DESIGN: Shadowscape: Alternative Rules

Shadowscape is the first game I ever successfully backed on Kickstarter, and as such I may be biased, but I do believe there is the core of a good game buried within its flawed exterior.

shadowscape pic_2

In my opinion, Shadowscape suffers most notably in the need to maintain some play balance: some Monsters and Lord of the Dungeon bosses seem particularly hard to beat when things haven’t gone well, and the co-operative game is over before anybody really gets the chance to blink as the Fate Card deck is exhausted in no time at all. What’s more, the game purports to allow solo play, but fails to really discuss or even allude to this mode of play, other than mentioning that it’s a 1-4 player game at the start of the rulebook and on the box.

SOLO PLAY

So, first off, if you wish to play this game solo, you’ll want to follow this link and download the relevant material: Shadowscape Solo/Online Scenarios.

As for the other potential issues, I’ve a couple of proposed changes to the base game that we’ve used to good effect, and will share them here…

EXTENDING THE CO-OPERATIVE GAME

The co-op game can be extended in two ways, both of which work quite well:

(1) The easiest way is to allow players to go through the Fate Deck twice instead of just once before calling time and declaring the game over — this ensures the game is long enough to give all players a chance to bolster their Heroes before the final showdown, and will add approx. 30-45mins to the standard playing time.

(2) An alternative, and one I believe is more in keeping with the ‘dungeon party’ ideal, is to draw a Fate Card to activate and move the Monsters once only after every player has completed their actions for that turn. This effectively slows the game down enough to ensure players have enough opportunities to collect the relevant Fate Cards they may need to complete the Whispers, whilst maintaining the illusion that players are somehow planning their moves and teaming up to defeat the dungeon and of course, the final boss at the end.

KILLING TOUGHER MONSTERS USING BLEEDING RULES

Another issue some players have had is with beating some of the tougher Monsters that need 5 or even 6 hits to kill, and these aren’t even the dungeon bosses!  For those not already aware, each Monster in Shadowscape has a Defence value, and if you cannot deliver that much or more damage in one hit (either through a Melee or Ranged Attack), the Monster remains undefeated and the full Defence value will remain intact, ready for the next attempt by you or one of the other players…

I never liked this aspect from the very start, and we have always played the game so that if you can hit a Monster for 3 damage, that Monster will effectively have lost 3 of its Defence rating (we use blood drops to represent hits, but any alternative would do), and will slowly regain and recover its Defence value at the rate of one blood drop per turn whenever that Monster is next activated and/or attacked in subsequent turns, thus Monsters will eventually return to their full Defence value if they’re left to their own devices for a few turns, but otherwise will remain vulnerable to subsequent attacks in the interrim, allowing some of the tougher ones to be brought down over a couple of turns, hopefully.

I hope players old and new would consider these alternative rules as a way of making this game better than it already is, so if you try them, please let me know what you think in the comments below.

Happy dungeon crawling!

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