Where Roguebook differs from other games in the genre is its map layout and mechanics; rather than progressing through a set world with multiple paths to choose from, Roguebook consists of a covered hex-based map, which represents a blank page in the book of lore. By completing battles and exploring the map further, you can collect brushes and ink, which allow you to ‘paint’ and uncover more map tiles as you progress through a level. Depending on the kinds of ink you collect, you can uncover a different number of tiles; while some ink bottles might only uncover three tiles in a straight line, for example, others may reveal a whole circle of tiles in one go.
I found this a really clever way to mix up the known roguelike map in the deckbuilding genre. While I used my ink liberally in my first playthrough, I quickly learned that the best thing to do is to ration it as best you can. Often, the only way to evade a particularly tricky elite battle, for example, is to use your ink to carve a path around the specific tile with the combat encounter. If you’ve used up all your ink by that stage, your only option is to engage in battle in order to progress on the map. This can be challenging since, unlike some other card games, the heroes in your party won’t heal after every battle. Instead, you’ll have to rely on healing items scattered around the map, and they can be difficult to come by. The number of other collectibles like gold and cards also greatly varies; where in other deckbuilding games you might get a set amount of gold and a card after each battle, Roguebook has players collecting cards through dedicated tiles on the map instead. The gold and cards you come across on the map depend entirely on how you decide to use your ink. This mechanic nicely introduces an element of luck into the game, because while you do get some gold as a reward after each battle, you’ll be hard-pressed to gather enough to buy relics without the extra gold found on the map. If you have fewer cards and no relics, Roguebook’s battles become significantly harder.