Duration: January 2014 – April 2014
Team Member: Ryan Atkinson, designer
Broken Space is a two- to six-player board game in which players must use a combination of tactics, diplomacy, trade, and exploration to win. Players must compete with each other to control resources and gather enough black matter to fuel their escape from this region of space which is rapidly tearing itself apart.
Broken Space is meant to bring something a bit different to the combat board game scene. Unlike games such as Risk where players only win through domination, there are multiple ways to achieve victory. As players collect resources, expand, and come into contact with each other, they have to start trading or risk lagging behind their opponents. Trade between players is only possible if they share borders, forcing them to remain in contact with each other. Unlike many other games where players trade resources, such as Settlers of Catan, players can lie about the cards they’re handing over. This sort of interaction between players is something that sets Broken Space apart from other strategy board games, as diplomacy and trade are just as important as conquest.
When first starting a game of Broken Space, the map is rather small and cramped. This means that players have to explore and expand the map in order to continue increasing their resource production. Whenever a player moves a unit off the edge of the map, they draw a tile from the deck, look at it, and attach it to the board, as long as it does not overlap another tile. Below is an example of how a board could expand during a game of Broken Space.
As seen on the tiles, there are regions of color, each of which is associated with a resource of matching color. At the beginning of a player’s turn, they get one resource for each region they fully control. Resources can be used to purchase additional units during reinforcement, buy tile upgrades such as turrets or bunkers to assist in defense, or to create dark matter by converting one of each resource at a dark matter generator. This can in turn be used for devastating dark matter bombs, or saved to be used as fuel to escape this region of space and win the game.
When Ryan and I started working on Broken Space, we knew two things: that we wanted a system in place where players would be faced with an ever-changing board and that we wanted this game to be about more than just combat. From there, we ended up devising a system where the map would grow as players explored. Next came the combat system. We based our combat mechanics loosely on those of Risk, but with a system in place that gave defenders the ability to choose which dice were matched together. This made it so that while the attacker had the advantage on number of dice rolled, the defender could choose the most efficient combinations to successfully fend off the opponent. The result of this was a new combat system that favored neither attacker nor defender. Many of the systems and design that we worked on had roots in other board games, but we used this project as a way to take what was already done and give it an interesting twist. Even though Broken Space is far from finished, I still learned quite a bit about board game production from the time we worked on it.