My game design addiction began with creating variants for existing games. Variants are alternative rules for playing existing games, usually changing some mechanic to create a different experience.

These variants are no longer being maintained by me. Keeping them updated took a lot of time, and my focus has turned to original game design. Some of these variants have been taken over by other members of the BGG (BoardGameGeek) community.

Descent: Journeys in the Dark (Second Edition)

Descent is a ‘one vs. many’ game. One player acts as the Overlord, controlling the monsters and other bad stuff. The other players are the heroes, trying to overcome the challenges set by the Overlord.

I wanted to play this as a pure co-op, so created a few variants to automate the functions of the Overlord.

RedJak’s Automated Overlord Variant (RAOV)

Blue 5

Using a deck of cards and some slightly fiddly rules, RAOV emulates an Overlord player without altering the standard Descent rules too much.

The cards determine the outcome of any decisions that the Overlord AI needs to make during the course of the game (mostly which hero to target for attacks).

There are rules covering what the Overlord AI will do in almost any situation. However, there are a LOT of rules, which can be daunting for some people.

RedJak’s Automated Monster Variant (RAMV)

Goblin ArcherGiven that ROAV was a bit on the rules-heavy side, I wanted to make something a bit more streamlined. To do that, I completely removed the Overlord player as an AI. Instead, I created a deck of event cards to simulate some of the nasty stuff an Overlord player would throw at the heroes.

But the monsters still needed some kind of AI. For them, I created a decision list card for each type of monster. This card is referenced whenever a monster activates, and has a clear set of rules for what a monster will do in any given situation.

RAMV is still my favorite way to play Descent.

DelvenDeep for RAOV and RAMV

In standard Descent, you play either a single quest, or a campaign consisting of a series of quests. These quests are all pre-generated. I felt that Descent could also work as a random dungeon-crawl adventure, so created DelvenDeep to do just that.

Decks of cards are used to create a random dungeon level, with multiple levels making up a campaign. RAOV or RAMV is used to automate the bad guys. In all, it wasn’t a bad variant, but I was never truly happy with how it came out.

Imperial Assault

Imperial Assault is essentially a reskin of Descent in the Star Wars universe. There are some changes in the rules (mostly for the better), so it didn’t play exactly like Descent. The basic structure was still the same though.

RedJak’s Automated Emperor Variant (RAEV)

Blue 5.pngJust like Imperial Assault is a reskin of Descent, RAEV is a reskin of RAOV.

Because of some of the changes in how the Emperor player worked in this game, I had to come up with a new set of somewhat convoluted rules for the automation.


RedJak’s Automated Imperial Variant (RAIV)

Stormtrooper.pngThis is the Imperial Assault version of RAMV. I was very happy with how the enemy AI worked out, though it was not perfect.




Flash Point: Fire Rescue

A cooperative firefighting game. Players are tasked with rescuing victims from a burning structure, while trying to keep the fire from getting out of control. Great game with a lot of tension.

RedJak’s City Campaign (RCC)

Each game in Flash Point is a stand alone fire rescue mission. RCC is an attempt to turn Flash Point into a campaign game. Firefighters persist between missions, gaining levels and new skills. Random events can occur to make things easier or harder. Upgrades are available for the firehouse.

I was never happy with how this variant turned out. While it was nice to have a particular firefighter exist between games and get better, the variant was just too complicated. It ultimately did not add enough to the game.

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