Game designers are always talking about "rehabilitating" old game mechanisms and styles to make something new. Recently, Kingdomino made a nice game inspired partly by dominoes. A few years back, Oddball Aeronauts was a brave stab at working with Top Trumps. And so on. One mechanism that keeps being talked about is the much-maligned "roll and move": you know, you roll the dice, move around the board, and something may happen.
Basically, the benefit of roll and move is that it is so intuitive for people brought up on a diet of snakes & ladders, Monopoly, and Cluedo, but on the downside it tends to remove choice and agency from players.
A couple of days back I was talking about this with my colleague, Phil, who also designs games, and this got me thinking. After sleeping on it, I had a thought about a possible game using tiles (polyomino-style, a bit like Tetris blocks) to build a board and have players able to control that element, then roll dice to move around the board as a race. Some of the squares on the tiles could have special things happening if you land on them, so you're trying to place board sections to provide handy benefits to you.
About an hour of work yielded a very basic prototype that I could try out on my own...
|Roll, move, place tiles... Not much to it, really.|
- You start off with two of the board tiles in hand, and your pawn on the edge of the board. A couple of tiles get placed to make a start to the board.
- On your turn:
- You roll a die.
- You may optionally place one board tile somewhere.
- You move your die roll's worth of squares in one direction.
- If you fall off the board tiles, you go back to the start.
- If you finish on an arrow, you then move one space in that direction.
- If you finish on a "tile" icon, you may draw one tile from the stock.
- If you finish on a die icon, you get to roll an extra die next turn and choose which die to use for your move.
- You win if you get to the other side of the table first, or if, when the tiles run out, you are closest to the finish.
That's about it.
So I was moderately pleased with how this turned out as a first attempt. It did feel like there were choices to be made, though they were very light -- and this is fine with this sort of thing. I think that the choices of effects on the squares were a good start, but there need to be a few others; in particular I like the idea of allowing players to gain lasting power-ups, so that is something to look into.
We'll see where, if anywhere, this one goes in time...