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Living Nightmare: Wrath of the Dark Prince

Page: GameIdea.GameIdea-WrathDarkPrince - Last Modified : Tue, 21 Feb 17 - 229 Visits
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Very Good (10/10) The game is very interesting, make it as soon as possible.
Good (8/10) Great idea but some modifications are required.
Fair (6/10) Interesting but a lot of things are missing.
Bad (4/10) Would need to completely redesign the idea in order to work.
Very Bad (2/10) It will never be interesting, abandon the idea.
Already Exist (0/10) Do not waste time on this game idea.

Status: OPEN Status: Prototyped
Priority: Average
Number of players: 1 - 3 players, (possibly 1-2 players, + AI player)
Expected Play time: unknown, possibly around 180 minutes

Description

In 1871, Dracula has been given powers to conquer europe with two generals of his choice in order to spread terror to restore the balance of nature. Meanwhile the european countries gather their forces to resist the invasion and fight back Dracula up to his castle.

Objective

A war game originally designed to be played solitaire but that could easily be played up to 3 players. Each general has various type of units and abilities that will make game different to play. As a multiplayer game, there would be more negotiation on where to attack and how to share the resources.

Series and Campaign Settings

It will be part of the Wrath of the dark ??? series which will be more war like games compared to the Rise of the dark ??? series which will have war but much more to it.

The Living Nightmare campaign settings will be a game where the world lives in constant terror, It would hold almost all my horror games. This game is what started the whole story.

Inspiration

The primary source of inspiration is Castlevania for the general and monster selection. I got the idea while playing Fury of Dracula and though it would be cool to conquer europe.

Priority Evaluation

Theme vs Mechanics: Have a good idea of the mechanics, there is nothing fancy or abstract required here. Rules could be added later to increase the historical aspect of the game. Else it's just about balancing units and abilities
Video vs Board Game: Playble as a board and video game, when played multi player, it would be more interesting as a board game due to the discussion between players. Video game would more when playing alone.
Single vs Multi player: The original idea was to make a solitaire game, but I realized that playing multiplayer is no only possible but it could also be interesting to play.
Rating = 11/12

Design Plan

Theme

  • Looking for a 19th century game with Artillery, Infantry and cavalry
  • Want to dig into the castlevania bestiary use creatures groups of various cultures and mythology lead by an important character.
  • Used 1871 as a key date where countries were formed and there was a brief moment of peace.

Constraint

  • Simple: Yes, the game rules does not seems very complex. It just seems longer, so it could not be a short game.
  • Small: I want to keep my games small for easy storage and cheaper price, my component selection on game crafters seems interesting. It's also interesting to make deep games with few components.
  • Social: I want internal conflict to have some kind of social relation. It's a cooperative game, so it implies interaction.
  • Solitaire: Solitaire mode is one of the core mechanics. I want to make sure players cannot plan ahead other player's turn too much.

Experience

  • Being capable of conquering the whole world from a single starting point. It gives a feeling of power and superiority.
  • Sharing resource management between players when in multiplayer mode.
  • Getting some internal conflict between player due to bad role selection, resource usage or other.
  • Strategic Maneuvering, planing the movement of units and defining where to expand.
  • Tactical resolution, have certain decision during combat resolution. I might need to sacrifice this for speed.
  • Variability: Being able to play the same game again with new generals for a different experience.

Components

  • A map, game crafters have those cute 8"x16" 4 part fold board which ends up as 4"x8". That would fit in a 5"x9" box for example.
  • Army tokens, probably round one. It depends on the size of territories, but I liked dungeon roll's 5/8" round tokens. I'll probably need several dozens of tokens. Not sure yet if allies will each have different tokens, having same tokens could make it easier to manage.
  • Cubes: A couple of cube will be used to mark stuff on player boards, including army compositions. I am thinking at most a dozen of cubes per player.
  • Player board: Contains reference information, unit stats and record combat casualties. There is also a place for the unit reserve.
  • AI board: Not sure yet, possibly 2 board holding 4 nations each with the current status of their reserve, status
  • Cards: I need 6 role cards and 8 nation cards.
  • Dice of course, currently using D8, with the new 3 dice system, that would mean 6 dice.
  • Pawns, each player could have 2 pawns, 1 for his beast and one for his general. No sure yet with the new combat system.

Mechanics

  • It's basically a war game, so spawn units, attack, expand, AI fights back, etc.
  • Awareness track put certain nations on hold before being at war with you. Your actions or time can accelerate the awareness track.
  • I want to have a role/assignment system. This make sure your choice influence the choice of other generals. Which creates indirect conflict and friction between players.
  • Managing resources to build units. Having a shared pool of resource is another way to create friction between players.
  • Combat resolution a la Axis and Allies might require too much time. An alternative roll 1 die for each unit type can be used.
  • Maneuvering of units though swaps with the reserve to position them at the right place for offense or defense. The adjacent unit support might also give some interesting strategic decisions.

Development Progress

News, changes and updates

July 16th, 2016: Here are some notes about the latest playtest. I did not play far but some issue surfaced rapidly. The resource management could be long and annoying, I am thinking that possibly dracula's assignment comes with a number of point to purchase units, while resources is simply a bonus for extra resource. The problem is that bigger empire will not generate much additional units. So the expansion could reach a certain limit.

I intend to entirely change the resource production system and the AI orders. Instead of all 3 players making their turn and then collecting resources and making the AI move, those process will be done at the end of each player's turn. To the AI could attack between 2 player's turn. It will give a feel like Arkham Horror and friends.

One problem is that it was very hard to expand from Romania, all surrounding armies were very strong and I was sent in defeat half the time. I might make armies of nearby empires weaker (have less units) to allow initial expansion.

The combat system is interesting and has some strategic decision especially when eventually I will add strategy cards. The only issue I could see is the resolution time, a battle will take up to 5 minute. Still it's part of the game to have detailed battles, since it's basically a tactical maneuvering. I also though of using a single token represent an army like it's the case for the AI, that would make army management easier but remove maneuvering from the map which could be part of the core of the game. I am not quite sure if there is that much maneuvering, it's more about which unit do you send, so it's the composition of the army. It could be just simpler to have pre-composed army pawns. It would make the game less fiddly, but I scared it makes the game boring. If I do so, I will not be able to hold territories on the back with armies, I will required destroyed tokens, Romanian soldiers, or defensive armies.

For the characters, I think they will just warp on the battlefield when required in battle and warp of board when required home. I will add the possibility for character to jump from a battle to another if territories are adjacent. So it becomes clearer if they are at home or not this when.

December 19th, 2016 : I made a playtest with new ideas that came in lately, the playtest results were somehow positive even if I did not test much because the combat resolution was too slow. At least I got a feeling of how the game could be played and it was interesting, I should have played without combat. I also checked the possible production options on The Game Crafters to design my game with those restriction in mind. So one thing I might do besides designing new components to make testing easier is to design a new map that fits gamecrafter's 8"x16" format, because this is what I intend to use.

First important change, I am using one token per territory. It reduce dramatically the fiddliness and new mechanics allow swaping units from to board to the reserve to simulate movement. You can also support adjacent attacks by reducing your unit strength, or can get partially damaged after winning or retreating from a battle. Which means the game now has almost no movement. The reserve is used as a transition area where you can "heal" your armies, or move them elsewhere. But you can also attack or support territories adjacent to your homeland directly from the reserve. Not sure exactly how attacking the reserve would work since it could take a huge amount of time to kill everybody in the reserve. An idea is to make all rout kill.

I intend to use the same system for AI, in fact having only 1 unit simplifies the management even for the AI. Speaking of AI, it could be possible for players to play the AI. Possibly up to 2 players could split the control of the 8 countries available. Even if it's not the goal of the design, If those players can have interesting strategic decisions, then I am willing to support it. Still, I am thinking that this game could be too heavy for solo play, or at least it won't play in an hour, but could be playable faster in multi-player. I Not sure if I really want to make a game that last more than an hour, I could be forced to stick to the 4S system. I might need to remove the detailed combat system.

For combat right now the single token on the board transform itself into an army of multiple units. Units routed cannot return to battle but at the end of combat, they are not considered destroyed. This is important because an army that lose a lot of unit will either be reduced or removed from the board. While if you lost a battle but all your units were routed, well your army retreat back intact to where it came from. Now units that choses target can select routed units to kill them, same thing if you overrun your opponent, additional rout kills routed units. This prevent your opponent from recovering it's army after combat.

Else the problem with combat is the length. I need something short because there is a lot of battles, but I want a lot of unit variety and a certain amount of decisions in battle. I could simply remove detailed combat, that could keep the game short, But I lose variety and the strategy is moved elsewhere. I came up with an alternative system that could help, I'll have to test resolution time. You simply roll 1D per unit type (max 3), all 3 dice are made of different colors to simplify matching the die with the right unit. For each die you compare the rout and kill value, assign damage and repeat until the combat is over. First there is less dice rolling, a bit less manipulation and all resolution are done at the same time. There will be no initiative order, the only issue is that the heroes and huge beast does not fit into that model.

If I do not change combat, I have to reduce the number of territories on the map, doing so make strategic conquest less interesting. So I'll have in the end to sacrifice one or the other. Since there are small independent territories, making larger territories might not be possible if I want to respect the political borders. So using simpler combat should be the solution.

For the AI, I am thinking to add 8 cards, one for each country. After each player's turn, an AI card is drawn which determines which country act, but also which resources of the board is collected. When the deck is depleted, the awareness would advance and the cards are shuffled again. When playing against players, it's possible that allied players chose which country to activate. So they could slightly trample with the order of play.

So this is for now, I'll be trying to improve the prototype to make it easier to play and make some combat test. I'll during the vacations, I should try to make a combat less game just to test the flow of the other mechanics.

Prototype Pictures


First Prototype

Second Prototype with a regional map.

Another playtest using scavenged components and my computer for stat list. There is actually more components than necessary in the picture.

Related Threads

Board Game Geek: Mixing 8mm and 10mm cubes, is it recommended (Feb-2017)
Board Game Designer Forum: Mixing 8mm and 10mm cubes, is it recommended (Feb-2017)
Board game geek: Other usage to unit types than combat resolution (dec-2016)
Board Game Designer Forum: Other usage to unit types than combat resolution (dec-2016)
Board game geek: Aweful combat probabilities, need combat alternatives (Dec-2016)
Board game geek: Mobility in conquest games with a single unit per territory (nov-2016)
Board Game Designer Forum: Mobility in conquest games with a single unit per territory (nov-2016)
Board game Geek: Is multiple combat rounds + initiative order illogical? (2016)
Board Game Designer Forum: Is multiple combat rounds + initiative order illogical? (2016)

Development Log

DateTypeDescription
15-feb-2017ideaI am thinking to reduce the number of players to 1-2 with the possibility of an AI player. There are many reasons for that, first it could use less cubes, or all cubes are likely to be used. Second, it makes it harder to cover the whole area map, third it makes it harder to have territories shared by multiple players. Fourth, as solitaire, it's easier to setup the table with a general on each side of the map. Fifth, less chance to have to determine which player defends the territory.Still, there are some issues, like less competition between players, role system is slightly changed.
15-feb-2017ideaAnother idea would be to have common units between players, either a minority or majority of common units between players. Players would count their units + the common units. Could be interesting because there could be a conflict between taking casualties on yourself, vs taking casualties on the common. Maybe you need at least X cubes + a cube of your color to have presence of a unit. A bit like magic the gathering's colorless + colored mana. Colored mana would always be 1-2-3 + colorless mana. That could create an interesting dynamics and reduce the amount of pieces.
1-jan-2017IdeaI really like the area of majority system with only 8 territories. Now another idea is to use more cubes, not only on board but possibly have some sort of cube management off board. It reminds me of Twilight Imperium 3 where you have various pools of tokens to manage. Another user suggested using the amount of cubes on a territory as trigger for special abilities either by spending cubes, or simply having the min required. It's something worth exploring too.
27-dec-2016IdeaAnother interesting approach to remove fiddliness and keep various unit types is to transform that game as an area of majority games with much bigger territories and detailed units, but you have much less units to cover the board. Here a country could be an whole territory. Optionally, only basic cubes could be used, and the battles will be detailed like before with the battle mist system, but since there is less territories (around 10-12), there will be less battles to resolve.
1-dec-2016IdeaAnother idea that seems to solve a few issues is to abstract the movement of units on the board off board using units pools like "on battlefield", "In reserve", "Routed". In that case, routed units will not come back into the same battle but rather on later turns. it solves the fiddlyness of moving units, are remove slowdown in battle resolution due to routing. I am starting to get close to what I want.
1-dec-2016IdeaAnother idea is to have no mobile units. All tokens remains permanently in place and would simply give bonus to defense, or attack, or other. Then the strategy cards and army composition are combined both on cards used for attacking. Cards could be generic (ex: raiding party) but the composition is different for each general. It would remove strategic maneuvering from the game, but could be abstractly simulated with cards and permanent tokens.
30-nov-2016IdeaI am thinking about a more abstract resolution, maybe a conflict in casualties selection where you can lose more weak units, so less chance to hit, but that makes you roll much less dice versus losing few strong unit which have good chance to hit but does not reduce much your dice pool. Thinking to use 1 die per unit, 1 hit kill 1 unit, 2 hit for strong units. Which restrict me to 2 units per general. Unless I can put more granularity in this concept. I would have prefered 3 units considering humans has Inf, Cav, Art. Else right now, low initiative is the counter balance of strong units. In System explained above, dice are not attached to a specific unit.
30-nov-2016IdeaA possibility I am exploring to keep the game small is to use a single token on each territory for control and army size. When battle occurs, the army size on the tokens decides how many units you place on the battle card. Then combat is resolved almost like in the original system but using individual cubes instead. This way, it should remove the fiddlyness of maneuvering troops. I could reduce the number of territories if the components requirements are still too high.
27-nov-2016IdeaI got an idea recently to make a more abstract smaller game for easier production and get a smaller game. The units will probably be only generic cubes, or a die on a specific number. Abstract role selection with multi function will be more suited for this game. Combat could split the cubes on a triangle 3-2-1 pattern (or different for each character). This will give different stats to each cube for more complex combat resolution. There could be strategy roles for combat too. The map will probably fit on letter page that could be folded, see what game crafters has to offer. unique tokens could be made for lairs and huge units. Standee could be used for characters.
19-jun-2016ChangesAfter a playtest, I will need to change the map in territories, it's just more complex to design. I will possibly design real units for prototyping but keep the stats on a side board until the game is complete. Units will not have special abilities, only the commander, that will reduce exception, simplify battles, and make it easier to implement as a digital game. I might change the map to focus more on europe, no north africa and maybe no moscow. I could reuse fury of dracula map, I just don't have access to Scandinavia.

Playtest Log

DateResultsPlay TimePlayersDescription
19-dec-2016PositiveN/A1I scavenged various components to make a test, I'll eventually make new components to fit the needs better. Did not managed to play more than a turn without AI because combat was too slow. But besides combat, the role system seems interesting, There are other cool ideas that I could still not test. Maybe I should have tested without combat. Still, I might have found a faster combat resolution that keeps somehow detailed units, I'll see if it could speed up the game. Making reference sheet for army composition will also be necessary to speed up the process.
16-jul-2016AverageN/A1Between both play test I made unit design and combat test and I managed to have a system inspired on battlemist that works relatively well. Now for the complete test, I think my game could bee too fiddly, I might try to simplify some things to reduce management, but I am scared it sacrifice the core of the game.
19-jun-2016PositiveN/A1I made some early exploration test for combat resolution and map expansion. Boths were positive, the routing system in combat and the multiple assault rules will work really nice, but balancing units will be a serious mess. For the expansion, I realized that a bad coordination of the general could be bad for the players especially at the beginning when players are close to each other. So it could bring an interesting feeling to the multiplayer game as negotiation, order of play, and hand over of unit would be important.

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