Editor’s Note: As a kind of content geek, I try new formats. So, here’s a new interviewette for tabletop designers. We promise no TL;DR.
Let’s see how the Ryan Pearson of Pearson Games, designer of Mercenaries does, shall we?
BGB: Attention is money, my friend. What is the elevator pitch for Mercenaries?
Ryan Pearson: Mercenaries is a deck-building RPG with tactical movement, skirmish and dungeon crawling elements. Each player is a Mercenary, seeking to delve into a dungeon or location to clear out Monsters. As these are not grand heroes of valor- they only care about themselves. Only the player who lands the killing blow gets the EXP and victory points. Players use the EXP to buy new cards for their deck- which they’ll need to as monsters they kill also end up in their deck, gumming it up with cards that don’t do anything (until the end of the game for victory points). That combined with the games 6 x 6 grid and movement means you can manipulate other players by making it harder for them to reach a monster- or let something nasty charge towards them!
BGB: Making games is hard work, so you best have a great reason for making this thing. What inspired this game?
Ryan Pearson: Me (Ryan) and Colin (my Uncle) have had a long love of boardgames and RPGs including D&D, Descent, Summoner Wars, Dominion, Battlelore, Thunderstone, and (for more mature gamers) Hero Quest. We’d always make house rules to games to fix balancing issues, give them more bite or to get them just how we liked them. In a sort of epiphany moment, I exclaimed to Colin one day, “That’s exactly the mindset people who makes games have. Why don’t we?” So we did. We took inspiration from what we love about the games we like and used it as a basis for Mercenaries.
BGB: There are too many games out there. What hole in my game collection does this fill?
Ryan Pearson: We noticed that no game combined deck-building (a deck that cycles through constantly that you can add to) with tactical movement. It was always a pre-fixed deck or no battlefield. Further, deck-building games often rely on currency you have in your hand at that time. Making the focus of the game balancing your offense to kill monsters (or just beat their number a’la Top Trumps) and currency to buy new stuff. It lacks the bite of an RPG or a TCG – which is then often buffed up with random elements like dice rolls – and can be finished in half an hour. With Mercenaries, Monsters don’t just vanish as soon as they see a bigger number – you’ve got to whittle them down. You can buy cards for your deck as long as you meet the conditions (have enough EXP and specific requirements for each type of card – i.e., Healing Potions can only be purchased after you kill something).
The game is for longer gaming sessions with plenty of strategy, that doesn’t require a splatbook or endless notes. And the only luck is from what you draw (which you can manipulate with what you put in your deck and cards you play) and who ranged monsters target. If you thought Dominion, Thunderstone, or Descent needed to have a bit more going on, Mercenaries will satisfy that craving.
BGB: This is Boardgame Babylon, so out with your dirty secrets. What DON’T you want to tell me about this game?
Ryan Pearson: We’re planning to support it with free content. Sure we will have expansions packs which can be purchased, but we’re going to upload our own combinations of Monsters, Abilities, Skills, and Room cards for more adventures. And if fans email in their own combinations for adventures, we are happy to host them! So, while the base set of Mercenaries has 4 adventures, that number can grow once you cultivate more.
So there’s that, and that we are more like brothers than uncle & nephew. That includes the teasing.
BGB: Thanks for telling us a bit about Mercenaries. Let’s wrap up with the key specifics (play time, number of players, and the link to the game) and also, since I think you can tell a lot about a person by understanding their sense of humor, what’s a good joke to close this interviewette?
Ryan Pearson: The game supports 2 to 4 players (5 if you include a DM to control the monsters) and can be played competitively or cooperatively. The game has 4 adventures which take approximately 3 hours to complete.
Colin likes the classic jokes. A horse walks into a bar. The barman asks “Why the long face?”
DISCLOSURE: Boardgame Babylon is not liable for damage to your sensibilities from the jokes these game designers submit.