This weekend I spent Saturday & Sunday demoing and testing Grimpath at Strategicon, and it was a great success!
Strategicon is a huge gathering in Los Angles of wargamers, vendors, and room after room of gamers playing all kinds of games, and I mean all kinds! Pinball to Parchisi, Wargaming to Trading card gaming.. And now Wargaming and Trading card gaming!
We were located in the collectables section right at the entrance, which helped folks get a peek at the game while being a great spot to comfortably give people the Grimpath 101.
Another fun thing about Strategicon is that it’s in a hotel so it runs pretty much 24 hours, with gamers going on and on into the night, the restaurant was even open at 1:30 am - how did I know that? Because we played on sat from 1pm to 1am, and then I had dinner. Matches were coming in at a consistent pace, one after another. I didn't want to stand up!
The latest version of the demo decks are playing really well, we had TCG players and wargamers both enjoying their matches. Each one felt nice and balanced and we had some great emergent moments & stories to laugh about together.
Let’s get into some of the latest gameplay updates!
Persistent Vs Non Persistent Damage
At Gencon we tested a non-persistent damage system, very much like MTG. It’s a great way to track damage in a TCG but in Grimpath, combined with the tactical flow of the game, movement, and non-random combat damage, it could create situations where you were doing too much math before making a move.
Since then the focus has been on persistent damage. Now, when you enter combat as a 1/1 facing a 4/4, you’ll still feel like you got something out of combat knocking them down to a 4/3, a rewarding way to sacrifice a minion.
In terms of tactics it speeds up play by allowing you to plink your enemy down, rather than plan an epic attack each move. It creates a dynamic that feels a lot more like X-com, or Final Fantasy Tactics, some of the games greatest inspirations outside of TCGs.
Aside from smoothing out play persistent damage also opens up a lot of fun mechanics:
Plinking - Like I mentioned above plinking basically means taking your opponent down a peg, instead of just smacking their warlord for 1 with an arrow, you can do the same to enemy minions, to shrink a big barbarian down to his goblin ally’s level.
Healing - One of my favorite additions to the game that persistent damage allows more of is healing. You can draw and play a potion card to give a minion a few more health. Maybe you want to battle with a cleric by your side, or lead a gang of fearsome vampires! There's a lot more to explore with persistent damage in terms of gameplay effects for these types of effects.
Splash Damage - It also allows for more splash damage, attacks like chain lighting that’d burn through a warband, killing one while weakening a few along the way. Or double attacks and area of effect spells and magic, all become much more dynamic in play.
Persistent damage also opens up another really satisfying way to enter combat: Combat Rounds. In the non persistent damage version of grimpath, we’d rely on a turn based phase structure, Move/Attack/Move, and then your turn is over.
With persistent damage we can more easily enjoy multiple attacks during a turn. Instead of moving all your minions to a target, adding up your damage, and seeing if you exceed your enemies defense. You can now move a minion, smack a target, move another minion, smack that target, until you’ve exhausted all your minions and or run out of influence.
It allows for some fun bluffing! You can attack a big opponent with a 1/1 - goading a counter attack, while threatening a bigger swing from a larger creature just a step away. Forcing a “readied” opponents minion to decide if it wants to counter attack and kill the 1/1 or to stay ready and damage the bigger one threatening to come in for a second shot.
It creates a lot of fun tactical strategies for you to figure out and master! So I’m very excited to bring this back into the game with the addition of persistent damage.
Line Of Sight
One other small change we’re still working on is line of sight.
At Strategicon we tried quite a few with different players. Currently we’re looking to follow in the footsteps of the legendary game Star Wars Imperial Assault. Which has a line of sight system that has also appeared in many other casual wargames.
You can see a bit about how it works on the starwars imperial assault BGG page, here.
Line of sight is a bit of a pain in miniature wargaming, but this system is pretty simple once you’ve experienced it, and for the most part you only need to think about it during a few high angle shots. We’ll continue to refine line of sight but following in the footsteps of such great games like SWIA might be a good path to follow.
With how well the playtests went this weekend, I am pleased to say in the coming updates we’ll have some very exciting news about when you might be able to draw your swords in tabletop simulator! But let us work out the details a bit more first, until then!
Thanks for keeping up with the journey! We’ve got a lot of exciting moments to share together… in the very near future!
If you want to talk more about the changes, and how to adjust the print & play rules, lets chat in Discord! I'm always there to talk about Grimpath, it's my spec-i-alty!