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Adding a "layer" above my existing game

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questccg
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Hello All... As per the "topic", I am seeking to add a "layer" above my existing game. I know this might be a bit complicated to ASK... But I figured I'd TRY before sending P&P copies to various designers. So please let me explain more about the game ... and then maybe someone might have a suggestion.

A> Basic Gameplay

On a turn, the first thing the player does is:

  1. Draw a card (only 1) from their deck into their hand.
  2. Next they may "attack" using a card in play (optional).
  3. Lastly then MUST play one (1) (and only 1) card from their hand into play.

The game is set in a dynamic 5x5 card grid and players must play cards adjacent to another card (N,S,E,W). The Nexus card is played at the very start of the game (and usually has some kind of "scoring bonus").

Each player has a Micro Deck of 12 cards. And therefore there are 12 rounds to every game.

B> "Attacking" and stats involved

When a player choose to attack an opponent's card, he must follow the "Attack Pattern" of his card. Here is a sample card:

This card shows that the card MAY "attack" up-to the Left and Right and Directly Behind. So if this card is place in such a way that either of these three (3) position there is an opposing card, the player may choose to ATTACK his opponent's card.

Next how ATTACK is computed is "tricky":

  1. (Attacker Power - Defender Power)
  2. (Attacker Skill - Defender Skill)
  3. (Attacker Magic - Defender Magic)

Moral Point Adjustment = 1. - 2. x 3.

Now there is an ONLINE "Calculator" at https://www.monsterkeep.com

That's basically all there is (gameplay-wise).


What I am looking for is to add a layer with either:

A> Meeples, acting like "Leaders" for either player.

B> Acrylic Cubes, acting as some kind of "Bonus or Scoring" System.

C> Polyhedral dice, either D12 or D20 (something in this vein).

D> (Your own ideas for an ADDITIONAL gameplay layer)...

I am THINKING something like one of these... But am unsure because currently there are too many possibilities and I'm not sure WHAT I want to ACHIEVE with these "possible" layers.


Does anyone have any IDEAS??? OR think some of mine could be fleshed out a bit?? OR maybe a combination of a couple of these? If you have any questions, feedback, comments and/or ideas, please feel free to respond.

Many thanks for your efforts in understanding my dilemma.

Tim Edwards
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What do you feel is lacking

What do you feel is lacking now so that the game needs to be fleshed out?

questccg
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IDEA #1

This idea is for an "Alternate Win Condition". Each player starts with ONE (1) D12 (Polyhedral die) at a Value of 1. The goal is to "collect" Acrylic Cubes corresponding to YOUR "color". If you are "Blue", well then the goal is to accumulate "Blue" cubes.

You only have 12 Rounds and at the start there are a limited amount of cards.

Some ideas and issues:

  1. How to SEED the Cubes???
  2. Moving could be based on Action Points (3 APs per player). So a D12 could move 3 cards per turn.
  3. Alternate way to WIN the game: collect 12 Cubes and you win.
  4. Some places could have MULTIPLE Cubes??
  5. There might be a "trapping" mechanic which can be an INSTANT Victory.

This is JUST ONE (1) IDEA. But it can help in understanding the underlying issue and what I feel needs to be ADDED to the game...

questccg
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Sorry ... didn't see your message when I composed "Idea #1"

Tim Edwards wrote:
What do you feel is lacking now so that the game needs to be fleshed out?

I find that the game is missing a "tactical layer" which is played above the game itself. What I mean is that players are playing units into "The Keep" and the goal is to be the player with the most "Morale Points" to win the game...

But I feel as this is "Monster Keep" (MK), there should be some kind of LEADER (like a "Lord" competing to become the "Lord of the Keep") and some kind of ADDITIONAL system which takes place in "The Keep" to add a layer of strategy which is TIED to each Player.

My "Idea #1" could shed some light... I'm not sure. It's just an IDEA ATM.

questccg
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IDEA #2

Each player RANDOMLY choose one (1) of several possible "Lord" cards. Players must move their "Meeple" Leader to various positions containing "Resources" such that they accumulate the goal for each resource indicated on their "Lord" card.

This means that during 12 rounds, a player must have a certain number of APs to move around greater than 1 move per turn.

Some ideas and issues:

  1. Again HOW to "SEED" resources (or Acrylic Cubes)???
  2. Moving could be similar to Action Points (like 3 APs per turn).
  3. Achieve your "secret" mission of capturing the "resources" to WIN.
  4. If not, the player with the HIGHEST Morale Score is the winner.
  5. Again there might be a "trapping" mechanic which could lead to an INSTANT victory.

I know the IDEAS are "similar". I'm working on seeing what can be ADAPTED for the "existing" game...

Obviously if someone has ANOTHER direction/idea... Well feel free to suggest/post it!


And I could EVENTUALLY adapt the game to use "Miniatures" which is something that I could explore in the future IF the game does well (in terms of gamer adoption)...

questccg
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After some additional reflections

I have come up with a theme-related concept: "LOOT" drops after a battle.

There are three (3) types of LOOT:

1. Food (Red)
2. Gold (Yellow)
3. Equipment (Blue)

Whenever ANY unit is conquered, it drops three (3) random loot from a material bag/pouch. This is cool because it is RELEVANT to the game.

Each player has a Lord Meeple, which moves around in the Monster Keep given 3 Action Points (APs) per turn. A Lord actions are to "Move" or "Collect", each one costing 1 AP.

A Lord may not "stop" on an opponent's tile UNLESS that tile has been already conquered.

Each Lord is DIFFERENT in that he/she has specific type of collection of loot required to for a Victory (as "Lord of the Keep").

So yeah... That's the Tactical Layer I plan to add to the game.

I have some more review to do for this layer... I've fleshed out several Lords and need to re-visit them to ensure they are all correct.

Cheers! And BTW I am still open to "other ideas" in the event you had your own layer you'd would have liked to use (or even try).

evansmind244
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Dragons

First I think there needs to be Dragon scales, Dragon eggs, or Dragon horns/claws involved here somehow. Dragons guard treasure... there's got to be treasure. How cool would it be to hoard and boast with a pile of Dragon eggs and scales while thinking of your next move?? I know this is going to be made with TGC so the dragon stuff is out for now!
Layers: you made me think of Dark Souls. When you die your souls remain and you only have one chance to fight your way back to their location (which is never easy) and gain them back. I love that mechanic, which causes some deep joy when successful and major let downs in failure.
I don't quite understand your game enough to really get creative and try to come up with some good idea's from a (non gamer mind). What happens to a card once I attack it? Do I set a card from my hand on top of the 5x5 grid? Do I get to kill anything or just damage other cards? If something dies what happens? I know you've written extensively about this game, so if you can point me to your other threads I'll do some reading.
Lastly...and again this is from my (non gamer mind) but I Dislike strongly the idea of having to calculate damage on a calculator. That alone would deter me from playing this game. Isn't there a way to make scoring simple?

questccg
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Yes there will be a couple "dragons"

evansmind244 wrote:
First I think there needs to be Dragons involved here somehow.

Yes there are a couple "Dragons" in the game. But not in this first set...

Quote:
What happens to a card once I attack it? Do I set a card from my hand on top of the 5x5 grid? Do I get to kill anything or just damage other cards? If something dies what happens?

If a card can "attack" another (due to the Attack Pattern), that opponent's card is "conquered" and is flipped up-side down. And using the commutative formula the number of Morale Points gained or lost are computed.

If the result is positive, the Attacking player GAINS that amount of Morale Points.

If the result is negative, the Defending player LOSES that amount of Morale Points.

When a player reaches 0 Morale Points, he must sacrifice a card in play by adding "Power + Skill + Magic" from that unit to bolster his Morale Points (so they can be above 0).

Quote:
Lastly...and again this is from my (non gamer mind) but I Dislike strongly the idea of having to calculate damage on a calculator. That alone would deter me from playing this game. Isn't there a way to make scoring simple?

The problem is that the computation not only takes into account the two (2) card stats, it can also allow for "modifiers" like +2 Power or -1 Magic...

Yes it can all be done manually. But there is ROOM for ERROR. The calculator does all the number crunching, you can run scenarios (do I want to attack with this unit or another), etc. Things like that.

That's why the Calculator was implemented. Nothing really prohibits you from doing the MATH. But if you want to "run scenarios" doing all that math will probably be overwhelming.

That's another reason why the Calculator was implemented. Think of it as a Player's Aid. Can play without it... But with it, it enhances the experience making the game "easier" to play.

Note #1: I strongly feel that playing without it is NOT recommended. Why? My reasoning for this is a player will get LOST in the MATH and slow the pace of the game.

Remember the formula is commutative meaning that it doesn't matter how you compute it, the result is the SAME. Also it takes into account the strengths and weaknesses of BOTH cards in battle.

Weak cards can be used with stronger cards to form "combos". These combos work for EITHER side, meaning you can capitalize by playing a weaker card to "conquer" a stronger one (or the opposite).

The MATH in the game is VERY special. And as such it's not something that I would want to remove. I'll admit I've thought about it... But then it makes for a BORING game... Part of this game's CHARM is the battles and how they get computed/resolved.

questccg
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Playtesting is proof POSITIVE!

Well I've taken this "LOOT" layer and implemented it within the game ... and am in the middle of a playtest ... and it's actually MORE FUN! Yes, it adds a layer of:

Well I could attack card "X" but the opponent's Lord is nearby and mine is father away. So I won't attack just yet... I'll wait to get the chance of earning more "LOOT"!

And that's pretty darn COOL! The more "choice", the more "depth of strategy" in that having more options means the game is less of a puzzle and more of the result of decision-making taken during the game.

For example, if the NEW GOAL is to get sufficient "LOOT" that means that Morale Points (MPs) are less of a focus. So a player who is in the lead on the Morale side of things, doesn't need to battle unless his Lord is near the location of a battle (in order to collect more "LOOT").

However there was a minor details that needed to be "reviewed":

When a player falls BELOW 0 Morale Points (MPs) and ... yes it did happen during the playtest. The OPPONENT must choose which card to "conquer". Probably a card closer to his Lord in order to go for a Victory (whenever possible).

It's much SIMPLE "scoring"-wise. Because every Lord has NINE (9) points to achieve. They are ALL DIFFERENT but ... during the playtest, twice the outcome to a battle did NOT produce the "missing" LOOT! (lol)

And this made the victory a bit more "swingy" ... I like the unpredictability. Because even if you are LEADING the game, it doesn't mean that a wrong move CAN hand over the game to your opponent.

I'm HAPPY with this DESIGN now! In the future the Pawns could become "Pawns + Art" which could be a cool "ADD-ON" purchase.

Note #1: I made a minor placement mistake during the game... So technically I need to "re-play" to ensure that the game is still as SOLID. (And I'm pretty confident it is ... Just to be sure!)

Note #2: I also have to playtest a 4 Multi-player game. This is just to see how the different dynamics play out with "more cards" being "conquered" and therefore the may need to be some "adjustment". Not 100% sure just yet... TBD.

Note #3: What is very "interesting" is using a Lord to prevent the conquering a card given a sort of "Minor Area Control" mechanic... Because you don't want your opponent to "collect" the "LOOT", you postpone the inevitable attack ... because positions are important now that your have a "Leader piece" moving around in the play area (The Keep).

questccg
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Another playtest tonight

I plan to conduct a 2nd playtest tonight. I'm just waiting for my SmartPhone to charge in order to give another run-thru of the game. I'm very excited that this "Lords" tactile layer has worked out so nicely.

It's in *the spirit* of one of the earlier versions of the game. That version had six (6) Lords, the "core" in the current version. I had some vague idea about "each Lord" having some kind of "Victory Goal" which now I have successfully implemented.

Okay so let's do a bit of a "play-by-play" and let you know how this 2nd playtest goes!

Here are the results:

Player #1 Morale = 34
Player #2 Morale = 43

Player #2 WON by 9 to 8 "LOOT" in the 8th Round of play.

This playtest was a bit "smoother". I didn't make any "errors" (Sometimes it's a challenge to play both sides...) and the game was resolved 2/3 of the way in the 8th out of 12 Rounds!

Very cool... The game is now "SOLID" with 2 players. All that remains is a couple of 4 Multi-player matches to see if there needs to be some tweaking or not. TBD.

Maybe on Monday!

questccg
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Major "re-vamp" of the underlying scoring mechanism

Well after some much needed "analysis", I have decided to change how scoring will work! I understood @Evans response about not wanting to play a game which requires a "calculator". And so I will be simplifying how attacks and loot will be handled. How?

My thoughts right now are something like: when attacking, the attacker chooses which 1 of 3 stats to be rewarded.

Here is an example:

John Brutus (Fighter) = 6, 2, 1
vs.
Snap Magix (Wizard) = 2, 2, 5

The stats are Food, Bloodlust, Treasure (as in the original Monster Keep game! Back to basics...)

Now the Fighter can ONLY attack for Food: 6 - 2 = 4 Food "LOOT" drop.

The others (2 - 2 = 0) and (1 - 5 = -4) are either 0 or negative... So the Fighter cannot battle for Treasure (Negative) and Bloodlust (0) so no "LOOT" drop in this case!

It will be as SIMPLE as this! Just ONE (1) Mathematical subtraction. No more "calculator", no more "scoresheet"... Just simple MATH that is FUN!

I will need to work on NEW "design" documents... To create the rules and spreadsheet for THIS "version" of the game. But this is like @Stephen was saying: "I'm not into min/max-ing...!" The "Bonus Ability" system will also be a component of the design ... but again EVEN simpler!

Why I am so excited about this??? Well because EVERYONE can PLAY this new version of the game: Millennials can play, Teens can play and so can Kids. Everyone can have FUN with the game... It's no longer ... "Well the math is too hard so kids won't enjoy the game..." Or "This game is for Adults only since you need to use a SmartPhone to play..."

Thank you all for your wonderful advice... I listened to what the other "designers" have said ... And will be working on a NEW ruleset for this version (11.0) of the game! Cheers.

Note #1: And as usual, the SAME two (2) cards attacking each other produce zero (0) "LOOT" because they are identical!

Note #2: I need to *update* the Design documents and do some playtests. Maybe on Sunday evening or Monday. Either way there are a lot of changes to document... And to playtest! We'll see if this NEW version is as "engaging" as the last one (FUN without the unnecessary complexity).

questccg
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Re-design has a BIG impact

I like where @Evan was headed with the "Dragon's Treasure" and wanted to take a look at the "Red Dragon" and his attributes. Well from a quick look, nothing too "exciting"! (LOL) He was "plain vanilla" and it made me realize that this "new" (and cool) method of simpler playing may mean that I need to revise ALL the cards again.

Yup... revise ALL the cards again!

And the reason that I am saying this is because previously when designing the cards I was using the "Calculator" to create interesting "combos" and "synergy" between the cards overall. Since I have dropped the need for the "Calculator", I need to pay special attention to THE CARDS. To ensure that they are not "unbalanced" given the previous stats and making sure that all cards are useful and playable under different circumstances.

BUT the context is DIFFERENT. So basically you don't want a PUNY card that can beat "no one" (for example). Or you may want to ensure that SOME cards leave "LOOT" from Battles about "Bloodlust"! (Which I believe there are currently no STRONG cards in this category...) And perhaps that's because the current set is Humans and Elves... So they aren't the "Blood Thirsty Kind" like Orcs and Vampires...! (LOL)

So it's clear the WHOLE game requires an OVERHAUL. Nothing too dramatic just "tweaking" here-and-there. Making sure the cards are balanced (more or less) and ensure that drops are good for the game to have a natural progression and still allow to crown a victor given the new style of play.

I guess this will be looked at in the NEXT TWO (2) weeks ... They will be all about reviewing and "tweaking" the game such that it runs smoother on these NEW mechanics.

Keep you all informed as to my progress. Cheers!

evansmind244
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The Keep

The change to the math is simple and open's the game up to a much wider audience. I'd love to read the entire rules book when you put it together.

questccg
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TBH it's still a "Work-In-Progress" (WIP)

evansmind244 wrote:
The change to the math is simple and open's the game up to a much wider audience. I'd love to read the entire rules book when you put it together.

I'm thinking of still have 3 stats: Attack, Defense and Loot. Stronger units have more Attack, more Defense too. Loot is dependent on the nature of the unit. Some units like Thieves, Bards and Bandits has more Loot than your average Fighter or Wizard for example.

I know this is more "in-line" with other games... But perhaps this is what is required... Still thinking about it... I also have some things to present to the person who "may" re-do my card template/layout. I have some ideas... We'll see... IDK yet.

Fri
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Monster king.

You could make the nexus card a monster king  card with defense stats like your other cards. The alternative way to win would be to defeat the monster king during your attack phase. That could be it or you could have the player install a new ruler (play a card into the nexus spot). To win the player has to successfully defend the nexus until their next turn. I think that this may lead to an interesting volley during the game. Last player advantage may be an issue though.

With this in mind it may be possible introduce a co-op mode to the game where players work together to defeat the monster king. IMO it would be funny to make the king for the co-op something that the monsters would not. Maybe a human or a dog or something like that.

For a thematic tie-in you say that the monster king is getting ready to retire and the winner of this duel will be chosen as their successor. This could also be used to justify the bonus scoring of this particular metric.

Note :I used the term "monster king" for ease of reading. They could also easily be monster queens or monster gender netrual leader.

Feel free to disregard use or improve upon.

Good luck with your game.

questccg
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Re: Monster king.

While I LIKE the idea of using the "Nexus" card as a BOSS... It doesn't lend well to the game's mechanics. Let me explain.

1. When the cards are played into the play area, they cannot move.

2. Each card has an "attack pattern" which determines what cards may be, in the following turns, attacked.

3. If you require MORE than one (1) card to defeat an opponent, it makes it very challenging to play such a game with the existing constraints.

So while ALLOWING "Attacking" players to target multiple cards is good, in the context of attacking a SPECIFIC card is "hard"!

But I must admit the idea sounds cool. I thank you for thinking "outside the box"... Never know what changes you can impact just by sharing your own ideas. So thanks again... And if you have other ideas, feel free to share, I'll do my best to see if they can be implemented.

Cheers!

questccg
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Changing of stats & bonus modifiers

While in the process of re-designing the look of the cards, it came to my attention that perhaps the "stats" were not needed. Let me explain. What I mean by this is that there doesn't need to require an area set aside for the "default" stats of each card.

So instead of allocating space on the LHS for "Attack, Defense, and Loot"... It's much simpler to use the Decision Trees to allocate these three (3) stats and continue the Tree after a "conquest"...

To better explain, the Decision Tree will offer 2 choices/paths (as per the original Decision Trees). But instead of only a "+1" BONUS, they will convey the STATS for each card.

For example: Our Fighter had (6, 2, 1).

This is his "NEW" Decision Tree:

Now the choice is (6, 3, 1) or (6, 2, 2) with 2 BONUSES of +1 Defense and +2 Loot.

A more EFFECTIVE use of the Decision Tree ... For the ACTUAL STATS!

questccg
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Bonus vs. Basic Stat

The idea behind these new "Decision Trees" is that they specify the STATS of the card and then the BONUSES when a card goes up a level. The rules for knowing when a card goes up a level are very easy: each time a unit "conquers" another, that card gains one LEVEL (or point in the Tree).

So in the case of our Fighter, he has 2 BONUSES:

1. +1 Defense when he defeats his FIRST unit.

2. +2 Loot when he defeats his SECOND unit.

Rest assured this is not very likely (#2) because of the "Attack Pattern" used by the Fighter. He has three (3) attack points. So this means he would need to "conquer" 2 units positioned from a pool of 3 positions. Not very likely ... but "possible" (maybe 10% chance).

Fri
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Good job /additional thoughts

I think that having the values in the decision tree is a good innovation  for your game. Have you considered adding a way to indicate that some of these values are negative? (If I am interpreting the card correctly) IMO you may want to keep the stats in the upper left too so that they can be seen when a player is holding the cards in their hand.

questccg
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Some good points there!

Fri wrote:
I think that having the values in the decision tree is a good innovation for your game.

Yes this possibility opened up after another Designer took a look at how to improve the "layout" of the card (template).

Fri wrote:
Have you considered adding a way to indicate that some of these values are negative? (If I am interpreting the card correctly)

Indeed if you get a "penalty", like a lesser "Defense" because of a prior battle... Yes it's possible. All you would need is a minus "-" instead of a plus "+" ... But yeah, entirely possible!

Quote:
IMO you may want to keep the stats in the upper left too so that they can be seen when a player is holding the cards in their hand.

Actually we were trying to "streamline" and lessen the amount of stats on the cards. Removing from the LHS the "original" stats ... might improve the overall "layout" of the cards. Less crowded space ... and the stats can now be in the "Decision Tree".

I know it's not PERFECT ... But we're working on a "minimal design" for the overall "look" of the cards. At this point my Designer will be taking a first look at it this evening ... And he's sure to have comments and together we can determine what is best for the template.

But he was the one to propose that we get RID of the "stats" on the LHS. Because the card was a bit "cluttered".

Fri
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Use LHS for stated decision tree

Could you move the stated decision tree on the LHS and then remove it from the bottom? Of course have the tree go top to bottom instead of left to right.

The orignal card has a -2 but I can't figure out how it applied in the decision tree. It is entirely possible I am missing something.

questccg
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Some clarifications

Fri wrote:
Could you move the stated decision tree on the LHS and then remove it from the bottom? Of course have the tree go top to bottom instead of left to right.

Won't fit ... Too crammed. It's okay... I'll wait to see the NEW template.

Quote:
The orignal card has a -2 but I can't figure out how it applied in the decision tree. It is entirely possible I am missing something.

The minus "-" in the ORIGINAL sample WAS to indicate that the 2nd Stat was a MINUS Stat. So "-(2 - ?)". No more. It's NOT a NEGATIVE number. It WAS to be used for "complicated" calculations. I have since dropped this... And am now only using an "Attack" / "Defense" / "Loot" notation.

It was complicated and convoluted. I have since revised and simplified the design. The equation was commutative but was difficult to compute manually (subject to errors).

It was +(a1 - a2) - (b1 - b2) x (c1 - c2)

Where "1" = Attacking player's stats and "2" = Defending player's stats.

It was "cool" ... but NOT PRACTICAL. It may look to be simple, but TBH even I have difficulties working out the equation manually.

Cheers!

Note #1: You need to use paper to remember all the inner equations (and if they are positive or negative) and then you need to "negate" for the 2nd inner equation and it could be minus "X" minus "Y" times "Z". Hard without paper.

Note #2: The other problem is that each time you wanted to "choose" the most appropriate card to PLAY (to "conquer") you'd have to do the math (equation). And it's was different for EACH unit you wanted to test. So... I coded the "Calculator" which allowed you to handle ALL the mathematics "BEHIND the scenes". So using the "Calculator" made it real quick, you could "run scenarios", add/subtract modifiers, add/subtract morale points directly and it computed the result... Instantly.

But a few of the other designers didn't like the idea of "tweaking" with the cards or another designer didn't like requiring to use a "Calculator"... So with such discontent, I changed the "computational" side of the game.

Still plays fundamentally the same, with simpler MATH.

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