Saturday, May 10, 2014

Rebuilding versus reacting

A couple months ago I talked about how being able to constantly interrupt your opponent's turn in a board game isn't much fun.  It is good to have interaction where you can affect what your opponent does but there is a huge amount of time wasted when you have to constantly check to see if your opponent is going to react to things you do.  There are other reasons to avoid this too, like that people love to make a plan and then smash their opponent to bits.  It just isn't entertaining to set up for a big move and then watch that move flop.  It is also much easier to teach new players a game when the rules for timing are really simple.

In order to put this into action I have been rewriting Fantasy Monster Beatdown.  My goal initially was to get rid of a lot of the effects that went off during the opponent's turn but eventually I decided to axe all of them.  It is much easier to write both effects and rules when I know that you don't have to worry about how the opponent might interfere.  I have been getting rid of spells like Healing Light (which stopped an attack from working) and used more spells like Energize (which lets you get a defeated unit back into the fight super quickly).

The great thing about this is that it has got me approaching effects from a completely different angle.  Instead of trying to figure out how you can wreck plans in motion I need to design things that can constrain your opponent to make things more difficult for them to work with.  I have ended up designing much more broad effects that generally make life harder for the opponent rather than pinpoint interruptions.  I have tried to frame it in my mind that I want to get rid of effects that react to the opponent and create effects that rebuild after things the opponent has done.  That distinction is really key.

I got rid of things like:

Healing Light - Prevent a single Hit from occurring.
Blink - Move a unit one space.
Misfortune - Force opponent to reroll one attack

and added things like:

Quake - All Hills are treated as Mountains for 1 turn.
Flood - All units in or adjacent to a Water space have their Speed reduced to 1 for 1 turn.
Precognition - Look at the top four cards of a deck and discard or rearrange them.

Hopefully this will forward a variety of goals including quicker playtime, simpler learning, and increasing fun.  All of these are good things from my perspective, and my hope is that I can achieve them without losing out on strategic depth.  If I do it right I can get both the depth I want and the other things at the same time.

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