Message me for image files of the game pieces.
The Basic Idea
- Super Smash Brothers Brawl is too big of a game to cover most of what it has to offer in just the established 1v1 and 2v2 tournament setups. Even limiting our aim to the modes/options that are the most conducive for competitive smashers, there is still a lot of game to cover.
- Because Brawl is so multifaceted, the range/types of skills that each person develops greatly varies. Different skills are required for a 1v1, 2v1, 3v1, and 2v2 battle. Likewise, the use of and adaptation to items, levels, and characters are also key skills. SmashBOARD is designed so that players can utilize these types of skill and stress their importance on one's opponents. For example, if you know your opponents don't work well as a team, then it is your strategic advantage to position yourself for team battles.
- There are four layers to the core design of SmashBOARD.
- 1) Each player in a crew is represented as a character on the board each with their own HP (stock). Depending on how the players are positioned relative to opponents, a variety of matches are called.
- 2) Different characters have different movement ranges. The current tier list was adapted to SmashBOARD so that the more powerful characters can move very little per turn while the weaker characters can move a lot. This design feature adds a significant amount of variation/contrary motion to the movement possibilities between crews.
- 3) Each player can switch characters on their turn before they move. This feature rewards players who can play multiple characters well. By switching characters, the movement, variation, and contrary motion potential increases.
- 4) Powerups and level elements give players incentive to move about the board toward or away from specific spots. After obtaining a powerup, the crew gains special abilities that have a wide range of effects on the game board and on matches.
Limitations and Decay
- Character based movement ranges are a type of limiting factor. Basically, the more powerful you are, the less you can move. This is very similar to the tank, md tank, neo tank, war tank, and mega tank hierarchy from Advance Wars.
- Time is turn based. A crew can only do so much in one turn. Also, a crew can't do anything on the opposing crew's turn. In this way there's a natural pacing/give (your turn) and take (their turn) to the gameplay.
- Advance Wars style decay. Unlike in Fire Emblem, in Advance Wars a unit's offensive and defensive power are linked to the same factor; the unit's HP. The more HP a unit has, the more powerful its attack. Likewise, the less HP a unit has the more susceptible it is to enemy attacks. This decay system rewards players who attack first thus dealing damage first and weakening the opponents ability to retaliate. In SmashBOARD a similar decay system is used. Basically, a weaken player can only take out as many stock on the opponent as he/she has to lose.
- The Rule of Retreat. Because SmashBOARD was inspired by Chess (a game which is very different from AW or FE), I needed to find a way to limit the mobility of players. Part of the reason Chess works so well is because pawns can only move forward and each player takes turns moving only one piece at a time (with an exception for castling). In SmashBOARD, all players on a crew can move all of their pieces in one turn, a design decision that is similar to Fire Emblem or Advance Wars. To limit a crew's ability to create stalemates or static space by continually running away from opponents, I implemented the rule of retreat. Basically, all movement straight backwards (toward one's starting line) takes up 2 movement points per square instead of 1. This makes backing up very slow thus giving smashBOARD gameplay a center seeking, forward motion. This design feature also gives the lower tier characters with high movement capabilities the strategic option of moving far past high teir opponents to escape them.
- Space: In any game, when the game elements exist in space and feature some degree of restricting space to other elements, the potential is very high for interplay. Grid based games make this property very apparent and easy to understand. Because the grid quantifies all movement by squares, determining how many spaces one must move to circumnavigate an obstacle is as easy as counting the squares. Block paths of motion is as simple as maneuvering into a position that forces the opponent to move around you to reach a target. Likewise, you can accidentally block your allies because you can't pass through your own teammates.
- Time: In SmashBOARD time is quantified into turns. Because both crews take turns making their moves, attacking, and retreating, a natural and clear interplay is created. Every time a player thinks "I shouldnt' do X because after my turn my enemies can do X back to me" they're playing to the turn based interplay. In this way, every move on the board can be countered in a variety of ways. Likewise, because everyone shares the same space, every counter has a counter. The interplay runs deep.
- Brawl the fighter. All of the work done on the board is merely a method of organizing a wide variety of matches between players. No matter what happens on the board, all of the real battles are carried out by playing matches in Super Smash Brothers Brawl. Unlike in Fire Emblem or Advance Wars where the unit to unit skirmishes are simply calculations accompanied by cutscenes, with SmashBOARD the battles are as next-gen, deep, real time, and complicated as the current Brawl metagame. Technically, it's possible to be attacked by a whole crew in one match after the other and come out without losing a single stock. After all, Mew2King almost took out a whole crew by himself at OC3.
- Balancing Uneven Crews. Occasionally two crews want to do battle when they have uneven members. In other words, 5 smashers want to see how they measure up against 4 smashers. To balance conditions in SmashBOARDS between uneven crews, the crew with less members can divide the total stock as evenly among themselves as possible.
- Advantages for the smaller crew: More stock per player. Automatic first move. Decay advantage.
- Disadvantages for the smaller crew: Can take up less space on the board, which is a key dynamic in making blocks, influencing opponent's choices, and being able to flexibly swap out match participants.
- Different boards. No two games of SmashBOARD ever have to be the same. Among the many types of variation (characters, level elements, and items), the board size and shape can be changed as well.
- Crew v. crew v. crew... and so on. Technically, SmashBOARD can support games of large crews (10v10) or free for alls with 3+ crews. Though the rules change a bit, the flexibility of SmashBOARD is apparent.
Part of the beauty of SmashBOARD is that it can easily be adapted into something like HaloBOARD or to fit any other kind of game. You can even make a board that uses a variety of Street Fighter games. It's clear that with a little game design, games can be made around games to emphasize some positive aspects while deemphasizing negatives ones. Good game design never fails.