The Monday Game: Hunters of Transylvania

Time for a Monday Game design, again courtesy of Boardgamizer. A quick side not before we begin is that I’ll also be working the remainder of this week on getting Holy Press to a v1.0 playtest stage, so I can give it a shot over the holidays. After that point, it’ll re-enter the work queue I outlined on Friday’s Update.

The Unused Parameters

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This one seems like it could be a fun and colorful Icarus-style game, with players trying to fly higher and higher and cooperating for access to parts of their wings, attempting to avoid angry gods and betting in some fashion to determine who gets what wing components. Might be a fun one, but the Constraint is primarily (imo) restricted to simple game mechanics and art style, so I’ll be passing it on for heartier fare.

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This seems like it could be a really interesting deckbuilder, but in a reverse format from normal deckbuilders. Make it so you draw a hand of cards, trying to control aspects of governing and being emperor of an empire, with lots of cards for the various aspects of the simulation. The leftover cards is a way to make sure you burn through the deck quickly, but cards aren’t uniformly “good” to play so there’s a lot of weighing how much good vs suck the card provides to play at a particular time.

It’s got a lot of potential, but I love the Theme of the winning parameters too much to not make it the design for today.

The Winning Parameters

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Oh, there is so much to work with here. The pencil and paper leans the game idea at first to a light RPG, but the secret objective victory condition and wagering makes me want to make this a traditional board game much, much more. The lack of point scoring is an interesting restraint, as a ton of ideas that keep flashing to mind rely on point scoring.

Plus, that theme is delicious. I want to avoid getting too far into something that might ape the Fury of Dracula game, but at the same time the mechanical prompts are begging for an adventurey and exploratory game anyways.

dracula_castle_by_nkabuto-d78ugo5

“Gee, I wonder where the bastion of evil undeath might be hiding?”

Brainstorm: The Mechanics

So my thought is the pen-and-paper/wagering mechanics are one and the same. Players get a set number of guesses they can make, say one per turn, with earlier guesses trumping later guesses. Have a basic ranking of guesses for various things: Location of Dracula is the highest, guessing the exact location of a non-Dracula monster is next-highest, and guessing the exact Scar a player will receive is the lowest. There’s a set X locations on the map, and X-1 Monster cards, and a Dracula card.

Each turn, a player can either make a guess. Then they may either peek at a face-down card on a location, or peek at a guess. Then all players pick a Location, and flip to reveal the Location. If there was a Monster there, they have to mark their character sheet as having a Scar. Scars are unique to the monster (Arachnophobia for the Giant Spider, Lycanthropy for the Werewolf, Bite for the Wolf Pack, Stitches for the Corpse Golem, etc). Make enough Locations that a 5 player game has 5 rounds, so 25 Locations, but mark them as Districts that get smaller for fewer-player games. Also show on the board the Monsters available at each player count, so players know what Scars and locations are even possible.

Guesses are kept off to one side, in order of the turn # they were written on. There will be 3 categories for guesses, indicating if it’s a guess for Dracula’s location, a guess for a monster’s location, or a guess for a player’s Injury. I’ll also have some tokens for each Monster, to mark what Monsters were revealed that turn.

haunted_forest_by_reneaigner-d6492p7

Man, this game is already making me itch to finish Holy Press and everything else in my queue and work on this game.

Once Dracula is revealed, the game ends. Revealing all guesses, with the earliest guesses ranked the highest. Whoever has an accurate guess earliest, wins. Guesses for a Monster or Injury on a turn after it was revealed are automatically discarded (so no guessing for a monster location or injury after they already were revealed and occurred).

However, here’s the kicker: If two or more players have equally-ranked guesses (such as two different players with turn-2 correct guesses for Dracula’s location), those guesses are discarded and not considered for whoever is the winner. Thus, the game is not only about making the right guess, but about bluffing and trying to avoid tipping your hand about the whereabouts or correctness of a guess. The last thing you want is another player coming to the same conclusion and guessing at the same time as you!

Brainstorm: The Story

Monster hunters from across Transylvania are trying to track down the King of the Vampires, searching every corner for where Dracula has gone into hiding. The competition is fierce, and interference from other hunters is almost as much of a trouble as the injuries the monsters you face will incur. I’ll use the theme of competing investigators to explain why equal guesses are negated, and I’ll finish it off with our title:

Hunters of Transylvania.

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Definitely going to be tempted to put some Hammer Horror monsters in this one…

Brainstorm: The Elevator Pitch

In Hunters of Transylvania, you and your friends play trackers attempting to find the location of Dracula, king of the vampires, as he hides himself somewhere within the countryside. Brave the perils of monsters, but be wary, as at every turn your competitors might put together enough clues to gain the advantage and find the resting place of Dracula before you can!

Closing Thoughts

This is definitely one I want to design at some point. There’s a slight cost involved due to the board, tokens, pawns, and pencils/paper, but overall I think it will be fairly minimal and small, and probably be no more than a $30 MSRP game, which is the target I like to shoot for with smaller-box games.

Let me know what you think of this prompt and the others, and how you would have tackled Monday’s game design in the comments and reblogs below!

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