The Birth of a Minotaur
Posted on September 17 2016
Dwarfs, Elves, Humans and Orcs kind of pick themselves when creating a fantasy setting, however the 5th race was pretty much open to debate. Nonetheless during the early discussions the design team pretty much settled on Minotaurs for the 5th race of Judgement from the outset. This may have had something to do with one of the initial designers having the nickname Doombull for most of his adult life. :)
A fundamental design principle of Judgement was the game would not have factions, guilds, teams or anything that limited what miniatures a player could use in a game. If a player liked a hero for any reason, fluff, imagery, the miniature, anything, then they would be able to use it in a game. Despite this we still wanted to have clear delineations between the races. Each would have unique histories, traits and play differently in the game, not through hard and fast rules but through subtle differences that help set them apart.
Minotaurs presented the design team with a challenge to write rules that suitably represented the hulking 8 foot form of a half beast, half man without breaking the balance against the other races. For me Doenrakkar, the Minotaur Shaman, has absolutely delivered on all fronts. He epitomises what Minotaurs are all about, a classic Defender with a host of great rules and characterful abilities. Before we look at his rules let's take a look at his illustration.
The fluff tells us that Doenrakkar is a leader of his people, a rock upon which they can rely on to lead the herd's migrations across Onathien. His pose had to portray that fortitude, a figure of authority and a tower of strength. You can see those themes clearly in the initial sketch by Sarah.
This was a great start which gave us something to work with. The first thing was the weapon, Doenrakkar was a Shaman so a mighty battle axe was not going to suit his kit. The second element was equipping him with some kind of armour. Being in the Defender class he would have decent Resilience and in the fluff Dwarfs, who have a close relationship with Minotaurs, forge armour plates and weapons for their large friends. Therefore on went a breast plate and then Sarah fleshed out the rest of character with suitable trinkets and details.
Once the final sketch is signed off we then enter the colour phase. For the 1st edition of the game it is a very important process since the colours will dictate what each race looks like moving forward. It is at this point our studio artist, Gavin, enters the fray to discuss colour options and combinations with Sarah and I. My background material for Minotaurs describes how as a race they don't build permanent structures. They roam the planes and deserts of Onathien in large herds following the stars and congregating around ancient ruins. This means they would be sun kissed with dark fur/skin and light hair and manes.
Once the decision on colours is made Sarah weaves her magic and we end up with the wonderful illustration below. Doenrakkar, the Minotaur Shaman, comes to life. :)
With Judgement the hero rules were written before imagery and illustrations were considered. I always had an idea of what I wanted the various races and heroes to look like but we were play testing the game well before we embarked on the journey of illustrating things. Often the look of a hero would be influenced by what he or she did in the game.
Doenrakkar was always meant to be an anvil that a player could rely upon to hold a position and protect defensively weaker heroes. It actually took a few iterations to get him right however eventually we managed to get him into a good place. You can see his statistics card below.
Minotaurs tend to have lower Agility but more health and Regeneration is a racial trait. At level 3 Doenrakkar has a massive 25 health, the equal highest in the game and also Regeneration (3). Combined with a Resilience of 1 he is certainly going to take some shifting. His two other signature plays are Stone Form and Stone Grasp. Contesting Shrines is very important when trying to win the Fate war so Stone Form basically guarantees you will be doing just that for the following turn.
Stone Grasp on the other hand is an amazing ability to engage ranged units and render them basically useless until they somehow get out of Doenrakkar's melee range without moving. Not having an action in its costs means Doenrakkar can move 12" (3 move actions @ 4" each) deep into the enemy lines and then activate it to lock the back ranged heroes in place. There are ways to get out of Stone Grasp, most commonly by the Push Combat Manoeuvre however that is not always easy to do. And on the turns where Doenrakkar can move 4" to engage and then spend his final 2 actions to do Stone Form followed by Stone Grasp...well lets see you get out of that one. :)
Doenrakkar is one of the 6 heroes to be included in the Judgement Board Game edition and would make an excellent hero in any player's collection. We will be featuring him in an upcoming battle report video series we will be producing in the coming weeks.