Dear readers and friends of “Dominion-Style” Deckbuilding Games!
We at AP Games (that is actually just my humble self) are both proud and excited to announce our upcoming game
“Dreams of Dystopia”
which will be a postapocalyptic and dystopic
“Deckbuilding Game with a TWIST!”
Before I will plunge into explaining you how the game works and what will make it special and unique (VERY unique indeed) compared to others of its ilk (and there are plenty of similar Deckbuilders that followed in the footsteps of the revolutionary Dominion), let me share with you the story how this game was conceived real briefly:
Some time, not too long ago, a highly talented artist going by the name of Robert “Misfit” Modelski and hailing from the United States, who had done a few great illustrations for one of my other game projects, approached me with a question which was to turn into a bold proposal and indeed an unique and exciting opportunity for me: Rob asked me for advice basically saying “I have these 30+ artworks all finished and all with consitant style and theme.” and asking me if game designers like myself would be willing to buy this package of high class artworks. After some discussion, Rob and I agreed to do something completely different in the end: As I like me a good challenge, I proposed that I could design a kickass game around these about 30 pre-existing artworks and so Rob and I became partners and that was how and when Dreams of Dystopia was born!
Rob provided the awesome artwork and I came up with a (hopefully) equally awesome game concept and we are bound to get this funded together eventually – after the game has been tweaked, tried and tested to the max for quite a while obviously.
So the challenge I faced was to make a game with about 30 – 40 pre-existing artworks. However brilliant the artworks may be, and they surely can be called that, with so few pieces of art only one type of card game came to my mind that would be feasible with around 30 artworks:
A Dominion-Style Deckbuilding Game.
These require comparatively few artworks whilst providing tons of choices and different strategies and a lot of variety in gameplay anyways, so I was determined to do the best Deckbuilding Game I could come up with built around and based on the artworks Rob kindly provided. So far I have designed only one Deckbuilder, together with my co-designer Nate More (that would be Biomechanical Dino Battles), so this was and is a first for me – designing a Deckbuilding Game all on my own. The experience from BDB surely was a great benefit in my design process so far.
I shall now get to how the actual game works and to showing you some eye-candy in the form of some awesomley illustrated (thanks to Rob!) card previews. But first of all, let me tell you about the “TWIST” in this particular Deckbuilding Game, which I deem to be a most unique feature not seen in any other Deckbuilder or in fact in any card game in general so far:
In Dreams of Dystopia, each card has two sides: The “Divine” version of the particular card will be printed on one side and the “Demonic” version will be printed on the other.
Right at the beginning of the game, you will be forced to choose to play your Character card, your Master, either in their Divine or their Demonic “incarnation”. This will have quite some bearing on your deckbuilding and gameplay options throughout the game. But even though you have to choose your side right from the start of the game, there are plenty of ways to reverse your cards mid-game actually so you will be able to “transform” your deck and thus your strategy from Divine to Demonic and vice versa during the ongoing game. So reversing your deck’s cards or even your Master themselves during a game of Dreams of Dystopia will be possible and play a major role in strategic gameplay. Futhermore, I intend to make it possible and even a viable strategy to choose the “path of twilight”, using both Divine and Demonic cards side by side that is.
That all being said, please note that the game has to be played with opaque card sleeves in which you’d insert you the cards you add to your deck during the game, with the side of your choice visible and the back being concealed by the sleeve so your opponent’s will not know which cards you have in hand. Rob and I will try to raise funds for having proper, custom design Dreams of Dystopia card sleeves manufactured!
OK so on to how the game is actually played:
In DoD (short for Dreams of Dytopia), which is intended for 2 – 4 players, the first thing you do is you choose a Master to be your Avatar in the game. You have to choose whether you want to use the Master’s Divine side or their Divine side. Each Master has a number of LP (Life Points) and the goal of the game is to reduce these Life Points (maximum LP is 20) to zero by means of attacking the opponent Master(s) with your Minions or, to a lesser extent, through certain abilities that cause a Master to lose LP. Here are 3 different Masters out of the 6 coming in the base game – with their Divine side on the left and their Demonic side on the right:
As in every Deckbuilding Game, each player will start out with a standard starting deck consisting of the exact same cards, with the only differnce being that if you chose a Divine Master you will get the Divine Starting Minions and if you chose Demonic you’ll get their Demonic alter-egos. Here is what a Divine starting deck will look like:
As you can see, the starting deck consists of 10 cards total, of which 4 are Starting Minions, 4 are so called “Curse Cards” and 2 are “Heroic Deeds”. Over the course of the game, as per normal in a Dominion-Style Deckbuilder, you will be acquiring (buying) new cards from a central Supply. In the card Supply are there are no less than 16 different Minions of various power and cost levels with all kinds of abilities, 8 different Weapons that will support your Minions in battle as well as 20 Curse Cards and 20 Heroic Deeds. By acquiring new cards you will be expanding and enhancing your deck over the course of the game itself, which is the very essence of any Deckbuilding Game since Dominion.
The Minions in your starting Deck will be used to attack your opponent’s Master and to block, to defend against that is, opponent attacks.
The Curses are just dead cards in your hand – actually you are “Cursed from the very beginning” with 4 Curses in your starting deck, which I think is very thematic and flavorful in the dystopian, postapocalyptic world of DoD – and you should get rid of them as soon as you can. There are plenty of ways to do so, but beware, cause there are also ways to inflict additional Curses, cards, that is, that add Curses to a player’s deck.
The Heroic Deed cards can be used to increase your Master’s FAME. LP are kept track of by means of a red D20 (20-sided dice) and the FAME, which will be increasing over the course of the game will be kept track of a blue D20. So the maximum LP and FAME you can have will be 20 for each. You are allowed to perform 1 Heroic Deed per turn. You do so by discarding a Heroic Deed card from your hand, which will increase your FAME by 1. There will be ways to add more Heroic Deed cards to your deck as well as cards that let you play additional Heroic Deeds in one turn, so your FAME will grow faster.
FAME is needed to recruit Minions. The more powerful overall a Minion card is the higher their LOYALTY. In order to “recruit” (buy) a Minion from the Supply, your FAME must be equal or higher than the LOYALTY of the Minion you intend to add to your deck. This FAME – LOYALTY concept is quite a neat way to circumvent the need of a resource system and thus the game has no resource cards at all, as opposed to Dominion and many other similar Deckbuilders, which I see as a quality in DoD. Let me show you a few Minion Card samples:
Besides the LOYALTY, displayed in the orb in the top left corner of the card (a white orb indicates a Divine and a black orb a Demonic character), each Minion has 3 stats to be seen in the orbs to the lower left hand side of the cards. From top to bottom they are Attack (ATK) in red, Defense (DEF) in green and laslty Skill (SKL) in yellow. ATK determines the power of the Minion when it is used as an attacker, DEF indicates how much damage the Minion can absorb when being used as a blocker to oppose an opponent attacker and SKL determines which Weapons the Minion can use. The higher the SKL, the more powerful Weapons the Minion will be able to use. Also, each Minion has 1 – 3 types of Effects (Look at the topmost one for instance, as that one has all three different card effects). You may use one out of the 1 – 3 effects during your turn. The three are:
- ABILITY: You can discard the Minion to activate his ABILITY, which will give you various benefits as I will explain more later on
- SUPPORT: When one of your Minion is attacking or blocking, this Minion can SUPPORT the other one by discarding them for some additional bonuses to be applied to your fighting Minion.
- COMBAT: These are additional bonuses you will get when this Minion attacks or blocks. Many times it will say “Upon Attack”, which means you get the abilities as specified upon declaring an Attack, or “Upon Hit” which indicates an ability you only get when you hit your opponent (caused him to lose LP as result of your attack), or “Upon Block” which in turn means an additional effect if the Minion is used as a blocker.
Weapons can be discarded during combat to strengthen your fighting Minion or give them certain additional abilities. They can be acquired from the Supply without having to meet any requirements. However just grabbing “the biggest gun” would not make much sense, since each Weapon has a SKL-Requirement. And a Minion can only use a certain Weapon in battle if their SKL-value (the yellow one) is at least equal or higher than the SKL-Requirment printed in the white (Divine) or black (Demonic) orb on the Weapon card. Here some visual samples:
As you can see, each Weapon has, besides the aforementioned SKL-Requirment in the top left corner orbs, a red orb and a green orb. The red orb corresponds with the Minion’s ATK value and modifies it as indicated on the Weapon card. Likewise, the green orb contains the Defense-Modifier if you use the Weapon on a defending Minion of yours. Furthermore, all Weapons have some special effects in text form as well.
About the Flow of the Game:
As in every Deckbuilding Game, in DoD, everyone starts with their 10 cards starting deck as described above. Furhtermore, the number of actions a player can take during each turn is limited, but all these limits can be broken by acquiring and using new cards you added to your ever-growing and constantly improving deck, as you will be pursuing one of countless different winning strategies (at least this is what the game SHOULD be like when it is done – please keep in mind all you see and read here is from and about the very first Prototype, despite the quite final looks of the game!).
At the beginning of the game, after all is set up (the Supply etc) each player will put their Master and 10 card starting deck into sleeves, according to their initial choice between Divine and Demonic, and then shuffle their deck and draw a starting hand of 5 cards from it. Then, starting with the youngest player and clockwise around the table, players take turns in which they can do any of the following things ONCE, in any order, save for Acquisition, which always concludes Main Phase and takes your right to End Phase:
- Combat: Attack with one of your Minions
- Ability: Discard one of your Minions for their Ability
- Heroic Deed: Discard a Heroic Deed from hand ot gain 1 Fame
After these things are done, you may Acquire 1 card from your supply. If it is a Minion you must have enough FAME. As for Weapons there are no requirements as discussed above.
As in any Deckbuidling Game, there will be plenty of card effects that grant you additional Actions such as +X Combat, +X Ability, +X Acquisition or +X Heroic Deed as well as other beneficial effects such as Gain X LP, Take X LP (which will allow you to decrease an opponent’s LP directly) or abilities that say “Draw X”, which will allow you to draw X cards from your deck immediately. Whenever your Deck runs out of cards, you just shuffle your Discard to form a new Deck to draw from. And this is how newly acquired cards, which all land in the Discard first, will be added to your Deck – whenever it is reshuffled and formed anew.
During End-Phase which follows your Main Phase, all you do is discard all leftover cards from your hand and draw 5 new from your deck!
What makes DoD really special though is the double-sided cards – a central game mechanic I try to “capitalize” on in a game design and gameplay sense a lot. As announced initially, choosing sides – Divine or Demonic – will be crucial and give you a borad choice of many different strategies depending on which path you took initially, whilst it is my goal that such “twilight decks” using both Demonic and Divine cards in a clever manner and combination will be viable as well. The reversing of cards mid-game, taking them out of the sleeve and putting them back in the other way around, changing a Minion or Weapon from Divine to Demonic and vice versa will also play a part and will be a choice that matters in the end – if I did my job well. Heck, there will be even at least one way to make your Master switch sides in the base game of DoD!
All in all and as it looks now at the very beginning of the project, Dreams of Dystopia deserves the title of “A Deckbuilding Game with a Twist” and I will do my very best to live up to that slogan! Expect more news on the game as we go along the path ultimately leading to getting the game funded – one way or another. Lastly, a HUGE thank you to Rob “Misfit” Modelski for entrusting me with his valuable vault of DoD artworks. Glad to have you as a partner Rob!
Alright that is Dreams of Dystopia for you, dear readers! I will keep you updated on the porgress of the game!!
P.S.: I am looking for crafty and, most important, reliable playtesters. IF you are interested, please mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org! THX!!
P.P.S.: Here are the full game rules for those who want MORE: Dreams of Dystopia Rules Manual V. 0.1 (Very first VERY rough draft mind you!)