Sunday, March 11, 2012

A City in Eight Movements.

The Project

New games tend to inspire a new vitality in me, and Malifaux has done this like none other.

I've always been a bit of a fan of a good battlefield, and it's always been a goal of mine to have a really nice battlefield. I've done numerous small-to-medium projects, but this will be, by far, the most elaborate and logistically difficult one I've done, but I think I'm ready.

I'm looking at doing a 2-level piece of scenery (I'm considering eventually doing two of these, but one will be plenty for now) designed for Malifaux, but it'll probably be generic enough for any setting that's similar enough, unless I go crazy with details, and I've thought about this a lot, but am still a bit worried about the practicality of it.

As I feel that Malifaux is, in a lot of ways, a spiritual successor to Mordheim, I think it's appropriate that now, around 15 years after my first aspirations of a dual-level board (with Mordheim, of course), I'm realizing my dream of a ridiculously complex, but hopefully playable board.

I was going to try to obfuscate exactly what I'm doing, but hopefully the results will be cool enough that surprise isn't necessary, so specifically (without revealing too many of my plans): I'm looking to make a moderately dense city and its sewer system, and to make this both static enough to have the amount of scenic detail I want but modular enough that it will have suitable variation, so I'm looking at making it set up as follows:

• There are 18" squares (2x2 board, 2 levels, meaning 8 tiles). 

--Each one will have a generic side on at least 3 edges, to allow for more directions. 

--Part of the reason I didn't go with 3x3 12" squares (which would be more flexible for rearranging) is because I expect that I'll want to pull the tiles out sometimes, to get in to harder-to-reach spots, and a middle tile would make this impossible. The other part is, I don't think I could make as interesting setups and still allow all tiles to be functional.

• The city level and sewer level tiles will be paired: for instance, one level with a sinkhole will have a corresponding tile with a pile of rubble, and each tile will have one central passage between the two levels (central so the top and bottom tiles can be rotated in respect to each other). 

--Each level will have reinforced holes for dowels (or something similar, depending on the strain), I'm not sure what intervals these will be placed at yet, though. 

--There will be roughly 12" clearance for the lower level, and relatively wide passages. Also see the notes on why 18" tiles. If this really isn't working, the first option is to increase dowel length (clearance height), and the second is to have two parallel boards (though this is hardly ideal)

Most buildings will have no interior. This is more for my sanity than anything else. I plan on making maybe 2-3 buildings with interiors so there are alternative fighting spaces, but most wouldn't have them.

-similarly, there will be few or no buildings with flat roofs, and no tall buildings with flat roofs. See game notes, here.

• I plan on doing some freestanding pieces to offer more variation: piles of rubble, blockades, etc. 

--It will have medium and wide sewer passages at standardized sizes, so some pieces of terrain are specifically able to fit in them (for instance, a gate or a cave-in). 

--Special note: I plan to have 4 pairs of freestanding openings which will mean that any board combination can have 4-8 passages between surface and sewer (unless players agree that some of the built-in connections don't connect, of course)

• There will be no playable area narrower than 3", as I don't want a small base size to be a serious advantage. This rule may occasionally be "bent" so doorways aren't giant, for instance, but I don't want size to lead to inaccessibility.

--No overpass/bridge/etc. will have less than 2.5" headroom. While this won't suit every model, it will fit the vast majority, and I'm sure people will be able to put bases/counters in to represent pieces if necessary. The largest pieces in the game won't fit, nor will ones on elaborately modeled bases, but everything else will be fine, and I don't want a ton of overpasses, anyway.

The Goal
This is designed to be an elaborate game space, not inherently a display piece. Nothing will be designed where it will get in the way of gaming, nor will it be designed where it will get in the way of the game. If there is a conflict, I'll make a compromise, and if none can be made, it'll go in favor of utility. I don't want a spectacular table that I never play on.

Game notes
This is primarily designed for Malifaux, and I'm expecting a couple house rules to come in to play, but I want the framework to be absolutely ready, so the scenery can't easily be exploited.

Terrain Specifications (some of this, of course, is covered above)
• There will be some short buildings with flat roofs, but all high platforms will have at least one way up on any side (stairs, ladder, ivy, rubble, etc.). I want the ability to traverse multiple levels to be an advantage, not something that can be exploited.

• There will be some open areas: if players don't like them, that's what the free standing pieces are for.

• See above for minimum sizes and playability regarding sever bottlenecks and large pieces.
House Rules
Pieces can spend any part of a move action to move up or down a connecting "passage." This is to make it so it isn't prohibitively difficult to interact with multiple levels of the game. Pieces exit at the closest point possible to the exit, within 3". This is to avoid exploiting both movement and standing in front of openings.

Pieces cannot change height in two directions in the same activation: no jumping out of a manhole, shooting, and jumping down it again. However, with enough speed, you could conceivably jump from a rooftop, run to a manhole, and jump in to the sewer.

No auras nor blasts effect two levels at once. Again, avoiding exploitation.

• Depending on how much two levels makes the game larger, it may end up that the board is strangely shaped. For instance, doing 3 tiles in a line or "L" shape, or having some tiles only have below ground or above ground could be necessary, with appropriate modifications of the rules. However, this wouldn't change how I'm building the scenery.

The Request

So, now I've explained what I want to do. However, I want to be sure it happens right, which is where you come in. Any tips you have would be something I'd really appreciate. Really, anything that would make the game run worse or be exploitable would be useful. I want to make this a real experience, but also fun to play on.

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