Moving Targets

The main focus of my attention recently has been Shooting Party, which is steadily improving, I think, but still needs a few tweaks.
A recent playtest with "hell mode" monsters appearing at double the rate.

One of the issues that have come up recently is something that I had not been thinking about really.  A major part of the game is a stream of monsters that come running along a path so that players can shoot them as they approach.  This is all well and good, and works fine, but a number of the monsters have special adjustments to how they move.  So most monsters just trundle along one space at a time, but others move at double speed, some move faster if there is nothing in front of them, some stay still if there is something in front of them, others make an attack or restrict player actions as they approach.

This sort of stuff adds variety to the game, but the problem is that it is really easy to forget to take into account the special rules for these monsters, and periodically we get a spell of, "Oh, crap, we forgot to double-move the hellhound and the dragon should have made a ranged attack last round."  Not ideal.

I think that, assuming I want to keep this part of the game substantially the same as it is, I have two major lines of attack to deal with this issue...

The first is to reduce the reliance on this type of monster effect.  Monsters can be differentiated in a number of ways, the most basic of which are their toughness and prestige value for bagging them.  Apart from the effects which happen each turn (like these movement rules that are getting missed), there can be effects that occur when they first appear, when they engage with a player close up, when they make an attack, when they are attacked, or when they are bagged/killed.  There are probably others too.

Observing how the game gets played, I see that monster cards get attention paid to them when they first appear, when they are in front of a player, and when they are killed, but when they are in the line, the only thing players really look at is their toughness and prestige reward.  So, if I usually use effects that activate when players are most likely to be paying attention to them, that should help.

But I would like to have the option of having some monsters that have different movement characteristics, or ranged attacks, etc., so how do I deal with that?  If only a few monsters have such effects, then it is possible that they are more likely to be missed.  If every monster behaved differently, that might encourage players to pay more attention, but in practice I think this would result in frustration and/or a slower game.

So, my second feeling is to use graphic design to make things clearer.  Now, I'm no graphic designer, so my work here is only any good to suggest how a professional could approach things, but I figure that icons and other graphic elements can be used to make the behaviour clearer.  So, for instance, arrows could be used to show the speed of movement: the number of arrows indicate movement speed, for instance.  Other symbols could potentially be used, but I need to be careful to not go too far with this and create a too-complicated graphical language; the aim is to simplify and clarify, after all.
A hastily hacked hellhound card, but you get the idea...
Back to work...

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