Core Space is a narrative-driven game. In the end what’s important is that your crew lives past the end of the mission and keeps their ship in the sky. Sometimes you may want offer a little charity to a Trader in need, and sometimes it’s a simple choice – you either fight alongside another crew or you die.
So, that’s why many Core Space missions are designed to be played co-operatively or even solo. For this to work the common enemy, the Purge, had to be AI controlled. Of course we didn’t want to complicate the game’s mechanics to do this so we came up with a simple process to follow each time the Purge activate.
Firstly, the character will select a target for its actions. Being emotionless robots the Purge aren’t too picky about what they kill; they just want to assimilate biomass! Therefore they will always pick the closest non-Purge character as their target, prioritising those that are visible and/or not in cover. The Purge Assassin adds a little twist to this rule – if they can see a Trader Captain they will be a priority target for an Assassin, so be careful!
With their target chosen they will then carry out their actions – one for a Harvester and two for the other Purge types. We got this clear in our heads very early on – essentially the Purge will attempt to cause the most harm possible in the easiest possible way. While this means their chosen actions are usually very obvious, it wasn’t quite precise enough for a set of gaming rules.
The end result was a neat little chart as you can see below, but once you’ve got a couple of games under your belt you won’t even need that. It boils down to just move, shoot or fight depending on their current position.
Combined with the various special rules this makes the Purge quite terrifying to fight at times. Their actions may be predictable, but they always advance faster than you expect! The Scramble ability used by all but the Devastators means they can effectively ignore terrain, clambering through windows and vaulting tables as if they weren’t there. They may not move any faster than your Traders, but they do most of their movement in dead-straight lines while you have to go around the scenery!
The First Strike ability of the Harvesters and Live Ones makes them even more flexible – if they can reach you they will attack you for free! This doesn’t just apply in the Purge phase either – some of the game’s Event cards will move the Purge in the Hostility Phase before the Traders even get a chance to react.
The Purge aren’t the only NPCs in the game of course. The board wouldn’t feel like a living, breathing spaceport without the locals. While some of them fled when they heard about the Purge invasion, not everyone had that luxury. Some couldn’t afford to leave and some saw lucrative opportunities for looting!
The game includes three Civilians that are AI-controlled just like the Purge. Not being emotionless robots however, they are a little more nuanced. The box contains a white Chance die. It’s got numbers and arrows used for randomising or scattering, but it also doubles (or triples) up as a method for activating Civilians. The die is rolled when they activate, and could see them wander around on their day-to-day business, attempt to sell items to a nearby Trader, or throw caution to the wind and defend their home with violence. There’s also a chance they were never a regular Civilian in the first place as they throw off their disguise to reveal a Live One!
In addition to these three, ALL traders can also be used as Civilians just by flipping their character boards. If you’ve got spare Traders they will come in handy!
Coming in expansions later this year (or in your box very soon if you backed the Kickstarter!) are other types of NPC to add even more life to your gaming tables. They include:
- Criminal Gangers – low-life who want you off their turf
- The Galactic Corps – the galaxy’s police force
- Security Guards – Civilians with body armour and a sense of entitlement
- New Purge – the Annihilator and the Gatherers will present a whole new threat
NPCs can be used in all games to add a twist to a familiar mission. They can change your gameplan by doing unexpected things, and if you’re clever you can use them to your advantage.
Going back to the narrative, where the NPCs really shine is as objectives. They are great for building missions around as you will see in the Core Space expansions, really adding to the immersive RPG feel of the game. You may have to rescue some civilians, or negotiate with the local organised crime syndicate, or even be commandeered by the Galactic Corps to defend a space station from attack. The options are endless.
If there are any other types of NPCs you’d like to see, let us know in the comments below.