Kevin Dalton
United States
Minnesota
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Is this acceptable design in a board game?

I am designing a board game based on exploration. The exploration uses a tile mechanic. On a player's turn they will have some number of movement points. They can stop whenever they want, but they must stop when they run out of movement points. There are two types of locations that spawn random encounters. One location type guarantees that an enemy will spawn. The other is randomized. If you spawn a monster and you haven't run out of movement points, you can run away.

I should mention, you cannot really die in this game. There is an exhaustion mechanic, and the consequence of losing a fight is becoming "exhausted," but this status goes away on its own.

I am torn on this because I do not want people to play an entire game without ever once fighting a monster. My concern is really with when you run out of movement points and encounter a monster. I want to keep the rules as simple as possible, but in so doing it is possible for a player to run out of movement points and then encounter a monster that they cannot beat on their own nor run away from. Does the fact that you cannot die permit this faux pas, or is there another solution?
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Honestly, there is no "right" way unless it works for your particular game.

I do believe there should be a chance to be waylaid when traveling - a chance for an encounter. If you attempt to run away, there should be a chance to be caught.
 
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Richard Smith
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Make an Encounter Deck.
If you want to be sure that at least one monster encounter comes up, consider using a deck of cards.

For example, you make a deck with 12 cards. 1/3 have helpful or interesting encounters which advance the plot, 1/3 have random monsters, 1/6 have no encounter, and 1/6 are special cards. Perhaps one of these says, "discard this card, then reshuffle the discards and deck together, to form a new random encounter deck."

Any cards that are too powerful can be one shots. (e.g. you get a magic sword but that can only happen once.)

You can adjust the pacing of the game by making the 'no encounter' cards one use. (As the timer ticks down, the neutral and good events disappear.)

You can have some new encounter cards that are added to this deck if something happens. (e.g. if you help a holy monastery, you add a "Monks Heal You", card to the discard deck. Eventually the deck will run out, be reshuffled, and then there is the possibility of the Monks giving you aid in the future as thanks.)

Hope this helps!

Warm regards, Rick.
 
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Kevin Dalton
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Minnesota
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So, you think it's okay if they get their butt kicked by a monster they can't beat so long as they can pick themselves back up?
 
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Kevin_Dalton wrote:
So, you think it's okay if they get their butt kicked by a monster they can't beat so long as they can pick themselves back up?

I'm sorry, is the game supposed to be a cake walk? Or not?

From what I understand, your game has no stakes, so winning is inevitable. The in question is how long it takes.
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Ian S
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Just chuck the odd monster in that can chase them even if they run. That should cut down on the ultra cautious approach

Alternatively / in addition, find a thematic reward for travelling faster.

The ideal would be to have a balanced tension between caution and bravery
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Kevin Dalton
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GrauGeist wrote:
Kevin_Dalton wrote:
So, you think it's okay if they get their butt kicked by a monster they can't beat so long as they can pick themselves back up?

I'm sorry, is the game supposed to be a cake walk? Or not?

From what I understand, your game has no stakes, so winning is inevitable. The in question is how long it takes.

That is a concern of mine when it comes to the 1 player version, but for everything else the game relies on player interaction to create tension - think Munchkin but the map is real and no "take that" mechanics. It basically becomes a race to complete your character's quest. I'm just obsessing over this detail because I had a play tester rage quit on me.
 
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It all depends on the game. In some games, it's ok to fail. In your game, worst case result is that the player loses a turn. If the default is a race, that's fine.

I do think that you need to decide if you are making a solo game, or a competitive one. And then, focus on that.
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Kevin Dalton
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Thanks for all the great feedback, everyone!

The rage quit was on turn one in a game with 4 players. Unfortunately, instead of giving me feedback, the guy just stormed out, leaving me to just wonder and worry as to what upset him so much. I think there are two possible reasons he flaked out on me, one being he stumbled upon a monster that kicked his butt, and the impetus for starting this thread.

The other possible reason, however, might have to do with a lack of understanding. The game has two mechanics at its heart, the first being tile laying to build and explore the map. The second mechanic is the player's character, which uses deck-building. Your deck represents all the items and abilities with which your character can interact with the world and you give your character more health and abilities by modifying your deck. And that leads to how combat works, and what it means to be exhausted.

Every card in your hand represents one point of health. During a fight, each player plays 1 card (unless they have modifiers) and the fight goes back and forth until somebody runs out of cards in their hand, which is the status of being "exhausted." This applies to NPCs (like the monster he ran into) as well, except when an NPC is exhausted, it is removed from the map (basically, dead). So, somebody might play a card for 5 attack. The other player could respond by playing a card worth 3 defense. That would mean they would have to discard 2 cards to account for the attack points they failed to defend against.

I'm not sure the player understood that the cards being discarded for health were going to his own discard pile and that they were coming back the next time he re-shuffled, so that could be the other reason he rage quit on me. I'm quite happy with this mechanic, so if that's the case his rage quit means nothing to me. The idea behind the game was 1. I love Dominion and I wish you could do more with a solid deck building game and 2. Thunderstone's map leaves much to be desired.

As far as winning is concerned, the game uses objective cards a little like Twilight Imperium that I called quests. They were designed to encourage various player interactions, including cooperation and direct competition a little like having someone in your DnD party go off the deep end. Relying on the paths each player chose to create interesting interactions seemed like a fun idea, but it does mean that in a 1 player game, so long as you don't care how long it takes, there isn't much tension. Changing 1-4 on the box to 2-4 is a better choice to me than revamping how the whole game works, but I'm not giving up on 1P just yet.


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James Hutchings
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Since not taking your full move, and fighting a monster and losing, cost you the same thing, it seems to me like this game might have a single strategy that's always best.

For example if I have a 50% chance of meeting a monster in a given area, a 50% chance of being defeated if I do meet a monster, and the consequence of being defeated is equivalent to losing 10 movement points, then moving into such an area will cost me an average of 10 x 50% x 50% = 2.5 movement points.

So if I can avoid this area at the cost of 3 movement points that's not worth it, and if I can avoid it at the cost of 2 movement points that is worth it.

That is, it sounds like the best move might be too easy to work out.
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Kevin Dalton
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Thanks for the input, James.

I had 3 things in mind when I initially came up with this game.

1.) I wanted to flesh out the deck builder and have your deck be more than an abstract pile of cards.
2.) I wanted combat to be an interesting back and forth and not a die roll or just a number-check.
3.) I wanted to give players multiple ways to win the game, and not just different paths to arrive at the same objective but vastly different objectives to pursue. There are no victory points. Complete a quest and win.

Movement is a resource gained by playing cards similar to mage knight

Considering all the above, I'm not sure there is such an issue. In a game with more than 1 player, if other players catch you doing something "cheap" they might change their tactics and go after you. Furthermore, there are two ways to draw a monster. One is the location type that guarantees a monster spawn and you can avoid. The other is when you choose to stop moving (if you aren't in such a location), you draw from a deck that contains "Encounter" cards. If you draw the encounter card, then you draw a monster. If you didn't, nothing happens. I think this hides enough information and provides enough things going on that making a B-Line for objective X is unlikely.

Lastly, I was recently inspired to come up with a thematically relevant dwindling resource that if it runs out, players lose the game. So again, all of you have been a big help. Thanks!
 
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Kevin Dalton
United States
Minnesota
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Thanks again for all the great advice.

My original question, without the added info about the game I am trying to make, was:

Is it OK to design random encounters for a game that an unprepared player has no chance of winning?

If I understand correctly, your collective advice is:

Yes, as long as it fits with the flow and theme of the game and doesn't break it mechanically.

So thanks!
 
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