In my first Game Design Diary (GDD) I briefly discussed the inception and general concept of Heroes of Ismia, the 2-4 player fantasy adventure board game I’ve been developing toward prototype. The initial idea was to create a game that combined my two favorite genres, fantasy adventure and resource management. In this GDD I’ll discuss the resource collection and management mechanics of the game.
Central to the Heroes of Ismia experience are the resource collection cubes. We’ll be rolling a lot of these bad boys, so best get familiar with them. Resource cubes are custom-made D6s with symbols for each of the 4 resources and two wild sides. A certain number of these cubes are rolled every time you use the “gather resource” action, essential for acquiring the different resources required for many of the game’s quests.
Gather Resource Action: In a game turn, each player has two actions to do whatever they want with. By far, the two most common actions are moving and gathering resources. To gather a resource, first declare which resource you will attempt to gather (wood, stone, gold or magic), then determine how many resource cubes you get to roll. The base number of cubes to roll is one, all other bonuses are added to this. Players receive collection bonuses according to their race (dwarves gather stone well, while halflings are quite good at pinching gold), their class (wizards positively overflow with magic, and a fighter’s ax helps her harvest wood), their location on the game board (there’s a lot of stone in the mountains and if you want trees, head to the forest) and any card or item that might give a miscellaneous bonus. If gathering gold, a halfling (+2) rogue (+1) in a city (+1) would roll 5 cubes.
Next, gather up all your cubes, give ’em a toss and collect only the declared resource. The aforementioned halfling rolled 5 cubes which landed showing wood, stone, gold and 2 wilds. The lucky halfling nabbed 3 gold (1 gold plus 2 wild) from some unsuspecting Ismian.
This collection mechanic has remained unchanged since day one and has provided endless shouts of triumph and dismay throughout play testing, but there was no real management aspect to the resources. Players could walk around the board toting thousands of pounds of wood and stone with no repercussions, completing all of their gathering quests in rapid succession. Not only did it seem ridiculous that the characters would carry 15 blocks of stone around on their adventures, the sudden advancement through several levels at a time gave the game a surging/stuttering pace.
Resource Caps: The quick and easy fix was to put a cap on the number of resources each character can carry at once, having the added effect of creating even greater differentiation amongst the character classes. Powerful fighters can tote around a lot more than the other classes. Scrawny mages can’t carry very much, but they have a mana pool so their magic doesn’t count against their resource limit. To make things even more interesting, I limited the actual number of resources available on the board, based on number of players, to promote competition and munchkining at the table.
Read the next GDD to find out all about nasty monsters when I discuss the combat mechanic.