With the Prologue ready for testing, I jumped in and did the first run through to see where the theoretical failed and the real game began.
A quick recap of this Prologue and we see the hero starting a the outskirt of town and minions on the board.
With the board set, it is time to begin. Until the scenario is final, I won’t bother railroading it into a teaching prologue so everything is freeform at this point.
The first monster “tell” is WILL so I set my board accordingly. Actually. With a Spirit of six and only six available spots for my action cubes, my board is set no matter what. Usually this is bad design. You shouldn’t give the player the illusion of options only to have no real option at all but it is the beginning of the game and makes setup easier so I move on.
The minions all head towards me, then the Witch is placed on the board, revealing she was disguised as a plague victim the whole time. She infects a house and then curses me with fear.
I fail the test and move to the board edge. This is good to know that a WILL ‘tell’ will require me to prepare for a forced flee. If I’ve set up a run to attack at the Witch and this comes up, it may really mess up my plans.
There is no followup for the Witch so I rush in and strike down a minion. More infected show up at the buildings but only one is released so things are still manageable. The Witch is in striking distance and only two minions are around to harass me.
I only used four action cubes and I’m nowhere near a minion so I gain everything back and reset to full.
Minions start coming towards me and then the Witch pulls a Houdini. I fail the perception test and the Witch disappears off the board, being replaced by two minions. This ruins the plan I had for killing her. Rude.
With no Witch on the table, I don’t need to get swarmed by minions so I rush the closest one, strike him down, then run to the side of the building to lose the sight of at least one minion. Another minion comes to play and more infection tokens get placed in the buildings. I’ve only used four action cubes again so the reset is the same.
No ‘Tell’ this time but with a full hero board, it doesn’t matter (a bad sign for the design).
The minions give chase but can only engage me while the ones that lost sight, move randomly away. The Witch comes back, adds some infection to the buildings, and adds minions to the board. I decide to disengage and run around the building, taking my first wound of the game from the reaction attacks. Getting around the building gets me out of sight of four of these minions so hopefully they scatter randomly, leaving me to get straight at the Witch.
The ruse works and minions scatter next turn going every which way. One minion engages but doesn’t land a hit. The Witch has another WILL ‘tell’ and I’m still up in cubes so the board is fully loaded. This is going on a little too long for my liking as it becomes several rounds of never needing to make a decision on the hero board. Since this is a key feature of the game, the prologue should at least show it off.
The Witch unleashes a terrible Curse of Pain, which I fail (zero for three on tests in this game so far) and take three damage. This triggers my first cube loss. I have to exhaust two cubes so the PERC and DEX cubes go, one of which is lost permanently to damage. It is all worth it though as I disengage from the minion, taking another wound, and charge the Witch getting a critical hit.
The next round sees more minions coming at me so after the Witch fails her disappearing act, I get in another hit and flee around the other side of the fence. The minion and the Witch both land a reaction attack on me and I’m starting to get into dangerous territory, damage-wise. I’ve also gotten the Witch down to three life left so a single crit can end her forever.
The minions scatter again, looking for me while the Witch curses me with Pain again. I fail but only take a couple more damage. I’m down to five at this point so I rush at the Witch and get another hit in, dropping her to 1 life left. Victory is close at hand.
Another few rounds of trickery sees the Witch continuously evading my advances while the minions have all locked on to me. I still have enough life to risk taking a lot of reaction attacks so I do it. Two hits land and I’m down to three but free and charging the Witch to end this evil.
Oof! I needed a four minimum (due to the +1 I have for the attack when fully charged).
Minions engage again but get no attacks since they had to move twice to get to me. I disengage again and three hits get through but my shield is able to turn one into a miss so I’m still up with one life left.
Arrgh! I need a five this time because I was not able to fully charge up the attack (due to the Stench power of the minions). One life left. Maybe the swarm of minions will all miss?
No such luck… The minions swarm again around the hero and easily drop him. This
This first game showed from the beginning that some things were needed immediate changes. The fact that multiple rounds went by where I easily filled up all my available cube actions meant that things weren’t happening fast enough. This was also shown in that the game actually ran about 12 rounds, which felt excessive since most of the time was spent chasing the Witch around. The infection building mechanic didn’t really matter much and became a useless chore once all the minions where on the board. Likely because the minions came out very quickly and then stuck around as they were never really a good target. With only one attack per round, it is a huge opportunity cost to waste it on a single minion.
After another half dozen games and some other testing, I was able to tighten up the game to run in about 6-8 rounds and cut into the hero’s action economy earlier, making the player make meaningful decisions on their hero board earlier as well. Balance-wise, I still need to run it a few more times but it seems like a good split between winning and losing, which is what I want. Defeat should be part of the experience in this game to help drive the Bloodlines aspect.
With the Prologue set for final tweaking, I can retest the Werewolf hunt with the weaker hero and work on how the hero progresses through the hunts.