Friday, February 27, 2015

Daikaiju Spotlight: Space Hunter X

The 10th iteration of the most ruthlessly successful interstellar bounty hunter to specialize in bringing down giant monsters, Space Hunter X has come to Earth in search of its most dangerous mark yet. It was created through an aggressive mechanical-evolutionary process by aliens who's home world used to be overrun by tyrannical daikaiju, and it can adapt to any situation and always has some technique or tool perfect for capturing its quarry. After eliminating all of the giant monsters on their own planet, Space Hunter's creators hired out this deadly, sentient machine to anyone in the galaxy that had a particularly pesky kaiju in need of capture or extermination. It has continued to evolve and add strange new weapons to its arsenal. Space Hunter X is sure to be an insurmountable challenge for any other daikaiju looking to become the star of the show.

The development of Space Hunter X started just like the development of most of the other original 4 daikaiju: with a mini. The first playtest for FASFAC's Epic Games Contest was coming up, and I wanted a visually appealing demo that stood out from the competition. Until I could make my own minis for the daikaiju, I decided to use stand-ins that had a similar feel to what I wanted in the finished product. I found a few minis that I had lying around that looked good on the board I was using and created monsters around their appearance.

The mini that became Space Hunter X was a sentai-looking robot with a jetpack and a gun, so I started there. I started with giving it flying movement and a ranged special attack. That eventually got reversed and Space Hunter X ended up with a ranged attack passive ability and a flying activated ability. Then, I decided his role. I knew that I wanted each Kaiju to have a distinct play style after I made Fenrir, the first daikaiju I designed, a "Daikaiju killer." Since I didn't have much experience with sentai, I resorted to the tropes I knew.

Unless you consider the original Ultraman series to be loosely associated with the genre, I haven't watched any sentai series in this decade. To me super sentai represents a kind of space police, so I decided his twist deck should be full of neat tricks to subdue or apprehend other monsters. I gave him cards that stole energy from enemies, ensuring they won't be able to bother you with their annoying special abilities. In addition to that, there are twists in his deck that stop enemies from moving and even can make them skip their turn.

After the stats, abilities and twists were figured out, Space Hunter X's backstory grew organically. The name is a play on "Monster Zero" and "Monster X" from the Godzilla franchise. In the initial playtest, he varied wildly from being completely useless and too good. This largely depended on how the player playing him used his abilities and twists. If they stayed back, took pot shots at vulnerable daikaiju and controlled the set with Super Snares and EMPs then they could usually out maneuver and outgun the other players. This led to complaints that he was too fast when in reality, his flying ability only puts his move speed on par with Eelian's.

At the UD Con playtest, Space Hunter X wasn't played much, so I don't have too much data on how I should tweak him moving forward. The player controlling him never drew his good twist cards and only had the combat modifying ones to work with. This put him at a significant disadvantage. Moving forward, I'm scaling back the number of combat modifiers in twist decks and upping the number of cards with interesting abilities. I'm going to be doing a lot of play testing in the coming months and maybe I'll come up with some more changes to implement then.

That's all for this installment of Daikaiju Spotlight. Tune in next week for more information on Space hunter X's quarry: the mysterious Eelian!

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