We said early on in the development of Shattered Earth that there were three pillars which would define the game: the universe, the miniatures, and the rules. We’ve talked a lot about the first two over the past few months and, despite a recent Closed Alpha playtest, less about the game itself. So this week, instead of a new miniature reveal, I’d like to present something of a ‘rules reveal’.
Now, with a game as detailed as Shattered Earth, there isn’t nearly enough space to cover every mechanic in a single blog post. Instead, I will break down the core tenets of the game over a series of posts, and answer any specific questions in the comments. The first thing we are going to look at is the basic dice roll mechanic, which we call a test.
A test is made using one or more ten-sided dice (d10) to form a test pool. If a dice comes up as a 7 or higher it counts as a success; if it comes up as a 6 or lower it counts as a failure. In addition, a 0 counts as two successes, and a 1 counts as two failures. Whenever you make a test you are looking to score a certain number of net successes. This target number is defined by the task you are attempting to perform, or by your opponent’s result in an opposed test.
An opposed test is by far the most common dice roll you will make when playing Shattered Earth. Both players will roll their test pools and compare the number of net successes each makes, with the player having the most success overall ‘winning’ the test and succeeding at performing whatever action they were attempting. Let’s take shooting at another model as an example.
John is playing the Cult of the Dragon and has advanced an Acolyte up the board. Simon has a UNM Coyote Assault Trooper in waiting, and activates this model on his turn. Simon declares that he will make a ranged attack action; taking a few wounds off the Acolyte before it gets into charge range will certainly help to even the odds.
The Coyote Assault Trooper has a Ranged Attack Value (RAV) of 5, meaning that Simon’s initial test pool for the ranged attack is 5 dice. John’s Acolyte of the Dragon has a Defence Value (DV) of 3, meaning that John’s pool is 3 dice. If there were no other modifiers to this attack, both players would simply roll their dice and compare the result. But let’s say that John’s Acolyte is behind a low wall, and Simon’s Coyote cannot draw line of sight to that Acolyte without it crossing the wall. In this case, we can say that the Acolyte is obscured and, as such, gains +1 DV against ranged attacks. However, Simon’s Coyote was well prepared; not only has it gone prone, it also took the time to aim, gaining +2 RAV overall. The final modified test pools are therefore 7 dice for Simon and 4 for John.
Ranged Attack Test = RAV + Modifiers vs. DV + Modifiers
Continuing our example above, with his 7 dice Simon rolls 3 hits and 4 misses and with his 4 dice John rolls only 1 hit and three misses, therefore Simon scores 2 net successes on the test, meaning that his Coyote has successfully hit the Acolyte. We now need to make a damage test to determine if the hit causes any wounds. The Coyote’s Assault Rifle has a Damage Value (DMG) of 5, and the Acolyte’s Armour Value (AV) is 4. We add the 2 net successes from the ranged attack test to the weapon’s DMG value, giving Simon 7 dice versus John’s 4. But remember that wall John’s Acolyte was standing behind? Within 1″ of the wall the Acolyte can claim soft cover, giving it +1 AV, and 5 dice overall.
Damage Test = Net Successes + DMG + Modifiers vs. AV + Modifiers
We feel that adding and removing dice from the pool is much cleaner and more efficient than adding and subtracting numbers from a target figure, removing the need for complicated maths for every roll. And, using our custom d10s with clearly designed hit and miss symbols, resolving even the most intricate combat scenario is a piece of cake.
I hope that gives you a good feel for how most conflict resolution is achieved in Shattered Earth. We have made the core mechanics as simple to understand as possible, whilst providing ample room for creative experimentation. One thing to note is that all modifiers in a given situation are applied directly to your own model; you never have to work out what your opponent’s model is doing – you simply work out your own test pool and roll the dice. That means less time debating, and more time playing.