Designer Notes: Island Siege

Designer Notes: Island Siege

[Note: These design notes were originally posted at the kickstarter campaign for Island Siege.]

Initial Design

I created Island Siege with the goal to create a game where players had to balance construction with destruction. This manifested itself as fort building and cannonball hurdling in the Caribbean. After an early mock-up of the game, I knew I was on to something. The key mechanic involves rolling dice to attack forts (destruction). The catch is that this is also how you gain resources for building (construction). Each roll comes with tough decisions about which dice to keep, which to re-roll, and which to ultimately use in your attack. The remaining dice provide you a means to gain stones for use in fort construction. Every roll leaves you with the decision: Do I push ahead and destroy the fort? Or do I slowly wear it down and gain resources? A ruthless attacker will find himself without resources. A cautious attacker will find himself soon overwhelmed. Balance is the key.


Island Siege is about making progress while keeping your enemies in check. Your opponent will win the game if he gains enough wealth, or he moves all of his colonists in play. When he gets close to completing the colonist objective, you are on high alert – you must attack to drive those colonists back! When you destroy that fort, there is a sigh of relief. You now have a few rounds to build up your own infrastructure before things become dire again. The saw-tooth tension of of ups and downs is what make this such an exciting game to play.

Fort Construction

Fort construction is an integral part of the strategy of Island Siege. The color, position, and quantity of your stones matter when building a new fort. Adjacent stones of the same color are stronger, and stones behind others are protected. Gray stone is the most common to come by, but also the easiest to destroy – it appears twice on the dice. White stone is a bit stronger, as it appears only once on the dice. Black stone is identical to white, but it has an advantage because it can be “patched” when a building is constructed. All forts will inevitably crumble, but your decisions will control the pace.


One of the primary goals of Island Siege is to colonize your islands. Each turn you may move one colonist onto each of your forts. As more colonists come into play, you gain abilities like extra re-rolls and dice. Having your colonists in play also allows you to build buildings and ships. Constructing these will give you coins, special abilities, and room for even more colonists to come to the New World! Through strong fort construction and clever timing, you might even declare victory by getting all of your colonists in play!


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