So who are we?
I’m Jason, and my partner is Amy. For the past 18 months we have been developing a Sci-Fi skirmish game, which formed the basis of “Enderain”.
I have been gaming for 30 years. Mostly historical until about 5 years ago, then thanks to my gaming friends, I was introduced to fantasy and Sci-Fi, and it struck a chord.
Amy was a novice. A trekkie, geek, LoTR lover, PC RPG gamer. But she had never been a tabletop gamer.
We started playing boardgames (including the fantastic Journeys In Middle Earth), and she expressed a desire to try some miniature games, especially Sci-Fi.
I looked around for a Sci-Fi game that was fast and accessible, character based, but had some easy “leveling up” campaign options.
We were quite surprised that we couldn’t find the game we were looking for!
Most are Games Workshop games, or based on their principles. KIll Team is an example. A Closed GW world, with GW systems and figures, We wanted something broader, inclusive.
Also, most of those games are squad/unit games. Necromunda looked interesting, but one look at the rules, plus chats with people who played it at our club, told us it was too complex and specific for us, with a steep learning curve.
There were a lot of very complex games out there. A lot of hugely detailed individual character games as well. Lots of wonderful and elegant games. But not that “middle ground”.
The closest we found to what we wanted was “Stargrave”. However, one game of that told us both that it would not work for us. Too simple, too “swingy” with its D20 opposed roll-off system, not enough weapon variation, a feeling of being rather generic, and some really dull +1 level incremental leveling up. A beautiful and elegant game, but one we thought we would be bored off within weeks, and we knew our friends would tire of quickly as well.
So we decided to write our own set with the following objectives:
Had to bring strategy into initiative, rather than boring dice roll offs, or IGO-UGO after an initial random roll-off.
Must have detailed weapons and upgrade paths to get a feel for a gritty Sci-Fi tech world (not just “carbines” and “pistols”).
Has to be fast and furious but with enough detail to make use of basic fire and maneuver tactics essential.
We also wanted to be able to steal initiative and break up the pattern of play.
NPCs and playing co-op was essential.
NPC’s couldn’t be like they are in other games, where they are plodding and predictable. We wanted an “NPC AI” feel.
Needed upgrade paths that were interesting, made a real difference, but were fast and mangeable.
Rules must cover different roles, and allow for special powers and abilities, but in a simple and manageable way.
Campaigns must be built into the core game, so people can create their own fast, and feel real progression without complexity.
Must be enough figures involved to be fun and feel like a “team”, but not so many it was another tactical group skirmish game, or not zoomed in on 2-4 highly detailed characters.
The rules must have QR sheets, printables, quickstarts, plus complete online video support and support materials, that would allow someone to get started within 15 minutes of receiving the book and feel supported.
As you can see, that’s quite a list of goals! To our knowledge, no game out there really achieves it all.
Well, we think we have achieved it all. Not perfectly, but nothing ever could. But we feel this game slots into a space within Sci-Fi gaming that doesn’t really have a set of rules that elegantly covers that middle ground between squad-skirmish and detailed character-driven games.
We think we have designed a game that will appeal to the WH40k folks, the RPG folks, unsatisfied Stargravers, and the fast and fun don’t care what it is gamers!
We have also drawn from our love of boardgames to put Enderain together.
The game is run from a card deck. It brings strategy into initiative throughout the game, creating tension and needing thought. Each card has multiple values on it (initiative, an instant playable effect, and triggering the use of a special power class), which gives gamers interesting decisions on what cards they hold and play.
Plus, a set of custom dice that quickly and simply drives an “NPC AI” system. It generates, moves, fires, positions. It does it all quickly. You don’t know when NPCs will appear or where. Not what they will be, or what they will do. Reaction is variable, the decisions they make driven by the dice. It allows a full co-op game to be played, as well as being perfect for solo gamers.
There are more than 80 different weapons, each with their own unique capabilities. There are also many classes of weapons systems (Pistols, Blasters, Shredders, Burners, Rocket Launchers, E-Cells, Speedbolts, GSW’s, Sniper Rifles, Firebases, Grenade Launchers, close combat weapons, and Drones). Each weapons class has unique features.
Characters can be hired with specialist roles (14 to choose from), or they can be untrained recruits. You can hire mercenary specialists, and even support your team by buying (or capturing) a robot.
Key team members can have special powers (13 to choose from), the type of things you see in Sci-Fi films. Powers that have a genuine power, and when used can really effect the game.
Roles and powers can be leveled up as experience is gained, delivering more than 100 different in-game capabilities. But it’s simple, trackable, and noticeable; they are not minor increments.
Characters can fall. They can be rescued. Post-game, they can live or die. Medics can help.
We also introduced a variable loot system. What you gain in the game might be highly valuable, it might even increase your powers. It might be sell-able, or worthless junk.
The money you make through loot, or uncovering plot points, along with gaining experience (wounds and EXP are managed using a special off-table tracker included with the game, to stop on-table clutter and gives two-second bookkeeping) allows upgrades post game. Easy to do, fast, and with real decisions and benefits on each decision you make.
We are aware we have aimed high, and only time will tell if we have managed to achieve a great game that people love to play!
But this is going to be high end. Professionally produced, fully-supported, and with future ideas and supplements in the pipeline to ensure people can continued to use the game easily.
Have we achieved it all? On 31st October 2022, we will find out, and you can get the rules to see if they give you a great experience 🙂