Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Private Playtest Session: 22 Jan 2012

This is what VICTORY looks like!

Behold: the most ARS VICTOR players we've had in one place!  In the foreground, left to right: Mike Bott and Byron Sturtevant.  In the background: the back of Jon DeBaun's head, and the enigmatic gaze of Nick Rodriguez.  Not pictured: myself and Josh Scott, who is off to the side observing in awe.

I've had a lot of one-on-one games of ARS VICTOR over the past year or so that I've been developing it.  This was the first time I got a bunch of players together in one place.  Two games were played: Mike and Byron played one of the pre-set tutorial missions, and Nick and Jon played a full game with custom rosters.  Both were exciting...

Bott vs. Sturtevant
Tutorial Mission 4

Although this was a tutorial mission, and we eventually realized it was horribly unbalanced, it was an incredibly exciting match.  I paid closest attention to this match, because I needed to gather data on how the mission plays with new players.

The Players

Mike Bott had played the first three tutorial missions a few weeks prior.  He is a veteran gamer, and has quickly picked up the essentials of the game.

This was Byron Sturtevant's first game. He's also been playing board games since they were invented.  He picked up the rules almost instantly, and went from zero to hero in a single match.

The Game

Tutorial Mission 4 introduces jump units, and pits a highly mobile and aggressive force (Red, played by Mike) against a defensive and heavy-firepower force (Blue, played by Byron).

Red started out with Mike saying: "Aggressive?  I know how to do that."  He rushed his jumpers and his HQ right across the board, smack dab into Blue's line.  When the dust finally cleared, several of Red's units were down to one step -- but still standing! -- and Blue was pinned in on his left flank, with no room to maneuver or bring his heavy weapons units to bear.

Blue played a desperate defense of heroic proportions.  Unfortunately, Red's ferocious opening and some bad clumps of cards conspired to keep Blue pinned up against the ropes.  Blue did everything he could to try to get some breathing room, but Red kept the pressure up.  Red held on to one of the capture points (the mission had two) for most of the game, and gradually ate away at Blue's Glory.  Because Blue's left flank was stuck on his back rank and had nowhere to retreat to, he was also taking heavy casualties.

With over a ten-point lead, Red tried to put a little pressure on Blue's right flank -- this ended up giving Blue just the opening he needed to gain some ground.  Alas, it was not enough to pull Blue out of the hole he was already in.

Winner: Red

The game ended with Red at 8 or 9 points.

After the game, I double checked the point values -- and it turns out the idiot designer (me) had tweaked the unit stats and costs, and forgotten to re-balance the mission rosters.  It turned out that Byron (Blue) was fighting with about 30 points worth of units, and Mike (Red) was fighting with about 40.  Which was about how much he lost by.

Bott won this one, but it was bugged, so it's sort of a hollow victory.  Regardless, it was a real treat watching both players slug it out.  The real moral of this story: beware of Sturtevant.

J. DeBaun vs. Rodriguez
100-point Terrans vs. Fallen

This was the first custom roster game for both players.  ARS VICTOR's adds a twist to the art of roster-building with its unique Glory Points system.  You spend them to buy units for your starting roster -- but you don't want to spend all of them.  You keep the Glory you don't spend for the actual game, where it is whittled away by the enemy's success.  You lose when your Glory is reduced to zero.

The Players

Jon DeBaun (Red) played a Terran roster in this game.  The Terrans represent a stereotypical sci-fi human empire: expansionist, authoritarian, faceless, and numerous.  I've described the list as "forgiving"; the roster is full of resilient, multi-function units.  The army powers (which were not used this game) both expand on this theme, as well as complement it by filling in some weaknesses.

He was opposed by Nick Rodriguez's (Blue) Fallen forces.  The Fallen list is meant to embody the science-fiction trope of "ancient race past its glory days":  a powerful yet dying race, clinging to the traditions that once made them great.  It's a "finesse" list; you can be very effective if you play it right, but you're toast if you don't.  Units tend to be really good at what they are built to do -- but that's it -- and you pay the price for that quality.

The Game

Unfortunately, I didn't watch this game very closely.  There was a lot of hooting and hollering going on, I know that.  I'm hoping the players post in the comments with some info.

Winner: Blue

Nick won this one... right?  Nick, gloat about your great victory!


  1. Wow, you were paying really close attention! Can't wait to play the evil bad guys list...maybe we call them The Corrupted or something.