I’ve been scheming for this post to see the day of light since the middle of last year. Now that I’ve got about 70% of the groundwork done, I think it’s time to make it public (although to a small amount of people worldwide).
I’ve been working on designing a co-operative board game codenamed: Stormholme. It has always tickled my fancy to make one and I’ve done and shelved several card game concepts before finally settling down and actively developing this one. Putting this in writing in the blog simply means that I’m ready to take it up a notch.
Stormholme is a co-operative dungeon crawl in which each player controls a Hero and attempts to traverse the depth of Castle Stormholme in order to defeat the Master of the castle, which is not always apparent at first. To add to the complication of actually finding the Master and surviving its halls in the first place, the Master has announced that he will cast his diabolical spell which will end all life and resurrect everything as undead under his command (or something like that, the Master will get bored in 2 weeks if it ever happens his way).
The first choice that I had to make was which trope do I follow/innovate? Modern dungeon crawlers now prefer the modularity of tile pieces which can be assembled like jigsaw puzzles but often it doesn’t really provide anything as every exploration of a different room is random. The apparent alternative is to have a set board but there’s a risk of replayability issues if the game places the same piece in the same (rooms) over and over again.
Other components wise, this kind of game relies on a lot of cards and tokens which would invariably raise the cost of printing the game.
So my objective of the game is to:
a) Make it as highly replayable and interesting as possible.
b) Make it simple.
c) Make it cheap.
Which is too good to be true. Consequentially, trade offs are to be expected when you have these constraints in mind. To see how other games play around with these constraints, I look upon other games for inspiration.
Dune: Card wise, this game only has a standard poker deck’s number of cards, which is ingenious. 52 cards + 2 jokers is equivalent to 6 pages if we squeezed in 9 cards per page. The way the game handles the small amount is leveraged by its auction mechanism and the event-like timing (the spice blows).
Dungeon!: The fixed board concept is an old one, but it’s also very economical. More detail can be given to the board and the overall art direction is easier to dictate and control. Colour scheme can be carefully thought out and planned and the placement of the rooms can be planned out. Tiles would require less planning, but I still can’t get over the nonsensical random effects it would have if it were to be placed ad-hoc. One way to mitigate it is by a scenario book with a planned map but I don’t intend to do that at the moment.
Space Hulk: The way the pieces move and its limitation appeal to me. Turning 90 degrees as a move and having limited field of vision as well as blocked by your own models introduces a more tactical game approach than if you had simply be able to move through your own friendly pieces to get to somewhere.
Space Hulk: Death Angel/Haunted House on the Hill: Emerging final objectives is a tricky subject. But having a clear objective but finding out the specifics as you go along is pretty doable I think. The idea of having a final encounter based on what you did during the course of the game appeals to me though. I might change the groundwork to put that in if it doesn’t muck up the system further.
Story Realms/Pandemic : The tracks and its effects on the game as it moves along is really awesome.
So what have I got so far?
Determined that the game will be for 1-4 Players.
Wanted a short game within an hour but will need play test results to see if it’s doable.
The game will be co-operative.
A draft rule document which will be shared in the next post.
A draft of all the cards in the game. (52 cards)
Hero designs that the player can pick from. (8 Heroes have been designed)
As for the base mechanic, I decided to do something simple. Roll 1d10, add your numbers and you must roll above, below or exactly the number shown (based on the conditions). Movement shall follow Space Hulk but the actions shall emulate the D&D board games.
Will this game benefit from having miniatures? Absolutely. But the plan is to complete this game, release it as a PnP and then take it forwards from there if there are any more interest afterwards. The thought of making this into a pnp is what makes me think economically as to how to design the game by taking the least amount of printed paper as possible. The PnP shall have an economical thrift version as well as the full art version.