Meaningful Decisions

Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay

Sorry for the lack of blog posts, but I’ve been ill.

I started looking at how the first mission of the game would play out and I realised that as it stands, there aren’t many meaningful decisions for the player to take on their turn. Each hero will have one or two weapons to use and on their turn it will be pretty obvious which alien to target and which weapon to use.

Other games have a tension in decisions which I need to match. For example, in Level 7 each action costs X amount of adrenaline. The player can spend up to a maximum amount of adrenaline on their turn, but any adrenaline they spend gets given to the overlord to spend to activate the aliens on their turn.  I don’t have an overlord, so this type of system isn’t suitable. But I still need that tension for the player, some trade off between doing things.

My first thought was to give each hero D&D 4th Edition style powers. I had two ways of how to do this, but each one has problems:

  1. Each profession has 4 powers, 2 are at-will (i.e. can be used every round) and the other 2 could only be used twice per mission (I imagine each mission will last ~30 rounds). The negatives of this is how do I make it so that a weapon a player has chosen can seamlessly interact with the profession powers in terms of players referencing their power/weapon combinations?
  2. Each profession comes with the weapons pre-chosen and are detailed on the player board. Profession powers would then be tied specifically to the weapons. The negative is how do weapons get upgraded over the course of the game?

Until I can implement one of those options without the negative I am going to go in a different direction. Well multiple directions at once, because that’s just how I roll – in multiple directions as I am a crap acrobat. I am going to improve 3 existing parts of the game and introduce a new part to the game. First up, the improvements to existing components of the game:

1) Character Arcs

I have briefly mentioned this before, but I want each Hero in the game to have their own character arc over the 10 missions as well as the main story going on. I believe this is a good place for meaningful choices to come in. Each player chooses a character arc book before the first mission starts. For each mission they have their own goal that they must complete to move further along their character’s arc.

I had not wanted this to conflict with the group’s mission as I wanted it to be a co-op game. But I have been reading Meeples Together which is a great book if you are wanting to create a co-op board game. The book makes it quite clear, that perfect co-operation makes a game not fun and that some anti-co-operative incentives need to be in the game to create some tension in decision-making. Therefore I am a lot happier about my character arc idea as the player will need to help the group complete the mission but will want to complete their own personal goal.

2) Maps

My fellow sci-fi board game creator, The Interregnum Board Game, mentioned that with the maps I am creating, I could build in more meaningful decisions into them and I think this is something I definitely need to explore more. I have a list of things I want to do with maps over the course of the 10 missions, but I haven’t put much in the first mission. So this is ripe for improvement.

3) Making the stories more interesting

The other area where I need to make the game more interesting is having a bit more of a story in the missions. Granted, I am still concentrating on the first mission at the moment, but as that will be everyone’s introduction to the game it needs to engage the players. I had wanted the first mission to have a nice simple story as the players would still be learning the rules and I didn’t want to overwhelm them. However, the story is so simple that it is boring. I am going to inject a bit more of a story into it and what I’ve added actually sets up the whole 10 mission story which now seems odd that this wasn’t already what it was doing! It is still a rather simple story – I’m not George RR Martin –  but at least it is now interesting.

4) Action Tokens

Each player is given three action tokens to spend each turn. Each action token has a separate turn order number on it. So Player A is given 1, 5 and 7. Player B is given 2, 6 and 8 etc.. Simple things like moving from one section to another section or firing a Laser Pistol cost one action token. The player decides what they want to do and then puts one of the tokens on the space next to the action on their player board/weapon card. When that turn order number comes around they take the action and discard the token.

Some actions such as throwing a grenade or firing a beam weapon cost two action tokens which denote the start of the action and the end of the action. For using a grenade the first token represents the throwing of the grenade, while the turn denoted by the second token is when the grenade explodes.

For beam weapons, the first token denotes the turn when the beam starts to be fired, and the second is when it ends. While it is active, any creature that is in a section targeted by the beam weapon takes damage. The downside to the beam weapon is that while it is active, the hero has “Vulnerable 1 All” i.e. whenever it is attacked it uses one less defence die.

I think this introduces a bit of strategy into the decisions that the player makes on their turn, which is a bit lacking at the moment.

So not a huge overhaul to the game, but some slight tweaks to three areas which combined should increase the fun of the game and a new mechanic to make decisions a bit more strategic.

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