Space Hulk: Death Angel. It is a cooperative card game about a group of Space Marine Terminators marching in the narrow, claustrophobic corridors of a Space Hulk while shooting aliens. The game was simple and fun, although quite murderous. The game returned to my mind as I was pondering the Stealth Game I defined in the last post, and now an idea is brewing. An idea I’m about to ramble incoherently about.
First of all, I want the game to be fully cooperative. That means the game world must be able to function on its own weight. Death Angel handled it well: On every turn, each player draws a card which states how many aliens spawn and where. The card drawing also functions as a timer, keeping the game going towards its inevitable end. New areas are handled by simple mechanics, which require knowledge from only one player. In my Stealth Card Game (A card game about stealth, not a game you can play stealthily… Hmm), the complex which the players must inflitrate is the game area. I have fallen in love with the idea that the area is constructed from cards, like in Dungeoneer. But as I want unpredictability, the game area must be replayable. So this is the solution: There is a deck of 10-15 location cards. Those cards may have up to four sides marked with a door. When the location card is revealed, a new, face down location is added to each side with a door. The complex is thus built as the inflitrator sneaks on. The locations also have gameplay info, such as guard level, alertness level, supplies or terminals or so on. Some doors may also be locked.
Several cooperative games have information denial present in some form. This prevents the game from being run by the most experienced player, as he does not know everything in any given time. It is an interesting mechanic, so I decided to apply it to Stealth Card Game. The game is (currently) designed for two players: The Infiltrator and the Eye in the Sky. The Infiltrator is the actual person on-site; His duty is to be unnoticed and get into places. The Eye player is the annoying support person speaking to the infiltrator’s headset and saying “There should be a storage room in the next corridor…” You know. The players are separated by a screen, and only the Eye can see the whole game area. The Infiltrator has a small game board with sliders and meters for the current location. Essentially, the Infiltrator sees what is in the current room and the Eye sees the building layout. This paves way for nonsymmetrical gameplay.
There is one main objective in the game and two secondary objectives, one for each player. The objectives are to steal something, assassinate someone or access something. The players must complete the main objective and exfiltrate to win the game. But if a player manages to also complete his secondary objective manages to score the more valuable Personal Victory. If both players manage to complete their objectives, they can be referred to the Stealth Legends from now on. This enables the players to either work together for an easy or hard victory, or to seek out their own goals. With game groups as paranoid as ours the latter might be insanely fun.
The Infiltrator is the one who chooses which actions to take. He can either use some feature in the current area, such as rummage through stores, hack keypads or access secure terminals, or move into a different area. The Infiltrator has two intrinsic properties: Combat Resources and Stealth Skill. The player can equip himself at the start of the game by dividing his starting resources between the two. Stealth Skill makes it easier to infiltrate, but Combat Resources are used to automatically pass a combat check. The Skill is constant, but the Resources are disposable. The Infiltrator rolls all combat and stealth rolls (because this game uses dice apparently).
The Eye sees all. Or rather, most. He sees the whole area layout and guards at every revealed location. He can give the Infiltrator guidance and warn him about guard patrols and so on. He also knows the locations of terminals, which can give passwords and such. The Eye rolls hacking rolls and handles random events.
Now I have an idea on how the game dynamic works. Next I’ll refine the actual mechanics. ’till that time.