Tuesday, 28 January 2014

A Game of Miniatures

Since the start of December 2013, I’d been thinking about creating a game based around having 3D models of characters. Naturally, my first step was to look into analogue games that used miniatures. The ones I’m most familiar with are games like D&D (Dungeons and Dragons), and Game Workshop’s tabletop war games, Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000.

Warhammer, a fantasy war game created by Games Workshop
Image source: http://images.rtsguru.com/articles/images/5000/4688/warhammer-fantasy-battle.jpg
Last accessed: 14th April 2014
Warhammer 40,000, a gothic science fiction war game by Games Workshop
Image source: http://www.chrisshipton.co.uk/Spacehulk/spacehulk-02.jpg
Last accessed: 14th April 2014

In an adventurer’s turn, the player takes one tile from a pile, and adds it to the map connecting a corridor to a corridor or a room to a room. Rooms are blocked by doorways, open doorways are green, locked doorways and red. Players must find a key to open red doors. Human players must place a tile at the beginning of their turn until all tiles have been placed. The exit tile should be placed in the middle of a shuffled deck of tiles or placed at the bottom of the pile, depending on how long players wish to play.

All of these games have a collection of rulebooks that teach players how to play the games with miniatures and scenery, peripherals, that are sold separately in order to play the games properly. Players take a lot of pride in customising their characters in D&D or their armies in Warhammer, so making a miniatures based bored game is a fantastic way to monopolies on merchandise, providing I can hit the right market.

My first attempt at creating a miniatures game was overly complex, I spent a couple weeks coming up with complex rules for a post-apocalyptic tabletop RPG (role playing game) that relied on calculating percentages by using 2d10 (a pair of 10-sided dice). However, it soon occurred to me that creating such a complex and ambitious board game might be a bit too ambitious to attempt within a 9-month time frame.

Not to mention that these games with their intricate 500-page rulebooks can actually be very off-putting for new players. Even I have trouble remembering all the rules for games like Warhammer 40,000, and forgetting the rules can sometimes stop a game dead or blind you to cheaters. It can ruin your game experience remembering so much, unless that’s your niche, and you enjoy complex games. Not to mention that, unless you’re a D&D player or someone who plays a lot of pen and paper RPGs, such as World of Darkness, you’re unlikely to know what a d10 is, let alone where to get some. It suddenly became very paramount that I try to make the game as accessible as possible so that even new players wouldn’t be put off playing it.

I wanted something that was character based with collectible miniatures, and easy to pick up, that didn’t have a long rulebook to read. Instead I settled for something small scale dungeon-style game with chance involved in its core mechanic. To start with, I designed a board game that used character miniatures, a board made up of tiles, cards, and a single d6 (a 6-sided die).

The game itself, for now, is for 2 to 5 players that pits 1 to 4 adventurers or survivors against a difficult monster. Players create a unique map by placing 4-inch by 4-inch tiles together. They can explore rooms to gain keys and items that may help the adventurers survive until they either escape the maze or kill the monster. The monster’s goal is to wipe out the other players before they can leave. The idea was inspired by slasher films and 90s survival horror games.

Rules - How To Play (ver. 1)

The home tile is placed in the middle of the table. Up to 4 adventurers are placed in the centre of the tile. The adventurer players each roll a d6 (6-sided die), highest goes first followed by the player on their left, etc (going clockwise). If there are 2 high rollers, they roll of until there’s a winner.

Each room has a card count written on the tile, the cards are placed in the room face down, and flipped when a player enters. Item cards can contain weapons, consumables or keys. A player can carry a maximum of 6 items in their “inventory” or hand. A player does not have to pick up the item if they don’t want it. Items are shuffled back in the item card pile when used and discarded. Players can trade items with other players on the same tile, or drop item cards on the tile if they’re undesired. Monsters can’t pick up or use items.

Once a player has placed a tile, they roll a d6 and can move that many spaces. A player can pass other characters’ spaces, but can’t land on the same space as another player or the monster. If the player moves through spaces occupied by the monster, the monster gets 1 free attack. When all adventurers have had their first turn, the end of the first round, the monster is placed in the centre of the home tile, but does not move yet. This is to give the weaker adventurers time to move away and potential arm up before the chase starts.

The monster always goes last in turn order, and doesn’t get their first movement until the end of the second round. When the last adventurer has had their second turn by placing a tile and moving, the monster player can then roll a d6 to move. The monster can’t enter a room unless the doorway is two spaces wide, but they can attack through walls if they are in base contact with an adventurer. If a player is in combat range, then can either move or attack, they can’t do both. However, the monster can’t pass through or land on the space of a human player, and must stop their movement when in base contact to attack. Only the monster can move and attack.

An adventurer can’t attack unless they have a weapon card, but the monster can always attack. The adventurers have 5 attributes each, HP (hit points), Hit, Aim, Dodge and Hide. HP determines how much damage a character can take before dying. Hit is your character’s accuracy with a melee weapon. Aim is the character’s accuracy with a ranged weapon. Dodge is the character’s ability to evade enemy attacks. Hide is the character’s ability to remain undetected. Hide is only applicable when inside a room, if successful, it makes your character immune to damage if a monster attacks through a wall, but the player misses their next turn. The monster in the initial game only has HP and Hit, with an additional Damage stat. Player characters and monsters can also have special rules that affect the game in different ways.

Basic HP for an adventurer is 3, meaning that a player can take 3 direct hits from a monster before dying. The other stats are shown on player cards in the form of die rolls. For example, if a PC’s (player character’s) Aim is 3+, you must roll a 3 and above on a d6 to hit with a ranged weapon. Rolling a 1 is always a failure. When a PC’s HP reaches 0, they are out of the game unless revived by another player. “Dead” PCs can only be revived by other players in base contact using a healing item.

The game ends when all characters have escaped or died, or the monster has been defeated.

The character card descriptions and tile examples are as follows:

Character 1
Hit 5+
Aim 5+
Dodge 3+
Hide 3+.

Special Rules:
It’s Over There!
Players on the same tile get +1 to Aim.

Must pick up every item found.

When hiding, forfeit 2 turns instead of 1.

Character 2
Hit 3+
Aim 3+
Dodge 5+
Hide 5+

Special Rules:
Come Get Me!
Players on the same tile get +1 to Hide.

Die Already!
Must attack twice before leaving combat.

Lone Wolf
Cannot trade items.

Character 3
Hit 5+
Aim 3+
Dodge 5+
Hide 3+

Special Rules:
Look Out!
Players on the same tile get +1 to Dodge.

When hiding, roll a d6. On a 4+, draw an item card.

Only helps friendly players.

Character 4
Hit 3+
Aim 5+
Dodge 3+
Hide 5+

Special Rules:
Don’t Be A Wuss!
All players on the same tile get +1 to Hit.

Ew, No!
Cannot pick up dropped items.

Ignore the player on your left.

Hit 4+
Deal 1HP damage for a successful hit that’s not dodged.

Item Cards (21)
1x Knife - melee weapon (base contact), uses Hit stat, deals 1HP damage, unlimited uses.
1x Pipe - melee weapon (base contact), uses Hit stat, deals 2HP damage, unlimited uses.
1x Handgun - ranged weapon (10 spaces), uses Aim stat, deals 1HP damage, 7 uses.
1x Shotgun - ranged weapon (5 spaces, 3 spread), uses Aim stat, deals 2HP damage, 6 uses.
4x Handgun Clips - when used and discarded, increases handgun uses by 7.
2x Shotgun Shells - when used and discarded, increases shotgun uses by 6.
2x Bandages - when used and discarded, increases HP by 1.
2x First Aid Kits - when used and discarded, increases HP by 3.
5x Keys - unlocks locked doors.
1x Flashlight - +2 to aim.
1x Backpack - character upgrade, increases inventory by 2. Doesn’t count as an item.

Tiles (30)
1x Home (crossroad)
1x Exit (t-junction)
2x Straight corridor with 2 rooms
4x Straight corridor
5x Dead end with locked room
3x T-junction with room
4x T-junction
2x Corner with 2 rooms
4x Corner
4x Crossroad