Contrary to what you’d expect, life as a videogame designer is only 50% casinos, car-chases and throwing henchmen off the Eiffel Tower. The rest of the time is spent discussing incredibly specific details about how pieces of our game should or should not work. #RockAndRoll #LivingTheDream


As a specific example, we’ve been sitting around like a bunch of lawyers discussing the exact working of how traits and Warlord special rules should work (quick catchup – traits are one-off powers triggered when you deploy cards, while each Warlord has a passive special rule that’s always active).

The reason we’ve been covering this area is that the behind the scenes rework of our battle system will soon mean:

  • We can add new traits to the game, meaning we want to nail the ‘internal language’ of how traits work so the new ones adhere to it.
  • We can also add new Warlords to the game, and as each will have a special rule we again need to be 100% confident on how these work.
  • Fix several minor issues with the current traits and special rules which cause them to not trigger correctly or to behave differently than their text description implies. For example, as pointed out by reader Krzysztof, the current implementation of the Taunt trait does not play correctly with Ork Warlord Badrukk’s special rule.


Here’s an example: We had to decide on the precise differences between the words ‘attack’, ‘damage’ and ‘wound’ so we know what should block each of them and whether any of them cause other traits or special rules to trigger as a response. So an ‘attack’ might be when a card physically goes over and punches / shoots / brain melts another card, compared to simply dealing damage, which causes the victim’s Wounds to go down.

They might sound the same, but it’s reasonable to expect attacks to be blocked by things like the Shield trait, whereas simply taking damage may bypass the Shield. Not that I’m definitely saying that’s how things will work, by the way, just giving an example. We’ll post here once the final wordings have been agreed and some of the traits and special rules are about to change their current, possibly incorrect, behaviour.


Something else to note is that all these discussions are for us, the developers, to first agree on this stuff. That’s why we need to be incredibly precise – so whoever’s job it is to add future traits and special rules can be confident on how these edge-case interactions should work.

We won’t spell all this stuff out in such detail in the game for two reasons:

  • To keep the text short enough that players will read it (and because our artists get upset if you try to squeeze large blocks of content into small text fields).
  • Also, we don’t need to spell it out in as much detail as a paper game’s rulebook because the computer arbitrates all of it. Obviously we still want players to be able to intuit how a trait / special rule will work from its description, but unlike a board or wargame there’s no arguing with the other player that it should work like A or B. Assuming we squash all the bugs in this area each trait will work as it should, and learning how the rare edge-cases are likely to interact is part of playing the game and coming up with cunning combos.


Hopefully you can see that these discussions aren’t actually about the wording we use when describing the traits / special rules, it’s us agreeing on the underlying ‘rules’ of this area of the game so we can ensure everything sticks to those rules.

I’ll leave it to you whether it’s fun spending a couple of hours deciding whether precise wording means a trait can / can’t trigger a second time if that card is ‘picked back up’ from the battlefield and redeployed later, but these sort of discussions are an important part of designing a videogame (along with the whole henchman / throwing / Eiffel Tower thing, of course).

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