Exploring the Design Space

In this blog I'll share some ideas about how a board game can be expanded. My main interest at this moment is Eldritch Horror, but this may change in the future.

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Time Travelling Elephants

Krzysiek Domański
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I love the time travel theme. "Butterfly Effect", "Next", "12 Monkeys", and "Predestination" are among my favorite movies.
Ever since I played the "Lost in Time and Space" scenario for Mansions of Madness, I have hoped that FFG would introduce Time Machine to Eldritch Horror.
So far, I have waited in vain. So I decided to come up with my own version.

Two main uses for the time machine are:
1) messing with the history
2) getting more time for your tasks

1) would be hard to implement in EH so I went with 2)

-----------------------
The Time Machine (Artifact)
Item - Device

At the beginning of the Mythos Phase you may return this card to the box. If you do, immediately end the Mythos Phase.
At the beginning of the Mythos Phase, investigators may spend
From gallery of Ignipes
clues as a group. If they do, you may discard this card and immediately end the Mythos Phase.

Clarifications:
You don't draw or resolve the Mythos card, but effects that occur at the end of Mythos phase (e.g. Mystery solving) still happen.

Design Notes:
This basically has "Take an Extra Turn after this one" written on it.
The problem is, this effect increases in power with more investigators. I don't have a satisfying idea to balance this, yet.
I have included a cost suggested by Boian Spasov to balance this.


While you're travelling in time you may encounter some big game.
For such occasions I propose you this:

-----------------------
Elephant Gun (Asset - cost: 4)
Item - Weapon
Once per round, you may gain +5
From gallery of Ignipes
during a Combat Encounter. If you do, reduce the Monster's toughness by 1 to a minimum of 1.

Design Notes:
Besides test modifiers, each monster encountered has three numerical stats: damage, horror, and toughness.
While we have quite a few cards that reduce horror and damage, toughness was omitted from such effects.
I suppose FFG wanted to avoid players thinking that toughness is reduced permanently.


What do you think?
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Tue Feb 2, 2016 12:13 pm
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Other Worlds

Krzysiek Domański
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Boardgames inevitably carry some level of abstraction, but Other Worlds in EH are bit too abstract for me.
"If you pass, [someone] helps you to return home; close this gate."
And if I fail?
Many times the flavor text suggests that something really bad happens (e.g. you die in an alien body or you stay trapped), but it's not reflected by game effects.
This flavor and mechanics separation is very obtrusive here, much more than in other encounters.
The complex encounters of EH are a clever idea, but for Other Worlds I prefer Arkham Horror's implementation. You are physically exploring the extraplanar locations. And if a card says that something happens, it actually happens.

Unfortunately, AH Gates had one major problem, and that is dilution.
In EH, a location where you should spawn a gate is written on the gate itself. Thanks to this, the spawning sites are equally distributed all over the board. Or, rather, all over the boards. Balanced gate distribution is still preserved, no matter how many boards you're playing with.
But in AH, Gate must carry the information where it leads to. Because of that, the information about spawning location is located on the Mythos Card. The same Mythos Card always spawns a gate in the same space (and a Clue in another, always the same, space).
The base game Mythos only opened gates in Arkham.
The 1st expansion added some more gate openings in Arkham.
The 2nd expansion added openings in Arkham and Dunwich.
The 3rd expansion added yet some more openings in Arkham.
This pattern remains the same for a few more expansions.
If you'd like to play with several expansions, then you'll see that most gates open in Arkham, gates in other locations are very rare.

This sucks.

Luckily, there's a simple solution.
We can prepare a pool of drawing tokens/cards/somethings each with a name of unstable locations on it.
When a mythos card is drawn, only check the number of gates it should open, ignore the locations.
Draw an equal number of tokens, and spawn gates on the locations indicated. Return these tokens to the cup.
Done, gate dilution solved.
I would also use these tokens to check where clues should spawn.

You have propably noticed that this solution is inspired by EH. The main exception is, in EH when you draw a Clue token to choose a random location, the token doesn't return to the cup.
Here we must return it so we can draw the same gate again, and possibly trigger a monster surge.

Speaking about the monster surges. I always liked this mechanic.
I have a small variant idea for you, called the Surge Deck.
Whenever a gate would open in a location that already has a gate, draw a card from the Surge Deck and resolve it.
Here are some examples:

Monster Surge
Same as original, except now it's only one of the possibilities.

Unstable Gate
Close this Gate, then spawn another Gate.
Notes: This may lead to a doom added or another surge elsewhere. And to investigators Lost in Time and Space.

Swallowing Gate
Discard all Clues in this gate's neighborhood. All investigators (except those with explored token) in this neighborhood are drawn through the gate.
Notes: The investigators are also delayed, as usual when you're drawn by surprise.

Disgorging Gate
Investigators that are in the Other World this gate leads to, return to Arkham but don't get the explored token.

Rift
Close this gate, then spawn a Rift in this location.
Notes: Rift is then governed by the Kingsport Horror rules, or their variation.

Deep Gate
The Other World this gate leads to, now has a third area.
Use this card as that area, putting it beside the normal two areas.
All three areas must be explored for an investigator to return to Arkham.
When all the gates leading to that Other World are closed, discard this card.

Firm Gate
Put this card under this gate.
When this gate would be closed, instead discard this card (along with the explored token if applicable).
Notes: Essentially, you need to close this gate twice.

Mirror Universe
Spawn the Doppelganger Epic Monster on this space.
Notes: Or any other epic monster that is suitable thematically. Arkham already kind of has Epic Monsters, it shouldn't be hard to include a full-fledged version of them.

Monster Flood
Just like the "Monster Surge", except monsters are distributed evenly among locations in this neighborhood, not among the open gate locations.

Monster Overrun
Just like the "Monster Surge", except all monsters spawn on this space.
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Fri Jan 29, 2016 11:07 am
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Relationships

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As some players seem to be missing the Relationships from Arkham, I'll try to design an EH prototype.

Let's start with AH relationships summary:
For each pair of starting investigators one relationship was selected at the beginning of the game.
Each gave some small bonuses for both investigators.
If one of the investigators was killed, the Relationship card was discarded.
No new Relationships are drawn during the game, so replacement investigators aren't as closely collected as the "old friends" that started the game.

In AH, the Relationships only had upsides, making the game a little bit easier.
With EH double-sided cards, we could look at the other side of the coin. What happens when your best friends dies? Or when your business associate goes insane?

Here are some example relationships:

-----------------------
Fellow Adventurers
Relationship

Front Side:
Any Task possession one of the partners has, is treated as thought it was possessed by both partners.

Back Side:
Lost Puzzle Pieces
Discard all tokens from Task possessions any of the partners had.
Then discard this card.

Design Notes:
This allows the investigators to both progress on the same task without the need to spend time to trade it.
However, when one your partner dies, the progress gets messed up.

-----------------------
I'll Vouch for My Friend
Relationship

Front Side:
Whenever one of the partners would gain a Deal condition, the other partner may choose one of the following:
• He also gains that Condition.
• He gains that Condition instead of his partner.

Back Side:
Bad Reputation
You can't choose to gain any Deal condition.

-----------------------
The Darkest Pact
Relationship

Front Side:
When one of the partners would be defeated or devoured, instead that investigator loses all but 1 Health, and all but 1 Sanity. These losses can't be prevented.
Then flip this card.

Back Side:
Old Debts Come Due
Both partners gain a Dark Pact condition. If any of them already had a Dark Pact condition, instead he flips his Dark Pact Condition.
Then discard this card.

-----------------------
Business Associates
Relationship

Front Side:
When one of the partners performs an Acquire Assets action, he may allow his partner to gain any cards purchased.

Back Side:
Business Problems
Roll 1 less die during the
From gallery of Ignipes
test made as part of an Acquire Assets action.

-----------------------
Fates Intertwined
Relationship

Front Side:
Once per round, during the Action Phase, partners may trade any number of Conditions, Focus, Improvement Tokens and Impairment Tokens.

Back Side:
Fate's Burden
Discard all Improvement tokens and all Focus Tokens.
Then discard this card.

-----------------------
Mystical Connection
Relationship

Front Side:
When one of the partners passes a
From gallery of Ignipes
test while resolving a Spell effect, he may give that Spell to the other partner after resolving its effects.

Back Side:
Severed Connection
Flip each spell you have, resolve the effect on it's back as if you had rolled only 1's on your
From gallery of Ignipes
test.
If the spell effect refers to "that investigator" or a chosen investigator, you must choose yourself. If the spell effect refers to any other token or space, you must choose the nearest token or space of the indicated type.
Then discard this card.


Rules and notes:
1. A Relationship is possessed by both partners at the same time. It can't be traded, and most game effects won't affect it.
2. If one of the partners is defeated(/insane/devoured) the other partner flips the Relationship card.
It's an extra rule to remember, which FFG tries to avoid in EH.
This can be solved by making Relationship cards large. The deck isn't touched after setup, so it shouldn't be cumbersome. In this version you can fit much more text on the card.
Most of the above examples should fit on small card though.
3. Most of the Relationship backs refer to "you" instead of "partners", as only one of the partners is left.

What do you think?
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Tue Jan 26, 2016 10:56 am
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Skills

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One of the features I miss from Arkham Horror are skills. Improvement tokens are well thought but very generic.
How one could implement skills in Eldritch Horror? With double-sided cards, of course.

Base set of skills would have a set of 5 possible traits: Lore, Influence, Observation, Strength, Will.
This would allow an encounter to have you "gain 1 Strength Skill" in Sydney or "gain 1 Influence Skill" in Istanbul.

Skills are to Improvements, what Characters are to regular Allies - a much less common, more powerful alternative.

Here are some example Skills:

Strength skills:
-----------------------
Robust
Skill - Strength

Front Side:
Increase your
From gallery of Ignipes
by 1.
If you would gain another Strength Skill, you may flip this card instead.

Back Side:
Increase your
From gallery of Ignipes
by 2.

Design Notes:
This is a most simple and generic Skill. Basically it works identically to improvement.
As it increases the skill value it affects Hank Samson's ability. However the "investigator cannot improve a single skill more than twice" rule, doesn't apply to it.
-----------------------
Martial Arts
Skill - Strength

Front Side:
Once per round, you may add 1 success to your test result when resolving a
From gallery of Ignipes
test during a Combat Encounter.
If you would gain another Strength Skill, you may flip this card instead.

Back Side:
You may add 1 success to your test result when resolving a
From gallery of Ignipes
test during a Combat Encounter.

Design Notes:
A simple way of improving a Skill. The back side lifts the "Once per round" limitation.

Observation skills:
-----------------------
Mythos Lore
Skill - Observation

Front Side:
Increase your
From gallery of Ignipes
by 2 during Research Encounters.
If you would gain another Observation Skill, you may flip this card instead.

Back Side:
Advance the Active Mystery by 1. Then flip this card.

Design Notes:
The skill value is increased by 2! However, only during specific encounters.
The flip side here gives an immediate bonus in the form of research breakthrough.

Lore skills:
-----------------------
Expert Occultist
Skill - Lore

Front Side:
When you flip a Spell card, you may ignore all the effects on the back of that card. If you do, flip that card.
If you would gain another Lore Skill, you may flip this card instead.

Back Side:
When you flip a Spell card, you may ignore all the effects on the back of that card. If you do, flip that card.
If you pass a
From gallery of Ignipes
test when resolving Spell effects, you may add 1 additional success to that test result.

Influence skills:
-----------------------
Credit Rating
Skill - Influence

Front Side:
You may add 1 success to your test result when resolving a
From gallery of Ignipes
test during an Acquire Assets action.
If you would gain another Influence Skill, you may flip this card instead.

Back Side:
Gain any number of Assets of your choice with total value less than or equal to your
From gallery of Ignipes
. Then flip this card.

Will skills:
-----------------------
Strong Mind
Skill - Will

Front Side:
Increase your
From gallery of Ignipes
by 2 during tests made as part of Madness condition effect.
If you would gain another Will Skill, you may flip this card instead.

Back Side:
Increase your
From gallery of Ignipes
by 2 during tests made as part of Madness condition effect.
If you would gain a Madness condition, you may flip this card instead.

Design Notes:
I'm not sure about the correct wording of the front side. I'll revise it, once I consult my game copy.


Final notes:
1. "Skills" may be a confusing name, as the term is already used. "Gain a Skill", "Improve a Skill", etc. would refer to two different game concepts.
It may need to be changed to "Proficiencies" or another synonym.

2. I tried to show some diversity among the example Skills. An actual implementation would feature many similar skills.
"Robust", for example, would propably have a equivalent for each of the five skills.

What do you think?
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Fri Jan 22, 2016 9:30 am
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