Actions/feats/spells have been a staple of RPGs forever. You need something to spice things up a little bit rather than simply just hacking and slashing. Players need to feel agency also – not only should the action itself be meaningful and help them survive or kill or something else – but the decision to take that action should also be meaningful.
Typically this is done by spending a resource. Maybe it’s mana or energy. Or maybe it’s time in the form of a cooldown. Sometimes it’s both. But if there’s no opportunity cost involved, then the choice of when to use an ability is easy – you always use it.
Recharging Action Cards in Heroes of Tersia
We’re trying something a little different in Heroes of Tersia. In keeping with the randomness theme, you can Recharge (reuse) your Action cards after you make a successful dice roll. At the start of your turn, you’ll roll dice. If the number you roll is greater than or equal to the Recharge number on an Action card, you put that card back in your hand so you can use it again. (You use Action cards by placing them face-up in front of you)
Of course, more impactful Actions will have higher Recharge numbers, so they’re less likely to Recharge.
Having the cooldowns be random has several effects: There’s greater uncertainty when you’re using a higher power Action card. If the Recharge number is 10, you have a one-in-six chance (16.67%) of having it recharged on your next turn. If the Recharge number is 7, though – that chance is 58.33%. You may use that 10-Recharge Action card once in a game and never have it Recharged again.
This system also makes it simpler to use and easier to understand. Rather than flipping a card over or rotating it 90 degrees or using markers or something, it’s binary – you can either do it or you can’t. And it’s intuitive that rolling a higher number is harder. Additionally, there’s the small endorphin rush when you actually succeed in your roll and can use the card again.
Negatives and how to mitigate bad luck
But there are some downsides as well. A player could get unlucky and never make a successful roll even with Action cards that don’t have difficult to reach numbers. The poor sap who can’t roll higher than a 4 to save his life isn’t going to be having much fun. So to help mitigate that, whenever an Elite dies, everyone gets to Recharge their Action cards. This also has the side effect of players not being afraid to use their Action cards when engaging an Elite.
There are a couple of other effects we can play with as well. In the land of Tersia, trolls have an affinity with magic. To illustrate this, the troll hero, Ocharo, gets to roll twice during his Recharge phase. This should help him use his Action cards more often as he gets twice as many chances to recharge.
Another example is one of the set bonuses. There’s a 4 piece bonus that gives you +5 on your Recharge rolls. This greatly increases your chances of avoiding a bad roll. Having to hit that 10 is now as easy as hitting a 5. It’s not a guarantee, and you still need to wait until your next turn to recharge your Action cards, but it’s quite a leap in power.
What are your thoughts on random cooldowns for actions? Comment below!