As part of my Battle Mechanics: Skirmishes system students can earn “Enthralled Allies”. These are historic character cards and up to this point I had a vague notion that these would have an impact in my class game but wasn’t exactly sure how. I hope this doesn’t come as a surprise. If you have spent time chatting at #XPLAP & #Games4Ed, reading some of my other posts, or listening to the Wellplayed Podcast with Mr. Matera (@MrMatera) where I am occasionally a guest then this idea of “Building the Plane in the Air” is a pretty common theme. Our “games” are almost always in flux and new elements are created or removed as student interests change or mechanics don’t play out the way they were intended. That is a long way of saying that I loved the narrative idea of the enthralled historic characters acting as an army for the “Big Bad” and that would logically explain the little Skirmishes that replaced quizzes; however I had no idea what effects these new allies would have for the students that won them.
My original intent was to give 1 card to the small squads that would form inside of my bigger Hunter/Sentinel Guilds. As these groups began to form and as I realized I wanted the allies to have an impact on their individual battles and other powers this needed to be expanded. Now each student receives an ally card. Since there are only 2-4 Skirmishes per unit that seemed reasonable. It is still a lot of cards to print. Now that each student has allies that they can transfer between squads a few options opened up.
One of my core principles is that students should have “Many Paths to Victory”. In a theoretical sense this means that I want to give them many ways to show that they have demonstrated content or skills mastery. In a practical sense this also means that I want to eliminate as many barriers the student perceives as causing them not to do well. For example, many students don’t believe they are good test takers. I created several “super powers” designed to take away this source of anxiety. Now a Super Strength type can use their notebooks on the test, a Super Detective can create a cheat sheet, and a Flight type can get two free answer (for more on the Avatar Types). My goal with the allies is similar to the avatar types – to create options for students as they use them. This also brings in some risk/reward mechanics which is fun.
I identified 3 areas of the class where the allies might be helpful – Battles, Common Assessments (our district tests), and General Power Ups. Here are the uses for the ally cards.
- 1 ally = a 1 time addition of a 6 sided Die to Attack
- 1 ally add 10HP to Defense Points
- 1 Ally to block 1 regular attack from 1 opponent.
- Common Assessments
- Each ally can be used to eliminate 1 answer choice from 1 question
- General Power Up
- Sacrifice 4 allies to add 1 new super power for a single Class Period
- Sacrifice 8 Allies to regain 1 Heart
- Sacrifice 2 Allies to earn 1 Charge Point