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Subject: Path to Design Part Two: Hordes, Culling, Combat, and Ruin rss

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Travis R. Chance
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In a game that touches heavily upon the notions of good and evil, we would have been remiss to exclude factions that represented these diametrically opposed forces. In this second post further detailing Path of Light and Shadow, I will talk about the Hordes of Zurd, the decidedly most cruel and ruinous of the factions.

Think of the Hordes as a cultural mixture of Viking and Mongol with a nod to the Dothraki of Game of Thrones. They are a nomadic people, preferring to migrate and plunder. In their great caravan, they drag with them the Mother Stone, a massive black rock that fell from the sky before their time. This is Zurd.

In Path, we were very careful to make actions morally binary. There is however a single action that carries with it moral implications: culling. It just so happens the Hordes utilize this cruel mechanism to great effect.

CULLING


Culling is quite simple: play a unit and you may remove cards in your hand and/or discard pile equal to its strength. For each card culled, the player gains 1 cruelty. This can provide a much more lean deck and a natural buffer against the persistent recruiting mechanism we covered in the last post. It also can be a way to push your way up the cruelty track—at the cost of using a card, of course. After all, there is no room for weakness in the Hordes.

While using a unit for this purpose may seem a pittance, the reality is every card counts on each of your twelve turns. One card used to cull could also have been used to conquer, to promote other units, to build, etc. For a faction that thrives on conquering, this can be a difficult decision to make. Luckily, the Hordes have a number of ways to cull outside of the the action itself.



But culling is only one facet of the Hordes. As mentioned, the Hordes are marauders and warriors. Naturally, this brings us to our next element of gameplay: combat

COMBAT, DICE, AND RUIN


Path is a game of conquest and empire-building, but not one that relies on controlling numerous units and armies on the board. You will only ever have your leader miniature in play, moving across the provinces of the four realms. Provinces come in three varieties: villages (the weakest), cities, and strongholds (the strongest). Custom plastic buildings will represent the defenses of these provinces in the game.

To conquer a province, a player will select a number of units from their hand. The player adds the strength of all of the units played EXCEPT the unit with the highest strength. This unit instead will roll dice equal to its strength, creating an elegant combination of determinism and luck.

The custom dice in the game have 6 results: a blank, one ruin, one strength, one ruin and one strength, two strength, and three strength. A player must match or exceed the defense of the province in strength in order to successfully conquer it. But what, you might be asking, is “ruin?”



Ruin is another mechanism upon which the Hordes rely. After calculating your final strength result in a conquer action, you then apply ruin. For each ruin result, you diminish the defense of that province, one for one. As each defense in a province score you influence during the end of the three scoring rounds in the game (turns 4, 8, and 12), this might seem more of a disadvantage than a strategy. But you would be wrong in thinking this.

As with culling, the Hordes utilize ruin to a much greater extent than the other factions. A common trick is to attempt an impossible conquer action with any remaining unit(s) in hand. The hope here is to inflict as much ruin as possible, in order to make the province that much easier to conquer in the future. This creates an interesting tension, allowing players to divide their conquering efforts over more than one turn, but at the loss of scoring and making it that much harder to defend from your rivals.

As such, a player heavily-invested in this faction will often control numerous low defense provinces. These provinces are easier to conquer. This means a player utilizing the Hordes will compensate for lower province scoring by trying to control the majority of as many realms as possible. In doing so, they will score bonus points equal to the current round: 4, 8, or 12 per realm.




While Hordes excel at pillaging and ritual barbarism, they do have their weaknesses—two, in fact. They have by and large the lowest labor stat in the game, making them ill-equipped to build structures. As structures provide meaningful abilities that shape the game for players, as well as provide end game scoring, this is steep price to pay. As counterbalance, the Hordes structures are comparatively less labor-intensive to build than other factions.



Additionally, the Hordes have no units with defend. I plan to cover how conquering and defending a controlled province works more in the next post, but I will touch upon it lightly here. In short, cards with the defend ability can be used to bolster the defense of a controlled province.

Next week we will look at the other end of the moral spectrum: the pious builders of the Sigilborne. I will go into greater detail about the build action, how defend works, and refortifying provinces from the ruin of war.

Thanks for reading and please feel free to comment and ask questions below! May 9th is fast approaching! I look forward to sharing more about this game in the coming weeks.



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rick switchblade
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What kind of plastic components are in the game? Is there any way we can see them? Really excited!
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Are there custom dice for each faction, or just in general for the game?
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Travis R. Chance
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rickswitchblade wrote:
What kind of plastic components are in the game? Is there any way we can see them? Really excited!


1. Dice--for which there is just a single mold (no faction specific dice)

2. Each player has a unique miniature

3. Custom castle pieces in values of 1 and 3 for provinces

This is the gist of the plastics at launch
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Benjamin
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How random are the dice? It's the main piece of information that will decide if I'll back the game. It sounds like many key points are down to rolling the right numbers?
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Travis R. Chance
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Benjamin, not at all. As stated in the explanation of combat, only your STRONGEST unit will roll dice. I believe the average on those is 1.6 (or 1.7) strength. The combat system is the perfect combination of determinism and randomness--you decide. If you really need to ensure a win, play more cards, as each will contribute its strength. If you want to just chip at a tower for a later conquer action, play a single card and hope for ruin.

Beyond this, there are a number of mitigators in the game. There is a general building--anyone can build, and the lowest level general structure--which allows you a single reroll. There are also other structures, such as the siege beasts that turn ruin into strength or Mercenary Reserves (two posts from now), which allows you to roll additional dice. There are also units with natural reroll mechanisms.

You should check out the Man Vs. Meeple first look, as the talk about this aspect as being one of the best strengths of the design. It allows for dynamic play rather than total randomness and/or total determinism.
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Travis R. Chance
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Inconmon wrote:
How random are the dice? It's the main piece of information that will decide if I'll back the game. It sounds like many key points are down to rolling the right numbers?


Ah, and you also only roll dice when Conquering and Defending. There are many more options, actions, etc. that are outside those actions--though they are important.
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Benjamin
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Cool, thank you for the response.
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Robert Stewart
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Action Phase wrote:


Anyone else disturbed by the fact that the three images show three different dice?
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Travis R. Chance
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There is a single type of die. This is showing what all six sides are. Sorry, not understanding your comment.
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Robert Stewart
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Action Phase wrote:
There is a single type of die. This is showing what all six sides are. Sorry, not understanding your comment.


It's easiest to see with the two on the right - based on the orientation of the lone sword, the face which is blank on the rightmost die is the face with the ruin on the middle die.

If the three images were of the same die, then it would be possible to figure out how the symbols are arranged and oriented on the die so be able to tell what it would look like in any orientation.
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Travis R. Chance
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This is a quick mock up of the dice. There is one die type, not tree. Nothing disturbing
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Robert Stewart
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Action Phase wrote:
This is a quick mock up of the dice. There is one die type, not tree. Nothing disturbing


Yeah, it just messes with my obsessive side
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Travis R. Chance
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I can see that
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WD Yoga
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Instaback!!!

Wait, the KS has not been started yet? Awww.
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