There’s always a gamble with Julian Gollop. Whenever I’ve been lucky enough to meet the designer behind the original X-Com, I’ve felt like the student to a mild-mannered teacher - the kind who makes you lean in to hear, rather than bellows for you to listen.
Boot up one of his games, though, and he becomes a crafty casino manager, rubbing his hands in glee as he watches you offer up your watch and wedding ring through the grainy CCTV cameras.
Yes, deadly percentage chance is back in Phoenix Point, which Gollop’s Snapshot Games is putting out next Tuesday. But it also featured heavily in the studio’s debut, Chaos Reborn - a wizard-’em-up in which every spell had the potential to fizzle out like a cheap firework.
You could circumvent the chance of failure by summoning illusions, but that was a greater gamble still: it might move like a hydra and even thrash like one, but if your opponent was suspicious enough to attempt a dispel, it’d pop out of existence, leaving your emperor pantless.
As chaotic energy began to build, rocks would rise unnaturally from their beds, while the jazz trills of trumpets suggested a descent into madness. Why did you think magic was something you could control, you dunce, you cloth head? Every wizard lives just one dice roll away from doom.