Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Teaser: Ars Victor Variants

Life-sized Ars Victor?  Hmm....
I'm constantly tinkering with things.  With Ars Victor, one of the ways I knew the design was done was that I couldn't find anything else I wanted to tinker with.

Ars Victor delivers the deep, fast-paced, one-hour experience that I was aiming for.  But I still can't resist tinkering -- so I'm finding ways to tweak Ars Victor to provide different game experiences.

So far, I've collected ideas for three different sets of alternate rules, based on Ars Victor:

  • Junior Victor.  Based on feedback from a couple of friends with younger children, I want to try to make the simplest version of Ars Victor that I can.  Having no spawnlings of my own, I will need some moms and dads to help playtest with their proto-geeks!
  • Epic Victor.  Just like the Command & Colors series, I think there's an easy multi-player game waiting in Ars Victor.  Play Ars Victor with two or more players on a huge map, and get a big, fat, 2-3 hour game.
  • Ars Victor: Planetary Conquest.  A "campaign game", where two or more players fight a series of Ars Victor games over strategic locations on a contested world.  This would let a bunch of "hardcore" Ars Victorians spend an entire afternoon playing multiple, interconnected games.
Keep reading to find out more about each of these variants...

Junior Victor: Start 'Em Young

Mama, don't let your babies grow up
to play Ars Victor
As streamlined as Ars Victor is, it contains a lot of different concepts.  A player's strategy has to consider their hand composition, their deck population, their board position, the map layout, the capabilities and condition of their forces, and all their tactical options.  A good player will also take into account all of those things from their opponent's perspective!

I think I can cut big chunks out of Ars Victor, and still have a very playable game.  It probably won't be very fun for any serious gamer, but it'll be in the same weight class as chess or checkers.

Some of the things I've been considering:

  • Reduce the map size: two tiles wide instead of three.  Only one or two cap points.
  • Simplify terrain effects -- all terrain does the same thing.  Use cover effect for both ranged and close combat.
  • No Special Abilities!  No Bug Out, no insertion, no all-terrain, no tough.  Makes it WAY simpler.
  • Only four units per side one per banner, start on board, no reserves
  • Limited selection of units: Medium, Heavy, Cav, anyone else?
  • All movement treated as "Walk" (green arrows)
  • Simplify command cards and activation: card lets you attack with on-suit, move with off-suit?

I don't think it's going to take too long to write up a first draft.  I'll post something as soon as I've run it through a test or two.

Epic Victor

The idea, cribbed directly from Command & Colors: Ancients, is to slap multiple sets of Ars Victor map tiles together to make a big-ass board.  On this big-ass board you have multiple players on each team, each commanding their own part of the forces.  For each team, you have an overall commander.  The commander draws and plays cards for his teammates, who actually use them to move and attack.

I haven't done anything yet to develop this variant beyond the concept stage.  I need to come up with some good ideas for map layout, command cards & activation... heck, pretty much everything. :)

Ars Victor: Planetary Conquest

So I work for a year and a half to get the play time down to an hour, right?  And someone comes up and says, "hey, I want a game of Ars Victor that takes LONGER!" It's true.  You can't please everyone.

All joking aside, this is the variant I'm most excited about: because I want a longer game of Ars Victor too!

I'm designing AV:PC as a 2+ player "campaign mode" that you could play in an afternoon.  Instead of changing the core of Ars Victor, it adds a meta-game that sets the stage for an interconnected series of battles between multiple players.

The general idea is this:

  • Players split up into teams of one or more players.  Different scenarios could allow for multiple teams.
  • Teams are seeking to control a dozen or so spaces on a small campaign map.
  • Players fight games of Ars Victor to control those spaces.  They are normal games, except for a handful of constraints created by the strategic situation:
    • Map tile choices are be limited by the campaign space where the battle is taking place.
    • Army selection is limited to a pre-determined force pool shared by all players on a team.
    • Losing units can mean they're not available for future battles.
    • Play time is enforced with a chess clock, with severe penalties for running out of time.

The strategic game will create asymmetric matches that have an impact beyond whether you win or lose.  Teamwork will be required to divide up the available forces and determine overall strategy.  I think this will be a lot of fun for a bunch of veteran players.

There's a lot of work that still needs to be done here.  I've just barely started with sketching out ideas for a campaign map, figuring out systems for force allocation, and specific ways to influence individual battles.

Show me the Rules!

I'll start posting draft versions of these variants this week.  If I can keep Junior Victor down to a single page, I'll see if I can include it in the base game.  I'd love to publish the Epic Victor and Planetary Conquest variants in the Victor Arcana strategy guide.

1 comment:

  1. In the case of Ars Jr, reducing the suits to simply two colors without worrying about on/off suit would probably be better. If you're limiting to only 4 units, then having 2 of each color still gives some strategic choice without being too complicated.