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I'm building a game in which players explore and steal from a castle. There needs to be an element of surprise and risk, so I've been considering a tile-based system like that used in Carcassonne. However, I'm not a fan of the (monetary) costs associated with producing such a mechanic.

What would be a good, low-cost way to allow exploration of rooms/halls with the risk of guard/maid encounters?

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You may want to refine your question so that it is less broad. Right now this can not be definitavly answered. try adding some more criteria to the ideas you are looking for. Add some criteria that the idea should not have etc. –  Pow-Ian Jun 5 '13 at 14:49
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What do you mean by 'costs associated with producing such a mechanic'? It's hard to imagine a board game whose board or pieces could be printed for very much less than the cardboard components of Carcassonne (meeples are a different matter, of course) and the production values will strongly influence how your game is ultimately perceived. –  Steven Stadnicki Jun 5 '13 at 15:34
    
a) reason I want to cut costs is that the game has a fair bit of dice and cards already in play, and the addition of a tile based system might start adding up. –  Mitch D Jun 5 '13 at 15:43
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If you already have some cards (and those are cheaper to produce than tiles), why not just use cards instead of tiles? –  bwarner Jun 5 '13 at 15:46
    
That's a pretty solid idea –  Mitch D Jun 5 '13 at 16:10
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3 Answers

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I'd suggest you look into existing games of a similar nature and explore what they've done. You'll see what does and doesn't work, and how well it works. That should help you decide on a good mechanic for your game.

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The New Dungeon is a good example also. –  Pow-Ian Jun 5 '13 at 15:13
    
I think I'm going to pick up decent and give that a whirl. I'm trying to design something unbiased by other dungeon crawlers, so I tried my best to avoid them until now, since my game is based more on attribute/item drafting. –  Mitch D Jun 6 '13 at 13:52
    
There's a big difference between "biased" and "informed". –  Task Jun 6 '13 at 15:13
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There are several methods.

  1. instead of tiles, cards. Less cost to produce.
    Benefit: cheap
    drawback: usually not square.
  2. a pile of larger geomorphs with just the rooms, not the contents thereof; cards by room type
    Benefit: sturdy board chunks, highly flexible mode
    drawback: rooms fall into well known patterns
  3. movable chunks of wall on a gridded board
    Benefit: extreme flexibility
    drawbacks: component costs, setup time, easily disrupted.
  4. laminated grid board with overhead pen, cards for what to draw.
    Benefits: the most flexible
    Drawbacks: lots of work, lamination required.
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I like the idea of hall cards/ room cards. I'm flirting with the idea of having corner/intersection tiles, so that it is possible to have a spiral path to the center(and the hall doesn't run off the play area), if the players are drawing lucky. I'll be taking measurements and do some play testing tonight :D. –  Mitch D Jun 6 '13 at 13:50
    
Non-square cards aren't really a drawback - they'll still fit into a grid fine (albeit a rectangular rather than square grid). –  Allen Gould Jun 11 '13 at 20:59
    
Square cards are rotatable to 4 positions, while rectagular are 2 positions. So yes, it IS a drawback. –  aramis Jun 12 '13 at 5:43
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If your game has a DM role, I'd consider looking at the sort of "predetermined map" with slowly revealed information, with games such as HeroQuest and Descent being examples.

If your game has no DM and randomly generated maps, I'd look at a game such as Dungeons & Dragons: Castle Ravenloft for some ideas (this one in particular is similar to your Carcassonne-like tiles idea). The "Zombies!!!" games also work in this manner I believe.

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