Encountering Enemies

When designing a character-based card game primarily for solo/co-op play, there’s an important challenge to solve in how opposing forces will be controlled. In today’s post, we will be exploring some of the mechanics we’ve chosen to use as part of our solution.

But, before we that, I’d like to briefly describe why we rejected the most obvious approach of creating a symmetrical game you play against a non-human “player”, with its own deck of cards and hand and turns to take actions, all controlled by some rules/heuristics or other form of Artificial Intelligence.

While this tends to be the default for the single-player Campaign/Adventure modes of digital trading cards games like Hearthstone and Shadow Era that are designed first and foremost to be played against other people, a physical (tabletop) game with only one human player requires all opposing card behaviours to be determined and enacted by proxy by that player. Having experimented with this originally, it did not take long to conclude the “work” involved in this for the player, compared to making their own choices and plays, can really dampen the fun factor.

So with the idea of a symmetrical game out the window, we considered the fairly standard approach used by traditionally solo/co-op games of building the behaviour of the enemy cards into the player’s turn through distinct turn phases, triggered effects and special cards. Let’s take a look at one of those special cards now!

The first thing to notice is that this card is in landscape format and has no Quanta symbols and no Rift number. This is because it’s not a playable card that a player will ever have in their deck or hand, but a story card that embodies part of the particular adventure being played. The specifics of how an Encounter enters play will be detailed in a future post, but for now let’s assume that this one has been revealed at the start of a game after you have chosen Sabrien Reed as your hero, with The Shy Sword starting in play with him.

With that in mind, the next logical step is then surely to discuss the REVEAL effect, which triggers when this Encounter is revealed for the first time. Within seconds of Sabrien arriving in a distant time and place, with only his sword for company, he will be joined by two Hyvryx Scouts across from him (spawned from an Enemy Pile that was constructed as part of the game setup).

But that’s not all that happens! We also must add 1 Charge to the card, that will represent a growing threat to Sabrien while this Encounter persists. (A stack of counters/tokens or dice work well to track the current Charge.)

Speaking of a growing threat, let’s look at that next. The THREAT effect, which was first introduced on the Hyvryx Predator, is another that triggers at a specific time in the game, but this one actually happens on every turn during the player’s Threat Phase. Looking over the simple logic above, hopefully you can see that if the Hyvryx Scouts are left unchecked to continue their scouting then the aforementioned Hyvryx Predator will soon come join the fray. For Sabrien’s sake, we must determine how to bring this Encounter to an end as soon as possible! But how?

Thankfully, we must look no further than the next line down, where the DURATION specifier for the Encounter is written. Unlike REVEAL and THREAT, this is not an effect but an ongoing condition that says the Encounter will only remain in play while there is at least one “ready” Hyvryx unit. Sabrien is therefore going to need to find a way to make them all not ready somehow, or remove them from play completely, to end this Encounter before the Hyvryx insist on having him for dinner. Food for thought, I think you’ll agree!

With such high stakes (or should that be thigh steaks?), I think this is a good place to end for today, to give you some time to digest what we’ve covered and ensure the Hyvryx don’t get to digest what they’ve discovered … for now, at least.

When we return next time, we will look into the different states units can be in and the ordering of phases in a turn, which should hopefully bring forth some ideas as to how Sabrien might escape this Encounter. See you then!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *