Part 2 of Hook, Line, and Sinker will come next week.
For the record, I love tactical miniatures games. I also love strategic board games. They’re fun to me, but I’ve encountered something in trying to spread this love to others on a regular basis. There’s a resistance to classic strategy and tactical games. Even new games suffer from a stigma.
When 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons came out, there was an oft cited reason why it was ‘bad’: There’s no roleplaying! Now, I disagreed with this sentiment, sometimes violently (verbally, not physically; I’m a confirmed nerd!), but as I’ve thought about it, I’ve realized it wasn’t so much that it discouraged roleplaying as it modeled those classic games in a way. The flavor of the game was intentionally left somewhat murky in an effort to let it be something to everyone.
Now for some of us, this isn’t a problem. We like projecting our own ideas onto the skeleton abstracts give us. We don’t care what the book tells us, we just need the strings of numbers to make it work. But it’s like building with Legos: it’s always going to have those edges, and it’ll never be perfectly smooth.
Others, they want something different. They want, if not reality, a smoothly rendered experience. The guy with the sword, even if he does AWESOME THINGS does it differently than the guy with the wand or bow or dagger. Each of the abilities in the game should function in a logical progression independent of the building blocks that some systems offer. The game will be smooth, and each technique feels different in a physical sense as much as a narrative one.
I do think these two groups can operate together, but both will end up making concessions of some sort to the other side. I admit to being in the first group, I like being able to define, and redefine, on the fly during games.
With ExoSquad, I want to use building blocks for the combat abilities. Guns all function approximately the same way in real life, and so to make it interesting, each attack needs to be a different way to use a specific gun. This does tie back into Heat, of course, but also things like covering and suppressive fire, sniper shots, and anything else you can think of both from real combat and action movies and anime.
Each attack will target one of a number of defenses, all currently unnamed, and hitting allows you to apply Heat and effects. The effects will be common fare to tactical games: moving opponents, debuffs, and buffs.
I also want something ‘building block’ style for the social aspects of the game, including how the group receives its secondary missions. Something so that the way the missions are given make sense to the characters histories, but also add the tension such things should offer.
So, Readers, what do you think? Building blocks a good way to play? Or should everything have a more granular system? Let me know below!