For this entry in my designer journal, I want to touch upon the most praised mechanic of Rogue Angels, which is the cooldown mechanic, and luckily enough, also the cornerstone of every player action in the game ;)
I hope you will enjoy today's read and find some inspiration in there as well :)
The Cooldown Mechanic
When you want your character to perform any actions in Rogue Angels, you must play your action cards from you hand into your character's cooldown track, below the character sheet. The track is numbered from 1-4, indicating where you must play the cards.
Cards must be played in the cooldown slot matching or exceeding the number written on the cards top left corner. So a card with a cooldown of 2, may go on slot 2-4, depending on when you want it back in your hand, or what slots are actually available.
At the end of your turn, once you have performed 2 actions, you perform a free mandatory rest action, where all cards on the cooldown track is moved 1 slot to the left. Any card going from 1 and off the cooldown track is immediately returned to your hand.
The mechanic forces players to think and prioritize every action, while also trying to predict when they will need the specific action again.
Inspired by Video Games
The idea for this mechanic primarily came from the different video games I have played throughout the years. I wanted to capture the feeling of timing an attack when dealing with enemies, or time a particular effect that can benefit the rest of the team.
I am also a big sucker for properly constructed dilemmas, where you cannot state a clear "best action". Dilemmas where you have to imagine how the next few turns might go, and act according to what you think will help you the most. Games that manage to present these choices in a compelling way have always intrigued me.
You can find ability cooldown in many different video games like Warcraft 3, LOL, DOTA, and of course Mass Effect ;)
This mechanic is the only element of Rogue Angels that has stayed the same since its inception.
The benefit of cooldown
As mentioned above, the mechanic forces player to make interesting decisions. But the mechanic also makes Rogue Angels a much more appealing game to watch unfold. Players are compelled to change their play style and approach situations all depending on what is available to them. They cannot just rely on spamming the most efficient actions or "move and attack" all the time, which makes for more interesting table talks between the players.
As a designer the cooldown system gives me a "currency" to build action cards around. I can put more depth into some card abilities, I can provide different types of benefits or penalties, depending on what I want the action card to do and how valuable I want it to be.
Fleshing out the Cooldown
Having a certain room to perform actions in, also means that there is a risk of players running out of that room. So to counteract this I created the "basic move" and "basic interact", which are two cards with a 0-cost cooldown. This allows the players to always perform something, even with a completely blocked cooldown track.
Another element I created along side the regular "do something"-actions is "effect"-cards. These cards allow players to invest in an ongoing effect that continuously benefit them while the card is located in their cooldown track. In practice it reverses the idea of wanting to get your card back as fast as possible, as effect cards are weaker when played, but allows you a return on that investment for as long as they stay in the cooldown track.
That is not really all
Now the cooldown mechanic is more than just an action management system, as it also integrates the health system of each character, but that is a topic for another time ;)
Thank you for reading - I hope you learned something new about Rogue Angels :)
Now it is time for you to tell me what you think about cooldown effects. What do you like/dislike about it? What other games do something of the sort, and does it work? Any cool card ideas for Rogue Angels? Please let me know.
See what other testers and reviewers think of Rogue Angels.
In advance, thank you for your awesome encouragement.
Best regards Emil