The Evolution Of Caveman Vs Wild
As was discussed in Chapter One when we set out to design Caveman Vs Wild we firstly established a set of parameters and a sound philosophy that we used as our keystone moving forward. The IP and all of its components had to firstly have a timeless appeal. The system had to be child friendly yet also captivating enough to entertain players from all age groups, and finally its supporting miniatures line had to be both robust, endearing and unique to the brand. In addition to these three fundamentals we also needed something that bent or even broke the rules, an idea that 'to-date' and to the best of our knowledge had not been done before or at the very least was desperately under-represented.
When it came to the design of the game, its sequence of play and the incorporated game mechanics we decided also to try and bend the rules.
Caveman Vs Wild needed to be first and foremost a game that captured the epic nature of its theme. It had to be a game that had a small but easily translatable footprint so it could be enjoyed recognising that many of us only have limited space to enjoy this hobby. It needed to be a game that could be played both solo or multiplayer, versus or cooperatively as we all hail from different areas and regions with either limited or abundant access to community gaming groups. Lastly CVW had to be a game that to the best of its ability kept all players invested and involved throughout the duration of play.
With this gaming philosophy now set in stone we set to work. Addressing the epic nature of its theme it was an identified 'give-in' that life for primitive man in a prehistoric fantasy realm populated by large carnivores and all manners of deadly flora and environmental effects and changes was all about survival. In that single paragraph right there we had already outlined the three sources of interaction that we would need to design and include mechanics for, aspects that would determine our players survival, Carnivores (creatures) Deadly Flora and the Environment.
Designing rules for over-the-top deadly 'Flora' was relatively easy and we went for a classic straight forward approach. With scatter terrain placed throughout the valley deadly 'Flora' would be a hidden threat. Should at least one member of a hunting party or any creature dwelling in the valley come within 'trigger-range' of any terrain item a simple dice roll check against said hunter/creatures 'Wit' rating will identify whether the threat is identified and negotiated in time or whether the hapless individual stumbles headlong into danger. The nature of the threat will not be identified unless the threat is triggered in which case one of numerous possible species will identify itself and poison, incapacitate, reduce or gobble up its unfortunate quarry.
'Environment' was a little trickier. Caveman Vs Wild is played over an agreed set number of turns (normally 8-12) or until either the creatures or the hunters in the valley are dead. During playtesting we generally played a maximum of 12 with every turn representing one hour of daylight hunting time however it was very seldom that the hunters, the creatures or both would survive that full duration. In the primeval world of Konk nature is in constant conflict with itself, the world is still in its infancy and all kinds of goings on, cataclysms and calamities are rocking the land daily. Earthquakes, Volcanoes, Meteor impacts, Deluges and Floods.... the whole nine yards. Whilst we did not want these events to dominate the game or become the focus of it we did want to both embrace and incorporate them to a lesser extent. We toyed with having physical representations of the events on the tabletop, ie; to have an actual volcano as a piece of scatter terrain, or a tile of broken earth to represent earthquake prone areas, but throw that down on a 90cm x 90cm playing area along with a bunch of scatter terrain and your space quickly becomes full and cluttered. To simplify things and to avoid lumping a ton of extra modelling requirement on our players we went for a much easier method.
We call it 'Portents' and it is a simple mechanic involving the two little squirrel rats (our harbingers of doom also part of this campaign). Like with all creatures in Caveman Vs Wild the squirrel rats are NPCs controlled artificially (moved by players but not controlled by them) At the end of each turn the portent marker is moved in accordance with its rules. Should the portents at any stage stumble within 'trigger-range' (in this case 10cm) of at least one member of any hunting party a 'Calamity' will occur. We have a 'Calamitous Event' table which is rolled on and referred to to indicate what type of Calamity and its description will occur. Calamities affect all living creatures in the valley and can have massively disastrous effects... simple enough!
The 'Creatures' however were a whole new ball game.
Stay tuned for Chapter Three of the evolution of Caveman Vs Wild when we will cover off the psychology and interaction mechanics for the big beasties roaming the wild.