In my recent posts, there was some confusion about my uses of the term 'Legacy' and 'Campaign' in Seventh Cross. I'd like to set things straight with what exactly I mean using these terms, and how they relate to the game we're making. This is also a good place to explain in more detail about the actual over-time gameplay that constitutes a 'Campaign'.
Campaign vs. Sessions
A Campaign is a series of games that are meant to be played by the same group of players from start to finish, and which form a complete narrative arc from start to end. While you can easily add and drop players between games in Seventh Cross, the intent of the campaign is to be played with one group of players from start to finish (or until you lose).
Many games have long campaigns spanning many individual sessions of play. Gloomhaven's campaign has around 40 maps, but you can play two in one sitting, so there may only be 20 sessions in the game. The base box of Mice and Mystics has about 10 adventures, but you could break these adventures up into multiple sessions, so it really looks more like 20 games if you pace yourself. In both of these games, the adventures and their storylines all link together and there is player progression (either literary or mechanical) between them, so we would call each one a single Campaign.
In Seventh Cross, there are 7 castles. Each of those castles includes about 7 combat stages (60-90 minutes), and about 20-30 exploration stages (3-10 minutes). So if you play one combat stage and a handful of exploration stages in a sitting (which is the anticipated play style), then you have about 49 sessions-worth of unique content in the game.
Each of those 7 castles is a complete campaign unto itself. The actions that you take in one adventure won't directly influence the outcome of the next adventure, and a player doesn't need to experience adventure #1 to get involved in adventure #5. You could play each one with a separate group, and neither would be linked to the other. Between each adventure, characters reset and killed enemies and allies return to life. The characters in adventure #2 don't remember what choices you made in adventure #1. For that reason we would call each of these adventures a separate campaign.
During a single campaign, characters will grow and choices will affect the ending that you receive. Character death is permanent within a campaign and, unlike many such board games, the danger of losing the campaign and getting a bad ending is very real. This is the main reason that Campaigns in Seventh Cross are a bit shorter than in other board games.
Your team at the start of a campaign will consist of eight hunters and a handful of Associates. As you explore and fight, your hunters will grow more afflicted by the curse that hangs over the castle, and each fight gets harder and harder. Only hunters who fight become cursed, so if things become too difficult, you can switch your party members to take off some of the pressure. Since each hunter has a different disposition and different specialties, you'll likely want to leverage all their talents.
Hunters will acquire Gold and Time between battles. Gold is used to access the services of the Associates to improve your hunter and learn new skills. Time is used to explore the castle environs and meet new characters, acquire new tools, or find new routes.
If a hunter dies during battle, then they are returned to the box–lost from the campaign. The player who controlled them will be able to pick a different hunter and continue fighting. However, if there are not enough hunters in your party for all players to continue playing, then the campaign is lost. For this reason, keeping every member of your party alive and safe is a key part of any battle.
Associates can join you as well, and they will provide unique services and aid. Some can even resurrect fallen hunters. All Associates have the option to join you in battle, but if they die, they are lost from the campaign along with all their potential aid. Sometimes the sacrifice can be worth it if it saves one of your hunters though.
After the campaign ends, dead hunters and associates are revived, and can be used again in the next campaign. This also allows interesting enemy characters that you’ve canonically ‘killed’ to become allies in future campaigns.
Legacy Mechanic - Heirlooms
Just because the game doesn't remember the deaths, victories, and decisions of previous campaigns doesn't mean that the players won't remember them or feel their effects. Choices that you make in one campaign will affect your future campaigns through a Legacy-style mechanic called Heirlooms, which mimics the progression in rogue-like video games.
Through certain choices in the individual adventures, befriending or defeating certain characters, or getting good or bad endings to a campaign, hunters will unlock new heirlooms. These cards come from a sealed vault, and go into the game's available card pools. There are two main kinds of Heirlooms:
Heirloom Weapons - These expand the options for deckbuilding that are available to each hunter right out of their starter deck. A hunter can equip two 'hands' worth of weapons, but at the start of their first campaign, they'll often only have one. Once a few of these heirlooms are unlocked, they will be available from the start of the next campaign, allowing you immediate access to more complex battle archetypes.
Heirloom Relics - Relics are equipments that can be kept for their powers, or consumed to summon Associates to your aid. Typically you can acquire these by completing an Associate's story arc (either saving their life or defeating them) during a campaign. In the next campaign, that relic will allow you to call upon an Associate that you might not normally be able to meet in that castle.
Thanks for taking the time to read a bit more about Seventh Cross's campaign and legacy elements. We're making a lot of progress these past few weeks on the game, and if you want to join our playtesting community and try out the Challenge Campaigns, you can play through the first castle right now!