It’s a trap!
As many of our updates have shown, Dark Souls™: The Board Game has had a truly dynamic development process. Today, we’re going to look at the evolution of the element that saw the greatest range of change: traps! Traps were first introduced to the game as a stretch goal of 5 trap cards, which were quickly unlocked during the first week of the Kickstarter campaign. From then to now, we have thoroughly explored other possibilities like trap nodes and trap dice. But in the end, we found in the answer with the help of our backers. The trap token mechanic that many of you, the Backers, suggested was the foundation of the 20 trap tokens you’ll see in the final game.Examples of some of the Trap Cards used before making the switch over to the tokens
So why did this mechanic have such an extensive development journey? Because traps faced a tall order. They not only had to work with other core mechanics we had developed, such as encounters and movement, but they also needed to deliver on theme. That meant contributing to the exploration experience while adding strategic depth—this is Dark Souls: The Board Game, after all.
Those earlier forms (cards, dice, and nodes) only introduced more problems. Some were too random. Others were too time-consuming. And then some didn’t mesh with the rest of the game mechanics. Trap tokens, however, delivered on all accounts. Let’s look at how they work to see exactly how they pull it off.
When an encounter is trapped, players will place random trap tokens face down on any nodes that are not spawn nodes, terrain nodes, or nodes adjacent to the doorways (known as entry nodes) during encounter setup. The first time a character moves onto one of these nodes, the trap token is flipped over. This is how players trigger traps. Note: Once flipped, the trap will not trigger again during the encounter. (And before the question gets asked, enemies do not trigger traps. We tried it and it was just too easy to abuse. It made traps something you were glad to see in an encounter rather than something you feared… which was obviously not their intent!)
11 of the 20 trap tokens have no effect, so there’s a slightly-better-than-50/50 chance that a trap token is perfectly safe… but… if it’s one of the other 9 trap tokens, the character will need to dodge the trap or suffer its damage (which ranges from 1 point of damage up to 3). This adds an additional layer of strategy to even a fairly straight forward encounter. Should the nimble Assassin dash through the trap nodes and attempt to dodge the consequences? Or should the party set up a defensive formation and force the enemies to come to them?Examples of prototype trap tokens. The tokens are placed on nodes with the yellow spears facing up, when they are moved onto you flip them. You could reveal a blank which is perfectly safe, or it could be the deadly Pendulum Blade!
Win or lose, at the end of the encounter, the trap tokens are turned face down. After the party rests at the Bonfire, the players will want to remember as many of the trap tokens as they can for the next time they face that encounter. We wanted Dark Souls™: The Board Game to be a game where knowledge matters, and this trap mechanic does precisely that. Remembering a boss’s behaviour cards or the location of a deadly trap can spell the difference between victory and defeat.
Ultimately, this trap mechanic let us deliver on that tall order. They add another layer to consider while moving around the tiles, they promote the same ‘learn-as-you-go’ element that can be found throughout the game, and they provide another layer of strategy to your groups composition. Sure, you could just ignore the trap tokens entirely and avoid stepping on them… but what happens when a Grunt is standing on a trap token and the player activating has a Range 0 weapon, forcing them to stand on the same node as the shambling corpse to attack? Do you bite the bullet and gather that information for your party while hopefully taking down a Hollow in the process? Or do you hold off and take the brunt of the hit from the pursing undead because you have no dodge die to avoid what could be a gigantic swooping Pendulum blade?Hollow Soldier - What do you do when one of these lovely fellows is camping out on a trapped node?Silver Knight Swordsman - The Silver Knight Swordsmen push you away following their attack, here's hoping you have a node to be pushed onto that isn't trapped!Silver Knight Greatbowman - The Silver Knight Greatbowmen have a habit of hiding at the back of rooms while providing a ranged onslaught, traps can make reaching them particularly awkward!
This is the last update before SteamCon so we’ll take this opportunity to give you one last reminder about the staff playthrough of Dark Souls: The Board Game that is scheduled for the event. This playthrough will be livestreamed via Twitch on Friday the 25th of November at 6PM (GMT), so be sure to check it out if you can! Here’s the link: https://www.twitch.tv/steamforged
Praise the Sun! \[T]/