Reclaiming Invicta - A Game Design Idea

Game Design

Hey everyone! I just started designing my first board game idea. I was wondering if anyone would be willing to read my first draft and give me feedback/criticism. I have not designed any games before so any advice would be appreciated. Mostly, I would like to know if my idea is even worth pursuing further. I did include a lot of non original mechanisms but I'm hoping in a original enough combination. And other than the obvious poor English skills and grammatical errors, is it worth designing further. I apologize for the ridiculously long post. If, at least, read the premise, please. I started listening to some podcasts but a resources/sites recommendations would also be appreciated.  Thanks for looking!

Reclaiming Invicta (means unconquered) or Sigillum (means seal). Title work in progress ;)
draft v 0.1
2-5 players. moderately to moderately high complexity? playtime goal 45 mins to 1h 30mins
note: words in [ ] are values or terms that will likely change with testing.

Background

Long ago, a demon gate was opened in the land of [Invicta]. The human inhabitants, overrun by monsters, fled the island. A brave group of heros sealed the gate but the hordes already could not be stopped. In a desperate solution, a powerful wizard cast a poison cloud over the entire land to kill off the demon blight, however, the miasma would not dissipate, leaving [Invitca] inhabitable. Centuries later, scouts have found few signs of the demon blight, yet the miasma still lies thick, making further exploration difficult. Through the construction of magical Pylons, artificers have discovered the miasma can be repelled. The Counsel of Nations has tasked the Factions of the world to reclaim the island and make it habitable once more.

Premise 

Players must make [Invicta] habitable by meeting 3 Living Conditions. Although all players are contributing to the same goal, the Counsel of Nations will award the Faction that contributes the most governance over the island.
Players must:
-Construct [10] pylons to ward off the remaining miasma.
-Create [15] sustainable food sources through farming or trade.
-Cleanse [10] monster lairs by defeating demons through combat.

Setup

    Shuffle the location tiles and place them, face down, randomly on the [specified] areas of the main board. Shuffle the standard tiles and place them face down, randomly on the remaining open spaces on the main board. Place the Port/Offshore board next to the main board. Shuffle the [standard] card pile and place them on the draw area on the main board. Shuffle the Trade cards, place the pile in the draw area of the Port/Offshore board, and draw [3] trade cards, placing them face up in the available trades area of the board. Shuffle the [Sigillum] cards and place them on the appropriate draw area on the board. [Shuffle the Monster Cards and place them on the appropriate draw area on the board.] Place the Living Condition markers on zero for each of the 3 tracks. Each player chooses a color and the respective units. Each player starts with [10] gold. Place a color cube from each player on [10] the influence track. 
Deal [8] cards to each player. Each will discard [3] cards for a starting hand size of [5]. Note: there is no hand limit.
Players start with 3 workers available. Keep each player's other units off to the side for now. 
Decide who is the first player and give them the first player token. Suggestion: do a group rock, paper, scissors; or roll a D8, highest is first.
    
Main Board

Players start on coastal locations, Port Towns, of their Faction color. Hexagon map tiles are face down and randomized. Special tiles with monster lair locations, ruins, and other special tiles will also be randomized and face down placed in certain locations, spread out across the map. 
The tiles around a players starting city port will be revealed. Further tiles are revealed by exploration and clearing the miasma by constructing pylons, towers powered with magic to ward off the poison.
    Three trackers on the side of the board represent the progress for the Living Conditions. Food production, Warding (Build a Pylon), and Cleansing (Monster Kills). Whenever a player increases one of the Conditions, a player increases there Influence score by one. If a Living Condition is maxed out, do not increase Influence.
    Players will build structures or claim locations on the map. The player must place the corresponding tile or miniature on the map and place a cube of their faction’s color on the top of it to indicate their territory.

Exploration and Movement

A player’s units may move across the map to reveal new locations. When moving a unit onto a face down tile, flip it face up. Units may take an immediate action on the newly revealed tile. Units have a movement speed of [4] tiles per action. If a unit performs an action, other than moving, the unit’s movement ends.
Pylons: Create a magical force to repel the miasma. Units may only move within 2 tiles from a Pylon, or otherwise suffocate and die to the magically poison cloud. Additionally, Pylons create teleportation networks for goods and units. Once a pylon network is made for a player, Pylons can be used as portals for units to jump between Pylons and a player's Port Town using only one movement cost. To do this, move or have a unit adjacent to one of your Pylons or your Port town and move the unit adjacent to any other of your own Pylons or to your Port Town.
A player may move units into the area controlled by another player. Players may not teleport using another player's Pylons. [However, they may build in the area around other player’s Pylons. (Or not allowed?)] Units can pass through friendly units and another player’s worker and artificer units, but may not occupy the same space as another unit. Templars block opponent's units from passing through, potentially blocking passage, in their own territory. They cannot not block in an opponent’s territory. A player cannot activate an opponent's structures, such as farms or mines. 

Tiles/Locations

Tiles may, once, on reveal produce 1 or 2 of its respective resource depending on the unit type that revealed the tile. After reveal, a structure must be built on the tile to gain resources from the tile and be worked by a unit. 
-Port Town. Starting location for each player/faction. Starting units are placed here and so are any newly obtained units. Players cannot enter an opponent's Port Town. 
-Grassland: on reveal, a unit may pick up grain. A farm may be built on grassland 
-Mountain: on reveal, a unit may collect ore. Mines may be built on mountains.
-Veiled Plane: on reveal, a unit may collect crystals, Arcane Focus may be built in Veiled Planes.  
-Desert: no effect on reveal. A few certain cards utilize deserts.
-Ruins: on reveal, a player may draw a card or collect any one resource.
-Monster lair: on reveal, [draw the top card from the monster deck] place a monster standee on the tile. The monster charges and initiates combat. Monsters remain on their lair until it is defeated.
-[Sigillum]. revealed at the beginning of the game. Each player may move an Artificer unit, once a game, across the map through exploration, onto this tile to receive a special Tableau card randomly from the [Sigillum] draw pile.

Units

    Each player has a set of units, starting with 3 workers available, with the ability to recruit up to [5] workers, [2] Artificers, and [2] Templars. Any unit may be used for worker placement actions, such as on tableau cards or the Port/Offshore board. All 3 units may collect one resource from newly explored tiles, however, each unit collects 2 resources from a certain tile type. Units may collect resources as they explore, however, units may carry [4] resources at a time. To make the resources available for use, a unit must move adjacent to either their Port Town or one of their Pylons to transport the resources into their Factions supply through the teleportation mechanism of their Pylon network. Additionally, units can moved onto a player's buildings and produce resources with a work action. 

Workers: Collects 2 grain from newly explored grassland. Workers are used to build farms and when placed on a player’s own farm, use the work action to produce [4] grain.
Artificers: Collects 2 crystals from newly explored veiled planes. Artificers are used to build pylons and when on a player’s own Arcane Focus, use the work action to produce [2] crystals.
Templars: Collects 2 ore from newly explored mountains. Templars are used to build mines and when on a player’s own mine, use the work action to produce [2] ore.

Units cannot activate the other structures. As in, a worker cannot work an Arcane Focus to produce crystals. 

Resources

    Most actions require a cost to perform. Gold is the general currency and is used to purchase or execute most actions with few exceptions. Some actions will require resources to perform, or use resources to reduce the cost.
-Grain. May be used to purchase Person cards a rate of one grain equals 2 gold. Additionally, [10] grains may be used to make a Farm on a grassland using the Sow Fields space on Port/Offshore Board.
-Ore. May be used to purchase Equipment and Tool cards a rate of one ore equals 2 gold. 
-Crystal. May be used to purchase Magic cards a rate of one crystal equals 3 gold. Some Magic cards are “spells” for combat or other actions and require crystals to use.
-Artisan Goods are used in trade in the Bazaar in the Offshore Board. Artisan Goods are usually produced through Tableau cards and worker actions by using grain, ore, and crystal to make a product.

Round Order

Influence phase: Start of round, players receive gold based on their Influence score. Skip for the first round as players already received gold on setup. 
Action phase:  The player with the First Player token performs 1 or 2 action, then the next players perform axctions in a clockwise rotation. Players continue taking turns performing actions until each player passes for the rest of the round. If a player passes, the player may no longer take actions this round.
    Actions:
Play a card
Tableau Work Action:Place a unit on your own tableau cards
Place a unit in the Port Town Board.
Place on the Offshore space. 
Work action: a player’s unit on their owned farm, mine, or arcane focus, produces the respective resource to the tile type. Each location may only be utilized once a round. 
Move a unit up to the unit’s movement speed. See movement rule section.
Battle a monster, includes using cards to aid battle as one action.
Sell contracts - discard unwanted cards to obtain one gold per discarded card.
Offshore phase: Units placed in Offshore action space, players reassign their units to spaces in the Capital City spaces in player turn order starting with the first player. If a player has multiple units on the Offshore, reassign one unit, then let other players place one before placing the second unit, and so on. 
Initiative phase: First player token passed to the next player clockwise. Units in the Port/Offshore board and on tableau cards return to their player’s Port Town. Draw trade cards in the Bazaar to fill any empty available trade spaces. 

Combat

When monster lairs are first revealed, a monster will attack the discoverer. After revealed, and if the monster wasn’t defeated on reveal, players move into a monster lair to initiate combat. Attacking player rolls dice based on the unit used, while the opposing player to their right rolls for the  monster. Monsters, by default, have a 8-sided dice (d8), 6-sided dice (d6), and 4-sided dice (d4), [though dice may vary based on the monster revealed]. For player units, Templars start with a d8, Artificers d6, and Workers d4. As the game progresses, players will obtain equipment, spells, or recruits that will modify their rolls, modify the monsters dice rolls, or add more dice to their rolls. Equipment and recruits must be declared before combat rolls while magic cards may be used after rolls. Players may choose to addunits in the battle, adding dice from their units, if the units are adjacent to the monster lair.
The winner of combat is the player or monster with the highest roll on a dice after adding any modifiers from cards. In ties, the player with higher faced die wins. For further tie, the next highest faced dice is used. In the case of an absolute tie, the monster wins.
Examples:
Player rolls 5 on d6. Monster rolls a 4 on d8, 4 on d6, 1 on d4. Player wins.
    Player rolls 6 on d6. Moster rolls 6 on d8. Monster wins
    Player rools 7 on d8, 5 on d6, 4 on d6. Monster rolls 7 on d8, 5 on d6, 4 on d4. Player wins
If the player wins, increase the Cleansing track one (and their Influence score one if the Cleansing track is not maxed). The player loses, the unit with lowest dice roll is killed. Return the unit to the box and must be recruited again to regain. If only one unit was used for combat, that is the unit that is killed regardless if the dice roll was from a card.

Port, Offshore, Capital City Board

Players may place units on this board, instead of on the map, to perform actions in their own Port Town or offshore in the Capital City.

Port Action spaces
Any number of players may take any number of these actions in a round. Players may place multiple units in the same action space to perform the action multiple times.
    -Sow Fields. Pay 10 grain to place a Farm on a Grassland tile occupied by a owned worker. Farms may also be placed by paying [x] gold.
    -Excavation. Pay [x] gold to place a mine on a Mountain tile occupied by a owned worker.
-Concentration Chamber. Pay [x] gold to place an Arcane Focus on a Veiled Plane occupied by an owned Artificer.
    -Conscription. Pay [x] gold to obtain a new worker. Pay [x] to obtain a Templar, ore may be used for payment. Pay [x] gold to obtain an Artificer, crystals may be used for payment.
    -Recruit. Draw 2 cards.

Offshore actions spaces. 
Players place any number of units in a round on the Offshore placement area during the Action phase of a round. In the Offshore phase, players take turns, starting with the first player then in clockwise rotation, reassign units in the Capital City, the center of the Counsel of Nations. Each action space in the Capital may be used by one unit, one player each round. If all spaces are occupied by a unit, any leftover units are returned to their Port Town. 
-Tavern Job Board. Draw 4 cards.
-Bazaar. [3] available trade cards are face up to complete. See Trade.
-Request More Funding from the Counsel. Receive [1/4th] of your influence in gold rounded down [and decrease your influence by one].
-Use the Public Workshop. Create artisan goods from your resources. [ideas brewing]

Trade

Players may send units to the Bazaar in the Capital City to perform trades with merchants. [3] cards will be face up in the Bazaar. Trades usually require artisan goods to complete the trade and receive the benefit indicated on the card. Then discard the trade card. Player’s must take a unit from the Offshore area and place the unit on the area where completed the trade as a reminder that new trade cards cannot be drawn within a round. Players may not complete a trade if they do not have an available unit in the Offshore area to reassign.

Cards

Players obtain cards and place them in hand. There is no card hand limit.  Each card has a gold cost to use. Cards may have a type tag on the top of the card indicating a certain resource may be used to reduce it’s use cost, as explained in the Resources section of the rules. Person 2 gold for each grain. Equipment/Tool 2 gold for each ore. Magic 3 gold for each crystal. A card may state “Must be built on...” means a unit must be the tile of the specified tile type to play the card. Cards may give points at the end of the game, so keep all cards played.
Immediate: Most cards will have an immediate effect when played and then placed in a player’s completed card pile. Remember to keep cards played, as they may be worth points at the end of the game.
Combat: Some cards may be useful for combat. Equipment and Person combat cards are played in front of a player until used for combat. These cards must have already been paid before combat is initiated. Some cards will be one time use. Magic cards may represent combat spells and some cards may be used after dice rolls occured. In this case the cost of the card must be paid with crystals. 
Tableau: Some cards will become new action spaces for the owner. Place these cards in front of you after paying its cost. Once a round, a player may place a unit onto their tableau cards to receive its benefit. Only one unit may be placed each round.
[Sigillum Cards]: Tableau cards received from moving an artificer into the [Sigillum] location on the board. Each player may only have one.
Stacking cards: These cards can accumulate points to be scored at the end of the gain.

Scoring

-The Influence tracker is a player's points. 
-increasing one of the three Living Conditions increases a player Influence score. If a player does an action that would increase a Living Condition, and if the condition is already maxed, the remaining parts of the action still occur, but the player does not increase their Influence score.
-cards causing an increase in Influence score
-played cards end of game point value
-accumulation of points on activatible cards.
-one point for each pylon
-one point for each farm
End of game score triggered all three Living Conditions are met. Players finish the round.

Player with the highest score rules over [Invicta]!
    Ties go to the player who constructed the most Pylons. If there still is a tie, the winner is the player with the most Farms. If there still is a tie [both players win].

Possible additions, changes, ideas.
-combat simpler, all dice are d6.
-combat more complex, puzzles using dice similar to Sagrada game window cards.
-combat versus other players
-combat, if magic cards used need to be declared before rolls
-combat, absolute tie, no one wins or player wins
-eliminate trading completely, would eliminate artisan goods
-artisan good can be used to make certain cards
-Artisan goods could be called something else and make it a wild resource.
-Additional smaller island on map. may be a faction start location, or a neutral zone for players to explore.
-scale playtime based on player count
-eliminate point stacking cards
-rewards for defeating monsters
-able to make towns that get points based on adjacent farms.
-Tableau cards be in a separate draw pile from the rest of the cards
-Make unique Factions, have different starting benefits.
-hand size limit
-to make a farm, mine, or arcane focus does require a unit placement on Port Board
-Change Monster to Demons in through rules, Monster Lair to Demon Lair
-players receive a demon head for defeating a monster, certain cards will require a victory amount to activate. points gained to victories scale more with more victories. gives more clear win condition through combat versus farming.
-units do not need to deliver resources back to Port or Pylons
-units can continue moving even if they take an action
-each unit may only move once a round. In which case, units could be numbered and must be used that order to help remember which units had moved that round. 
-only certain unit can do certain actions on placement areas
-change Templar unit name, to.. what?

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6 months ago

So, what I would suggest is joining some boardgame/tabletop design and playtesting groups on Facebook. I think it is probably good to also get your game into digital form at some point- for playtesting and for people to just play your game. You can get a prototype up in Tabletop Simulator with not much technical knowledge. Tabletop Simulator is $20 on Steam, but goes on sale every few months- at least for $15, but often $10.

There are tons of great design info out there. I have recently been watching Leder Games go through some of their design stuff on YouTube. It's not really meant to be a "how to", but I certainly find it entertaining. You do get some nice tidbits of insight here and there.

Jamey Stegmaier of Stonemaier Games has a bunch of stuff- you can Google where to find all his design blog stuff. I think he has his own website separate from Stonemaier Games. He also does Facebook live streams and posts videos on Youtube (but that's just weekly Q&A stuff and top 10 lists and stuff like that).

Cardboard Edison is definitely a great resource. There are great references/links to tons of design info and resources on Cardboard Edison and Jamey Stegmaier's design blog.

I've found a bunch of great individual blogs just searching around. A user in one design group I'm in shared hers. It is really good reading: https://shippboardgames.blogspot.com/

Rym DeCoster from Geeknight has a lot of good talks about design on YouTube.

I wish you success with you game! It sounds like you have a good vision of your game. The most important thing I've learned so far is to MAKE A COPY OF YOUR GAME FOR TESTING AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. There are a lot of design issues you simply cannot see without getting the game to the table and playing it.

6 months ago

Hey, thanks for the reply! I've been going through the Stonemaier page, so great stuff there. Last few days I've been working on my prototype and I've already eliminated a bunch of stuff from my game. I appreciate your time.