Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Part 2: The End Times Cometh Returns

Warming: Naked Hodor ahead. 

Above: not Warhammer.
Now we'll go into making an actual Agenda system that was inspired by Triumph and Treachery mechanics as mentioned in my previous post. First of all, why not just use T&T wholesale and call it a day? Because it was made for true multiplayer (1 vs. 1 vs. 1) instead of a team match. The fluff also didn't quite work for everyone: you'd have cards that let you tempt opponents with gold, for example, or disrupt a unit with a gas bomb-- the latter seems like something the Skaven would come up with, but maybe not, say, the Bretonnians or Tomb Kings.

The end goal of Triumph & Treachery is also to simply amass the most gold through cards, and this feels pretty board-gamey for Warhammer. Don't get me wrong, I love boardgames, but when I play Warhammer, I chuck dice to smash face, not earn fake money!

Secret Agendas
I've been playing a lot of Malifaux recently, and one thing I absolutely love about it (aside from the fantastic models) is the Scheme system: players choose a set of objectives hidden from their opponent to gain victory points, from making sure a specific enemy (or even friendly!) model dies, to capturing (but not killing) certain characters, to playing hot potato with a cursed object against the enemy crew. A system where you could use hidden objectives to help teammates or stab them in the back for points sounded promising, and in keeping with how an alliance between different Chaos  factions, or alliances between the forces of Undeath and Order, would work.

First consideration: Alliance cards help your teammate, betrayal cards make them lose. But that would mean no decision-making on the part of the player-- I'll always play Alliance cards, and never play Betrayal, because why would I want my team to lose? Solution-- well, what if it's played as a team battle, but in the end, only ONE PLAYER could win? Aha. Now we have a motivation to be devious, like putting more Game of Thrones into Warhammer, only with less gratuitous nudity and Jon Snow pouting.

Which is a good thing, because with your average gamer, Game of Thrones-style nudity
 would look like this.                                                                      Image from

Deciding the Victor
Does the winning player only come from the winning team, or can he also come from the losing team? I decided to let the winning player come from either team, to see if it would solve a problem from long battles: if the match becomes one-sided, which it could in some cases, how to we keep it fun for the losing team, considering they still have several hours worth of losing to play? By giving the losing team players a chance to eke out an individual win, you keep them interested in the game, to see if they can snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. But we want to reward the winning team, so:

At the end of the game, each player tallies their total team VP score from killing enemy models, and gets the average VP Score. Members from the winning team get to add 500 pts to their individual score. Then each player's individual score is modified by his agenda cards.

To encourage the use of Agenda cards while having each player constantly calculate risk vs. reward (always very important, to make each decision count and keep the game interesting), Alliance cards will give the TEAM a benefit by working together, but the individual's score will suffer. Betrayal cards work in reverse: by using them, players can make the team suffer, but reap individual benefits (as a well-planned betrayal should). So:

Welp, if you say so, buddy. 
Alliance cards left in the player's hand (unused) give bonus points to the final individual score, and Betrayal cards left in the players hand give penalties. The value of the bonuses and penalties will be indicated on the cards.

This gives an interesting side benefit that works out well in the fluff: since alliance cards are valuable to each player, they will tend to delay using them unless they really have to (ie when they feel they are losing). How many stories are there about disparate armies coming together on the battlefield, when faced with a superior enemy? And winning armies will also soon find one betrayal being played after another-- if players sense their team is about to win near the end of the game, they'll start trying to unload Betrayal cards, like a pack of overconfident warlords turning on each other at the last moment when they're winning. It's one of those ideal situations where the rules and the fluff complement each other perfectly.

I also thought this captured the fractured nature of many warhammer alliances-- also perfect for a multiplayer game where you don't know who and what armies end up showing!

Next post, the Betrayal and Alliance cards themselves!

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