The Monday Game: Triumvirate

Before I dive into the (different from most Mondays!) game design, I wanted to touch briefly on two new game design contests that have cropped up:  the Button Shy Wallet contest, and the Gamelords Dungeon Crawler Challenge . Slotting those into the to-do list for designs, we have:

I’ll be excited to start chunking away at these soon, but that will have to wait till Wednesday. for now, the Monday Game design for a wargame I’ve had vaguely planned is below the cut!


By wargame I mean something on a board with terrain, and not a hex-and-chit game like Memoir ’44.

The Parameters and Initial Ideas

Firstoff, we have the parameters I’ve designed, based off of my eventual goals for the project as a whole:

  • Ease of Play
    • I want the game to be, at its core, simple and quick to play. I’ve found that it’s far easier to teach a simple system and tack on simple systems later to get a complex result, rather than make a complex system that is difficult to learn, and somewhat inflexible when it comes to alteration.
    • As a result, a lot of inspiration for mechanics and such will be based from One Page Rules and Mantic’s Kings of War
  • Shared Mechanics
    • I’d also like to share this mechanics system between this game, Mistgore, and another skirmish grid-based game system I’ve been percolating ideas on. I think the shared basal systems for attacking and damaging and morale in Warhammer and Warhammer 40K were part of why they were so successful, and I don’t see a need to reinvent the wheel if I have a single mechanics system that works well
    • This will probably be the 10-based Melee, Ranged, and Defense system I’ve been working on. On the surface, it works similar to the Strength vs Toughness Weaponskill vs Weaponskill table for Warhammer, but adding into that will be a suite of universal special rules and possibly some keyword inspirations/weaknesses that can give limited bonuses/penalties as well
  • Roles from Abilities
    • A sharp step away from Mistgore, I want this game to have units with somewhat “bland” base units, but then give each of them an Ability that sharply defines their role. As a unit changes over time (more on that below), they get more Abilities but also become rarer options to field in your army, so there’s a cycle of viable units, but with an endcap that still allows you to use small numbers of units instead of completely “retiring” them.
    • For example, two units with middling combat ability and defense, but one of them has a shielded defense that gets exponentially better the more models there are in their unit, while the other does extreme damage to vehicles due to sapping charges.
  • Three-Faction Balance
    • This is another key thing: I’m looking for the game to only have three primary factions, and no more than three or so subfactions within that. New units will be designed for one of the three factions, with little or no “mercenary” options outside that (Well, maybe a pirate faction. I love me some space pirates)
    • I feel like this will achieve several goals at once: It helps make sure no army is “left behind” by new releases but also means that constantly updating all three armies is a reasonable task (as opposed to updating a dozen factions). It also means I can help reduce overlap of function and purpose of units, which also will mean there won’t be a huge threat of units being superfluous or replaced by a clearly superior version.
  • Gradual Crowdsourced Change
    • For this game, I’m going to be setting up a voting system for people to vote on what changes they want for units. It will be controlled, so there’s not people coming up with nonsense and disrupting a game completely out of my control, but at the same time there will also be investment and interest in the changing game options (and accompanying story), as well as a nudge for players to start slowly cycling their army to account for the new rarity imposed on units with the additional abilities
    • There will be a large initial pool of new Abilities for specified units (say, 48) for each army, with the point cost adjustments indicated in the proposed Ability description, and then over five rounds of voting, players whittle down to their top 3 favorites that then get implemented. I think I may also tally which units didn’t get an Ability, and anything that didn’t get a new Ability over 5 iterations or so gets a generic “Veteran” ability that gives them a set number of rerolls per turn; however, this idea isn’t set in stone yet.

“Ah yeah, who’s ready for their elite troops to flee in terror?”

Brainstorm: The Mechanics

The core of the game is the 1-10 scale comparison-and-roll: If your Melee/Ranged value is equal to the enemy’s, you hit on a 4+. If it’s one more, you hit on a 3+. If it’s two or more, you hit on a 2+. If it’s one less, you hit on a 5+, and if it’s two or more less, you hit on a 6+. The behind-the-scenes costs will assume a value of 3 is about average, and apply changes to point costs from there.

While a lot of other games have a hit-then-wound and/or armor saves when rolling a check, I think I’m going to make that the exception rather than the norm. I know of several people who aren’t interested in wargames because a lot of the rolls seem unnecessary, and to me it strikes me as an unneeded layer of complication that could be better accomplished by other means. At the moment, I’m planning on using a KoW Nerve-style resilience system, similar to Toughness from Star-Struck City, and this should cover the durability side just fine. Now that I think of it, though, I think I’m going to tweak the “Rout” option to be a “Retreat” option; on subsequent turns, roll for retreating troops again: Steady = they rally and stop fleeing, and can do simple or nothing else, Wavering = they keep fleeing, and Rout = they really do rout and are removed from the field.

More mechanics will be coming in future posts, so I think that’s perfectly fine for now.

Brainstorm: The Story

While the general idea will be the three warring empires, I want to apply a form of the phrase “You can have something done Well, Fast, or Cheap; Pick Two” type of thing. Of all of the tropes I can apply to the different factions, I don’t want any one thing to cover all three of them, and I’d like for a healthy number to cover just one instead of two factions.

Options include:

  • General age of empire
    • Established, up-and-coming, or forgotten/fallen from power
  • Demographics
    • Monolithic/xenophobic, one group is dominant, or healthy mix
  • Movement speed
    • Slow, average, fast
  • Army approach
    • Quantity, Quality, Balance
  • Vehicle propulsion source
    • Fusion,  gas/diesel, solar
  • Weapon damage source
    • Projectile/ballistic, laser/energy, organic/poison/acid
  • Ship/vehicle style
    • Long/sleek/aerodynamic, physics-defying, chunky/ungainly

and so on and so forth. No real idea for a story yet, but my thought is some sort of catalyst throws a longstanding cold-war-style detente into full-fledged combat, with all sides participating for their own reasons and with their own levels and sources of gusto for the combat.

Oh, and a name for the overall game. Right now, due to the three factions, I’m thinking Triumvirate, with the die system its based on unnamed for the moment.

Brainstorm: The Elevator Pitch

How would you like to play a science-fiction wargame where your choices determine how the game changes and evolves? Jump in with one of three major races, with this easy-to-learn wargaming system. Make tactical decisions with ease as you learn how best to face and defeat your foes, and lead your empire to victory!

Closing Thoughts

This game system has a lot of room I want to expand it into, so definitely expect for it to make a comeback in future brainstorm and general game design posts.

Let me know what you think of the ideas for the system so far in the comments and reblogs below!

One thought on “The Monday Game: Triumvirate

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