Hey everyone! Apologies for the lateness of my replies (Simpson's reference, for anyone who gets it), but this month has been hectic. Been in training for the past week, and between that, moving, working, and wedding preparations, there hasn't been a whole lot of time for Siege development. So, we have a big update this week - Namely, three new concept words; Raze, Truce, and Squander. Brad will be writing about these shortly, and going into more detail about each of them (Except for Truce, that one's all me), but I'll be providing some background to how we reached the place that we did. We had a game that stalemated for close to 50 turns all-around, and ended without a winner. Intriguied? Read on.
So, we've been doing some more playtesting recently (Which any of you can hop in on if you'd like), and one game gave me a big, happy trout-slap in the face. I was playing Morale Legion, and my opponent was playing a weird Psiloi/Scavenger Weenie hybrid. A couple of the early skirmishes went pretty evenly, him trading some cheap, inefficient dudes for some of my Heavy-hitters (Which was really disheartening). His deck was really fast and forced me to stabilize early, which I did. After stabilizing, I had him backed up into his own first expanse, and he entrenched everyone there. The glory of Scavenger, as it stands, is that you can sit and entrench and just keep pumping dudes out at an alarming rate.
I had a decision to make. I had a Lomars in-hand, and promptly played it, but very quickly found myself outnumbered by his Scavengers. I could have laid Siege, as I was entrenched in center, but he was +2 on Morale due to an early Rome trigger. I had built the deck wrong, and couldn't recover from losses as quickly as he could. This was my first mistake. My second mistake, I didn't push early enough. He was weakest early, and as time went on, his board position just got stronger. So, we both sat, entrenched, for thirty-three turns, until we drew our decks.
Now, from a development standpoint, this was problematic. To each of us, we had the better position, entrenched, and sitting was probably the better option. For me, I could have made the argument that pushing early would have been a better move, but I would have suffered heavy losses in the process. But this is the great equalizer to Siege's combat system - Big, bad armies don't always equal a win. You could have the biggest, baddest dude on the field, and your opponent could have 16 little ones and rip your face off, Gangnam-Style (I still haven't figured out what exactly Gangnam-Style is, so I'm just using the term randomly until I get it right).
So, there we were, me with the territory and food advantage, with larger, deadlier armies, but him with the numbers break (Numbers Break: When your opponent has 7 damage up and it takes 8 to kill an army) advantage, and I didn't push, and didn't lay Siege. Both mistakes on my part, to an extent. So, we sat there, for thirty-three turns, and drew our decks. And I wanted him to move first. But this was the first roadblock in the development discussion Brad and I had - Who moves first? We had just spent 33 turns stalemated because the other player had the 'better' position. Whose responsibility is it to take the loss and move first? From our standpoint, this is bad for the game. I don't want players doing the "Draw-Go" thing turn after turn until the end. Does the game end in a stalemate? I say yes. If both players are unwilling or unable to move, the game ends in a Truce, and the teams go home. But this isn't official, just something I thought up as I was writing this.
So, I made the first move for the sake of curiosity. And he massacred my dudes. And I didn't drop any reinforcements the turn I moved in, either. Big, big mistake on my part. This one was my third. He had the numbers break advantage, more dudes, and was entrenched. So, after he killed all of my dudes, he moved up and laid Siege - In most cases, the appropriate thing to do. In this case, it cost him. Morale Legion punishes decks laying Siege, and five of my six Dire Evocati started equalizing the morale gap. But I walked directly into a well-timed Fight For Honor, dropping me to 0 Morale. I had 17 armies in-hand, four of which were Evocati, and more than enough resources to punish him and pull out the win.
So, he continued pushing, falling back, and entrenching as needed to keep up with my heavy hitters, and I made a few play mistakes in not ridding myself of his Praetorians to keep my Morale going (I had forgotten that you can play Dire Evocati while at 0 Morale to gain into itself), which were mistakes four and five. I had also forgotten to put in my single Theban Entertainers (Mistake six), and he finally got down to pushing into my expanse and killing structures. So, I started dropping Evocati in home, he got all of my structures in my Support, and we were prepared to play out the last two or three turns, when... Lackey exploded, crashed, and we lost the game.
Infuriated, Brad and I let our other playtester head home to his family, while we recreated the scenario. After all of the bloodletting and massacring, there were two cards left on the field - My Rome, and his Psiloi. Now, if that doesn't seem hilarious to you, that's okay. Because Rome has 2 armor, while Psiloi only has 1 attack. I couldn't play any more armies, despite having three left in-hand, and he didn't have any way to damage my City or win the game. Quandry, no? So, we started discussing what exactly happens in this scenario. Is it a tie? Do the Psiloi go home? Does Rome get slowly beaten down? They're behind their walls, untouched. Psiloi aren't going anywhere. No player can play anything.
So, this is bad. I don't want a game that just spent 50 turns stalemated to end in a stalemate (Or Truce). None of us wants that, really. So, we began pondering ways to fix stuff like this. And there were three problems to fix - First, players need an incentive to not sit for 50 turns entrenched. Sure, there are going to be decks that thrive on this concept (LMC is a deck that I will write about exploiting the Castle strategy), but for two aggressive decks to stall out like that, something certainly needed to be done about that. Secondly, the concept of an army unable to take any undefended structure seemed a bit silly to us. Of course, something like the city of Troy - or any heavily fortified city for that matter - would give armies trouble. And finally, there needs to be a way for players to end a game after all of the cards in a deck are gone. And these have given birth to Raze and Squander, which Brad will be talking about in the next article.
I will also be writing more frequently over the next couple weeks on this topic as well as others - and start to get into deckbuilding, development for the player, and Resource Identities. Until then, Siege on!