Box art

Heavy Armor is a tabletop turn-based strategy boardgame where some of the pieces can change state to take advantage of different stengths.

About

This is a combat game played on a hex grid that uses counters with values on each side that can be flipped when necessary. There are dice rolls so it's not a pure strategy game like Chess, but has more strategy than Risk I think, and not super complicated like the average war simulation. In fact, I made a great effort to keep the rules as simple as possible and keep the playtime under an hour. Pieces have an attack value, defense value, and movement value for each side. The presentation is rather abstract so for now we can imagine the game pieces represent some kind of futuristic transforming mech vehicle or robot or cannon (I used this visualization make counter types easier to identify). The rest of the game can be understood by reading the rules below.

I probably had this idea while equipping a character in a roguelike. I couldn't think of any games off the top of my head where the pieces changed role or value as a primary part of the gameplay. Of course, there are thousands of tabletop strategy games out there so I wouldn't be surprised if I reinvented something that exists, probably a RPG. And there are some obvious examples of state/value change in common games, like a Pawn in Chess becoming another piece when reaching the last row and similarly a King in Checkers. But my idea involves state changes as a key part of the strategy.

Rules

Version 1.0, June 2024

Set-up

The game area is a hex grid. A length of 15 tiles per side seems to work well for two players, but could probably be increased to accommodate more players or teams. (Currently there are no terrain differences, but it's not hard to imagine some tiles could be inaccessible or some have a movement penalty associated with them, probably something I'll include in a future version).

Players each receive two main pieces, an immovable "Control Center" and a mobile "Commander". Losing either of these pieces results in a loss for the player. Players also receive 12 credits to purchase additional pieces. There are three types, but for each type there is a maximum of four pieces.

Players purchase pieces and place them on the board in either state in private, hiding their actions from view with a screen. Pieces can be placed anywhere in the first four rows except for the base which needs to be at least two tiles from the edge of the board. When all pieces are in place, remove the screens to reveal them.

Pieces

Game piece icon
NameSeeker
Cost1 Credit
Attack2/3
Defense3/2
Movement2/4
Game piece icon
NameDestroyer
Cost2 Credits
Attack3/3
Defense3/2
Movement1/3
Game piece icon
NameSmelter
Cost3 Credits
Attack4/3
Defense2/3
Movement1/2
Game piece icon
NameHulk (Commander)
CostNone (Required)
Attack5/4
Defense3/4
Movement1/2
Game piece icon
NameControl Center
CostNone (Required)
Attack0/0
Defense4/4
Movement0/0

Gameplay

Players can choose any method they like to decide who goes first.

Each turn consists of two of three possible actions that can be taken in any order:

  • Move up to the piece's maximum value
  • Attack another piece
  • Change State (flip the counter)

You can use both actions on one piece or split actions between two pieces. You cannot do the same action twice with the same piece. For example, a single piece cannot move twice or attack twice in the same turn, but you can move two pieces or attack with two pieces.

Diagram of the game piece layout showing labels and arrows describing the different parts.

Combat

Attack an opponent's piece by rolling a number less than or equal to the attack value of your piece. If successful, the other player gets a saving roll of less than or equal to their defense value. If they fail the saving throw the attacked piece is removed from the board.

Ranged attacks are possible but difficult! For each tile between two pieces, remove one point from the attack value and add one point to the defense value.

Heavy Armor Power Up

Any two pieces other than the Control Center and Commander can combine into a single piece. The benefit of doing so is adding an extra point to both your attack and defense value at the cost of becoming immobile. Doing and undoing this move takes a complete turn.

To complete a special "combining" operation, move one of your pieces into the same tile as another of your pieces within the initial piece's movement range. Place it above or below the other piece. The piece on top now gets an additional attack and defense point but can no longer move. Do not flip states of either piece. This is the end of your turn.

To uncombine, move one of the pieces to an adjacent tile within it's movement range. Your turn is over after uncombining.

If the combined piece is attacked and loses during combat, the piece below is uncombined and removed from the board. The remaining piece can move normally on your next turn.

Thoughts

Picture of a game prototype showing a hex grid printed on letter sized paper with homemade game pieces in play.

I play tested this a few times and it's kind of interesting even as solitaire. It's much more of a dice game than I intended, but the board is pretty dynamic and you often have to play offense and defense in the same turn, which is neat. I think the main room for improvement involves tweaking the randomness. Using a single D6 doesn't allow for much fine tuning and all the pieces seem to be a little too durable, but the durability allows freedom to take risks. A D10 or D20 could help, and I also wonder if there is something other than dice for better RNG. The prototype is funtional, but far from finished. I also need art and a color scheme, and some basic lore. And it probably wouldn't be hard to use miniatures instead of counters. Either way, I feel I accomplished my goal here. The game is extensible and there is a lot of freedom for custom environments, pieces, and rules.