Thursday, 13 June 2013

Lochy Monsters and Game Mechanics

I wish I had time or would make even more time to explore the incredible wealth of board games that exist now. We are at a real highlight in board gaming history with so many games and so many clever designers crafting gameplay, mechanics and theme into lovely experiences for us.
A few Saturday's ago we had a long table at a restaurant for a long long lunch consisting of pizza, drinks and Defenders of the Realm. With 9 people this meant two games going at once and even though our end of the table was defeated twice (once in less than 2 rounds by taint if you can believe that) it was a great day.
One of the cool things about DotR is the Pandemic mechanic and then the theme and how we come together to try and hold back the tide. It also plays harder as the game goes on which I love. There are some nice game mechanics here that really work in well with the theme and that is the perfect combo.

I have been working through a whole raft of variations on the mechanics for Loch Dreagan aimed primarily at how to enhance the logic that the male monsters are trying to win the heart of the fickle monster maiden. I have been looking at mechanics that let you build up to doing something special for her, this is to counteract the otherwise transactional feel of buying her off. Some form of heart dice is tempting to make the certainty of doing something for her less precise - is my lavish dinner going to be received as well as I think and will it be better than the seaweed necklace that the other monster is making...

These mechanic ideas I test in my head as much as I can (or with simple tables of outcomes and sample turns) and there are some very tricky aspects to this part of the game design. Balancing the complexity/difficulty at the start of the game with that at the end. As the monsters grow they have the potential to do more - though the competition for those same resources heats up. So the needs to be reward for effort - even if it is cancelled out by the effort of the other monsters. This is much like an RPG, players are vastly more powerful at the end game, but their challenges ramp up as well - even moreso.

This morning's idea is to maybe change 'resources' (Food, Treats, Scars, Trinkets and Nest) to cards rather than units/chips and thus introduce a set building mechanic that would allow players to decide on how many of their resources to spend each round in their attempt to woo the gorgeous maiden. Do they save for a bigger turn, spend the resources on themselves (buy traits = buffs or feather their own nest = hand limit), or get in now while her mood matches a card or two. I am looking forward to working through this mechanic tonight.

Here are a few more sketches from the book showing the slow evolution of the monsters from the loch - some of these were about trying to give them expressions without over anthropomorphising or cartooning the look.

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