As testing progresses the final form of the game is beginning to take shape. While the structure of the game has undergone some alteration, it is still very much the same game. Read on to learn about the latest developments.

The Ship

The ship map has been simplified, with a reduction in visible complexity. Some elements have disappeared and others have been added. The key changes are divisions, areas, airlocks and control rooms.

Divisions have been reduced from 5 to 4. They are now Command, Tactical, Science and Engineering.

Areas divide the ship up. When a card or token indicates a Section, the area is always indicated. This makes the Section much easier to locate. Areas are distinguished from each other by a different background colour; either grey, red or blue. The colours are purely aesthetic.

Airlocks are less frequent but more important and in many places they have been replaced by hatches. Airlocks divide areas, so the Sections in the same area are no longer individually airtight from each other. Fuel leaks in one part of an area will feed fires in another.

Control Rooms were removed to make the map clearer.

The upshot of these changes is a much improved game environment, as you can see in the new ship map. The map is larger and less cluttered, with no more need for grid reference markers around the sides.

Status Panel

If you have been following the Zeno project you may notice that the Status Panel has changed. Gone are the 48 ship systems, replaced by a smaller display featuring only the 6 Subcritical and 6 Critical systems. The other ship systems are still in the game, but they do not need individual panels. The extra room this yielded has been used to create Critical Effect spaces. These each contain a face down card which is flipped when a Critical system malfunctions, revealing the effect this has on the game.

As explained (above) each Subcritical or Critical system is associated with an area which makes finding it on the map quicker and easier. You can try this now by locating Subcritical and Critical systems on the Ship Map by using the Areas indicated.

 

The card spaces have changed to reflect some new game features, such as the way missions now emerge from the Event Decks during play and can be completed by anybody.

Cards

The most significant changes are in the cards. These have been simplified, with some of the logic removed and an element of chance introduced. Tests showed the need for some randomness in the game, so Survivors now have attributes. Numerous cards involve a test and for these the game uses a single 12 sided die. The greatest influence on the game, though, is still player behavior. In Zeno you do not draw random cards to see what happens to your Survivors. When something happens to them it is almost always because of a choice made by another player.

Of the cards in the game, Survivors, Weapons and Rescues have been overhauled the most.

Survivors have 5 attributes, a unique skill and a value for rank.

This is Lee Eun Jung. From left to right, her attributes are Leadership, Vigor, Wits, Logic and Hide.  All Survivors possess the first four of these attributes, which usually range from 1-3. Above the first four Attributes can be seen the Divisions they relate to. Due to the way Events work a Survivor is more likely to encounter an event that depends on the attribute the division they occupy relates to. Eun Jung would therefore be wise to spend as much time as possible in Command sections and to be wary when exploring Engineering spaces.

Not all Survivors have a Hide attribute. Those that do not have an Attack attribute instead. This reflects the natural instincts of the Survivor. When confronted by the alien menace, do they hide or attack?

Weapons have been much improved. This was enabled by the introduction of rolls to determine whether an attack succeeds or not.

All weapons have either an attack modifier, a property or both. The Thermal Rifle has an attack modifier of +2 and the Flames property. Dynamite has no dice modifier but it does have two properties; Powerful and Flames.

When your survivors are ambushed by the alien menace, you gain a re-roll if you attack with a weapon that matches the weakness of the alien.

However, properties have a downside. Some sections on the ship are fragile and suffer collateral damage if weapons with properties are used there. Don’t use the Thermal Rifle near the Fuel Pump! Or dynamite. In fact, the Fuel Pump is a better place to hide than attack.

 

Rescues were formerly part of the scene deck but they have been separated and made into a deck in their own right. Rescues are how new survivors are usually discovered. They aren’t just waiting around. They are in peril. You need to rescue them!

Rescue tokens are added to the map at the start of the game and if your survivors are located in a Section featuring a rescue token the rescue can be attempted. A card is drawn and resolved, with two possible outcomes, depending on whether you succeed or fail the test.

These cards both have a target value of 13. To attempt the attribute test you examine the Survivors available to you (more than one can attempt the rescue) and apply the indicated attributes. You then roll the 12 sided die, add the attributes and try to make or exceed the target value.

 

Tokens

As the test has progressed we have found more efficient ways to track game information, which has enabled us to reduce the the number and variety of tokens used. There are now only a handful of token types. Some, such as Stress, are new. Others have been heavily reworked. We will examine four of these now; Stress, Infection, Rescues and Clues.

Stress tokens are a significant addition. Survivors gain these when they endure traumatic events, such as failing to rescue a survivor. Each stress token increases the difficulty of tests by one, so it does not take many of these to reduce a Survivor to an error prone nervous wreck. Some events cause stress tokens to be discarded. Successful rescues usually achieve this.

Infection tokens indicate that a Survivor has been infected by the alien threat. These rapidly growing internal parasites alter the brain chemistry of their hosts, causing erratic behavior. For this reason an infection is always associated with a condition. Infected survivors may resist treatment, develop phobias or begin siding with the aliens!

Rescue tokens show where rescues can be attempted. The name of the section is shown, as is the area it is associated with. This makes it easy to determine where a rescue token should be placed when it is drawn. When a rescue card is resolved, whether successful or not, a new rescue token is drawn and added to the ship map.

Clue tokens represent an opportunity to progress the game plots. A Survivor in the same Section as a Clue can perform an Investigation. If this is successful the clue token is acquired and flipped. This reveals another Section on the ship where the affected Survivor can perform an Investigation. If this also succeeds the affected player either scores 2 Successes or opts to score one success for every player.