Topic: To Smithereens - a board game developing

To Smithereens

Hello, all! Here's the actual game post. I'll cut to the chase:
If you want to just look at the rules (as they stand), here they are: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1aA5 … sp=sharing
And here's the photo album I'm embedding from: https://photos.app.goo.gl/wzjGvpzvyzyXZV89A
The album has a bunch of sample photos of what the ships can look like as you build them.

So, To Smithereens is a 1v1 game. The story is that two scouts from opposing corporations/pirate interests have arrived at this ridiculously rich asteroid, and wish to bring the location back to their respective employers. Naturally, this would be an exclusive mineral exctraction opportunity, so each must try to kill the other.
Except their ships are puny scout vessels, so they have to build up their defenses and offenses, and their utilities to help do that.

While the Asteroid is, for some reason, trying to kill them.

Funny enough, I hadn't even thought of this being a Hyacinth-themed game until thinking of that last mechanic. But here we are!

So, players mine from the asteroid, use the resources to build up their ships, and blast the hell out of each other until one of them is dead. That's the game engine.

The game mechanics break down into a few segments: the Asteroid, which has behavior rules largely determined by the player's mining choices; the Defense Cards, which determine the results of attacks, represent the number of hits a player has taken, and can be used in combination to give a player with a lot of hits a chance to recover...somewhat; and the ship's parts themselves, which follow a core set of rules, and function as little mini-mechanics themselves.

My objective with this game is to make something wherein the Theme is integral to it, serving as the intuitive "why" behind every rule. It is also to make a game that is fun, challenging, and rewarding. I particularly want to make it such that different games call for different strategies, affording different opportunities for the players to win.

I'm open to absolutely *any* input, questions, and concerns. Whatever thoughts you have are welcome, as this forum (small as it now is) remains one of the best collection of creative perspectives I've ever had the pleasure to be a part of. Of course, if game theory/testing is decidedly not your thing, feel free to ignore this essay smile

The Start

Here is a photo of the game at the start:

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/UKZSpLsSq7euJANQkXnozeGF0QpmmMDAEEtCTB0X62aecnuYxLe9kw09A1ANixfMJhWfEoav6WN_HTlo3xmNW0vB8F_nWlAnHvDPLCEarRenFmHy9gOYdvJ8Ky6eYfEFGSPndm7fllqHl417Az3pO1T9Pdj2peJaUgf7rgotC7sxLznRqvmUG1cDbceDhV6hssy-dPlohvVSk3NnukrSTl5eS7iZV5D0J6CvH6VXBpAezUWM8pG5lfpAjS6FSbNh9oLCJspFnel6uJ0CS0xh5Uj52gJW0EiEYcrNqax6PnzbPrzvZbu0mNhkH_0bUF7uvYDTI5DKpOEMlCC2Zmr7zpLL_OZooM6-vSv0tGDYgPhd11EntqZ3FjgUJTlKrdO1J1AnHUzeraU-IqOADicY77gpSavTWCQ8dSQjGd4k8bYTzTQCvP4FWtXmabkuKYm2t_14P_f2H43x-WTbboFKbNlBnu1MQz0KkKrxihZoRJGIujJ1bW8QncWgPY_JWffMXD8w7XY1pCJ1jazu6akUaXKchidZuxdFXZnLasNpU43JqfZsHnhV1cDSzxUYFxeItjgvKHu2Pn8H2fhVL4h3kHuOiu3mm7QrFOI8xcpfpeYZ9N4_9PcwnsSmSIuDCamMxkGzWZcFtCGgay1FR5q0SV7eDGErpSRnv9F-txEmTLw_JzgBC0CPfaNmWxvRKEV0SEqXeLaJKbsGFkyI2noA-yX0=w600

What you see, from left to right:
The red tokens are to be placed on parts to indicate they are damaged. They are removed when the part is repaired.
The deck of cards is the Defense Deck (the combat cards).
The collections of twelve labeled tiles are each player's part pool. I'll do a rundown of those in a minute.
The two tiles in the center are the players' respective scout shuttles, each starting with 5 Power tokens.
To the right of the shuttles are the six tile piles representing the asteroid surface from which the players mine their resources.
Beyond the piles, the twelve triangles are the (damaged) shuttle and part upgrades that can be unearthed whenever a player exhausts an asteroid pile (which triggers a semi-reshuffle of the asteroid, and makes it angrier).
Then, you have the resource pool, from which players draw as the mined tiles dictate.
Below the pool, you see the Attack tokens. These bastards are added to the resource pool over the course of the game, and whenever they are drawn from the pool, both players are attacked by the Asteroid.

The Gameplay

The game starts. Every player's turn starts with them Mining (ie, drawing a single tile from any pile on the asteroid). They follow the tile's instructions (usually to draw a certain number of resources).
The resources available to them are 1) Power (blue), the most common resource, 2) Common Minerals (silver), and 3) Rare Minerals (golden). These are used in varying combinations to craft and repair parts.

Then, they choose whether they will Mine a second time to end their turn, or to perform Actions.

Basic Actions are Building parts/applying part upgrades, moving resources from different storage, repairing damaged parts, and/or scrapping parts to get them out of the way. Players can perform as many Basic Actions as they desire, provided they have the required resources.

Following any Basic Actions, players choose whether to perform a single Advanced Action. Advanced Actions are Attacking, upgrading the Shuttle, or using a particular part/upgrade function that costs an Advanced Action.

Then, players declare their turn is over.

The Parts

At the moment, I have 12 parts for the players to build, plus the default shuttle:

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/iFs9UjYP9WPEVqPT6ol1fM42U2ZKJukOQ5Z9LSSnBN86cnG03EjjUjVmHoO8uw3nfkOFC7KjfeBu9eniG7SUqRT892Xo9tRORVbO3zG37d0x4Qd28Iv9NtsvFTPpYUfvSDHshCn_-VKvHjWqrYOB9Mc_jepp2KHjrnfu3FE8luHVeMk0aC4I9sLswTui91rGjuZm-9aNJlGM_xCqn6_N3ecZBHw62PKK97V1FZAO9te0nfuNweoIHWVeXgXkbIUGJtIy-9tlXY1KwEL3I8SSaiOXLEB8uATrgd3crxM30PvpsQdzevSXSEYF6AFMevfGhJJMDS8qD03ZqX7X_JurNeR6aJF5AfagLoM9Y7ebmUuL8rY5x_RrHC2vAQZFzhdEqkcO_bSy1cVt4Me2uV_kIgj8EFTdQJSu7C8HsZD75GAA1MBBBvluKZIWOS-lkTX6NC5BebhM9yNH95q3bnT6e4ykNccqXLFzoTqRFWSvnKs693Zms1-bvYIAszXW8BjIypau483cDF7SI-l6lEAwjavVZL_kULZUW1GWl2DeUg94P759CoZ_mtBlBcd0Bs2huqkXPFMY2r96llbyBMt0l6ecMAEKxlc0F_x3XY5yh_MWJK0b8oQ5BLZ6kYKX2eVIV5tBdC2mf_mXsKNfkfg8kzntsAk8AxzRJxNT7akVtY9aSuzmVzz7CNFoSXgplz_phpC2FbEkTK1pIAxl6VaQqQiI=h600

Shuttle - powers some parts, stores up to 5 Resource tokens of any combination.

Basic Parts: require only Common Minerals and Power to construct
Armor - Disintegrates to absorb Hits
Container - stores a limited number of Minerals and Upgrades
Thruster - uses Power to dodge attacks (ie draw one fewer card during an Attack)
Refinery - combines more common resources to form rarer ones
Cannon - Shoots stuff
Tether - attaches to an asteroid pile to double mining output, or to the enemy ship to steal resources/prevent attacks

Tech Parts: require Rare Minerals to build
Mine - explosive charge to be hidden in an asteroid pile
Splitter - splits and extends power from either the Shuttle or a Power Core to other parts
EMP - can disable/hinder the opponent from doing things on their next turn
Solar Strut - extends power and generates actual Power resources
Power Core - powers parts
TactiComp - affords Offensive or Defensive abilities depending on which side is facing up

Each part has a subclass of either System or Tactical. System parts can be powered by the Shuttle, whereas Tactical parts must be powered by a Power Core. Many of the parts have limitations on where they can be placed (eg the Power Core must have at least 3 open sides for venting): this makes for a level of forethought required in building your ship, to avoid making things difficult for yourself later.

For the details on each part, see the game rules (linked above) or check the pics of the Player Reference handbook at the bottom of the photo album.


The Asteroid - Saniss 130991

This game is set mere days after The Hyacinth Disaster. The scouts are here because of interception of scattered radio transmissions made at the time. This would be before Lykaeon would be able to sneak in.
As such, besides the standard Resource tiles, many of the asteroid tiles reflect the events of the story:
A dead guy in an Exosuit, 3 tiles - drawing these requires adding the black attack tokens to the resource pool
Receptor Broadcast, 2 tiles - when Grimm's and Argus' receptors are unearthed, the top tile of all six piles are turned face up
Crashed Smithy, 3 tiles - players can spend 1 Power to get 2 Rare minerals when they find these
Giant Power Cell, 2 tiles - players can spend 1 Rare to get 3 Power when they find these

These Hyacinth-related mechanics are simply flavors, they will not require anyone who hasn't heard the audiodrama to know what they're about. I was thrilled that these things can be included to add theme and mystery to the game. In playtesting so far, they add a lot to the mining process.

In addition to adding attack tokens whenever an Exo is found, one is also added each time a pile is exhausted. After that, the asteroid shifts a bit, and players move the top tile from the other piles into the empty space, then re-deal the previously drawn tiles back onto the asteroid. Left out, however, are any Special (Hyacinth-related) tiles and any 1 Resource tiles. This makes the Asteroid surface 1) progressively more rich and 2) progressively more sparse in tiles, allowing the end-game to have more resources and more attack tokens.
Players take one upgrade from behind the exhausted pile when they draw the last tile, and store it if they have a Container.
Upgrades are detailed in the Rules and in the Player Reference handbook.

Whenever the asteroid attacks (black token is drawn), each player deals with it as regular combat (drawing a card), with the difference that Critical Hits from the Asteroid require a player to break off a part of their ship, which the other player must then also dodge. This has made for a few tense chain reactions.

Combat

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/VcB7vJqrWAokZeR1fC_b6jG8kY3Uxj-B9Qm9iWJ85Iuc9-GEMdJYs7c4BRtBq9UjFEwrisIIftf27-jXmfCzMwYB_QArWyYusecNVpGWeGtdRnuP3gsT6kbR2g0qTVlSd8VKOmQJAQzIQ63hfdQg5RKwAHCjlrjsZonpIAiFPUqoz9oVEQfEOSdZVzD3zrhCB_pT1VgHB78xRMtqGXQhcB5hkNJBnmGAOMgIG_swbSfMf5cuxbGwZY-Ou8HzoRqP3sqIxC2ITlPW_4b6Ig6gheCCa6HiJHnSKS-kcEFfB4GUaoeuOyt-V3C0lnFINwzBuv34KDbHIyY1pi0xm5M0K58ASSjOq7Oe5RK41QzQfQXR9UOj6gJHCOiI96b7FrCitBsk5a_-BpjIBoYWl1RxTJ2y3T7p7DFDxUz4QupGSmKATKTIjIw6SVNJrTeh1a45Twep5_WY8SXMS4pOSekg7GiDQkuSFpMDfQc-kRit_Pn4Xt9iAXttIptT0CoD9HwVKJp9v9VPb6rr3ieKizqgIvTQh4LQnzugLQUwmYjHu_ejuaF8zO4w7BoGIXuJTSZ0yi64ZyjmXDA8Z2jmewZ27BObs9Hl0aLTFAPMs4NWqTAGIQvFT8wm7A0dFNVgND02yfMe5jh84r_qwiJajeqD3ZwEMFYVa1AJ8d5ffCzo33VJVm89EayL8jm89HSm5hXh9kCwdRyenf3pr7RWsZtj680P=h600
Earlier in testing I used dice, which could not be strategized for. Having switched to cards, I'm much more a fan.
There are 52 cards: 7 Dodge cards, 18 Half Hits (two of which will make a Hit), 18 Hits, and 9 Critical Hits.
Besides the Hit type on the cards, each one has a color/category of either Basic, Tech, System, or Tactical. These categories represent the salvage a player gets when they take damage from the card, and can be used in various combinations to boost repairs or builds.
Each card also has a Collect bonus on the bottom, which can be combined to give players more gameplay-oriented boosts. Since each card can only be played once, players have to choose whether to save cards for the different levels of Collect Boosts, or use them for repairs/builds. Choices, choices...

When a player (or the Asteroid) attacks, the defender draws as many cards as the weapons used dictate. They combine half hit pairs and choose which to keep as damage, they keep all Hits, and Critical Hits cut through any defenses. Defenders may use thrusters to draw fewer cards (which costs 2 Power each thruster), or absorb a Hit with Armor.

Now, I thought about the passive nature of attacking as some of you mentioned. I agree that it's odd for a game to put so much of the attack outcome with the defender. So, I've made some of the card combinations allow for the attacker to dictate targets.
I've also (more importantly) given a bunch of ways for an attacker to attack:
Cannons
Railguns (cannon parts stacked up to do massive damage)
Missile Launcher (an upgrade which allows targeting when Critical Hits occur)
the Attack side of the TactiComp gives some targeting ability
The Tether can be used to block an opponent from doing Advanced Actions until they break free, and steals resources
The EMP can disable the enemy ship for a turn
and Mines can be placed in the Asteroid itself to cause trouble for the finder.

So far, the fact that attacks tend to be a bit passive in their execution feels balanced by the thought and preparation that can be put into them beforehand. It's been pretty satisfying to see the Mrs draw two Crits and realize she can't do anything to block them big_smile
In other words, combat is more about the periphery tactics and choices (do I attack now? Do I save resources? Do I hope I don't hit their mine? Should I trust they'll hit mine? Should I build a TactiComp? Another Gun? A railgun????) than it is about the actual attack itself. But so far it's still felt pretty satisfying to destroy an opponent.
What this system *does* allow for is that a defender who's getting beat up a lot feels a little bit more in control when they can use their Damage cards to their advantage.....providing they can do so before amassing 7 of them and dying.
Ultimately, this will have to be playtested much more and by more people.

Here's my mockup of what the actual printed cards will look like. The "effects" part of the cards have not been tested:
https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/R5EaZGDNPFBTz-RhwYNy0tUaA_NU0ap7Gr2_AfrbqcGG-JHaPP7wxF0XdDFSH1aiP7z8SoURoCOD042BpytbG0deH_HpP-wgsa3pO52eaahvJvn-cosVCaU3UXLShWhNFFeVYduO6ko66Bp1XNBXcywcJDUhPW3d3J9akrbRub2Ax9pmzZAJY73cat4xbiGbFdNshjjjxiO-wXu7chFtDaNt0USff4ZmRhHv_MAUx_kgQOsBrp3Mn_epbEbhAPYN-CfKn8iDkaEGaLDPjh9lFiPojEuUBulstPxM47OXOAQWsdXhEOP5hetCBlWCtRXcJKwr5bIljkogmobUMmPdiz8Pmmv7SDGDuDcjGFTE9kHOu-f6eVnprxNL2YMZ7mInzqH3EwZgVmZTZJLiEl2tH0FONwcLeRrxP7N1QUJFQ_jwLADupnyauTSdpayn8Eo9V7kCCeSoT0abPUeCQhSFPJ7Sg3oAhzZitPU86wNEhbK48e4gM7-qmShxlipECTSXqr29rktHM5gYnOGKVKSUtxIVJf1Fkb5x_mRbl-qfPIYIdiMN0geWKoWIzWpBkLbH3kHyFkOzVDkeZMOYBVhk7XjietDxx5gCy9qcNmMfyMKPOJKDeFvuM6CkuN16wrRWn16ePsyb_oG-N2hFFFdIBTQs9J_wSKRWLpVDE_oZ5BoXARP7MN2PzqS-JqvoA6lSiTTa9jpAjg1haueSEZPuq60P=w600

Conclusion

I think that's it so far. Thoughts? Feelings? Rage? I know a lot of this simply has to be played in order to form real opinions on, and to that end I offer you a chance to try it out! I'll happily send a prototype kit as soon as I'm at the stage where I feel the game can be played without having to have me there to ask questions. That's a vital testing goal.

When we started testing, the game took almost 3 hours each time. This was ridiculous. We changed some stuff, streamlined things, consolidated parts and cut others (the repair drone was neat, but I haven't been able to make it work), and now a liesurely game takes about 90 minutes. This is still a *tad* long, but the last few games have not *felt* long, which is important. It's a strategy game where most of the learning curve involves remembering what the different parts do. Once that's down, turns can go by very quickly, and under determined play, we've finished games in less than an hour.

We've also played games where the Asteroid killed us off in half an hour tongue

Final Fun Thoughts:
Last night, the Mrs and I played a tense game. I was clearly behind for the first half, but I was able to cling on just long enough to build myself a TactiComp, put it in Defense mode, and this helped me catch up. I had 5 hits, so 2 more and I'd be dead. Near the end of the game, she and I were tied with 5 hits. In this particular game, the asteroid hadn't been much trouble because we'd turned two of the Exo tiles up with a Receptor broadcast, so we knew where not to dig.
Then she hit one of my mines. She had six hits.
Then she hit me with a cannon. I had six.
Then the asteroid finally turned up two attack tokens. I had plenty of armor, so I wasn't worried. Unless i pulled a Crit...
Then my lovely wife decides to use her upgrade: the Squealer, which she found in the asteroid. It makes both players draw double the cards in an asteroid attack.
It was a risky move.
She drew a Crit. I did not. I won.
It was intense, and fun.

Today, we playtested, and we uncovered all three Exo tiles in rapid succession, adding a total of 6 attack tokens to the asteroid. I started getting hit badly. Drew 4 Crits and had to break off several expensive parts. I had 6 hits. The Mrs had 2.
So I switched to pure defense. Just my shuttle and a bunch of armor. And I intentionally exhausted pile after pile until all the attack tokens were in the pool: 10 of them.
Over and over, I was able to block a hit with my armor, and I didn't draw any of the other Crits.
The Mrs did! And so I won, coming back from a broken ship and 6 Hits.

Despite these two wins of mine, she's still won most of the games we've played. Literally beating me at my own game.

Overall, it feels like it's coming together, and that's pretty cool.

Here's a link to a photo album. It shows me just building a hypothetical ship, drawing cards, and pissing off Saniss 130991.
At the bottom of the album is the player handbook prototype including a super subtle reference to a very obscure franchise ;P
https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/cMFUDG0DK40_NFwg6sxRYoTbtW9fwenI3aU0znc5sTINWqzEIKOrPMwqoBeEUwRDTExcpzLbte7f9zdFCfsuZztgX6r2VswU0w0w37F8Rj_9Z79y3koMi4mKLCXQZwl4xqtqhtZ8XnJxuIQVYhiQwUlKGZXUUyoCbHtijlcjSbqfHIyLQ5aCs4J1t7w8Mr9uxxUxye4M3kFJnxq3k3YmO7gl5tYB1fxRqGKT0nHijuHs1vmTYGN3lEdOydQB8XS6za80Sl4yIHBMafQTo39II-Fp6mc4YG49jEfBu0PICH3XLvYUVqMIXrDi40VgKHP75GvpL-9yYwuJfKVPe6oterhUUbsqs0bYKuy8VV4xkxURTe9CSC_yUIyp1SeW6DNoYsPAEKLFYL7nfuqK2uS2LOdayv2RS59rdLMOmXF_6pgWYaT_fa-t4tlu6jOkvxQCSRhwINknETpIZbFhL9I8G-sDTrubDH5OF4G_RoKMCcOmpk-0_e7qGcbS27SgqLm0jRwC_Z4EI7iGtd9-cvajgvQI1PtZDLi93a8A1p-wNyRuuaBc4l6f-l3DhptUfv60S2rlHt7wzP3ne5gztB_JoMfOnUWSPlcTttofuKnCFyNTMjtcnZl8XH_V97o0YgnMuvcYN9JasS2Qr55mNoe2yV6bg_99PpJUXajEfF8claMT6Dw81SKRkc8NSf3S01MeKMMYa24H8IeZUD3PUe_hPcPn=h600
https://photos.app.goo.gl/wzjGvpzvyzyXZV89A

Last edited by Writhyn (2019-03-24 00:19:07)

Witness me!

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Re: To Smithereens - a board game developing

Update #2

It's amazing how much this process is showing how dumb I can be big_smile

So the cards work really well, but over the last few games I've started to realize that, despite Critical Hits being a 1 in 6 chance, we always seem to end up with them in our damage pool. Why? Because we can't block them. So we can block a lot of Hits and Half Hits, but Critical Hits blaze right through defenses.

This is all well and good. That's what they're for. But what it means is that the late game has practically no Critical Hits left in the deck! Because in this system, cards that hit you are kept as damage markers. And since at that point defenses are good enough for any one or two shots, it tends to drag on a bit.

The Mrs suggested a system where we start with fewer Crits in the deck, and add them whenever a black token gets added to the Asteroid. That might work.

Alternatively, my idea is to make Crit cards their own category: when you draw one, there's some sort of extra damage effect on it you have to deal with, then immediately discard it and draw the next card,  keeping *that* one (whether Hit or Half-Hit) as a damage marker. This means Crits (like Dodges) stay in the deck and gradually get *more* likely.

I'll update after testing these.

Last edited by Writhyn (2019-03-25 13:57:13)

Witness me!

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Re: To Smithereens - a board game developing

(For the record, I absolutely love this thread, I just haven't had time to engage with it yet.)

Teague Chrystie

I have a tendency to fix your typos.

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Re: To Smithereens - a board game developing

Further Thoughts:

Like the original post says, the game's mechanics break into three categories: the Asteroid, the Cards, and the Parts. Each of these affects the other in (ideally) intuitive ways. But I'll drop some overview thoughts I had about each:

The Asteroid:
Originally, the asteroid was just gonna be a stack of cards that dictated what players get: resources, bonuses, or attacks. Although this is certainly a simpler method than it now stands, it made the Mining aspect of the game an afterthought, when I rather like it as a mechanic in itself. The idea of multiple stacks of asteroid dirt makes for a level of strategy not found with one "deck" of cards: players can latch onto a stack for extra resources with the Tether, or drop a mine in one and try to out-think their opponent's picking habits a la Vizzini. This also allows players to speed up or slow down the rate at which the asteroid gets more dangerous by mining from all the piles instead of just one. The Mrs and I actually had a brief "alliance" wherein we agreed not to exhaust any piles for awhile, but still tried to shoot each other tongue
Overall, the different stacks give strategic options, but more importantly (in my opinion) they give the asteroid a sense of presence or location that a deck of cards could not. This is a game about ships, and since the ships themselves are stationary on the table, the rock they're near should have a sense of place (even movement) to offset the static nature of the ships. For a hot second, I considered forming more stacks and having a little ship avatar to move around them to represent the macro-scale ships, but this was too much. Hopefully the way as is will be a solid medium.

The Parts:
Each of the parts should have a unique, intuitive purpose, and even a secondary purpose to give interesting options. Armor and Mines are the only single-use items, and even they give extra purpose to other parts (EMP disables mines, and the TactiComp's defense option generates Power from Armor hits).
I've eliminated parts that were largely redundant along the way (batteries were for storing power, but I put that as a secondary for Power Cores and the whole thing feels more streamlined).

On top of the purpose of the parts themselves, the shape of Solar Struts, Splitters, and Armor gives opportunities to just make your ship look cool. Done right, armor can make wings, spines, or fins, for example. This extra fun bit was an unexpected result, and I'm thrilled with it (pending any game-breaking issues, of course).

The Cards:
These are perhaps the newest mechanic, and are in the greatest flux ATM. Generally, I want the cards to serve multiple purposes (hit declaration, special effects, part-specific salvage, collection bonuses, and damage counters) to cut down on piece count, and to give more strategic options: not least because the "collection bonus" is almost always at variance with the "salvage bonus" since you can only play each card once.
Small note, I've more than once caught myself getting excited that I had the right cards for a fun trade-in, only to realize this meant I was almost dead. Sure, I could hope for a third Adrenaline Rush card instead of just playing a pair...but it might kill me instead tongue

Witness me!

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Re: To Smithereens - a board game developing

Seems cool big_smile I don't really have the reading comprehension and visualization to critique it without playing but I'd like to be the first to sign up for a prototype kit when you're comfortable sending them out. I'd be happy to turn a camera on us and not really do it as a presentation but then you can watch people who haven't played wrestle with getting their heads around the rules and figure out where there are any rules that need to be cleared up that you may have been making assumptions about.

Boter, formerly of TF.N as Boter and DarthArjuna. I like making movies and playing games, in one order or another.

Re: To Smithereens - a board game developing

Skype night!

(I still haven't had time to engage with this thread. Now I'm just being a jerk about it. Sorry.)

Teague Chrystie

I have a tendency to fix your typos.

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Re: To Smithereens - a board game developing

Skype night!

(live from a hospital bed somewhere in England tongue)

I've nothing to add - not being a big game player but as a noob, it all scans okay. Once the creases have been ironed out, id be happy to help out making the elements for a Tabletop Simulator version.

Hurroo

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Re: To Smithereens - a board game developing

Such video would be invaluable when the time comes!

Update #3

Cards

Right now, both methods of keeping Crit cards in the game (either adding them gradually with the Asteroid attack tokens, or discarding and replacing with a normal damage card) feel kinda janky. This would be the disadvantage of replacing dice with cards in my particular system: that is, one that requires players to keep hit cards as damage counters. I'm very, very reluctant to go back to dice as I am a huge fan of the multiple angles afforded by the different card bonuses. I'm sure there's an elegant solution, just need to find it.

Additionally, I'm going to be testing special card effects soon. Hit cards will have total negatives (discard a resource, damage a particular part, weapon misfires at yourself...) while Half Hit cards are more double-edged (exchange all Rare for Common, or common for rare) that may or may not really suck.
Dodge cards are set to be more beneficial of course, though rare.
Crit cards are gonna be baaaad (leaking air, power overload, longer-term effects). I'm interested to see if these effects will clutter the game or give it more life. We'll find out! big_smile

Parts
Now to an issue that's more instinct, but may not be a problem at all. Basically, I'm worried that building parts is just a tad too easy in this game. Not that it should just be more expensive, but that maybe the prices aren't balanced in such a way that real choices have to be made.

As of now, unless I've been *very* unlucky, I'm more or less able to build every part I want without having to *think* about it. Sure, some games I have to make tough choices because the asteroid is harder than usual, but like I said this is more of an instinct or feeling than something I can point to.
I don't want to go crazy and say "Make parts more complicated" as they actually feel pretty good right now. It's specifically their building that makes me nervous. Like it should be just a tad bit more choice-y than it is.
*shrug*
I'll keep banging my head on it and update later.

EDIT:
Perhaps I'll have to sit down after a few more playtests and evaluate whether the parts actually interact with each other enough. The thing is, the solution is almost certainly not "make things more complicated." Strategic depth should (at least I think so) come from how simple mechanics interact with each other. It shouldn't be a forced depth by just making everything complicated.
Like chess (different type of game, but still): just a few pieces with simple rules, how they interact with each other is where the strategy comes from.

Last edited by Writhyn (2019-03-28 13:32:43)

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Re: To Smithereens - a board game developing

I reviewed a game called Refugee that ultimately didn't get funded, and it did card synergy very well. Maybe some of the parts come on at "half power" or something, not providing their full bonus, unless another part is also built; conversely, some of the Crit cards can specifically impact parts on your ship. If your success strategy, either short- or long-term, is hinging on a specific part or combination of parts you've accumulated, breaking that back up with damage is a good way to flip that.

(Though, the player owning the ship is the one that chooses a Crit effect, right? They could just not take that one. Not sure. You can check my review of that game for some examples of that synergy and it getting flipped, and hopefully it helps Smithereens.)

Boter, formerly of TF.N as Boter and DarthArjuna. I like making movies and playing games, in one order or another.

Re: To Smithereens - a board game developing

Any Hit cards must be taken unless blocked by Armor, effects and all. Same for Crits, except they can't be blocked by armor.

The only effect players would get to choose is *if* they draw two half hit cards, they pick which one to keep. This still counts as a full hit, of course, but the effect/salvage can be chosen in that case.

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Re: To Smithereens - a board game developing

Also, that was an insightful review. That is disconcerting mix of messages in the gameplay neutral

Last edited by Writhyn (2019-03-28 14:35:47)

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Re: To Smithereens - a board game developing

Update #4
I think I figured out how to do color combos for damage instead of printing "half-hit," "hit," or "Critical Hit" on the cards. And it requires attackers have more choice in things, so that's a good thing!

Here's how it breaks down:

There are 4 categories for the ship parts; Basic and Tech (Main categories), and System and Tactical (subcategories). Each part has one Main and one Sub category (eg a Cannon is a Basic/Tactical), and there are 3 parts for each combination.

Also, there are 48 cards in the Damage Deck, with 4 colors equally divided to represent the part categories:
Purple (Basic),
Yellow (Tech),
Blue (System),
Red (Tactical).

This is all old stuff. The colors/categories already serve as combo-makers for some repair bonuses as a player amasses damage, to help them recover a liiiiittle bit.

The *new* stuff is this:
Whenever a player attacks, they declare a specific target part. For example, let's say it's a Cannon (Basic/Tactical).
The defender draws as many cards as required by the number of weapons.

A Critical Hit is scored when both categories of the target part are drawn: in this case, a Basic and a Tactical must be drawn. Such a hit would bypass Armor and disable the Cannon. Then the defender would pick one of the two damage cards to keep as permanent damage.

If there are leftover cards (or a critical was not landed), these are hits only if they are Main categories (Basic or Tech). Sub-category cards only land hits as part of Criticals.

This means for a regular Hit to land, there is about a 50% chance from the deck (depending of course on which cards have not yet been drawn). Same odds as before with the "Hit" and "half-hit" printed on the cards. When a regular ole Hit happens, the defender either discards a piece of armor or chooses a Basic or Tech part to disable, then keeps the card as permanent damage like before.

According to a nifty tool I found called the Deck-u-lator, there's ~13% chance of landing a targeted Critical hit with just two cards (not far from a d6 crit at ~17), ~29% at three cards, or ~45% at four cards.

Those odds sound pretty good to me. And quite a bit more refined than my pre-game post from before talking about 3-of-a-kinds and pairs and such. I have to playtest this properly, but I think it will work providing the Deck-u-lator's math is right. I wouldn't know. https://deckulator.appspot.com/

But the advantages of this system are:
1) it allows (in fact requires) the attacker to target a part directly, giving them more say in the results.
2) Critical Hits (although rare-ish) can happen until most of the cards are removed into players' damage pools. But since the max number that could be removed until someone wins is 12, that should work.

Right now, the only disadvantage I see is that a little ship with one cannon won't be able to land a Critical Hit, since that requires two cards. Hitting a bigger opponent's armor is the best they could hope for. But, with a little working of the EMP, the Tether, the Mines, and the asteroid, that could be worked around.

Last edited by Writhyn (2019-03-30 01:33:13)

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Re: To Smithereens - a board game developing

Update #5

It works pretty well! The color combos are great, and give the part categories even more use.
I modified the system slightly so that instead of all Basics and Techs being "main classes" that always equal Hits, the two classes of the *targeted part* are "Hits." So if a Tech/Tactical part is targeted and the defender draws two tactical cards, that's two hits. A critical hit would still be if *both* a tech and tactical card are drawn.
The two cards unrelated to such a target (Basic/System) are considered misses.

One issue that was revealed in playtesting was the fact that the Asteroid can't actually target a specific part for Critical Hits. I may have the player who draws the Attack token declare a target, or the *other* player declare. Not sure yet.

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Re: To Smithereens - a board game developing

Update #6
Figured it out! For any player attacks, the attacker targets a part and those components are hits, as before. Asteroid attacks, on the other hand, are more general: they automatically target Basic and Tech. So those categories are hits, and a basic/tech combo is a crit. Since players can't target a basic/tech combo, this actually gives the asteroid a bit of extra variance.

Played it, and this just...feels good. Feels really intuitive with the ability to target parts and hits being dependent on the target categories. I like it a lot. So tomorrow I'll start testing it with a couple of friends as an early beta. Depending on how that goes, we might be ready to send out a prototype soon!

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Re: To Smithereens - a board game developing

Oh, just realized I never actually posted in here. Sign me up for a test version when it's ready. It'll give me a good excuse to harang my friends into a game night.

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Re: To Smithereens - a board game developing

Update #7
Played with a couple of friends who hadn't been exposed to the game at all prior. They picked it up pretty quick, and one of them beat me. While there is a lot of info to go over at the start (particularly with the different parts), they didn't really get confused anywhere and said the rules were intuitive enough to wing it. Given that they're both already the type to enjoy longer strategy games, I'd say that's a good indicator.

I'll be trying it out with a few other people, but I think it's worth planning on the prototype kits soon.
To do that, however, I have to do a granular overhaul of THE RULES. Make sure they are as clear and concise as they can be, since of course I won't be at every game play to answer questions tongue

This is going to be a particular challenge, but I look forward to it.

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Re: To Smithereens - a board game developing

I would be interested to read your The Rules, whenupon they are correlated.

Teague Chrystie

I have a tendency to fix your typos.

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Re: To Smithereens - a board game developing

Mini-update:

Just a refit of the card concept, now that we're not using the printed "Hit" and "Critical Hit" bits:
https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/PBsyD9fJzJYRlBLcp93KDVTj9X8fRKZulOF5e87qo54JMWPEsTUPf6H9cGttn7aXZWMIhO0qLNO3FGKPgcaJ28_KpMtpGP21dMludP4ZlN4m-VXUVbwykqp9cO_VWoHuCari4wsYxnBBuWb3uHmgXkC_bR94wThS6Y29i2VSFHDQgCcMDqwBeH2AsZWTSDurbAvCtDS3mHInT2qfBo9sz_SK4LB9FrdjeKax9lSIG70smxctAPy06z6LNIRNst4DVNkfUITsZ7JWOOAP5Y64mVKvCvxVNA4fZ81ogW5Y0zas_2yPIfa4aRFdJKZG2whAuHuv6yQqaPTWy_AP7Aekm5pUyAlzvd8Lsig2ye6oWSP80z-XwLVa7-CXQlaCgC29Kez1fuxbA2q9P1LgI4sCaOluXt3jtTqbvLjdInnhObaMXNVUcaSisuO-ch2aVYO5rB3I4p3cqRM7sLMDuXXI-ohR4TQnwxJmLqxmyQVEYTk88emVet4eBUeoMgORxucWIO4AHTEIdT34mvGfdLuayVpaV01d58eMZL4haSRaoUSDTHIXHsAtr2EIujzPP7tSqzXco4qeeRpC-ilDPJr3IiBYSA_DNI02LM8qp1ftQtCXxgijAJEapBeAaLfTHMgH0rOOq_rAPFvjQRZ3IJmT7ZtIT0ArPeoAXhdsrbzq-bdUwrpqcj3BUGW8NVC5ZfwR4SQXFcPGzf26wjbL-EqwC-r5=w600

I think there's a tad too much space in the black section under the bullet trail, but I'll get to that

Last edited by Writhyn (2019-04-11 21:32:06)

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Re: To Smithereens - a board game developing

Update #8

I've noticed something. Putting together a game like this means figuring out numbers of things, and a lot of it. And for whatever reason, I keep gravitating toward particular symmetries without any idea if the end result will be *balanced*. The asteroid is made up of 54 tiles, an even number that I rather liked. Then, I had 9 good ideas for upgrades to hide behind the asteroid, but that wasn't divisible by 6, so I wracked my brain to come up with 3 more. Then, I worked the resource distribution so there would be an even 60 resource tokens.

Then I just *had* to make sure there were 12 buildable parts, of which 6 were Tech and 6 were basic, then adding the subclasses of System and Tactical, also with an even 6 distribution. Like, I forced myself to come up with the TactiComp *because* I just needed one more Tech/Tactical part to round it out.

Of course, before I was using cards, d6 were the combat resolvers, so I was unhappy with the 52-card combat deck. So I made it 48.

Point being, this game just gravitated toward multiples of 6 in my head, and even though that's somewhat arbitrary, it feels like it almost auto-balances the random parts of the game *because* it's symmetrical.

That's probably just because brains like patterns, but hey, I'll take it.

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Re: To Smithereens - a board game developing

I have now had a chance to try to engage with this thread, and, unfortunately, I'm still confused. You've done a great job of spelling everything out in terms of details; I'm just rotten at taking a barrel full of details and coalescing a general summary from it. Since that's largely an artifact of how many things are involved in this game, and since the game requires that-many-things (because it's not, like, Candyland)... I think I'm probably just not particularly cut-out for complex board games.

(Which is a bummer, because I'm definitely cut-out for designing abstract rule-sets. I live for that stuff. Hmf.)

This continues to be a great thread, and I continue to lend my spiritual support in whatever ways would help.

Teague Chrystie

I have a tendency to fix your typos.

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Re: To Smithereens - a board game developing

I don't think it's just you: The Rules as are continue to be refined and (at this point) have simplified since the first post. They were pretty rough when I first posted them tongue

I'm condensing everything down this weekend. Hopefully it'll work better for your head. I'd like this game to be as simple as it can inherently be, while maintaining depth. Thus, elegance is the goal.

The simple overview is this:
There are 3 Mechanic sets:

The Asteroid (which gives resources and attacks players),

the Combat Deck (which determines combat results and grants bonuses to help mitigate near-death),

and the ships (consisting of parts built to actively or passively aid players in destroying each other).

The rest is details, which I'm refining now smile As much as it is possible for a person to just not be inclined toward certain games,  I've (tried) playing games which actually seemed like bad design using "it's just not for you" as an excuse rather than a necessary concession. In other words: I'm going to make coddamn sure these rules actually make sense before agreeing that maybe it's just not for you. Until then, it's my fault smile

Last edited by Writhyn (2019-04-12 14:50:07)

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Re: To Smithereens - a board game developing

Awesome! (And thanks.)

In that case, lemme float one item of confusion for me:

Can you define what is meant by 'combat' in terms of both the metaphor (what we're doing to each other in the game canon) — and the mechanic? (What we're doing to each other with our plays, I guess.) Not that you haven't answered this question before, but in my brain thus far, where I want to find [an understanding of what we're talking about when we talk about 'combat' vis-a-vis this game], I mostly find [a hazy sense of something happens which involves motivations and strategies that the players will probably understand at the time].

That kind of thing.

(Something else that might help me is just to read a generic good strategy for playing the game. What to 'do.')

Teague Chrystie

I have a tendency to fix your typos.

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Re: To Smithereens - a board game developing

Combat metaphor:
Primarily, we're building cannons and shooting (and trying to evade) each other, disabling specific parts and doing general damage until one of the ships simply can't take it anymore. The secondary weapons (emp's, Mines) are ways to do the same, but mainly in combination with the cannons. Once one ship is just too far gone, they blow up and the survivor can safely carry the exclusive data about the asteroid back to their company.

Combat mechanic:
If you have the means and desire, as the last action of your turn you can "attack" me. You declare a target part (say, a Container), and the cards that match the target's categories (in this case Basic and System) become "Hit" cards, while cards of the *other* categories (Tech and Tactical) are "miss" cards. I use whatever countermeasures I can (thrusters, card combos, etc.), then I draw as many cards from the deck as your weapons require, and apply damage accordingly. A "hit" will both do permanent damage (contributing toward killing me), and Part damage (a red token is placed on the part, and it is useless until repaired).

In the meantime, the Asteroid is attacking both of us in much the same way, just targeting with Basic and Tech cards.

Last edited by Writhyn (2019-04-12 16:15:43)

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Re: To Smithereens - a board game developing

Thanks.

...

Hm.

I feel like I'm just being a baby about this, but — solely to be honest — I don't want to sit across a table from someone I know and systematically try to kill them. Like: even 'Monopoly' is offputting, y'know? I don't even want to systematically try to bankrupt someone in a table game — much less kill them. I'm left with this deep (dumb) sense of ickiness at the prospect; as if this game is called "Just Keep Strangling Someone Until They Stop Breathing," and I'm meant to play it with friends.

(Video games are different, to me. I have a theory for why, but who cares.)

Like I said, I feel like I'm just being a baby; and even if this mechanic were altered somehow — 'they're just disabled!', or whatever — I still might not be cut-out for it; this could just be my subconscious attempting to rationalize a deeper reaction to something unrelated. Who knows. In any case, I don't think my position here is likely to be common (or reasonable), but... out of curiosity, has anybody else mentioned anything similar?

Teague Chrystie

I have a tendency to fix your typos.

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Re: To Smithereens - a board game developing

Aha. Yeah, that could be in insurmountable barrier tongue
While I totally see how that could be a thing, I don't personally feel the same way, and nobody I've playtested with thus far (only 5 people) have any issue with it either. That said, if there were a game that was metaphorically attempting to strangle someone, that might cross the line for me neutral

FWIW, I don't think that's weakness or being a baby. Your brain just connects strongly the idea to the actual, which in this case *would* be a horrifying thing to do to someone else, especially for money/corporate gain.

In my case (wherein my most frequent opponent is my wife), we are both very competitive, but we have a strongly-cultivated "what happens in the game, stays in the game" mindset. We do not get mad about each other being downright brutal, even dishonest (if the rules allow it) in board games, but after it's over, it's done. That intentional disconnect accounts for a lot, I imagine.

If you also aren't a fan of Monopoly for similar reasons, then yeah, this "attrition to death/poverty" genre may not work for you. But since the actual game plays more on the ridiculous side (just imagining these frankensteinian ships trying to fly, let alone dodge bullets is hilarious), it might not bother you as much as you'd think.

I also take it as no personal reflection on my creative efforts that you may not like it. No worries!
I would be curious to hear your theory as to why video games do not have the same effect. That's interesting.

Last edited by Writhyn (2019-04-12 17:25:08)

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