A New Day – A New Game!

Welcome to the first ZG Design Diary! As usual, I have big hopes for how this may work in the future but as a fledgling blogger, I’m just going to keep it short and simple so I’ll actually do it on a somewhat regular basis. Baby steps, right?! My hope for this series of design diary blog posts is that I’ll have a space to write about some of my favorite industry leaders, game designers, publishers, games, mechanics and other people or ideas of interest related to game design in general. Though my hope is to keep the design diary focused primarily on what others are doing, it wouldn’t be much of a diary if I didn’t put the lessons learned into action. I’m deeply entrenched in my own design right now and I’ll likely talk regularly about how other games and design diary postings relate to my own designs. So, unsurprisingly, I’ll start this conversation with a quick post about Helionox. 🙂


I’ll start by giving the elevator pitch for Helionox: Chronicles (HX:C for short) and then touch on the differences between this game and past Helionox games. First, we’ve been noodling over some one liners. This is a detailed, one sentence description that will be used in various places where we can only brush the surface of what the game is about. Here’s where it’s at right now:

Helionox: Chronicles – a series of cooperative, sci-fi, movement based, card and engine building campaigns and eternal play modes, for 1-4 players.

It’s a mouthful but it’s descriptive and sums things up nicely when you’ve only got a second to get the point across. We’ll keep refining it but it brings up a couple of key differences between Chronicles and past versions of Helionox. This is a cooperative game. There was a cooperative mode in the other versions of the game but the cooperative vision for the Helionox is new from the ground up, built on the foundation of the solo mode and fleshed out with shortened turns and simultaneous play options. Essentially, there is very little downtime, which was a big problem for all of the multiplayer modes in previous versions of the game.

This is also a campaign driven or scenario based game. The campaign, broken into episodes, will teach you how to play the game starting with the simplest mechanics and building up to multi turn combos and full game strategies. For the first episode, you will read about 5 minutes worth of rules and some story elements to draw you into the narrative. After that, you’ll be up and running. A quick start and fast game play are very important aspects for me. I wanted to design this in a way that if every player at the table is new to the game, no one has to have read the entire rulebook before game play begins. Each new scenario will add a small rule set, some new components, and some new challenges. By the time you finish the campaign, you will be ready to tackle eternal mode. Eternal mode offers infinite replay-ability. It allows you to play the game with a huge variety of difficulty and complexity settings. Even the campaign itself can be replayed with a higher degree of difficulty.

In short, Helionox: Chronicles is a new stand alone movement based deck building board game set in the Helionox universe. Of course, I will continue to write about this game as it develops further. However, I’d love to hear from you about ideas on what a design diary should even look like. Do you keep a journal of your game designs (or other creative projects?). What parts of the design process would you like to see covered in future entries here?

4 Thoughts to “Design Diary 001 – Intro to Helionox: Chronicles”

  1. Eduard Kornieiev

    It’s a great idea to make a co-op game in the Helionox Universe. But, I’ll start from the beginning. It’s hard to surprise me with board games lately. Everything is somehow stereotyped, of little interest. I saw the game Helionox in Ukraine by chance and something hooked me in it. Idea? Maybe. I love space. Interplanetary flights. Random events. Art? That’s for sure! A quick glance at the rules suggested that this is a serious strategy hidden behind simple actions. But I remember exactly what confused me: only 9 rounds per player! How little it is for traveling around the universe 🙂 But, thank God, I was mistaken. This turned out to be enough for the chosen format. It was easy for me to involve my wife and my son (he is 20 and he took over from me my love of science fiction) in a cooperative and competitive scenario.
    I remember the emotions from the game Elite ZX Spectrum, from the first viewing of Star Trek and Star Wars, the computer game Space Rangers… I had these feelings after playing Helionox! And this is perfect! I will look forward to continuing. An endless story. Individual development of each player, whenever he joins the scenario! I sincerely wish you success and inspiration! And, I’m glad to get acquainted with your work!

    1. taran kratz

      Thank you so much, Eduard. That is high praise indeed! You are going to absolutely love Helionox: Chronicles so watch for that early next year!

  2. Hi Taran,
    I’m a big fan of Helionox: The Last Sunset (solo playing). The theme, artwork, and gameplay are all great.

    Just found this site and blog, looking forward to HX:C.

    As for design diaries, I enjoy the “peek behind the curtain” to see behind the scenes. What was the design process? What are the goals of the game? How did you arrive at the finished product? What did you chop off the design because it didn’t work? What did you add to the game that gave it the “spark” it needed?

  3. Taran Kratz

    These are great ideas Scott. Hopefully I’ll have an entry related to these exact topics in the very near future!

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.