Myth & Goal - Design Diary 5 - Solo, League & Advanced Play



Hey folks, welcome back to another Myth & Goal designer diary!


So far we’ve talked about the game as a whole, looked at Players and their cards, given an closer look at the game board and gameplay, and had a deep dive into the Actions system. In other words, we’ve had a really solid look at the basic game!


From the start, we wanted Myth & Goal to be playable in a variety of ways. Personally, these days I find myself so busy that I really enjoy standalone games – ones that I can take off the shelf, play, then pack away and not have to think about until I decide to play it again. It was really important that this game would stand up to that sort of play, and we’re really happy with what we’ve accomplished! There’s a fantastic amount of replayability in the core game, even if you just stick with basic play; the various combinations of Faction and Focus, the different match-ups between teams, the choices of Squad and Tactic Cards in each Period… you’re unlikely to ever see two games play out the same way.


But what if you want to take things further? That's where Advanced Play comes in, offering you even more ways to play!



It was always our plan to include multiple types of advanced play in the core game. We wanted the Myth & Goal box to be as comprehensive as possible, not just a “starter set” which players have to significantly add to if they want to experience the game as it was intended to be played. As such, the core game includes rules for team customisation, league play, and solo play – all of which can be mixed and matched, and all of which builds on the existing modularity in the base game. Let’s take a look at how they all work!


FREE AGENTS & TEAM CUSTOMISATION

The easiest of the advanced play options to implement are the rules for Free Agents. Eagle-eyed readers may have noticed that although there are eight players in a Myth & Goal team, the core box will contain 16 miniatures per team – two copies of each. This has two functions:


  1. For those who play Other Fantasy Sports Games, this gives you a full range of miniatures which should make sure all your positions are covered.

  2. It provides plenty of options for Free Agents in Myth & Goal.


Free Agents give Managers some extra options for customising their team. At the start of the first Period of a game, when you set up your team, you have the option of switching out up to two of your Players with Free Agents. These are Players who don’t hold an allegiance to any team, preferring to walk their own path and make themselves available to Managers on an ad-hoc basis.


This flexibility comes at a cost, though; as they don’t train with your team, Free Agents can’t make use of your Focus Ability, and you can’t play Tactics Cards on them. Whether that’s a worthwhile trade-off is something that each Manager will have to decide for themselves. If you’ve played a few games as the Durnhold Anvils but you’re always finding yourself falling prey to tougher opponents, taking on a skilled Orc Striker might be worth it – even if they aren’t the best team players!

Free Agents like this Orc Striker can help managers enact unorthodox strategies!

For those who want to try something even more wacky, there’s the All Star Teams option, which lets a group of Managers draft their entire team from a central pool of Free Agents.


In other words, if customising teams is your jam, Myth & Goal’s got you covered!


LEAGUE PLAY

The next advanced play option is one that will be close to a lot of people’s hearts. League play! This is a staple of any tabletop sports game; who doesn’t want the chance to get a bunch of friends together and play a run of games to determine an overall winner? For a lot of people this will be their default way of playing, so once again we wanted to make sure this was a default option in the game box rather than holding it back for an expansion.


Starting a Myth & Goal league is easy. Once you’ve figured out how many teams you’ve got, you need to decide on a format. The game comes packaged with two default formats: the Divisional League (which is designed to suit groups who want to play a slow-burn league over the course of several weeks), and the Prize Tournament (which is ideal for organised play days or weekends).


As with everything else in Myth & Goal, league play is modular, and the Organiser (the person in charge of running things, who is also fully capable of playing in the league as a Manager) can choose from various options when setting up the league. Experienced Organisers will no doubt remix things entirely and come up with their own systems, but we wanted to make sure that league play was easy and accessible for everyone, even if they’ve got no experience running a tabletop sports league.


League play rules come in the base game and are perfect for playing over multiple games.

One of the most exciting elements of league play is the idea of team advancement. This is the default in Divisional Leagues and an option for Prize Tournaments; by default, Prize Tournament teams get to choose a number of advancements at the start of the competition, and keep them throughout. After a league game, both teams gain a number of Training Points (more if they play against a stronger team, fewer if they take on a weaker team) and can spend them in a few different ways, or save them for later.


First, you can Refocus your team by removing its Team Focus card and replacing it with a new one. If you want to keep your opponents on their toes and switch up your play style mid-league, this is a good way to do it – although it’s arguably not a great investment, as it just changes how your team plays without giving you a significant advantage. If you don’t mind spending more Training Points you can Diversify your team by giving it a second Team Focus card. This comes at a high cost, but gives you access to a lot more Tactics Cards during a game. A Diversified team chooses one of its Focus Cards at the start of each Period; maybe your Nimble team doesn’t mind bending the rules in the third Period, so they make the switch to a Devious play style.


In my opinion, though, the most satisfying way to spend your Training Points is on Advancement Cards for your Players. These extend the Special Rule section of the Player’s card, giving them new passive abilities, bonuses on specific tests or unique actions. Each Player can only have a single Advancement card, but each card can also be upgraded with more Training Points to become a Star Advancement, giving the Player an even more impressive version of the special rule. The Advancement Cards you can choose for your Players are based on your team’s Focus, so just like everything else in Myth & Goal, there’s a lot of modularity and replayability on offer, and teams really start to grow apart once a league is underway!

Advancement cards allow Players to gain new abilities!

Finally, if you want a quick leg-up at the start of a Contest, you can spend Training Points to add additional Tactics Cards to your deck. This is a very low return on investment for your precious Training Points, but it lets you throw some real curveballs at your opponent by utilising tactics that they won’t expect your team to have access to.


SOLO PLAY

Okay, I’ve saved the most exciting advanced play option for last. Ever since we announced Myth & Goal, this is the thing that’s caught a lot of people’s attention, and it’s taken a lot of work to get it to the stage it’s at. Yep, I’m talking about solo play!


As I write this we’re still polishing and tweaking this part of the game, but I’m already thrilled with how it works. In short, the solo play rules allow you to play a game against a team that is controlled by the game itself. This is fully compatible with the rest of the game; you can play one-off games against an AI team, or you can use them to even out the numbers in a league. We’re even including a single-player ladder league game mode, which reminds me of playing arcade classics like Speedball and NBA Jam as a teenager, pitting my team against a succession of increasingly tough opponents in the quest to be crowned champion!


Solo play introduces three new components to a game of Myth & Goal: the Risk Gauge, the Strategy Board and the Behaviour Deck.


Examples of an AI Behavior deck and a Strategy Board, and the Risk Gauge

The solo play AI is built on a system of risk assessment, reflecting the factors that influence a human Manager’s tactical decisions. This was a vital part of designing the solo rules; in the past, I’ve mainly designed AI systems for dungeon crawler games, where enemy actions boil down to some variation on “move around and attack the heroes”. We knew this wouldn’t work in this situation, and that’s where the Risk Gauge comes in. At the start and end of each of the AI team’s turns, you use a number of criteria (how long is left in the Period, how the teams’ scores stand, and how many active Players each team has on the field) to determine the risk level. In short, the higher it is, the more risks the AI Players will take. When the gauge is low, they’ll aim to conserve Fatigue and play it safe. When the gauge is high, they’ll go all-out, Exhausting players and risking Infractions to recover the ball and score.

Use the handy slider token (currently on "0" in this example) to keep track of the risk level.

Each team in the box has two Strategy Boards for solo play: one which they use when they’re the Aggressor (the team that starts with the ball), and the other when they’re the Defender. The Strategy Board gives a standard setup for the team (which is adjusted based on Exhaustion and Infractions), and identifies key “Coverage Spots” on the field, which prevent the team from getting bunched up into a single part of the field.


The Strategy Board also includes a hierarchical list of Objectives. When you play solo against an AI team, you’re charged with controlling them according to this list, activating each player in turn and attempting to complete the highest-level Objective possible. For example, you might be instructed that the Player’s top priority is to recover the Ball. If this isn’t possible, they might instead move to the nearest Coverage point, or tackle the nearest enemy Player. You, as the solo Manager, are given some leeway to carry out these objectives to the best of your ability, and the game trusts you to do an honest job. After all, who would you be cheating but yourself?



An example of a double-sided AI Strategy Board; one side if they've got the ball, the other if they lose it.

To prevent the AI teams from being predictable, the final part of the puzzle is the Behaviour Deck. This replaces the Team Focus card that a Managed team would have (and each Focus has a matching Behaviour Deck, meaning AI teams are just as modular as their human-controlled counterparts). At the start of each AI turn you draw one of these cards, which applies for the whole turn. Some cards have a single effect; others vary based on the current Risk Level. Either way, as predictable as the AI teams might seem, the Behaviour Deck means you can never be entirely certain what they’ll do on their next turn.


AI Behavior cards might trigger different effects depending on where the Risk Gauge is at.

Phew – this turned into a mammoth diary entry, but that seems fitting as it’s the last one in the series! Thank you so much for reading and I hope these blogs have been fun and informative. I’d love to hear which element of the game you’re most excited about, so please make sure to join us in the comments section on Kickstarter when Myth & Goal launches this coming Tuesday, September 21, at 12pm EDT!


Until then, sign up to be notified at launch to show your team spirit and support for the project!




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