Character Design – Sedrik, the Werewolf

Arena the Contest werewolf miniature

Welcome, reader (and future player).

This post is the first of a series of articles that will briefly discuss the character design of our Heroes, the cornerstones of Arena: the Contest boardgame.

Although each post will always focus on a single Hero, some specific interactions between two (or more) of them may surface as they’re progressively revealed.

By character design, we mean not only the conceptual creation of a Hero’s personality and traits, but their main combat features and mechanics, giving future players a glimpse of several aspects of our game’s backstage.

Arena: the Contest Brute Combat Role symbol


THE CHARACTER

In Arena: the Contest‘s vast universe of characters, Sedrik is the representative of a dramatic element with which many Earthlings can connect: the transition from average to extraordinary. From mundane to fantastic.

He wasn’t born with superpowers. He didn’t receive a supernatural calling from a divine being. His name is not once mentioned in prophecies. We wanted him to be the average Joe that lives a pretty regular life.

In his complete story, we tried to convey the notion that, although the Empire seems to be everywhere and something is off and unfair about this dystopic world, there are many instances of free, independent workers; regular people who develop their cities through commerce, and in peace.

But things are not so simple in Tanares. One misstep and Sedrik fell into an incredible world he never thought existed.

That’s when the magic happens, to tell Earth and Tanares apart.

However, he didn’t step into a closet and discovered a beautiful Narnia. He didn’t get a letter from an owl, inviting him to study wizardry in a school, all expenses paid.

What happened to him was the bad kind of magic, and that made him a tad depressed, considerably crazy, and, above all, very, very angry.

Werewolf wedding rings character design
As we zoom in at Sedrik’s artwork, we see, hanging from his neck, a self-imposed reminder of the happiness of his average, uneventful past life: the wedding rings he and his wife once wore.

THE DESIGN

Sedrik was designed with one of the most interesting combat features of the game, in my opinion (and that of many playtesters):

 

He becomes the strongest Hero of the game after some of his life is lost.

 

PLAYING AGAINST SEDRIK

What I enjoy most about this feature is watching how people react when the enemy team drafts Sedrik; they immediately start planning strategies to deal with him, because his presence is impossible to ignore.

Bestial Fury Attack Card
Underlined in red, a partial example of the difference his condition can make: this attack may deal 50% more damage if Sedrik is injured.

It is quite clear that, once injured, you must put Sedrik down FAST, but how to achieve that feat is what most people struggle with.

Below are the top 2 approaches witnessed in playtests:

A) The “Ignore and Pray” Strategy

Some people decide that it is best to ignore Sedrik and kill his allies first (specially if there are Healers on the field), in order to focus all heavy fire on Sedrik later on.

This strategy has its merits, but you must meet certain specific conditions to make it work. Even the number of walls and terrain tiles affects the efficiency of this strategy.

This is why the best team composition for that is one with Heroes that can sustain themselves while moving around easily (specially tanks working alongside tacticians, because they’re melee Heroes that can quickly reach weaker enemies on the back rank. Tanks are also hard to kill, and their abilities usually provide some sort of healing).

If you manage to execute this strategy well, Sedrik’s allies will be too worried about their own lives and will have a hard time buffing – or protecting – him. Killing the opposing Healer is usually enough; then, you can shift your focus towards Sedrik.

Leaving Sedrik alive for longer than that usually backfires, for a reason I will explain in our next topic:

B) The “Kill (or be Killed!)” Strategy

Sedrik Character Design Thumbnails
Discarded thumbnails depicting possible portrayals of our werewolf

This is the strategy I use 70% of the time. And here is why:

Don’t forget that Sedrik IS, after all, a Brute. As a Brute, his strikes HURT, even if he is not yet injured.

So, on the previous strategy, you’re gonna have to cope with a maniac beast running around loose and unpunished.

I don’t like that thought.

The second reason involves a subtle fact that most people don’t realize until they’ve played ARENA a couple of times: the longer a Hero lives, the more turns he acts.

Duh. That’s obvious.” you might say. However, the consequences of killing Sedrik’s allies, but not Sedrik, are greater than most people assume.

In Arena: the Contest’s Player v Player Game Mode, Teams ALWAYS alternate Turns, regardless of how many Heroes are alive in each.

For example: let’s imagine a scenario where Sedrik has full HP but all his allies are dead. Meanwhile, you manage to keep all your Heroes alive, but all of them have only 10 HP.

The fight is 4 x 1, but there’s a good chance Sedrik will win, because here is how the Turns will play out:

 

Hero 1‘s Turn >>> SEDRIK‘s Turn >>> Hero 2‘s Turn >>> SEDRIK‘s Turn >>> Hero 3 >>> SEDRIK >>> Hero 4 >>> SEDRIK.

 

Hero 1 must concede their living allies a turn, which means Sedrik will act four times before Hero 1 can take a second turn.

And the opposition has no alternative, but to injury (and therefore strengthen) Sedrik, making him not only the strongest and healthiest Hero on the field, but the one who will act most often. Sedrik smells blood. GGWP.

 

PLAYING WITH SEDRIK

Playing (and, in my particular case, roleplaying) with Sedrik is super fun.

Only with a character like Sedrik I had debates with my Team partners as to whether I should deliberately step on lava to get Sedrik injured.

Or ask my Healer NOT to heal me, as I’m more useful when I’m unhappy.

Or my favorite one: run like crazy past enemies to reach some Shooter hiding behind them (When you leave a square adjacent to enemies, they may attack you. That leaves them with the difficult choice of making Sedrik angry – or allowing him to run free and healthy).

 

Werewolf Sketch
One of our werewolf’s earlier sketches

1 – Precautions

So far, I have only said nice things about Sedrik – oh, what I monster! Why would anyone want to pick another Hero?

But playing with Sedrik is not a walk in the park. It’s tough, it requires a bit of player skill and synergy in your Team composition. Above all, I have clearly noticed an interesting tendency in playtests: people who play against Sedrik seem to play more viciously (and, therefore, better) than when he’s outside the battlefield. So, be careful.

Sedrik is a BruteAs a Brute, he cares more about inflicting damage than dodging or blocking attacks, which makes him an easy target to hit (he’s got the lowest Defense stat in the game).

That means not only he kills easily, but he dies easily. In ARENA, it’s easier to cause damage than it is to heal wounds, even with a healing-focused Team, so, make sure you have a bit of experience playing the game before trying anything strategically bold with Sedrik.

 

Alternate Sketch for werewolf
OWOOOOOOOOO!

 

The most difficult part about playing with Sedrik is timing your Special Attacks. You don’t want to spend your Specials while you’re in full health, but, if you take too long, you may die before using them.

2 – Attacks and stats

Moonlight Rage – Under the effect of the full moon, Sedrik howls in a terrifying manner and gravely harms a single enemy. The injury inflicted is severe, making the enemy exposed to attacks by Sedrik’s allies. Sometimes, this doubles the chances the victim won’t be able to dodge the next incoming attack.

Death Claws – Sedrik extends his arms and, with his long fingers and nails, scratches enemies at up to two times the distance of a normal melee attack. When he is mad, he may even make a wide move to attack with both his claws, hitting two enemies at the same time.

Bestial Fury – Sedrik musters all the strenght he can find to give a special attack, hitting the same poor victim once with each arm. Under certain conditions, like empowering buffs and hitting targets isolated from their allies, this can severely injury – or kill – any Hero.

Bloodthirst – Sedrik sometimes relives the terrible images from the day he turned into a werewolf, and remembers why he fights in the Arena. Dealing a terrible blow to a single target, this attack also affects Sedrik, who starts to feel the scent of blood with his keen sense of smell, which multiplies his chances of dealing extra damage on subsequent attacks.

3 – Team Combos

Sedrik is an integral part of some team combinations designed to keep him alive (and angry). Needless to say, Healers are the best kind of Heroes to have around him.

Heroes that can revive others are also amazing (your opponents will freak out when they see a bloodthirsty Sedrik returning from the dead in the endgame), although this is a very rare ability in Arena: the Contest. You’ll read more about that when we reveal more Heroes.

Sedrik stats
Click here to learn what the above grades mean.

4 – Cooperative Mode

If you play him well, our beloved werewolf can shine in our Player v Environment Game Mode. Even though our automated enemies’ behavior is very well balanced, they will never be able to execute one of the strategies depicted above as well as an experienced player.

The optimal strategy is pretty simple: send Sedrik aggresively ahead of your Team to lure enemy attacks. Once he’s injured, fall back a bit and let a bulkier team member take the hits, and manage his HP with Healers or other characters with healing abilities. That will increase your chances of winning missions and Boss Fights, because Sedrik will spend most of his Turns angry – and strong.

Sedrik the Werewolf Arena the Contest artwork


That’s it for now! I hope I have transmitted the main aspects of Sedrik’s character design and mechanics. I had to worry not to get too technical, because people are still new to the game its rules.

In time, rules will be unveiled, gameplay and preview videos will appear, and I’ll be able to disclose more about Sedrik, as there is a treasure trove of information, strategy tips and combos to explore in our boardgame.

Hope to see you soon, when we reveal our next Hero! Meanwhile, feel free to comment below and let us know what you think about Sedrik and this article!

 

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