A game session of soul raiders (or “Chapter”) is a succession of rounds, each round being divided in two phases: the action phase and the reaction phase.
The number of rounds is not definite, it will go on until the end game conditions are met — either by a glorious win, a narrow victory with a bittersweet taste, or a crushing defeat. Whenever these conditions are met, the session stops after a last reaction phase, and heroes proceed to the next chapter of the Quest, according to their result.
This is the phase where the players act, as they evolve in the chapter to accomplish their objectives.
One of the most important things to note is that there is no turn order here, every group of players can evolve at its own pace. Player A can wait to see how player B actions unfold before playing, while Player C is doing her own thing in another part of the setting, rushing for information (and action! )… As a purely cooperative experience, the group will figure out how they want to play the game, and optimize their actions to progress and/or wait for each other as they see fit.
The Action phase goes on until all players have played or reserved their action cards in hand, then we proceed to the Reaction phase.
One of many dangerous encounters – Soul Raiders unique enemy illustration
Type of Actions
Now that this is clarified, lets run you through those famous actions that you can undertake. They can be of four kinds:
- Movement allows you to move from one location to another.
- Combat allows you to get rid of enemies engaged with you and other players
- Aptitude actions are special actions that you will be able to take, depending on the location and/or the story cards. They fall in four categories : Strength, Observation, Precision and Persuasion.
- Spellcasting is… the casting of a spell (!) These have various effects in the game, from a straightforward Fireball to a cunning sneak peek into the future with Foresight, or a charming Enthrall that will numb the mind of your enemies…
The location is the heart of the gameplay, and will show the possibilities currently open to your hero. Let’s have a look at this card, from the prologue :
Here, you can :
- Move to Location 7 for 6 action points
- Move to Location 1 for 8 action points.
- Take a Precision action to pick a lock and flip the location on its B side, for 5 action points.
- Fight any enemy in this location
- Cast any spell in your hand of cards
If you’ve read our earlier posts, you might remember a rule called Exhaustion: the level of Exhaustion dictates how many Action cards you will draw at the beginning of Action phase, from your personal hero deck.
This deck is made of 24 cards and is unique to your character (each hero has its own specificities).
Every player draws those cards at the same time, and — as we mentioned it earlier – can accomplish their action independently from each other.
The value of an action card is displayed at its top: here, 4 and 3 respectively.
To accomplish one action, a player can play any number of cards from their hand, as long as its sum matches the target number. When they don’t have any more cards in hand, they cannot play until the next round.
This is where the subtleties of clever hand management comes into play…. Any action card can be played to achieve a Movement, Combat or Aptitude action, BUT these cards come with different bonuses, displayed at the bottom of the card. A player using a card with a Movement bonus (green) or a Combat bonus (red) will only benefit from it if it is played for the corresponding action. Otherwise, simply use the value at the top of the card.
Exemple: if we look at the two action cards above, Eneko could use both to total 7 action points for an Aptitude action (4+3), but for a Movement action it would be worth 10 points (4+3+3 bonus) and for a Combat action, 8 points (4+3+1 per combat card played within the action, here it is only one combat card).
In the location 9A above, he would need both cards to pick the lock (without counting a potential hero bonus), he could move to location 7 by playing only his Movement card, or to location 8 by playing both cards – the Combat card on its own isn’t enough for any action displayed here.
A Spell has no bonuses : you can either use the card for its value displayed at its top to accomplish any kind of action, or for its spell effect. It’s up to you to decide whether you shall sacrifice this rare effect to accomplish a more mundane — but maybe vital — feat, or save the spell for later ! You cannot cast a spell with another action card.
Any card action played is then discarded in the player’s discard pile, and will come back to their hand only when the draw pile is empty. To spice things up, you have the possibility to reserve up to 3 cards for a later turn: you will then discard the cards that you don’t want, trading them for the ones you saved earlier.
As you can see, choices abound. It might seem to be only a few cards, but the many ways that you can use it to move around in the setting, considering that you can play them in any player order and for any actions, will make for very interesting dilemmas.
Also note that there is no such thing as “trying” to do something in Soul Raiders ; either you succeed in the action (by having and playing the cards), or you can’t attempt it. Those heroes know what they are doing!