Project: POKéMON PREHISTORIC

Hello everyone!

While ago I posted about those obscure Pokemon Rom Hacks some sinister chinese data pirates had put on real, working GBA cartridges and actually sold them on the internet and shifty side-alley markets etc.

Ever since I played Pokemon Quartz, where the crafty creators of the hack had actually gone through the trouble of making up over 300 all new Pokemon, and I have to give them due credit and respect for accomplishing that, I thought… man, I could have done a so much better job on the Pokemon sprites (graphics). Seriously being able to discover and catch hundreds of Pokemon is great and all, but the actual sprites all look kinda awkward or downright crappy. So my artistic ambitions and creative curiosity were awkened and a plan was growing inside my head. Making up all kinds of creatures and monsters was and has always been one of my favorite things and back then when I was a kid and really into Pokemon I came up with countless “custom” pocket monsters. Well just a few days ago I decided to try to realize that plan that has been hatching within me and went to the source of pokemon hackery on the web – Whack a Hack!

Well what I want to do is this:

I will be offering to do the graphics for my very own Pokemon Rom Hack, which may or may not come to life if I find a skilled coder who would be able to handle the programming aspect. Well can’t be doing everything myself I guess so I posted in the forum on WaH. And indeed I already found a young hacker from Argentina who said he would be in for such a thing. I hope to find some more people to lend a hand when it comes to the actual coding.

Anyways here is my idea for the Pokemon Hack, my vision if I may call it that:

Pokemon Prehistoric Starters

 

Yeah your eyes don’t betray you: Pokemon Prehistoric!!

That’s rigth, a Pokemon Hack with Dino Pokemon! I thought if I am going to go through the trouble of creating and painting 300+ new Pokemon, they should better be awesome and what is more awesome than dinosaurs?! Dinosaurs are awesome. Pokemon are awesome. Dinosaur Pokemon should be double awesome, so I figured. So yeah, Pokemon Prehistoric will be featuring all new, prehistoric-themed Pokemon (not necessarily all dinosaurs but other prehistoric beasts as well, and not necessarily all based on real-life prehistoric animals). People who know me a bit should have realized that I simply love dinosaurs etc (just look at my soon-to-be-published game Biomechanic Dino Battles) so the theme for my planned Pokemon Hack fell into place quite naturally.

So  the next thing I did after drawing some Pokemon concepts like the one seen in the above teaser pic was figuring out how to make actual sprites for a GBA Pokemon Rom Hack. After briefly skimming through some tutorials I found on the web, I got out my trusty Wacom drawing tablet, fired up MS Paint and just got started.

Here the result of what is my very first dabbles in creating pixel art / retro-game sprites (depicting the three starters in Pokemon Prehistoric as well as their evolutions):

Unihorn Evolutions Sprites Sauropi Evolutions Sprites Flaraptor Evolutions Sprites

Well I hope you like those! I have to emphasize again that this is a first for me and everything is just one big learning process. All in all I must say I enjoyed making the above sprites greatly, I loved how placing dot for dot resulted in acutal monster graphics and I simply couldn’t get enough of doing these little pixel artworks.

So what happens next?

Well all I can do is create graphics/sprites and maybe come up with some great storyline or whatnot. The future of the Pokemon Prehistoric project all depends on if I am able to gather a reliable team of coders/rom hackers who will handle the whole programming aspect. Again I may be able to do many things, but I can’t be good at everything so I really rely on external help / collaborators here. As I said I already found an enthusiastic young coder from Argentina but I cannot really tell if one guy will be able to handle everything I cannot do. So I am looking for more collaborators for the project, and am pretty confident to find help on Wack a Hack or elsewhere.

If you are a coder and into Pokemon rom hacking, please don’t hesitate and contact me at andreas.propst31@gmail.com!

Well that is in a nutshell the Pokemon Prehistoric project. I for one will do everything to make it real. It all depends on the enthusiasm and goodwill of some future project partners who are able to do what I can’t.

Will keep you updated!

Kind regards,

Andi

P.S.: Even if I don’t find any programmer willing to work for me, the graphics just beg for a card or boardgame. “Pixelmon” anyone?

 

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An (Almost) Forgotten Game of Mine: Get the Cheese!

Today I want to show to you one of my unfinished games which I have been neglecting quite a bit for quite a while:

Get the Cheese Box Shot small

Well first of all I have to say that I am constantly coming up with new game ideas and designs, at a faster rate than I can possibly handle, being kind of a “one-man-show”. Hence many (maybe great) game ideas and prototypes get shelved as I have to focus on a handful of games at one time, considering my resources are limited as a matter of course. These resources include development time, playing/playtesting time and, last but not least and sadly, money.

So in this article I want to introduce you to one of my “forgotten” game ideas – forgotten but not lost and always at the ready to be “reactivated”. I am not writing this article in an effort to reactivate the  “Get the Cheese! Project” as I have to focus on a couple of other game projects now which are more important at this point (Elemental Clash, Crystal Clash, Biomechanic Dino Battles and Imperium Galacticum Hex to name the most important ones) but rather to share my thoughts and to prevent that Get the Cheese! will be forgotten altogether.

So the idea for Get the Cheese was born when I set myself the challenge to create “the cheesiest card game ever”. Cheesy not in the sense that the cards look ultra-cheap and crappy, but rather in a sense that the characters should be silly, pointless and utterly ridiculous. I was inspired greatly by the somewhat cheesy caste of character in the oh-so popular Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG, where you find anything from evil Tomatos to hungry, maneating Burgers. In fact that was the main impulse that got me started on Get the Cheese! Furthermore, I had the idea to interpret the “cheesiest game ever” motto of my game design efforts in a literal sense, so Get the Cheese! is not only cheesy as hell, it is also all about acquiring cheese, in the literal sense, and centered around the highly-sought after, all-powerful “Master Cheese” around which I created an alternate win condition. To show you some eye-candy right away, take a look at the four Main Characters I designed, each of them having a unique deck which you can choose to play with:

Get the Cheese! Main Characters

I think the above illustrations will enable you to fathom the level of ridiculousness in this game! They are setting the tone for their respective decks which contain equally silly characters and actions.

So the game will come with four (in the end well-balanced) different pre-built/fixed 30 card decks, each centered around one of the main charactes seen above. Here’s a bit about how the game is played:

The goal of the game is to either collect 20 Cheese or to be the owner of the Master Cheese card when the first player’s deck runs out of cards – whichever happens first.

Print

So each player will pick a Character and the deck that is associated with it. Everyone will start out with 5 Cheese (kept track of with a 20-sided dice, preferably in yellow!) and players will take turns performing a number of Actions according to their Characters Action Points (AP) on each of their turns. AP can be spent to play “Pals”, “Stuff” or “Deeds” from hand, along with a number of Cheese according to the card’s cost. Furthermore you can attack by using AP, use special abilities or mess with the Master Cheese. Attacking opponent Characters and Pals will be your main way to acquire more Cheese – remember that you’ll win once you acquire at least 20 Cheese. If you attack a Pal with 3 DEF with your 4 ATK Pal or Character, you will earn a total of 1 Cheese for example. Now the alternative win condition is to own the Master Cheese card when the first of the 30 cards player’s decks runs out of cards. Each card can be used for its “Master Cheese Effect” instead of being played regularly, by spending an AP. There are many ways to manipulate the Master Cheese to your advantage, and different cards will have a different Master Chees Ability like “Get the Cheese” which will earn you the MC (Master Cheese) if nobody owns it currently, “Steal the Cheese” which lets you take the MC from any player or the useful “Sell the Cheese” abiltiy which earns you additional (regular) Cheese.

That is, in a nutshell, how the game works. And here, to illustrate what I wrote above, what the actual Character cards look like:

Character Card Prototypes

The red value is the Character’s Attack Power, the green value the Defense and the yellow value is the number of AP it has per turn.

The black text are the Character’s Special Abilities and the number in parenthesis is the Cheese Cost for that Abiltiy, the amount of Cheese you have to pay for activating the Ability.

So in Get the Cheese, every Character and Character Deck has their own strengthes and weaknesses and my intention is to make every deck an unique experience, with its own strategies and style of play. The Pals that assist you, the Deeds (think Actions) you perform and the Stuff (Items) you play are all themed to fit, to some extent, the theme the Character of each deck sets and are equally as absurd and silly as the Characters they are associated with.

All in all I am looking forward to revisit this game idea of mine, as soon as I find the time to that is. The prototype is already set up and available to be ordered from The Game Crafter anytime. What is missing is the artwork, and a considerable amount would be needed for all four 30 card decks. Since I want to do the artwork all by myself for Get the Cheese, I’ll have to find some time to get this done sometime in the future. I think it will be worth the effort. Also I have to admit that I have not even had the time to get this to the table yet, although it looks very promising to me.

Well for now I have to focus on the other games I have mentioned before, as those have top priority at the moment. However when those are more or less done, I will surely go back to reactivating the Get the Cheese! project eventually.

Will keep you posted!

Kind regards,

Andi

Announcing the Push&Move Mobile App!

Hello everyone!

It is my great pleasure to announce the upcoming

Push & Move Mobile App for Android and iOS

My crafty coders of ORG.COM (not an actual URL) who have already proven their talent in developing a kickass App for Elemental Clash are working hard on turning another one of my games into a Mobile App! And they are making quite some progress as you can see in the brilliantly looking preview screenshots taken from the (unfinished) game I will show you at the end of this article.

Push&Move is a an easy to understand yet challenging to master board game of pushing and moving around dice  (hence the name) on a modular board with tiles that have certain effects on any dice moved there. The goal is to push at least three opponent dice either into the dreaded “Death Tiles” or over the border of the playing field. Your dice have to be “stronger” than your opponent’s so you can “push them around” and there are many different tiles which can “strengthen” / promote your dice, but also tiles that reduce your dice’s strength and tiles with other, fun effects. Also, you can combine the strength of multiple of your dice in order to push one or more stronger opponent dice.

This game, which can also be played just with paper, pencil and two sets of dice, was, in my opinion, begging to become something you would play on your tablet or mobile device with touchscreen. I have tried the current protoype and it is really intuitive and fun to move around the dice with your finger and watch the great visual effects when they hit the various special tiles.

Due to the nature of Push&Move (there is no such thing as hidden information in the game), two players will be able to compete against each other using just one device. Playing this way comes really close to a real board game experience as you can put your tablet etc on the table and each player will make their moves like on a real board sitting on the table. However, besides the obvious “Hot Seat” mode, there will also be a mode of play where you will compete against an AI. There will also be scoring and you will be able to choose one of many funky sci-fi characters with nice special abilites as your avatar in the game.

Please have a look at the outstandingly awesome looking screenshots from the current prototype. Our artist Enggar Adirasa, who can not only do amazing fantasy artwork for games like Elemental Clash, but also excels at making professionally looking assets/graphics for games and mobile apps, did a terrific job at making the visuals for the Push&Move App! Thank you Enggar!

1 2 3

Well I hope you like what you have seen as much as I do, and will keep you posted on any updates on the Push&Move App.

 

Introducing Crystal Clash!

I have posted some artwork Dennis Saputra made for a game of mine, which I haven’t spoken enough of, and as much as it would deserve, in the past.

In this article I want to remedy this grave negligance by introducing to you and giving you an overview of my game

crystal clash2

Crystal Clash, which is totally unrelated to Elemental Clash and my other “Clash Games” save for the name, was conceived when my younger sister Nora “confessed” to me that she, in constant admiration of my game design activities, always wanted to be part of such a game too. So without much further ado I offered that we could design a game together. So with Nora’s creative advice – she designed the characters and what they could do in the game which I then “translated” to game mechanics and specific card abilities based on said mechanics – Crystal Clash was born and within a few days I had come up with a great, new game system and, with the creative input from my sister, two sets of cards as well. At the beginning, the game consisted of two preconstructed / fixed deck, each containing 40 unique Character, Ability and Relic cards – The Darkness and the Light Decks. Hence we named the first incarnation of the game “Crystal Clash – Light vs Darkness”.

Here is a video review of the original Light vs Darkness version kindly done by Andrew Lloyd of Left Hand Reviews:

Among others, I sent a copy to the game to a renowned American games publishing company, whose name I am not yet at the liberty to reveal I think. The lead designer of that publisher is a good friend of mine and long-time supporter of the Elemental Clash project and he liked the game a ton. Currently we are working very hard on polishing and fine-tuning the game and may be looking at a 2014 release.

In order to increase the appeal to a wider audience of gamers / potential customers, I designed two more decks, Order and Chaos, to make 4 player games possibly even with just the base game. My game designer friend proposed one slight tweak of the game rules which works greatly and we will add one addtional “coolness” or “wow-factor” to the game, which is a secret for now and until we have figured out how to do it properly!

So the in the Crystal Clash base game we offering gamers the following four “factions”:

Darkness Banner Light Banner Order Banner Chaos Banner

So you see the that each deck has a specific theme to it. Also, to ensure consistency AND diversity when it comes to the visuals of the game, I decided to have one deck illustrated by one artist and even with half the budget as for Elemental Clash, I was able to get high quality art from some talented artists. Manchen Yang did the Darkness artwork, Laurie Thomas the Light artwork, Cj Penna the Order and Dennis Saputra, who also illustrates Elemental Clash cards now, did all the Chaos artwork. I am very pleased with the result and want to seize the opportunity to thank all contributing artists for their great dedication and awesome works they made even at such low charges. And not to forget, Enggar Adirasa, my loyal, long-term supplier of great art and graphics and good friend, just yesterday delivered some awesome card layout for all four factions. Let me show you the layout with some descriptions on the anatomy of a Crystal Clash card:

CC Card Anatomy

You will notice the many, coloful symbols in the text box of the cards. This was a pretty recent idea of mine since there are some very common keywords on the cards and they were pretty heavy when it came to the amount of text. So I had the idea to replace the most common keywords with little symbols of different color to achieve two improvements at once: Firstly, the amount of text is reduced drastically and secondly, the readabiltiy is increased and players can recognize at once what the card abilities do. This was most important with the “offensive” and “defensive” keywords which are relevant in the context of how combat works in Crystal Clash and were replaced by a small, red sword symbol and a small green shield symbol respectively.

Let me give you a brief overview of how Crystal Clash is played:

The most unique aspect in Crystal Clash is that your “Life” is also your resources and the game features a “resourceless resource system” as I like to call it – a thing which I highly enjoy in any game, be it of my own creation or of someone else’s. So in Crystal Clash, each player starts out at 10 Crystals which can be spent to play Characters, Ability cards and Relics from hand. The goal of the game is to reduce your opponent’s Crystals to zero. You do so by attacking your opponent using an Offensive Ability of one of your Characters or an Offensive Ability card. The opponent may react by using a Defensive Ability of a Character or a Defensive Ability card OR letting the attack get through. In the former case, the blocking Character loses one of his or her Life Points and in the latter case, if an attack is unblocked, 2 Crystals are removed from the attacked player’s pool. So you see, the Combat System is something completely different from the “standard approach” of Characters / Creatures / Monsters having an Attack and a Defense value as is the case in games like Magic: the Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh! or even Elemental Clash. Such is unheard of in Crystal Clash. Furthermore, you generate new Crystals at the beginning of your turn, after having drawn 3 new cards from your deck, by discarding exactly one card from your hand and adding a number of Crystals to your pool equal to the Crystal Value / Cost of the discarded card. Your Crystal Count is kept track of by a 2o-sided dice and the Life and Magic Points of each Character card in play are conveniently kept track of by means of red (Life) and blue (Magic) six-sided dice placed on the Life and Magic Orbs you can see in the above card sample at the bottom left and right of the Character card.

There are really some unique and tough gameplay decisions involved with the way the mechanics work together in Crystal Clash. During Charge Phase, you have to consider carefully which card you want to discard, as cards with a high cost will get you the most Crystals but are also generally more powerful when played. Then of course you must be really careful with spending your Crystals as they are not only your resources, but also double as your “Life Points”. So spending Crystals is a double-edged blade so to say: Would you rahter have a huge army of Characters or will you stay safe and save most of your Crystals for later. That’s some of the tough decisions, indeed decisions that matter, which you will be facing when playing Crystal Clash!

And as I mentioned before, my game designer friend from that mysterious games publisher and I are planning for something completely unheard of and totally awesome which will give the game the “wow-factor” it still lacks. I will update you on that once we got everything worked out! So stay tuned!

To close my introduction to Crystal Clash I want to show you some actual card previews in the form of 4 Dragon cards each belonging to one of the four factions.

Thank you for reading and all the best,

Andi

Order Card Sample small Light Card Sample small Darkness Card Sample small Chaos Card Sample small

Elemental Clash: Alben Banishment and the Art of Dennis Saputra

Hi everyone!

Here’s yet another Elemental Clash Strategy / Deck article in which I want to introduce you to yet another talented member of my Elemental Clash Art Team: Dennis Saputra from Indonesia. Also, I would like to showcase some of the “Unique hosers” which will be included in the Unique-ridden Legendary Legacy Set to give players viable weapons to combat opponents running many Unique cards. This article will, as usual, feature a deck which will include many cards illustrated by Dennis Saputra.

Besides Widodo Pangarso and Enggar Adirasa, Dennis is my third artist from there and one of the newest members to the team. I found Dennis, or rather he found me, on DeviantArt, THE platform for finding great and gifted artists for any kind of art job, when I was looking for inexpensive illustrators for my upcoming game Crystal Clash (which is totally unrelated to Elemental Clash save for the name and will be published this coming year by a renowned American games publisher). Dennis was willing to work at very low charge compared to how brilliant his artwork for the game turned out and he proved to work diligently and with commitment, very reliably and communicative, even though the job was not really paid well.

Here a few samples of the artworks Dennis made for the Crystal Clash “Chaos Deck” (Dennis made all 40 card illustrations for the deck):

Chaos Art Banner

So you see even at half the per artwork cost as compared to what I usually pay for one Elemental Clash illustration, Dennis put a lot of work in the Crystal Clash illustrations and I felt he really gave his best considering the low payment. I especially love the vibrant color of the artworks Dennis delivered and the attention to details (for example: have you noticed that the five-headed dragon’s heads have a number of horns from 1 to 5?). Being very much satisfied with Dennis’ great “performance” I approached him with the offer to illustrate for Elemental Clash as well. He willingly agreed to that and was excited to get to contribute to the game and I offered him double the money per illustration for his work on the Elemental Clash project, as he really deserved it and I didn’t want to pay him less than my other Elemental Clash artists.

Here is a link to Dennis’ Portolio if you’d like to check out more of his awesome work:

http://elangkarosingo.deviantart.com/

And here is the first card Dennis illustrated for Elemental Clash and I think he really proved to be more than able for the job!

Print

Since I like to have one artist illustrate one specific tribe or Creature type in the game (like Katy Grierson who did all the Spirits and Evgeni Maloshenkov who did the Dwarves) for the sake of some visual consistency, it was decided that Dennis would be doing the Albs. Sadly, there are only 3 Alb Creatures in total in the upcoming Legendary Legacy Set, so I had to assign Dennis some non-Alb illustrations as well which he has executed brilliantly so far. Here the two other Albs Dennis did: Xilvox, the Dark Alben Prince and the Light Alben Queen Titania:

Print

I think Dennis did a great job on the royal Albs as well. So with Darkwood Judge, those are all the Albs that will be included in the Legendary Legacy set, although more of their kind will follow in inevitable future expansions. The fact that both the above cards have the “Unique” keyword, which means you can only have one copy of them in your Spellbook/Deck, and makes them clearly overpowered compared to non-Unique cards both when it comes to stats and abilities. There will be a large number of such deliberately overpowered Unique Creatures, Spells and even Element-Stones in Legendary Legacy, some of which I have already written about on this blog, such as the four mighty Dragon Lords. In order to counterbalance the raw power of the Uniques and to force players to consider well how many Uniques they run in their Spellbook, instead of just including all that are available in the Elements of that Spellbook, I will release a number of so called “Unique-hoser” cards, or Anti-Unique cards. Two of them were illustrated by Dennis Saputra and can be seen below (the middle card was illustrated by Dennis as well but is not an Unique-hoser):

Print

If you read the first card, Royal Revival (you may notice that the sarcophagus bears the image of Xilvox – great idea Dennis!) you will ask yourself how that can be an Unique-hoser. You may draw 1 card or take target Creature with Unique from any Archive and put it into your DEF-Zone under your control. ANY is the keyword here. If you are running Royal Revival against an opponent with many Unique Creatures, this can backfire at your opponent as when you manage to destroy his Uniques or send them from Spellbook to Archive directly, you can use Revival to steal the most powerful Unique-Creature in the other player’s Archive and start to use it against him immediately. And if your opponent doesn’t have any Unique-Creatures, you can conveniently recycle Royal Revival by choosing the draw 1 card effect rather than the revival effect. Banish the Legend is a more straightforward way to fight a player using Uniques. It allows you to either draw 1 card, once again in case your opponent isn’t running any Uniques, or purge any 1 card with Unique in play. Well it should be obvious that this is a cheap and efficient way to get rid of even the toughest Unique Creature once and for all. Plus you can also purge any other permanent with Unique, for example some powerful Unique Equip-Spell if need be. There will be a Fire and a Water Unique-hoser as well, which Widodo Pangarso will be illustrating soon.

The middle card I included in the image above for the simple reason that it was illustrated by Dennis Saputra as well, depicts an Alb and will be included in the Alb-themed Spellbook I am going to present you now:

Alben Banishment:

Spellcaster: Scalden Deathbringer (35 cards)

Creatures…11

1 x Titania, Queen of the Woods

1 x Xilvox, Darkwood Sovereign

1 x Bargost Thundertail

1 x Ascarius, Lord of the Storm

3 x Flowering Wall

2 x Darkwood Judge

2 x Venus-Wurm

Spells…14

3 x Bloody Tribute

3 x Royal Revival

2 x Banish the Legend

2 x Excavate

2 x Strength of the Woods

2 x Necromancy

Element-Stones…10

3 x Peakstone

2 x Powerstone

3 x Venus-Stone

2 x Jupiter-Stone

My Thoughts on the Deck:

First off why I chose Scalden as my Spellcaster:

As I wanted to make this an Alb-themed deck, I had the choice between Danuviel the Enchantress and Scadlen Deathbringer. The latter has been called an unplayable Spellcaster by some less imaginative fellows, as he has just a 35 card Spellbook through which he cycles pretty fast, drawing you 2 cards from it each turn, but indeed the Dark Alben Assassin Spellcaster has a special place in my heart. I think he is one of the Spellcasters which are more challenging to build working decks around and this one is challenging indeed, but challenges can be fun and the result rewarding if they are mastered. I have built some decks around Scalden before, which were control type of decks, which fits in well with the Static and Flip Ability of Scalden. Actually, the “double draw” works very well in a control approach as you will get ample “solutions” for any “threats” your oppoent might get out in the form of Creatures.

Moving on to the Creatures, I included some Unique ones in this deck myself, though I did not load the deck with them. In an Alb Spellbook, the Darkwood Prince Xilvox and his graceful counterpart, the Light Alben Queen Titania is a must. While Titania is a great early play to speed up your resource development, Xilvox is an amazing draw-engine in a Spellbook which focuses heavily on killing opponent Creatures. Xilvox forces you (this is not optional) to draw 1 card whenever a Creature is destroyed. Not purged mind you – there is somewhat of a dissynergy between Banish the Legend and Xilvox, as purging a Creature does not count as destroying it. However, there are ample ways to destroy Creatures by other means, such as playing Darkwood Judge, which forces your opponent to destroy a Creature of their choice as a Play-Effect. Also, Venus-Wurm is added for general beatdown and as a safety net so to say to prevent you from running out of cards too fast. Flowering Wall serves a similar purpose, acting as a somewhat decent blocker and returning one card from your Archive to your Spellbook each turn. Ascarius and Bargost are added for additional power and to be revived cheaply via Royal Revival.

On to the Spells:

I am running the two “Unique-hosers” I talked about above: Royal Revival and Banish the Legend. Royal Revival has a bit of a dissynergy as well with Banish the Legend, as you can’t revive any Uniqes that were purged be the latter. Still, Royal Revival has a twofold purpose. At the very least, you can use it as an extremely inexpensive way to reanimate any of your lost Unique Creatures. If your opponent is running Uniques too, you can use Revival to permanently steal one of your opponent’s slain Unique Creatures and have it fight on your side. Banish the Legend is obviously included as a cost-efficitent Unique-removal Spell and its purging capabilities make sure your opponent won’t retrieve his Uniques from the Archive. And even if your opponent doesnt have a single Unique card in his deck, you can just use Banish the Legend to draw another, more useful card. Bloody Tribute is one kickass card in a deck like this: For the cost of 1 Earth, each player has to destroy one of his Creatures. And it comes with Boon. When Xilvox is out, you will get to draw 2 cards when you cast it, it is a cheap way to get opponent Uniques into the Archive to reanimate them with Royal Revival and on top of all that it has the Boon abiltiy. Tribute combos well with Venus Wurm as well, allowing you to restock your Spellbook in the process. What a great card in any control deck running the Earth Element. Excavate and Necromancy are good ways to recover lost key cards like your more powerful Unique Creatures or simply a destroyed Venus-Wurm, to make use of its  card recursion ability again.

The Element-Stone base is quite straightforward. I decided that 10 Stones would be enough in a Spellbook with 35 cards, a Spellcaster which draws you 2 new cards every turn and a relatively low overall-cost of Creatures and Spells in the Spellbook. Peakstone is obviously great as it provides Energy of both the Earth and the Air Element and Powerstone pretty much nullifies the -1 ATK and -1 DEF Static Ability of your Spellcaster and can net you one more card when your Venus-Wurms are destroyed.

Well that’s it for now. More articles with fresh Legendary Legacy card previews coming up. Stay tuned!

Elemental Clash – From the Armory

From the Armory Banner

Hi Everyone!

This time I want to present you another article about Elemental Clash and what is coming in the impending Legendary Legacy Expansion,  telling you “tales from the armory”,  introducing you to a brand-new card type:

Equip-Spells

Let us get the theory out of the way before we move on to take a look at some of the new Equip-Spells which are going to make their debut in the upcoming Expansion:

Equip-Spells are permanent Spells just like the Permanent-Spells you may already be familiar with. They are played to a suitable Element-Stone-Stack, that is one that produces enough Energy, whereby the Element does not really matter as all the Legendary Legacy Equip-Spells will be Neutral, just like you would do when playing any other card. What is different about Equip-Spells and sets them apart from Permanent-Spells for instance is that during your next Standby-Phase, when you clear your Stone-Stacks, you can attach your Equip-Spells to any Creature in play, yours or your opponent’s, or, if there is no Creature you can or want attach them to, you can set them aside. Equip-Spells will usually have some special, beneficial effect(s) on their bearer/wielder and if the bearer/wielder leaves play, they drop their Equip-Spells, which are set aside and can be attached to another Creature during subsequent Standby-Phases. You can also relocate your Equip-Spells from one Creature to another during any of your Standby-Phases. The only way an Equip-Spell can land in the Archive is when it is destroyed through certain card effects or discarded from you Spellbook or from your hand.

Ok having the theoretical part gotten out of the way, let me show you some of the actual Equip-Spell cards which were brilliantly illustrated by the artist who is becoming the determining factor in the visuals of Legendary Legacy, Evgeni Maloshenkov:

Print

So as you see there will be quite some variety of powerful Equip-Spells, like the weak but “Booned” Club, which Evgeni ingenuously rendered as a “Troll-made Plagued Head Club”, the Zombie-affiliated Reaper’s Scythe or the heavy ATK booster Greater Battleaxe and the massively DEF enhancing Greater Armor.

Personally I think that these Equip-Spells and the others coming in Legendary Legacy and beyond will see quite some play and be a factor to reckon with in future Elemental Clash decks, as they give, maybe otherwise weak, Creatures a lasting and re-usable advantage either by boosting their stats or giving them powerful, additional abilities. The fact that the Equip-Spells can be attached to new Creatures if their old wielders/bearers were slain make them a great addition to round out many a Spellbook.

So, as I always do, I thought about a Spellbook which would be highly suited for heavy Equip-Spell use. I want to share my deck draft with you, as I usually in my Elemental Clash or other CCG-related articles. Have a look:

Golem Gadgeteers:

Spellcaster: Thorbald, Dwarven Tinkerer (45 cards)

Creatures…15

3 x Dwarven Miner

3 x Clay Golem

3 x Stone Golem

3 x Iron Golem

3 x Gold Golem

Spells…15

3 x Stonelore

3 x Club

2 x Shackles

2 x Greater Battleaxe

1 x Greater Armor

1 x Reaper’s Scythe

1 x Anti-Effect Field

1 x Mindblocker

1 x Spiritblocker

Element-Stones…15

1 x Venus-Stone

1 x Mars-Stone

3 x Magmastone

3 x Powerstone

3 x Hastestone

1 x Stone of Forgetfulness

1 x Morphing Stone

1 x Corroding Stone

1 x Stone of Wisdom

My Thoughts on the Deck:

Let me start with the Spellcaster, Thorbald, the Dwarven Tinkerer:

Although he was released in the Master Set, Thorbald was just made for a Spellbook as the one listed above, since his Static and Flip Abilities refer both to Neutral Spells and Creatures. So in fact he makes not much sense without any Neutral Spells&Creatures, which will be introduced in Legendary Legacy, available. I am not sure if you can read what it says on the above card image so I am going to state Thorbalds abilities here: As long as the Dwarven Spellcaster remains face up on the field, all your Neutral Spells and Creatures require 1 less Energy to be cast or summoned (with a minimum of 1 Energy required). When you flip him, you may search your Spellbook for any one Neutral Spell or Creature and put it into play directly. Now you will realize just how great Thorbald works with a “Neutral heavy” Spellbook like the one I suggested above.

Moving on to the Creatures, we see that the Creatures in this particular Spellbook are nearly all Golems, with exception of the odd, lone Dwarven Miner, who is in there to “tutor” (search your Spellbook) for any Element-Stone, even non-basic ones. Here’s a picture of all four Golem cards (all of them greatly illustrated by Katy Grierson of the UK):

Print 

At first glance you will notice that all of them are Neutral Creatures, which matters a lot with Thorbald as your Spellcaster, and on closer inspection you will see that none of them have special abilities/effects, save for Gold Golem which has a very harsh drawback, only a ton of flavor text (which is not relevant gameplay-wise).

The general idea of this particular Spellbook is this: Get out Golems cheaply, by making optimum use of Thorbald’s cost-reducing Static Ability (I would advise against flipping him unless it is your last option), powering them up with Power- and Hastestones as soon as they hit the playing field, as well as boosting their stats with the new Equip-Spells, which are cheaper to play as well through Thorbald. Furthermore, this Spellbook features not just one, but two “Toolboxes”, which is an element I greatly enjoy including in any CCG deck.

The first Toolbox is pretty obviously a Neutral Spell/Creature toolbox, powered by none less than your Spellcaster, Thorbald, the Dwarven Tinkerer. While you should flip him only when absolutely necessary, so as to make use of his Static Ability for a long as possible, there are quite a few “Silver Bullets”, useful one-of cards that is, in your Spellbook that can be easily searched for and put into play by making use of Thorbald’s Flip Ability. If you are facing a Boon-heavy opponent Spellbook, get yourself a Mindblocker to put an end to the madness, if Salvage should be causing you troubles, grab Spiritblocker or make any Play-Effects, Leave-Effects or Destroy-Effects fizzle via Anti-Effect Field. There is a minor combo involving Thorbald, Anti-Effect Field and Gold Golem, at 4 ATK and 4 DEF the most powerful of the Golems: Gold Golem has you destroy 3 of your Element-Stones as its Play-Effect. You can however circumvent that harsh penalty or drawback by either putting a Gold Golem direclty into play from your Spellbook (the Play-Effect triggers only when the card would be put from hand into play as per the rules) or have Anti-Effect Field out which will shut down the negative Play-Effect of Gold Golem as well.

The second Toolbox in this Spellbook is an Element-Stone Toolbox: Dwarven Miner and Stonelore both give you access to any 1 Element Stone, basic or nonbasic, and the deck includes a ton of handy “Special Stones” with all kinds of useful effects, some of which are your “Silver Bullets” in your Stone-Toolbox. These include some powerful Stones with Unique such as Stone of Wisdom, which can be sacrificed to draw 2 cards from the Spellbook. Your searchers Dwarven Miner and Stonelore are great Stone Toolbox enablers as the former has the Play-Effect of adding any 1 Element-Stone from Spellbook to hand while doubling as a blocker, which can be handy at times, and the latter puts any 1 Element-Stone from your Spellbook into play directly. And to top it off, Stonelore has Boon as well.

This deck can have a very powerful start if you manage to combine the cost-reducing effect of Thorbald’s Static Ability with your Neutral Golems and two of your Element-Stones in particular: Hastestone and Powerstone. Since most Creatures and Spells in this deck are Neutral, as in not belonging to any of the four Elements, so I am able to run an unusually high number of Neutral Element-Stones. Now Powerstone and Hastestone are the ideal combination to start the game with when combined with your Neutral Creatures and Thorbald’s ability. You can play a Powerstone first and then a Stone Golem on it, since Thorbald will reduce its cost to 1 Neutral Energy and you’ll have a 3 ATK and 3 DEF Creature on turn 1. On your second turn you could follow up with playing a Hastestone on top of that Powerstone and play Iron Golem at cost 2 onto your newly formed Stack. That would give you a 4/4 Quickattacker on turn two to  team up with your 3/3 Stone Golem. Add some Equip-Spells into the mix and you should have some very powerful beaters early on! Maybe you will hit some Clubs when taking early damage, so they will be a free, instant-ATK-boost for one of your Golems as the Clubs happen to have the popular and powerful Boon ability. Honorable mention: Use Shackels to “immobilize” one of your opponent’s ace-Creatures. Shackles can, as any Equip-Spell, be attached to an opponent Creature, which will be unable to attack, block or move as long as Shackles remain attached to it.

Overall this Spellbook should provide an interesting and fun game experience and, being quite powerful, should stand a good chance against other, more established deck types such as Burn or Recursal Decks.

Tribal Elemental Clash: The Merfolk of Widodo Pangarso

Merman

In my last Elemental Clash article on here I showed you the Spirit “tribe” in Elemental Clash which was brilliantly brought to life by Katy Grierson. In this second article in my little “Tribal Elemental Clash” series I am going to highlight another tribe, or major Creature type which was realized by another of my talented artists, Widodo Pangarso from Indonesia.

This time, it is all about Merfolk!

First of all some eye-candy: The card previews of all the Merfolk-Creature cards that exist at present, either contained in the Master Set or to be released in the Legendary Legacy expansion. All of them are decorated with artwork from Widodo, who turned out to be kinda my “Merfolk-guy”:

      

By showing you all the Merfolk Creature cards that exist at present, you will be able to see what the Merfolk Deck I am going to talk about later on does easier.

If you look at the artworks for the above cards, which were all done by Widodo Pangarso, you can see that Widodo, who hails from a rural area of Indosnesia, has a very unique style and is a highly gifted and skilled artist. I met Widodo the first time when I was looking for artist to illustrate the Elemental Clash Master Set on Deviant Art, a major platform for sharing art of all kinds and THE place on the web for game desingers like myself to find and hire artists, and he has since become not only a reliable, communicative, easy to work with and dedicated member of the international Elemental Clash art team, but also a good friend who has helped me out on this and that more than once. Furhtermore I would like to point out that Widodo is very flexible and can do other things than Merfolk as well as a matter of course. Firstly, Widodo has contributed a fair share of the Elemental Clash art that was not related to Merfolk, but also Spells and other Creatures of all types. He even made some great illustrations for the Sci-Fi themed Space Clash – a project which I will be giving some “shelf time” before pursuing it further. Here’s a sample – a Skaargen Bannership:

bannership fin

If you want to see more of Widodo’s fantastic work, you can visit his Deviant Art portfolio at

http://labylaby.deviantart.com/gallery/

But back to Elemental Clash and Merfolk!

Merfolk is a Creature type which has many members in the Elemental Clash Master Set and the upcoming expansion, as you can see in the above card previews and some support cards are coming up as well, making Merfolk the defining Creature type in the Water Element. To see how powerful a dedicated Merfolk Spellbook can be, I will show you such a Spellbook I have come up with. As always I will just provide the card list and then share my thoughts on the deck and its strategy.

Tribal Merfolk:

Spellcaster: Atanas the Wise (50 cards)

Creatures…24

3 x Merman

3 x Merman Warrior

3 x Merman Meddler

3 x Wave Courier

3 x Greater Catfish

3 x Mercury-Caller

3 x Merfolk Champion

3 x Mercury Shatterer

Spells…12

3 x Forbid

3 x Shattering Wave

3 x Will of the Waves

3 x Tsunami

Element-Stones…14

3 x Hastestone

11 x Mercury-Stone

Some Thoughts on the Deck:

This deck could be called an “Aggro-Control” deck as it features both denial and destruction effects “controlling” what your opponent does and on the other hand a ton of Creatures with which you are trying to overwhelm your opponent in a rush.

First off some words on my Spellcaster, Atanas the Wise. Atanas gives you a starting hand of 10, draws you 1 card each Draw-Phase and sports an impressive Spellbook size of 50 cards. The latter makes him the perfect Spellcaster when you are trying to fit in a lot of differnet Creatures into one Spellbook. Also, Atanas has the Flip Ability to draw you 3 cards which is also great so you have easy access to backup Creatures if your opponent managed to stop your early onslaught.

So besides beatdown with a lot of great and efficient Merfolk Creatures, the deck excells at neutralizing opponent Spells and Creatures with the classic Forbid and the new, free-to-cast Will of the Waves, as well as in destroying the opponent’s stones, be it by the powerful Shattering Wave or through Mercury Shatterer’s effect. The soon-to-be-released Merman Meddler even does both, as you can destroy him to neutralize a Creature or Spell unless the controller destroys one of his or her Element-Stones. A choice between a rock and a hard place so to say.

But let me go through the cards I chose to inlcude in the deck one by one sharing my thoughts on each with you:

Merman:

The “standard”, run-of-the-mill Merman from the Master Set has lackluster stats (1 ATK and 1 DEF) when played from your hand. However he has Boon and when he is played through Boon he comes into play with a +1 ATK and +1 DEF Counter on it, making it a 2 AKT / 2 DEF Creature permanently. A pretty good deal for a Level 1 Creature.

Merman Warrior:

Regular Merman’s stronger brother has a base ATK and DEF of 1 each as well, but the fun starts when he is in company: As long as you control another Merfolk Creature, Merman Warrior gets +1 ATK and +2 DEF, making him a formidable 2 ATK and 3 DEF Level 1 Creature. The best thing is to play him on turn 1 and then follow up with another Merfolk on turn 2 so Warrior will attack as a 2/3.

Merman Meddler:

As mentioned above, Merman Meddler, while lacking attack power, has an awesome effect: You can destroy it anytime in reaction to a Creature being summoned or a Spell being cast and then put your opponent to the choice between either having that Spell or Creature neutralized, sending it to the graveyard without any effects, or to destroy one of his or her Element-Stones. Either way you can considerably hinder your opponent in building up their army or stones with this one, so it is an excellent card for a deck with an “Aggro-Control” approach.

Wave Courier:

A comparatively weak Merfolk when it comes to ATK and DEF values as he is a Level 2 Creature with just 1 ATK and 1 DEF. However he has a play-effect (an effect that triggers whenever this card is put from your hand into play) that lets you draw 1 card so he is at least decent. Maybe there will be stronger alternatives in the future.

Greater Catfish:

This one is kinda like the big step-brother of Merman, as he is not a Merfolk but a Fish with 2 ATK and 2 DEF, being a Level 2 Creature and has the samee ability as Merman. When the Catfish is played through Boon, he will come into play with an +1 ATK and +1 DEF Counter, making him a good beater at 3 ATK and 3 DEF.

Mercury-Caller:

Now we are talking Merfolk! This is the Merfolk counterpart of the Spirit draw-engine Jupiter-Caller. Mercury-Caller has the following play effect: When it comes into play, you get to look at the top 3 cards of your Spellbook and take any Merfolk Creature-cards among them into your hand. This makes Mercury-Caller a valuable way to restock on (Merfolk) Creatures when you are about to run out of steam towards mid-/late-game, supplying you with up to 3 new Merfolk cards.

Merfolk Champion:

This is most likely your ace-Merfolk Creature with incredible abilities which will not only strengthen your army but also will turn every one of your Merfolk Minions into tiny draw engines. Merfolk Champion gives a +1 ATK and +1 DEF boost to all other Merfolk you control and whenever another Merfolk you control deals damage to your opponent, you may draw a card. The “may” is VERY important in the Elemental Clash context, as you’d run yourself out of cards by drawing a ton of them each time your army attacks so the draw is optional. A deliberate design decision.

Mercury Shatterer:

This one is not a Merfolk but it fits the resource denial theme of the deck very well as you get to send an Element-Stone your opponent controls back to their hand when Mercury Shatterer enters the playing field from your hand.

Forbid:

This Water Flash-Spell neutralizes any Creature or Spell when being summoned/Cast. While this  is very powerful you’d best use it when the opponent has nothing in hand to play in its stead as the Element-Stone-Stack they tried to play that to would be empty again so they could play something else to it. Still a very potent form of denial.

Shattering Wave:

This card is, in my opinion, probably one of the most powerful and versatile cards in the game and one of my all time favorite Water cards. I like it that much that I have once written a whole article about it. Shattering Wave lets you take target Element-Stone and put it on top of its owner’s Spellbook. Its most obvious is is to deprive your opponent of one of their resources, one of their Element-Stones. By doing so, you are furthermore ruining your opponent’s next draw, as all they will draw is the Element-Stone they already had in play. If you use it against a multi-element Spellbook, you can also mess around with the order of your opponent’s Stones in their Element-Stone-Stack, so to leave them with two Stacks of the same Element for instance. A less obvious use for Shattering Wave, and this has won me the game not just once, would be to play it during end game to put one of your own Element-Stones back on top of your Spellbook so you will have one more card to draw. As you’d lose when you are unable to draw, this one card can mean the difference between victory and defeat, even though this may seem insignificant at first. And did I mention Shattering Wave has Boon?!

Will of the Waves:

Same as Forbid this neutralizes a Creature or Spell. What makes Will of the Waves special, being part of a four card cycle in Legendary Legacy, is the fact that it has an alternative casting cost, and you can cast it “for free” even if all your Element-Stone-Stacks are occupied, by conveniently purging it and another Water card in your hand. Especially in an all Water Deck this will put your opponent under a constant threat as they can never be sure if you have it handy or not even if all your Element-Stone-Stacks are occupied.

Tsunami:

ATK- and DEF-wise, Merfolk may be outpowered by other Creatures easily and if you need something to turn the tide, quite literally, Tsunami is your solution. It single-handedly wipes out all opponent Creatures while leaving your side of the battlefield unscarred. This comes at the steep cost of you having to send the top 5 cards from your Spellbook to the Archive. For once, with a Spellcaster like Atanas who starts you off with a 50 card Spellbook, the 5 cards will be a price you’d be willing to pay more often than not and on the other hand, this deck features quite some cards with Boon, so having to discard the 5 cards from deck to discard will probably give you some free Spells and Creatures as a bonus.

Hastestone:

The only special Element-Stone this Spellbook features makes your Merfolk even more threatening as it gives all Creatures played to the Element-Stone-Stack it is located in the Quickattacker ability, allowing them to attack the turn they are placed on this stack, so the very turn they come into play. This applies some much-needed extra pressure to your opponent starting early on.

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Well so much for today’s Tribal Elemental Clash article. I will follow up with the next installment of the series sooner or later, and I can tell you so much that the next article will most likely be about the Goblins, which are, at least in Legendary Legacy, illustrated by one of the new members on the Elemental Clash art team, Evgeni Maloshenkov.

Thank you once again for your time and interest!

Sincerely yours,

Andi

Banish that Fish! (Yu-Gi-Oh!)

Hi everyone!

I am in a mood for writing/blogging these days so I want to share with you this new Yu-Gi-Oh! Deck I have come up with and which I took a liking to after testing it a couple of times – my take on a “Banish Fish” deck!

You know I like to set myself little challenges in deckbuilding such as taking a rather obscure, at first glance rather weak Monster / Creature type and trying to build a decent deck around that, trying to make the most of the available cards and getting the best possible deck with what I find to support the general theme. This time around, it all began as it does every so often with my new deck ideas in any CCG, as I kinda stumbled upon a certain card which caught my eye. This time it was this card….

…which I thought had potential if it had just the right deck built around it to support it and “max out” its effect. Another card I already knew which I think is a real powerhouse, again, in the right deck…

… pretty much sealed the deal for me and I had to build a deck around the rather obscure Fish type which is not exaclty known to be one of the more powerful and supported Monster types.

Well I am going to do the usual and show you a photo of the deck as I tried it (it is still in a raw state and I already know how to tweak it in order to make it rock even more!), then provide a card list and follow up with some of my thoughts on how the deck is supposed to work!

Banish Fish

Banish that Fish!

Monsters…21

3 x Oyster Meister

3 x Shark Stickers

3 x Snowman-Eater

3 x Banisher of the Light

3 x Golden Flying Fish

3 x Abyssal Kingshark

3 x Royal Swamp Eel

Spells…8

3 x Fish and Kicks

3 x Dimensional Fissure

1 x Mystical Space Typhoon

1 x Dark Hole

Traps…11

3 x Fish Depth Charge

3 x Underworld Egg Clutch

2 x Fish Rain

2 x Macrocosmos

1 x Torrential Tribute

My Thoughts on the Deck:

Well the general theme of the deck is firstly Fish and Fish-support cards as well as destroying and banishing stuff. I consider Fish Depth Charge and to somewhat lesser extent Fish and Kicks to be the ace-cards of this particular build. The former is pretty straightforward and convenient to use in a deck with mostly Fish-type Monsters and is in and off itself a cheap way of generating much needed “card advantage”: You can tribute 1 of your Fish Monsters to destroy any 1 card, Spell, Trap, Monster in whatever postion, and then draw 1 card. This means you will use 1 card to cost your opponent 1 card and draw 1 card while doing so (card draw being a very rare and precious commodity especially in the Yu-Gi-Oh! context). That simply spells card advantage. And what makes this card even more awesome is the fact that it is a Trap which you can activate any time. So at best you’d activate it in response to one of your fish being destroyed anyways. That way you technically don’t lose a Monster to Fish Depth Charge’s effect. In order to make use of the great effect of the latter one, Fish and Kicks, you have to have at least 3 of your Fish, Aqua or Sea Serpent Monsters banished. If you meet that requirement you get to banish ANY 1 card on the field, which is obviously very useful and versatile as you cannot only banish a Monster, regardless of position mind you, but also a pesky Spell or Trap card! In this deck, that steep requirement can be reached pretty easily (in theory) as the deck has 18 Monsters of the specified types (all Monsters except Banisher of the Light, which I included for good reasons, are either Aqua or Fish types) and features multiple ways how to get your Fish and Aquas banished.

The deck has “tripple banishing insurance” so to say, as I included a Monster, a Spell and a Trap (in mutliples of course) which has all Monsters or even all cards banished when they would normally just go to the Graveyard. These are 3 copies of Banisher of the Light (the only non-Fish or Aqua type Monster in the deck), 3 copies of the Spell Dimensional Fissure (which has only Monsters banished) and 2 copies of the Trap Macrocosmos (banishing all cards that would otherwise go to the graveyard) as additional backup. That makes 8 cards to have your Fish Monsters banished out of a total of 40 cards, which should provide ample ways to accomplish the goal of meeting Fish and Kicks’ requirement. And the best side effect of this: Your opponent’s cards will get banished too which works out greatly on so many levels: Firstly it is a great “hoser” for any nasty graveyard tricks, such as reanimating Monsters for instance, your opponent might have planned for. Secondly, many card effects only work when the card is sent to the graveyard, not when it is banished, thus interfering with your opponents strategy as once again.

Lastly, and I had planned for it but it was during my first games with the deck that I saw how well it worked, the deck has a lot of Synchro- and even more so XYZ-Summoning potential going on. Royal Swamp Eel makes for good Level 8 Synchro-Summons if you manage to have it surive till you can drop a second Level 4 Fish Monster such as Golden Flying Fish or Abyssal Kingshark. Shark Stickers was obviously made for quickly XYZ-Summoning any Rank 3 XYZ-Monster (I like Number 17: Leviathan Dragon or Grenosaurus for instance) on the other hand and if you don’t feel like Synchro-Summoning with Eel, you can overlay him with any other of your Level 4 Monsters to XYZ-Summon into a Rank 4 XYZ-Monster of your choice such as Gem-Knight Pearl for major beats or Number 39: Utopia for beats and utility. I have to admit that my knowledge of the bulk of existing Synchro- and XYZ-Monsters is still terribly limited so if you happen to know of any that would fit in particularly well with this deck, please bring them to my attention in a comment!

Now let me give you some thoughts on the individual card choices in this deck:

Oyster-Meister:

As all the Monsters in this deck, this guys strenght is not his ATK-value (in fact none of the Monsters in this deck have more than 1700 ATK, but that’s what the extra deck is for!) but his effect. When he is destroyed, except by battle, you can put a 0 ATK and 0 DEF Token of the Fish type into play. The most basic use of Meister is a defensive one. You can set him and when he gets destroyed by an effect you can put the Token into play in defense position as well to fend of one more attack. However what I like most to do is to sacrifice him for activating Fish Depth Charge or even for the effect of Golden Flying Fish to get the Token, which can be used as additional tribute fodder for another Fish Depth Charge or to destroy another card with the Flying Fish! Of course, being a Fish-Type, Oyster Meister can be combined with Shark Stickers to XYZ-Summon.

Shark Sticker:

As mentioned before, this was simply made for enabling easy Rank 3 XYZ-Summons in a deck featuring a considerable number of Fish and Aqua type Monsters as you can Special Summon the Stickers from your hand when you summon a Fish, Sea Serpent or Aqua Monster. You can see where this is going. The problem is you cannot use this as  a Synchro Material so no use in combining this with Royal Swamp Eel for a Level 7 Synchro-Summon. An alternative use for Shark Stickers in this deck would be to Special Summon it to have one additional Fish  to tribute for activating Fish Depth Charge or the effect of Golden Flying Fish.

Snowman-Eater:

This one is not a Fish type Monster and I must say that is the Monster in the deck which I’d most likely swap for another, preferably Fish type Monster as soon as I find a good alternative for it. However Snowman-Eater can be very useful as it is yet another of the many ways to destroy Monsters this deck features. The only downside is that the Monster you want to destroy when Snowman is flipped must be face-up. That can be quite limiting. You can alternatively use Snowman-Eater in conjunction with Shark Stickers, as the former is both an Aqua-Type and has a Level of 3.

Banisher of the Light:

The oddball Monster in this deck, being neither of the Water Attribute nor an Aqua or Fish type, which I am simply running for its effect: As long as Banisher of the Light remains face-up on the field, all cards that would go to the graveyard are banished instead. So Banisher is one of the numerous ways to get your Fish and Aquas banished to hit that threshold of 3 Fish, Aqua or Sea Serpent Monsters being banished in order to activate Fish and Kicks and at the same time messes up with your opponent big time if they are trying to do anything graveyard-related. Also with 2000 DEF it is a good blocker that may remain on the field for a bit and fend off some of your opponent’s weaker Monsters attacks.

Golden Flying Fish:

While oddly being of  the Light Attribute, I consider this one your ace-Monster in this particular deck as its effect just kicks major buttocks with so many Fish around to activate it. You can, as often as you want, tribute another Fish Monster to destroy ANY card on the field. This is yet another great and pretty easy way to get rid of just any troublesome card on the field, be it Spell, Trap or Monster, set or face-up, regardless of postion. As mentioned above Golden Flying Fish has great synergies with the easy-to-special-summon Shark Stickers and Oyster Meister. Particularly the latter is awesome with the Flying Fish as you can tribute Meister to destroy one card and then tribute the Oyster Token it spawned to target and destroy another card. Talk about card advantage!

Abyssal Kingshark:

Yet again this Fish’s stats are lackluster as he has an ATK of just 1700. However, once more its effect redeems it: When it would be destroyed by an effect that does not target it for the first time on one turn, it is not destroyed. This combos greatly with your Dark Hole and Torrential Tribute and can be useful to avoid “global” destruction effects of your opponent, giving you a headstart over your opponent after you, or he/she cleared the field. Use with Royal Swamp Eel to Synchro Summon at your convenience.

Royal Swamp Eel:

Well not much to say about this one honestly. With 1700 ATK Eel does not really qualify as a good beater but what matters is that he is a Fish and a Level 4 Tuner, thus he is your main, and in fact your only way to facilitate Synchro-Summons.

Fish and Kicks:

As discussed above this card can be really powerful – if its requirements are met. As a reminder: When 3 or more of your Fish, Sea Serpent or Aqua Monsters are banished you can activate it to banish ANY 1 card on the field. No further explanation needed. Once you set up the requirements you have one hell of a versatile and powerful card!

Dimensional Fissure:

The second way you can meet the “Fish and Kicks threshold”. As long as this Spell is face-up on the field, all Monster cards that would go to the graveyard are banished instead.

Mystical Space Typhoon:

Well this one might be quite redundant. While being an incredibly useful Spell in and off itself, you probably got enough other ways to get rid of a Spell or Trap. Might take that one out in favor of something more useful eventually.

Dark Hole:

Needless to say that this is an awesome field sweeper killing all Monsters on the field. While this is quite useful in general, there is that minor combo with Abyssal Kingshark who survives the Dark Hole to give you a headstart and some advantage over your opponent.

Fish Depth Charge:

A real power-card in a Deck with 15 Fish Type Monsters. As discussed above you can activate this Trap to tribute one Fish you control and then destroy ANY 1 card on the field AND draw 1 card. This card singlehandedly made me want to build a dedicated Fish Deck to make a proper home for it. Again, the best way to use it would be to activate it in response to one of your fish being destroyed so you don’t have to waste a Monster for activating Fish Depth Charge. A note on the side: With tripple Golden Flying Fish and tripple Fish and Kicks, the three copies of Fish Depth Charge make the deck contain a total of 9 (!) more or less easy to use universal pinpoint card removal cards. So almost a fourth of the deck consits of potent, cheap removal effects in the form of Monsters, Spells and Traps.

Underworld Egg Clutch:

This Trap works amazingly well when you have one of your banishing cards in play (and only then): Whenever one of your Fish, Auqa or Sea Serpent type Monsters is banished, you can effectively replace the lost Monster as Underworld Egg Clutch lets you add 1 Level 4 or lower Fish, Auqu or Sea Serpent Monster from your deck to your hand. So if you have all set up right, nearly everyone of your Monsters gets replaced by a Monster of your choice from your deck.

Fish Rain:

Again this card only works when you have a way to banish your Monsters. If you the means for doing so, Fish Rain will let you Special Summon a Level 3 or lower Fish, Aqua or Sea Serpent Monster from your hand whenever a Monster of these types gets banished from the field. In conjunction with Underworld Egg Clutch this makes for a great engine to first get some of your Fish into your hand and then Special Summon them from there.

Macrocosmos:

The third solution you have for getting those Fish banished (and annoy the hell out of your opponent) in the form of a Trap card. Banishes any card that would be sent to the Graveyard and has a secondary effect that is totally irrelevant in this deck.

Torrential Tribute:

Another great field sweeper and a staple in many decks – for good reasons! As Dark Hole, this has a great synergy with Abyssal Kingshark who will survive the activation of this card.

How to Improve the Deck:

Well as I mentioned initally the deck seen in the photo above and discussed in the article, the deck is still in a very raw state.

I will probably reduce the number Underworld Egg Clutches to 2 and the number of Fish Rains to 1 as well as cut the Mystical Space Typhoon in favor of something more useful. As mentioned above, the Snowman-Eaters will be swapped for an alternative Monster, preferably a Fish, as soon as I find something to fill in for that one.

There is one other Fish-support card I want to add to this deck as it would be a perfect fit for the same. Have a look for yourself:

This would add even more to the destructive capabilites of the deck and be a good (or bad depending on your perspective) surprise element in many situations. And yes, “F!sh!” is spellt with an exclamation mark in the card title…

One other card that comes to my mind that would be incredibly powerful and useful in a “Banish Fish” deck like this would be Return from the Different Dimension. You’d first have a ton of your Monsters banished, clear the way with Fish and Kicks and Fish Depth Charge, and then unleash your Return from the Different Dimension. By paying half of your life points you Special Summon as many of your banished Monsters. They are banished at end of turn. Now the killer part is you can use the Special Summoned Monsters as Material for XYZ-Monsters and Synchro-Monsters. Since only the Monsters that were summoned by Return from the Different Dimension would be destroyed at end of turn, not the ones that were XYZ- and Synchro-Summoned using them as material, this will allow you to bring out a ton of XYZs and Synchros and swing in for the win!

 

Obscure Pokemon Hacks ON REAL GBA CARTRIDGES!

Hi everyone!

Since the tagline of this here blog states that it is supposed about video games as well, not only about tabletop/card game related nerddom, I wanted to show you something of the former category, which is kinda funny:

Look what I discovered on ebay:

Pokemon Hacks numbered

I knew there existed numerous Pokemon Rom Hacks which you could download and play on your computer or any other mobile device with a GBA Emulator but I was really astonished when I discovered those on ebay! I can still hardly believe it that such a thing even exists! Pokemon Rom Hacks on physical, officially looking Gameboy Advance cartridges, which work perfectly on the original console (which is my prefered way of playing old games)!! Despite the fact that I could just play all the Hacks, including the not-suited-for-kids due to foul language Pokemon spoof “Pokemon My Ass”, in which you are beating up people, solicite drugs and Brock looks like some gay guy in a latex suit, similar to Mr Slave in South Park, on my GBA flash cartridge, I was so exicted about these curious finds on ebay that I had to get them, as a curious addition to my retro-gaming collection. I just love odd, obscure stuff like that.

Let me tell you a bit more about each of these pokemon hacks I have on the “official” cartridges (I numbered them as you can see above. In general I have to say that the hacks I have played so far, and there exist quite a few, all include MAJOR changes such as different storylines, totally new maps and even new Pokemon especially made for the respective hack. So it is not just that they added some swear words like “shit” and “fuck” to the dialogues, as they have done, and as you won’t find in any official Pokemon games, which is a shame… Also please note that I have obviously not had the time to play through all of the above, and will most likely never do so as I got to waste my time with more important stuff these days. Still I have tried each long enough to give you an overview of what is new and characteristic to them. And a last disclaimer: Please know that the actual hackers who made the pokemon hacks are not in any way related to the people in China who put them on actual GBA cartridges. The latter are just pirates who grabbed the rom hacks from the internet and made them into cartridges, illegally selling them on the web or obscure markets. I even got ripped off on one of the games, Chaos Black, where they put an Alpha (unfinished) version on the cartridge and the game ends pretty early on when you are inside of Mount Moon, which is a shame as the Chaos Black hack is finished now and has a lot going on for it…

So here some infos on the individual hack on the cartridges seen in the photo above:

1: Pokemon Dark Cry:

The last of the 5 Pokemon Hacks I got in the mail  just yesterday. I got this one from China and it came shrinkwrapped and brandnew in a pretty good looking GBA game box as you can see in the photo. I guess this is where these obscure original cartridge Pokemon rom hacks originate from, as China is probably the main source of pirated and plagiarized stuff. In the cardboard box was of course the official looking Pokemon Dark Cry cartrigde as well as a tiny booklet in which, hilariously, some of the many typos contained in the game were rectified! In the game itself, Mew must be playing a central roll as it is both on box and booklet and on the startup screen when you start playing the actual game. Now the biggest, most obvious changes they have made in Dark Cry, which seems to be a hack of Pokemon Fire Red or Leaf Green as the base rom, is that there is a brandnew, pretty good looking in-game map, meaning they changed the layout of the world completely. Secondly, they have somehow managed to get the generation 4 Pokemon into this GBA game and you can choose between the generation 4 starter pokemon which made their first appearance in Pokemon Diamond & Pearl on the Nintendo DS. I don’t know how they got the sprites implemented in this GBA hack but all looks pretty good. Funny side note: I have mentioned it before, but this is one of the hacks with the foul language. You won’t see a trainer saying “fucking Pokemon” in an original Nintendo game!

2: Pokemon Quartz:

This is probably the most original of all the Pokemon hacks I have seen so far, as they went through the trouble of creating, as far as I know, over 300 all new Pokemon with everything like proper new sprites for battles and in the menu. While there are some funny ones among them, like Plug-Oink, the Electro-Pig-Pokemon which can form chains with others of its kind by plugging the plug in which its tail ends into the snout of another Plug-Oink which looks like a socket for that plug, I must say that the Pokemon sprites look quite awkward and not too well executed for my taste. Well I will give them credit however for creating a truckload of all new Pokemon especially for the hack. I think I would have done a better job on the Pokemon but still, they have my respect for making such an unique and original hack. With the 300 new Pokemon being the most obvious novelty in Pokemon Quartz, they have changed the story to something totally new as well and all the world map is new and different from the official games as well. I must say the fact that there are more than 300 new Pokemon to discover, catch and train motivates me somewhat to actually keep playing this one! All in all if you want to try a great Pokemon hack, I would recommend this one.

3: Pokemon Chaos Black:

This would be another great Pokemon hack to play. Only problem with the one I got myself on a cartridge: As mentioned before they just pirated an Alpha version of the hack so when you get to Mount Moon and get one of the fossils, you are stuck as rocks are blocking your way. On the web I read that this was an early version of the Chaos Black hack and they put that on the cartridge. I was a bit pissed as I had enjoyed this one until the game ended so early on. There are some all new Pokemon, with much better sprites than the Quartz ones and a new story and world map as well. However there is hope, not that I am desperate about it, as the creator of Pokemon Chaos Black has released a finished version of the hack which can be downloaded and played via emulator on the computer or any console that emulates GBA games. I have access to both a GPX WIZ which plays GBA nicely and to an original GBA with a flash cartride so I will be able to play the finished version of Chaos Black on the original console eventually. If I find the time to that is – I am surely curious about the new Pokemon as the ones I have seen so far are pretty cool. I suspect that “Mewthree” will make an appearance sometime in the game as it is on the cartrigde and can be seen on the startup screen as well.

4: Pokemon Naranja:

This is another excellent Pokemon hack which does not shine by introducing a bunch of new Pokemon, but by appealing new world graphics, and a totally new story which may be familiar to those who watched the (early) Pokemon animated series on TV back then. Pokemon Naranja (the hackers are Spanish and this just means “Orange”) retells the story of Ash’s and Misty’s adventures on the Orange Islands, as seen on TV, or you play through that story to be more accurate. The differences start right before the actual game begins, as you can choose either to play as Ash, with his trusty Pikachu, or Misty (I don’t know which one is her starter Pokemon). As I said the story is totally differnet from the original games and the map was totally changed to recreate the Orange Islands area. You arrive on the Orange Islands with a zeppelin and have to fight Tracy who gives you a Lapras if you defeat him which you have to train so it learns Surfer in order to proceed in the game and travel from island to island. While there are no new Pokemon, the wild Pokemon you find on the islands all have a different color than their normal counterparts. I think this is the most unique Pokemon hack I have when it comes to plot, story and world map. If you don’t mind some bits of Spanish the makers forgot to translate I can only recommend this one.

5: Pokemon Crystal Shards:

Well about this one I cannot say much. I have not tried this hack as it sounds like it was the least original and hence exciting of the five I have. It is just a “port” of the Gameboy Color Crystal Version for the Gameboy Advance. There are GBA versions of Gold and Silver known as “Shiny Gold” and “Shiny Silver”, which came even before the re-release of those on the Nintendo DS in the form of Heart Gold and Soul Silver. So I am guessing Crystal Shards will be something similar, just the Crystal Version “transferred/translated” to the GBA system.

OK that is all I can tell you about my curious, somewhat funny find from the murky depths of the world wide web. If you are curiosu about these and the other Pokemon rom hacks in existance, I recommed to google for them or, if you want to see what they look like, to look them up on youtube. There are plenty more Pokemon hacks and more are being made as we speak, some of which I have on my handheld consoles. If you are into Pokemon and Pokemon games in particular and have access to a device with a GBA emulator I can wholeheartedly recommend you try some of those, as, some more and some less, they provide a fresh, new Pokemon adventure and are good alternatives to the original games.

Well done, hackers!

Imperium Galacticum HEX – Announcing My 2014 Game Project!

In this article I would like to announce and introduce you to my latest and currently hottest game project

Imperium Galacticum HEX

IG Hex Banner

I will tell you a bit of how this new game came to be and why I think it is the most promising game design project I got in the workings right now, which may warrant a 2014 Kickstarter if it continues to shine during initial playtests as much as it has so far.

Going Board

Some have noticed that most of my games are card games, examples would be of course Elemental Clash, as well as the spin-offs Panzer Clash and Space Clash and the lesser known Crystal Clash, which is totally unrelated to the other “Clash-Games” mechanics-wise. Some of the some have even gone so far as to  suspect that all I can do is card games and were wondering why I wouldn’t do any board games for a change. Let me make something perfectly clear: I do prefer card games over board games as I like a compact format and the portability of cards-only games. So yes I have to admit to my fondness of card games. Many of you will not realize but I have done some board games before, at least games that use a modular board, which I yet again prefer over games requiring a real board made of one sturdy piece of cardboard. An example would be Push&Move for instance (which has an Android / iOS App upcoming!!). So to prove all the people wrong who think I am only able to design card games, I thought it would be nice to make a board game my next main games project – Imperium Galacticum HEX! Well technically IG HEX is yet again no real board game, as it utilizes hex tiles (hence the name!) forming a modular board. Close enough to a “real” board game for me!

Ad Astra! A Little Bit of History

Many things lead me to designing a game like IG HEX. Let me start in my childhood, from which I still have fond memories of some classic turn-based “space civilization” computer games such as Ascendency first and foremost or Master of Orion etc. I loved those types of games which are among my first and also dearest video game memories and ever since I started to dabble in tabletop game design, I wanted to recreate this particular experience and feel in a card or board game. Also, since my early childhood days, the sci-fi genre had a special place in my heart and I always looked up to the stars, marvelling if someone up there was looking back, quite literally acutally as I had my own telescope and was a real “stargazer”. Furthermore sci-fi always was and still is my favorite genre both in movies and literature, which I even prefer over fantasy.

So when I focussed more and more on my game design hobby, in the wake of my severe tropical illness back in 2008, which had rendered me unable to pursue my social work studies furhter, and when a passion became a profession, more or less, I was constantly shuffling ideas in my mind how to recreate the feel and emulate the gameplay of such a turn-based space civ / strategy game as Ascendency for example. The result of this process was Imperium Galacticum (without the “HEX”), which was a turn-based game about spacefaring civilizations colonizing and conquering planets, space warfare, reasearching advanced technologies and all else you’d be seeing in one of those video/computer games that served as my initial inspiration. The problem with the game however was, and that is quite ironic, that the fact that it was a cards-only game in which you built the playing field from rectangular, standard poker-size cards and the particular layout that was forced onto me by this, limited the game to 2 players only and you were not really able to expand to all sides etc. I was always looking for an alternative format and layout for the game or some similar game which emulated that certain feel and gameplay from those classic computer games I mentioned above. The solution was kindly and indeed quite recently provided by my manufacturer of choice and trust, The Game Crafter.

Hexing Things Up

I have been a loyal customer at The Game Crafter, your one-stop, all-in-one solution for printing hightest quality prototypes and finished games of all kinds, and must say I am very satisfied with them. One thing I really like about them is that they are evolving constantly, ever keen on expanding their already pretty comprehensive product range. Also they seem to really listen and if enough people request a certain addition to their services and products, one feels they are actually trying to get that on the way. So the “breakthrough” on my quest for making a decent galactic civilizations tabletop game was made possibly by The Game Crafter starting to offer high-quality, sturdy and custom printed cardboard hexagons or hex tiles. This new product inspired me to revisit the “classic”, card-based Imperium Galacticum and enabled me to come up with a version that uses hex tiles to build the playing field instead of cards: Thus, IG HEX was born.

A Game Designer’s Intuition

So, inspired by the new product on The Game Crafter, the hex tiles, I was full of ideas and did my “magic”. Sometimes I adopt an approach in designing games which I call “speed design”. It sounds terribly unprofessional and amateurish, but sometimes I have these “epiphanies” if I may call it that, meaning the ideas and concepts are just bubbling up from the murky depths of my brain enabling me to come up with the rules and mechanics as well as the cards, if there are any, and even stats for certain things in a new game in a matter of hours. You may think this would not work out in my favor, hastily coming up with a game system and all that goes along with that in such a short time while others, and if you are a game designer yourself you will know that, spend months or years pondering about rules, concepts, mechanics etc. of a game until they feel they are good enough to even type up comprehensive rules. Well all I can say is that this “speed design” approach has worked amazingly well for me in the past. For instance I have come up with the rules, mechanics and the cards for the first set of Elemental Clash over the course of one long night. The rules are still 99% the same in the current, final incarantion of the game and the cards remain mostly unchanged as well. So what I did next was a bit risky indeed: I put consierable time into making a fancy, even finished looking prototype for IG HEX in photoshop based on my very first rules draft and with stats and values all determined through my “game designer’s intuition” as I have done many times before, to my success. Then in a whim, I took yet another risk by investing in having a high-quality version of the very first prototpye of IG HEX from The Game Crafter (partly becaue I would have been to lazy to make all the hexes myself). There was one little or even major problem with that though. Before I tell you what that was and how it is going to solve itself soon, I can only say, without wanting to praise myself too much, that my initial playtests showed, to my great delight, that the very first rules draft and the first proto based on that worked out amazingly. This once more convinced me that this “speed design” approach does work well – at least for me personally. I played with a couple of different people and they loved the game. This is very rewarding for me as a game designer of course. But let me tell you about the only major stumbling stone for the further development and future of IG HEX.

A Stumbling Stone with an Imminent Solution

So hex tiles are awesome and allow for a playing field layout that makes 3 and 4 player games possible and indeed fun and entertaining. The downside is the cost for these tiles. I have no problem with telling you that I paid over 100 USD for the game with all the components (which include the hexes themselves, chips, dice and tokens etc.), which is the most I have paid for any prototpye I have ordered on The Game Crafter so far. Now you will say “you’ll have to reduce the number of components. Nobody will pay that much money for a game!” and you are right. However there is already a solution to this dilemma, which prevents me from sending protos to friends overseas to have the game tested independently on the one hand and would make the game unsellable on the other hand. As I said The Game Crafter is constantly improving and they actually listen to requests. So I kindly inquired about the possibility of offering hex tiles with custom print on both sides. Currently they only offer hexes with custom print on one side, which doubles the number of tiles I need for the game. However the good news is that they replied to my inquiry saying the double sided hex tiles were in the workings and will be an available 1st Quarter of 2014. Thank you The Game Crafter! The thing is this in case you were wondering: At present I have one bag with “Question Mark Tiles” which make up most of the playing field at the start of the game. As space is explored, these tiles are replaced with hexes depicting planets, wormholes, deep space etc. which are drawn at random from another bag. So if you get the picture, I could just have the question marks printed on one side of a the hexes and the planet or deep space or whatever on the other side if they would make double sided tiles to conveniently flip the Question Mark Tiles, reducing the overall cost of the game almost by half as I would need only half the number of hexes then. So yeah, I am looking forward to 1st Quarter of 2014 when I can have some considerably cheaper copies of the game with double sided hexes printed and shipped to my playtesters worldwide!

About the Game Itself:

Now after my lengthy elaborations on the origins and production obstacles you will be wondering what IG HEX is all about and are maybe curious to read how it works. I will not share the full game rules just now but I am going to try to give you an idea of how the game itself works:

First of all let me make one thing clear: I don’t have any illusions about breaking new ground with IG HEX. There are probably a ton of other turn-based space civilization tabletop games out there so the basic idea is far from original. However I have designed the game without any influence from similar, existing games of this theme and genre and what it was and is all about for me is to realize my take on emulating the feel and gameplay of a space civilization computer game in a board game.

In IG HEX each player assumes the role of an advanced, spacefaring civilization exploring space, claiming territory, colonizing pristine planets or invading and conquering enemy planets, researching advanced technology, harvesting Excelsium, the universal resource / currency as well as waging war against each other, thus building their galactic empire. The goal of the game is to collect a number of Victory Points (12 – 2o depending on how long/epic you want the game to be), which you get for owning planets, from certain technologies or from besting your opponents in certain aspects such as Research, Military, Fleet Strength and Population etc.

Fun fact: I borrowed the four races that are currently in the game from Space Clash: So if you are a bit familiar with that game, which is still in game limbo at present while I am growing more and more fond of IG HEX, you will recognize the Terrans, Attrayids, Skaargans and Intrazi.

Print

The playing field in IG HEX is made out of hex tiles as elaborated on before and can support up to 4 players (I could imagine even more but that would make the number of hexes needed skyrocket). At the outset of the game, most of the field is made out of hexes bearing a question mark. This is unexplored space which can be explored over the course of the game, replacing the question mark tiles with randomly determined (now drawn from a bag) hexes with empty/deep space, wormholes and most important of all, planets. Each planet hex has a planet card (standard poker size) corresponding to it. When you discover a planet, you can colonize it and take the planet card to place it near to you. On the planet cards there are 4 different fields with values where dice are placed to denote what sort of facilities are built on that planet and how many of each. Here’s a sample of a Planet Card:

Print

There are 4 different types of “Buildings” on each planet card: From left to right there are Agro-Districts (sustaining the population needed to run the other facilities, except Mines which can operate without population), Military-Districts (needed to build spaceship fleets and to defend a planet against enemy invasions), Research Districts (which increase your research rate, speeding up the process of researching new technologies) and Mines (producing the universal resource Excelsium needed to build facilities and ships). Dice (regular D6s) in differnet colors are conveniently used to keep track of how many of each facility you have on a specific planet. Dice are also used as spaceships or fleets. I tried to make the game pretty basic and somewhat abstract, in fact I wanted a wholesome mix of abstract and thematic aspects, so there is only one type of resource (Excelsium) and spacefleets are just dice of your color (each player has a different color depending on which race they chose) with the value on top denoting the strength of the fleet. So what you can do for example if you have let’s say 2 Excelsium to spend is either build one strong fleet with the value 2 OR build two fleets with a value of 1 instead. The latter would mean you would place two dice with the one on top on the planet hex where you built the ships. Combat could not be simpler either, as you simply compare the total values of all your fleets engaged in a battle and the ones your opponent has and eliminate the weaker fleets, whereby the attacker must exceed the total value of the attacked player’s fleets. Invading opponent planets works similar, whit the only difference that the defending player can add the number of Military districts on the attacked planet to the total combined strength of their fleets stationed there. So you see there are a lot of pretty basic, simplified mechanics when it comes to resources, buildings and spaceships (both being just represented by regular D6s) and combat. I could imagine some people saying that all is a bit overly simplistic but all I can say from my first experiences with the game is that I have come up with a really pleasant and entertaining compromise between abstract and thematic aspects which makes for an excellent, strategic gameplay experience.

Besides exploring space, colonizing and invading planets, space warfare and upgrading of planets, reasearching new technologies is an integral part of the game. Your research rate is determined by the number of Research Districts you have on all your planets. Each player has a Research Deck containing the same cards (at present) which represent a “research tree” of various research categories which come in 3 levels each. Each level requires you to spend your virtual “research points” which is your current research rate. What you’ll be doing is picking a research project from your deck and putting it face down next to you. Then you take a dice (yet another use for dice in the game!) and advance it by spending research points. Once the value of the dice matches the research value on your current project, turn the card face up, it counts as finished and you get all the benefits from it as detailed on the card. The subsequent project in the same “branch” will cost twice as much research points as the previous so you’d better build some Research-Districts to increase your research rate! Here a sample technology branch: Propulsion Technology (Sorry I made this proto in German this time around!). Note that completing the final stage of one branch rewards you with an extra Victory Point.

Print

Some Visual Impressions:

Here’s some photos from our first test runs to give you an idea what the game looks like “in action”. And yes, this is the very first prototype. It does look fancy!

What Comes Next – Adding Theme and Flavor:

This very first version which I am just starting to get tested extensively with my gamer friends / playtesters and of which I am increasingly fond of is kind of a “vanilla version” a rather generic version of what I envision the finished game to look like. While the basic mechanics and rules won’t change dramatically as all the people I tested the game with (at this point I would like to thank Robin, Thomas, Rosi and Hans!) agreed it worked out and played greatly and to me as well all seems to work out and come together neatly so far. However some things I still want to add. First and foremost I want to make each race more unique and give each a distinct feel and playing style, so players can to some degree choose the right race to suit their favorite playing style while still allowing enough freedom so that not everything becomes predetermined by the choice of the race at the outset of the game. At the moment, the races are more or less symmetric and uniform as the only thing that set them apart from each other is a tiny special ability which will hardly ever really matter (although in one of my games so far it did matter and decide the game in my favor…). I am going to address the issue, in an effort to achieve assymetric, distinct and recognizable races which are still well-balanced, in different ways. For now it is best to do some initial testing with uniform races and even in the finished games, players will be able to decide to play the game without “race differences” as a variant, but ultimately I will try to do the following: Firstly, I will maybe give each race not only a “static ability” which right now is a small, race specific bonus that lasts throughout the whole game, but also a so called “flip ability” which is going to be a race specific, rather powerful one-time effect which can be activated once at any point of the game by flipping the face-up race card face down. When the card is flipped to activate the flip ability, the static ability is shut down for the rest of the game. This way, you have to carefully consider if and when you will make use of your one-shot flip effect, sacrificing your static ability for the rest of the game. This concept will surely add additional flavor and theme to each race and provides another tough gameplay choice. Friends of Elemental Clash will recognize the mechanic from the popular Spellcasters variant of play. A second measure which I would like to resort to would be adding race specific research project or whole race specific branches of the “reasearch tree”. This should considerably differentiate the races from each other, while most of the research deck will still be identical and all races having access to the main/standard research projects. Maybe I will think of some more ways to set the races apart from each other. One thing is clear to me though: It will not be the easiest bit of developing the game as assymetric bonuses and effects need to be balanced against each other well, which will require clever consideration and thorough playtesting.

IG HEX as my main game project in 2014 – a Candidate for Kickstarter?

Well what will the future hold in store for this game which, and I am repeating myself, I have come to like quite a bit over the course of my first test runs? I have reached a point where I decided for myself to dedicate my time, thought, effort and last but not least financial resources to just one game design project per year. That is besides the Elemental Clash project, which will always have a special place in my heart and which I will not give up on and forsake even in the face of multiple failed Kickstarter campaigns and only relatively few fans and supporters (who are all the more dedicated and passionate about the game as I have to remark). At first I thought I would chose the sci-fi themed Elemental Clash spin-off “Space Clash” my main project for the coming year 2014, but after just a few quick plays of IG Hex, I decided to skip yet another “Clash Game” for the time being, and do something totally different for a change: IG Hex would be a perfect fit here in my humble opinion. So will we see this game on Kickstarter some time in the not too distant future? Well personally I cannot give a definite yes to that question as still more testing is needed to determine whether or not this game warrants a Kickstarter campaign, but the signs seem positive for IG Hex. With The Game Crafter starting to offer doubled sided hex-tiles the production cost would reach an affordable or even attractive level, bulk ordering would lower the price even futher and the new Bulk Order Fulfillment service The Game Crafter is offering would be very convenient as they would do the hard work of sending out maybe a few hundred copies to backers all around the world from my very own basement. What I definitely will do is get some independent testing and opinions on the game in. Once again this will become affordable for me once the introduction of the double sided hexes lowers the price of the game. What also speaks for IG Hex is the relatively low expected cost for art and graphics. Compared to a game like Elemental Clash: The Master Set that requires around a hundred individual, highly complex and thus expensive card illustrations, IG Hex does not need a lot of artwork to work and still look very pretty, as you can see for yourself in the above photos of the more than appropriate, quite fancy first prototype. Basically all I would need would be a bunch of planet artworks which are normally cheap and easy to create and pay for (I know for myself since I taught myself how to do “space art” like that and if I can do it with my limited photoshop skills a pro would be able to come up with some kickass planet art without any troubles). For the rest of the game graphics and layout, my own humble artistic abilities will no doubt suffice. So bottom line, the production cost will be trimmed down considerably and the assets (i.e. the art and graphics) will be inexpensive. What is more, the planet graphics I am currently using were mostly made by an internet acquaintance of mine, who said to me previously I could use them free of charge even for commercial purposes. I should contact him some time to acertain if the offer still stands…

All in all I am pretty positive that IG Hex will have a bright future, unless the people (all experienced gamers) whom i tried it with so far including myself would have a horribly bad taste for games, and will hopefully be appealing to many. At least I won’t hear any baseless prejudice to the extent that the game would be a Magic Clone as was the case with Elemental Clash. Well maybe or quite likely even the whole concept is not new either, but be my guest and try to come up with something completely original nowadays. Good luck with that. I for one find a delightful mix of abstract and thematic elements in the game even as it stands now and I achieved what I had intended to do in the first place. Re-creating and emulating the feel and gameplay of one of those classic space civ games which I have loved so well back in my childhood.

Well if you have come this far with reading this article about my main games project 2014 I would like to thank you very much for your time and interest. I will be posting news and updates on future developments of Imperium Galacticum Hex on this blog so please stay tuned for more. For instance I am planning to share the full game rules (version 1.0) with you on here soon!

I will close this article which turned out longer than intended with some visual impressions from the universe of IG HEX!

Sincerely yours,

Andi

Attrayid Banner 2 Intrazi Banner Skaargan Banner Terran Banner