24 June, 2012

Hell on Eight Wheels: Fifteen – Building the Play Experience with Practice Games

After being inspired by the web-show “Tabletop”, I’ve been looking at a few types of game rules to ensure Hell on Eight Wheels is as user friendly as possible.

With this in mind, I’ve tracked down a copy of Wyrd Miniature’s Puppet Wars. This game uses a stripped down and modified version of the Malifaux miniatures rules; so it bears some similarities to what I have in mind for Hell on Eight Wheels…things like hands of cards being played to activate figures on the board, simple movement, attacks, etc.

The teaching process of the game is interesting, and might be something useful to incorporate into my own game.  It basically leads the players through a sequence of five games, the first using the absolute basic fundamentals of gameplay, while each further iteration adds a step of added complexity until the full version of the rules are utilised.

Magic the Gathering did something similar with two player quickstart decks, where two basic decks with a specific card order were used by the novice players, and specific instructions were given for the first few rounds…this introduced players one by one to the concepts of playing a single land each turn, tapping a land for mana, summoning creatures, using creatures to attack, and casting other spells, before allowing players to choose their own actions.

It seems to be a good way to teach a complex game to new players; and while I’m trying to keep the game simple, I have to admit that it’s going to be a lot more complicated than something like monopoly, connect four or snakes/chutes-and-ladders.

So how do I cut down on the complexity of the game to offer new players the Ho8W experience, before adding in the full rules?

I’m thinking of three versions:
Stage 1: In which we use three basic skater profiles (blocker, pivot, jammer), where both players have the same teams consisting of 5 members. During this stage we play through a single jam, with skaters simply trying to get around the track and some basic blocking rules. We don’t worry about skater substitutions, injuries or skater fatigue.
Stage 2: In which we still use the basic skater profiles, but now we incorporate full conflict rules including injuries and fatigue. A single Jam is played out.
Stage 3: In which the players are allowed to pick their own teams and a full version of a single jam is played out.

There might be a few more increments to develop the rules, but this seems like a good start.
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