Couldn't figure out the UI either... lots of numbers everywhere... a common gripe when a physical game gets translated to digital.
This results in quite a severe case of information overload. I think (hope) it will start making sense when playing more! (also the shuffling of cards, when it happens, why and where do the cards go... oh where do those cards go...)
I really want to like the game, but at the moment it's a bit too demanding for my state of mind after a long day of work ...
It's not as a complex game as it might seem at first glance. Playing the physical game first helps a lot... although in fact I find that watching the digital implementation makes it way clearer than reading the actual rulebook.
Decks, in a nutshell:
- Your deck of cards represents your stamina. If you need to draw and it's empty, you're dead. Each time you perform some strainful action, cards go to the discard pile. Each time you take wounds, cards go to the discard pile. Then you draw up to your hand size, effectively taping into your stamina pool. And each time you heal in some way, you put cards back from your discard pile to your deck. Note that the discard pile is never shuffled and is visible at all time, while your deck is not visible and may get shuffled along the way (usually when you put cards back into it). In the app, the deck is on the bottom right and the discard pile on the bottom left.
- Your hand of cards is your contextual options. Large hand size gives you more options... but it comes at a cost: your hand size is also the maximum number of wounds you can take in one turn (since wounds have you discard cards from your hand). Your hand of cards is displayed in the bottom middle of the screen.
- The blessing deck represents the time that pass and the big bad boss agenda getting more and more tangible. It's your doomsday clock. Each turn, you must discard one blessing card from this deck (the app does it automatically for you). If you need to draw and the deck is empty, the baddy wins (meaning: you lose but you can live another day to come back and try again). In the app, the number of remaining cards in the blessing deck is indicated at the top of the screen, near the middle, right next to the current blessing icon. A side-word on that: remember that you start your turn by discarding one blessing card from the blessing deck? Well, this card becomes the current blessing. The current blessing only comes to use when you have blessings in hand: if your blessing card matches the current blessing, it triggers more powerful effect.
- And then there are the location decks. The exploration of each location in search of the big bad boss is represented by the progressive exhaustion of the corresponding location deck. You cannot be sure that the boss is not in a given location unless you've closed it, which usually requires either fully exhausting the location deck or beating the local henchman (and usually some other special conditions listed on the corresponding location card). The exact content of the location deck is not known but each location has its own composition of monsters, traps, items, allies, etc. These are the numbers shown in the top left window. As you explore a location, the number of cards for each category also evolve. Bounties usually don't go back into the location deck: either you manage to grab them (they go directly in your hand) or they are banished. Banes, however, usually require that you defeat them or else they go back to the location deck where you'll have to face them again later.
- Special case: even though you manage to defeat him, the big baddy may not be dead yet. If there are still open locations available, he'll cowardly flee... to one of these open location decks. He is randomly shuffled into one of the open location decks while decoys are shuffled into the other open location decks (these decoys are in fact blessing cards drawn from the blessing deck - the doomsday clock is ticking!).
Now, the "checks". Whether you encounter a bounty or a bane, you usually have to perform one (or more) check(s). A check has one (or more?) trait(s) and a difficulty. To succeed at a check, you must:
- Roll dies corresponding to the check's trait (adding any applicable bonuses)
- Beat the check's difficulty level
Most checks have a single trait corresponding to one of your character's skills (strength, intelligence, diplomacy...). Sometimes you don't have a skill matching the trait. Your default die is 1D4. Exception: combat! The "combat" trait does not match any skill though the rules state that your strength skill is usable for a combat check. Cards may change this, allowing other skills to be used during combat checks.
Playing cards is quite simple: the card explains everything. You can only play applicable cards: if a card expresses a condition, you can only play the card if the condition is met. But if a card does not, then you can play it whenever you want. Note that the cards often refer to "your turn"/"your check" - you can only play them on your turn. If a card says "a check", not "your check", then it is playable during another player's check too! In the app, if a character has cards or powers he can use during the current character turn, a small exclamation mark is shown on his portrait (top right): click on it to look at the available options. One limitation: a character can only play one card of each type (item, weapon, ally...) for a given check - unless stated otherwise in the text of the cards, of course. Now that you have determined that your card is applicable to the situation (which the app does a very good job at enforcing), you must perform one of the following action to trigger its effect:
- Reveal the card (you show that you have the card in hand, then it goes back to your hand) - drag the card to the central zone
- Recharge the card (you shuffle it back into your deck) - drag the card to your deck
- Discard the card (you put it into the discard pile) - drag the card to your discard pile
- Bury the card (special case of discard: buried cards are gone for the rest of the scenario) - drag the card to the dirt pile near your discard pile
- Banish the card (one-time use, the card is gone for good, back in the game box) - drag the card to the chains on top of the screen near the blessing deck
As you see, "revealing" doesn't cost you anything, "recharging" only prevent you from using the same card twice in a row (you don't lose any stamina but you lose one "option"), "discarding" will eventually exhaust your deck of cards but you can still find ways to "heal" (get the cards back into your deck) while "bury" and "banish" are more permanent (if you drink it, you won't get your potion back even if you "heal" your whole discard pile...). Voilà, you've played a card.
Important note: I've talk about "traits" earlier. The game heavily relies on these mischievous keywords that stick to their target. When you play a "long bow" on a check, for example, your check automatically inherits the traits listed on the card (two-handed, piercing, etc.). So if you encounter a skeleton that is immune to "piercing" damage, then you're doomed.
And that's about all you need to know... That's way longer than expected.
I hope it's clear enough...