My current project Glowquest is a traditional dungeon crawler that uses Advanced Heroquest tiles. My goal is basically to have something more tactical than Advanced Heroquest itself (which hasn’t aged well in a lot of ways).
Anyway I’ve been doing lots of solo playtesting to catch obvious shortcomings. But about two weeks ago I did a playtest with my target audience of 2 of my friends who I grew up playing Advanced Heroquest with. The game went pretty well, and it was good to get some real feedback from real people. My biggest concerns were around playtime and complexity. There were a lot of fiddly aspects to track, like should a monster Interrupt have triggered, etc. From the playtest I have a big list of TODOs. I wanted to cover some of the thinking I’ve had over the past while about solutions.
First of all Surges didn’t quite stack up how I wanted. Generally you got too few. There’s a 62% chance you only get 1-2 Surges. I added Fate (which is a spendable resource that restores between expeditions) which can be used to get extra Surges as a band-aid for this. But what I think I’ll do instead is change the core dice resolution. Currently you roll 3D6, and the lowest result is the number of Surges, and the other two dice are added together to get your to-hit. If there is a tie/duplicate for lowest (such as 3, 3, 6) you add +1 Surges. So 3, 3, 6 would be 3+1=4 Surges and 3+6=9 to hit. 3, 3, 3 would be 5 Surges and 6 to hit. That seemed fine on paper, but like I said the math didn’t play out how I wanted during the playtest.
So then I looked to changing Fate as a solution. My first idea was to make Fate per encounter instead of per expedition, and lower the amount you get (like 1-3 instead of 4+). This had an unexpected downside: it made turns have much more analysis in all the wrong ways. Because now you couldn’t just “roll the dice and see your options”, you had to roll, then go “well if I spend 1 Fate I could do these 15 things instead. And if I spend 2 Fate…!” So you’re not analysing what Skills to use (which is what I want), you’re wasting time trying to decide if you should get more resources and THEN what Skills to use. It also made monsters (who don’t get Fate) a lot weaker and they’d generally be stuck with 1-2 Surges.
An idea my friend has was that Fate should be a re-roll instead of 1 Fate = +1 bonus Surge. I like re-rolls from Blood Bowl, but had some concerns. Namely you could go from 1 Surge to 6 for 1 Fate, which makes Fate pretty crazy valuable. It’s also a bit more obvious when to re-roll (“I really need to have a big turn here and I rolled 2 Surges, yeah I’ll of course re-roll” as compared to figuring out exactly how much Fate to spend).
So yeah all in all just tweaking Fate didn’t seem to be the way.
I’m now thinking roll 4D6, discard the lowest, and the new second lowest becomes Surges, and the remainder is summed for to-hit. There is nothing done on ties/duplicates. This might sound more complex, but if you actually try rolling through it I found it plays better. And the math is much more in-line with what I’m after:
SURGES (4D6, discard lowest, Surges are new lowest, To Hit is middle + high, no bonuses)
- Likely need to tweak cost of built in / standard Surges, ie: Purge should be 3 instead of 2
Surge 1: 131680 (13.17%)
Surge 2: 274704 (27.47%)
Surge 3: 280611 (28.06%)
Surge 4: 201462 (20.15%)
Surge 5: 95228 (9.52%)
Surge 6: 16315 (1.63%)
1-2 Surges: 40.64% (-21.52% less chance)
2+ Surges: 86.83% (+19.97% more chance)
3+ Surges: 59.36% (+22.15% more chance)
4+ Surges: 31.3% (+12.94% more chance)
5+ Surges: 11.15% (+2.97% more chance)
6 Surges: 1.63% (-1.51% less chance)
This has plenty of benefits: no more outliers of 7-8 Surges, only a 40% chance to get 1-2 Surges, etc. The to-hits end up a bit higher, but the math is actually better on those too once Grit is adjusted.
And the other upside is I can keep Fate as per encounter AND change it to be a re-roll. But I also thought of the idea of the re-roll being used “defensively”, where you force a monster to re-roll THEIR Surges. So let’s say a Champion gets 5 Surges and could likely kill someone, you could spend Fate and make them re-roll the Surges down to a (hopefully) 1 or 2. I’m thinking every hero gets 2 Fate per expedition. I could of course just remove Fate, but I like a spendable resource, and I like that items can trigger around Fate, and it also makes heroes feel a bit more heroic.
Otherwise I have some tweaks on Glow crystals (they need to be a lot simpler), dungeon generation (moving to a single D20 with a ton of result combinations instead of D12 and D10 [especially since you need to resolve the D10 after the D12]), and all that kind of stuff. Progress is happening though!