Entering the next stage of prototyping, the plan is to create a new and larger ‘board’ to test out how the game plays on something close to the planned scale for the final game.

Ahead of the playtesting, I’ve written up some notes for how the board could be designed as well as a very basic rulebook so that I have something to reference when we play… and when I can remind my sons when they’re cheating! 😉

Designing the board

Creating a board design that encourages players to use all lanes, not just the center one, involves several strategic considerations. Here are some key design principles and ideas to achieve balanced lane usage in our MOBA board game:

Board Design Strategies

  1. Lane Variability:
    • Lane Length: Make lanes different lengths to vary travel times and strategic importance.
    • Obstacles: Place obstacles or terrain features that affect movement or provide strategic advantages (e.g., bushes that grant stealth, bridges that provide shortcuts).
    • Objective Placement: Scatter objectives (e.g., capture points, buffs) across different lanes to incentivize players to spread their forces.
  2. Objective-Based Gameplay:
    • Lane Objectives: Place objectives like towers or capture points in each lane that players must control to advance.
    • Reward Distribution: Ensure rewards (gold, experience) for objectives are balanced across all lanes, encouraging players to contest them evenly.
  3. Jungle Areas:
    • Neutral Camps: Designate jungle areas with neutral minion camps that players can defeat for additional resources or buffs.
    • Strategic Pathways: Create pathways through the jungle that connect multiple lanes, providing alternative routes for flanking or avoiding direct confrontation.
  4. Tower and Nexus Placement:
    • Tower Coverage: Ensure each lane has towers evenly spaced to defend against minion pushes and discourage unchecked advancement.
    • Nexus Location: Position the Nexuses (bases) in such a way that they are equidistant from the center, encouraging players to defend and attack from various lanes.
  5. Resource Allocation:
    • Resource Points: Implement a resource system (e.g., gold, mana) that requires players to manage and distribute across multiple objectives and lanes.
    • Scarcity: Limit resources in certain lanes or sections of the board to force players to expand their control beyond the center.

Example Board Layout

  • Three-Lane Design: Divide the board into three main lanes (top, middle, bottom) with equal initial setup and objective distribution.
  • Terrain Features: Add thematic features like forests, rivers, or hills that affect movement or line of sight, influencing strategic decisions.
  • Objective Distribution: Scatter towers and capture points evenly across all lanes, with rewards balanced to prevent any one lane from becoming overly dominant.

Playtesting and Adjustments

  1. Initial Playtests: Test the board layout with different player configurations to observe lane usage patterns and identify any imbalances.
  2. Feedback Gathering: Collect feedback on which lanes players tend to favor and why. Use this information to refine the board layout.
  3. Iterative Design: Make adjustments based on playtesting results, such as moving objectives or altering terrain features to better distribute gameplay.

Next Steps

  1. Board Prototype: Create a prototype of the board layout using cardboard, paper, or a digital design tool to visualize the gameplay flow.
  2. Playtesting Sessions: Conduct focused playtesting sessions to evaluate how effectively the board design encourages diverse lane usage.
  3. Feedback Incorporation: Incorporate player feedback into iterative revisions of the board design until you achieve balanced and engaging gameplay.

MOBA Board Game Rulebook (Prototype)

Objective

The goal of the game is to destroy the opponent’s Nexus located at the end of one of the three lanes. Players achieve this by controlling minions, heroes, and utilizing items and special events to outmaneuver and overpower their opponent.

Game Setup

  1. Board Layout:
    • The board consists of three lanes (top, middle, bottom) leading from each player’s base to the opponent’s base.
    • Place towers at equal intervals along each lane.
    • Position the Nexuses at the far ends of the board, within each player’s base.
  2. Hero Setup:
    • Each player selects one hero card and places their hero token on the board at their base.
    • Players place stat cards for their heroes in front of them to track health, attack, defense, movement, and items.
  3. Item Store:
    • Shuffle the item deck and draw 5 item cards to place face up next to the board as the store.
    • The store is replenished as items are purchased.
  4. Event Deck:
    • Shuffle the event deck and place it face down next to the board.

Turn Structure

Each turn consists of the following phases:

  1. Spawn Phase:
    • Automatically spawn 2 melee minions and 1 ranged minion at the base.
    • Allocate these minions to any lanes.
  2. Resource Phase:
    • Gain 3 gold automatically.
    • Gain additional gold from defeating enemy minions (1 gold each), champions (5 gold each), and captured objectives (varies).
  3. Purchase Phase:
    • Spend gold to buy items from the store. Equip items immediately or keep them in the inventory.
    • Replenish the store by drawing new items to replace purchased ones.
  4. Special Event Phase:
    • Draw the top card from the event deck and resolve the event immediately.
  5. Movement Phase:
    • Move each minion and hero according to their movement rules.
  6. Combat Phase:
    • Resolve combat for each lane sequentially (top, middle, bottom).
    • Minions and heroes attack enemy units within range.
  7. Tower Phase:
    • Each tower attacks enemy units within range, dealing damage.
  8. End Phase:
    • Check for win conditions (destroying the enemy Nexus).
    • Resolve any end-of-turn effects.

Combat Rules

  1. Minion Combat:
    • Minions attack enemy minions and heroes within their lane.
    • Melee minions attack units in the same space; ranged minions attack units within 2 spaces.
  2. Hero Combat:
    • Heroes can attack, use abilities, or defend against enemies within their range.
    • Track ability cooldowns using markers on the hero stat card.
  3. Tower Combat:
    • Towers automatically attack the nearest enemy unit within their range.

Hero Abilities and Items

  1. Abilities:
    • Heroes have unique abilities with cooldown periods. Use markers to track cooldowns.
    • Example: Aria the Swift has Quick Strike (usable every turn) and Dash (usable every 3 turns).
  2. Items:
    • Purchased items provide various benefits (e.g., increased attack, defense, healing).
    • Equip items to heroes by placing them in the designated slots on the hero stat card.

Winning the Game

  • The game ends when one player’s Nexus is destroyed. The player who destroys their opponent’s Nexus wins the game.

Additional Rules

  1. Experience and Leveling Up:
    • Heroes gain experience points (XP) from defeating minions and champions.
    • Leveling up increases hero stats and may grant new abilities.
  2. Special Events:
    • Special events drawn during the Special Event Phase can alter the game state (e.g., buffs, debuffs, environmental changes).

Notes for Playtesting

  • Focus on balanced lane usage and ensure players are incentivized to use all lanes.
  • Test the effectiveness of hero abilities, item purchases, and special events.
  • Gather feedback on the clarity of rules, balance of gameplay, and overall enjoyment.
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