Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Special Operations Killzone: Explained -MISSIONS

As stated previously, this series is designed to offer a peek behind the curtain, and to illuminate our collective thinking about the current state of Special Operations: Killzone as we run up to AdeptiCon.

We completely re-worked these from scratch. To my way of thinking, this is the most fundamental and most rewarding change from the previous iteration.

Last year I slaved over a veritable tome of missions (18 in sum, which is much, much harder than it might seem). The weight of this ambition and the crunch of time stunted our ability to properly playtest a number of these. doh. Lesson learned. While I still believe in those missions for great narrative-fueled gaming opportunities that they offer, the system itself was cumbersome and sometimes lop-sided. Player’s often had differing roles that invited imbalance, for example, as one team might have wildly different ability parameters and potential for success than his opponent. Again, that’s fun at home but difficult to bring to an event like AdeptiCon.

As we packed up after the event, we could certainly see significant space for improvement.  

We began by rethinking the missions dynamic in its entirety. Now, each game is broken into three missions (goodbye mission book, we hardly knew you, though I believe parts of you live on in coughmortaliscough. ha).

The Primary Mission is shared by both players openly, and describes the deployment, etc., for that game. In each instance, a Primary Mission can be completed or partially completed for either 6 or 3 Mission Points. The tally of these Mission Points decides the game.

The Secondary and Tertiary Missions are drawn secretly after deployment, and are worth 3 and 1 Mission Points respectively. A player can boost the value of these missions slightly be revealing one or both of these to his opponent before the game. It’s a callous and gutsy move. 

The layering of these missions, I believe, now makes each game tremendously complex fun. The missions are staggered in difficulty, so that the Primary Mission requires a significantly greater investment in time and resources than the Secondary, and so on. For example, a Primary Mission might require that a portion of your team move from one of the table to the other (and stay alive), while a Secondary Mission might ask you to interact with one of the tokens in the middle of the table (see next post), and a Tertiary Mission might require that you not kill an enemy model –as he is a sleeper agent working covertly. Each requires differing levels of investment and, in my experience, resources always seem to be in too high demand, too short supply. Remember, there’s an opponent out there bent on whittling away at your team.

As such, each game is fraught with intrigue and challenge. Players have choices, genuine choices, on how they want their teams to boldly grasp victory from the jaws of defeat: mission denial, focus on lower-level missions, and so on.

Moreover, the potentially imbalanced teams, such as my much beloved but lamentably unsuccessful Armored Might Wolves, are tough in the trenches but extraordinarily thin on the aforementioned resources. Three potential missions between six models is, well, nearly impossible.   


As a final touch of stupendousness, That Guy James once more brought his talent to the table and created decks of simply stunning cards to represent this mechanism in the game. The cards are not required to play the game, but they were a hit at the event last year and really add an element of refinement to the experience. We liked them so much that we have created two decks, as a matter of fact. Rather than simply rolling and recording your mission, players can draw cards and keep them tucked in the sleeve when called for. Again, it’s not exactly necessary, but great fun all the same.

The basic 36-card deck includes Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Mission cards as well as a full set of Fate cards for the extra helping of cinematic flair.

The 54-card deck has the works. We included three versions of each Primary Mission (at least one with differing deployment and one that represents the refined “Night Fight” rules). This deck also includes two of each Secondary and Tertiary Mission so that players might draw the same goals (to simulate if they were simply rolled out of the book). You will also find the full Fate set again for the drama and intrigue. This is my deck, to be sure.

Curious? Want some? See Monday’s post for information on how you can get your hands on these.



Son of Dorn said...

Was just going through some of my things yesterday and found the old missions booklet :)

Also, I see that GK in the background. You're taunting me, Brian. Taunting! :P

Mark said...

Will these card eventually make it into another mission book as well, or will they stay in deck form?

Either way, I want some. I've been selling a group here on the the idea of some Killzone, and a set of missions to run through would help a great deal.

HOTpanda said...

Your killing me by making me wait an entire week to find out how my bloody stained paws can caress those exquisite cards. GIVE IT TO ME NOW!!! LOL!!! please...

Brian said...

@ Son of Dorn. Ah, that old book. I still have a few copies lying around and refuse to bin them. In fact, I think it might be time to try a few out in larger games just to see.

Also, look under "book wardens" link. You should be directed to a test model GK fitting that description. Go yellow.

@ #2501. Technically, the missions are already in the text of the books, so you have them. Before we made the cards, we would just roll for each individual component. The cards just make the experience so much more fun.

But since you asked. The cards go on sale Monday!!!

@ Panda. Monday!

Son of Dorn said...

Cool. Also, where did the option for subscribing to comments go?