I’ve been kicking around this FNAF-inspired game a little more and have come up with some ideas…
In order for the Guard player to be able to even possibly keep track of the Animatronic players, there needs to be a limit to the number of things the players can do per turn. So, I think the best way to handle this is to allow each player 3 actions during their turn. However, what actions they take will depend on how the board is setup.
Let’s go to the graph paper…
The first idea I came up with has rooms and corridors. The triangles are the camera locations, although that’s actually completely arbitrary as it doesn’t really effect gameplay. Every room has a camera. Every room has a door, if not multiple doors. With this configuration, the Animatronics would be able to do some of the following actions: Open a Door (opening a door would automatically put them in the room or have them leave the room), Pick Up an Item in a room, or Move if they’re in a corridor.
The stumbling block here is movement. Do they roll to see how many grid spaces they can move? If they want to get to a room on the other side of the board, they would probably need to use two, if not all three of their Actions on their next turn to get to that room. And these rolls would need to be public so that everyone can try to deduce where they are. This could also be a strategy for the player. If they want to move into the room next to the one they’re in, they could fake out the other players by rolling to move more than once and just going in a circle, then entering a room with their last Action. This would give the other players the impression that they moved a longer distance than right next door. Here’s an example of that strategy (follow the red line):
Because every room has a camera and every room has at least one door, it might be a good way for the Guard to track his enemies. If he can only lock down two doors at a time, that means he might lock an Animatronic in one room, but they’ll have to move to an adjoining room in order to get out on their next turn. This will make them easier to track, because they only have so many places they can go. I feel like if I went with this layout, the Guard would need to be able to access hallway cameras as well, so they can see where Animatronics are roaming around. However, because the Guard can only remotely lock doors, all this would do is let them keep an eye on the Animatronics, but can’t actually hinder them in any way. Still, it would be good to know that Animatronic 1 is moving towards a certain room. If they disappear from the hallway camera, you might be able to figure out which room they entered and turn on that camera to confirm.
This layout places the Control Room (CR) in the center of the board and gives the Guard two doors to lock down if an Animatronic gets close in a very similar manner as the FNAF video game. However, this leads us to the same issue we have with the FNAF board game – you could win the game pretty quickly if your Animatronic immediately goes for the CR and just walks right in if the Guard hasn’t locked the door. Of course with hallway cameras that would help the Guard know where everyone is, but it could still be an easy win for the Animatronics.
Another idea is rooms and corridors, but the Control Room is locked down more securely. The first two doors to the CR would have a special action – a perimeter alarm. If an Animatronic opens the first door, it sets off the alarm. The Guard could then lock down the second door and prevent any further movement. However, if the Animatronic uses a Wire Cutter item on that first door to disable to alarm, the Guard won’t know they’ve opened the door; they’ll just see the Animatronic player discard the Wire Cutters, which could have been used on any of the other doors in the complex.
This also gives us an opportunity to look at one other gameplay mechanic – Items. The Animatronics will wander the board to look for items like Wire Cutters and Keycards. However, in order to make it interesting, they should only be able to carry one of each type of Item at a time. That way someone can’t just stock up on Wire Cutters and go take out the first two doors of the Control Room immediately. If they can only have one set of Wire Cutters at a time, they can only disable the perimeter alarm on the first CR door before they have to go find more Wire Cutters for the second door. This also ties into our next difference with this layout…
That third door with the padlock pointing at it will require a certain Keycard item to open. This not only prevents Animatronics from getting in easily to win the game (and means the Guard doesn’t have to constantly lock that door down), but it also gives the Animatronics a reason to move around the board to find the keycard. But there will only be one Keycard for that door. And if we limit the number of Items a player can carry, this means they might find that special Keycard right off the bat, but won’t be able to use it until they or someone else disables the first two doors of the CR.
To make this a further hinderance to the Animatronics, we could make it so that some rooms are always locked and a Keycard is required to open them. This would not only relieve the Guard of having to lock down those doors, but it could also give the Guard a clue as to where the Animatronic is if they’ve been keeping track of the Animatronic’s movements properly.
For example, if you know they were just in Room 14, they moved 4 spaces, and now they have to use a Keycard to unlock a door, you can probably surmise they’re in Room 15, which is always locked. This also means that if an Animatronic finds the CR Keycard early, they’ll basically be stuck with it until they or someone else can disable the alarms on the first two doors. They’ll be forced to wander between unlocked rooms and that might be a clue to the Guard that they have the CR Keycard and they need to be watched carefully.
You’ll also notice that not every room has a camera. This gives the Animatronics some freedom to move without getting caught. Of course, if the Guard surmises that they’re in a room without a camera, the room can still be locked down, they just won’t have visual confirmation. The number and location of rooms without cameras would definitely need to be tweaked in a finalized version of the board to make it challenging, but also useful.
The final layout idea is probably the easiest to work with. This time, there are no corridors, just interconnected rooms. This eliminates the problem of moving within corridors. This gives the Animatronics a few common moves – Open a Door, Pick Up an Item, Open the next door – making it (theoretically) easier to track them because they won’t be wandering the hallways. Of course with many rooms having multiple doors, they could have gone one of two ways. And with some of these doors requiring Keycards, it makes it a little bit easier to track them again. It’s all about give-and-take.
The other nice thing about this layout is that the Guard could now trap Animatronics in a certain part of the board. For example, if the Animatronics got bunched up into Rooms 1, 6, 11, 2, and 7, the Guard could lock down the door to Room 3 and it’s essentially checkmate. The Animatronics wouldn’t be able to leave that area and the Guard would win.
There’s a similar lockdown point on the other side of the board too, at Room 27.
With some tweaks to the board design, you could create all kinds of checkmate points like this that would make for some great strategic moves by the Guard, who could essentially “herd” Animatronics into these areas by “chasing” them with cameras and locking doors behind them.
This board also has the same CR security as Board #2, with multiple layers of doors with perimeter alarms (I forgot to add a padlock to the yellow doors). This time, however, the Animatronics could enter from either direction, rather than just straight on. It would require two special Keycard Items on the board, but either Keycard would open either final door. Or, maybe it would need a certain, special Keycard to open the door from Room 31 and a certain, special Keycard to open the door from Room 32. That might be interesting. Again, these are all things we’ll work out in the process of developing the game.
It will require some more thought and maybe even some playtesting, but right now I’m leaning towards Board #3. I really like the idea of being able to herd the Animatronics to a certain area to potentially lock them down and win. Without that, I don’t really know what the win condition would be for the Guard if we used the other two boards. If they can only lock down two doors at a time, if there are three Animatronic players, it seems like it would be blind luck to trap two Animatronics in the same room to get the win. But being able to lock down an entire section of the board might give the Guard a better chance of the win.
But I haven’t necessarily settled on any of these designs just yet, either. I might try a few different layouts. I might even try something more modular with smaller boards that can fit together in different configurations to make different layouts that will make things easier for first time players or more difficult for seasoned vets (like Zombicide or Gloomhaven, if you’re familiar with those games). These are just the first ideas of probably many, many to come.