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Posts Tagged ‘heat’

I’ve written about this a little bit before, in my Losing Control article, and I previewed it a little bit in my card preview in the Keeping Track article.  One of the key mechanics of my Zomblobs! game is the Heat mechanic.

Once again, here’s the preview card:

zomblob card murmurer

Of note for the Heat system (which I suppose could use a more snappy name, but hey, “Heat” worked for BattleTech, and this is inspired in big ways by that game, so I can’t be too picky) are the three key values in the lower left corner, and the Heat values in each Action Tile.  Action Tiles are the largest visual elements on the card, the stack of pink and blue rectangles on the right side.  They define what the unit can do for its Action each turn.

A unit’s options are limited by its present Heat value.  Heat is a scale from 1 to 12 (easily tracked with a D12, 2 D6s or pen and paper) which every unit needs to track.  The Norm value is where the unit starts along the scale in any given battle.  The Coma value is where the unit slips into a comatose state, unable to move, and only able to use the universal Recover Action instead of any of its other Actions.  The Fever value is where the unit crosses the threshold between cool and warm.  This is really where each breed (Aspirant, Feral or Zomblob) most strongly differs.

The card above shows a Zomblob unit, which starts in the warm section of the gauge.  While it’s there, it can only use Actions that have the pink “warm” background (and the standard Actions, Recover and Absorb).  These actions will make the unit’s Heat go down by the number noted in the costs section of the ‘Tile.  Zomblobs prefer to be hot and fevered, and when they cool down, they start malfunctioning.  This is reflected in the blue Action Tile; when in its non-Norm phase (cool, in this case), a Zomblob unit can only use the Actions with blue backgrounds, and as can be noted, the Murmurer’s cool Action isn’t quite as desirable as its warm ones (though it may be useful in mirror matches… otherwise, it’s going to be attacking its teammates).

Aspirant units, on the other hand, start off in the cool section of the gauge and melt down into mania if they get too hot, and their available Actions will reflect this.  Feral blobs are perhaps the most quirky here, as they are about as effective warm as they are cool, just in different ways.  A unit that specializes in fast melee single target strikes while cool might settle into slower strong Area of Effect or Swipe (arc) attacks while warm.  Ferals don’t particularly mind being warm or cool, they just function differently (and unlike the other two, they may use the Recover and Absorb Actions while in their “non-Norm” state).

This dance between heat states is one of the most important things to track in the game.  Sure, Health is important and the Time system is key to some tactics, but Heat will dictate what Actions you have available on any given turn, and that can make all the difference.

Consequently, one of the most crucial aspects of Support units in the game is the way they can help other units manage heat (or inflict heat troubles on opponents).  Notice the last Action Tile on the sample card up there.  The Murmurer can make a target unit gain heat (and time).  This is a multifaceted tool, usable on *any* target.  Sometimes it might be advisable to heat up your own unit, even if it does mean a time delay (though I might just reduce or omit that to make the Action more useful).  Sometimes it’s best to heat up an opposing unit to throw their tactical options off.  It might even be useful against an opposing Zomblob, purely for the delay.

Each unit also (often) has access to the universal Recover Action, which costs 2 Time Points but heals 2 Health Points and moves the unit’s Heat 2 units towards its Norm.  Sometimes it’s best to stop and take a breather.  (Though the healing part of that might be too strong… playtesting will be key to nailing down the magnitudes of these functions.)

This will probably make more sense with more cards to compare, but that’s the core idea behind the Heat system.  It’s a way to modify the tactics of combat, and a way to make choices and timing more important.  Do you go for the big attack that will put your unit in its “off” state, or do you play it safe and Recover or use a cheaper Action?  I think it’s these choices, and their concurrent risk and reward, that make this sort of game most interesting.

What think you?

Oh, and I’ll write more about the combat system next time.  That’s really important, too, I’m just trying to break these articles up into concepts.

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This year, I find that I am especially thankful for warmth.

We needed to replace our furnace last week, and were without heat in our home (aside from some space heaters) for three nights.  Temperatures around here that week were below freezing (around the mid twenties Fahrenheit).  It was an uncomfortable few days.

My personal thermostat is generally about 10 degrees cooler than that of most people; I’ve always liked it cold.  Still, I have little children and a wife who likes it warm, and I couldn’t help but feel incompetent for not taking care of them better.

So now we have a new, much more efficient furnace.  Nobody got sick because of the time in the cold, but it could have been a lot worse.

I’m thankful for the pair of guys who put the new furnace in.  It might have been easy to look down on them as they did their “grunt” work, but they were professional, competent and performed a service I couldn’t have done.  To be honest, they probably have far better reason to look down on me for sitting at a desk all day, making a game.

I’m thankful none of us got sick.

I’m thankful for a kind wife who didn’t yell at me, even though I felt I deserved it.

I’m thankful that I have a job that allows me to have the money to pay for the new furnace.  We’re not top wage earners, but we have enough for our needs, and we live within our means.  I’m thankful that is possible, and that my family has a history of financial prudence.

As always, I also have tangential thoughts.

One, it’s always nice to be thanked.  There’s a rush of satisfaction and warmth that comes with genuine thanks, and it can warm the soul like few other things can.  There is also the personal peace that comes with living a life worthy of being thanked.  There’s also a special kind of warmth that comes from doing things worth being thanked for, but doing them anonymously.

Two, I remember a moment of contrast that reminds me of those cold nights.

I was a missionary for the LDS church in Alabama for two years.  (My little brother is going to the same mission here in a couple of weeks, curiously enough.)  I spent a few months in the bowels of Birmingham.  A couple of white guys in the inner city of a Deep Southern town just didn’t fit in.  There were genuinely scary moments, and some genuinely threatening people.  (Of course, some saw us as a threat as well, albeit in a slightly different light.)

I was young, preoccupied, and somewhat scared the day that we walked past a fellow sleeping in a doorwell.  He looked rather disheveled, and probably asleep.  It wasn’t cold at that time of the year, but when you’re sleeping on cement in the shadow, with only a single blanket, you’re not going to be comfortable.  His skin happened to be darker than mine, his appearance far less presentable.

And I was afraid of him.

I don’t know his story, and I may never know.  We walked on by, and didn’t bother him.  We didn’t speak of it, so I can’t speak for my companion, but there were warring factions in my mind and heart.  My mission was to uplift and serve.  I wanted to help the fellow in whatever way I could.

But I was afraid.

Perhaps he was a drunk, sleeping off a binge.  Maybe he would wake up blindly swinging.  And what would he think of a couple of white boys in Sunday attire, rousing him from his nap?  We had more than our share of racial tensions to deal with when people saw us coming from a distance.  Up close and personal might be even more dangerous.  As missionaries, we also had our share of religious bigotry to deal with, and layered on top of racial and sociopolitical tensions, we could be in some very tight situations.  A guy sleeping in a doorway just presented a lot of unknowns.

I wanted to help, but I was afraid.

I didn’t remember Paul:

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7)

I didn’t remember the lessons of the Good Samaritan.

I was just afraid.  And now, over a dozen years later… I am cold.

It is a terrible, bitter cold, when one is left to wonder “am I that Levite?” or “why didn’t I help?”  As I’ve noted elsewhere, charity to me is a way of life, a set of actions guided by a pure love of your fellow beings.  As one man put it:

Charity is the pure love of Christ

It’s not a check to an Organization, or a handful of coins in the Salvation Army bucket on your way out the door with a hundred dollars’ worth of food.  It’s not something done for attention, tax breaks, or donor perks.  It’s simply something you do because it’s the right thing to do, it’s very personal, and it’s more about the giving than the receiving, even receiving thanks.  It’s about doing the right thing, no matter what.

So yes, I am grateful for a lot of things.  I’ve tried to live a life where other people can be grateful for my existence.  I don’t always get it right, and I’m thankful for those who forgive me when I mess up.

You have to move on in life and not get stuck in past mistakes… but you have to learn from them, too.  So what would I do today in the same position?

What would you do?

Hopefully, something worth being thanked for, even if nobody ever actually thanks you.  Something to bring some warmth to someone else.

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all.

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