Players fight for survival in Post-Apoc setting of new Czech card game RONE

Photo: archive of Štěpán Štefaník

A new card game called RONE (Races of the New Era) by debuting game designer Štěpán Štefaník has hit stores in the Czech Republic after doing well at Essen Spiel, the world’s most famous annual game fair held in Essen, Germany. In RONE, players take sides in a post-apocalyptic world, vying to strategically outmanoeuvre the other in seizing rare, remaining resources. The game, eight years in the making, got off the ground in part due to crowdfunding.

Photo: archive of Štěpán Štefaník
Štěpán Štefaník told me more about how the game fit within the Post-Apoc genre.

“It shares elements which you would see in other Post-Apoc games or films or writing, which is the central premise that there has been a disaster, in this case nuclear war, which has wiped out most of the achievements of the human race, leaving only small groups of survivors around the world. In the game, these groups fight to gain control of the most valuable remaining resource, which is uncontaminated water. Most of the water supply was destroyed or contaminated and only a few sources remain.”

Who are some of the factions in the game that the player can choose from?

“They are different races, clans or factions, as the title implies, of people who have either mutated or hybrids that have augmented their abilities through implants. Each player has a special hero who has some abilities within the storyline, who are important. You can have a terrorist who was involved in the outset of the war, or a scientist who tried what they could to prevent it. ”

Life as we knew it is over and the player has to try and use their skills to gain an advantage.

“Yes. It’s important to say, though, that their skills are not overblown: their factions are not like the X-Men or something like that. It is more about finding the right chain of cards, seeing how they can work together and implementing the best way to use them on your turn you can. It is a card game, there are many cards in it, and you have to think through how to use the cards to their maximum effect.”

So it is about finding synergy between the cards – how they interact together – to give you an edge over your opponent…

“Exactly. I wanted to create a game that is fresh and new and unique. It uses four main mechanisms to create the gaming environment and, even though it is a card game, the most important element is the player’s decision. It is not about the cards: they just give you options but how you convert them is up to you. The game was also designed to be easy to learn and easy to set up: you shuffle the cards, deal them out, and are ready to play.”

Let’s talk about the overall look of the game and the illustrations which were used to build this world…

Photo: archive of Štěpán Štefaník
“It was quite hard to find all the artists. There are 150 cards in around 20 people did illustrations. One thing which was tricky was to try and get the same feel among the different illustrations or works so that they were consistent in the world they were depicting.”

Do you have a memorable moment somewhere along the stage of development, in playing the game with an opponent?

“Sure. I think there are many. The most epic thing is that you can play and think you are losing completely but then, after a few minutes of thinking, begin to see a way out, a combination on which to build which can completely start to turn things around. Every game you play will be completely different and everyone you play will give you a different experience.”

I think every gamer loves that moment when all things just click, that is very satisfying. One expansion is out already; how much further would you like to develop the world you have created?

“Well, I think that the game has a very strong story and I definitely want to get deeper into the narrative and provide players with more background in the form of background stories and other material, both in booklets and online. So you find out that one of the characters was involved romantically with another before the apocalyptic event and then he betrayed her, so there is an additional story of revenge. These kinds of elements could inform the player more and give a greater context to the game they are playing, in terms of motives. We have a plan to certainly release more to bring players deeper into the story.”