Dicey Dungeons Reunion Design: The Warrior
Hey! It’s time for the third Dicey Dungeons Reunion episode thread! This time, I’m gonna talk about the Reunion Warrior episode. Got a lot to say about this one!
This was the second last episode I made for the DLC, and came together from a lot of loose threads that didn’t initially seem to fit together very well.
The high level concept was to try to make a more “dice focused” episode.
Or, to put it another way; it came from thinking about “what are some interesting things I can do with dice that I haven’t already done”?
I’d also been thinking a lot about the original Dicey Dungeons prototype, made for a game jam in 2018. Figuring out the final design of the game meant committing to certain choices, and abandoning other ones. WHAT IF… I’d taken the prototype in a different direction?
It seems bizarre now, but in the game’s first few weeks of development, each piece of equipment had a “play” button on it that you had to press to manually confirm that you wanted to use it.
Removing this was controversial! Most players were on board, but I did have one person tell me that it was “a terrible design decision” and declare that they would never play the game again. (And as far as I can tell, they never have.)
The joys of open development ¯\_(?)_/¯
Clearly, the game is better and more fun to play without having to manually confirm every move: but there is one specific case where manual confirmation is more interesting – rerolling all your dice at once.
In that *particular* case, it’s really satisfying to be able to safely set some of your dice aside in equipment without having to fully commit to a move.
So, I tried this out in modern Dicey Dungeons, and I really liked it! I didn’t really know where it fit, though.
There was another loose thread from the alphas that I wanted to revisit: Items. These were single use powerups that you could save up to get through tricky situations.
These were a pain to balance, so they got removed pretty early on – they eventually found a new home as Inventor Gadgets, where they made a lot more sense!
Another loose thread! I had an idea for a new Slot type for Reunion, “Combinations”.
These cards work a bit like Countdowns, in that they take multiple dice, and can be filled over multiple turns. But, instead of needing a specific value, they need a specific dice combination.
I got really excited about these Combination slots early on, but it turns out they don’t really add much to normal episodes. For a while I didn’t really know what, if anything, I was going to do with them.
For the Robot and Warrior episodes, though, they ended up being crucial!
Two more loose threads to go!
My starting point for thinking about a lot of these episodes was to look at the existing episodes from the game for inspiration.
For Warrior, I think the most interesting episode was “Worse than a Curse”, the one were you lose HP when you level up.
Taking that further, it seemed like there might be a fun Warrior episode in abandoning the traditional Dicey Dungeons level up structure completely, and having you “earn” everything during combat – extra health, extra dice, your skillcard power, your limit break, everything.
And finally: I’d read Reiner Knizia’s “Dice Games Properly Explained” in the early stages of the games development, and I’d always thought it was a shame that I never figured out a “Category Games” themed episode.
“Category Games” are dice games like Yahtzee/Yacht, where you’re competing with other players to maximise your score across multiple categories. It seemed like there *should* be a Dicey version of that idea in there somewhere, but I couldn’t figure it out!
So, uh, yes, that’s a lot of loose threads! Put all than in a blender, and you get:
The Warrior basically has two inventories in this episode – a regular one with ordinary equipment, and then a second one, which contains single use combination cards that only have one use each. It sounds complicated, but it makes more sense when you’re playing!
Half the workout cards are normal attack/defence cards, which are fairly easy to use.
The other half give you permanent bonuses, like extra dice, extra health, or new limit breaks! They tend to be much harder to use.
The *idea* is to turn each round into a conflict between powering up your character, and actually winning the fight without taking too much damage.
The Warrior appears third in the new Reunion episode order. Realising that I could just re-order the characters for the DLC was a very liberating moment, actually. I spent a lot of time trying to keep the Warrior episode “simple”, which it just didn’t want to be!
I’ve seen some streamers jump into the Warrior episode first and be, uh, kind of overwhelmed. Sorry! I tried to warn you!
This episode requires more dice than normal, and therefore more dice manipulating equipment. There are a few new items in the episode with that purpose that I like a lot (Tackle, Crunch, Uppercut), but in particular, I think Bicep Curl is really great:
(Bicep Curl is *kind* of like a much better version of the Warrior Tweak skill from the early alphas, another alpha reference I managed to shoehorn in)
Nearly done, but there’s one more idea in this episode I really like and want to mention here. After a couple of fights, you’ll get offered a card that gives you a mysterious “Victory Point”.
Victory Points are part of an alternate win condition of sorts for the episode. Collect all four, and something good will happen!
“Omnislash” is a limit break that allows you to one-shot the boss – though, getting it requires you to gain the last victory point and learn the Omnislash limit break during the boss fight, so it’s pretty difficult to pull off!
Technically speaking, it’s not “worth it”, but it’s there as a challenge for players who are inclined.
I saw a youtube comment that suggested that the boss should have 9999 hp, which is a funny idea – but I think it’s a little too requiring of perfection for Dicey Dungeons
I guess the design looks kind of obvious, when you put all the pieces side by side on the table like this – but this episode took a *while* to come together. A lot of false starts and dead ends.
In particular, it suffers from being kind of a fragile episode – it was pretty hard to balance, and as a result, I ended up with a level generator that tends to be kind of samey. This is probably the least replayable episode in the DLC, oh well.
On the other hand, this episode *really* seems to click with some people, and stands out as a very different feeling experience, which I’m pretty happy about! Here’s a clip from Aliensrock’s recent video on the episode, which was fun to watch:
That’s it for the Warrior, thanks for reading! (Sorry for clogging up your timelines, I’m literally writing these as I go )