Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Design Diary: The beginning of the commencement of the start of something.....

A few years ago I proclaimed that I was going to design a miniatures game.  It was a great idea and once I had made my announcement people started asking me odd questions like; what kind of game, when will it be done,what have you worked on, etc and so forth.

I started off by sitting down and over the span of a few weeks hammering out a workable game system that I felt fairly proud of.  Being a game designer isn't so hard I thought, everyone should do this.  Then luck stepped in in an unlikely way and saved me from total embarassment and a complete loss of credibility; a friend of mine let me know he had also designed a game and asked me to take a look at it and let him know what I thought.  I read his rules and told him what I thought, "your game is good, but there isn't a single original idea in it".  He had basically taken the combat system from one existing games system and married it to the campaign system from another existing game system and presented it in the style of a third existing game system, etc and so forth.  I felt bad about dumping on his game but I felt like if he published it he was paying to print exhibit A to be used in the lawsuit an existing game company would bring against him.....then I thought about what I had game was atleast as unoriginal as his and in some places almost seemed like I'd just cut and pasted blocks of text from existing games.  So I went back to the drawing board.....repeatedly.

Today I'm starting a new feature on the blog; Design Diary.  Each entry will present one core rule or mechanic from my upcoming game leading up to the distribution of a set of playtest rules for anyone who wants to have a go and give me some feedback.  Today's entry will be very short on mechanics and very long on describing where my headspace is from a design perspective so you can gain some insight into my process thus far.

The genesis of my original idea was that I wanted to do a post-apocalyptic-zombie-survival-horror game.  I liked the models that were out in the market place but everytime I picked up a set of game rules to use they were always 'not quite' what I wanted.  This isn't to say there aren't good rules systems out there but everyone I tried left me feeling like something (something different in every case) was missing or just not quite right.  After talking it over with friends I realized that my problem was that I liked the genre but there wasn't 1 sized game I wanted to play.  I wanted a game that would work if I wanted to fight out The Battle Of New Jersey from World War Z or if I just wanted to game 7 strangers defending a farmhouse against a seemingly endless horde until the sun came up.  It seemed that games that worked well for one size game just didn't work properly for the other.  The first breakthrough I had when coming up with "new" mechanics was realizing that conventional miniature wargame army list or force composition structures weren't going to work for what I had in mind....but we'll come back to that in a later post.

Once I decided that force composition would have to be completely different it opened up another new avenue of thought; why do models/character/unit selections have to feel or look like they do in other wargames?....but we'll come back to that in a later post.

And when I came up with the idea of how force lists will be assembled (believe me, some assembly will be required) I realized that what I was still seeing in my head as primarily a near future survival horror game didn't need to be that, or more accurately be just that at all....but we'll come back to that in a later post.

I'm exicited to be finally sharing my thoughts and some insight into where these rules are coming from with everyone and I hope you will all please leave comments (good or bad but hopefully constructive) as we go along.  Now without any further ado lets look at our first rule.

An ACTIVATOR is any model or group of models that can be activated.  When activating a single model the model uses all of it's ACTION POINTS (AP) for the turn at which point it's activation is complete.  When activating a group of models (a group can consist of multiple models which were purchased as a UNIT or a group can be created using a relevant ability like: FORM FIRETEAM) the group uses it's action points together as a team in sequence, example; a unit of 3 police officers with 3 AP each are activated, the first point is spent on moving-all 3 police officers move before the second AP is used, if the second AP is used to shoot then all 3 officers shoot before the third AP is used, and so on.

The primary idea behind identifying "activators" is that player A might have a force comprised of 20 zombies.  Instead of activating them 20 individual times player A could purchase his 20 zombies in 4 units of 5 which would then function simultaneously thus inceasing the number of close combat attacks he could muster against a single target in 1 activation (that will be important when we talk about STACKING later) and/or increasing the speed with which he can move larger groups across the table.  It also allows players to tailor the size and number of their units to the scenario they actually want to play.  In the previous examples if someone wanted to play the army in the Battle Of New Jersey they would probably buy their soldiers in 10-20 figure blocks to maximize the effectiveness of their shooting whereas in the 7 people in the farmhouse that player might want to buy 2 units of 2 models each and buy his remaining 3 models as individuals to allow greater flexibility of movement.

That's it for entry one in the Design Diary.  You'll still be seeing plenty of regular "hey look at what I painted!" posts but there are alot more of these in our near future together.

Thanks for reading and I hope you're all ready to start a fun ride with me.



  1. Buddy, glad to see this finally take off (or start to)! I think that anyone who knows you will love to see you succeed. I wish you all the best.

    1. Thanks Dave!
      Finally realized I was spending way too much time justifying why I couldn't do this rather than just doing it.

  2. This seems extremely cool, and I join with legions of others in wishing you the best of luck!

    Question: does creating a unit through an ability like FORM FIRETEAM give the unit a bonus action point? Because that might explain why a seemingly unlikely group sticks together in some of these scenarios, and why those who break off are often quickly rendered into food. Of course, this would only work if there was a FORM PLUCKY BAND OF SURVIVORS or CREATE AD-HOC SUPPORT UNIT rule...

    1. As more rules roll out the benefits of 1 type of group vs the other will be come more apparent but basically a UNIT can only be made of statistically identical figures while FORM FIRETEAM can be used to bring together statistically dissimilar figures who can then pool their resources (for example using the highest stat of a model in the group for certain checks).

      The key difference when building your force will be that being a UNIT has no cost but taking the FORM FIRETEAM ability does.