Introducing Episode 3
2023. October 19.
Note: any image of gameplay elements is based on our current development version, and as such is a prototype, and unlikely to be completely identical to the finished product.
Welcome back to the mysterious island, welcome back to the city of Perseverance! Since we started demoing Episode 3 in Origins and GenCon, and the subscription button for the upcoming Gamefound page is already live, I figured it’s high time to tell you what to expect gameplay-wise.
I’ll be writing this with the expectation that you, dear reader, have played Episode 1 and 2, and are familiar with the rules of dice placement, Assemblies, Officer scoring, Dino combat that we had until now.
Episode 3 is designed to be an evolution both on the story and mechanism front. Years have passed since the area around the wall has been cleared in Episode 2, since the survivors have found the Temple in the depth of the canyon. After passing the trials, they gained access to tablets of ancient drawings, which they have since been slowly deciphering. This brought the biggest change to life in the city: they learnt how to tame the more peaceful, herbivore dinos they have captured around the city. Tramplers turned out to be not very bright, but adequate beasts of burden, so for gameplay purposes they are no longer represented in the game. Shieldheads on the other hand, make for excellent mounts, and could be tamed to carry brave riders on their back!
So now, each turn you have a choice: select a specialist - a die - from the pool and place it on a die space in the city, or take one of your tamed dinos and send it out to the wilderness to explore the island further than you would have ever made it on foot! Let's look at these two options closer…
The wilderness is split into 3 parts: the swamp (the parts beyond we explored in Episode 2), the jungle (with another temple, one with instructions on safely taming the raptors this time), and the hills - with two more temples towering over it, giving us knowledge on the two new dino types: Thunderhorns and Ironjaws!
All over the maps there are nodes (think of them as clearings or plateaus), most of them defended by a dino. If you send your tamed dino to one of them and bring enough forces to capture the wild one, you can place a Wilderness tile and choose between establishing a settlement (great for later majorities) or discovering an artifact - the latter unlocks a unique bonus on your player board, which may even be the ability to replace your Leader figure with a Rider figure! Each Leader has their own preferred dino to ride (the stronger the dino, the harder to get the required artifact), and once you're in the saddle, you can even move your Leader (without needing to retrieve them) or use them as a dino in a fight!
The city is still split into four familiar-looking zones, but the actions within have been greatly streamlined. Each zone has only one action (with 4 or 5 die spaces, depending on the player count), and each action has only 3 options. When you place a die there, you pick two different options of the three, and that's it. (We were jokingly calling this the "Voidfall rules"😇.)
.) Another notable change is the lack of "unrestricted" die spaces, which means the likelihood of the die icons mattering for placement, or needing to pay to change the die face has greatly increased since the previous episodes. (Click here for a video of the Episode 3 main board)
We are still placing settlement pieces for majorities, we are training footmen (we no longer distinguish light and heavy soldiers), taming dinos, and gathering resources. On that front: Stories are out, the people have gotten used to the strangeness of the island, Valor is out, this is a time of peace and prosperity not of heroisms, and berries became more widely used as our lives grew dependent on it. One new resource is introduced, called supply crates, and unlike all the others this will be represented by a 3D physical piece instead of a cardboard token, since we'll be placing these in particular spots (more on this later, and even more on it come episode 4).
The new thing we can build during our primary action is a ranch tile - these are placed on our player board. Which leads us neatly into our secondary action options: while episode 2 had multiple secondary actions to deal with various aspects of the game, here we took a more unified approach - like the primary action - you have two options to choose from: you either activate one row of your ranch, spending the supply crates from it to activate one to three of the abilities printed next to it (either on the board, or on tiles you purchased to customise your ranch) - many of the preprinted options will allow you to place an influence on an officer. Which leads us to the second option: you can call in a favour from an officer, and remove an influence from them, to resolve their perk effect. You will find some familiar effects here: placing your leader in a city zone, starting an adventure, sending a Dino to the wilderness (effectively a second primary action), but new things appear here as building Landmarks: expensive constructions (you even have to contribute a Dino to the city's communal crew) giving you strong player powers and/or endgame conditions.
The largest change to the system of Perseverance is done to the Assemblies. Since both primary and secondary actions are designed to be more impactful, we were able to shorten the game to 8 turns. However, this and the fact that you no longer place a die every turn meant we cannot have a "clockwork" like assembly any more! But no problem, since the city is getting bigger, each zone's dwellers prefer to hold their own Assembly anyways! When the third dice is placed in a zone, at the end of the turn an assembly is triggered just for that zone: majority winner (and possibly the runner-up) gains followers, and then the officer of the same zone has their scoring condition evaluated (which still works the same way as before). Then the dice are rerolled from this zone, the reward for the next assembly is increased, and the game goes on. This means where and when there is an assembly is very much a player-driven, tactical situation to be influenced as it fits your strategy. Even the wilderness will have assemblies, once per part, after a given number of wilderness tiles are placed on the board into that part.
So that's all the cool new things I wanted to give you a high-level overview of - the tamed dinos, the wilderness, the artifacts, the Riders, the ranch tiles, the supply crates, the landmarks, and the new style assembly, in case anyone is counting. We've already shown this off to a handful of players, most recently at GenCon, and we're happy to report that even veterans of the first two episodes were impressed by how different yet familiar, and how exciting Episode 3 is shaping up to be. Don't forget to subscribe to our Gamefound page to make sure you don't miss the chance to join the continuing adventure of discovering the island's mysteries...