Steamwork Arena

Release Date: 
Saturday, March 15, 2008
AttachmentSize
PDF icon steamwork_arena.pdf596.27 KB
Setup Time: 
Play Duration (experienced): 

by Jonathan Leistiko
art by Shawn Sharp

You Need

A flat playing area at least 1 foot x 1 foot (2’ x 2’ is better).
One unique miniature for each player.
One steamwork template for each player.
A pencil for each player.
Two tracking clips (paper clips) for each player.
A bunch of tokens to act as energy tokens.
(optional) A cup for each player to stash energy tokens in.

Setup

Set the energy tokens to the side of the play area. This is the energy bank.
Claim a steamwork template, two tracking clips, a miniature, and a pencil.
Place each miniature two E-lengths (10 inches) away from every other miniature.
Put one tracking clip in the top green zone of the health meter on your steamwork template. This clip is your health clip.
Put one tracking clip in the C zone of your steamwork template. This clip is your mode clip.

Before the game starts, you may customize your steamwork template. There are two steamwork templates: alpha core and beta core. A standard alpha core template looks like this:

A): e ddd
B): ee dd
C): a eee d
D): aa ee
E): aaa e

a = attack icon e = energy icon d = defense icon

You may add up to 6 more icons to your steamwork template. Write them in with pencil before the game starts. Keep what icons you added and where you added them secret until the game starts.

Here are some examples of customized alpha templates (Added icons noted in CAPITAL letters.):

Ex 1 – Balanced mode:
A): A e ddd
B): A ee dd
C): a eeeEE d
D): aa ee D
E): aaa e D

Ex 2 – Early aggression:
A): e ddd
B): ee dd
C): aAAAAA eeeE d
(D): aa ee
E): aaa e

Ex 3 – Power to burn:
A): ddd eEE
B): dd ee
C): a eeeEE d
D): aa ee
E): aaa eEE

Ex 4 – Charge!:
A): e ddd
B): ee dd
D): a eee d
D): aa ee
E): aaaAA eEEEE

Ex: 5 – Offense/Defense
A): e ddd
B): ee dd
C): a eee d
D): aa ee
E): aaa eEEE DDD

Play

Zone Values:
Sometimes the rules refer to a zone’s attack, energy, or defense value. To figure out these values for a given zone, count the number of icons of that type in that zone. Pretend that your current zone is C and you’re using the “Early Aggression” alpha core template in Setup example 2, above. What are your current attack, energy, and defense values? Your attack value is 6. Your energy value is 4. Your defense value is 1.

Gaining and losing energy:
When you gain energy, take it from the energy bank and put it in your energy reserves.
When you lose or spend energy, put energy you control in the energy bank,
Always follow these rules unless specifically told to do otherwise.

Your energy reserves:
Keep the tokens in your energy reserves hidden from the other players – how much energy you have is privileged knowledge.

Play Sequence:
1) ENERGIZE
Gain energy equal to your current energy value. On the first turn, this’ll be the energy value for your C zone.

2) INITIATIVE
Bid for initiative. Hide 0 or more energy tokens from your energy reserves in your hand and hold your hand out. Once all players have hands out, reveal your bids. Highest bid gets first initiative and so on down. Resolve ties with guess-a-hand.
All energy bid is spent.

3) SHIFT MODE
Shift modes and spend energy, from last initiative to first.

  • Spend 1 energy to move your mode clip to a zone that’s one step away. Ex: From C to D or B.
  • Spend 3 energy to move your mode clip to a zone that’s two steps away. Ex: From C to A or E.
  • Spend 6 energy to move your mode clip to a zone that’s three steps away. Ex: From B to E or vice versa.
  • Spend 10 energy to move your mode clip to a zone that’s four steps away. Ex: From A to E or vice versa. Note that E does not “wrap around” to A.

 

4) ACT
Act, from first initiative to last.
You may take (in any order)

  • 1 straight-line move equal to your current mode’s length; partial or complete. If you do not move, you may gain 1 energy.
  • 1 attack with up to your current attack value in energy. If you do not attack, you may gain 1 energy.
    - Your attack can be a normal attack if your miniature is touching your target.
    - Your attack can be a ranged attack if your miniature is not touching your target.

 

Conflict resolution:
If you’re attacking, you may hide up to your current attack value in energy tokens from your reserves in your hands.
If you’re being attacked, you may hide up to your current defense value in energy tokens from your reserves in your hands.
Once all tokens are hidden, pick one of your opponent’s hands and let your opponent do the same to you. Once you’ve both picked hands, reveal the contents of the hand your opponent picked.
If you’re defending and you revealed fewer energy tokens than your opponent, subtract the number of tokens you revealed from the number of tokens your opponent revealed. The difference is your pending damage points (pdp).

If your opponent has pdp, you can spend them:

  • Spend 1 pdp to move your opponent’s health clip down one step. If this moves the health clip to “System Failure” move the health clip back to the top and pick any mode that isn’t shut down to shut down. Shut down modes can not be activated (are treated as blank) for the rest of the game.
  • Spend 1 pdp to move your opponent’s mode clip to any adjacent mode.

 

Reveal the contents of your other hand. All energy hidden in all hands by both players is spent.

Conflict Example 1:
Laurel attacks Hardy. Laurel has 6 energy tokens and an attack value of 5. Hardy has 3 energy tokens, a defense value of 2, and full health.
Laurel hides 3 energy in his left hand and 2 energy in his right hand, then holds them out.
Hardy hides 2 energy in his left hand and 0 energy in his right hand, then holds them out.
Laurel picks Hardy’s right hand. Hardy does likewise to Laurel.
Laurel reveals 2 energy. Hardy reveals 0. Hardy gets 2 pdp.
Laurel chooses to spend both pdp to make Hardy move his health clip down 2 steps.
Laurel and Hardy reveal the contents of their left hands. Laurel returns the 5 energy he spent to the energy bank. Hardy returns the 2 energy he spent to the energy bank.
The attack ends with Laurel at 1 energy and Hardy at 1 energy and one step away from System Failure.

Conflict Example 2:
Laurel attacks Hardy. Laurel has 6 energy tokens and an attack value of 5. Hardy has 3 energy tokens, a defense value of 2, and full health.
Laurel hides 3 energy in his left hand and 2 energy in his right hand, then holds them out.
Hardy hides 2 energy in his left hand and 0 energy in his right hand, then holds them out.
Laurel picks Hardy’s left hand. Hardy picks Laurel’s right hand.
Laurel reveals 2 energy. Hardy reveals 2. Hardy gets no pdp.
Laurel and hardy reveal the contents of their other hands. Laurel returns the 5 energy he spent to the energy bank. Hardy returns the 2 energy he spent to the energy bank.
The attack ends with Laurel at 1 energy and Hardy at 1 energy and full health.

Conflict Example 3:
Laurel attacks Hardy. Laurel has 6 energy tokens and an attack value of 5. Hardy has 3 energy tokens, a defense value of 2, and full health.
Laurel hides 5 energy in his left hand and 0 energy in his right hand, then holds them out.
Hardy hides 2 energy in left hand and 0 energy in his right hand, then holds them out.
Laurel picks Hardy’s left hand. Hardy picks Laurel’s right hand.
Laurel reveals 0 energy. Hardy reveals 2. Hardy gets no pdp. Note that Laurel does not get any pdp. Attackers do not get pdp.
Laurel and hardy reveal the contents of their other hands. Laurel returns the 5 energy he spent to the energy bank. Hardy returns the 2 energy he spent to the energy bank.
The attack ends with Laurel at 1 energy and Hardy at 1 energy and full health.

Note: You don’t have to use your full attack or defense value. You can even conceal no energy tokens if you want to. Check this out…

Conflict Example 4:
Laurel attacks Hardy. Laurel has 6 energy tokens and an attack value of 2. Hardy has 7 energy tokens, a defense value of 4, and full health.
Laurel hides 0 energy in his left hand and 0 energy in his right hand, then holds them out.
Hardy hides 2 energy in left hand and 2 energy in his right hand, then holds them out.
Laurel picks Hardy’s left hand. Hardy does likewise.
Laurel reveals 0 energy. Hardy reveals 2. Hardy gets no pdp.
Laurel and hardy reveal the contents of their other hands. Laurel spent no energy. Hardy returns the 4 energy he spent to the energy bank. Hardy gives Laurel a nasty look, since Laurel just bluffed Hardy into spending 4 energy for nothing.
The attack ends with Laurel at 6 energy and Hardy at 3 energy and full health.

Ranged attacks:
When you’re making an attack, you can declare that you’re making a ranged attack. Spend 1 energy from your energy reserves for every inverse length of range you want for your attack. What’s “inverse length”? If your current mode is A, you get E lengths. If your current mode is B, you get D lengths. If your current mode is C, you get C lengths. If your current mode is D, you get B lengths. If your current mode is E, you get A lengths. You can spend more than one energy to increase the range of your attack. Every energy you spend for range counts against the energy you can spend on the attack itself.

Ranged Attack Example 1:
Harriet is fewer than 2 D-lengths but more than 1 D-length away from Ozzie.
Harriet has 4 energy, is in Mode B, and has an attack value of 4. Ozzie has 5 energy, is in Mode A, has a defense value of 3, and is on Voluntary Shutdown.
Harriet declares that she’s making a ranged attack with Ozzie as the target. Harriet spends two energy to attack at a range of D+D (Why D? Because if you’re in Mode B, you get to make ranged attacks at D length.).
Harriet can only hide 2 energy for her attack, since her attack value is 4 and she used 2 of it to get enough range to attack Ozzie. Harriet hides 2 energy in her left hand and 0 energy in her right.
Ozzie hides 2 energy in his left hand and 1 energy in his right.
Harriet picks Ozzie’s right hand. Ozzie picks Harriet’s left hand.
Harriet reveals 2 energy. Ozzie reveals 1 energy. Ozzie gets one pdp.
Harriet decides to spend the one pdp to move Ozzie from Mode A to Mode B because it has a lower defense rating and provides less energy.
Harriet and Ozzie reveal the contents of their other hands. Harriet returns the 2 energy she spent to the energy bank. Ozzie returns the 3 energy he spent to the energy bank.
The attack ends with Harriet at 0 energy and Ozzie at 2 energy, on Voluntary Shutdown, and in Mode B.

Ranged Attack Example 2:
You’re in Mode E with an attack value of 6. If you declare a ranged attack and spend three energy to attack one target at a range of AAA, what is the most energy you can hide in your hands for your attack? If you do this, you can hide up to three energy in your hand for the attack, since you’ve spent 3 of your 6 attack value to make the ranged attack.

5) RECKONING
Is there a winner?
If you have no modes left to activate, you’re out of the game.
If you’re the only player left in the game, you win!
If you’re still in the game and you have one or more points of damage, you may voluntarily shut down one or more modes. Each mode you shut down lets you move your health clip up one step.
If more than one player remains, start a new round at step 1: ENERGIZE.

Reckoning Example 1:
Continuing from Conflict Example 1, Hardy is one step away from System Failure. Hardy doesn’t want to let Laurel pick what mode gets shut down, which is what will happen if he takes any more damage. Hardy shuts down Mode A and Mode B and moves his health clip two steps up, to the top of the health meter.

Reckoning Example 2:
Continuing from Ranged Example 1, Ozzie is in Mode B and is on Voluntary Shutdown. He knows he’s never going to use Mode E, so he shuts it down and moves his health clip up one step to the top of his health meter.

Variants

Teams! – Setting one template against another is a good way to learn the rules, but it can get boring pretty quickly. Once you know the rules, play with 2 or 3 templates to a side. Keep all of their energy reserves separate. The only exception is that you may bid for initiative with energy from any and all reserves you control.

Origin & Credits

Big thanks to Ben G. for playtesting.
Big thanks to mr.clix from the Board Game Designers Forum for the initial idea that sparked this game design.

 


The Workshop:
The following ideas are not play tested. They are just ideas for directions to take the game in. Implement them at your own peril!

 

Misc. Specials:
The values for specials below assume that you can use the special ability in any mode. What if you had to assign special abilities to specific modes? e.g.: Mode E reduces all damage by 1. Mode C gets an extra move for 1e.

+1 inch ranged attack bonus (-2 icons)
Spend 1e to prevent 1pd (-2 icons)
reduce all damage by 1 (-5 icons)
split attack pool into 2 or more attacks (-1 icon)
extra move (1e / +1 inch) (-1 icon)
1e / +1 damage (-2 icons)
1e / +1A or D (-1 icon)
take 1 pd / +2e (-2 icons)
counterstrike on successful defense (-2 icons)
entangle (-5 icons)
+1 initiative bonus (-2 icons)
steal energy (2 / hit or 2 / defense win) (-3 icons)
+1e @ end of round (or during ENERGIZE) (-5 icons)
area effect (A) blast (-1 icon)
phoenix (1e / 1pd to self and all adjacent figs.) (-1 icon)

Other ideas:

  • bonuses that trigger if you win first initiative
  • bonuses that trigger if you forfeit first initiative
Minimum number of players: 
Maximum number of players: 
Play Duration (new players): 
Minimum Age: 
9
Game Type/Context: 
Price: 
$0(USD)