By Matthew Aguilar
Power Rangers Heroes of the Grid is loaded with your favorite Ranger seasons and some of the biggest villains in the franchise, but Renegade isn't done with the game in the least. The newest expansion is live on Kickstarter, and while it's sailed past its goal, we thought we'd give you some insight into the new expansion and the game in general if you happen to be on the fence. Who better to do that with than Heroes of the Grid designer Jonathan Ying, and luckily he took some time to chat with ComicBook.com all about the In Space Rise of the Psycho Rangers expansion, the Villains Pack 2, and a few teases of things yet to come. First up though is the In Space campaign expansion, and while Astronema didn't make it into this one, Ying says there's enough content with the season to head back for more at some point down the line.
"I think we went a little nuts with this set and it basically includes everything that I was hoping to fit in on the design document," Ying said. "Though there's still a lot more content from that season that we could go back and do. I know Astronema has been a popular request, though for this expansion we wanted to be able to focus heavily on the Psycho Rangers. There were definitely a few versions of their mechanics throughout development but I'm really happy at the implementation we settled on!"
Another character that didn't quite make the cut was the In Space Silver Ranger Zhane, though Ying does already have a few drafts of what he can do for later down the line. "I definitely have a few drafts of Zhane that I cooked up early on during development, he's a popular Ranger and I am a big fan of the first Silver Ranger in the series," Ying said. "He didn't quite fit for this pack but I suspect he's definitely one of the Rangers where the question is 'when' we'll put them in a pack rather than 'if'".
One of the coolest additions to the game is the new Mastermind mode, which allows you to play as the villains for the first time in the series.
"The Mastermind mode in the newest expansion is the biggest departure by far," Ying said. "The game was very heavily designed as a cooperative experience and making it asymmetric 1 vs Many was a bit of a challenge. Early on I wanted to be sure that the core themes of the game relied on teamwork and cooperation. Now that it's settled I think it's reasonable to allow the more enfranchised players to get a chance to take the reins of the bad guys and make the game even more challenging for their opponents."
The game has a full lineup of Phsyco Rangers, and they are as lethal as you would expect, though it was a bit challenging to get the right mix of difficulty without becoming cheap.
"So awkwardly the normal deployment structure of the game (Two Monsters, and 1 Boss) really didn't line up cleanly with the 5 or 6 Psycho Rangers," Ying said. "It definitely took a huge amount of playtesting to make them fit the game's overall encounter flow while remaining balanced. Players sort of expect the psycho Rangers to be particularly challenging so it was definitely important to try to thread that needle where their modes felt challenging but not overwhelming."
As for the newest Psycho Ranger, Green is a part of the mix here. "Also I think you may be pleasantly surprised to see that we DO include Psycho Green in this one! We're big fans of the storylines and characters they've been exploring in the BOOM comics and it felt like it would provide some nice variety to have an extra Psycho Ranger in the box," Ying said.
As for the Rangers themselves, Ying broke down how each one's playstyle varies from the other. I'll do my best to give broad strokes," Ying said. "The Red Space Ranger Andros is a Leader type with some ability to break through enemy defenses (to represent his stealth skills.) The Blue Space Ranger TJ has some leadership elements too (a nod to his previous role as Team Leader in Turbo) and his primary focus is on reliability. He is the Ranger who is least reliant on dice rolls in the game."
"The Yellow Space Ranger Ashley has some decent energy generation and some precision multi-target effects," Ying said. "The Pink Space Ranger Cassie is a sweeping bruiser who is tough to take down. The Black Space Ranger Carlos is a high-risk fighter who gets bonuses to his attacks the fewer cards he has in his hand. My personal favorite is probably TJ. I have notoriously bad dice luck so it's nice to not have to worry about rolling too often with him."
The Kickstarter also includes the Villain Pack 2: Machine Empire, and designing this crew was a delight for Ying. "I really enjoyed designing the whole squad. It's tough to pick a favorite, though Gasket and Archerina have some unique mechanics that play off of each other in a cool way. You'll have to wait to find out more about that," Ying said.
Ying wouldn't tell us who this applied to, but when we asked if there was an ability in the new pack that he had to tone down because it was destroying players, Ying delivered an evil laugh, saying "HAhahahahahahahahahhhhah...Yes." Now we really want to know, we're not going to lie.
Renegade has been killing it with the Power Rangers license, and since they are working on In Space, that season does also involve a mega-crossover. We're talking about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles of course, and while the license is over at IDW Games, a crossover story is always something that he's up for if the opportunity presents itself.
"Personally I think it's a really fun idea, but the licensing deals are definitely over my head," Ying said. "I love crossover stories and the Ninja Turtles and Power Rangers are just maximum 90s nostalgia for me. I've got some ideas for the sorts of abilities I'd give the Turtles but I think I'd rather keep those quiet since I may end up just re-using them later for other Rangers down the line."
The base game featured the addition of an Alpha 5 deck and miniature that gives you the use of a supportive A.I. if you so choose, so we had to ask if a DECA or Alpha 6 version was ever in the works for the expansion.
"Currently no. DECA and Alpha 6 aren't in this one," Ying said. "I think Alpha 5 is a pretty polarizing design at the moment. He's definitely the weirdest mechanical take for a playable character we've had. After over two years of working on this game, I think it's fair to say that I've learned a lot since that initial version. It definitely won't be the last time we see a dedicated support character."
After working with the Power Rangers on Heroes of the Grid, there are several takeaways, but for Ying, the biggest is how great the franchise's community continues to be.
"Honestly, my biggest takeaway is that the Power Rangers community is one of the best out there. I've worked with other major franchises before and each community has its own standards of behavior, but the PR fans have been a cut above the rest when it comes to consistent kindness and enthusiasm," Ying said.
"They've been really patient with us as we've continued to improve the game and produce new content and being in contact with the community has been a really strange and wonderful experience for me as a designer," Ying said. "I guess one could say the cooperative spirit of Power Rangers extends outside of the game into the fandom as well!"0comments
So, if you've got the itch to play a great game in the Power Rangers universe you can head over and check out the In Space expansion right here.
Let us know what you think of the expansion in the comments or feel free to hit me up on Twitter @MattAguilarCB for all things Power Rangers!