I have always had sympathies for the villains. The villains do all the hard work, build massive fortresses, negotiate complex alliances between hostile parties for a common cause (of subjucating nations). And then some random guy/gal/group decides that by their standards what you are doing is unacceptable, and bring all your hard work to ruin, sometimes killing you in the process. Having your work undone is something I can understand and empathize with.
Doom and Descent are two board games where a group of heroes navigate a dungeon or a facility and one evil mastemind tries to stop them. I realized that the dynamic is always the same: A group of heroes against a monolithic entity. And in my usual fashion I tried to look at it in another way: Would having several masterminds working against one lone hero… work?
I mentioned Crusader before. Having fond memories of it, I decided to make a tabletop game out of it. I would try to keep the spirit of the original game intact: One powerful hero going against security cameras, booby traps, mechs and tons of security guards, scavenging increasingly powerful weapons along the way. Silencer never talks in the game. He just goes on and ruins things. There are some video clips where the evil chairman of WEC hears about the player’s exploits (and explosions) and gets frustrated at his underlings. That hat-stomping frustration and general evil incompetence would be nice to simulate. From these premises, it becomes clear that the game would have two sides: The lone hero and several evil lieutenants. By having the greater number of players in the side of unlimited resources is a challenge, since they can just co-operate and destroy Silencer. But, if the game should only have one winner, the lieutenants would have to fight each other in addition to the hero. And thus a game is born.
The game, which I shall call Crusader: No Mercy, would be a card game in the style of Death Angel. The main game area consists of a line of cards, each representing a new location. Some locations can have side routes, which contain either supplies for the Silencer, or keys for a locked door. The locations can have hazards or quirks that affect how the characters can act there.
One of the players is the Silencer. He has different weapons, which each consume different amount of ammunition, hit points, gadgets and maneuvers. Silencer has an objective, usually an object to destroy, a console to hack, or a person to assasinate. Each round the player can move to a new location, which takes him closer to the objective, and/or perform other actions, usually shooting threats. If the Silencer can perform his objective and flee via teleporter, he wins.
The other players are security chiefs. They control the facility’s security guards and traps. Each round, the security guards draw new resources, either guards, traps or other hazards for the Silencer. They can setup visible guards, mechs or other threats in unvisited rooms, or rooms with a teleporter, or they can install hidden traps or cameras in unvisited rooms. Then the important bit: Only the player whose guard or trap kills the Silencer, wins.
The play proceeds thusly: First, the security players draw Threat cards and Supply cards. Then, in Initiative Order, the security players can place a Threat card in a location, either face up or face down. Only cameras and traps can be played face down. After that, the security players can bid to change the Initiative Order. When a player wants to change the Initiative Order, he bids any amount of Supply Cards to the Silencer. The other security players can up the bid, if they have the cards. The player whose bid stays puts the Supply cards to either existing security guards or to Supply Chests in locations.
Next, the Silencer player draws Silencer cards. Those have maneuvers, shortcuts and other cards that improve his chances. Then the Silencer can either attack guards in the current location, search the location or move to another location. Attacking usually costs ammunition, and the efficiency of the attack depends on the weapon the Silencer uses. Most conventional firearms are (relatively) weak but well stocked. Special weapons, like freeze ray, microwave gun or the solidfier are extremely effective, but destroy any supply cards on the guards. Explosive weapons require specific Silencer cards to use safely, and they destroy hidden Threat cards as well.
After the Silencer’s turn happens Maintenance. The guards fight back in Initiative Order, all guards from revealed rooms move towards the Silencer. Perhaps some Event card is played.
The security players want to suppress the Silencer as much as possible, since a strong Silencer means none of them are going to win. But since there can be only one winner, the game gets tight when the Silencer’s hit points start to go red. The security players will want to get the last shot in, which means being in the right position in the Initiative Track. And as the winner of the bid gets to choose the order completely, the Silencer should get a nice boost of medkits, ammo and weapons when the bidding gets rough. And to make sure he gets to use them, he gets a turn before the guards actually fire.
So the security players try to balance giving out too much stuff to the Silencer and being the one winning. The Silencer tries to stay alive and manage his ammunition and gadgets. The game area is wide and there are no dice rolls, so the game should be generally somewhat predictable, so that the players can strategize. The guards should be played in a bunch so that some of them can get a shot in before they are Silenced. The mechs are big and powerful, but they mostly work only during an alarm, and are vulnerable to EMP and hijacking. Traps are somewhat easy to evade, so they should be played only when the Silencer is in a hurry. Cameras and lasers can set off an alarm, which gives the security players more cards.
So there is my take on a semi-cooperative game.