RulesFest is a blog where we go over a few of our design choices as well as cover the occasionally missed rule. This week we talk about the exciting world of Chasers, the scariest drinks at the Red Dragon Inn.
The drinks of the Red Dragon Inn are arguably the main attraction for adventurers far and wide. While the fiery Dragon Breath Ale or disgusting Ogre Brew are likely to turn heads (as well as stomachs!), when these drinks are combined with other more run-of-the-mill refreshments you’ll see adventurers dropping like flies. Today we are focusing on the dreaded Chaser, what they do and how to get out of drinking them!
What is a Chaser?
Every Drink Deck has a variety of Chasers in it, usually made of the more “normal” drinks. While these drinks on their own aren’t too exciting, the simple fact that they combine with other drinks makes them very formidable. To start things off, a quick refresher on the Chaser rules.
To the right is the Chaser icon. Whenever a player reveals a Drink Card with this icon, they must reveal another Drink Card and combine its effects with the previous card, making one super hybrid drink!
Now for the nitty gritty:
- Where do these extra Drink cards come from?
If the first Drink Card came from your Drink Me! Pile, then any other Drink Cards you must reveal come from your Drink Me! Pile. If you run out of cards in your Drink Me! Pile then you stop and do not add any more cards to this drink.
If the first Drink Card came from the Drink Deck, then any other Drink Cards you must reveal come from the Drink Deck. Because the Drink Deck never runs out of cards (you just reshuffle it), you always have to reveal another Drink Card.
- What happens if I reveal another Chaser?
Usually Chasers tell you to reveal only one extra Drink Card. The only time you reveal more Drink Cards is when your extra drink is also a Chaser. That’s right, Chasers can chain into more Chasers! In the below example, some poor adventurer has to deal with a 9 Alcohol Content drink!
- What happens if I reveal a Drink Event?
If you ever reveal a Drink Event while resolving the ability of a Chaser, you stop immediately, discard the Drink Event, and move on to responding to the drink.
- How do cards that respond to drinks work with Chasers?
Remember, the original drink and all extra drinks count as a single drink. Any card that modifies or affects a drink affects the whole thing! That’s why you need to wait until all cards are revealed before you play anything. In modern editions of the rules we clarified that this was the case, that “No player may respond to a drink until all of its Chasers have been revealed.”
Chaser Example 1: Fiona drinks from her Drink Me! Pile and gets Wine with a Chaser. She reveals the next card on her Drink Me! Pile and gets Dragon Breath Ale. She adds the effects of both Drinks, for a total Alcohol Content of 6. Fiona plays “This is just the thing to get the rust off my armor!” to Ignore the Drink, so she gains no Alcohol Content.
Chaser Example 2: During a Drinking Contest, Deirdre reveals Dark Ale with a Chaser from the top of the Drink Deck. She reveals the next card from the Drink Deck and gets Round on the House. Since Round on the House is a Drink Event Card, it has no effect as a Chaser. Deirdre gains 1 Alcohol Content.
Chaser Example 3: During a Drinking Contest, Fleck reveals Dark Ale with a Chaser from the top of the Drink Deck. He then reveals the next card from the Drink Deck and gets Holy Water. In response, Eve plays “Actually, that’s Dragon Breath Ale” turning Fleck’s Dark Ale with a Chaser of Holy Water into a Dragon Breath Ale!
Whew, that was a long drink! Hopefully we’ve been able to dispel any confusion players had about Chasers and how they work in RDI. Now if you don’t mind, we’ve got some drinks waiting for us at the bar. See you next time!
In the RDI Artists series, we’ll be telling you a little bit about the many great artists who have provided art for The Red Dragon Inn series over the years. First, we speak with Erin Wong, an artist from the Vancouver area whose amazing art rocketed her from RDI fangirl to SFG Staff Artist in a very short timeframe. Her work for SFG includes Lizwick the Collector from RDI 5, Keet the Treasure Hunter (now available via SlugCrew), and the much-talked-about, retweeted and generally-drooled-over cover to RDI 5!
Erin: When I was going through my first year science courses in university, and I realized I had more doodles and drawings on my notebooks than actual notes.
SFG: Where did you learn your craft?
Erin: I’m a self-taught illustrator, meaning lots of trial and error, looking up tutorials, progress shots from other artists, and watching time lapses to learn different techniques. I learned how to use Photoshop by basically messing around with it and wondering “what does this button do?” Even after twelve years of using Photoshop, I probably have only skimmed the surface of all its functions and tools.
SFG: What kinds of art do you specialize in?
Erin: I’m very fond of character artwork and design. I enjoy creating outfits, and putting characters that I love from other media in different attire. I also specialize in illustrating scenes that involves interaction between characters and their environment. To be able to tell stories with a single image is a really amazing and fun thing to do. That is to say, I had the time of my life drawing Lizwick, Keet, and the RDI5 box art.
SFG: Which projects are you most proud of?
Erin: I created a multi-chaptered doujinshi (a Japanese fan-comic) back in 2010. I love Kingdom Hearts and have always wanted to create a doujinshi, so I decided to go for it. Over the course of a year and a half, I wrote the script and used Photoshop and Manga Studio to illustrate the story. It was hard, grinding work, but so worth it in the end when I finally saw it come together in a nicely bounded 184 page book.
SFG: What do you want viewers to take away from your art? How should it make them feel?
Erin: I want them to feel inspired when they see my artwork. Nothing makes me happier than when viewers tell me that my art has inspired them to want to create something of their own, and want to improve on their craft. Art should drive other people to create more and keep that wheel of creativity turning. I guess that’s why I love drawing fan art so much. It’s a nice community for fans to come together and enjoy works created by other fans.
Erin: This is one difficult question. My style is constantly changing as I learn different techniques, but right now, I’d probably describe it as semi-realism cartoons.
SFG: Are you a gamer? What games do you play?
Erin: Yup! I play mostly story-driven RPG video games like Legend of Zelda, Kingdom Hearts, Assassin’s Creed, and The Last of Us. Whenever my friends and I get together, I’m always up for rage-inducing party games like Mario Kart and tabletop games (including Red Dragon Inn of course! It’s the only drinking game I can actually participate in).
Erin: After a night of bubbletea with friends and winning a round of RDI as Erin the Ever-Changing (how fitting!) I decided to send the pleasant chaps at SFG a fan e-mail saying how much I enjoy the game and the character artwork. I threw my portfolio at them for good measure, because I figured “hey, it wouldn’t hurt, and maybe they’ll need more artists in the future,” and right off the bat they recruited me in to help them create Lizwick for RDI5! Woooo!
[Editor’s note: we enjoy getting artist solicitations, and get them fairly frequently. Erin’s had both an amazing portfolio and impeccable timing, since we were actively looking for artists to help with the seven new characters we were working on at the time!]
SFG: Where can we find your work/Where can we follow you?
Erin: www.littleeworks.com – my art portfolio which includes illustrations as well as 3D works from my time at BCIT studying 3D modeling, and www.nijuuni.deviantart.com – A nice compilation of illustrations and fan art.
SFG: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us, Erin! Stay tuned for more interviews with the artists of The Red Dragon Inn
All fan artworks and art are copyright to their respective owners.
RulesFest is a blog where we go over a few of our design choices as well as cover the occasionally missed rule. This week we’re talking about combining drink decks in The Red Dragon Inn!
Today we would like to discuss one of the small but important aspects of The Red Dragon Inn: the size of your Drink Deck.
A Drink Deck right out of the box is a carefully-crafted 30-card force of destruction and merriment that has been both boon and bane to many a party-goer. As more adventurers have joined The Party, so too have new and exciting drinks been added to the menu! Many players have shuffled new drinks into their Drink Decks, either from promos that they have collected over the years, or from the many new drinks found in the various expansions. It seems that not a small number of fans have their own favorite custom Drink Decks or shuffle them all up into a behemoth pile!
Of course, you are all welcome to play the game with any number of drinks that you want. However, we would like to encourage you all to stick to one simple rule of thumb:
The Drink Deck should be (about) 30 cards.
“Why?” you might ask? Well, simply put, the 30-card Drink Deck is designed to be a game clock. Remember, each time the Drink Deck runs out, each player must pay 1 gold to the Inn. This slow drain on everyone’s gold is very important to the balance of the gold-stealing and hard-gambling characters in the game. Without this occasional, yet reliable tax on player’s stashes, Gerki and the other rogues like him find the game significantly harder to win by way of stealing everyone’s hard-earned gold.
There’s another ramification of the 30-ish card Drink Deck. When the deck is eventually reshuffled, there are typically still drinks out on player’s Drink Me! Piles. So, the second time around, the Drink Deck will have fewer than 30 cards in it. Again, that’s extremely important for the gold-focused characters, who benefit from the second shuffle (and sometimes the third shuffle) to pull off a victory.
Therefore, when you are playing with these gold-focused characters, they are at a slight disadvantage because all their gold-stealing shenanigans have less of a relative impact on the game. So give Gerki, Fleck, Eve and the rest a chance and keep those Drink Decks pretty short.
If you really want to play with a single, monolithic, inebriating drink pile, we recommend the following rules. These rules strike a balance between the fun of a giant Drink Deck and the pain the gold characters will feel if that deck never runs out. Enjoy!
- Shuffle all of your Drink Cards together. This is the Bar Deck.
- At the start of the game, make a Drink Deck from the top 30 cards of the Bar Deck.
- Whenever the Drink Deck runs out, each player pays 1 Gold to the Inn as per normal rules.
- Instead of shuffling the Drink Deck discard pile, make a new Drink Deck from the top 30 cards of the Bar Deck.
RulesFest is a blog where we go over a few of our design choices as well as cover the occasionally missed rule. This week we talk about making sure you start with the correct amount of gold!
Did you know that your starting gold changes depending on the number of players in the game? In normal, 3-6 player games of Red Dragon Inn, all players start with 10 Gold. However, that number changes when you start a 2-player grudge match or a 7 player free-for-all!
In a 2-player game, each player starts with only 8 Gold.
Over the years, we have collected a LOT of playtesting data. The majority of the balancing that is done between RDI characters is handled by having seasoned veterans of the game compete in The Gauntlet, a series of 1-on-1 matchups with all of the characters against the new guy. Over time, we discovered that gold-focused characters have a significant disadvantage when starting a head-to-head match, but that disadvantage disappeared completely in 3-4 player matches. Looking at the data, as well as running with our gut, we determined that in most multiplayer games of RDI, gold-focused characters can get away with stealing the odd coin or two without contest because their target has to pay attention to other folks at the table. To compensate for loss of that “lost in the crowd” advantage in multiplayer games, we deemed an overall gold reduction to be a great fix to the win-rate disparity. After implementing this change, not only have new characters been appropriately balanced, but old characters have closed the gap!
In a game with 7 or more players, each player starts with 12 Gold.
The 12 Gold bump was implemented to combat first-turn gambling shenanigans. All too often, players in 7+ player games will start off a massive round of gambling before many other players have had a turn. Frequently, that massive gambling round will strip almost all of the gambling cards out of everyone’s hand, leaving everyone vulnerable to follow-up rounds that can be won by even non-gamblers. This is all good and fun, but we wanted to make sure that that the 7th, 8th and later players got a turn before they lost all their gold! This simple fix puts even the most hard-on-their-luck player out of reach of losing all of his gold in the first few turns about the table.
The Red Dragon Inn has been constantly expanding since 2007, and shows no signs of slowing down. Combining sets to mix and match party members has always been a winning feature of the game. So whether you’re having a wild party of a dozen heroes or a white-knuckled contest between just two, make sure you’re playing with the right amount of gold so everyone has a good time!
P.S. – The original print run of RDI and it’s first expansion RDI 2 did not actually have this rule yet! This rule was added in future expansions and eventual re-prints. You can download a copy of the updated rules for each of the RDI games here.
We had a fantastic time at Gen Con this year. As we eagerly anticipate fulfillment and delivery for the RDI5 Kickstarter we thought it would be good fun to recount one of our favorite Gen Con moments: The Annual Doppelganger Tournament! Each Gen Con we host a tournament for The Red Dragon Inn. This tournament pits players playing the whole cast of heroes against one another to prove that they truly have what it takes to survive a wild night of partying! Only the toughest and trickiest players make it to the top table, where they will go on to win fabulous prizes!
All 29(!) members of The Party have gathered at The Red Dragon Inn for their yearly reunion. But once again, dastadly doppelgangers have invaded the tavern with nearly 80 participants! With up to four each of Fiona, Zot, Deirdre, Gerki and the rest showing up, the first round of the tournament had players pitted against their mirror matches to prove that they were the real version of themselves in a battle of brains, brawn, and booze!
After the players had eliminated all of their doppelgangers from the tournament, the night really got started. With each character randomly assigned to one of six tables, they partied hard to prove that they had what it took to make it to the final table! The matchups were ferocious, and the results always exciting!
Table 1: The fearsome ninja Sera outmaneuvered Gog, Remy, Zariah and Captain Whitehawk!
Winner: Sera – Etta Scheu
Gog – Robert Castiello
Remy – Chad Somerville
Zariah – John Niemann
Whitehawk – Steven Burke
Table 2: Korash answered Bastian’s prayers for victory against Fiona, Halden, Natyli and Pooky!
Winner: Bastian – Ashley Krisp
Fiona – Emily Parkerson
Halden – Grant Allen
Natyli – Amanda Greene
Pooky – Jess Cwik
Table 3: Erin shapeshifted her way to the final table against Tara, Joran, Gerki and Zot!
Winner: Erin – Rachel McCartney
Tara – Jason Coleman
Joran – Jim Schwan
Gerki – Robert Lane
Zot – Hans Petersen
Table 4: For the second time Bryn muscled her way to the top against Serena, Deirdre, Lizwick and Dimli!
Winner: Bryn – Isaac Payne
Serena – Nicholas Peterson
Deirdre – Geoff Lynch
Lizwick – Dan Deger
Dimli – Ross Hyman
Table 5: Zakhan’s antics quickly overcame Eve, Wrench, Cormac and Kaylin!
Winner: Zakhan – Craig Scott
Eve – Daniel Moody
Wrench – Chris McMahon
Cormac – Jonathan Cucchiaro
Kaylin – John Cacciotti
Table 6: Ozrik’s elemental power was too much for Wizgille, Phrenk and Fleck!
Winner: Ozrik – Kelly Bertram
Wizgille – Kelly Overholger
Phrenk – Shane Voegerl
Fleck – Tyler Anastasia
Zakhan and Sera must have had the beginner’s luck this year, both new characters making it to the final table after going drink for drink with some tough competition. Erin, Ozrik and Bastian rounded out the table with some serious magical firepower, and strangely enough a perfectly normal (albiet outstandingly large) deck-hand took the sixth seat. These six squared off at the final table for one last round of drinks. Each player was already guaranteed a fabulous prize, and were competing for their picking order (and bragging rights!). The bulging biceps of Bryn the Boatswain won the day, piloted to victory by Isaac Payne!
1 – Bryn – Isaac Payne
2 – Erin – Rachel McCartney
3 – Bastian – Ashley Krisp
4/5 – Sera – Etta Scheu and Zakhan – Craig Scott
6 – Ozrik – Kelly Bertram
With the sweet taste of near victory of the top table last year only to be tainted by bitter defeat at the hands of Eve the Illusionist, Bryn must have been pumped to have a second chance to redeem herself. Who knew that lifting canons all day would make you tough enough to take on the likes of spell casters, shape shifters and trained martial artists?
In Part 1 of Keet’s Corner (here) we talked about how Keet mechanically affects the game and why we were so excited to bring him to the Red Dragon Inn. This week, we’re going to be diving head-first into all of the thematic design elements for this character. Welcome to Keet’s Corner Part 2: Look and Feel.
One of the guiding principles for every RDI character is that their deck needs to tell a story. We have three opportunities to tell players about the character they are playing:
The Card Titles: We try our best to have characters tell their own story. That’s why most of the card titles are quotes. We want players to know how their character talks and engages the rest of the party. Arguably, our most successful use of card titles is shown off with Gog, who doesn’t use many pronouns and yells a lot. Many newcomers sit down with us for a demo of RDI 2 and immediately start acting like Gog, shouting out their card titles and referring to themselves as “Gog” rather than “I” or “me”. This ends up drawing laughs from everyone at the table, and is just a great deal of fun.
The Art: Perhaps the most important storytelling opportunity we have is with the art. This is our chance to really show off the character’s body language and facial expressions, and is a great chance to include a visual gag. We have had a lot of success here in the past – for example, the one-two punch of title and artwork in Gerki’s “Where’d the little guy go?”
The artwork becomes even more important when we use a phrase or plain text for a card title. In these instances, we can still pull off a funny thing to say like Pooky’s “Nasty big pointy teeth” card. However, other times the title ends up being pretty vanilla, like Wrench’s “Noble sacrifice”. In these situations, we really need to push the visual gag, as we did for Pooky, or tell a lot of story, like how Wrench cowers while one of his gizmos acts heroically.
The Effects: Occasionally we’ve used the effects box to inject some extra flavor into the game. Usually, we use the mechanics of the effect to continue the story from the picture or title. Other times, we explicitly provide a bit of italicized flavor text. We drop flavor text on many Drink Cards, as well as most of the “Everyone Pay Me” cards. But sometimes it pops up in other places, like Wizgille’s Gear Deck. We are always striving to pair the mechanical effect of a card with its flavor – for instance, Joran’s “I know there’s Gold in here somewhere…” card is a perfect example of the effect playing off the visual and title.
To really bring Keet to life, we needed to figure out how he talked. Was he curt and distracted or a little bit of an insulting sour puss? Talking with Ben and going over his card effects, we figured that Keet needed to be a fair bit excitable (he’s REALLY into his artifacts) but also a good deal sarcastic (being somewhat of a rogue). It also felt appropriate to sneak in a couple of references to his primary inspiration, Indiana Jones.
With those design choices in mind, we ended up with Keet getting some rather clever card titles like:
- “Throw you the idol? All right, you asked for it!”
- “A toast to lightly-guarded loot!”
- “This whip isn’t just for show!”
- “Eureka! This must be…”
It was extremely important to get a specific reaction out of players when they saw Keet for the first time. He needed to be a pulp-fiction archaeologist adventurer, reminiscent of Indiana Jones, and we worked with our artist Erin Wong to push him more and more in that direction. In the end, we are extremely happy with how this ruggedly handsome goblin (can goblins be ruggedly handsome?) turned out.
As we moved from conceptualization to specific card art, we wanted to inject more humor into him. If we went with a simple, calm badass we wouldn’t be able to get as many laughs or give players a real character to act out. So a major part of Keet’s development went into figuring out how much of the time he really is as cool as he thinks he is, and when he isn’t. In the end, Keet turned out to be pretty energetic and emotive. His cards take you through the quiet and off-putting lows of a dedicated, meticulous researcher on up to the exhilarating highs of someone enthusiastically dedicated to his sharing his work. With a bit of sarcastic attitude mixed in, Keet came out with a great personality to fit with his exaggerated facial features and role in the party.
Another thing that’s been popping up in the artwork of our more recent characters has been the cameo. As the number of adventurers that make up the guild known simply as “The Party” grew, it made more and more sense to show off how they interacted with one another. Part of our look and feel overview usually includes a little bit about who a new character hangs out with, which other characters are their friends, and who maybe rubs them the wrong way. Often enough, we come up with little histories for our characters along with the design process. Lizwick was an obvious compatriot for Keet, as both characters have a clear interest in strange and magical objects.
We have a lot of Keet’s artwork uploaded to our Facebook Page. You can check it out in Keet’s Facebook Album.
Keet’s artifacts needed to be a collection of amazing and useless objects. Some of them were easy to come up with, such as a helmet that may or may not be Dimli’s Great-Grandfather’s (how many great-grandfathers does this dwarf have?), while others were a bit trickier. Fortunately, this deck, like many side-decks, was an excellent opportunity to inject more humor into the game. Like the rest of Keet’s art, you can check out some of these brilliant artifacts in Keet’s Facebook Album.
That just about wraps it up for Keet! Look for him to come out next year as a brand new RDI: Allies product. If you are eager to try Keet before he hits store shelves in mid-to-late 2016, you can earn a copy for yourself through our SlugCrew Program. Run demos to teach RDI to new players at your local stores or game conventions and Keet can be yours!
SlugFest Games is excited to announce all the cool stuff that will be going on at Gen Con this year. We’ll be hosting demos of our games at Booth #1749 this year, and will have all sorts of new swag for sale. So come by, sit down for a demo, and enjoy the con!
We are pleased to announce that the stars have aligned and all three of 2015’s new Allies will be available for purchase on-site. That’s right! Halden, Zariah and Wrench will all be available in limited quantities at the show this year. Don’t miss out on your chance to get them early, as they won’t be hitting store shelves until November.
Each ally is a single-character expansion for The Red Dragon Inn, and requires a base set to play. You can find out more each of these ally’s new mechanics at the blog posts listed below:
Campaign Coins will be bringing us the first batch of metal coins and markers! These full-sized coins will give your RDI game plenty of heft and a lovely tactile feel. The coins and markers are beautifully sculpted and work with all our sets and boards. We’ll have 5-player and 1-player starter sets available as well as coin booster packs if you really want to feel the jingle of gold and platinum in your stash.
The coin sets include:
5 Player Starter Set
- 30 Gold Coins
- 6 Platinum Coins
- 5 Fortitude Markers
- 5 Alcohol Content Markers
- 1 RDI Velvet Bag!
1 Player Starter Set
- 6 Gold Coins
- 1 Platinum Coin
- 1 Fortitude Marker
- 1 Alcohol Content Marker
RDI Coin Booster
- 10 Gold Coins
- 2 Platinum Coins
RDI character buttons are back, featuring seven new characters! Grab one for your favorite character, or pick up all of them!
We are also excited to release an RDI full-party poster! The cover for RDI5 turned out fantastic, and we’ll have a limited quantity of posters depicting the cover image available at the show.
You can check out a shot of the poster on our Facebook Page here.
The Red Dragon Inn 5 introduces 4 brand new characters to the game and provides long-time fans with something they’ve been drooling after: a place to store everything! The RDI5 comes in a massive, expanded box with storage space for every character, drink, mechanic and event deck released so far with room to grow. Included are replacement boards in glorious full color for each of the RDI characters, as well as newly-designed gold tokens. All of that and a heaping helping of additional storage solutions (deck dividers, baggies and more!) to top it all off!
Unfortunately, without the aid of a time machine we will not have RDI5 available for purchase at the show. However, you will have the opportunity to pre-order your copy on at our booth!
Don’t miss out on this chance, because this will be the last chance for folks who missed out on the Kickstarter to guarantee that they get the Promo Pack.
You can learn more about The Red Dragon Inn 5 on its Product Page.
It’s time for the return of the annual RDI Doppelganger Tournament Event Code: CGM1571153! Can you prove that you are the real hero against a table of your doppelgangers, and then go on to drink the rest of The Party under the table? Sign up and find out!
The Doppelganger Tournament is an event unique to RDI. Each player will be assigned a random character from the cast of our beloved heroes, whom they will represent in a massive elimination tournament. The twist is that the first round of the tournament will have you facing off against 3 look-a-likes! How will you determine which of the four Fionas is the real Fiona? Why, by seeing who can party the hardest!
There are only a handful of tickets left and you don’t want to miss out on the chance to win some absolutely fantastic prizes!
With the announcement of Keet as the Season 3 Major Reward (see the post here), we thought it would be fun to show you guys a bit of his design process. So, welcome to Part 1 of Keet’s Corner: Designing an Adventurer!
You can also check out the original designer Ben’s own blog for more of his perspective on Keet’s design process:
While most characters start the game with 10 gold, Keet instead gets 10 random artifact cards, which count as his gold. Each artifact has the potential to have an awesome ability, many of them beneficial but a handful of them dangerous! The tricky bit is that nobody, not even Keet, knows what those objects do at the beginning of the game.
Throughout the game, Keet’s cards will let him “identify” (reveal) the various artifacts he has collected on the table in front of him. However, players who steal or win his artifacts will also immediately reveal them. So, players like Gerki or Fleck, who make a living off taking gold from their friends, will have multiple opportunities to try and steal a favorable artifact.
This has the wonderful bonus of making gold and gambling even more important than they were before. As soon as Keet is at the table, there’s the potential to earn fancy new Action or Sometimes Cards by winning his artifacts in a round of gambling. Furthermore, one of the best ways for Keet to protect his goods is to win a gambling round himself, so he can have a buffer of a few actual gold pieces to protect his artifacts from pay or steal effects.
When Keet showed up for the 2014 Character Design Contest, he really sparked our imaginations. The character had a very novel mechanic of replacing his gold with artifact cards that have abilities. This completely changed the dynamic of the game in a surprisingly unobtrusive way! He also strongly fit the theme of the “friendly” monster, one that has come up in the tavern over the years. With a clear idea of his personality and an exciting, clever new mechanic, he ended up being chosen as the contest winner.
Another ringing endorsement for the character was how simply he integrated with the game. Typically, characters with new mechanics are not suitable for players new to RDI. We don’t feel that’s the case with Keet. His new mechanic helps convince players to play with their artifacts and jealously guard them for themselves – the “my precious” factor. Meanwhile his deck works to support exactly this style of game play. He gives the player a ton of ownership, and that makes players old and new immediately engage with the game.
So Keet was a character with tons of flavor, a mechanic that would excite veterans and a theme that is easy for newcomers to engage with. How could we deny this little tomb raider!?
When we getting into serious playtesting mode, we run something called “The Gauntlet”. The Gauntlet is a long series of games where the new character is matched up against every other character in a series of one-on-one games. In the late stages of development, each new version of that character runs “The Gauntlet” again, and frequently characters will be put through it many many times. After a character is deemed worthy (i.e. gets about a 50/50 win rate against the entire cast) they are generally sent out to some hand-picked uberfans for further playtesting. Typically this is the shot where those characters see new eyes for the first time, and it’s our chance to “fun-test” the character. As a result, each character gets tons of hands-on play in-house and then even more externally before they see print.
On the surface, Keet was doing everything we needed him to do to be a good character concept both mechanically and thematically. The problem was that he was just kinda bland and couldn’t actually win a game! When we put him through The Gauntlet he would be revealing plenty of artifacts, but would end up just getting drunk under the table or beaten down (or mauled, in Erin’s case). So he definitely needed a tune-up.
The original version of Keet was quite narrowly focused, with most of his cards only interacting with his own artifacts or gold. Players would spend the majority of their time simply playing cards to flip over artifacts, rather than hitting their friends, gambling or dealing out drinks. Basically, he wasn’t getting to enjoy himself at the party! As a result, his opponent needed only to just keep serving him drinks and punching him in the nose to win.
To solve this problem, we turned back to the first 8 (the cast of RDI 1 and 2) and drew some inspiration. We needed to make Keet more of a traditional RDI character so he could hold his ground against them. The current and most successful version of the artifact hunter now plays along with the party and pulls a fair win chance against the cast of heroes.
Some of Keet’s new mechanics, while intuitive, were challenging to support with rules. These little corner cases were the challenges we faced while polishing the final version of Keet.
Hidden Information: One of the mechanics we played around with early on with Keet was allowing him to peek at artifacts without revealing them. This gave him a lot more power as he could ante bad artifacts when he was going to lose a round of gambling or give them away to pay effects before they could affect him. The problem was that there was no convenient way to mark which ones Keet had peeked at and which ones were still unknown to him. The worse part was that players could accidentally cheat by looking at an artifact that they thought they had already looked at, and that’s a real feel-bad for everyone at the table.
We ended up dropping the mechanic, but reimplementing it in a variety of other forms. For instance, Keet always peeks at an unknown artifact before anteing it in a round of gambling. This, in turn, lets him bluff a bit by changing how he plays based on what the artifact is. His “hit back” card also allows him to peek at a card before he decides to keep it or give it to another player. By allowing Keet to peek only right before he would reveal an artifact, we mitigated the information overload, while still letting Keet have fun by handing out surprises to the other players.
Specific Gold: Before Keet, individual gold coin tokens didn’t matter. If someone stole a coin from you, you just gave them whatever. With the advent of artifacts, and how they can willingly (or otherwise) trade hands, we needed specific rules support for which gold is taken by “pay” effects. We played around with it both ways, and found that the victim choosing which gold is given is more fun.
Keet has a variety of nasty artifacts, however; ones that cause no end of pain and suffering for their owners. We knew we wanted Keet to have the ability to drop off these negative artifacts on a poor adventurer, but we also wanted to make sure Keet had some ways to get back the positive ones that get stolen. Thus we created a unique problem for ourselves: If an opponent had both a positive and a negative artifact, how do we let Keet steal the one he wants if we’ve rules that the victim picks?
We solved the problem in a couple of Keet’s cards. His “Let me take a closer look at that.” card lets him specifically steal the artifact of his choice, following the golden rule of gaming where the text on the card can overrule the text in the rules. We also gave him a Sometimes card that lets him take a artifact that a player just spent. This lets him cherry-pick the best artifacts that get stolen from him, and even, in the rare circumstance, take back a negative artifact to use again.
Throughout the refining process, we have had the novel experience of running mechanics, thematic elements, and just about everything regarding Keet to a person outside of the company. Ben (the winner of the Design Contest and originator of Keet) has been included in nearly all communications and major design choices with the character. We wanted to make sure we stayed true to his original vision, while also guiding it to a very polished final product. It has been an exciting experience for all of us, and is one we hope to revisit with the Honorable Mention characters when/if we get around to implementing them in the game.
Keet is going to be one of the most exciting Allies to hit the Red Dragon Inn. If you are eager to try Keet before he hits store shelves in mid-to-late 2016, you can earn a copy for yourself through our SlugCrew Program. Run demos to teach RDI to new players at your local stores or game conventions and Keet can be yours!
Check back with us next week when we launch into Part 2 of Keet Corner: Look and Feel.
Zariah, Halden and Wrench are the three new allies being released this year. Over the last few weeks we’ve enjoyed introducing you to Zariah and Halden, but now it’s our little kobold’s turn to shine. Get ready to flip Red Dragon Inn up on its head!
Wrench is a squirrelly little guy that you wouldn’t expect to be much of an adventurer. He lacks the brawn to fight it out as well as any talent to “magic” his way out of a sticky situation. However, this little fellow makes up for all that with clever ingenuity.
Wrench, like many kobolds, has been engineering traps all his life. Unlike most of his kin, though, many of his traps integrate a surprising amount of of gnomish gadgetry, due, in part, to his subscription to Gnomish Inventors’ Quarterly.
Many of Wrench’s Action Cards are “Gizmos”, a new type of card that persists turn after turn. Gizmo cards are pretty obvious due to the fortitude track along their side. Gizmos come in two flavors:
Passive: Passive Gizmos are usually defensive, shielding Wrench from Fortitude loss or Alcohol Content gain.
What makes Wrench a fun character to play, and a frightening one to behold, is playing out Gizmo after Gizmo, and stacking up a massive army of clockwork contraptions ready and willing to do your bidding!
So how do you deal with a run-away Wrench? You smash his contraptions! Each of his Gizmos have a fortitude track that ticks down once during each of Wrench’s Action Phases.However, other players can help those tracks tick down a bit faster by directing their Fortitude loss effects at them! Whenever you could cause Fortitude loss to a player, you may direct that effect at a Gizmo instead.
Each time one of Wrench’s Gizmos meets with a grisly, violent end, Wrench suffers Collateral Damage that he cannot avoid. Wrench’s worst nightmare is when Pooky goes on a rampage and he’s got a table full of one-Fortitude Gizmos!
Last week we talked about the new mechanics that Zariah the Summoner brings to the game. Now it’s Halden the Unhinged’s turn to show off his own brand of mystical mayhem!
Halden is a freaky fellow who communes with the dead and carries out their last wishes. He is sometimes a solo adventurer, but when the party needs an interpreter for the departed (recent or otherwise), there’s none better. It’s also fortunate that he arms himself with powerful Totemic Magic that helps him deal with his foes in a variety of interesting ways. Halden can overwhelm his opponents like a millstone grinding wheat or can hold off and finally swing for the fences with one titanic blow!
Halden will literally dominate the board with his 18 different Totems!
Each turn Halden will reveal a Totem card. He can accelerate this pace by playing specific cards from his deck. Each Totem is ineffective on its own, but once he amasses enough of them, they can combine their power into a Totem Combo!
This massive Totem Combo can hit up to two different players for 1 Fortitude Loss, another player for 1 Alcohol Content Gain, yet another player to pay you 1 Gold and even summons a new Totem to get you started on the next combo! Share the pain across the heroes or dump it all on one, the totemic power is yours!
Unlike most characters, Halden can do two things during his Action Phase: he can play an Action Card like normal as well as use a Totem Combo! Halden may play his Totem Combo either before or after his Action Card, giving him the flexibility to improve his hand before acting, or fish for totems before comboing. This is important, because Totems only work in specific ways, and they come in three varieties!
To create a Totem Combo, Halden chooses any or all of the Totems he has revealed and lays them out left to right. As long as a Totem is followed by a Totem that matches the resource type, it activates. If Halden holds off, he can activate Totem Combos with a dozen or more components!
Each Totem that activates in the Combo can have its own target, or be piled all on the same player. But watch out! A player only needs to play a single Ignore card to avoid the entire Combo!
Lastly, with no Totem to its right, the final Totem in a chain always fizzles and does nothing. So, do you wait to maximize the output of your combos with as many cards as possible, and risk your opponent ignoring them all, or do you burn up your Totems in short two or three card chains to get through their defenses? The choice is yours!