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War of the Wheel (Tabletop game design)


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Heya people!  This is another one of those things I couldn't -quite- find the section for, but I figured this would be the best place to post queries on traditional gaming.

I've been typing away at designing my own tabletop war game from time to time, and I've been trying to pick other peoples' brain on the topic.  So far, everyone I've talked to IRL has failed to give it a glance; and while I posted it up on Dakkadakka, I fear people might have smelled the furfaggotry when I posted a prototype army called the 'Vulpine Legionnaires' and have been steering clear ever since.  But hey, people are busy, and for as big as it seems Dakkadakka sure has a lot of sections that can go without updates for quite some time.  So, I'm going to throw up some of my materials here and see what you guys think!

The original Dakkadakka thread can be found here: http://www.dakkadakka.com/dakkaforum/posts/list/693901.page

I'm not quite feeling up for typing all that out again, so here's a quick rundown of some of the major points/goals in designing this game:

- d10 base, roll low system; 1's always succeed, 10's always fail; you're basically trying to roll at or below a number

- Reduced bookkeeping; no multi-wound/hp models, all actions taken do not have to reference previous turns or phases to determine what is possible or what modifiers are in effect.

- Standard turn format; one player goes through all the phases, then the other player goes through all the phases, alternate until victory is achieved

- Wound/Recovery system; models that fail to defend against attack are Wounded.  They stick around the board until the end of their controlling player's turn.

- Unit-based combat; models in a group roll together as one entity.  Those of you familiar with 40k/Age of Sigmar will get the idea.

- No points system; game size is determined by number of units each player will take

- Lots of anthro armies!


If anyone wants to peruse the rules or, hell, even playtest the system a little, feel free to do so.  I'm looking for some pretty general critiques at the moment, mostly to figure out if anything in the system is broken, or if the rules are written coherently enough to glean gameplay from them.

Er... I wanted to attach the files here, but the forums won't allow it.  Just scroll to the bottom of the Dakkadakka post, and the most recent updates should be there; I've got the main rules, and stats for two prototype armies.

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Yeah, if you're not talking about the big 3 games on Dakka (Warhammer, Warmachine, and X-Wing) you are likely to not be noticed there. I didn't even know that the site had a Game Design sub-forum, and I was active there for over 4 years...

Anyway, I will look over the rules when I have the chance, here are just some initial thoughts on what you have said about the game here and on Dakka:

I don't think the dial idea would work well in a standard wargame; it works in X-Wing as it makes sense for representing the movement of fighter craft, but in the case of your game I feel that forcing players to choose their exact orders before anything has happened on a round would result in a lot of units doing nothing, and this system would largely stifle any flexibility in a players plan on their turn, so you effectively have to guess out your whole turn in advance, when in most cases it would be almost impossible to do so with any accuracy.

An alternate way you might implement them is to make the options on the dial a powerful bonus to a certain action rather than the choice of an action, kind of like in Star Wars Armada. So say you think you will be shooting, so you put your dial to an option that gives a significant bonus to a shooting action, but you can still choose a different action when that unit activates. This provides a reward for predicting what might happen, but doesn't punish you by having that unit be useless if the situation changes.

I also am not sure if a pointless system; this really only works for games that will only be played casually or in historical games, as having no balance between units based on points means that in a competitive setting people will only spam the best options, while it will also make it more difficult for players who are trying to play a balanced game to do so, which seems to go against the idea of the game being simpler than others on the market.

I would also encourage you to consider some kind of reaction system or an alternating activation system for the game, as the "I go you go" system, while the most simple, has fallen out of favor in most miniature games because of the lack of player involvement on the opponent's turn.

I will tell you any additional thoughts I have once i have read through the rules fully.

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@Osrik Thanks for the input!  Although by this point I had already abandoned the dial idea, neat though it would have been.  Originally, I wanted one's selection on the dial to confine a unit to a certain set of actions, so no decision was completely invalid - some were just better in a lot of situations.  The rough outline goes like this:

Dial can be set to Move, Shoot, or Fight

Move - Walk normally, or flee from combat (under the dial system, enemy units would not get their 'attack of opportunity,' otherwise fleeing it just a poor option all around)

Shoot - Shoot normally, or move up to a unit's Push and hip-shoot (that is, roll, but only do damage on 1's on the d10), or hip-shoot if you're already in close combat (as in, you may have been charged before you got to activate this unit)

Fight - Attempt to charge into melee, or fight in close combat.

Of course, a glaring flaw in the dial system was making close combat effective: you had to spend one turn charging a unit, then you had to spend another to actually swing, by which point the enemy unit could have run away, leaving you to charge again and merely make base contact.  It also made moving relatively useless, as you can either push and hip-shoot, or just repeatedly fail charge attempts and move d10 (even relatively fast units in this game only move 5 inches, so rolling isn't exactly a big loss).  I like the idea of making it a bonus, though.  Perhaps 'Move' can add +1 to a unit's Walk and Push, Shoot can add +1 to their shooting, and Fight can add +1 to their close combat - not a HUGE difference, but enough to benefit a player who plans ahead.  But without staggered activation, the dials are rather meaningless.  And as much as I want to keep players engaged with said staggered activation, figuring out both how to balance it and write it out gracefully is more challenging than I'm willing to put up with.  Not to mention staggered activation adds to that pesky bookkeeping I'm trying to reduce.  I don't want to forget which of my units have already activated halfway through a game turn.  Ordinary turn structure is a bit bland, but it's stuck around so long for a reason.

But that leaves me with the conundrum of working some kind of fun gimmick into the game.  As it stands, it's basically Age of 40k with d10's, but at least GW games have big, elaborate models to carry the game in lieu of fascinating rules.  I'd like some kind of resource to be managed, or planning to be made, or synergy to be had, but I want to avoid anything as complicated as, say, Malifaux.

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I don't think alternate activation have to be complicated, it could be as simple as having the players go back and forth selecting a unit to activate until all have activated. If you go with dials this could be marked by turning over the dials when they activate, if not they could be given markers.

This could also create an area where I think that you could add a gimmick; you could possibly include some kind of "command" resource that allows you to mess with this turn order during the game (allow you to go twice, force the enemy to not activate some of their models in a round, stuff that could represent jamming of their signals or strong command on your own side) and possibly do other things, which each player has a limited amount to spend throughout the game (could be represented by chips to eliminate paperwork.

You could also try reading other rulesets for possible inspiration on how to make yours more different from GW's games; FUBAR provides a good example of a brief but solid ruleset (it's one page), while Infinity provides an example of a relatively complex system that is drastically different from anything GW makes, using a D20 roll low system and powerful reaction rules, so I think both might introduce you to ideas different than those seen in GW rulesets.

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