Ch-ch-changes Episode 3
Challenge Cards, Bonus Loot and Stories.
Hey everyone! This will be the last in our trilogy describing the mutations undergone by Posthuman Saga in the months since the Kickstarter campaign. In this update, we’ll discuss the integration of Challenge tokens with the Combat Deck, how the new Challenge Deck is connected to Bonus Loot on Terrain tiles, and how Stories are triggered and work with the new Challenge cards.
Integration of Stat challenges and Combat cards into Challenge cards.
Stat challenges, used in Stories and in other situations – including gaining Bonus Loot during Forage actions – have been integrated into what used to be called Combat cards. Since these are now used in many situations, not just in combat, they’re now called Challenge cards. What this means is that all of a character’s stats – not just their fighting ability – are reflected in the Challenge cards. As a result, a character’s Challenge Deck will be very much determined by their stat makeup, and different characters will have very different decks.
This change has created a LOT more interesting decisions – for example, since you’re now drawing from the same deck for different kinds of challenges, you might have to decide whether to use a good card in the Story encounter you’ve just drawn, or save it for the Combat encounter you were planning to have later in the same turn. It’s also meant we’ve axed a whole different sub-system (the Challenge tokens) and, instead, made the awesome deck management system we have at the heart of the game stand out even more.
Once we’d integrated Combat cards and Stat challenges into the new Challenge Deck, we thought of linking actions on the Map with the same system, so that the main aspects of the game – Combat, Stories and Map exploration – would all utilize the Challenge card deck. For balancing reasons, we also wanted to give an additional benefit to characters with high Mind that had less bonuses on the Combat side of their Challenge cards, since Mind only featured in one aspect of their construction. We also wanted to make the Forage juicier and less pre-determined. At the same time, we wanted to ensure that players would get a resource if they invest a turn in Foraging a tile for it. To address all of that, we added the Bonus Loot mechanic.
Each Terrain tile now has one or two Bonus Loot icons on it. During a Forage action, you get the Standard Loot, just as you did before, with the small difference that Mountains now yield a Ranged weapon and Cities a Melee weapon. Additionally, though, you can now also try to get the Bonus Loot indicated on the Terrain tile by performing a Mind Challenge with a required success of 4. What kind of loot are we talking about? Well, going for Bonus Loot could get you Followers, Equipment or Recovery Tokens, as well as additional Standard Loot elements like food, ammo or weapons.
The Bonus Loot mechanic gives another element to consider during the Broadcast – you might now decide you want a particular tile based on its Bonus Loot, in addition to choosing on the basis of the terrain type or Scavenge Site token type – and also allows for an additional dimension of choice regarding your Challenge Deck management (do you go for the Bonus Loot and use up a Challenge card, or save it for upcoming Stories or Combat encounters?). This has also rendered the Loot die redundant, meaning it has now been removed from the game.
Stories and Combat Encounters: Stories are no longer potentially triggered by an Explore action. Instead, each character gets 3 Stories throughout the game that trigger at the start of a random round. This means that Terrain tiles no longer have a Threat level, and Combat Encounters no longer have a Story on them. Instead, you determine which Story you trigger by drawing a Story token out of a bag.
This was a fairly important change and needed to happen. First of all, we did not like the fact that the players had control over when Stories could potentially happen to them. We wanted Stories to be unexpected events that the players encounter on their journey. Such events do not happen when we will them to – they’re beyond our control.
The second reason is that tests were showing situations were some players were getting lucky on their Terrain tile Threat level die rolls, making it much easier for them to complete their Mission than other players who were less favored by the dice. Another reason for this change is that the management of the Challenge card deck is such an interesting mechanic, and has been so popular with our testers, that we wanted to weave it as tightly as possible into other aspects of the game in a well-balanced and consistent manner. This is the same reason we integrated Story challenges with the Challenge Deck, and also linked the deck to the Bonus Loot on Foraging actions. We now have a lot more interlocking mechanics that make for tough decisions right from the get-go. The tightness of this system was being undermined by having the possibility of drawing Stories – which were less punishing on the Challenge card economy – instead of Combat Encounters. Now, every player knows they need to deal with a minimum of 7 Combat Encounters – in addition to the 3 Stories randomly triggered through the course of the game – if they aim to complete both of their Mission Objectives, and must manage their Challenge cards and other resources accordingly.
That’s it for this series of communications on how Posthuman Saga has mutated in the months since the Kickstarter campaign. We think the game has grown leaner, tighter, neater and more focused, but also meaner, denser and more complex in terms of the choices it demands and the strategies it allows for. Its systems are now more tightly interwoven, with decisions impacting multiple systems and having possible repercussions on many levels further down the line. Just as importantly, we think the game now feels even more like a journey across a weird, wonderful and terrible post-apocalyptic wasteland, with its systems tying in even more closely to the atmospheric world we wanted to conjure up in your imagination as you sit around the board.
As we post this we're working with an external editor and running blind tests (that is with people who have never played it before) to stress test the rulebook. All game design changes have been locked in, the graphic design of the boards and punch boards is done and we're proofing the cards for any mistakes that might have escaped testing. From next week we'll start sending the print files to the printer but we'll post more about the production schedule together with more new illustrations from Arjuna in the next update!
Hope this year has been good to you so far! It's certainly been super crunchy for us in this last stretch before we have a beautiful mutant of a finished game on our hands!