(Information provided by Patrick Roach, Sean Cutler, and Zack Brown. And the owner of Naturalist Games, who also is a big influence on design is Alex Papadimoulis)
In Lairs, players play powerful creatures, leaders of their kind. Each are excavating strongholds in the same mountain. This isn’t by chance, buried deep in this mountain are treasures; powerful artifacts, ancient sorceries, and untold riches. These Legacies, when claimed, will grant great power. In the first phase of the game, players compete to excavate and build their Lairs to the center of the mountain to claim one of these prizes.
Once one player has taken the Legacy, they become the Enemy of the other players, who are not content to let one person be so powerful. The remaining players band together as the Allies and fight their way through each chamber of the Enemy’s lair, and eventually confront them in a climatic finale.
Pretty much everyone at Naturalist loves a game with a good narrative. Games like Betrayal at House on the Hill, Dead of Winter, Above and Below, etc.
Our current games are light on story, and we knew that the next game we made would almost certainly follow a different path.
When our lead game designer and illustrator Pat started drawing these weird monsters we just sort of started to imagine a game growing up around them.
At its core Lairs is a network of minigames that all use the same pieces. The main mechanics revolve around managing a hand of cards, and several other resources across these different games.
A game of Lairs has two distinct phases, the Build and the Crawl, and thematically revolves around the Legacy, and the Encounters.
Lairs was built to be replayed. The game will play out very differently from Legacy to Legacy (of which there are quite a few), the Encounters (of which there are even more) that are seen within each Legacy, the Characters assembled, the makeup of the Lair and even the special play cards in hand.
In the Build players compete to excavate their Lairs. The player who adds 6 chambers to their Lair first, reaches a vault holding the Legacy. That Legacy grants them additional in game abilities, and also paints a big target on their back. They become the Enemy.
In the Crawl the remaining players form the Allies and move through the Chambers of the Enemy’s lair facing an Encounter in each one.
An encounter starts with an event that either helps or hinders either side. These events range from mystic traps, to simple but brutal cave ins, or even one of the Allies just having a little too much to drink.
Then the real encounter begins. The Enemy chooses to either: send a Monster to confront the Allies, barring the way with a Puzzle to confound them, or risking a rare personal appearance and Dueling the intruders.
Each Legacy comes with a few Encounters that are specific to it’s plot. These will often be more challenging than the standard Encounters, and always will be more thematically true to the narrative.
Each variety of encounter, (Monster, Puzzle, or Duel) plays out differently (these are the mini-games I mentioned earlier). Players, Enemy and Ally alike, must manage their hands and resources as the party moves from chamber to chamber, until they finally break through to the Vault.
There they have a climactic final encounter as laid out by the Legacy.
What to expect from the kickstarter?
Well, we have done this before. We kickstarted Release! before we were an official company, and we have put out 3 games since. We are fairly familiar with the production of games, and are pretty confident about the Kickstarter.
That said, we also know that being transparent with our backers is really important. It honestly just makes a better game. So we are dedicated to being very responsive to comments, putting out a lot of updates along the way, and taking their feedback to heart.