Thursday, January 18, 2018

FissureVerse: New card art, and thematic ideas

I think I've settled on at least a few themes for different factions, apart from the original idea that each color would have a primary attribute that would be powerful.

Emptiness, being the color of Endurance, will also have protection as a major theme. In this way, they might be better defensively all around, such as having some bonuses to their attributes on defense. They will also be Rogation-heavy, where advantages and bonuses can be had by playing Rogations, or some cards might allow you to draw Rogations.

Thanks to Papaya-Style for the new art on Naomi:

Click to enlarge.
I'm also considering Emptiness having a “lone wolf” mechanic, which would encourage Emptiness to frequently have only one Crusader at a time out on the Field. Naomi is the type of card, for instance, the punishes the player for having too many Crusaders on the Field, but is otherwise pretty powerful. In this instance, however, since killing isn't something Emptiness often wants to do, the detriment isn't so bad as to be unplayable; the player can have other Crusaders in the Field, but it's only a minor setback against players who are aiming to end the game by killing out Emptiness. Emptiness might have pacifistic Rogations, such as Burial Rites, Wedding, Psalms, and the like.

Solidity, being the opposite and harsh opponent of Emptiness, will gain advantages for having a fuller field state. They might also get a card-in-hand advantage with Crusaders, perhaps by having Solidity be able to draw Crusader cards, like some Crusaders that perhaps allow them to draw a Crusader upon successfully crusading. I also like the idea of Solidity being in a precarious position, however, by having traitorous cards like Earthlings and The Derelict, which offer bonuses when they are in an opponent's Field, or quick-enablers like Hitchhiker. This has the fun implication that Solidity is not as solid as they think they are.

The Infinite like to think they rely on logic and reason, so I think there may be a bit of Frenzy hate in their cards, either to negate Frenzies, prevent them from being placed, or drawn, or anything of that sort. Or perhaps they have the more explicit “does X against Devotees, does Y against Zealots” than other factions. I'm thinking they might also be the faction for players who like a more complex game, perhaps by giving them a separate token resource mechanic, or perhaps at least allows them to use normal tokens for other means, like “if this is on the Field, you may pay a token to draw a Rogation” or something of that sort.

The Noise, being the opponent of The Infinite, are more straightforward. They probably like to be Frenzied, so there will be more bonuses for Frenzied cards. They will also have clever, but simple, devious tricks, such as having Crusaders that can come down to the Field at inappropriate times, or just do chaotic stuff like Kamikaze. They may also be pro-Spiker, in that late game, their Crusaders may get bigger bonuses based on the number of Spikers already drawn, giving them a reason to get closer to the end. Perhaps they will have lots of late-game Rogations, or Crusaders that can be beefed up when seven Spikers are out.

To all that end, I've got a lot of rearranging to do with cards, abilities, and the like. I've also got to come up with a lot of interesting variations on these themes, and group them loosely in sixteen-card Crusader sets.  That process has already started, so soon I'll be rearranging the Google Drive to reflect that.

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.