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Customs Creation - February 2020

Posted February 23rd, 2020 at 04:14 PM by HS Codex

Customs Creation
Parallax Design 2.0: Part 2
Author: superfrog
(with contributions from johnny139, Lazy_Orang, and Scytale)


Welcome to another edition of “Parallax Design”! In this article series, we get several designers to come up with their take on a design using a given miniature (or in this case, miniatures).

This time around, we’ve got johnny139, Lazy_Orang, Scytale, and superfrog on board to design two cards for these Starfinder miniatures:


Lazy_Orang’s designs


Backstory on Tyra


Lazy_Orang’s design notes

Well, superfrog suggested making these a sort of Iskra/Retchets duo, which is the direction that felt natural anyway, so that’s what I did. The idea of an anthropomorphic sci-fi rodent rogue who could launch drones to do his dirty work sounded fun to me.

Skitter himself is fairly basic. His stats aren’t great, but he’s generally meant to be played out of the way. He is easy to squash once you get through to him and he does play rather well with rats and Raelin, which is just a function of the concept I wanted to go with. As for Skitter’s powers, as I said, he’s simple: he gets to launch R.A.T.T., including repairing it or launching a new one if it’s already been downed, can bond with R.A.T.T., has Scatter (the use of Scatter on a hero was inspired by Arch-vile’s Slorm) and can Disengage. Four powers, but exceptionally simple despite that.

One thing I noticed is that I was the only one who made their rat anything other than a mechanic. I can see the attraction to making him a mechanic, but I made mine a rogue since the mini felt more like a space rogue to me than anything. I ended up seeing Skitter as a more devious, less aggressive version of Rocket from Guardians of the Galaxy ... in fact, I can definitely see this guy fitting in with the Guardians. Rogue gives him some small synergies with the Nottingham Brigands, who I don’t own yet, but he felt as though he’d fit in with the rest of them. As for his name, I considered using some sort of serial number, insinuating the idea of him being a genetic experiment, but decided against it; I wasn’t certain about that backstory in the first place, and even if that is the backstory I choose for him to have, I can’t see him continuing to go by a serial number—Skitter is not a number, he is a free rat! (Apologies: couldn’t resist a Prisoner reference there ...) In the end, at my Mum’s suggestion, I decided to go with an already existing word, something simple and descriptive in the vein of Splinter or Rocket. He follows Tyra since I’m a big fan of Soundwarp SG-1’s generals and would like to incorporate them into my game, so I’m always looking for opportunities to expand them; plus my vision of his character fits more into Tyra’s defector theme than any of the official generals in my opinion.

R.A.T.T .... now here’s where the complexity comes in. I wanted the sense of it being semi-automated, so I ended up making it a sort of mobile sentry turret, opening fire in response to enemy aggression, as well as allowing itself and its pilot to reposition. Still four powers, and a lot more text than Skitter, but actually quite simple to use and understand. It can be brought down quite easily, but if so Skitter can simply launch another. As for the name, the attraction of a silly acronym was too great for me, so that’s what I went for—I was quite happy that I was able to get a fitting acronym for what it does which formed R.A.T.T., and also that I was able to make Remote Aggression Termination Technology one of the power names to get across what it was an acronym for.

In the end, the best way to play them is probably to hide Skitter behind a ruin and have him launch a new R.A.T.T. as needed on the first turn of each round, flying it out to provide covering fire to your main battleline. Skitter himself should probably only engage in combat in the cleanup stages, or when you’re starting to get pressed. Under those circumstances, he can use Scatter to rush away from some of the enemy’s fire: he can take a shot or two and rush away, but if he comes under concerted firepower for too long, he will die. Unfortunately, as I said, R.A.T.T. and Skitter do fight well with Deathreavers and Raelin due to their defensive and reactive nature, and it’s not immediately obvious whether Skitter himself should keep to the back or fight more actively with his drone. Still, I’m fairly happy with how it turned out, and I find the space-rogue with his sentry drone to be really fun and evocative to play.

johnny139’s comments

Imagine showing this card to someone who just got Rise of the Valkyrie ... eight powers across two intertwined cards, and a new general to boot! I don’t know much about Tyra, but, based on that blurb, I can imagine a sci-fi ratfolk fits as well as anyone else.

On Skitter, RATT Launch and RATT Pilot aren’t particularly challenging, though, and I like the idea of a replaceable drone, which lets you get a “common” feel without needing to buy tons of figures. It’s a classic trick and well deployed here. I’m not sure if Scatter is entirely necessary, and perhaps oversells the “rat” theme, but I do like how it intersects with RATT.

RATT, on the other hand, is definitely stuffed. The necessity to squeeze Stealth Flying (which is truncated) and a “doesn’t start on the battlefield” power are a big part of that, but its remaining two powers are also pretty hefty. I really like Evasive Warning Systems, which I think sells the theme in a quite specific way. Less flexibility, more theme: it’s a tradeoff. It’s the eponymous RATT power that I feel is a bit much: it duplicates the free movement from its third power and offers a 50/50 shot at an unblockable wound. All for only 30 points! That’s tough, and I think there’s a way to both tone down its power level and possibly even merge the two powers together.

The symbiosis here is strong, and the two should be plenty dynamic on the battlefield. Interestingly, the drone is the star here and the rat simply the one in charge of deploying it. I think it could use some trimming, but RATT is way more interesting than you’d expect a flying wheel with a gun to be!

Scytale’s comments

The overall design is that of a pair of unique heroes that work in tandem. Together, they get an okay two attacks of three at range, though range 4 on both is very limiting, and defensively they are quite fragile. They both have defensive abilities, but both are after rolling defense, which means they won’t survive long, and don’t have the range to keep their distance from pretty much anything.

I quite like the reuse of Scatter here, making for a nice tie-in to the “rats” of Heroscape, the Deathreavers. It comes off as overly complex here, though, especially with R.A.T.T. having two such powers, one of which also moves Skitter and the other with an added attack. It’s a lot to take in and remember, for both the player and the opponent. Focusing on the intention and trimming the rest would have benefitted the design.

The use of rodent as the species troubles me a little, as Skitter is more than a mere rat. It’s ok, though, and being tricky is a good fit. Rogue less so, though it gives him a backstory. I’m confused by the species of android for R.A.T.T. “Android,” while the word has become muddied, means “an automaton in the form of a human being,” which this clearly is not. Drone is a good class, and systematic is a neat new personality.

One note from an editor’s perspective: Remote Aggression Termination Technology uses a new term, “player turn,” that is not defined in the Heroscape ruleset. (At least I assume it’s meant to be different than a normal “turn.”) That’s certainly fine for home games since it can mean anything you want it to mean, but may be confusing to others who may want to print out the cards for their own use.

superfrog’s comments

Tyra as a general is interesting. I went back and read Soundwarp’s description, and I think Skitter fits pretty well. He definitely has a post-apocalyptic rebel vibe, and not in any kind of structured rebellion sense. All the left box stats are appropriate, and I like the genericness of “rodent” as opposed to the more specific “rat.” I must say, I love your reuse of Scatter. It’s probably my favorite thing about the whole design combo. It is super-thematic and gives him maybe an ounce more survivability.

Great name for the drone. Especially since you explain what it means. It’s a cute acronym in the best and most ’Scapey way. I’m curious about systematic as a personality. It brings to mind Daleks destroying everything they come across, so I wonder if that was any kind of inspiration.

I think the thing that stood out to me most about this design group was that you made R.A.T.T. re-spawnable. It’s a cool compromise between unique and common, but I think if you look at the theme too hard it breaks down. Where does the second R.A.T.T. come from? Skitter’s backpack, I guess. But how about the third? The seventh? Then again, lots of powers in Heroscape require a certain amount of hand-waving, so this works if you don’t get all stickler-y about it.

My biggest problem with this design combo is that 3 of the powers seem to serve much the same purpose. Skitter has Scatter, and R.A.T.T has both Remote Aggression Termination Technology and Evasive Warning Systems. All of these powers are movement powers that trigger on rolling defense dice against a normal attack. And sometimes, they overlap a bit confusingly. What happens when R.A.T.T. and Skitter are adjacent to each other and your opponent attacks R.A.T.T.? This seems like it could trigger Remote Aggression Termination Technology and Evasive Warning Systems, since R.A.T.T. is within the required range of Skitter.

In general, I’d probably drop Evasive Warning Systems in favor of Stealth Dodge, and then rejigger Remote Activation Termination Technology to compensate.

I do really appreciate the way that you made them work so well together, and how you split the difference between common and unique on R.A.T.T.. They do look like they’d play as a neat mix between organized and scattered. (Or systematic and tricky, as you’ve put it.)
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Lazy Orang's Avatar
I'd just like to respond to Scytale's comment here, since it's something I probably should have addressed in the main design notes section, but forgot:

" The use of rodent as the species troubles me a little, as Skitter is more than a mere rat. It’s ok, though. [...] I’m confused by the species of android for R.A.T.T. “Android,” while the word has become muddied, means “an automaton in the form of a human being,” which this clearly is not."

Yeah, both of those are my C3G showing, there. In C3G, Android is the default species for all robots unless otherwise specified, and Robent is the species used for any form of Rodent (going on both the Rat Swarm and Master Splinter). I like to maintain internal consistency between my Classic and Superscape collections, where possible.


Player turn is also something that's recently been defined by C3G that I appropriated here - basically, it means that it can't trigger off two separate Army Card turns from one player's turn, so it can't shoot Gilbert when he attacks then do the same to a knight, for example.


Apologies - as I said, should have clarified these earlier.
Posted February 24th, 2020 at 01:01 PM by Lazy Orang Lazy Orang is offline
 
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