Well tonight was fun. We got Playtester Group A together and attempted to play a full leg of the campaign. But before I get into those details, first some pseudo news.
We have a working Title for Codename: Dungeon. While this isn’t final and is subject to change. We’ve been bouncing around the idea of
We think it reflects the spirit of bashing in doors and fighting whatever’s on the other side. So from here on out we’re calling it Kick Down… unless we change it again.
So, now the play-test. There were a number of additions to the game that were added this last week that needed to get tested. So much in fact, that we didn’t get them all in. So anything that was left out will have to be tested by Group B on Tuesday. Check back Wednesday if you want those details.
Since the last test we made the following changes:
- Brought the number of Heroes up to six.
- Created several keywords and symbols for easier print and reading. (all of which, are just placeholders)
- Created Loot cards and a system for acquiring them.
- Created a Death/resurrection system.
- Created a Leveling system that ties into the Loot system.
- Set a testing number for Valor points and the number battles before you fight the boss.
- Added 9 more monster cards plus the Kobold horde.
- Created the first Solo monster, the Dryad
- Added a Field system which determines environmental effects and available energy.
- Changed the initiative system. Instead of bidding every round you bid once, and can take actions to modify your initiative as you play.
Whew! Did I leave anything out? Probably.
With all these changes, we had to choose a few things to test.
We didn’t test the Kobold Horde. We didn’t test the Death/resurrection system. No time. Unfortunately, We tried to test the new valor point and battles numbers but didn’t get that far.
Because the Barbarian was a little too powerful.
Did I say a little? Because he was insanely too powerful.
While his smash is just a basic melee attack, It’s blocked by armor. But with his extra damage, he’s able to hurt any early game monster. Not all monster even have body armor to block his hits. His wrestle and reaction Rage attack both do enough damage to dominate. How so?
Here’s how the first match went down. 5 players, 6 monsters. Barbarian got 4 Trophies. 2 of them were from reactionary damage.
When initiative came up, The Barb player would sit and go last, using all of his energy for extra health (if you remember, this extra energy represents dodging and parrying attacks). On his turn, he would immediately Roar and go into a Rage. This moved him up to the front, so on his turn, with all the monsters going ahead of them, his reaction damage from rage killed most of the monsters that attacked him. Because he has no abilities that cost energy, he could afford to just take the hits. On his turn he killed two monsters with his wrestle ability and the two that attacked him. He grabbed four kills and lost only one actual health.
I would love to talk about what the other players did, but it clearly didn’t matter. The Barbarian then was able to purchase two healing potions and armor right off the bat. So now he takes LESS damage and can heal himself up, twice. This was after only the first battle. The second battle was just as bad. We had to call it.
So why is the Barbarian so broken? Group A, and specifically the Barbarian player believes that the ability to attack for any amount of damage outside of your turn is too powerful. Especially in a game where the stats are so low. Where a 1 damage attack can kill a monster.
Now this game was only about an hour before I wrote this, so I haven’t had much time to think about it. However, here’s a couple ideas that occurred to the play-test and I.
- Lowering the damaged while raged and increasing the damage taken would increase risk and reduce abuse. But is it in the right direction?
- Perhaps going into Rage costs energy. Or when you Rage you simply lose all energy.
- Maybe damage taken must come from your health pool. This would make it risky for the player to go into Rage because it removes the energy advantage.
- Making an ability with an energy cost would give him more reason to hold on to that energy.
There are a lot of options.
The helpful action (as an aside) was never used. With aggressive actions being so amazing there was never any reason to step back and be helpful. Regardless of the required number of Valor points. It might still be pretty weak, but we’ll have to leave it in and test it out later.
So with the Barbarian set aside we attempted to test a different feature. A Solo monster. Solo monsters, when dealt onto the field, remove all other monsters and fight against the heroes by themselves. The solo monster for the wilderness area of the campaign? A strangely aggressive Dryad.
The Dryad, happily enough, proved to work exactly as intended. When out in the open, she would pull heroes from the back to attack. When hit she would retreat into a tree and unleash a devastating attack of living branches that hit each player. Now in the trees, jumping around it costs energy to hit her, and on her turn she heals 1 health, pops out of the tree behind the players (by rearranging the front hero to the back) and is ready to attack again.
The result was that if we didn’t all work together to attack her simultaneously, she just kept running away, hurting us, using up all of our energy and then healing a small amount. She was able to drag on the fight. This single monster hurt and challenged us, forcing our actions to be planned and synchronized. So we could eliminate her in a single round. Perfect. Her ability to exhaust players by running through trees and hitting all players proved to be a capable strategy.
What did we learn? Solo monsters work. The Barbarian is much too powerful. Some of the abilities need a little clarification. And the new initiative system was a success. By putting just one initiative at the beginning, we now don’t have to slow down the game to determine it every turn. It also allows for us a small pool of recoverable energy by holding your action to move at a later initiative.
Oh, and embarrassingly enough, I was reminded that 0 is a viable initiative number and that maybe some of the monsters should be that slow. Seeing as how players can be that slow as well.
Quite a lot done and quite a lot learned. We’ll have a demo that you can play as home just as soon as we get the core mechanic finalized and a demo packet rulebook written up. So keep reading and we’ll keep sharing.
Next Tuesday we’ll be testing some of the untested features as well as the updates we learned from this test with play-test Group B. A decidedly different group of players. We’ll see what they pull out of the game.
If you have any input that you want to share. Feel free to do so. e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
—Lead Designer, John