Board Game Design Diary – Boss Battles
So I talked a bit about the boss mechanics before, but let’s talk about the boss battle itself, how is that going to work, how will that kick off, things like that. This is probably one of the last things to do before I’m going to start designing the first floor.
So a quick refresher on boss battles, it is going to be one half of the level book that has the battles in it, so when you flip open a page, one part will be the level itself with all of the level actions and artwork, and any restrictions for the level, anything like that. The other side is going to be the map for the boss battle. This map will tell you some about the terrain, but not about the boss whom you’ll be facing, you’ll find that out by talking to information brokers, NPCs, and PCs. When all the players are done taking actions on a level, that’s when the players decide together to jump into battle.
When fighting monsters, it was just going to be a do or don’t you hit sort of thing to defeat them, but bosses are going to be different. Bosses will track hit points like the characters. And bosses are going to have their hit point track split into multiple parts. This is how the boss is going to change up their attack as time goes on. But a boss will attack in a predictable pattern, like video game monsters do.
Let’s do a fake boss fight: Glorglor the Minotaur stands menacingly in the room.
First Attack: Rush Forward, attack everyone directly in front of him and to the front left and right spots on the grid for 10 damage.
Second Attack: Move to the nearest character do a power blow for 15 damage and push them back two.
Third Attack: Attack any enemy adjacent to you for 10 and dodge, add +2 to Minotaur’s defense.
Something along those lines. Those three attacks would repeat 1 through 3 over and over again until one of the health bars is completely empty, then between Two and Three the Minotaur would add in a new attack.
New Attack: Leap 5 spaces, attack all adjacent squares for 10.
This would change up the battle so that you can’t, as players, complete your puzzle and just let it auto play itself out based off of what the monster is doing. The added card is probably going to be a card the players haven’t researched before as part of learning about the boss monster, so it should mess up their plans.
Finally for the boss, they are going to have their standard targeting. It is going to target whomever is the closest to them. If there are two or more heroes close to them, it will target in a way that it can hit the most, if it can only hit one, it’ll target clockwise from the direction it’s facing. There are going to be a few exceptions to this rule, mainly if an attack can hit multiple player characters and there is a grouping like that in range, it will move to attack them. So like the jump ability, say there are three archers off to one side of the board, it’ll jump over to them to hit them all if it can, instead of focusing on the tank in front of it.
So as for the players, what are they doing on their turn?
Players are always going to have two things on their turn that they’ll do, and players can actually go all at once, doesn’t matter turn order. It seems like it might if they are placing a weakness on the boss or a buff on everyone else, but generally those are going to stick around, which means that you don’t get it for that turn, but you’ll get it in upcoming ones. I wanted to create as little downtime for the players as possible. So everyone decides what to do, and then players move and attack/buff/weaken accordingly.
The move is going to be simple, but there is one thing to pay attention to, if a player has a faster speed than someone else and they are both moving to the same spot on the board, ideally, the faster character will get there first. So I guess, when I say everyone is going at once, the movement will be based off of speed. And your speed/movement is also going to determine how far you can move. In this, there is no walking, it is just assumed that everyone is going all out, as you would in a game where you could die, and therefore there won’t be boosts to movement.
The next thing is an attack, buff or weaken, but I’ll start with an attack. An attack is going to be something the players can always do, if they are within range. The players will have a choice though with their attack how to do it. They will always have a basic attack, so a basic long sword might be 4 basic damage, plus strength, plus one modifier flip. But they can also augment an attack with a skill, so maybe they play “Furious Strike” that would have a cool down of one, add 2 to the damage and give another modifier flip. Or maybe they augmented the sword with poison and it’d add in 8 poison damage. The augment would always do it’s extra damage, but the skill would then go into it’s spot on the cool down track and then after the monster goes, everything in the cool down track would shift down one.
Let’s talk a bit more about the cool down track. It would have up to six spots on it, there would be a 5 down to 1, plus a 0 spot. That means that any skill you play, such as Furious Strike, with a cool down of 1, would always be out of your hand for a turn. If it’s at 5, it’s going to be out of your hand for 5 turns. Skills are placed in this track face down, just because of the upcoming mechanic to differentiate.
To build off of that, some skills might use the cool down track in a different way, it would be used as a powering up track. So let’s say I have the skill, I don’t know, let’s call it “Lightning Sword”. That would go face up into spot 3. And I’d draw a modifier card. So why would I draw a modifier card, the example text for Lightning Sword would be something like: Place in Spot 3 on the Cool Down Track face up, draw up to 2 modifier cards per attack action. Threshold: Modifier total less than 6, no damage. 6 to 10 – add 10 damage to basic attack lightning damage, 10+ add 15 lightning damage to basic attack and two modifier flips ignoring cancel attack. Then that card would get flipped and would go back onto the cooldown track. So basically, it’s a skill that is probably going to knock the socks of damage wise which is why you would build up to it. This probably isn’t going to be something that you do early, but when you know that you’re doing, you set it up to try and take down the bad guy in a blow. When using an ability that charges up like this, you can still move, but can’t attack.
With buffs and weakens. These are played instead of an attack and they have to be done at the right range. Almost always these will go onto spot 5 in the cool down track and you will have the whole time that buff or weaken is in the cool down track that it is active. These will go face up like the power up just so you remember that they are active. Buffs and weakens are also going to always just be a plus or a minus to a total. These will take up your attack for the turn you play them.
That’s the vast majority of how combat is going to work. To recap how the modifiers work quickly, there will be modifiers that you can add to your deck or swap in for other modifiers that will allow your fellow players to draw more modifiers. The cool thing with drawing a new modifier is if you draw that additional one via a boost like that, and it’s a cancel the attack, it is just discarded, but you don’t get to draw a new one. If you draw a cancel the attack on your own draw, that will kill the attack. That is going to be a required card that can’t be removed from the deck. But you’ll start out with some pluses, some minuses, and some zeros, and you’ll work on building up your pluses or removing minuses through questing, skills, and stuff like that.
So we have two things left with boss fights, the first is the part your guild plays in a boss battle. Before the boss battle starts, you’ll decide how many guild members you are going to take into the battle with you, they are basically going to keep minions off of you. Minions are meant to be annoying, so if you have 0 guild members with you, a minion will hit you for a small amount of damage, let’s say on level one it’s 1 damage, but they’ll do that every round, and you don’t calculate defense against minions, it just always is pinging you. So you want to bring in guild member. There are going to be a few different levels that you check on the minion card. Let’s do an example minion cards.
< 3 – All guild members brought in die, 2 damage per turn, lose 2 morale
3 to 5 – All guild members brought in die, 1 damage per turn
5 to 7 – 2 guild members die, 0 damage per turn
7 to 9 – No guild members die, 0 damage per turn, gain 1 morale
10 or more – No guild members die, lose 1 morale
This basically is the chart that you’d check the number of guild members you picked against. The last one is probably going to have some questions with it, why would you lose morale if you bring in too many guild members? Well, first you’ll lose morale for every two guild members who die, so it’s better to have too many than too few, or just barely too few, but if you bring too many in, you are putting too many people at risk, and that disheartens them.
So then finally, the most important thing, what do you get for loot? If the boss has a signature weapon, that will be dropped, it might drop some skills or augments as well, and then of course currency. On the bosses main card it will tell what loot pack to open as well as how much currency and XP that you’d get coming out of that fight. I want with the bosses in general and the loot pack for them to be sealed things, so before getting to a level and researching the boss, you won’t know what that boss looks like. As you research you find out more and more. This is an idea that I really like from Oathsworn and am borrowing because of that. I don’t want people to be able to open up the box and see all the bosses. Instead, I want to give them something to explore and discover.
So that’s a lot of information, but hopefully boss fights sound found. I want to give players lots of different options for solving the puzzles of a boss fight.