22nd July 2020 - The Cardboard Designer

22nd July 2020

Where-in I start to really drive things in “For The Hive” and as a result neglect anything of the other games entirely 🙂


When I started working on “For the Hive” I was aiming at board game that achieved a few goals:

  • I wanted it to be easy to learn but still provide a lot of strategy.
  • I wanted it to be accessible – and in those terms I am particularly meaning younger children and colorblind players (like my dad).
  • I wanted it to play well as a 2 player game that could scale up to 6 or even 8 players
  • Rather than having lots of different pieces do lots of different things like in chess for example, I wanted just 1 or two pieces that could be upgraded to be more powerful.
  • I wanted players to be able to build their own maps and allow for the inclusion of different tiles.

These 4 points are my collective player experience. During play-tests I am always looking out for anything being done that is detrimental to these 4 ideas.

Out of this For The Hive very quickly became a hex-tile game as I thought that would give me the best opportunity to swap tiles in and out as well as make it easy for players to build their own maps.

It’s an interesting process for me because I usually drive games from a thematic beginning and then find the mechanics that work. So to start with core mechanics and then find the theme is an interesting process.

Mutation Cards

Mutation cards are used to provide modifiers and debuffs during combat phases of the game. Trying to keep these accessible, I am looking at simple iconography and symbolism to indicate a cards purpose. I am finding this tricky. What might seem like obvious icons to me means something entirely different to others, so trying to get a universal understanding is taking time!

The cards are simple enough anyway, they are all use and burn cards so I want players to instantly know what the card does at a glance.

Rather than going the traditional route of image in top, text/effect on the bottom, I was thinking about having a diagonal split for the cards, but you lose a lot of card real estate this way!

As for the iconography, the simpler the better is definitely making more sense. The second you start to add detail, people begin to interpret meaning behind the small additions.

I made a few sketches which you can see below. These were just some mock up ideas of an artist I am working with but I think you can already see what I mean about the cards not obviously telling a story. There are multiple meanings you can take from the icons .

The other chief component to my game, that I am putting a lot of focus into is the player board. At the moment, the mock up of it – and one that is used when play testing looking something like this:

I mentioned that I wanted to player to be able to make their “hive” and “drones” more powerful through the game. I always enjoy building or upgrading something in games. I think most people do. So as much as the game is about winning, it’s also about turning around saying – hey, look at how much more powerful I became.

  • The pool is where the drones are “activated” ready to be placed on the board or spent.
  • The Maturity Rate is the number of drones a player can “activate” in a single action
  • Defender and Attacker are modifiers that can be applied to all dice rolls during combat.
  • The Mass refers to the number of cards a player can have in their hand at one time
  • Population is the number of drones a player may occupy a single tile with.

The numbers, and even the actual different upgrade paths are very much in flux. I have some other paths that I am playing with.

I have had a lot of positive feedback concerning the pool. People like the idea of using drones to upgrade or to play on the map for attack and defense. It creates some interesting decision points for the player.

I am also aware that because the number of actions a player can carry out is around 6 or 7, I will need to have a reference guide for them to refer to on their turns. Whether on not this is added on the player board or appears as a separate card I am not sure of yet. I don’t want to make the player board too unwieldy, but then again, less components for a simpler game would be nice.

In the next couple of days, after I have written up my next lesson article on tweaking, I plan to do another update about the board to give you a little more of a flavor of where I am at the moment.

I am keen to capture as much as I can at this point in time so that I can use it to see where I am in a few months from now!

–Tom

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