Saturday, January 12, 2013

A further simplification- Heroes & Soldiers

Happy 2013 everyone, I did a recent playtest, having implemented a new idea. One of the problems that I had always had with the game is that it is so darn complicated. This stems in part from the fact that each character has two dopplegangers, and each doppleganger has 2 powers, and each power bends the rules in a very special way (and often in a big way, like different monsters in Magic, except without the information always conveniently written on the card). I think I realized the full extent of this problem until a recent playtest with an old roommate. It felt like we spent a quarter of the game just figuring out all of the powers that each character had. This is not so much an issue in other wargames, because often, most character is just a slightly altered version of a generic archtype. In Necromunda, all of the characters are basically the same, except for their weapon (at least at first, and by the time they get specialized, you have played with them enough games to remember this). In HeroScape, each creature has a health, attack, and defense. A few have special powers, however, most of all that you need to remember is how many attack and defense dice that you roll (and even the super characters rarely have more than 2 powers). In Warmachines, it is fairly similar (I think), that except for your general and big mechs, most characters are their stats and their weapon, and maybe an ability. So, it hit me a way that I could solve this: Games like Warhammer got around this problem by having lots ordinary creatures with few abilities, and a couple characters with massive special powers. I decided that I would try the same thing. I split the characters into two groups: heroes and soldiers. Heroes were basically what all of my former characters were (they had lots of abilities to choose from). Soldiers, on the other hand, got 1 power each, and those powers were selected from a rather short list (like, I tried to have 1 archery ability, 1 summoning ability, etc). This way, if you had an army of archers, they all had the same bow (rather than this one having a pistol, that one spitting acid, etc). I even made it so that soldiers only existed in 1 world, thus avoiding the complications of multi-world characters. Having tried this, it actually worked really well. I playtested this recently with a close friend who had never played a wargame before (I was actually a little surprised that she liked it as much as she did). Despite me being a little rusty on the game, and despite her having never played a game like this, she actually had a fairly easy time keeping track of what each character could do. The only major problem I had in that game was again, there was not enough of a connection between the worlds. I think my way of fixing that will be to change it back, so that soldiers exist in both worlds. I have a couple other ideas, but I think I will leave them for a future post. Simon