roguelike Design Principals in Strategy Board Games
« Reply #9 on: May 07, 2014, 08:08:04 AM »
What game pieces do you have? This is a perfect job for 3D printers :)
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Trystan

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Re: Roguelike Design Principals in Strategy Board Games
« Reply #10 on: May 07, 2014, 03:12:33 PM »
Speaking of overpowerd cards and quick gameplay, have you ever played Cosmic Encounter? Everyone plays as an alien that breaks some rule of the game. There's also artifact and flare cards that break even more rules. It all sort of evens out though since you can invite other players to help attack and defend. That also means that you aren't just sitting there waiting for your turn since you might be invited to help or have a chance to use your cards or alien power even though it isn't your turn. It's easily my favorite board game.

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Re: Roguelike Design Principals in Strategy Board Games
« Reply #11 on: May 07, 2014, 08:54:24 PM »
One of the reasons to why I ceased playing Magic the Gathering was in fact about it having power cards making the game too luck depending and unfair, breaking completely all its strategy elements. But since you say that power cards in your game are among every player, I guess that luck / power is equally distributed. I just hope it doesn't break the strategy factor.

Check out Dominion if you want a fair pseudo-collectible card game.

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Re: Roguelike Design Principals in Strategy Board Games
« Reply #12 on: May 08, 2014, 07:39:57 AM »
Check out Dominion if you want a fair pseudo-collectible card game.

I'll have a look at it. Thanks for mentioning it.
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