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Game Overview and the Map (Part 1 of the Where I Am Series)

A globe of the world sitting on a window sill in front of some closed blinds.

Spaceship 47 is the board game of the best 90s Sci-fi TV show that never existed. It is a co-operative campaign game for one to four players, where each player will take control of a single character and work together as a team to complete the missions. This is the first in a three post series discussing where the game is at the moment.


Game Overview

The game will be the first season of a non-existent 90s Sci-fi TV show, which is twelve episodes (or missions) long. I am aiming for each episode to take about 2 hours to complete.


Each player takes control of a single character to navigate the mission that the players are playing through. The idea is that each player plays their character for the entire season, attempting to complete the over arcing character's story, as well as contributing to the success of the individual missions with the other players.


Each episode consists of three scenes, with the players playing through each scene in turn, completing the scene objective before moving on to the next scene. The characters cannot die - main characters didn't die in the first season of 90s Sci-Fi TV shows - there is no health to track, just players using their wits and abilities to succeed at the mission. Instead of taking damage, the game will throw up obstacles to make it harder for the players to complete their objectives.


The Map

The game will come with two boards, one for scenes that take place outside and the other board is for scenes that take place inside (hey, 90s sci-fi TV shows didn't have much of a set budget!). The board for the outdoors scenes is shown below. The boards will be dual-layered and each white rectangle is a recess, the size of a playing card.


A large rectangel dominated by a sandy texture with rows of white playing card sized spaces in five rows, with each ro offset by half a card.  The cards are connected by black lines
The board for scenes that take place outside

For each scene in a mission, the players deal cards into the slots of the board to make up the map for the scene. An example map can be seen below.

Same as previous image, but each white space has been filled with a playing card that is dominated by a sandy texture and other images on the cards.
The ouside board with cards filling up the slots

Below is an example of one of the location cards.

A card dominated by a sandy texture. the characters (a) are pointing at a circle with two textured colours in it; (b) points to a white meeple icon with a number in it; (c) points to arrows pointing to the edges of the card; (d) points to an image of a hatch and (e) points to the sandy image used as the background.
An example of a map card

It has the following items on it, which most location cards in the game will have:

(a) A circle with a number in it. The number is which slot the card goes in. The colours in the circle make the targeting of ranged attacks simpler. It uses the Tannhauser mechanism recently reimplemented by Unmatched. If the card your character is on and the card your target is on have a colour in common in the targeting circle then you can attack the target with a ranged attack;

(b) A meeple with a number on it. This shows how many characters (both player characters and non-player characters) are allowed on the card;

(c) Arrows showing which direction a character can move. At times, the arrows will be different colours to help with the game. For instance, the green arrows in the complete map above dictate the direction a player character is forced to move while they are suffering from the DAZED condition in this particular mission. Other coloured arrows could be used to show which way enemies move;

(d) Other images, such as the hatch in the example. The reverse side of the card shows the hatch open;

(e) An image as the background that helps make up the map, not leaving any blank spaces on the board.


Using cards to create the map means that the maps can be dynamic. For instance, when the players open the hatch the above card gets flipped over and on the other side is an image of an open hatch. That is more cosmetic than changing the board mechanically. Other more mechanical uses could be the spreading of fire/flooding, locations that are traversable but are impassable after being blown up by NPCs, bridges that rotate only allowing either horizontal or vertical passing, etc.


I am quite happy with this system as it is quick to set up and offers a way to have a dynamic map, constantly presenting new challenges to players.


The only problem I can think of with this approach is the number of spaces that the characters can move on to. As well as the map itself, the board would need to also contain the turn tracker, the communal deck (more of that in the next post) and the enemy actions (more information about that in the final post in this series). If the board was the same size as the Pandemic Legacy Season 1 board (47.6 cm by 75.6cm), then I could have 5 rows of cards, with the top, third and fifth rows being 7 cards wide and the second and fourth rows being 6 cards wide. This would leave the right hand size of the board for everything else.


That would be 33 spaces. Would that be enough to make each of the missions fun? It also impacts the characters movement values. The few spaces their are, the lower the speed value of the characters. Ideally you want characters to have different speeds to show that some are quicker than others, but if the base value of movement is 1 and one character moves 2 spaces, then that is twice the speed of the others. I think that would be too much. More ideally would be something like 4 movement for most characters and 5 movement for the quick character, which is an increase of 25%. If the game needs more spaces to be fun, then the board itself will end up massive and there will be many more cards for the game. Until I play test it, I guess I won't know.


Conclusion

I know exactly what the goals of the game are and I am happy with the map system at the moment, but like everything in these blog posts, I need to play test it to find out if it matches what is in my head.


Let me know what you think.

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