Wednesday, May 07, 2014

New game idea - MechFight!

The other day I was thinking about game mechanics, and for some reason I wanted to try something new. When I look for something new, I generally start by looking for tweaks on existing ideas, and I thought about card drafting - the kind you see in 7 Wonders, Notre Dame, Ginkgoplis, etc.

I thought maybe it would be interesting to have a game where players pass hands of cards around, playing one card from each hand, but not removing it.

Today I wrote down a few different options - the first was a resource management type of thing where you'd collect resources of various types, and use them to build stuff... but that seemed too similar to other games I've been playing and working on, and I thought maybe something different would be better.

I briefly thought about porting an existing game (Puerto Rico) into that format, but I quickly moved on from that as well. What I decided to try was a game with a board on which players would move units around and attack each other, upgrade and repair their units, and stuff like that.

Like I've discussed before, this was a Mechanics-First design attempt. I was not sure what theme I wanted to use, though moving units around a map and attacking each other narrows the field a bit. I needed 12 action cards for how I wanted the draft to work, and while I'd started with variations on Moving and Attacking, I needed some other stuff to make the choices interesting. I wanted to be able to improve the units via training, upgrading, or leveling in some way, and I wanted to include some kind of healing. I decided to go with "Upgrading," and for a theme I landed on Mech combat, and to heal I added Repair actions.

I plan to have a hex board, and each player will begin with 4 units. Each unit is made up of a stack of chips, where the top chip will describe the level, and later on the specialty, of the unit.

The cards have the following action on them, and are in a certain priority order. This is just a first draft, as yet untested:
1. Hold -  Your units take no damage this turn. You may resolve your next card at any Priority.
2. Set for charge -  Damage any unit that charges one of your units this turn. You may resolve your next card at any Priority.
3. Dash - Move 1 unit up to 3 spaces.
4. Assault -  Attack with up to 3 units.
5. Melee -  Attack with 1 unit. You may damage that unit to attack with it again.
6. Coordinated Charge - Move up to 2 units 1 space each and attack with them.
7. Solo Charge - Move 1 unit up to 2 spaces and attack with it.
8. Flank - Move up to 2 units 2 spaces each.
9. Mobilize - Move up to 3 units 1 space each.
10. Jerry Rig - Upgrade up to 2 units and damage them once each.
11. Upgrade - Upgrade 1 unit. Add an Upgrade chip to the TOP of that unit's stack.
12. Repair - Repair up to 2 units once each. Add a chip to the BOTTOM of those units' stacks.

These 12 cards are shuffled and dealt into 3 hands of 4 for 3 players (4 hands of 3 for 2 and 4 players). Each player gets one of those hands, chooses and simultaneously plays one of the cards from it. Those cards resolve in priority order, then are returned to the player's hand.

After the round is over, players pass their entire hand - including the card they played - to the left. In a 2 player game there would be a virtual player left and right of each actual player, so there would still be 4 hands traveling around the table.

Moving units around the board is simply picking up stacks of chips and moving them. Attacking means removing a chip from the bottom of a stack. Removing the last chip kills the Mech - last team with a Mech standing wins. Perhaps there could be objective based variants as well. Repairing means adding a chip to the bottom of a stack, and Upgrading adds a chip to the top of the stack - which serves to repair the Mech, as well as improve it.

When upgrading a Mech, its health and attack abilities increase. After level 3, the Mechs can specialize by becoming a Calvary unit, a Ranged unit, or a Heavy unit.

I think this will be an interesting 'draft' mechanism, as the same sets of cards will be going around and around the table, so you can start to figure out which actions will come in what order, and what actions your opponents will have available to them.

I hope to try this out soon. I had some notes about potentially adding side effects to some cards, such as "pass right instead of left this turn," "each player keeps one card and passes the rest this turn," and stuff like that to manipulate the groupings. I don't know if that'll be necessary in this version of the game, but I've got it written down for future reference :)

1 comment:

Eric Bresci said...

I had a very similar idea - but where you would pay for cards like in Race for the Galaxy, but then pass the card you played and the payment to the next player. I think I like your idea better, would create some interesting variation between games.