This chain has the potential to simulate the teamwork of D&D combat well. Each players performs a power which not only effects the encounter, but also creates an environment for future powers to work even more effectively. This creates an organic encounter system that allows us to incorporate a large range of effects in 4ed, including ‘positioning’. However, there are a couple of issues that arise from the chain mechanic:
When are dice rolled? What happens if the dice roll is insufficient?
How do you deal with a player’s hand being unable to continue the chain?
What happens when someone stops the chain?
What happens when someone transitions the chain?
How do you simulate the encounter’s actions and the threat to players?
What if any time along the chain, you could choose to ‘reposition’ at the beginning of your turn? Repositioning would trigger a roll with all the effects so far accumulated along the chain and make you the player who suffers retaliation (if any). After the roll, you could decide whether to continue the chain, transition to a new challenge type (if you can) or simply abandon the encounter. This seems like it would naturally incline the players to create larger chains (more combos), but also allow them to be completely flexible about how long they are and who actually ‘fights’.
However, it does make the issue of inability to play an issue. When a player accumulates too many non-connectable cards in his hand, then he may want to get rid of them and it seems rather punative to force the encounter to end and relinquish all progress because of chance. Albeit, this is the kind of chance that can be controlled, but as the players build up injuries, they will feel less and less capable and more and more frustrated.
What if when you reposition, you could either continue, transition, abandon or refocus? Refocusing allows you to dump any number of cards in your hand and draw new ones... but doesn’t end the encounter. Only ‘abandoning’ the encounter would actually end it. And, presumably this would only be done if the player has some really good cards in hand that he would like to use later, the ‘retaliation effect’ of an encounter requires it to be abandoned or there is some other mitigating reason to abandon it.
Of course, this solution is premised upon the idea that you can lose all your progress. What if you didn’t? What if there were damage tokens added to cards at the end of a chain? This seems like it would be the most flexible. Of course, it now introduces a third component type into the game and moves it farther from a card game. Is that something that the players would want? Or should damage be solved immediately. Transitioning itself seems to imply a inter-chain tracking system, so it is likely that we have already introduced a third component by having transitioning be possible unless that transition were tied into the one big roll without a reset.
As a result, we are at a juncture:
- cards, dice and damage tokens and transitions which ‘reset’ the chain
- cards & dice and transitions which do not reset the chain, leading to one definitive roll
- a diceless system which just accumulates card based damage until an encounter is defeated
Which direction seems the best?