Hedron Designer Diary 3

While Ragnarol’s being going through constant development and upheaval, Hedron’s been slowly evolving. I’ve been playtesting and iterating on it, but I just haven’t made any big, dramatic changes until now. Over the last few tests and subsequent changes, I’ve been able to get Hedron to run smoother and smoother but I haven’t been 100% happy with the direction it’s been heading. So, back to the design goals, which I had been sticking to.

Design Goals

  • Hedron’s key concept is the chain, creating the right chain to meet a specific outcome feels like puzzle-solving and solving puzzles is rewarding
  • Hedron is a brain-burner, you need to think about what you’re going to do
  • Hedron has entropy, the game inevitably heads towards an end game state
  • Hedron rewards skill and offers enough depth for repeat players but is still accessible for new players
  • Hedron is print and play

Now, I’m happy with most of those goals, but I’m not sure that the 2nd and 3rd goal guide the development in a satisfying way. Developing a brain-burner is a fun and challenging puzzle but it isn’t the type of game I’m naturally drawn to and I’m not sure it’s the type of game I want to be known for (me personally or me as End Game Games). A game heading towards entropy is a concept that involved out of tweaking Hedron. Changes that extended the game weren’t preferable so keeping in mind that the game needs to end was important to guide it’s development. I wanted a 20 minute game that offering a quick dose of strategy and 1-on-1 challenge, not a 40 minute game that dragged on, but entropy (and the one-by-one) elimination dice inevitably leads to a game state where the winning strategy was essentially dice elimination, and athe first player that was able to make a single move that eliminated 2 hedrons for the price of 1 was almost guaranteed to win the game.

So, with the new version of Hedron, I eliminated those goals and tried to push Hedron in a different direction. The problem that I’ve been having and was pointed out to me at a recent test was that Hedron is an abstract game that doesn’t appeal to abstract gamers and, by extension, a dice game that doesn’t to people who like dice games. With the latest version, I’m pushing Hedron towards the dice game crowd with the elimination of elimination and the introduction of a new points system. I’m presenting the basic engine for now but they’ll be some more developments (which you can see on the revised grids) to follow very soon.

The changes, both recent and from gradual development, are below. You can download the latest files (grids and rules) here. The current version is a little shaky. I’ve tested it through once but it needs a lot more rigorous run throughs. If your familiar with the game, give it a go and let me know what you think, but if you’re new to Hedron, I’d recommend waiting for a more stable release. So, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the latest changes, but what I really want to know is what draws you to Hedron and whether you like the new direction.

Change Summary

  • Hedrons are no longer permanently eliminated, just temporarily destroyed. At the start of your turn, you simply reroll any destroyed hedrons and place them back on the board in your starting area
  • The game is won by points, which you count with your percentile d10. The d10 starts on 00 and the game ends with immediate victory when a player gets up to 90 points. Points are awarded for eliminating enemy hedrons and for taking position in the centre of the board.
  •  Venting has been replaced by exploding. This is now an all out attack. When a hedron is at maximum energy instead of transferring energy at the end of its move (or after absorbing) it can explode.
  • No more free absorbs. You can move or absorb.
  • You can now also simply transfer energy between adjacent hedrons, so actually you can move, absorb or transfer (or explode).

P.S. Anthony, mines are certainly not forgotten. I hope to get them in the game system very soon!

4 thoughts on Hedron Designer Diary 3

  1. Ant says:

    Hi Jason.

    Just brainstorming here.

    D20 could be the initiative die.
    Instead of being on the board, it is rolled each turn to decide both initiative and energy allowance for the turn.
    The lower roll gets to spend their energy first. Ties are… rerolled or Ro-Sham-Bo to see who can allocate a 1 point shift higher or lower to a player.
    The D20 energy is on top of inherent die energy, so it can help move/charge/explode in addition to what is available on-field.

    Having a shifting initiative could make it interesting. Perhaps this also can do away with the re-rolling to charge dice?
    If a roll below 10 is made, the initiative stands but 10 is used for energy purposes to stop runaway-unbalanced turns.
    Maybe the D20 could be used in the opponent’s turn to create an energy shield… but that removes action from the board… so my feeling is no.
    The D20 could be limited to only granting a die’s maximum power, so it can’t funnel all of it’s energy into a D4 for example.

    I favour the idea of eliminating dice, clean and simple and shorter game time.


    1. kotzur says:

      Hey Anthony,

      Keep the ideas coming. I have been thinking about taking the d20 off the board as there’s such a large power differentiaI between it and the rest of the dice. I’m trying to go through a few ideas at the moment and gave it a quick run through and I’m not sure if I interpreted your ideas correctly.

      So, my follow through is you get a set amount of energy to use on your turn, which you can use throughout the chain. You could pay energy as normal for starting the chain, but you can use the d20 energy instead, you can also add the energy to the end of the chain. 10’s quite a lot of energy so without tweaking the economy. I could use 4 to start a wide-reaching chain and still have 6 left to top to make for 10 damage as a pretty standard attack, that’s starting with my weakest die.

      Playing it through, the dice rolls starting to become pretty meaningless until you get a high enough number to make crazy powerful attacks with the big dice. There seems to be an obvious dominant strategy. You should just power up your dice, spread out and snipe using the best trade possible (extend a weaker dice to take out a stronger dice). I’ve found through the multiple iterations now that rule changes that encourage turtling and powering up at the start of the game are less fun because it means less player interaction. So, it doesn’t seem to work on the first run-through. Did I miss anything major?

      I understand your preference for elimination. It makes a tense 2 player game, but it’s just not working for the 3 player game, it penalises the more active players and rewards passive players. I’m leaning towards creating a basic engine with a few different game modes. 1 vs 1 or team vs team can be straight out elimination, but 3+ players would keep the point system. What do you think of this?

      1. Ant says:

        Hi Jason, yeah, the D20 giving power from off the field is a bit too powerful.
        Perhaps it could be used for initiative only.

        I did like the point system you created using the spare decimal die.
        So instead of die elimination, the die can be placed back on the field, but maybe at quarter strength?
        But instead of at the spawn point in the back, adjacent to any die? (quarter strength is the payoff for re-positioning).
        The theme is in keeping with the energy is all connected, so it can spawn it at any point of its field of influence.

        Perhaps a recharge turn can use quarter charges (rounding up) instead of rolling? (a D6 on 1 would have a charge turn of 2 (1.5 rounded up), so it would be put onto 3 if it charged).
        This may simplify the recharge turn, although rolling dice is what they are for…

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