Apr 25

Last Week In Games: 4/14/14-4/20/14

life-in-games.jpgLookie here ladies and gentlemen!  This edition of Last Week In Games is turned in on time!  Not necessarily, worthy of bragging rights, but given my recent track record, I am going to congratulate myself!  Enough of the back patting, let’s look at the last week in games!

Legacy Wars

Getting closer to having some official news on this front, but in the mean time, a design update is due.  The base game is a very simple, and tight mechanic that has tested well and shown to function without fail.  As far as the base game is concerned, there are very few changes left that need to be made.  All of the Champions, are pretty much finished except for the Dwarven Warrior.  For the sake of diversifying the abilities in the game, I have chosen to scrap his somewhat repetitive Legacy Ability and replace it with a similar one minus the repetitive part. He previously read:

(7) Warrior – Dwarf

Battle Ability:  Prevent the activation of your opponent’s current Legacy Ability.

Legacy Ability:  Must use as your Battle Champion from the top of the Legacy Pile and prevent the activation of your opponent’s legacy ability.

While this version was well-tested and had shown to be balanced and effective, it was a little too similar in its abilities as both cancelled the opponent’s Legacy ability.  Given that there are only 20 abilities in the game, it seemed a bit much to have two doing exactly the same thing and on the same character no less!  So after much  consideration, the new version reads:

(7) Warrior – Dwarf

Battle Ability:  Prevent the activation of your opponent’s Legacy Ability.

Legacy Ability:  Reduce the Power of your opponent’s champion by the vp value of the current battlefield.  You may use the Warrior as your Battle Champion directly from your Legacy Pile.

This version keeps the ability to be used as your champion from the Legacy Pile, makes it optional, and creates a whole new ability with the battlefield vp effect.  Some may feel this is actually giving the Warrior two Legacy Abilities, but it is necessary because a 7 power champion standing alone would rarely win any battles, and therefore render his ability useless.  Seeing as this in effect negates your actual battle champion, it is like he brings his own Battle and Legacy abilities to the table.  However, if you have a stronger champion in play, you can opt to use only the first part as support.  Overall, I feel it has weakened him some, but added quite a bit of flexibility.  Only testing will show whether these changes are positive, but I have a good feeling about them.

I have also been dabbling with two new concepts:

Neutral Battlefields:  If these are used, two or three will be selected and added to the battlefield deck at the start of the game. These will provide fewer vp and offer no terrain bonus.  However, the player who wins the battle will gain access to a unique ability that may be activated during the next round.  This could greatly affect the tactical decisions players have to make.  Depending on the ability and what battlefield is next, it will force players to alter their valuation of the Neutral Battlefields on a case by case basis.

Event Cards:  If these are used, one will be in effect for each of the three game rounds.  These essentially create a global state under which the game takes place for the round.  It may cause changes to the timing rules, the vp value of certain battlefields, strengthen/weaken certain champions, or other various effects.  Regardless of the event’s effect, it will cause players to reconsider what their best play actually is and thus add a great deal of replay value.

In theory, neither of these additions add a great deal of complexity, but both enhance the re-playability of the game, which is never a bad thing!  I will keep you updated on the progress of these two new elements after I have had a chance to do more testing.

Play-test Meet Up

This past Saturday was the monthly meet up of the Indianapolis Design and play-test group.  We met at a local game and comic book store to tryout each others designs in various stages of completion.  When I arrived, I debuted my latest idea, “Rolla Boastaz”  to fellow members, Bryan and David.

The premise behind Rolla Boastaz is that players with rocket powered roller blades boast about what they can jump over and how they can do it.  Each turn a player adds to the difficulty by either playing something to jump over:  Great Wall of China, Pit of Spikes, or Cthulhu…(the usual stuff) or a way of performing the jump such as: doing a back flip, blindfolded, or shooting zombies.  Each item jumped over has a difficulty/reputation number.  This is both how much higher a player must roll to clear it and the reputation (vp) he earns if he clears the jump.  The methods for jumping reduce the dice pool but do not add additional reputation.  Eventually, by mechanics that must be ironed out, a player either jumps, goads another player to jump, or adds to the difficulty and jumps.  When a player finally jumps, he rolls a several D6, and if the result exceeds the difficulty he is successful thus gaining the reputation.  Failure results in landing in the obstacle that adds up to the die roll and the player suffers injuries equal to how short he fell of the end.  It needs tons of work, but both of the guys gave me helpful feedback/ideas and said they thought it was a cool little game.  All things considered, it went pretty well given that the family and I were brainstorming card ideas the morning of the meet up!

Worlds Collide:  Anime Card Game

After playing Rolla Boastaz, I tried out David Hancock’s card game.  Per his website: “Worlds Collide an Anime Game is a non collectible anime themed card game. In this game you pick a hero, weapon and cards that go in his deck. This allows variety and customization for the game.”

I will be doing a full-fledged preview of this game in the near future, but here is a brief description.

Players select a hero, a starting weapon, and use their deck full of equipment, defenses, attacks, and special abilities to defeat their opponent.  This is done by playing attacks to inflict damage on their opponent who must discard from his hand or the top of his deck a number of cards equal to the damage dealt in excess of his hero’s defense.  The game ends when a player is unable to draw two cards at the start of his next turn.  Obviously, if the player’s draw pile is exhausted due to his opponent’s attacks the game is over.

I played as the Ninja and David as the Pirate, mortal enemies if ever there were any!  He went first and started pummeling me right out of the gate.  I was able to use the Ninja’s innate ability to mitigate my beatings and some card drawing effects to get to what I needed.  These factors allowed me turn things around and pull off a win on the turn that I drew my last two cards.  Sweet sweet victory!  It was a close one, but this battle went to the mighty ninja!

My initial opinion, was that it was a very simple game to learn, with clean mechanics, and a fun theme.  It was a little quick for my tastes, but I had fun and I really think it would be a good starter game for youngsters!  He was kind enough to send me home with the decks we used and it those that I will describe in much greater detail during the full preview.  Keep an eye out for his upcoming Kickstarter!

Windfall:  Strategic Card Game

It is always cool when members of the local group have a project nearing completion.  Travis Chance and Nick Little recently concluded their massively successful Kickstarter campaign for Heroes Wanted, and now the husband and wife team of Brendon and Kathryn Steele were about to release their card game Windfall.  I had seen a number of press releases in the Facebook Group, but was not sure exactly what the game was all about until I got a chance to play it at the meet up.

Let me begin by saying that Kathryn’s art is fantastic!  She is truly talented, and the card art is easily as good as any you would see on Magic the Gathering cards.  I did not actually meet her at the event, although we are friends on Facebook.  Interesting times we live in, no?

In Windfall, the players control a powerful entity called a Guardian, who is in effect the leader of their armies and effort to defeat the other player or players.  The Guardian, like all entities in the game, has an attack value and a health total.  When a player’s Guardian has its health reduced to zero, that player is out of the game.  Each Guardian has a variety of powers, one of which may be used each turn.  These differing powers set each Guardian apart and also provide a semi defined strategy for which they are best suited.

During the pregame, the eight Guardians were divided into sets of four, with both of us selecting one in secret.  Without revealing our selected Guardian, we proceeded to draft 40 card decks in a modified simultaneous draft format where we each selected two cards at a time.  The cards are made up of entities, which are summoned to fight on your behalf, spells that have an immediate effect, relics that are powerful artifacts, and relic weapons that may be equipped to entities in play.

After drafting our decks, our Guardians were put into play, we took our starting hands, and play began.  Unlike Magic the Gathering, you do not need to bring lands into play as resources to cast spells.  Instead, once per turn, a player may take a devotion action, and place a card from his hand underneath his Guardian.  For its abilities, this creates a threshold that allows for the activation of ever more powerful abilities while also being used to pay a casting cost to bring other cards into play.  As an old-school magic player, not having to worry about being mana-screwed was definitely a point in Windfall’s favor!  Players then use the deck that they drafted to try defeat their opponent’s Guardian, either through attacking it directly or using abilities and spells outside of combat.

Given that I had never played, I decided to apply my vast gaming and in particular Magic the Gathering experience, as to give myself the best chance of wining as a noob.  When in doubt follow these rules to virtually any game like this:

  1. Accept the fact that you probably suck.  Mitigate your inevitably bad drafting decisions by selecting anything that increases your card flow.  This will at least improve your chances of drawing something useful.
  2. If it is a game in which you use creatures to attack, make certain you have a nice stockpile of bodies.  It is hard to win a battle without an army.
  3. If there is a way to make every card in your deck useful take it.  Even the bad cards you drafted will be helpful this way.
  4. If the game has a discard pile and you can gain access to playing things from it as well, do so.  If hitting them once with your bad decisions did not work, try hitting your opponent with them again.
  5. Make sure you have permanent removal.  If cards need to be in play to kill you, having cards that remove threats from play is a good way to not get killed!

These simple rules will make you competitive in virtually and CCG, LCG, TCG, or Deck Building battle game ever made.  Windfall, it turns out, is no exception.  I selected the Guardian, Ishani the Exquisite, whose abilities allow you to draw a card and discard a card, and also remove a card from your discard pile to do direct damage to any entity including your opponent’s Guardian.  Hmmm…let’s see, card flow, the ability to make every card useful, and entity removal on a stick, yes please!  I may have never played Windfall before, but I liked my chances.

I managed to make a couple noobish mistakes, and took some early beat down from Brendon’s Guardian who could fly at the time, but I slowly turned the board position in my favor until, BAM, I managed attack for 17 damage out of nowhere and killed his Guardian by surprise!  I don’t know if he was taking it easy on me or not, but he did seem genuinely shocked that the game was suddenly over.  Either way, I was obviously happy to win, but also quite impressed with the strategic and tactical options that Windfall had to offer!

I thoroughly enjoyed Windfall and would love to play it some more.  From just the one game, I cannot begin to say how balanced the Guardians or the regular cards are, but I will say that the game system and core mechanics run very smoothly.  Given that this is not a CCG proper, but a core set where buying it gets you all of the cards, I must say that it provides a viable alternative to Magic for us old school players who don’t have the time to keep up with that game.  A copy of Windfall offers up a tremendous amount of fun, numerous variants, strategic competition, and tons re-playability with beautiful art in just one box.  My first impression would be to strongly recommend checking it out!

In Conclusion

It was a week filled with wonderful gaming goodness, that mostly revolved around design work!  Whether it was refining “Legacy Wars”, roughing out the first draft of “Rolla Boastaz” with the family, or having a great time at the game design meet up, it was surely an entertaining week in this Life in Games!  See you next week!

1 comment

    • niks on May 25, 2014 at 10:27 AM

    Awesome article 🙂

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