Mortality and the Ninja
Below is a sample of the thought process I use when working with the rules for the Kami and Mahou expansion. I want to give readers a sample of the process I go through attempting to answer difficult questions about rule conflicts that I run across through testing:
While working with the new cards for the Kami and Mahou Expansion an interesting combination of cards came into question, a Kami card (Ekibogami, the spirit of plagues) that forces a player to skip the Recovery phase and take damage at the start of their turn, and a Mahou card (Falling Petals) that allows a player to ignore damage, but suffer a Wound at the start of the Recovery phase, regardless of armor.
Ekibogami forces players to spend valuable actions attempting to remove the spirit from play, while the Falling Petals is the ultimate last resort. Once started, the player cannot stop the spell until either the objective is reached or the player succumbs to the drain of the magic.
Combined together, a player can become immortal. Since Ekibogami prevents the Recovery phase when Falling Petals causes damage, and Falling Petals prevents all damage from any other source, the player cannot die.
The question I keep asking myself is whether or not I should keep such a thing in the game. Do I allow players the opportunity to gain temporary immortality in play?
Does this combination break the game? The short answer is no. The long answer is bit more complex:
In games where the objective is to kill the Lord of the Castle, it makes the player difficult to defeat and allows the Ninja to run into new areas without fear of death. This allows more enemy units to be revealed, which causes problems for other players that are not hidden. The player with this combination can stay in the room with the Lord without fear of death and spend turn after turn hacking away at the Lord until the Lord's eventual defeat. This does not mean that the player will win though, as other players still have the same opportunities to take out the Lord if the invulnerable player fails. It just grants the player staying power in the room, and the option to be the target of all the units in the area.
In Vs. games, the opposing players are able to deal with Ekibogami, forcing the player with Falling Petals to start taking damage again. If the opposing players are crafty enough, they can stay hidden long enough or dodge all of the attacks of the Falling Petals player, forcing the Falling Petals player to succumb to their wounds.
In a Lord's Head game, the player with Falling Petals active is not immune from theft and can have the head taken as normal. The Falling Petals player may be more aggressive, but still needs to leave the castle with the head to win.
Does the option for total damage avoidance meet with the theme of the game?
Currently in the base game, players can become nigh invulnerable through armor and skill cards. Players are able to equip the Kappa shell (reduce damage by 1 to a minimum of 0) and Samurai armor (reduce damage by 2 to minimum of 1) and the skill card Stone Skin (reduce damage by 1 to a minimum of 1). With this difficult to obtain combo, players are able to ignore 4 points of damage. Only in large stacks are the enemy able to hurt the players.
Players are also able to avoid death through the 1-up item card (restart at the beginning and exhaust the card) or playing as Sakura (when taking damage that would defeat the character, roll a die and potentially ignore attacks for the rest of the round and return to play at the start of your next turn).
Ultimately, there are already several methods of high damage avoidance built into the base game.
The final verdict is that this option should not be removed from the expansion. The conditions needed to acquire this case are not easily met, and in Vs. games, crafty opponents should be able to stop the combo and force the player to their own demise.
Hopefully all goes well before the next post, so I can talk about the joys of traps being added to the game.