With a lot of the basics out of the way, I put my Monster Hunting game to the table to give it a spin. I have the outline of the scenario for the Werewolf mission and enough small tests to understand the combat mechanics but it is different seeing it all come together.
For now, I have both the scenario rules and the Monster stats all in one “card.” Depending on how this all ends up, I may make a separate regular-sized card for the Werewolf and describe the scenario in a book layout.
Here we see the Werewolf has powers to summon wolves to help attack the hero, he regenerates, buffs other wolves, and is immune to critical effects (and damage). In addition, he can move 7 inches, has a defense of 7 (so 7 or greater hits him on a d12), attacks with 2 dice (this is an old version before I switched to d12s from d6s), and he deals 2 damage when he hits.
The scenario rules or “Environment” has the conditions of the battlefield. You have to attack the Werewolf at night so you’ll need to bank a constant perception action cube or suffer a penalty to hit. In addition, the full moon may come out from the clouds, giving the Werewolf more strength (hitting you easier, dealing more damage, and moving faster). He also immediately calls more wolves.
There are also two terrain effects going: there is a ruins area in the middle that will both keep minions away and allow the hero to search the area to discover a secret weapon. Lastly, there are actual setup instructions on how big of a map to play on, where the ruins should go, and where to deploy the hero and monster.
I’ve setup the board and loaded up the Werewolf’s first card with the hint “WILL” showing. The hero board I have is fully loaded with all the options available so I can see how they interact. Since the Werewolf will be one of the first hunts you go on, I’ll have to tweak things down a little to represent a less experienced hunter. I decide to add in a cube for WILL and put 2 in attack, 2 in move, 1 in dodge, and 1 in Stamina. The Werewolf reveals:
Of course! The card I previewed before! Werewolf is on the board so we ignore the italics part but he summons five wolves, one less than normal since I have a cube in WILL. The wolves are placed using a scatter die 6″ from the hero. Then, since the Werewolf is so far away, he disappears into the night leaving me with a lot of angry wolves. In the darkness (as his follow up action), he unleashes a terrifying howl. This forces me to roll a number of dice equal to the number of cubes I have in WILL. I need one success (meeting or beating the monster’s Will stat of 7) or I lose (exhaust) two cubes to the exhausted zone before I even get to go. I roll an 8 and I’m ok.
For my turn, I actually can’t do much except move. No wolves are on me yet so I can’t dodge or attack so I hoof it out to the center as far as my meager 2 inches will let me. With all these wolves on the board, I decided I need to get to that ruined sanctuary and keep the Werewolf between just us two.
At the end of the turn, I’ll get 5 cubes back from the exhausted zone and the Stamina cube can move immediately to the ready zone. I decide I want to focus everything on moving and since that eats up 6 cubes, I’ll leave the dodge and Will cube in place, cycling the rest. I make a roll for the moon and it stays hidden.
The next monster card has no “tell” or hint as to what will happen so I plan as intended. Minions all activate and rush at me. Due to the angles, none of them can get close enough. The card is revealed and the Werewolf randomly appears. The scatter die puts him behind me and he moves, regardless of distance, to engage me. From darkness he springs and instead of attacking once, he attacks four times but dealing only one damage for each success. Three successes drops me three health, one away from losing one of my action cubes. After beating me down, he flees back 4 inches.
I run away full tilt and push on, four inches into the board to try to get to the ruins. I cycle my actions but have run down to only being able to use four cubes. They all go into movement to get me to the ruins. In the next round, the wolves give chase and hunt me down, dealing me another three damage. I lose a cube from my exhausted area. The Werewolf moves in and attacks. An extra two damage from his attack will cost me another action cube so I dodge and use my shield to block. The Werewolf flees again and goes off the board.
I push into the safety of the ruins and set up for the next round. I need want to find this weapon to see if it can help against the wolves and Werewolf. I load up on Perception regardless of the monster card tell as I need to find this weapon fast. The wolves circle the perimeter of the ruins and I’m safe.
Or so I thought until the Werewolf jumps into the fray. I take another two damage and I’m at half health and have lost two action cubes. I blow all 4 of my Perception action dice to search the ruins and easily find the ancient weapon.
How unoriginal and yet exactly what I need! So this weapon mimics what my sword already does but takes away from that pesky regeneration. It’s time to get working on this Werewolf and put an end to him.
I trap myself in a corner to avoid getting forced out of the protection of my ruins. The Werewolf’s minions gather and watch, not daring the sacred place while I fight back and forth, trading blows with the foul creature. This actually turns into a bit of a slog as I’m in the optimal place and just stack the dice in defense on the rounds I think the Werewolf dart in, attack, then flee, and load up on attacks for when I think he’ll stay and fight. The moon reveals one round and the Werewolf totally wrecks me down to two health remaining. I have, however gone on a tear the two previous rounds, hitting with both attacks each time and cutting him down two health as well. I loaded up on attacks again and the Werewolf is in my sights. I can feel victory at hand as I just need one of my attacks to hit (and the second attack will get a +1). Two Twos on the d12 spell my doom. Both attacks fail and the Werewolf goes again.
I load up for defense and throw one last cube into attack just in case I get lucky. It is to no avail. The Werewolf jumps back in and crits me, ending my journey.
All in all, the first run through went very well. Since I built the scenario, I knew the sword was there and the ruins would stop all the additional minions shenanigans so this kind of railroaded my approach, something a brand new player would not necessarily do. The biggest take away was it all worked without needing to caveat or amend how interactions would work or rewrite whole mechanics. The balance is a little off but that is ok since I’ll need to rebalance it anyway when starting with characters with less options.
Fast forward to now and I’ve played through things almost a dozen times, modifying some of the environmental aspects, and tweaking things on the way. The biggest thing was the initial game lacked the dynamics and heroics I was looking for at the outset. Running to the center and taking cover in the corner of the ruins to dice it out seemed not very epic. I think I can be forgiven for not making the first hunt or so not epic but there should be the hints of things being dynamic and epic even if you aren’t doing godly feats right out of the gate.
More iterations will follow as I hone into the “fun” of the board state, allowing the hero to really be heroic. These first sets of tests have shown me that the system itself works and there is a fun factor to building the actions out in a plan, watching those plans whither, and adjusting to take on the new threats. Even though I wrote the routines for the monster cards, the tells being there or not being there seems to throw off enough of my memory to still be surprised and caught off guard.