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Subject: Solo Play-Testing Custom Characters With a Mini-Mission rss

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Marty Kane
United States
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They'll tell you black is really white The moon is just the sun at night
And when you walk in golden halls You get to keep the gold that falls It's Heaven and Hell
I recently made up some Custom Characters for Gears of War using the characters from Earth Reborn, which I think is an awesome game with an awesome theme. I had some ideas about the new characters but I wanted to try them out and see how they compared to the original GoW characters. So I came up with a mini mission and played it a few times with a variety of character combinations to see how they worked out.

The Mini Mission
For my mini solo mission I used two characters and four terrain tiles. I chose the three Locust enemies from mission 1: A = Wretch, B = Drone, and C = Boomer. Used the regular enemy AI cards plus general cards 2, 4, and 6. The tiles used were 2A, 4A, 6A, and 8A. This was a good balance of spawning and equipment, was small enough to get through the mission quickly, and had a little variety of tile layout.

The goal was to get to the end door with the level cleared of all B and C Locusts, and as many A's as possible. I tried not to leave any A's alive, but I didn't waste a lot of time killing them when both characters were at the door and there was one stubborn one left or more spawning.

Game 1
My baseline / control game; Used Fenix and Baird. They rolled over the initial spawn in the first couple tiles, but had somewhat restrictive cards and couldn't advance very well.

The "Reinforcements" card caused some trouble and filled the level back up. Baird tossed a couple of grenades to clear a lot of wretches that had accumulated near the exit, then he escaped. Fenix then got surrounded by even more wretches so he dropped a grenade at his own feet which killed them all and he escaped. The game seems easy with two characters, but I rolled pretty well this time.

Game 2
Used Augustus Cole plus custom character James Woo. Bad rolls and some wretch spawns got us in trouble at first. Woo had to rescue Cole twice. The level was filling up, so we advanced into the crowd and did some damage. Cole helped picked Locusts off with his extra guards. Woo was an excellent survivor, and once he got the Boom Shield item he was untouchable. It looked dicey at first but this pair won the mission handily.

Game 3
Custom characters Nick Bolter and Monica Vasquez. Killed everything in sight and breezed through the level. Didn't seem super overpowered, but roll pretty well. Also there were fewer spawns than in previous games. A tweak for Vasquez might be to let her reroll blank attack dice with guns.

Game 4
Santiago and custom character Mammoth Mk II. The Mammoth destroyed everything in its path at first. Dominic used an ill-advised Teamwork (and forgot his extra move) and so he got left behind. Then he got swamped by enemies and knocked out, which was annoying since the Mammoth was already near the exit. Had to turn the big slow machine around to go back and rescue the CoG.

After making some tweaks to the characters I played another couple games with them. Tweaked the mission a little: used tiles 3, 5, 7, 9, which I realized don't give quite as nice a variety of spawns or equipment. Left the enemies and AI cards alone.

Game 5
Used Vasquez and Woo. Vasquez's sniper rifle is great, especially for guarding against the unlimited range Locust attacks. Woo's defense is really nice. A Boomer with lucky defense dice against a guard and then lucky attack dice dropped Vasquez at the exit while Woo tried to clean up some wretches in the middle of the level. It got a little tense when Woo used a grenade with almost no effect, and found himself surrounded by enemies and out of ammo. Then the darn "Reinforcements" card came up and spawned a bunch of extra enemies. Woo rushed through them towards the exit, dodging wildly. He dropped a wretch and healed Vasquez, who promptly set to work killing everything with her grenades and sniper rifle. Not an easy mission, but it was exciting and fun!

Game 6
Bolter and Mammoth. Advanced boldly. The Mammoth using Bolter's free follow is a potent combination. The level had a long corridor so the mammoth set up and blasted every Locust in sight. The two heroes continued advancing, mowing down Locust and avoiding injury using powerful Guard attacks plus a few of the 'Ambush' card. The closest to a 'cake walk' of all the play-test games.

Overall the custom characters add a nice variety to the game. I designed them a little overpowered, so hopefully they balance out some of the inherent difficulty in GoW.

Edit: corrected the mission goal.
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