Changing Games: Part 1

For my game for DIGC, instead of creating something from scratch, I’m considering changing an existing game into a different format, e.g. PC based MOBA to a strategic board game aka Attempting to make a board game out of DotA 2.

There’s multiple things that need to be addressed in changing this to a board game, a few of which are as follows:

  • board structure
  • progression – dice based? is that too simple, or would making it more involved just make everything too confusing)
  • incorporating as many elements of the original game as possible – how is it possible in a board game?

For the board structure, the actual game map is VERY suited to a board game.

Pre-Spring Cleaning Update DotA 2 Lane Map

The square map, coupled with the 3 paths is definitely suited to use for a board game. I’m not sure if I should just stick to the 3 lanes for movement around the board, or if paths should be added within the jungles and river as well, to allow more free movement.

The main challenge I see in trying to make a strategic MOBA into a board game is trying to translate player skill into chance in order for it to actually play more like a board game. I’m not sure if due to the strategic like nature of the original game, a Point-to-Point movement structure, or even Area Movement set-out would be more appropriate. Should you instead occupy points on the board, drawing comparison to map control in DotA2, and slowly gaining control of more of the enemy’s side of the map?

After looking at similar board games, I believe one of the main ones that I’ll be drawing inspiration from will likely be RISK. As I’m writing this, I’m looking for other online games that have board game counterparts (I swear WoW had been made into RISK at one stage, but apparently that got a Monopoly version, and Starcraft was the one that got RISK) and the whole concept of ‘occupying territory’ and obtaining cards of points that you’ve captured definitely fits the DotA framework.

I’ve just found out there’s a guy on boardgamegeek who made his own version of a DotA 2 board game in 2013, but the link to all the information is no longer available, but I’ll be going through all the comments to see if there’s anything on there that will help in terms of what people suggested to him as possible changes.

As I’m a graphic designer, there is a rather small chance that my finished product will be the actual board game. Instead I’m hoping to delve into the concept design and create a booklet detailing the game, similar to the Dungeons and Dragons guides that my roommate has sitting on our bookshelf.

Any suggestions would be appreciated!


  1. I don’t play DotA 2 but I do play League so I do understand some of the mechanics of the game. It’s interesting that you are trying to turn an MOBA in to a board game! I think the best way for the game to work is to win territories. As like in the really game you destroy towers to get close to the enemies base. Thinking about it a game that might help you out is Small World ( Although it’s not a DotA style game, the concept of the game is based on players conquering different parts of the map. It’s also going to be a challenge to figure out how opponents will attack each other. It would be good to limit the game to be a 2 person player. That way one person can control what the 5 champions do and saves the confusion on what everyone else is doing. Hope this helps!


  2. Long timer nerd and player of MOBA’s (both Dota 2 and LoL), and let me start by saying I’m already excited by this game pitch of yours. You’re so right in that the Dota 2 map (and LoL’s for that matter) make for a good pre-existing basis for a board game.

    I admit I’m struggling to answer the issues that you’ve mentioned and I feel like one of the biggest reasons is because both of us, as MOBA players, already associate the board/map with a specific kind of gameplay and associated mechanics. These mechanics, I feel (feel free to correct me if I’m wrong because I’d love for it to work) don’t/can’t translate well to analogue gaming.

    However I want to say that I don’t think you need to rely on a dice or RNG at ALL for this to work. If anything, I feel RNG ruins the strategic nature of MOBA’s (even though they admittedly use a small amount of RNG as well). Perhaps the best way to progress the game is a turn-based system where one can choose to do one kind of action per turn; farm, go to the shop, kill baron, jungle, gank, fight someone? You could, for example, depending on your character, abilities, and items, when challenging someone to a fight you then roll a die to determine who wins; the person with greater overall stats having a wider range of numbers to win from (similar to D’n’D’s die rolling structure).

    I just had a thought just then. Perhaps instead of a board game, how about a card game? You could use the map as the board that you play on (similar to Yu-Gi-Oh, Hearthstone, Duel Masters, or Magic etc); you can only have a max of five character cards (similar to how there’s five champs per team in Dota/LoL) and you place them in the lanes you want. I feel a card game encapsulates the core essence of MOBA’s which is not the map itself, but rather the mechanics of the unique champions/heros and how players choose to strategies and interact with the corresponding unique abilities.

    A lot to read through (SORRY!) but I really hope it helps! I’m genuinely excited to see what you come up with!


  3. I like the idea of taking a pre-existing game and giving it a new outlook. Defence of the Ancients type games such as DOTA, LOL and even Smite all follow the same structure three lanes with towers and minions that try to stop the opposing team from winning.

    Being a board game it won’t have a lot of the mechanics that are present in the online Defence of the Ancient style games. I’ll be interested to see how this progresses and one board game you could look at for an example of “Perhaps the best way to progress the game is a turn-based system where one can choose to do one kind of action per turn; farm, go to the shop, kill baron, jungle, gank, fight someone?” is a game that I played in the second week of class called Takenoko. You can find the rules at

    It follows the same idea you are thinking of doing, in terms of letting the player decide what they will do that turn.


  4. First things first, the idea of being able to play a MOBA board game with friends face-to-face is an instant sell for me. I think the decision to change an already popular concept into something new and fresh is a low risk, high reward choice.
    Also the simple layout of a MOBA map, specifically the symmetry, means the board won’t be overly complex. Which I think is a great strength for increasing the size of your potential target market. I’m excited to read more into how you aim to deal with character stats as you progress. Keep up the good work!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I do like the idea that you are developing your game based on MOBA as there are lots of strategy available in those game. I think there’s one thing you need to be aware of is those are basically gold-farming game, as well as fighting for objects to enhance team attributes. while transforming these factors into a board game, I think you’ll need to think about the size of the map and the minion, monster etc, I can just imagine there might be a LOT of cards or tokens and I think it’s better to make it simple rather than complicated, especially board games.
    In terms of the question about the jungle and river as you know these are actually a major part of MOBA and lost of strategies are developed due to the lack of vision and buffs in these areas. I think it’d be a very good idea to develop more ideas in the jungle area, for example, traps?


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