Introducing CAVE TEAM - a new board game #JanJam17

by @edent | # # # # | Read ~153 times.

I'm a little obsessed with collaborative games. I'm bored with fighting against my friends, trying to bankrupt them, or simply beating them into submission.

I attended the Oxford Games Jam with one very specific aim in mind - help create a game where people had to work together as a team. It's a hard mindset to get into - almost all games are competitive. But with the help of an amazing team, and the frank feedback of several play-testers, I think we created something fun and original(ish).

This game is Open Source! We released the code and rules under the MIT licence, any additional artwork will be Creative Commons.

Get started at https://github.com/OxfordHackspace/CaveTeam - and please let us know what you think!

Here's one of our hand-made prototypes of our Roguelike game - CAVE TEAM:

A game of Cave Team In progress. Little characters are aranged on a hexagonal grid. Slime is chasing them.

As a team, you have to move from the "Start" tile, to the "Exit" tile. Teamwork is important, some tiles will require more than one player to successfully pass. It is impossible to win the game by yourself - but you may have to sacrifice some of the players in order to escape.

The map of the caves is a hexagonal grid - in homage to many classic games. Boards are procedurally generated - team member Thomas Kiley wrote a Python script to create valid boards

Here's a typical cave board:

Cave Team Demo Board

All players start, unsurprisingly, on the "start" tile. In order to move to a new tile, the player tells the team which tile they're attempting to clear, and then rolls a single ?.

If they defeat the tile (that is, roll higher than the number on the tile) the tile is flipped over and the path is clear.

If they fail to clear the tile, there is a cave-in. The tile is removed from the board and the way is blocked.

Some tiles are impossible for a single player to clear - they will need the help of other players. A player can ask for assistance from any player adjacent to the tile they wish to clear.

Cave Team completed board with slime tiles

In the demo version, we used white counters to represent a clear path - and red tiles to represent a cave in. But what are those mysterious green tiles, I hear you ask?

SLIME!

Lurking in the cave is luminous green slime. A deadly, mindless mould creeping though the board.

Every few turns (more on that later!) the slime gets a chance to roll the dice. If the slime is next to a tile with the same number as the dice, that tile is consumed. Any player on that tile is eaten alive, and removed from the game. Slime cannot get through a cave in - you will notice in the above board, players have managed to create a small defensive wall in the hope of protecting themselves.

The slime's advance is both relentless and random. In some games it won't bother you, in others it will consume you and the exit before you're partway across the board.

Oonce the slime hits the clear path, it will always advance, regardless of the score on the dice.

Thresholds

This is where things get a little complicated. In order to make the game exciting, we need to have the slime move rapidly - but it also needs to be balanced with the number of players.

Every time the dice is rolled, we add its score to the Slime Counter. Once the counter reaches a score of (Number of players * 3) it is time to roll the dice for the Slime's move.

We want the slime to happen fairly regularly, but not predictably. If players are lucky enough to roll low numbers, the Slime will not advance - but the players may not be able to get through the tiles that they need.

This adds an element of risk to the game. You might want three of your team to help you defeat a particularly hard tile - but that brings with it a greater risk of the Slime advancing.

Escape

In order to escape, a player has to be adjacent to the Exit tile and roll a score of the threshold or above. This will require help from your team. Each player adjacent to the exit tile can help, and they all escape if the roll is successful.

But what if all the players aren't by the exit? You have a choice - do you wait for your team and risk Death By Slime? Do some of you escape and leave the others to perish? Can you split your team?

Team Play

Your team might decide to send scouting parties in different directions - hoping to clear paths before the slime gets there. Or, you can stick together and blast through tiles all the while risking the slime speeding up to get you.

Perhaps you'll deliberately sacrifice players, or die heroically together.

One of the features of Roguelike games is rapid death. It is entirely possible that a cave becomes impenetrable after just a few turns. The majority of your team may die shortly before the end. You might be unlucky with your rolls and block yourself in.

No matter! Sweep the board clear and start again! The game is fairly rapid, generally taking around 20 minutes for a team of four to escape.

Variations and Rule Tuning

We played through the game half-a-dozen times - sometimes radically altering the rules to see if it improved the game.

How characters move has a massive impact on the game. Originally we had players roll for every move - even if they were going along a clear path. That makes the game too hard.

Then we said that players could move anywhere along a clear path for free - and only roll if they wanted to clear a tile. That makes it too easy.

We settled on being able to move one tile along the path for free. The next move - whether to a clear tile or a numbered tile - must be rolled for.

In some variants, the slime moves to all consecutive tiles of the same number.

Let's take this board as an example.

Slime Tiles

If the Slime rolled a five, the 5 tile next to the Slime would be consumed - as would the 5 tile adjacent to the consumed tile. The other 5 remains unaffected.

If a two were rolled... Youch!

Players which have escaped - should they be able to help rescue players stuck inside the cave?

Pieces

Because the event was taking place in the Oxford Hackspace, we were able to 3D print some playing pieces.

3D printed board pieces

We used David Hagemann's incredible "Low Poly Fantasy Tabletop" pieces.

Pieces had to be reasonably small so that that several players can fit on one tile.

Play it!

This game is Open Source! We released the code and rules under the MIT licence, any additional artwork will be Creative Commons.

Get started at https://github.com/OxfordHackspace/CaveTeam - and please let us know what you think!

Credits

This game was built with with ? and ? by (in alphabetical order)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.