How to Fix Agents

Agents are an items that sounded great in concept, but really didn’t seem to fill their potential once they hit the table.  They were supposed to be special mini-bosses that would show up and harass the heroes at inopportune times and become recurring foes.  However, there were really no mechanics that made that happen.  This is being fixed with Myth 2.0.  We know that agents will be getting new quests via the Journeyman kickstarter, and we know they will be getting new cards via the 2.0 monster cards.  It’s also been stated that a mechanic for recurring will be put into place.

Last August, a Myth fan on Board Game Geeks called Mistermannindy approached how to fix agents and make them.  There were some excellent concepts there, which I’d like to expand on (steal ideas from) before the new agent rules are set in stone.  The original discussion was about how to create a home grown agent that better fit the agent concept, but I’d like to focus the discussion on making Agents live up to their potential altogether.

The original BGG discussion can be found here, along with some example cards by Mistermannindy.

There are several key mechanics that should be addressed with agents.

1) Introducing an Agent

How do the heroes meet an agent for the first time?  Under the current rules, agents are a type of miniboss, so any time a miniboss should be placed, an agent could be placed.  This basically comes down to certain threat penalty events in darkness decks.  Myth 2.0 already is introducing minibosses a a standard part of certain types of tiles, giving yet another way to first find an agent.  This is being addressed in a third way with the new agent quest cards coming out with the journeyman kickstarter.  The combination of these three methods should give plenty of opportunities to introduce agents into gameplay.   I personally feel the third method should be the way agents get “unlocked” however.  Much like you can’t get the help of allies until you unlock them, I believe agents should not show up as random minibosses until after their first quest has been completed.  However, I think that the miniboss mechanics are very important for reintroducing a particular agent, especially if their quest chain is complete, and nobody has their card.

2) Making Agents Special

The one thing that makes agents special right now is that each gives a very powerful card.  However, they lack the recurring villain motif that they were originally described with.  Blatantly stealing from the original thread on agents, an escape mechanic on every agent seems like an excellent idea.  Adding a recipe to escape, to every agent would give them the extra quality to make them special.  Each agent could have their own recipe or condition (making it harder or easier, but I think a 2 die recipe on 4 FD should be about right) and their own escape.  Alternate conditions to a recipe might be an automatic escape when they are left at a certain vitality, after causing so much damage, or after they are able to execute a successful attack.  Each recipe should have the following components:

  1. Remove the Agent from the board (he/she has escaped.)
  2. Steal back any their special card from any deck/hand/discard that is carrying it.  Losing the agent card helps represent the agent turning the tables and getting the upper hand as they get away.  (And this gives more incentive to want to face them again and beat them to a pulp to get the card back.)
  3. Get a parting shot.  This parting shot is what would vary from agent to agent.  Perhaps they unleash some minions or captains on the party to cover their escape.  Perhaps they leave behind a trap, cackling about how the heroes will never escape their doom.  Perhaps they steal an item or gold on their way out, further infuriating the party.  Or maybe they cast a spell or drop a “bomb” as they go, doing damage to everyone in a certain radius, or causing a debuff in place of damage.  The key is to give each agent an exit that is memorable, unique, and that the heroes don’t want to happen again.

3) Recurring Villains

Although it was slanted towards a single agent, a very elegant solution to recurring agents was offered in the original BGG discussion.  Any time any player in the group has an agent card in their deck, an extra card is placed in the darkness pile (giving 11 cards in the darkness deck instead of 10).  This would be a generic agent card.  When it comes up in the rotation, do the following:

  1. If an agent has appeared previously in this quest, he returns automatically OR Roll for an agent attack
  2. Place appropriate agent(s) accordingly
  3. Immediately draw the next darkness card and resolve it as normal.

Step two and three are pretty easy to follow, but I want to lay out several ideas of how to roll for an agent attack.  For all of them, the monster cards for every agent matching a card in any player’s deck should be set aside for reference at the beginning of the game to keep things moving quickly.)

  1. Fate Dice Method 1- Each agent will need to have a fate symbol added to their monster card to indicate when they should appear.  Roll a single fate die.  If it matches any agent where a player has that agent’s associated card in their deck, then the agent immediately appears.  If two or more agents with the same symbol should appear, they have decided to team up and attack the heroes.  (When designing agents, trying to spread out symbols would be preferable.  If the players have enough agent cards in their decks, they are pretty much guaranteed someone will want to attack them during their quest.)
  2. Fate Dice Method 2 – Roll 1 fate die for each agent that corresponds with an agent card in any player’s deck.  On the result of a darkness symbol, that agent will appear on the map.  If darkness symbols comes up for more than 1 agent, then each indicated agent will appear.
  3. D10 Method 1 – Each agent will need to have a number for appearance added to their monster card.  This will work the same as Fate Dice Method 1, except that a d10 is used and agents are numbered 1 to 10, giving a 10% chance of appearance instead of a 17% chance of appearance.
  4. D10 Method 2 – An agent tracker sheet will be filled out before the start of a game (or held over from previous games.)  The Agent tracker sheet will have the numbers 1 to 10 on it.  Each agent associated with a card in a player deck must be assigned to a slot on the tracker sheet by assigning a number.  Multiple agents can be assigned to the same number, or agents can be spread out, depending on player choice.  When the agent card comes up in the darkness deck, a d10 will be rolled and all agents in that slot will be activated.

I believe addressing this area will make agents much more memorable villains, who live up to their promise and create great stories.  They would be different than other minibosses, and give more of an epic feel to them as the eternal foes of the heroes.  Now that monster cards will be double sided to get more real estate, I think there is plenty of room to make this work.

BONUS – How to take it even further…

Agents don’t necessarily need to physically attack the heroes to create trouble for them.  They can set traps ambushes, or generally create havoc for the heroes.  Here is a way to change the mechanics of the two fate die methods to add this aspect to agents.

  • Fate Die Method 1: Instead of rolling 1 fate die to check for agents, roll 2.  If a single die comes up matching an agent, it triggers their “agent interference” ability, where the agent isn’t placed on the board, but an ability unique to each agent is triggered.  Perhaps a trap goes off.  Perhaps a the character carrying their item is poisoned by a dart from the distance, perhaps monsters are left as a surprise.  These effects can vary just like escape mechanics, but can represent the preferred harassment methods that give each agent their own unique feel.  If both fate dice come up with the same symbol, then the agent appears.  (This gives a 1/3 chance of interference per agent, but reduces their actual appearances to 1/36, a variation may be to not assign the darkness to any agent and make it a wildcard, with double darkness having some other nasty effect like moving up the tracker.  This would give a 1/12 chance of appearing.)
  • Fate Die Method 2: In addition to darkness having an agent appear, they could have 1 or 2 symbols assigned to harrassment effects.  For example one agent might sneak away with some party gold on a guile role, and throw an explosive at the person with their item on a rage roll.