There is only one way to win a game of Heretic Operative – complete every Chapter in the Story deck. But Heretic Operative is not an easy game, and there are many ways to lose. Here’s an overview of each of them so you can best be prepared to stop the Cult.
The most direct way to lose the game is for all of your Operatives to be killed. Repeated combat can take a toll, and losing Health from Adventures or Events is always a possibility. It is important to gain Influence and recruit additional Operatives so that the loss of one isn’t the end. There are also ways to heal, but unlike a lot of traditional RPGs there isn’t a dedicated healing class or easy ways to recover fully between combats. Healing can always be found by returning to the Hideout, but there are other ways to be discovered that are much less expensive in time and momentum.
The other most common way to lose is for the Cult to grow too powerful. As mentioned a few blog posts back, Cult Activity leads to Cult Power, and each leader has a different amount of Cult Power that can cause the end of the game. Defeat Cultists and find sources of Cult Resistance to buy yourself enough time to complete the Story chapter objectives. If you’re finding that you are often overwhelmed by rising Cult Power, recruiting the Auspex in the Heretic Hideout is a great early game technique for getting some Cult Resistance immediately.
The Hideout is vital to the Heretic’s organization and if it is ever destroyed the game also ends. But it is well hidden, and requires a coordinated effort by the Cult to find it even when they get in the right Location. Mechanically, this will trigger when there are three Cultists at the Hideout, and whenever Cultists move, they move in that direction. If you let the map fill up with Cultists, you may have to rally a last-ditch defense to keep the Hideout secure.
Finally, some Story decks have specific additional failure conditions, usually when you have only a certain number of turns to accomplish something.
There are many threats in the game to answer, and finding the proper strategy will require skill, experience, and just a little bit of luck. Next time on the final (for now) mechanics blog, we’ll give a few tips and tricks to stack the odds in your favor.