In this post I’m going to talk a bit about the way you’ll generate the city of London as you play through games of Infamy.
This was one of the first things I got my head around during development, mostly because the system is unique to the board game, so I don’t have to consider any particular knock-on effect to the skirmish battles.
Building up the world of Infamy
Board pieces are a pretty vital part of any board game. There have been many dungeon exploration type games and these feature some tried and tested staples for the play zone.
In theory, that should make it simple to design, but in practice (at least if you’re doing things thoroughly and properly) it leaves plenty to work through.
Tiles for the win
Infamy will be played out over game tiles. I considered and rather quickly threw out the idea of a fixed board. It doesn’t offer the same versatility and I want to bring in as much replay value as possible.
The selection of tiles from most dungeon exploration games tend to be:
- Joiners – Basic passageways, T-junctions, stairways, etc.
- Standard rooms
- Feature rooms
This is a tight and simple system and after trying to come up with a better alternative I have to confess, I couldn’t. I had some pretty wild ideas and flirted with stacking tiles for a while (to create multi-level environments) but they were rather too complex and ultimately unnecessary.
Infamy’s city exploration will follow the joiners, standard room and feature room system then. Of course, as this is a city rather than a dungeon the joiners are streets, alleyways and canals and the rooms are buildings.
Deck generated exploration
Before each game of Infamy you will have to create your ‘city deck’. This is a draw pile for the random creation of the city streets and buildings that you’ll adventure through.
Once you have a good grasp of the rules you can customise this deck to make your own particular scenarios but in a basic game the city deck is determined by the scenario.
There are 12 feature rooms (at the moment) spread across 6 double-sided tiles, which gives a wide range of adventuring opportunity. By randomly drawing a feature card you pick the final destination for your game.
Once you know your objective area it’s time to work out the scenario.
Each feature room has 10 associated scenarios, one of which is picked randomly. Astute mathematicians will see that this creates 120 possible scenarios for you to play through, which is going to seriously cut back on the risk of repetition!
Building the rest of the deck
With the scenario chosen it’s time to prepare the rest of the city deck before playing. This will be determined by your scenario and has many variations. Rather than get into the a huge list of possibilities, here are a few examples:
Feature room – Bank
Scenario – Heist
N M Rothschild & Sons are in the process of installing a new multi-layered security coding safe called ‘The Great Unbreakable’. Once installed it will make Rothschild an impenetrable fortress…
But, it’s not installed yet!
The changeover is the perfect opportunity for a bold group of thieves to attempt a daring raid. Half of London’s Police are rumoured to be posting guard at Rothschild, but the riches surely outweigh the risk.
Your group must make its way to the bank, battle through to the open vault and then make its escape. The scenario ends when your group can explore the final city card in the following 15 card deck to make their escape:
- Take the bank card and shuffle the rest of the city deck.
- Draw 5 cards and place them stacked face-down on the table.
- Draw another 4 cards, add the bank card, shuffle them and place them face-down on top of the previous cards.
- Draw a final 5 cards and place them face-down on the other drawn cards.
Feature room – Sewer
Scenario – Secret lair
A new gang is rising to power in the city, striking from drains and sewer access tunnels, carving out a name for itself. Little is known of the exact origins of this new power, but their unpredictable raids have built them quite a reputation.
Your group must search out the new gang’s secret lair and bring the upstarts into line with a show of force and violence.
The scenario ends when your group can explore the sewer card in the following 15 card deck:
- Take the sewer card and 6 joiner cards (to represent sewer tunnels), shuffle them together and place them stacked face-down on the table.
- Shuffle the rest of the city deck, draw 8 cards and place them stacked face-down on top of the previous cards.
Feature rooms get mixed into the deck in most scenarios, so when they aren’t the objective you still have the potential of exploring all sorts of big gaming tiles.
As the tiles are double-sided there’s the chance of drawing a card for a tile that already has its other side in play. This has an associated table and various possible results, taking a potential problem and making it into an extra mechanic that adds another random factor.
Rather than being one open area some feature tiles have multiple rooms and passageways on one tile (a bit like a fixed board within a tile). This adds options and interest to the combat and exploration.
City tiles are intentionally ‘landmarkless’ to ensure that the random layouts make sense. You won’t hop from one London landmark to another that are actually 3 miles apart in reality!
All city cards are colour coded. So are enemy encounter cards. If the colours match the enemy are on home turf, or in an environment suited to there particular skills and will be more effective.
There’s plenty more, but that hopefully gives a decent enough impression and shows how versatile it will be.
I’m tempted to talk about the chaos system next time. It is one of the most important mechanics in the game though and I want to explain it just right, so perhaps I’ll ramble on about events or my general design process and chicken out of spilling the beans on chaos for a while.