Game Idea: Pyramid Designer

As the pharaoh’s lead pyramid design technician, you are tasked with creating the ancient world’s foremost anti-tomb-raider burial monument. You get to create the layout, dead ends, pitfalls, traps, and distractions to keep any robbers from making their way to the pharaoh’s final chamber.

As a renowned engineer, you have the ability to utilize ropes and weighted stones to create shifting or reactive paths to the burial chamber, and you will definitely need to use as many tricks as you can to succeed.

Every successful invader will be handily dispatched by the pharaoh’s mummy, but allowing too many will find you being subject to the mummy’s curse as well. If you perform well enough, you will be rewarded in the afterlife!

A hybrid between an engineering puzzle game and tower defense.


In my spare time I’ve been working on a card game called Bastion where two players duke it out in a battle reminiscent of warfar in the 16th through 19th centuries. During this time period they had big solid fortresses, and an incredible variety of techniques for capturing those fortresses.

Here is a topic I started on GoodGamery to discuss the development of Bastion.

The core of the game has one player buying defenses while the other player tries to breach them. Most of the cards they use will be similar, except that the defender has access to a bunch of fortifications, while the attacker will use specialized units like miners, sappers, siege ladders, and so on.

Each of the units has a couple corresponding Combat cards, which represent maneuvers or tactics that the player’s troops use in battle. The more expensive units have access to more flexible or more powerful Combat cards, and specialized troops have specialized Combats. By moving all of the specialized rules for the units onto their combat cards, it keeps the units from having a bunch of special keywords, numbers, and abilities. Instead, they have only a cost and a health, and the rest gets to be artwork. All of the complicated stuff is on the combat cards, and since you only pick from a couple of those per turn, the combat plays out pretty simply.

Here is a spoiler of all the cards I’ve designed so far.

Basic Dominion Strategy

Here are some basic strategies for Dominion.

Big Money

Buy the best treasure you can afford each turn, or a Province. This is a basic strategy that will not win you many games, unless you’re playing against new players.

1-2: No buy
3-5: Buy silver
6-7: Buy gold
8+: Buy Province

Grand Smithy

Buy Smithy until you have 3 of them. Otherwise, buy the best treasure you can afford, or a Province. This will always beat Big Money, because Smithy is usually a much better buy at 4-5 coins than silver.

1-2: No buy
3: Buy Silver
4-5: Buy Smithy, limit 3
6-7: Buy Gold
8+: Buy Province

Chapel Strategy

For turns 1 and 2, buy Chapel and Silver. After that, chapel away all coppers and estates you draw, while buying silvers and easing into another strategy, usually buying treasures and +card draw.

Turbo Remodel

This strategy means forgoing most card buys other than Remodel. When you start out, getting a Silver and a Remodel are optimal buys. Then,make the following Remodels:

Estate -> Remodel
Remodel -> Gold
Gold -> Province (Once the game is close to ending, unless you can use the Gold to buy a Province that turn)

Good support cards include Cellar, Throne Room, Village, and Chapel, which all make your Remodels more reliable and more frequent.

Other Tips

Don’t buy too many actions that don’t themselves give +actions. Otherwise you’re at risk for drawing multiple actions when you can only play one of them.

When players start buying Provinces, carefully take note of how many each player has bought, and how many are left. Once there are about 1-2 provinces left per player, it’s time to stop buying cards that don’t give you +Victory, because there won’t be enough time to draw any new cards you buy.

Chess Tactics

The essense of chess tactics is to make a single move which threatens the opponent twice – unless they have some counter tactic to either deal with both threats, they will end up in a worse position, because you will be able to follow through on one of your threats with no trouble.

The simplest tactic is the fork – where one piece directly attacks two or more pieces. This is normally done by knights, because of their unique movement, but any piece may fork – including the king!

Other tactics include the following:

  • Pin – A bishop, rook, or queen gets in line with two of the opponent’s pieces, where the intermediary piece is less valuable than the one it is blocking. If the opponent moves the intermediary piece, the farther one can be captured. If the far piece is a King, it’s called an absolute pin, because the intermediary piece cannot be moved.
  • Skewer – Similar to a pin, but the intermediary piece is the more valuable one, and the opponent usually ends up having to move it, and loses the far piece.
  • Discovered attack – By moving one piece out of the way, exposing a piece behind it so that it can attack another. The attacking piece can be a bishop, rook, or queen – and if the moved piece also makes an attack, the defender has a difficult choice as to which threat to defend against.
  • Double check – This is a type of discovered attack where both attacking pieces check the opponent’s king, which forces the king to move, as it is impossible to block both checks in a single move.
  • Undermining -By capturing a piece which is defending another, the opponent has to chose between recapturing the attacking piece, or defending their newly undefended piece.
  • Overloading – By gicing a defending piece too many squares that it has to defend, it has to give up defending some of them. This can result in hung pieces and other bad situations for the defender.
  • Interference – By moving a piece in between two long-range pieces that are defending eachother, the opponent is forced to either defend against the new threat that the interfering piece makes, or to defend the pieces that are no longer defending eachother.
  • X-Ray Attack – A piece defends another through an opponent’s piece – if the opponent captures one of them, the other can recapture.
  • Zwischenzug – A counter-tactic where a player makes an intermediary move which poses a more dangerous threat than their opponent’s most recent attack. This is a way to get out of situations caused by tactics used against you. Usually the intermediary move has to create a check on the opponent’s king, since they are then compulsed to defend against it.
  • Zugzwang – A situation that comes up usually in endgames, where the opponent would rather pass their turn than move. Of course, you can’t pass your turn in chess, so they are compulsed to move to a position worse than the one they are in.

Tactics like these can be strung together to form combinations. An example of this is known as a windmill – a series of checks and discovered checks where the attacker can pick off defending pieces on every other move, and the place their pieces in a better position at the end. This usually happens where the opponent’s king becomes stuck in a place where it has only a couple squares to move to. A good example is in this game, starting on move 25 with a queen sacrifice to set up the windmill.

Thoughts on Game Development