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Contra: Dev Diary 2 - The Commandos

Only the strong survive…

The Red Falcon Army has reemerged, and now it’s time to return to the fray and bring them down all over again. You have been selected from among the most qualified Contra commandos, and now the fate of the world lies in your hands.

Infiltrate. Eliminate. Survive.

PLEASE NOTE: Images/components in this preview are pending licensor approval and subject to change.

Soldiers, welcome to Contra: The Board Game!

My name is Scott McFall, and I’m the developer on this exciting game of run-and-gun action designed by Adam and Brady Sadler (Street Masters, Altar Quest, Heroes of Terrinoth)! This series of “developer diaries” will act as previews for the game and provide insight regarding its design and development!

Last time we took a surface level look at the game, but today we’ll zoom in on a topic I'm sure you're very excited about: the commandos!

Let's start with understanding how commando attacks work.


Combat is fast and furious in Contra, and it was important to replicate that in Contra: The Board Game. The best way to do that and keep things tense: dice!

Rolling the commando dice

When a commando attacks in Contra: The Board Game, they generally attack using their equipped weapon (there are other ways of attacking, but we'll let you discover those yourself). By default, a commando starts the game with a rifle, which allows them to roll 2 commando dice when attacking. However, by traversing the battlefield, commandos can find and equip advanced weaponry that provide more dice and even special abilities during attack rolls.

Lance is equipped with the almighty Spread Gun!

The 6 faces of a commando die are: 2x successes, 1x critical success, 1x mobility advantage, 1x accuracy advantage, and 1x subtlety advantage.


It wouldn't be Contra without explosions, so we added exploding dice to Contra: The Board Game! After you've rolled your attack, but before resolving it, you look for any critical successes you've rolled. These not only count as a standard success, they also immediately "explode" and add 1 extra die to your roll! If that new die results in a critical success too? Yep, it explodes as well! There is no limit to how many dice can explode, so things can get pretty nuts.

Trust me, nothing feels better than rolling 4 critical successes in a row (true story)!

Resolving the attack roll

Once all dice have "exploded," it's time to check your final results. You deal 1 damage to your target for each success you've got.

Then, for each die showing an advantage result, you have an important choice to make: you can spend precious advantage to convert it to a success (further damaging your target) ... or you leave it as-is and do nothing, concluding your attack. Why would you do the latter, you ask? Read on ...

Gaining advantage

After you've dealt damage to your target and concluded your attack, each unconverted advantage symbol showing on the dice you rolled during said attack allows you to gain 1 matching advantage token! These can be spent on future attacks to convert dice to successes, as stated above. This is one of the ways a commando can get advantage in the game.

As you can see, there are no bad rolls in Contra: The Board Game! Even if you don't get hits on the enemy, you'll gain precious advantage and that can sometimes be even better!


Ok, now that we know how commando attacks work, let's meet the team that will be firing those guns! First up, we have the legendary duo themselves: Bill and Lance! When you think of Contra, you think of these two heroes!

Bill Rizer

Bill Rizer is as tough as they come. He survived Galuga. He survived the Alien Wars. When the bullets start flying, this is the man you want on your team. His tactical know-how offers his fellow commandos new strategies on the fly, and his unrelenting spirit ensures they’ll power through even when the odds are stacked against them. Of course, when all else fails, he’s the first to offer up his gun when extra firepower is the order of the day.

In the game, this all means that Bill is the one that helps other players out by granting them precious card draw. In a game that encourages you to burn through your hand to do incredible things, you might find yourself in need of more cards quite often. Bill is the guy that will allow you to keep running and gunning when you think you’re spent. Additionally, his Tactical Leader ability allows any commando to add a die to an attack roll! A single die can mean the difference between victory and defeat, so you can bet you’ll want Bill’s gun at the ready!

Lance Bean

This Contra hero has lived and seen things you wouldn’t believe. He’s also blown most of those things up. Lance is a lean, mean fighting machine. He's one of Contra’s best sharpshooters, but this doesn’t stop him from getting up close and personal when needed. He’s fast and nimble, so if you need to close the gap quickly, he’s your best bet. He is also adept at motivating others, so if you’re suddenly feeling the mission is hopeless, you can count on one of his famous pep talks to set you straight.

For players who just can’t seem to reach their destination on the map easily, Lance is a godsend. He has the ability to get any commando moving just a little faster or jump just a little higher. That little extra can make a world of difference when you’re just out of range of your target! Oh, and we can’t forget to mention that his ability to close distances quickly comes in handy when he attacks, because he often gets an extra die added to his roll if he’s right next to his target!

Alright, time to meet our other heroes: Sweets and Lucia!

Sweets Manson

As Contra’s recon expert, Sweets can get into heavily guarded areas without so much as a peep. Once there, she knows how to get you the intel you need--and the intel you didn’t know you needed. Her invaluable infiltration skills also allow her to thin out enemy forces quickly and quietly. With her blades and cat-like agility, her targets usually hit the ground before they even know she’s there. That said, she’s more than capable of dancing toe-to-toe with her foes if need be, even if she does sometimes throw caution to the wind to do so.

Sweets is the perfect commando for a player that likes to sneak past the opposition and learn their secrets. Firstly, she has the ability to move farther than any commando, and can do so without triggering any deadly traps and hazards that might be part of a stage. Then, when she finally reaches her destination, she can deal guaranteed damage to enemies without rolling dice! This is great for certain enemies that react to commando attacks, because such an ability is not considered an attack. Sneaky! She can also reveal the secret requirements of objectives on the map, which is huge because generally commandos will attempt objectives without knowing what the requirements are. Sweets solves that problem, saving her team valuable turns!

Lucia LCR-0

This new arrival is a mystery to even the top brass at Contra. All they know is this top-secret “bionoid prototype” was assigned to the task force recently by Earth Gov for evaluation in the field. So far, they’re impressed; "she" performs like a true soldier. The tech team is fascinated by the small squad of drones she commands, which do various things from fetching weapons on the battlefield to distracting foes. The techs are also trying to understand her advanced power core, which seems to be able to release incredibly damaging energy pulses on command. So far, they have no answers to provide, but her effectiveness on the battlefield cannot be questioned.

While Sweets likes to sneak past the enemy, Lucia loves to simply mess with them. Using her decoy drones, she can manipulate the board state by moving enemies around. Perfect for bringing them in close to spring an ambush, or moving them farther away so they aren’t a threat. She can also have her drones apply smoke cover to the area, allowing her team to move when they might not have been able to otherwise. Also, as mentioned above, she can actually have the drones locate and retrieve weapons on the battlefield. This is huge, as normally commandos need to make their way to the weapons themselves, risking detours and wasted time. She also has the ability to clear multiple enemies off the board in one swift attack using an energy pulse, so make sure to use those drones and lure your prey closer!


Alright, I hope you enjoyed this look at the commandos in Contra: The Board Game! That’s it for this developer diary entry, but next time, we’ll take a look at the dangerous enemies you'll encounter on your mission!

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