Welcome back to the Guardian column, our weekly peek into development behind the new Thunderstone Advance. My name is Curt Crane, and I’m a member of the Thunderstone Design Team. Along with Jeff and Mark, I’ll be sharing some development experiences in the weeks leading up to the release of Thunderstone Advance.
Last week, Jeff talked about the new basic deck at the start of the game. This week, we’re going to the endgame. For my first subject, we’ll start with… Thunderstones.
The Agony of Defeat
From a story perspective, I love Thunderstones. I “get” them, as artifacts of evil that our heroes must hunt down, venturing into the darkest dungeons to do so. Only with these Thunderstones do we have a chance to seal the fate of Doom forever.
From a gameplay perspective, however, I’ve been less than thrilled.
A Thunderstone typically pops up in rank 3. Capturing it requires getting it to rank 2 and killing the monster in front of (i.e. “guarding”) it.
Problem is, sometimes that Thunderstone is guarded by a measly Griknack Goblin. Hardly seems fitting for an artifact of such importance, does it? For similar reasons, the 1 VP Thunderstones (added for very good balance reasons) also rub me the wrong way. Killing a grudgebeast is worth more victory than the Stone of Agony? What?
Worse still is when your turn comes around and the Thunderstone is in rank 3. The question becomes, “Do I kill a monster, knowing that this moves the Thunderstone into rank 2, and likely gives it to another player?” I have encountered my fair share of stalled games in this way.
In Thunderstone Advance, we decided to change things up a bit.
I’m Holding This for a Friend
No longer do you trip over a Thunderstone in the dungeon, or luck into defeating a mere kobold or skeleton to retrieve it. Now, Thunderstones are protected by their own type of Guardians. Defeat these Thunderstone Bearers, and the game ends.
Just don’t expect that task to be a walk in the park. These Thunderstone Bearers are some of the most powerful monsters, sorcerers, and nefarious beings you’ve ever faced. We ramped them up to represent the true power that a Thunderstone confers to its guardian.
Often in Thunderstone, your deck continually builds in power until… the game happens to come to an end. Now, there’s a reason for all that power. You will need multiple, powerful heroes to stand a chance against these powerful, cunning foes.
But hurry! For if the Thunderstone Bearer makes it to rank 1, he escapes to rebuilt armies elsewhere. Whether the Thunderstone Bearer is defeated or escapes, the game ends and players tally VPs as before.
It is possible to beat a Thunderstone Bearer and lose the game on points (just like you could collect the Thunderstone and still lose), but these Guardians come equipped with considerable amounts of VP, and more importantly, bragging rights! “Yes, Sir James, you may be the proclaimed Hero of the People… but I’m the one who truly defeated Orseg and saved these lands from ruin!”
So steel your courage, bring your mightiest warriors and your fiercest spells! For if you do not, you have no hope of defeating these Thunderstone Bearers.
And Tala is doomed.
PS: You may notice a mention of “battle effects” on Orseg. Battle effects are still around, and we’ll discuss them further in the near future.
PPS: For a “fun” variant, try this: The player who allows the Thunderstone Bearer to escape is ineligible to win the game. You can even try this variant in current games with Thunderstones–it can back you into some tough corners!