Besieged – A Post Pitch Analysis

Siege of Xixia
Siege of Xixia

What began as an exceptionally ambitious attempt to create a warfare simulating board/card game hybrid, with grand world building and a plethora of mechanics, has finally been thwarted by post pitch scrutiny. As much as it pains me I have learned that in order to make a successful, approachable, pick-up and play game, some mechanics simply needed to be simplified or culled altogether.

Despite that potentially bleak first paragraph I am still incredibly excited about this project. Perhaps more so now that some of the flaws have been identified and changes can be made to significantly improve the chances of Besieged being a successful game.

Due to the grandiosity of the project, physical play testing was difficult to execute. But I found that explaining the games mechanics, parts, and rules to a group of friends who all enjoy tabletop games was very useful. Approaching Besieged with outsider perspectives raised many questions I hadn’t thought of myself.

The first red flag was pointed out to me when I explained the impossibility of creating a prototype (even a shoddy one). The extensively high quantity of cards (8 decks of 50) and the need for physical representations in the form of figurines to make the board less confusing meant manufacturing costs would be far too big and the gameplay far too complex. A possible solution to this my focus group brainstormed was potentially removing merchants from the game in exchange for a second type of force, and having 5 unique Commander cards which a player can select to lead their army. This idea was inspired by the popularity of ‘Hero’ games like Overwatch and League of Legends.

Overwatch Heroes
Overwatch Heroes

In terms of how this will impact gameplay, having unique leaders with their own abilities means I can simplify the basic units while maintaining customisation and personal strategy. Each Commander card would have 3 accompanying cards representing their light force, heavy force and siege unit (a total of 5 leaders and 15 units to be manufactured). Players can then mix and match between the Commanders and the unit types to have a 4 card arsenal that suits their play style. For example, one leader (based on Genghis Khan) would have mounted forces with a style focused on mobility. Another (based on Caesar) would have large powerful siege equipment. A personal strategy could involve taking Khan and his force unit but substituting in Caesar’s equipment unit to focus on using fast forces to protect large and slow equipment. Rather than drawing cards at the start of a turn, players would instead be allowed to add 2 new units to the start square on their side of the field.

Mongol mounted cavalry
Mongol mounted cavalry

The other issue I addressed was the aim of the game. Having a simple win condition seemed essential to creating a game that people would enjoy playing. As players can customise their leader and 2 unit types, the board itself doesn’t need to be overly complex. The variety comes from the pieces and how they interact, not the board. As a result, the endgame requirement is a simple one. The aim is simply to successfully break down a square of the opponent’s castle wall and move 3 units through it. Thanks to the grid based movement and equal number of actions to spend per turn, players can decide between opting for slow brute strength to win in one push, quick guerrilla style attacks to occupy the opponent with defence, and so on.

So to put these changes in Layman’s terms, each player picks a Commander, light force, heavy force and equipment card to use during the game. The pieces used to represent these units on the board will be generic, but the abilities and stats they possess will depend on the information on the corresponding card.

6 thoughts on “Besieged – A Post Pitch Analysis

  1. Sounds fantastic, I reckon you could create a pretty neat instructional video with little paper cut-outs or something to more easily explain the parameters and help set the scene. Grab a cheap plastic medieval castle from an op-shop or sibling and you’re half way there! You did a good job of explaining it to a layman, as you said, and I think aside from actually producing the unique pieces yourself you would be able to find miniatures that fit your games theme pretty easily. If you wanted to be a truly enlightened uni student, you could have no win state and act insufferably philosophical about it! /s

    Seriously though, I would love to play this and facilitate any last minute design discussions.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I really like where this game is going! You explained it all awesomely (laymans terms ftw), I’d totally play this game. The idea of having commanders is good, it reminds me of Civ and anything that reminds me of Civ HAS to be good. Using stock characters as Commanders also gives the game the potential to have recognisable characters that people can favour and build up their strategies with “their” commander. The actual part of finding all the pieces you need to make the game does sound like a challenge, but I think if you actually want to do it, it would totally be worth it!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I just finished a game of Total War: Rome on my PC and immediately was drawn by the picture you had placed. I love that you have found your flaws and are excited to keep going forward on making it better. I believe your new idea is really good, as I am guessing each individual hero has a special trait and action compared to the others so it is crucial to pick the best one at the beginning. How many were you thinking of having for the leaders?

    Plus I do admit with the comment previous to mine, maybe a prototype or a draw up would be easier to explain. My idea is use Lego to re-enact a part of the game in kind of stop motion video would be sick! It sounds super fun! Great work!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hey, Scott,
    I think that simplifying your game mechanics was a great choice. Sometimes we get wrapped up in our own heads thinking of these grand ideas that we will never achieve in such a short time limit. I really like your decision to have characters based on historical figures and i think this would also add to the social utility of your game. Great work!

    Like

  5. I can totally relate to this. When I first started my game I had also tried to do a board/card game hybrid. After a few stages of planning it did not go as planned. It’s interesting how you solve your problem, unable to create a physically game but instead explaining the whole game to a focus group was a great idea. Cost plays an important role when developing a game. It’s easy to say ‘let’s build a board game’ but when you actually go into it. The cost can be a killer, no wonder games are so pricy. Simplifying the game with 5 leaders is a good way in managing the game mechanics. Overall I think you had manage to simplify your game well enough and made it better for people to enjoy.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. As someone who has had their life irreparably crippled by the Civilization series, I am definitely attracted to your game [also the name is very good]. Although this game seems way over my intelligence, skill level and overall attention span, I’m definitely interested in giving it a play.

    In Civilization each player or NPC chooses a different leader, with each leader containing his/her own abilities which influence strategy and play-style. I’d advise checking these leaders out as a means of giving you some extra ideas as to who you could include and what abilities would be historically correct.

    http://civilization.wikia.com/wiki/Leaders_(Civ5)

    Liked by 1 person

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