Thursday, March 26, 2015

Daikaiju Spotlight: Fenrir

A ferocious beast ripped out of myth, built with science and given life through dark magic, Fenrir is not only a threat to mankind, but to other daikaiju alike! His insatiable appetite for destruction was instilled into his very essence by his neo-nazi techno-wizard creators. They summoned the Ur-Wolf's untamable spirit and bound it into a massive werewolf-like body that they had pieced together with genetic modification and profane surgical techniques. Using circuitry and magic to strengthen it into a worthy vessel and Dr Frankenstein's old methodology for animating dead tissue, this abomination is stronger than any natural creature this planet could produce. To further enhance Fenrir's capability to destroy, they sought out ancient god killing artifacts like the Spear of Longinus and even a fang from the original Fenrir of Norse mythology to create his claws and teeth. Now that two giant alien monsters have landed on Earth, the neo-nazi techno-wizards have unleashed this beast to not only save the planet, but conquer it too.

Fenrir, the "kaiju killer," has been a fan favorite since the beginning of Daikaiju Director. When I first started thinking about what different Daikaiju would be capable of in the game, I started a list of different archetypes and abilities that I thought were crucial to providing the most balanced and diverse gameplay possible. The first item on that list was a monster that dealt "increased damage vs. kaiju." When the time came to create the first monster for the game, I looked at that first item on the list and grabbed the meanest looking mini I had set aside for the Daikaiju Director prototype: a werewolf.

Fenrir seemed like a more than perfect name for a giant wolf-like armageddon-heralding daikaiju, so I borrowed the name from Norse Mythology and quickly drafted up his backstory. He got the Vicious ability, which made him deal extra damage to Daikaiju. This later got changed to just other actors in general when I decided to eventually add "extras" or smaller non-daikaiju units to the game. (More on that in a future installment!) Being combat oriented, I gave Fenrir the best attack modifier and more twist cards for modifying combat than any other daikaiju created thus far. I wanted him to be an unstoppable juggernaut when he got into a brawl with an adjacent daikaiju and these two things seemed like the most practical way of achieving this.

I was kind of wrong.

The extra combat modifying twist cards was later determined to be a boring idea. Even daikaiju with the normal amount of combat modifying twist cards drew them way too often. His original active ability, "Fight Dirty," allowed Fenrir to use a free extra Twist Card the turn it was activated. Either nobody used it because they never needed that extra boost in a fight, or they used it in conjunction with a particularly lucky hand to jump all over the set and make a bunch of attacks. The ability was either crap or way too good. There was no middle ground where it was just plain fun.

When something just isn't fun in your game, you've got to change it. Fenrir's Fight Dirty active ability got replaced by Pounce, an ability that let him use 1 action to move and attack. This turned out to be reminiscent of the lucky hand fueled, explosive uses of the old Dirty Fighting ability without being too powerful. Also, since Fenrir does not have an area of attack ability or twist, pounce functions as a way for this monster to hit more than one enemy on the set in a turn.

In the play tests I've run for family and friends as well as the ones open to the public at UD Con, Fenrir has consistently been a player favorite. His simple and ferocious play style is very appealing for players looking for a direct, straightforward win. There were initial concerns that dealing extra damage to other players on every hit was too strong since he could kill most other Daikaiju in 4 successful attacks or 2 turns if he is uninterrupted. However, it quickly became apparent that the amount of aggro his abilities attracted made him somewhat of a glass cannon if the player wasn't cautious. I foresee Fenrir being possibly too good in a 1 on 1 game, but I haven't done very extensive testing on that type of play as of yet.

Anyways, that's all for this round of Daikaiju Spotlight! Tune in next time for your first look at the explosive Vulcanus!

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