Thursday, August 27, 2015

Simple Mechanics Does Not Mean Simple Gameplay

 I was watching the Beasts of War Dungeon Saga videos and then reading some comments on the Mantic Blog.  One commenter said the game was too simplistic for his tastes.  I will agree that the game does have very simple mechanics with essentially 3 Stats(Move, Armor, Fight/Shoot/Spell) determining the characters and what happens when they act.  The characters also only start with 1 feat usable only once a mission.  This does make the fighter type classes seem pretty simplistic.  Move and hit things are pretty much how they play and hit things then move is not even an allowed option.  So why is the game not to simple.  There are two issues that jump out to me which allow such simple mechanics.  First is the tight confines of the dungeon where positioning and facing matter.  The second key factor is the time limit generated by the overlord drawing cards.  If the heroes were allowed methodically work their way through the dungeon camping piles of bones until they are dust the overlord would not have a chance.  His minions even in numbers are not grave threats to the heroes.

Order of Hero activation is key and the heroes have to work together so for one player controlling all the heroes, he has to think of them as a unit.  You really have a lot more options to keep track of in that case.  There are lots of places where bad model positioning will delay your progress.  It only takes one or two turns of lost progress to force the Heroes to have to take chances.  Add in the interrupt cards where the Overlord can take an action during the hero turn if they happen to leave their squishy wizard exposed.  He only has to disable one hero to win the mission.  With multiple players controlling the heroes I would not be surprise if there are disagreements on who should go when.  We saw that in the BoW video.  The players have to communicate their plans to avoid getting in each other way.  We also saw the veteran gamers of BoW have to do Backsees when they found they had place models poorly.

If it still seems too simple maybe you are born to be the overlord who adds 3 levels of resource management to the game.  You have to optimize your card use with only 1 allowed during your turn.  You need to optimize your activation usage as you generally have more models or possible raise dead locations than you are allowed each turn.  Finally you have a finite number of models you can have control of so you have to optimize which piles of bones you use to generate models.  Remember the Overlord is not a storyteller trying to challenge the heroes but ultimately guide them to success.  He is there to destroy them so he can raise their corpses and use them to vanquish the next foolhardy set of adventurers who stand in his way.


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