Wednesday, January 10, 2018

FissureVerse: Remade Locations and utterly transformed mechanics

Let's start with the pretty splashy stuff: Location Cards have had their layouts changed... in a big way.

Plains of Filth, before and after
New cards actually even bigger, I think.  Not necessarily to scale.  Click to embiggen.
Now don't get me wrong, I loved the old layouts. I would love to use that layout again in another game. But they simply didn't fit with the rest of the card layouts. These new layouts fit much better, even if they lose that beautiful, seemingly borderless, expansive design that works so well with landscapes.

One major change that has occurred, however, is that the Location cards are massively larger (perhaps obvious by the comparison above). Normal cards are 59x92mm, so old Location cards were 92x59mm. However, why leave them the same size as normal cards? They aren't going in a normal deck. So I doubled the size so all players can more easily read the cards around the table. They are now 184x118mm.

The Signpost and Paradise
A couple more examples.
Also a new major change is that I'm done grinding my teeth about Spikers.

Cosmic Disruption and Eclipse
Here are what some Spikers look like.

Some Spikers are location cards, just like any other card, with the exception that they remain visible during the whole game (rather than getting discarded). I expect other Spikers will have no Turn Order, so they are flipped and a new card is immediately flipped after. They might have special rules text like “All players immediately gain a token.”

Also, while I'm at it, I'm renamed Locations to the synonym Sites, because “Locations” is a bit too polysyllabic and sterile, while “Sites” give an almost reverential, religious feeling, as a game about crusading should, or even archaeological feeling, which is also acceptable.

Now that the pretty pictures are over (you can see all of the new location card layouts on the drive), the bigger change is the rules.

Like, all of them.

Well, there are enough major changes that the instructions need to be completely rewritten.

I'm still in the process of rewriting the instructions, but I thought I'd post this for now, and upload the instructions at a later time to put something on this blog (I know, it's been months).

Short version of the new rules: Each player has their deck of Crusaders, but the Frenzies and Rogations each get their own shared pile. You are simply trying to rid a player of Crusaders, so there's no more digging for Crusaders at the end; now it's obvious if there's any Crusaders left because a player will have no Crusader draw pile, no Crusader discard pile, no Crusaders in hand, and no Crusaders on the Field.

Because of this, the rules regarding enlisting need to be revised. On top of that, I'm dividing the mechanics into sets, and seeing where things land. Currently I feel like I only have three major mechanics going on with Crusaders, which is hardly enough. On top of that, they're simple mechanics, apart from some one-offs, so a lot needs to be re-evaluated to make the game more interesting.

Instead of building a deck outside of the game, card by card, players will choose three sets they wish to play with. Each set is sixteen Crusaders, eight Frenzies, and eight Rogations. The Frenzies and Rogations all get shuffled together with other players' Frenzies and Rogations into a single pile (well, a pile for Frenzies and a pile for Rogations), and players can still play the Frenzies and Rogations from other players' sets. There is now consistency in number of Crusaders each player has, and the cards in any given set will work well together, to provide interesting combos and mechanical choices, while giving variety by having three sets to play with per player. The interaction between sets for players to create and discover will keep players coming back, especially as new sets come out.

This is a massive shift, so tons of cards will be re-designed. Of course, I won't be ditching any art or card names if I can help it, but simple rules like “-1 Attack against Zealots, +1 Attack against Devotees” will go away or be relegated to simple sets or split loosely among many sets, while sets will mostly consist of more interactive mechanics with fun decisions.

Also, I'll be introducing Fetishes (the religious kind...), Gestalt cards, and Reserve cards, all which will hang out outside the game until certain conditions are met to bring them in.

More to come...

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

FissureVerse: four cards, two with new art

Thanks to Dario Marzadori for the new art! You can check out his art on Facebook, ArtStation, DeviantArt, and Instagram.

War Machine & Plains of Filth
Click to see bigger.
Now War Machines is more of a location than a ship (perhaps a place where obsolete technology has been tossed), so that little quirk of the card has been fixed. Using this art, I came up with different flavor text, but combine it with the turn order (red going directly after green), shows that green thinks a little too much of their strategy.

I always forget Plains of Filth is a Red location, because Grime is a Yellow location and they are similar in my head. However, I think I like the idea that with this card, Earth, and Bottom of the Universe, Red is more the underground ruler, like the mob bosses and the slumlords. Solidity might take hold of the government, and they might drag populations down like Earthlings and The Derelict, but Earth and Plains of Filth (where I've decided The Derelict are likely from, not Grime), become the property of Red by virtue of Solidity dragging their populations down too far. It's a neat story dynamic, I think. Yellow focuses on Blue as its arch-enemy, paying little heed to Red or Green, letting Red take hold of the downtrodden, and Green take hold of the elites. The flavor text is a bit on the nose in describing that dynamic here, and I may change it, but perhaps Red doesn't care about letting it be known, because Yellow has their eyes elsewhere, and Red can hide in plain sight (no pun intended).

At first I was a little bummed that the head of the statue would get cut off by the name “Paradise, the Ice World.” Then I came up with the brilliant idea of mirroring the image (sorry Gij for the modification) and... it still didn't work. Then I realized: “Why have 'The Ice World' at all? Seems obvious by the picture...” And now, it works! I also changed the flavor text to get away from the originally concept as a fake vacation destination. Now it's more of a pilgrimage for Green.

I decided to change the subtitle of Eclipse from The Infectious Nebula to The Blinding Nebula, since it's lost its special rules. I had loved the original name but it never quite went for a Green location. This makes things a little more in tune. Not 100% happy with it, but 100% better than it was.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

FissureVerse: 6 cards, 4 with new art!

First, thanks to Irbisty for the new art!

Sewerlife & The Awoken
Click to see bigger versions!
I couldn't come up with a short and pithy piece of flavor text to explain the concept of Sewerlife, so I opted to not put anything at all. I think this is the kind of card that seems all negative on the surface, but can be part of an interesting strategy, where you might intentionally lower your Endurance stat so that you'll never be converted by Torment, but rather Killed more often as a result, causing Locations to be flipped, and causing people to fear trying to convert you by Torment.

I decided to flip the colors of The Awoken and Dreamers for thematic reasons (also working right because Dreamscape is a Blue Location), but for now, the attributes remain the same. I like to think that The Infinite would be against Frenzies on philosophical principle—though, surely, a player can't win without using a few. But the attributes are good enough on this card that it's great for defense almost no matter what.

Dustchildren & Medical Frigate

I considered some pun for flavor text for Dustchildren, something about sweeping out the dust, but I think the card is meant to be more serious than that, and I didn't want to ruin the mood of it. So instead, the special rules are all you get for it, which display that theme without being too obvious. I might revisit the card later and add some flavor text, but sometimes I like the stony silence and the glare of the characters in the art.

Medical Frigate is one of those cards where thematically it makes sense that if the opponent crusader would be killed, it isn't, since the Medical Frigate saves the life of the opponent Crusader in return for conversion. Given this, I think I may change other cards like Nomads so it reads “When this is Killed...”

Strangest Places & Yellow Fields

I believe the tall character in the art for Strangest Places is the central figure in the art for Dustchildren, so when I have a theme like that, I try to make the art flow right and be of the same faction. Here, however, Dustchildren is a Blue card, and Strangest Places is a Red card, so I thought perhaps I might have a quote from an opposing faction ob Strangest Places. I don't think it's necessary to make the quote by the Dustchildren themselves, just another Blue Crusader. I considered Servants of Emptiness or other simple cards (which typically represent Blue well), but I went with an attribution of Naomi, who is perhaps thematically a leader. She might be the smaller figure in the art, so it works well enough. For a further attribution, I called it a Eulogy, as though instead of verses or idioms (or quatrains) Naomi's advice always comes in the form of mourning (as does all Blue, likely).

Monday, September 25, 2017

FissureVerse: 6 cards, 3 with new art!

First, thanks to Evgeniy Chugonov for the new art!

Flag & Deceptive
Click to see the new art... but bigger!
I always knew the term 'Flag' would be symbolic, not literal in the art. I think this works pretty well, because on its surface it looks like a beautiful image of a totem-worshipper, but looking close, you can see the bloodstain. I also chose this art for a Frenzy because I don't want Frenzies to get too dark in theme, so a Blue player, for instance, would not be too turned off by violent imagery. This one strike s a great balance. The flavor text is also fairly neutral; my first through for flavor text struck a darker tone, so I made sure to write something that was at least a little closer to the art.

For Deceptive, I got to invoke one of my favorite fairy tales, with a FissureVerse spin. Kinda pushes FissureVerse into new territory. We'll see if that idea extends or if this is a one-off.

The Collector & Android 4

My original idea for The Collector was of a shopkeeper who collected souls, or something to that effect. When I got permission to use this art, I originally considered other places for it, but ultimately I think this gives a much needed spin on this card. I also considered changing the name to Collectors, because there's multiple fliers in this art, but I also like the idea that they are a collective that considers themselves one unit. Kinda thematic. Okay, I'm stretching.

I decided to move the art from The Cracked to Android 4; Green is a tech-oriented faction so they'd be more likely to use an old busted robot. It just didn't feel right as a Red piece; certainly, Red is clever, but I don't think they'd take the time to reprogram an android for any purpose. I also made new flavor text to go with the new use.

Unkempt & Stalkers

Unkempt gets its -1 Attack stat changed to +0 to keep it in line with similar cards, like Love Potion and Coded. I also changed the flavor text ever-so-slightly to mean the opposite of what it used to...

Like Android 4 and The Cracked, I decided to move Irregularity's art to Stalkers. It fits better there; now I'm back to the tough one of finding art for the stranger name... But for Stalkers, I also shrank the flavor text. I think that perhaps since The Noise is so swift in speech (I imagine that's their public persona since they ought to be boisterous in their own crowds), they would condense common idioms to even shorter sound bites.

Man, looking at all these cards together makes me see just how outlandish and scatterbrained it all is... maybe I should've kept my old blog name after all...

Monday, September 18, 2017

FissureVerse: 6 cards

Six more cards get updated:

Holiday & Hiding
Since Holiday loses its rules text, I changed the flavor text to have less to do with it. Now it ties in more with the propaganda aspect of Solidity and less with backroom deals. What is funny, of course, is that their archenemy, Emptiness, goes second in turn order on this card, and they are the real peacemakers, if any faction can say that about themselves.

Since Locations just don't look right when there's no flavor text at all, I put off Hiding for a long time until I could come up with something. I almost wanted to quote an OK Go song...

Flesh & Shortened

I gave Flesh some flavor text to suggest that The Infinite knows that they can't be all brains. I still love how a card named “Flesh” has skeletons for art. This is the sort of card that either a Player will love and make it part of their strategy, or hate and never put it in their deck. And a player that is not Green wouldn't even have a clue how to use it right, since there is nothing like it in non-Green decks, so if they successfully converted by Reason it might become a liability.

Shortened is tough on the art, because the original image is so tall; it makes me struggle to decide where to shift the perspective, since something is always lost. This time I elected to push the image to show the bottom, so the character looks more cramped.

The Cursed & Tames

The Cursed gets completely redone, and, like Hiding, I put it off for a while because it's so tough to change. I really wanted the idea of a cursed card, but the previous special rules (the opponent gets to make a decision) were just broken, and no matter how impressive the card was in attributes, no one would ever play with it. So I gave a different spin on what 'cursed' would suggest (although it is perhaps similar to some Yellow cards like Hitchhiker), and to balance it out lowered both its Torment and Attack stats by one each.

Like similar cards, I modified Tames to make payment even. Instead of 1 Reason and +2 against Zealots, it becomes 2 Reason, -1 against Devotees, +1 against Zealots. Unfortunately I think it loses a little of the beautiful simplicity of the old text, which I think is needed on a card like this, but you gotta do what you gotta do for balance.

Monday, September 11, 2017

FissureVerse: 6 more cards, including two new pieces of art!

Firstly, two cards get brand new art! Thanks to Benjamin Wiesemann for the new art! Let's get to those first:

Servants of Emptiness & Guardians
Click to admire the new art!
Servants of Emptiness was a little tough to get the flavor text just right. It needed to be somewhat pithy, but not terse like The Noise, but not overly verbose like The Infinite. It also needed to encapsulate the rebelliousness and independence of the faction, without necessarily being completely depressing and hopeless like a few of Emptiness' other cards are. I also like how the art suggests, more than other Servants cards so far, the even nature of the attributes. She's got a book in her hand, a sword on her back, and fire in her eyes.

I like how the Guardians art is similar: a book, a weapon; but lacking the fire in the eyes and having a softer look instead, which works great because the lessened Fire stat.

Decomposing & Psalms

Psalms is a little tricky. I've gone back through a friend's notes who read the instructions and looked at the cards some time ago, and he said it seemed like too many cards were direct negations of player actions, such as how Psalms simply blocks another player's successful Crusade. I will have to rethink how such cards work. This is particularly troublesome since Psalms can be played almost any time (Spiker range 0-6). Naturally testing will figure out if it's too mean—which is funny, since Psalms should be the opposite of mean.

Optomites & Witch Doctor

Witch Doctor has been modified to include one additional word: “if”. This completely changes the card, so now, it's no longer that Zealot Frenzies are negated against Witch Doctor, but rather only if the Frenzy is revealed on that Crusade does the Frenzy have no effect. This diminishes Witch Doctor's bonus considerably, so to compensate I raised the Book attribute from 1 to 2. I figure maybe a Witch Doctor might be a little more learned than before.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

FissureVerse: 7 more cards, and the other back

Seven more cards, plus the back for cards in the players' decks.

Nightcaps & Academic
Click, or something.
On the one hand, I question the usefulness of a card like Nightcaps. On the other hand, I don't want everything to be average and homogeneous. Maybe a clever player will find a great use for it. When a Frenzy is applied to any card, I should think, the stats are always up in the air.

Speaking of Frenzies, I'm considering adding some sort of “spy” mechanic so a player can reveal the Frenzy of another player without Crusading and risking anything. Maybe.

Academic gets its Endurance stat changed from -1 to +0 for consistency with similar cards.

Aetherworld & Haven

Aetherworld is another Location where the simple special rules (Crusaders gets +1 Endurance) would do well elsewhere, so I'll consider where else I can put it (though likely not a Spiker).

Player Back& Burial Rites

Promised I would get to player deck backs. Similar to Location Backs, but of course without the icon, rotated, and with different art (same artist). I also decided to add my name to the back of the card, as well as the Location card backs (because vanity).

Burial Rites gets a major overhaul. Firstly, I changed it so you can play it when any Crusader is killed, not just your own, so it's easier to play. The old text used to say that players can't Frenzy “Until the end of the Round, or your next Turn, whichever comes last.” Well, the Round would now end immediately, since a Location card gets flipped only when a Crusader is killed, and it's possible that the player who plays Burial Rites might be first in Turn Order on the next card, so it accomplishes nothing. Now, it affects the entire next Round. I also mentioned that you play it after a Crusader is killed but before a Location card is flipped, because if you were to hand on to it til after the Location card is revealed, it might not be a Rogation at all, but a Spiker, and if it's the fifth Spiker, you wouldn't be able to play it at all. Lastly, I made it a Spiker requirement of 0-4, to say that there's no time for Burial Rites the further down the Spiker hole we go.

Abyss of Emptiness & Carnival

Carnival simply gets its flavor text changed, so it's more devious, less flippant. But as I work out the nature of Spikers, I'm considering making a few current Locations into Spikers, and replacing the locations with some other ideas.