Among my personal projects at the moment is Armada d6, a board game I am working on with John Sharp. it’s a turn-based strategy game for two to four players. The project has a somewhat bizarre history (more on that below). I’m leading the game design, and John is doing all of the graphics. I can’t have an unbiased opinion about the project, but my playtesters love it. I’ve never before had a boardgame design that people request I bring to parties.
On its surface, Armada d6 is about battling spaceships. Dice are used to represent game units, with the face-up number on a die representing both the movement number of unit and its combat power (where lower numbers are more powerful). A six is a speedy but weak Scout – a two is a slow but powerful Flagship. Each kind of ship also has its own unique power. You win by placing colonists on planets, which you can do when you have ships adjacent to the planet that add up to the right number. There’s more to it than that – including an advanced game where you customize your stats, special powers for your fleet, and design your own maps, but those are the basics.
The core rules are simple, but the heterogeneity of the units and powers adds up to a game where you are constantly creating little puzzle-like engines. The possibility space is wide and games can play out very differently. Here’s an image from a recent playtest at the NYC Boardgame Designer’s group that Josh DeBonis organizes:
Armada d6 is a game with a strange history. About twenty years ago, I found some papers – incomplete fragments of a republished game design – in a bookstore in Bloomington, Indiana. The game they described, “Armada Dei Gratia VI,” had been revived in the 1930s from an earlier game. The whole thing was genuinely strange – it felt like a combination of religious ritual and strategic training exercise.
I recently rediscovered those papers, and they inspired my “reconstructed” design for Armada d6. The game design as I found it was woefully incomplete, so my design process has been part detective-anthropologist and part whole cloth invention. The result is a game that I would like to get published. I plan to start working my connections in the paper game industry after a little more testing and balancing.
If you happen to be at Jeff Ward’s pre-GDC boardgame night, John and I will be bringing a copy of the game there to play. In the meantime, I’ll post update about the progress of the game to my blog.