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Spellwards: Age of the Sorcerers

Page: GameIdea.GameIdea-spellwardAgeofthesorcerers - Last Modified : Sun, 19 Feb 17 - 213 Visits
How much do you like this idea?

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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: CLOSED
Progress: Prototyped
Priority: High
Number of players: 3 - 6 players
Expected Play time: 60 - 120 minutes

Description

Again, another Master of Magic board game idea using another approach when players has multiple actions according to their empire size.

Objective

The map and covenant content is minimalistic and the actions are resolved fast, there is no chrome in this design. The only unique stuff is the magic special abilities which break the rules of the game on demand.

I might be willing to make this game the 4X4S system I wanted to design. I can probably make the game small, but I am not sure if I can make it short. Still 2 hours for a 4X game could be considered pretty short.

I might make a rival 2 player game using similar mechanics. I could be tempted to work on the rival game first if it's easier to handle.

Inspiration

Master of Magic of course and all my other attempt at making such game. I had some inspiration from an adaptation I wanted to make from Microcosm. I reused mechanics from that idea here, basically adding a world map.

Priority Evaluation

Theme vs Mechanics: Most of the core mechanics are there, there is still a few things do design but more importantly balance. The theme will be there but not as much I would have liked due to massive simplification and abstraction.
Video vs Board Game: Of course a video game would be awesome, but that particular design fits only as a board game due to it's abstract simplification.
Single vs Multi player: This is a multiplayer game. there could be AI player, but I think the interaction between players is too important.
Rating = 7/12

Mechanics

You get an action card for each town/city you own which each gives you 3 possible action for each of the 3 categories: Civilization, Military, Empire. this means a total of 9 actions. All actions are resolved by comparing your strength with the target number and rolling a die that can increase the TN by up to 2. If you pass, you succeed. Various modifiers will make the action easier or harder to resolve. Some actions could have additional rules, like for example in warfare, you also roll a casualty die to know who lose it's army.

Now the player has a covenant where he can train wizards and research magic spells and improvement. Each improvement gives a resource that add +1 strength to 3 available actions. Each improvement also have a special ability that can be triggered by paying the price. Each player has a unique set of improvements according to the type of wizard he chose and the race he commands.

Problems that prevent development

The work right now is more about balancing the core actions, designing all 9 actions and make sure they are usable from start to the end of the game. The covenant is also new, it will be some sort of worker placement system. Once the core mechanics will work, it will be about designing the special powers which I hope I have enough permutations.

News, changes and updates

July 30th, 2016: After a few playtest, I manged to have some sort of working core, I will have 9 actions, but they will not always be useful. Like for example colonizing and city growth will more likely be used at the beginning of the game. But since there will be no cards to restrict which action can be performed, you will never have useless cards. Removing components also makes the game smaller, good thing since I want the game to have low component requirements.

Now each action had a cost to perform, the first problem is the accounting and the modifiers that were almost all unique which made it very confusing and slow to play. Then I tried removing the randomness, and rolling a die only if you had less than the target number. Still at the beginning, many action fails and I assume that later in the game all action would auto succeed.

So I tried to use a different approach: each type of pieces on the board (City, Army, Trading Post) in the target area (or adjacent for certain actions) will gives 1 point, you need 3 point for the action to be valid. Resources can be spent to gain 1 point. 6 Action (Colonise, Growth, Train, Build, Sabotage, Harvest) will use this mechanic system. Now this is very interesting, but in the end, it feels a bit like a more detailed empire growth game. Still, more details means more possible options and special abilities.

The 3 remaining actions (Move/Attack, Develop, Control) are competitive actions between 2 players, in that case only the asset values will be added up and compared. Maybe the pieces types could each give you +1 on your strength. Which means for example that battles are auto success, but you roll for the casualties. It makes the asset value less interesting, but computation is only done during competitive actions.

It also means that resources will now need to match the action category instead of 1 action in each category. ONe of the problem I had for example with the "Influence" resource in early game is that associated actions were more likely to be used at the end of the game, to it became useless. But I have another twist where all resource can be used as mana, while mana can only be used as mana to activate asset cards. But mana recover instantly each turn, while resources will recover up to the number of trading post track you have.

Speaking of tracks on the dashboard, the more stuff is placed on the board the more stuff you can maintain. I made the following match for each piece type:

  • Towns: Unlock new actions
  • Cities: Can maintain more armies, Once built, free a token that can be used for development.
  • Trading Post: Determine the number of resource that can be refreshed each turn. Or simply the nb of resource that can be maintained.

The system will be reusable for other 4X theme with minor twist to make each game unique. If I could keep the qty of components small, that would be even better. Besides the map and the pieces, I need dashboard for players and asset cards. So it can be pretty small, the only large thing is the map pieces.

Finally, my biggest challenge once the game will be running is the special powers and spells. I only hope my area of effect can be big enough to have variety for 10 races and 10 wizards.

Prototype Pictures


Third Prototype, using bigger hex on map to place trading post on hex corners.

Second prototype with the action cards

First prototype using recycled pieces

Related Threads

Board game Geek: (2016) How to make reusable civilization actions?
Board Game Designer Forum: (2016) How to make reusable civilization actions?

Development Log

DateTypeDescription
28-jul-2016IdeaI might remove the action cards, the first problem besides the extra components is that sometimes a player is in a situation where an action card cannot be used. Second, most of the action requires a roll which is pretty annoying. So a solution could be that you can do what ever you like, but the base strength of your action dictate which actions you are more likely to perform. You can perform an action where you have a low value, in that case you roll a die and have a chance of failure. which means there is no impossible action, but it makes battle less surprising besides the casualties.
28-jul-2016IdeaThere seems to be a lot of possible modifiers to actions which has it's pros and con. Now one idea is that any token on the board could give a +1 or -1 to the TN . So Cities, armies, trading post could all give benefits or penalties. It reminds me a bit of Small World where every token on the board cost 1. The only problem is that there could be exceptions, but I would need to avoid this as much as possible to make it easier to remember.
24-jul-2016SolutionIn order to simulate corruption in larger empires and make it more convenient to handle actions, the nb of actions gained by expanding empires will reduce slowly the larger the empire becomes. This will prevent having 10 action cards in hands to handle. There could be ways to recover some of the actions lost with some upgrades.
23-jul-2016IdeaOne of the problem with the action system is that you can eventually get a lot of action cards (8 or more cards) and it could become long and confusing. The other issue I see is that Military and Empire actions are repeatable, but civilization actions are not, so when your empire is developed at full capacity, there is little interest to use civilization actions again. Proposed solution is that when you have X or more cards, you play in 2 turns and split the number of actions between both turns. Another solution is that civilization action must be used to harvest/trade resources, or cities needs to be constantly rebuilt, or empire growth is not related to the civilization action.

Playtest Log

DateResultsPlay TimePlayersDescription
30-jul-2016AverageN/A3 as solitaireI tried not using the action cards using fixed cost, it was very confusing and I have to adapt rapidly since there is many situation where no action can succeed. I am trying to fill the gap with resources and harvested Goodie Hut. I am trying a simplified cost based which in the end just makes empire development more detailed. The asset resources would only be used for competitive check, which could make it less useful than before, but it is still much more convenient to play this way.
17-jul-2016AverageN/A3 as solitaireI almost played 2 turns, I was kind of tired so the game felt a bit complex. I might need to remove the action cards or use them differently. See the development log for more details.

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