The rumors are true: we’re working on a new campaign expansion (codename: “AI”)! While we’re not ready to talk details yet, we want to preview some of what will be cool about it and share some thoughts on scenario design.
The topic today is monsters that respawn when killed. I’m going to go over how this mechanic is already used in the game and then delve into some twists on it that you’ll be seeing in AI.
Respawning monsters as a design element was introduced to the game by Farbs in a 2014 update aimed at giving players more options when creating scenarios. Their first appearance in published content was in Mauve Manticore 5—Kalin’s clever puzzle and Scarponi’s nail-biting survival battle both relied heavily on enemies that respawned periodically. In these scenarios, the respawning of the monsters functioned largely to discourage the player from engaging them; both scenarios featured win conditions separate from slaying monsters.
Respawning Actual Combatants
We then went on to use respawning in our last expansion, Expedition to the Sky Citadel. Remember the battle where you have to hold a victory square from Rumbling Chargers? Killing them accomplishes little, because they keep coming back, but unlike in the aforementioned scenarios, you’re forced into conflict with them. The respawning mechanic discourages wasting resources killing them, but this is still a very interactive fight because you need to play control to keep the Chargers off you. Then there are the egg fights… two scenarios in which we had spawners that could just keep generating grubs and swarms. Here you had to fight through the spawned monsters to kill the eggs; these are very dynamic battles where combat and movement are equally emphasized. To some extent, however, you can see these fights as ‘boss fights’ where you just have to take out the boss (the spawners); technically, killing the spawned monsters isn’t necessary. Spending attacks on them isn’t always the wrong choice, but the smoothest solution to these battles involves Flying over the grubs and delivering Impaling Stab after Impaling Stab to the eggs.
Respawning in AI
In the upcoming scenarios, we are using a number of spawn/respawn mechanics, but I want to focus on two battles in particular that I think are really exciting.
Battle 1: Your party is surrounded by some pretty simple melee beaters. They shuffle in steadily, and deal heavy damage. No fancy defenses, no nasty attacks. The only trick to them is that they respawn every round… and unlike in Sky Citadel with the Rumbling Chargers, there’s no victory terrain! The only way to win is to kill all the monsters—for them to all be dead at once. While the monsters in this battle themselves are simple, this setup produces a very interesting fight that plays radically differently from most of Card Hunter. Normally, you ALWAYS take an opportunity to kill a monster (or enemy character, in PvP)—it gets you that much closer to victory and reduces the total HP and card draws of your opposition. Not here. Killing one of these monsters essentially refills its health. I won’t say more about the strategy in this battle, but suffice to say veteran Card Hunters will need to adapt their play!
Battle 2: There’s a boss monster, with devastating attacks. It can really dish out the pain. And it’s kind of fragile—so your instinct is probably to knock it out fast, yeah? In another twist on respawning, the boss itself respawns every round, and in fact the only way to put it out of action permanently is to win the scenario by getting victory points elsewhere. In a way, this plays a bit like Scarponi’s Trick or Treat scenario, except there’s actually quite a bit of incentive to attack the boss. Killing it is effectively hitting a switch that turns off its attacks for a round. In this battle you’ll have to balance focusing on the objectives with keeping your party alive, and deciding when to attack the boss with which cards is a pretty satisfying tactical consideration.
I hope that this discussion of respawning mechanics has been interesting, and that your appetite is whetted for the upcoming expansion. It shouldn’t be too long before we can tell you more.
I leave you with a sneak peek at some of the new cards in the expansion. I won’t say whether players will get their hands on these—but a Card Hunter can dream!
Till next time!