Last Era Devlog 5: Rat in Low Places

Last Era Devlog 5: Rat in Low Places

I’m a huge fan of Total War: Warhammer franchise, and particularly fell in love with a certain ratman faction. I eventually had pet rats of my own, Ikit, Igor, Queek, and Ratigan. Ikit is still around and is a rat ancient at this point. Right now I'm kinda in a rat phase.

I have an issue where most games that use poker-playing cards aren’t engaging. The luck/bluffing aspect of poker seems to be a big draw because you can win money. Remove the betting aspect, and I’d wager most poker players don’t particularly find it find. I think using money to play games is a bit of a scam. Imo games should be fun in their own right, not because there is a chance for you to recoup your losses.

I’ve also noticed that practically every household has a set of playing cards. There are always a few Kickstarters out there for premium playing cards too. Hence I feel that there is room for at least one more deck of premium cards, and why not combine it with my love of Rats?

If I were to create a deck of premo rat cards, I feel like it would be even more unique if it came with it’s own game. If the deck is going to have it’s own game, it may as well be a game I enjoy. The concept of a rat-themed playing card strategy came about and it’s what eventually grew into the game I just to the printers, Treachery and Schemes.

The first concept of the game was to have rat Commanders cast orders to their legions, with your rat faction giving you some unique asymmetrical bonus. I thought it was pretty clear to make Clubs the attack cards, and the next step in logic was to make the Spades counter the attackers.

Spades are able to intercept and block Club attacks by tunneling underneath and ambushing them. When the attacker meets a blocker, both are discarded.

To make the attacks seem punchy and critical to victory, any unblocked attack can kill a Commander, permanently removing them from the game. This allows for hyper-aggressive gameplay and kinda plays like a knife fight in a closet. For four 4 players it becomes a large-scale conflict rather quickly as players can jump in power quickly if left unchecked, and for 2 player games, it becomes an intense duel of bluffing and tricks.

Cards are played at facedown, at the same time. This allows players to bluff, as you can’t truly know what type of card is coming your way. (However, recruiting other commanders allows you to play even more cards a round. The drawback is they can only play cards in their suit!) Bluffing was a core part of the experience that would really make this game feel rat-like.

From that foundation, I built out a system that starts off as a low-stakes battle, that soon transforms into a massive war by the end of the game.

The early versions of the game were meant to be for two players, as a standard deck only has enough cards for 2 Clans with attack/block cards. A classic struggle between the Wealthy Diamonds versus the Poor Hordes of Hearts. It wasn’t until one day at Barnes n’ Noble I came across a copy of Schitt’s Creek licensed playing cards that I decided to make it up to 4. It’s truly a marvel at what powerful IP can accomplish. I find the idea of Eugene Levy battling a badass Rat commander in a duel to the death endlessly funny. I knew exactly what had to be done at this point.

The idea pivoted to allow for two additional suits in the game, the Skulls and Tails. The box the game would come in now would contain 104 playing cards, with four unique jokers that we can use for later games.

It was important to have the rules be a free download since the only components you need are already probably in your house. Players can enjoy playing the game from the comfort of their own home, and decide if they want to upgrade to the real deal if they find value in the official cards. I’m a big fan of try before you buy wherever possible.

The value proposition for this set of cards is different than the ones I’ve seen on KS. For the people that could care less about a strategy game, they get a cool deck of rats they can use for other games. For the people that are here for the strategy game, they also get a cool deck of rats they can use for other games. Two slightly different player types can be happy with the same product!

Players can mix and match their own favorite deck of playing cards against their friends to make for a truly unique experience.

Now that there were extra Clans it felt important to add lore to the setting. For players that want to learn more about the rat-filled world game they enjoy, there ought to be something for them too.

Right now I’m all about tying-in thematic games together wherever reasonable. It’s something I learned from the escape room, that the little details add up for each individual experience. Most players never get the inside references to the other rooms that we offer, but our more hardcore fans instead get extreme satisfaction from connecting the dots between the games.

This is the game that villagers of the Last Era setting play in their homes and pubs. It’s a neat way to tie in the overall setting while making this just about rat-on-rat violence. I’d like to think that during downtime of the ttRPG, Treachery and Schemes get busted out for a quick round. Cool idea for taking immersion one step further.

Where King’s Keep is the first game in the Last Era setting, Treachery and Schemes is the first game in the setting you can own!

With the out-of-left-field origin of T&S out of the way, next time soon I’ll do a dive into the lore of the Ratten Council.

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