A gnarled, wrinkled hand dragged across the earth, smudging the glowing rune that was carved in it moments before. Xyvera, squatting on her heels, mulled thoughtfully over the portents the rune communicated. Rune carving was a sub-conscious activity for her, a long forgotten art she had perfected over the centuries. For over a hundred years, the runes had enabled her to foresee many things, years before they would come to be. The message was not always obvious, and hours of meditation was often required to glean an accurate vision. Today’s one could take days to decipher, it was too important to get wrong, care was needed…indeed.
The silence was broken by a low moan, an incoherent gibber. Xyvera got to her feet, grabbed her staff, and walked deeper into the cavern where she currently resided, through a low archway into a small alcove. Lying on the floor, manacled to the wall, was a middle aged human male, bloodied and beaten. His torn shirt revealed strategically placed wounds, inflicted by a practiced torturer. It took some time for her to break him, however after Xyvera persisted with her gruesome techniques, he was only too willing to part with his deepest secrets. With a start, the man snapped into a sitting position and shuffled away from Xyvera, until his back pressed against the cavern’s stone wall. “Please…I have nothing more to tell you. Let me go, please!”
Xyvera slowly pulled a large knife from a scabbard concealed within the folds of her cloak, gestured towards the man with her other hand, and uttered a short incantation. The man immediately fell into a kind of trance, still conscious, however not present, gazing into the distance. Xyvera inserted the point of the blade into the side of the man’s face, and then drew it precisely down his jaw line until it got to the tip of his chin. The pain was too great, even for the spell he was under, and his face contorted into a grimace, before he howled in agony. Xyvera continued her gruesome task, flaying the human’s face from his skull, before lowering him to the cavern floor as he entered his final death throws.
The necromancer attached the flayed skin to her staff, a practice that enabled her to recover the victim’s memories in the coming months, as required. She closed her eyes, calmed herself, and let out a slow deep breath. Her mind was made up, it was time, the signs were crystal clear and there was no denying them. Xyvera would become one of the summoned and play a part in the great struggle of the age. Manipulating one of the demigod fools to summon her was the easy part, ending their folly and saving her people, well that was something entirely different. Without a look back, Xyvera walked from the cavern before setting course to the north west. She would seek a commune with the once mighty Doenrakkar, and with him plan her first journey to the plane of shadow.
The latest hero reveal for our Wave 2 Kickstarter is Xyvera, a female minotaur necromancer, of the Soulgazer class. For regular viewers of our weekly Twitch stream, you would have heard the Judgement game designers speak of how challenging it is to design and balance heroes, that are not straight up damage dealers. Damage in the game is a mathematical problem, and therefore can be run through simulators and like-for-like comparisons are pretty easy to do. However, for heroes that bring value in other areas, such as Bastian Oriel, it is not quite so simple to evaluate their worth or impact on the game.
One of the key design features of our game is that it does not have points values for models. Therefore, by definition, we are saying each hero is balanced with each other. We say that with some reservation, because that is not strictly true, and not something we lay down as the law. Combinations with other heroes, interactions with various maps, and the 3v3/5v5 game types, all have an impact on how strong a champion is. However, for the sake of this discussion, essentially we try to balance heroes with each other. Extra care must be taken when we start designing non damage dealing champions.
With Xyvera, we decided to push that boundary even further. She is completely different to anything else we have done so far, and she introduces some fantastic new mechanics that are sure to shake up the meta. Before going any further, here is her card!
A quick glance at her face card and you can see she is definitely not a combat orientated hero. In fact her stats, other than Soul Harvest, are un-inspiring, but that does not tell even a fraction of her story. The fact she is a minotaur grants her decent health and the race themed Regeneration (2). We can now launch into her 4 Active Abilities at level 1, amongst the highest in the game.
Blood for Blood means Xyvera is a healing bank, and when combined with her regeneration, a damn good one. To be able to heal another hero for 5 health, for the cost of a single action (and cutting herself), is powerful.
Corrupt Blood follows the same theme, with Xyvera cutting an ally, or herself, to damage an enemy. Once again, a very powerful ability in the right situation, no dice rolling and no chance of failure. If an enemy is down to 5 health and within 4" of a hero, in Xyvera's Warband, they are dead.
Unholy Harvest extends Xyvera's Soul harvesting range to a massive 10", when you consider the 2" base of the hero you are cutting.
Raise Dead can completely upset your opponent's plans, with the early return of a dead hero. If you have spare Fate and Xyvera is around, she can raise a dead friendly model, and they will not have the 2 action cap in the next turn. A really strong ability, and one we are very excited about.
At level 2, Xyvera unlocks Soul Link, which can make it extremely difficult to kill either of the heroes that are linked together, particularly if they have large base health values.
And finally at level 3, Diminish Will is perhaps one of the best de-buff innate abilities in the game. This ability will mess with the activation and effectiveness of many heroes.
Xyvera will play differently to any hero in the game, and will take some time to master. There are several really strong synergies she shares with heroes and we look forward to seeing what our players come up with.
We will be publishing a background story for her in the near future, which will provide more context around her abilities, look out for that in a future blog post. Until then, we will leave you with her awesome illustration by Shane L Cook.