The Fireteam Zero Designer Diaries

News from the front lines!

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Fireteam Zero Designer Diary: Fun at the Dallas Gaming Marathon!

Mike Langlois
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From gallery of MJLanglois


From gallery of MJLanglois


We had a blast at the Dallas Gaming Marathon yesterday! Thanks very much to Troy and Kevin of DGM for inviting us. We met a ton of great gamers and killed a lot of monsters

This is me packing up the prototypes the night before. Not pictured here...the mad scramble in the morning when I realized I forgot to include the mission briefings

From gallery of MJLanglois


This is the time honored tradition of my people called "let me 'splain to you the rules". We enacted this ritual many, many times

From gallery of MJLanglois


Deep into the second sector of the map, with one twist up. Lots of thinking going on here because Rat is out of position and looking at eating 4 monster attacks. He has Hamstring, so he can shut down one of them, but the other three will be fatal. The group ends up killing the one in their midst and positioning Frank close enough to shut down a second one with Suppression Fire. Shad lives with no cards in hand. Close one

From gallery of MJLanglois


Different group and the end of the mission. They stuck together, which was good for survival, but also slowed them down. Notice all four twists were up. This turned out to be VERY punishing. They had all of the objectives and were racing to the exit. Unfortunately, one of the Twists was Entangling, which traps heroes in any space with monsters.

The Coin is down, so if anyone is downed, the game will end. This roll ends up killing the Minion that is pinning down Abe in the center, so the team can advance towards the exit. Unfortunately, two turns later the team ends up getting killed one space from the exit. So very close!

From gallery of MJLanglois


And the obligatory Art Shot

From gallery of MJLanglois


Unfortunately, Murphy was with us yesterday and our camera suffered a critical hit early on. Here's the clip that I did manage to capture. It ends abruptly when the camera goes to the Land of Wind and Ghosts, so be warned



One quick note about the Dallas Gaming Marathon: it happens every month for three full days of fun, so if you're in the area you should definitely check it out. Everyone is friendly, super-enthusiastic about board gaming, and they have a games library that covers an entire wall

Check them out!
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Sun Mar 23, 2014 11:41 pm
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We Launch Today at Noon PST!

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It's finally time! We launch at Noon PST today!

See you on Kickstarter
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Fri Jan 31, 2014 6:39 pm
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The Official Kickstarter Announcement!

Mike Langlois
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It's official! We're launching on Friday, January 31st!

First of all, thanks to everyone for their support and encouragement. It's been a crazy and exciting time getting this beast ready to launch.

Here's what you can expect from the Kickstarter:

Modular, Easy to Understand Pledges!


From gallery of MJLanglois


Each pledge level will clearly show the following information:

Pricing: From core set only to 'get it all' packages
What's included: Items for each pledge will be shown in the handy graphic you see above
Stretch Goal Category: Goal badges will be shown in the circles at the bottom and will be used to show what stretch goals come with each pledge level

Free Stretch Goal Rewards!

Each pledge level that includes Stretch Goals will receive a pile of goodies for free as we hit our targets. We're keeping the exact information a secret for now, but expect:

CARDS: hero upgrades, monster twists, new missions!
FIGURES: new monsters, alternate heroes and specialists!
LOCATIONS: new map tiles and operations!
SPECIAL REWARDS: soundtrack and fully voiced mission briefings!

And More!

• Downloadable manual!
• Gameplay and instructional videos!
• Add-ons!

It's been a year in the making and frankly, we can't wait to show you all the cool stuff we've been building. These last couple of weeks will be spent with our manufacturing and logistics suppliers to make sure we get the best prices and shipping possible. And then...it's go time!

See you on the 31st and thanks again for all your support!

Mike, Gary, and Christian
The Emergent Games Team
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Tue Jan 7, 2014 1:31 am
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FTZ Designer Diary: Combat Overview

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Board Game: Fireteam Zero


Combat!

You can't save the world from unnatural horrors without kicking a lot of ass. Luckily, the members of Fireteam Zero are perfectly happy to do that.

Pain comes in three flavors

Board Game: Fireteam Zero


Brawl: Represented by a fist icon. Whether inflicted by Shad's custom Mk I Trench Knives or the crushing grip of an inhuman horror, this kind of damage is all about the dance of close combat fighting.

Bullet: Represented by a bullet icon: This type of damage reflects the surgical precision of an armor piercing round at 100 yards or the messy but terribly effective corrosive spray from a fanged mouth. This is damage done at range.

Bomb: Represented by a demolitions charge icon. The only damage type that is natively multi-target, this is domain of the satchel charge, the grenade, and anything Don has had his hands on for more than five minutes. It's also what you'll endure when facing the explosive decomposition of certain arcane beasts.

Delivering it to your enemies

Your hero's deadly skills are in your hands. Literally, as the attacks that you'll use to destroy your foes are the cards that you hold. Each hero starts the round with a full hand of five cards that look like this:

Board Game: Fireteam Zero


The top half of the card is an attack. You can play as many cards as you like in an attack, providing they all inflict the same kind of damage. In this example, the attack is called Reaper and it allows you to roll six attack dice (which is ... a lot). The number of brawl symbols you roll is your damage. The next number on the card is the range of the attack. Since this is a knife attack, the range is zero.

The bottom half of the card shows what we call a Reaction. This is a move that you can play in response to things that happen outside of your turn. In this case, the effect is Shad cutting a bloody path through the enemy during the Tactics Phase.

Speaking of the enemy

This happy fellow is a Corrupted Animal:

Board Game: Fireteam Zero


He can suffer one wound before expiring, indicated by the big yellow number in the upper left, but to inflict that wound the heroes need to deliver three Brawl damage or three Bullet damage or two Bomb damage. Apparently, he's a little less resilient when it comes to blowing off his arms and legs. The damage has to be done all at once, it doesn't carry over between attacks.

When trying to kill you, a Corrupted Animal can deliver two dice worth of Brawl damage. That is, unless he rolls the 'Special' result on the monster die, then he gets to roll one more. He and his friends also happen to die in a spectacular shower of corrosive monster parts if killed with Bullets or Bombs. So try not to do that. But if you do...

It's gonna hurt

The cards in your hand are not only the actions you can take during battle, but they also represent your ability to stay out of harm's way. When hit by an enemy, you discard cards equal to the damage dealt. The more cards you have left after attacking, the better chance you have of surviving an otherwise deadly blow. If you're ever unable to discard a card, then you failed to move quickly enough. You're down.

But you're not out

When a hero is downed, you'll flip over Henry's Lucky Coin to tails on the table. If it happens again, you've pushed your luck too far and the game is over. Fortunately, you make your own luck in life, so every time you complete an objective on the map, you get to flip it face up to heads again.

Extraordinary Measures

Each hero's deck comes with two powerful Tactics abilities. These are used after the monsters spawn, but before the heroes take their turn. The team can play only one Tactics card during this phase, but that's more than enough to change the course of the coming round. One word of caution: playing a Tactics ability means that hero doesn't get to draw any cards before his turn, which can leave him plenty vulnerable. And if Henry's Lucky Coin is face down, well, that can have disastrous consequences.

Anatomy of a round

Here's how a round of FTZ plays out:

Tactics Phase: The heroes can play one tactics card. Afterwards everyone draws up to a full hand. The start player token moves to the next hero.
Hero Phase: Each hero moves, then spends an action (attack or attempt objective).
Monster Phase: Advance the Terror Track (monsters will get additional powers every so often), each monster attacks, then new monsters spawn.

In each round, notice that the heroes collect their wits and start with a full hand of cards. They also start with a full crop of monsters.

The challenge is to find the right balance between dealing death and surviving the attacks of whatever you can't kill, while at the same time trying to complete your objectives.

Heroes will need to rely on each other to maximize their firepower and minimize the damage they take. As powerful as they are individually, they simply have no chance without careful teamwork.

Stay tuned for a look at some of the other cool gameplay features in the next post!
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Mon Nov 25, 2013 4:59 am
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Hero Spotlight: Don "Sonny" Hymel - Demolitions Expert

Mike Langlois
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Board Game: Fireteam Zero


Board Game: Fireteam Zero


Don "Sonny" Hymel

People are always surprised to get patched up by Don in the infirmary the morning after a bar fight, especially when they know he's the one who started it. Nobody is ever surprised to find out that he's also a demolitions expert. Division Zero interviewed him after he destroyed a nest of supernatural creatures that attacked his patrol. When asked how he felt about the existence of the creatures, he simply shrugged and said that maybe things that are flammable should be more careful about who they attack. He was recruited on the spot.

Role: Demolitions

Primary Weapon: M37 Demolitions Kit

Deck Abilities: Satchel Charge, Concussive Device, Field Dressing

Tactical Abilities: Shockwave, Emergency Measures

Quote: I never heard so much complaining in my life. First they're mad because there are too many monsters. Now they're mad about catching a little shrapnel. Make up your mind already!
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Mon Nov 18, 2013 3:47 pm
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FTZ Lands on The Hotness

Mike Langlois
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Board Game: Fireteam Zero


We may or may not be doing a little dance over here. Thanks to everyone for giving us look!
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Fri Nov 15, 2013 7:05 pm
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Meet Fireteam Zero: The Playable Characters of FTZ

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Board Game: Fireteam Zero


In 1942, four soldiers vanished from the training program of the newly formed First Ranger Battalion, their names stricken from the roster. Chosen for their unique skills, they would fight in secret against terrifying supernatural enemies and overwhelming odds.

This is their story.


The Threat

Before mankind ruled the planet, magic seeped from the Earth and created a world of wonder and horror that we have long since forgotten. As human numbers increased, the raw chaos of magic was pushed back, eliminated by our shared perception of an ordered world. Now, in the Age of Man, only two things are needed to allow a remnant of the past to rise again: a drastic reduction in the local human population and the power of blood spilled by violence. Welcome to WW2.

Artifacts long buried begin to surface and feed. In the midst of a global war comes a new threat to all of humanity. A threat for which we have no answer. Yet.

The Mission

Two specialists are deployed by the mysterious Division Zero. One can somehow detect and track the presence of nearby supernatural forces. The other has dedicated his life to becoming a living encyclopedia of the arcane.

What one can find, the other knows how to destroy.

But neither Specialist is capable of getting through the army of lethal protectors that each Artifact creates. For that, they need men of war.

The Team

Meet Fireteam Zero
Board Game: Fireteam Zero


Four men were selected by Division Zero to protect the Specialists and cut a path through anything foolish enough to stand between them and their target.

They are Fireteam Zero. And they will not fail.

Stay tuned for a look at each hero and the skills they bring to the battlefield! Also, show your support for the amazing art team behind FTZ by dropping a thumb on the image above!
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Thu Nov 14, 2013 3:31 am
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Monster Family Spotlight: Children of Typhon

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Board Game: Fireteam Zero


Meet the Children of Typhon

Division Zero Artifact Briefing

The Cup of Typhon [Artifact Record 9110]

This artifact is classified as highly infectious. While Division Zero hesitates to grant intelligence to an object, there is no doubt that the grotesqueries that it spawns are working together towards a purpose.

Named for the "Father of All Monsters" in Greek mythology, the cup has the ability to reshape the mind and body of any living creature it comes into contact with.

Worse, water that passes through the mouth of the Cup carries the same curse for an undetermined amount of time. Historical records indicate that the Cup would be dipped into village wells to infect entire local populations. In modern cities, the opportunity for widespread infection is magnified a thousandfold.

Division Zero has cataloged two primary types of corrupted organisms:

Board Game: Fireteam Zero

Division Zero Record Number 9359: Corrupted Animal
An animal that comes into contact with the liquid from the Cup of Typhon [see artifact record 9110].
Class 1 behavioral and physical aberration occurs immediately, with the subject organisms exhibiting extreme predatory tendencies, even if originally a prey animal. Physical characteristics include additional weaponized limbs and a tendency to spray highly corrosive fluids when wounded.

FTZ Field Notes: The boys in the lab told us to watch out for deformed animals. Apparently that's fancy talk for what you get if you staple a giant crab to a pissed off grizzly bear. Frank recommends a high velocity round to the skull at fifty yards. Of course, he says that about everything.


Board Game: Fireteam Zero

Division Zero Record Number 9364: Corrupted Human
A human being that comes into contact with the liquid from the Cup of Typhon [see artifact record 9110].
Class 2 mental and physical aberration occurs immediately, with violently aggressive behavior and physical deformities characterized by razor sharp insectile legs, mouthparts, and even additional heads.

FTZ Field Notes: These bastards can tear an unprotected man in half with no particular effort and are as hard to kill as they are ugly. Engage at a distance. And with as many explosives as you can carry.

There is a third form, code named The Cupbearer, which is what remains of a human that has come into direct contact with the Cup. What the Cupbearer looks like or is capable of remains a guarded secret at the highest levels of Division Zero.

Playing Against the Children of Typhon

Each monster in FTZ is represented by a monster card that looks like this:

From gallery of MJLanglois


It shows:

• How many wounds the monster can sustain
• How much and what kind of damage is needed to inflict a wound
• How it attacks
• What special rules apply to it

In addition, each family grows stronger the longer you fight them. Periodically during the mission, the Children of Typhon will develop a new characteristic or ability. For example:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Coordinated Limbs: Monster brawl attacks affect all heroes in range


Each time a new Twist is drawn, the previous abilities are retained, making the monsters increasingly formidable. Every family comes with a custom set of these Monster Twists, tailored specifically for their theme.

The Children of Typhon are included in the base game and are comprised of:

• 6 x 40mm Corrupted Animal figures
• 3 x 50mm Corrupted Human figures
• 1 x 60mm Cupbearer figure
• 3 x Monster Cards
• 8 x Monster Twist Cards

Use with caution.
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Mon Nov 11, 2013 7:32 am
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FTZ Designer Diary: Gameplay Overview

Mike Langlois
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Board Game: Fireteam Zero


In this diary entry I want to talk big picture for a bit. I'll go into detail on the heroes, monsters, combat, and the various mechanics in future posts.

First up:

What's the point?

I'm not talking about the win conditions of the game here, but rather what kind of game experience can we deliver to the players. Everyone has played a ton of 'guys on a board fighting monsters' games. The question is: What are we bringing to the table that's worth your time? The answer is...

Heroic Badassery

By which I mean playing heroes that aren't your typical investigators or survivors trying to face the darkness with a hockey stick and a stiff upper lip. Don't get me wrong, I love me some survival horror, but that's not the game we wanted to build. Our goal was to deliver heroes that were potent and whose actions were decisive and effective. If you're going to fight unspeakable evil to save the world, competence is the bare minimum requirement for the job.

Real Opposition

Which, of course, means that the enemy is no pushover. Just because you're bringing a crack team of neck-stompers into battle doesn't mean you're guaranteed a win. As tough as the heroes are, the monsters are pound for pound just as deadly. Not only do they hit hard, but each one comes with an attack, a special attack, and an always-on unique ability to make them just that much more delightful. Oh, and they outnumber the heroes. And they never stop coming. So they got that going for them.

Honest Decisions

We spent a lot of time stripping out mechanics that don't pull their weight. If there's an action you can take or a mechanic that can be invoked, then it has a direct impact on your success or failure. Most importantly, we tried hard to make sure that every action a hero commits to means giving up something else in terms of available options or survivability. Or both.

How is the game structured?

When setting up a game, you'll pick an Operation, which will give you an overall goal and pit you against a monster family. You can think of an Operation as a kind of mini-campaign.

Within an Operation, there are three Missions. Each Mission takes place on a map and provides a specific scenario. The Missions are sequential and tell the story of a particular arcane Artifact and monster family, so they are typically named Act 1, Act 2, and Act 3.

You can choose to play the missions back to back, or if you prefer, you can play one mission per game session without having to track a bunch of game states. All you need to do is note which mission you are starting with next time and set aside your player deck with any upgrades you may have picked up.

What's going on during a Mission?

The missions are where all the action takes place. Heroes enter a monster-filled map with two goals in mind: complete the Mission Objectives and try not to die. Not necessarily in that order.

The following things will be happening during a Mission:

• Heroes will search the map for Objectives
• Monsters will politely decline to assist the heroes
• Each turn spent dilly-dallying on the map will bring more monsters
• As time passes, the monsters will develop new and unpleasant abilities to kill players with
• Heroes will push their luck, risking the game in exchange for battlefield altering tactical actions, like showing the monsters what a artillery strike looks like close up

How do you win?

Like war, it's all or nothing. Surviving a map and completing your objectives will win you a battle, but that's all. It grants you access to the next map and some much-needed upgrades, but to win the game you have to get through all three maps and defeat the boss at the end.

All you need is clever tactics, teamwork, and luck.

Piece of cake
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Sat Nov 9, 2013 11:00 pm
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Fireteam Zero: The Official Announcement

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Board Game: Fireteam Zero


You know what the worst part of having a secret project is? The grueling work? Piece of cake. The agony of choosing between all the cool things you want to do and the things you actually have time to do? Harder, but still no. The hiding under a tarp in the hall closet until your wife threatens to turn off the wifi? Almost. For me, it’s keeping my big trap shut about the whole thing for nearly a year.

Fortunately, that’s no longer a problem. It’s announcement time, baby. Let’s do this.

What is it?
Fireteam Zero is a tactical miniatures board game that takes place in the Emergent Earth universe. Here’s what it says on the back of the box:

In 1942, four soldiers vanished from the training program of the newly formed First Ranger Battalion, their names stricken from the roster. Chosen for their unique skills, they would fight in secret against terrifying supernatural enemies and overwhelming odds. This is their story.

Fireteam Zero is a cooperative game for up to four players who must cut a path through an endless swarm of deadly monsters in order to discover and defeat the ultimate evil behind them. Each player possesses a set of brutal combat skills that are represented by a deck of cards unique to that character. Play cards to devastate the creatures in your way, help your teammates survive the onslaught, or even reshape the tactical landscape with the proper application of explosive ordinance.

The battle is fought across three maps of increasing difficulty, each one bringing more and tougher enemies than the last. Players must search for and complete mission objectives in order to progress and bring them one step closer to the final showdown.

Aiding them are two NPC Specialists, one with an uncanny ability to sense the location and nature of the supernatural energy in the area and another with an encyclopedic knowledge of the arcane. Use the Specialists wisely or risk failure no matter how many monsters you defeat.

Race against time as the creatures on the board become stronger and more cunning. The longer you take to complete your objectives, the more Monster Twist cards are revealed, each granting a new and terrible aspect to your enemy. In each set of missions you will face a different family of horrifying creatures, each with their own special abilities and twist cards.

Players must not only fight for their lives, but at the same time they must make smart tactical choices with their teammates in order to make the best use of a limited resource, the cards in their hands. Each card not only represents an action that they can take, but also their health. Spending too many cards can leave you vulnerable, while spending too few can result in being overwhelmed. Clever players will rely on each other to succeed.

Fireteam Zero is a story-rich board game of squad tactics and horror. Each map can be played separately in about 45 minutes or together to complete an entire Operation in about 3 hours.

That’s…a lot of words. What is it really?
Basically, you get to find out what Abe and his squad got up to during WW2. Each player will become a member of Fireteam Zero and commit acts of badassery against different families of monsters while trying to capture or destroy the arcane artifact that’s creating them.

Each player has a hand of cards that represent both the monster-stomping actions they can take and their current ability to deal with threats. Run out of cards in hand and you get to enjoy a quiet dirt nap. And the whole shebang takes place on a giant board filled with large, fantastically detailed miniatures.

Did you say miniatures?
I totally did. Here’s an example:

Board Game: Fireteam Zero


Monsters come in three types: minions, elites, and bosses. A minion is about human-sized, represented by a standard 40mm tall figure. Elites come in at 50mm, and bosses hit a whopping 60mm in height with a proportional increase in girth. The charming fellow pictured above is an elite: the Corrupted Human in the Children of Typhon family. Here’s a bit about him:

Quote:
Division Zero Record Number 9364: Corrupted Human
A human being that has come into contact with liquid from the Cup of Typhon [see artifact record 9110]. Class 2 mental and physical aberration occurs immediately, with violently aggressive behavior and physical deformities characterized by razor sharp insectile legs, mouthparts, and even additional heads.

FTZ Field Notes: These bastards can tear an unprotected man in half with no particular effort and are as hard to kill as they are ugly. Engage at a distance. And with as many explosives as you can carry.
Our miniatures are being created by the amazing Chris Deavellar, whom you may know from his 3D work on the MMO, Fallen Earth.

Sounds like you got lucky. Who else is working on this?
As a matter of fact, everyone involved has some pretty serious gaming chops. The design of the game itself is by Christian Leonhard, who happens to have a couple of international game design awards under his belt. Pretty much the only reason he agreed to work on this project with me is that we’ve been friends for years and I totally know where he buried all those hobos.

The art, layout, and graphic design work is being done by renowned game artist Gary Simpson. If you’ve ever played Summoner Wars, then the artwork you were ogling was Gary’s. I have no idea why Gary agreed to join up with us, except that it was probably easier than getting a restraining order.

Together we formed Emergent Games and vowed to create kick ass tabletop experiences or die trying. Christian and Gary don’t actually know about that last bit yet, but I’m sure they’re cool with it.

Okay, this game thing checks out. How can I help?
Spread the word. Check out the Fireteam Zero game page and give us a like. Or just point your friends at this post. Anything that gets the word out before our upcoming Kickstarter campaign would be amazing.

In return, help yourself to some free books! The Emergent Earth novels that this game is based on are free through Wednesday the 6th! Get Bad Radio here and Liar's Harvest here. Tell your friends and hook them up with some free books at the same time.

Stay tuned for more posts where I go into detail about the theme, combat system, monster families, and more in the weeks ahead.

Thanks!
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Tue Nov 5, 2013 4:23 am
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