Monday, August 22, 2011

Spectrum Cosmos - The Basics Continued

Last time we looked at basic play structure, activating units, declaring and resolving actions and reactions. Below is a more concrete example.

First, let's make an example unit profile. Again, this is a structure I've condensed from Lawson's dense, longhand descriptions of unit abilities. This is a generic unit that nevertheless includes many of the game's core features.

Unit Name: Guy
Keywords: Human, Living, Generic
Speed: 6
Resolve: 3
Armour: 0
Wounds: 2
(In the final product, I'd likely include balancing mechanisms, such as point cost and maximum allowance up here)
Gun – Attack: Range 12, Skill 3. Damage 1.
Evade – Default: Skill 3.
Moon (Psychology)
Scare – Skill 2. Fear 1.
Rally – Skill 3. Gain one Edge.
Mercury (Maneuver)
Hustle – Simple: Skill 3. Move 6”.
Flee – Skill 3. Retreat 6”.
Venus (Special)
Wild [+CC]
Dodge – Skill 5.
Mars (Savagery)
Fist – Attack: Range M, Skill 2. Damage 0.
Return Fire – Attack: Range 12, Skill 2. Damage 1.

Lawson's five suits determine the rough theme of the unit's actions and reactions. I've added the parenthetical explanation of what the suits seem to mean in the table above. Sun actions are usually the most direct, obvious uses for a unit. Ranged attacks are usually found here, though units without ranged weapons have a variety of other abilities under Sun. Sun reactions are almost always the default defence action. Moon actions and reactions tend to represent issues of morale. Moon abilities give or remove Setbacks (more on those later), and also occasionally include healing powers and the like. Mercury actions and reactions invariably involve movement of some kind. Venus abilities are flavourful abilities unique to the unit. Finally, Mars actions are brutal, direct, often inefficient or self-destructive abilities. Mars abilities are almost always attacks, even on support or utility units.

So what can Guy up there do?

Gun is a basic example of a ranged attack. The 'Attack' special keyword has several effects, but it's common enough to get rolled into one keyword. Attacks with a Range other than M (for melee) fail if the target is in melee range (1”). Some reactions and conditions interact with the Attack keyword as well, but we'll keep things simple for now. Most Attacks do damage if successful. Damage that exceeds Armour inflicts a wound. Guy has Armour 0, so if Guy shot another Guy, the target would take a wound. Guy can take two wounds before being removed from the table.

Next up is Scare. Scare has no special keywords, so it can target anything in line of sight. No Range is listed, so it has no maximum. Fear is a common effect that gives the target a Setback token. Each Setback token on a unit gives that unit -1 to all printed Skill ratings. The maximum number of Setbacks a unit can endure is its Resolve rating. If an effect would give Setbacks beyond this maximum, the unit suffers some negative consequences. In the case of a Fear effect, it would run away for a while (to be discussed in a later post).

Hustle is a Simple action. Simple actions cannot target enemy units. As long as their Skill rating after modifiers is at least 1, the action succeeds. So unless Guy has taken a full load of Setbacks, he can spend his action to scoot around with ease. Even then, any Mercury card could get him moving again.

As Venus actions tend to be unique, a unit as generic as Guy doesn't get anything cool. He just has the ability to spend Venus cards as wild cards, giving him flexibility. The notation in square brackets is the modifier for any ability that triggers a different ability. [+CC] means 'Add the value of the Command Card played on this action to the Skill of the resulting action'.

Finally, Guy has his Fist – another Attack. This one has range M (for melee), so it can (and can only) target units within 1”. This ability inflicts 0 Damage. Damage that equals a target's Armour doesn't wound, but does inflict a Setback. If the target had maximum Setbacks (equal to the target's Resolve), a further Setback from damage would remove all Setbacks but inflict a wound. Upon the resolution of a damaging ability, one can also discard one (and only one) Command Card to inflict an additional point of Damage. So a Guy punching another Guy could give the target a Setback or discard a card to inflict a Wound instead.

Over on the reaction side, first we have Evade. Most units have Evade (though Skill values are different between units). Evade is a Default reaction, meaning it does not require a Command Card to perform. If a Guy is being targeted and his controller has no cards or chooses not to use any, the acting unit will need at least 3 Skill after modifiers to affect the Guy.

Rally also has Skill 3. In addition to avoiding an offensive action, it provides a benefit. However, it is not Default, so it is not strictly better than Evade. Rally requires a Command Card to use. It grants an Edge, which is the opposite of a Setback. A unit with an Edge gets +1 Skill to all actions and reactions. Setbacks and Edges cancel each other out. Since a unit with too many Edges would be unstoppable, I'm deciding to set a maximum number of Edges on a unit at one.

Flee allows the Guy to get out of danger. Retreating is a special type of movement which I'll cover in detail in a later post. For now, let's just say it lets the Guy move out of the melee range of an enemy, which normally he couldn't do.

Dodge is an amped-up version of Evade, only without Default. If Guy's player is holding a Venus card, he can use it to avoid almost any action.

Finally, Return Fire is a mirror of Gun, albeit with lower Skill. It allows Guy to hurt the opposition, even on an opponent's turn. Some units have many more offensive reactions, making them very dangerous to target.

Again, this is running long. I promise it's not as confusing as my poor communication skills are making it out to be. Next time, tune in for an example of play, where we get a couple of Guys bashing on each other!

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