Review of the Game


[ English translation by: B. Perry ]

Fantasy-themed games with collectible elements—both cards and miniatures—are fascinating. However, they have a few drawbacks. They can be expensive. They often feature vague or bloated rules that require a constant flow of expansions and corrections to keep the game alive and prevent unbalanced strategies or armies. These games almost always end up buried in a sea of expansions, patches, errata, etc.

Vera Discordia was created with the objective of combining the excitement and immersion found in collectible games with a free game that uses few cards and features a closed and stable system, allowing replayability without requiring a steady stream of new rules.

This section explains how this is achieved so you can get an idea of how the game works.

Army Creation

One of the problems preventing replayability in miniatures is a point system for drafting armies. There are always synergies that exist between certain army types that, once discovered by players, create a tendency towards using the same armies over and over. This trend continues until it is upset by a new expansion or a rule change.

Vera Discordia solves this by randomly drafting each player’s army. Each army has its own style, but the troops of the army are chosen randomly, forcing you to adapt your strategy to fit their strengths. This makes it impossible to stick with the same strategy every game, exponentially increasing replayability. I’ve intended for each troop, including the basic ones, to have its own style, look, and unique history so that, come what may, each is enjoyable to play. You should never think, “Oh no! In order to include this unit I like I’ve got to deploy this piece of junk that I hate.”

The 17 units in your army are divided into three classes: basic, elite, and legendary. Your army consists of 5 basic units, 2 elite units, and 1 legendary unit. You have the option of declaring a mulligan if the combination of troops you receive isn’t to your liking.

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Army Creation

Special Abilities

Another problem that arises with collectible games is the large number of special rules and exceptions, giving way to large FAQs and disputes among players.

Vera Discordia uses a closed ability system. There are 35 different abilities. This may seem like a lot, but it’s not so bad when you consider that those are the only abilities in the entire game. Instead of each unit having its own ability, the units are differentiated by different combinations of these abilities. The interactions among abilities is specifically designed to avoid gray areas in their resolution, which can otherwise lead to conflicts over the rules.

I’ve been careful to make each ability’s effect something simple and easy to remember. For example, the units with Bravery have “+1 to their Morale Checks.” Lastly, all abilities are easy to look up on a reference sheet that can be printed on half a page of paper.

Additionally, the effects of many abilities, rather than creating a new layer of complexity to the basic rules, are simply integrated within the existing ruleset. This makes it slightly more difficult to learn the basic rules because you’ll need to understand all the abilities. But once you learn how to play, the system runs very smoothly.

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Special Abilities

Troop Positioning

In battle games that use cards instead of boards, troops can usually attack one another without restriction as though they were “in a cloud” without measurable distance between them. This makes it hard to imagine the combat field, giving the game a very abstract feel and drawing the players away from immersion in the game.

Vera Discordia is played on an area with imaginary boxes. Each player has a playing space with two rows and four columns in which to place units. Between both players’ playing spaces there is space for four Terrain cards. Your units can only be in your own playing area; they are not allowed to invade your opponent’s area. However, the position of your troops determines whom they may attack using Direct Attacks (attacking on foot). Sometimes it is preferable to move to a better vantage point rather than continuing to attack aimlessly. Otherwise, if your troops have ranged attacks or are flying, they can attack positions farther away using Indirect Attacks and Aerial Attacks, respectively. If they attack through a gap in the opponent’s lineup, they receive a substantial bonus, making troop positioning essential in maintaining a strong battle forefront.

In Vera Discordia, we can talk about launching an offense by the left flank, advancing fresh troops to reinforce your center, etc. This lends a lot of detail and immersion to the game because it generates a visual image of how the battle progresses.

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Troop Positioning

Combat System

When one unit attacks another, it rolls the dice indicated on its card. In some instances, it may roll more or fewer dice than indicated (for example, launching a Direct Attack through a river causes a one die penalty while receiving support from a friendly unit yields a one die boost). The dice colors represent the type of attack: melee (white), ranged (blue), magic (purple) and breaker/artillery (red/yellow). If a die rolls equal or greater than the defense of that color on the defending unit, the defender loses one life point.

Units have six hit points. When they have one or two life points left, they are Decimated and suffer a permanent one die penalty to all attacks. When their life points reach zero, they are destroyed and their card is removed from the table.

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Combat System

Special Characters

In Vera Discordia, each player chooses a General from among the 24 available and receives the units from the corresponding faction. Your General isn’t an independent entity: he always accompanies one of your units, slightly improving the unit’s stats. Consequently, there’s no “invincible character” syndrome: the unit with your General can fall just like any other. In fact, you may worry even more about defending it.

The Generals have three abilities: Heroism, which is a set of skills gained by the unit chosen to accompany them. Leadership, which gives rules that change the composition of your army (always recruit a particular unit type, improve a particular unit type), reflecting their military resources. And Strategy, a strong special power that you can use a single time during the course of the game. Your Generals can be champions that you’ll want to risk on the battlefront (if they have good Heroism) or strategists that you’ll want to protect behind the battle lines, (if they have strong Leadership).

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Special Characters

Bluffing and Hidden Information

Although many works of fiction involve fantasy battles where armies gain an advantage through familiarity with the terrain and strategic bluffs, very few fantasy games include hidden information to emulate this element.

First off, in Vera Discordia some of your units start the game Closed (face-down) to represent that your opponent doesn’t know what they are. The number of Closed Units grows with the number of Stealth abilities that you possess and shrinks with the number of Vision abilities that your opponent possesses. Your scouting troops are not very strong, but they contribute with Vision and/or Stealth abilities that give you an initial bluffing advantage. As they attack, Closed Units are revealed (face-up) until all of them have been identified and are open to both players.

Secondly, before deploying armies, Terrain cards that will be used during the match are placed face-down. Each play may secretly peek at a number of them, depending on how many Vision abilities their troops have. As each Terrain card penalizes a different type of attack, knowing which terrain cards are available before they are deployed can give you an advantage.

Third, the player with the most Stealth abilities is the one that deploys his units last.

Thus, the number of revealed troops, the number of known terrain, and the selection of the starting player are all determined with something as simple as Vision and Stealth abilities.

Each army has different amounts of Stealth and Vision. For example, the Shogh on the top part of the picture rely on lots of Stealth to let them hide the majority of their army, while the Akyrith on the bottom, although stronger and more disciplined, despise guerilla tactics and prefer open ranks.

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Hidden Information

Controlling your Troops

There are two types of miniature games: those that try to create a skirmish tin which you have total control over your troops, and those that try to be an epic game in which your ability to lead and direct troops is limited.

Vera Discordia uses a mixed approach. Each round, you draw a hand of order cards and you assign an order to each of your units. There are different types of orders: attack, defense, maneuver, and support. Attacks help damage your adversary. Defense allows you to better withstand your opponent’s attacks. Maneuver allows you to change your position, and support gives boosts to neighboring units.

To convey the idea that some units are more difficult to command than others, some abilities can make it so your units take their own initiative, ignoring your commands during a round and receiving their own random order (Autonomy), or being unable to receive orders (Chaos), or even substituting their given orders for attack orders (Fury).

There is a rock-paper-scissors relationship between the orders your units receive and the orders your opponent’s units receive. If they are attacked, the best idea is to play defense orders. If the enemy defends, you want to take advantage of the time by supporting or maneuvering your units. And if the enemy supports or maneuvers, that’s the perfect time to attack because he won’t be able to counterattack. This means if you can guess your opponent’s intentions you can gain an advantage.

As your units are destroyed, you draw fewer and fewer order cards each round. This represents your dwindling tactical opportunities as the rival army outnumbers and surrounds you. It’s a bad idea to steadily send your units to die. You shouldn’t risk more than absolutely necessary or your playing options will very quickly diminish.

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Issuing Orders

Victory Conditions

In Vera Discordia, there are two ways to win:
-Destroy the unit accompanying the enemy General
-Reduce the enemy’s Motivation to zero

Each player starts the game with 10 Motivation points and for each unit they lose in battle they also lose two Motivation points. Normally, you win by destroying five enemy units, but some units’ abilities make you lose extra or fewer Motivation when units are destroyed, making such units more important or more expendable.

Although the game has a snowball effect in which it gets harder and harder for the losing player to catch back up, the possibility of capturing the enemy’s General directly opens a door to making incredible comebacks.

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Victory

Strategic Content

Vera Discordia is a random game. You roll dice and draw cards. A bad roll can make quick work of good planning. It’s not a “fair” game, but war isn’t fair. Besides, this brings drama and emotion to the games. A losing player always has some hope of making a comeback and, on many occasions, he succeeds. The result is worth it. Vera Discordia fits comfortably in the “Ameritrash” genre.

This doesn’t mean it’s void of strategy. The more games you play, the more you learn. You learn that the initial placement of your troops is important (because relocating them is costly). You learn about formations that give you extra benefits or allow you to withstand setbacks if things go badly. You learn to counter these formations from the other side. You learn not to prematurely expose your powerful units (so they are not destroyed by ranged attacks) and to not expose them too late (when the outcome of the game may already be decided). You learn to read your opponent’s intentions and to attack at opportune moments.

In each match, you’ll have a combination of different untis, a configuration of separate terrain, and maybe even a different general. This will make it so you have to rethink your strategy and will make every game play a little differently. Vera Discordia offers so much replayability that we’ve had trouble playtesting it due to the myriad of combinations that exist.

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Dice

Complexity Level

The end result is a rather complicated game compared with most other board games due to the great amount of detail that’s included. There are aerial attacks from flying units, ambushes, support, maneuvers, morale, troop control… the rulebook is several pages long in order to accommodate all the variety.

However, Vera Discordia is much simpler to play than a miniatures or collectible card game. It has the added advantage that, once you learn how to play, the system is intuitive and works like a charm. If you change your army, you won’t have to learn new rules, just new strategies. And you won’t have to deal with inconsistencies in the rules or complications from the interactions of abilities.

To learn more, download the game from our Files Section.

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Random card: