Dreams of Dystopia: Very First Playtest Session – A Photostory

Dear readers!

Just the day before yesterday I received my admittedly-awesome looking (thanks to the stunning artwork of Robert “Misfit” Modelski) copy of my latest game prototype: Dreams of Dystopia (DoD for short), the “Deckbuilding Game with a TWIST”!

In this short photostory I will recount my or our experiences with the game – keep in mind this is the VERY FIRST prototype version 0.1 althought it might not look like such – over the course of our first test game, which lasted longer than expected but was exciting and tense all through never getting boring or into stalemate situations and such. I will not explain in depth how the game actually works. If you want to know about that I refer you to my introductory article here. You will also find the full rules at the end of the linked article! OK let’s get going!!

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I was mighty excited when I got this in them mail (and yes, a full four player action game fits neatly in the small and highly portable box as seen above) and was very eager to test it! All thanks to my good friend and loyal “boy companion” Robin, I didn’t have to wait long to do so and so we got this to the table the very next day after I received the game, so yesterday!

The rules were explained in a matter of minutes, which I regard as a great quality in any game – only setting up the playing field, the “Supply” mostly, which is the place from where you “buy” or “acquire” your new cards, took some time but wasn’t much of a hassle overall and is rather standard for most “Dominion Style” Deckbuilding Games. The only real downside of DoD here is that you need a rather large tabel to play, as you got 16 differnet Minions, 8 different Weapons all with their separate card stacks as well as a stack for Curse and Heroic Deed cards. So you can’t exactly play this on a small coffee table or whatever but this should be a minor issue and we resorted to our kitchen table. This is how the game looked like all set-up:

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To the left you can see the 16 different “Minion” cards you will be able to recruit throughout the game and to the right there are the 8 different Weapons that are “for sale”. Also to be seen in the top left and bottom right the two “Masters” of which each player chooses one and chooses whether to play them as “Divine” or “Demonic” (each card has a Divine and a semonic Side – hence the use of card sleeves – you can see them to the extreme left) is mandatory) , with a red D20 indicating their starting / current Life Points. In DoD, the aim of the game is to reduce the opponents’ Masters Life Points from X (X can never be more than 20) to zero, hence the game is VERY combat-centered and hence very interacive. My gaming buddy Robin chose the Demonic Razalgaar the Reckless, giving all his attacking Demonic Minions +1 ATK,  which turned out to be a major advantage (not as much of an advantage to be broken/unbalanced though) with starting LP of 16 whilst I chose to tread the Divine path with the “vanilla” Jilocasin the Saint, with starting LP of 20 but no special abilities.

The choice of a Divine or a Demonic Master matters mostly during the early game, due to the “FAME-System” I implemented in the stead of a standard resource system as seen in most Deckbuilders. If you have a Divine Master you can recruit Divine Minions at face value (your Fame will be increasing by playing “Heroid Deed” cards, which are limited to one per turn and 2 of these are contained in your 10 cards starting deck – there are however many ways to add more “HD” cards to your deck and to break the one HD per turn limit) whilst you have to have at least 2 extra Fame if you want to recruit an “off faction” Demonic Minion for instance. Later on in the game, and it did beautifully work out that we gradually increased our Fame hitting the max of 20 (Fame is indicated by a blue D20 placed on your Master accordingly) during late game. Still we did not always recruit just the highest “cost” Minions even if able through having 20 Fame, but always those we needed most at a certian time.

Here is a shot taken mid-game, in which you can see my playtester number one, Robin, thinking hard and making choices:

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Although we played for about 2 hours, the game felt and turned out quite fast-paced with very easy to learn but probably hard to master gameplay. Also, having to put each new card you add to your deck from the Supply into an opaque-back card sleeve wasn’t much of a hassle at all and my esitmate of 50 sleeves per player (you can see a pack of 100 standard size game sleeves in we used in the above picture) was more or less spot on.

Here you can see what you will be seeing a lot in DoD: Sleeving of cards you just “acquired”:

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When you acquire a card, you choose which faction it will be – Divine or Demonic – and put it in your sleeves accordingly. There will be, mind you, losts of ways to “reverse” cards, switch them from Divine to Demonic and vice versa mid game and I was exceedingly pleased to actually see that happen in our first test game and furhtermore to see how we started towards mid-game to recruit off-faction cards as well, so neither Robin’s nor my deck was purely Divine or Demonic at the end! Exactly what I had been aiming for when designing the game system and mechanics – a very rewarding feeling for me as a designer I cannot help but tell you!

And here an image of the mad designer himself – he is aiming for the kill as you can see in the stern look on his face!

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Although I was aiming for an hour when I designed the whole thing, the game took us about 2 hours not taking into account set-up and rules explanation and discussion, but the cool thing was that the game felt exciting and tense throughout, without any statlemate situations, “runaway-leader” issues or “turtling in” by either of the two of us. What made the overall gameplay experience so exciting and never ever boring was that there was more “back and forth” than I could have possibly wished for. For me, not seeing who will be the winner in the end until the end comes VERY near is a huge quality in any game and I think we turned the tables in favor of either of us, Robin or I, like 4 or 5 times during one game, meaning there were times when either of us was at almost zero Life Points but then managed to recover up to full health or beyond even whilst beating down the LP of the opponent to a very low level, only to be turned around soon after. That is probably one of the things that satisfy and please me most in any games, not only my own creations, this “back and forth” as I call it and I am  of course exceedingly pleased to see it happen in games of my own devising, even more so when it happens so abundanlty in a Proto version 0.1!

Here another shot of the playing field in the middle of our first game of DoD:

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I must note that both Robin and I chose very different strategies, Robin buying quite some Weapons to support his Minions while my approach used no Weapons at all and was a wee bit more defensive. Again, up to the very end, nobody could really tell who would emerge victorious and we both somehow intuitively built very much capable decks as it seemed, which again was a pleasant experience for me as a designer. Robin won in the end and I think it is a very good sign in favor of the game that it is easy enough to understand and play, yet being highly complex when it comes to the finer things in strategy, that two bloody beginners (well, I had the benefit that I had come up with the whole thing) could build competitive and relatively equal decks right from the first time they play the game. Again something I regard as a quality in DoD!

Here a close-up of a neat situation (in Robin’s favor) which my buddy insisted me to capture in a photo:

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You can barely see it but it is none less than Robin attacking with the (stats-wise) strongest Minion in the game, the Champion of the Moon/Sun, with an ATK of 12 being boosted by 3 Weapons at the same time – Blades of the Fallen Angel, Fiend’s Handguns and Nether Bone Clubs – thus totalling in at no less than 26 ATK – I think I ruined the whole thing by just blocking with one Minion with the awesomely useful “Defender” Ability. In DoD, excess damage, either way, bleeds through to the opponent’s Life Points so if I had blocked with a Minion with like 10 DEF, my Master would still have lost 16 Life Points. Not with a Defender. Even if the Defender has but 1 DEF, the Defender keyword just says he absorbs ALL excess damage which proved a good counter and life insurance in many a case, without leading to stalemate situations.

Anyways, even if I was able to stop the 26 damage rush seen above short, Robin won in the end and he earned it!! Just look at him:

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Overall I must say that I am VERY excited about the game after our first test-run and EXCEEDINGLY pleased how everything turned out and fell into place in the end. If you are not familiar with the way I design games, an approach I also applied in the case of DoD: Usually I come up with a full game, that includes basic and central as well as specific rules and mechanics as well as a list of prototype cards over the course of one or two afternoons (or nights…) and, as if I hadn’t praised myself enough already in the above, miraculously and unexplicably to me, my “Speed Design” approach, as I like to call it, never once failed me. I suck at maths and statistics as I have to note and I have nothing but my “game designers intuition based on half a dozen years of experience in intense and active game design. So the concept and cards I make up in one or two days at max are then converted into a first prototype (this is just assembling the cards and stuff in Photoshop), which usually takes a few days as the Photoshop “assembly” part can be quite a chore,  and then I usually upload to and order from http://www.thegamecrafter.com, without any furhter analysis or preliminary testing, hoping for the bet that what I had made up in my mind and converted into cards etc would work out as intended in the end. This seeminlgy utterly foolish appraoach of designing games in such a rush has, oddly, never once failed me, as many of my playtesters for various of my protos can give testimony about and as many games, some of which are or will be published soon, stand witness to. And in fact DoD is a prime example to the fact that my approach DOES work (for me at least) as everything seemed so terrifically balanced already, the card effects, stats and such (of course there will always be minor issues to be addressed and cards to be tweaked – yet the rules stand firm and worked out perfectly as far as I ma concerned!) – long story short, I was intrigued and so was Robin who gave a massive Thumbs-Up for DoD!!

But enough of that. All in all I am VERY happy with how everything turned out and fell into place almost flawlessly in the DoD Prototype 0.1 and cannot wait what other playtesters might have to say about the game (I am looking in your direction, Mr Seater!) AND I cannot wait to take this to the imminent Vienna Spielefest (Games Festival), where I will have my very own designer’s table to present DoD and my other games! Exciting times ahead!

Well you guys, that’s it for my photostory report of our very first 2 player Dreams of Dystopia testing session. I do apologize for the plentiful bravado but I simply couldn’t contain my grand excitement for this newest creation of mine. I hope you don’t mind and humbly ask for your understanding! I will keep you updated on DoD as well as on my other undertakings in the world of game design – as a matter of course!

Thanks for your interest, time and attention and

HAPPY GAMING

Sincerely yours,

Andi

 

P.S.: Thank you Robin for being such a good friend and my first “victim” for DoD and Thank you Rob for providing your awesome artwork and putting so much trust and confidence in my game design skills!! You guys rock!!!

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MtG: Three Awesome (??) Decks I Want to Build Soon – Just for Fun!

Dear friends and fans of the all-awesome Magic: the Gathering TCG!!

I just pre-ordered a full set of all 5 Commander 2014 Decks to serve as this years Christmas present from my big-spending parents and am mighty excited about it. So, being in an “MtG-mood” I am all in favor of tormenting you with yet three more fun decks I came up with recently and which I want to build sooner or later – after having tested them with proxies however, as I have to note. I will list the decks by power-level or competitiveness, judging by my own, very subjective standards, although I have to say I doubt any will be anywhere near to being competitive in nature, save for the first deck, which is a Modern Format legal version of a deck I wanted to have for quite some time, and which I deem to have quite some potential. So here we go, starting with our first deck:

UWG Enchantress aka “Enchant-a-Tog”:

Creatures…10

4 x Auratog 1W

4 x Verduran Enchantress 1GG

2 x Yavimaya Enchantress 2G

Enchantments…26

4 x Rancor G

4 x Fertile Ground 1G

3 x Hatching Plans 1U

3 x Journey to Nowhere 1G

3 x Oblivion Ring 2W

3 x Banishing Light 2W

3 x Annex 2UU

3 x Copy Enchantment 2U

Instants…2

2 x Perilous Research 1U

Lands…22

4 x Seaside Citadel

4 x Terramorphic Expanse

6 x Forest

5 x Plains

3 x Island

About the Deck:

Well this Modern Format legal deck is built around a central draw-engine, namely Verduran Enchantress…

…and features no less than 26  more or less cheap but HIGHLY powerful Enchantments like…

…and has two win conditions, namely…

…whom you can enchant and pump repeatedly via…

…and draw a ton of cards while you are at it – provided you got an Enchantress (a Verduran one to be more precise) handy as well as…

…which will be HUGE in a deck that is almost one half Enchantments. Putting a Rancor on her works wonders as well, believe me!

The deck has a few cool combos and nifty tricks up its sleeve besides the solid core as illustrated and described  above, such as drawing 3 cards from the 1U-cost Enchantment Hatching Plans when you sack it to pump your ‘tog. Furthermore, you can draw 5 (!) cards at the cost of just 4 Mana if you cast Plans and then Perilous Research, which draws you two cards at the cost of  1U and sacking one of your permanents.

One awesome but seldomly seen/played Enchantment is Annex. It costs 2UU and lets you overtake any opponent land. Thus it not only robs your opponent off one of their resources but at the same time gives you an additional resource while it is at it.

Furthermore, Copy Enchantment is amazing as it copies any of your Enchantments, including Annex a well as your bountiful Creature and Permanent Removal Enchantments Journey to Nowhere (1W), Oblivion Ring or Banishing Light (the latter two are identical save for the name and cost both 2W). Of course, for every Enchantment you play you’ll draw a card through Verduran Enchantress and pump your Yavimaya Enchantress by +1/+1, just as a reminder.

With all the great Creature and Permanent Removal and a huge Draw Engine based on Enchantments of which you have no less than 26 handy – hell even your Mana Ramp comes in Enchantment form (Fertile Ground) – I think this deck has quite some potential. I already proxied it up and will put it to the test soon. I for one am excited to see if and how it will unfold!

Legacy Misers (Budget Version):

Creatures…12

4 x Gnat Miser B

4 x Locust Miser 2BB

4 x Clone 3U

Instants…4

4 x Mana Leak 1U

Sorceries…4

3 x Beseech the Queen B/2 B/2 B/2

Enchantments…8

4 x Liliana’s Caress 1B

1 x Megrim 2B

4 x Propaganda

Artifacts…10

4 x Talisman of Dominance 2

3 x Howling Mine 2

3 x Font of Mythos 4

Lands…22

2 x Reliquary Tower

4 x Drowned Catacomb

4 x Underground River

12 x Swamp

About the Deck:

I like annoying my opponents and I like to win in out-of-the-ordinary, yes bizzare ways. This deck shines at both these things. This is the budget friendly version of a deck that could be maxed-out a lot more, but I prefer to build and play it on a budget. The basic premise is this:

Get Gnat Miser or his big brother Locust Miser…

and copy them if possible and/or necessary with Clone to reduce your opponent’s hand size drastically. Then you’ll force your opponent to draw lots of cards through Howling Mine or the “Double Howling Mine Font of Mythos…

…which will lead them to discard lots of cards. And this is how this deck TRIES to win: By having one or even two Liliana’s Caresses out:

I included the bad Liliana’s Caress – Megrim – just to play it safe so to say!

I am well aware of the fact that both Font and Caress go for quite some money nowadays but I still call this a budget deck, because I happened to purchase my playsets of these nowadays costly cards when they were still cheap!

The “Dual Lands” Underground River and Drowned Catacomb on the other hand are quite cheap to get a hold of nowadays. Lucky me – I had to purchase those for assembling this deck.

Propaganda keeps your opponent from avalanching you with an early Creature rush, whereas Beseech the Queen is your universal “Tutor” for pretty much anything you need at any point, Talisman of Dominance speeds up the deck a wee bit and lastly Mana Leak provides some universal protection of your cards and/or can negate early opponent key Spells.

And that, in a nutshell, is how the Miser Deck on a budget is supposed to work!

For our last “deck to build” I wanted to present you with a deck centered around…

and high-Toughness Creatures like the ultra-cheap, otherwise pretty useless yet with Doran ultra-mighty…

…but I have to do some more research before I can dare to present to you a worthy deck built around mighty Doran, the Siege Tower. So instead, for now, you’ll get:

Modern Token Stampede (WG):

Creatures…12

4 x Avacyn’s Pilgrim G

4 x Centaur’s Herald G

4 x Vitu-Ghazi Guildmage GW

Sorceries…12

4 x Wake the Reflections W

4 x Call of the Conclave GW

4 x Coursers Accord 4GW

Instants…10

4 x Harrow 2G

2 x Rootborn Defenses 2W

4 x Advent of the Wurm 1GGW

Enchantments…4

4 x Intangible Virtue 1W

Lands…22

4 x Selesnya Guildgate

10 x Forest

8 x Plains

About the Deck:

I have done various Creature Token-based decks before such as my Spirit Token or Hornets Decks, and this once again is a deck based on Creature Tokens AND on the Populate ability, which allows you to copy any one Creature token you control. The Creature Tokens in this deck are mostly 3/3 Centaurs, provided by awesome cards such as…

…with the even more awesome exception of…

A 5/5 Trampler for just 4 Mana is pretty huge I would say, but how about two of these for the cost of 1 additional (white) Mana? Have a look at this:

To speed the deck up, I added Harrow and Avacyn’s Pilgrim, the latter allowing for a third turn Call of the Conclave plus Wake the Reflections, which will give you two 3/3 centaurs for just GWW! Pretty neat! A card I really LOVE in any Token-based deck is Intangible Virtue:

This is pretty much no less than a Honor of the Pure in this deck that gives all your Tokens Vigilance as well besides the +1/+1 boost, turning your centaurs into vigilant 3/3s and your wurm into a 6/6 vigilant trampler… Sounds pretty neat to me overall.

And that’s it from me for today regarding the mighty Magic: the Gathering TCG!

As always, HAPPY GAMING!

Yours,

Andi

EC: Announcing the Trolls vs Goblins Duel Pack & EC going BRAZIL!!

Dear friends and fans of the more or less obscure Elemental Clash Customizable Card Game!!

It has been quite some time since I last posted about the game, but I have two amazing annoucnemnts in store for you this time around!

First off, I would like to break the awesome news to you that Elemental Clash has finally found a publisher from where I least expected one, so

Elemental Clash is soon to hit BRAZIL!

3D Backgrounds for Desktop Computers Free 3D Wallpapers

I will tell you the whole quite unbelievable tale shortly, but first the second announcement: Right in time for Christmas sales I will be releasing the

English Version of the Elemental Clash Duel Pack – Trolls vs Goblins

TvG TGC Box

on http://www.thegamecrafter.com, which will be an intro-type pack containing two ready-to-play 40 cards Theme Decks (The Troll and the Goblin Deck) and should be the perfect entry point for those who have been curious about Elemental Clash for a while but did not want to make the investment of purchasing the full Master Set.

But before I go into detail on the upcoming, first of hopefully many Duel Packs, let me tell you how it came about that my humble game will soon be on the shelves of game stores in Brazil:

So I have been bravely soldiering on with my “firstborn” when it comes to games, that is of course nothing else than Elemental Clash, for years, tried numerous crowdfunders – without any success – and managed to release the approx. 300 cards Master Set as well as an equally voluminous expansion set (Legendary Legacy) all on my own, all funded out of my own pocket.

So when I was expecting it least, an email came in some weeks ago: A kind gentleman hailing from Brazil and going by the name of Helio Greca of Rocky Raccoon Games, a small scale Brazilian games publisher approached me with a bold proposal or request rather:

Helio proposed to me to release the Elemental Clash Master Set in Brazil and to do whatever was in his powers to make the game a success over there!

We soon agreed on common terms and as it looks now, we will be introducing Elemental Clash in the form of the Portuguese Version of the Elemental Clash Duel Pack: Trolls vs Goblins right in time for Christmas sales! That was honestly a lot more than I was expecting and Helio furthermore ensured me that he would be following up with a release of the full Elemental Clash Master Set right after the famous Brazilian Carnival, around March 2015! I was thrilled to hear all that as you might be able to imagine! 😀

So now that the big announcement is out of the way, a few words about and visual teasers/previews from the upcoming Elemental Clash Duel Pack: Trolls vs Goblins:

So we will be releasing the Brazilian version of this first of hopefully many Elemental Clash Duel Packs in Brazil in Portuguese language hopefully just in time for Christmas sales. The same will be done with the English version of the Pack, which will be available in about a week from now on http://www.thegamcrafter.com, exclusively. I will announce the actual release date on this here blog as soon as I know the definite date for the release!

The Duel Pack Trolls vs Goblins will contain two readily-assembled and playable straight out of the box theme decks of 40 cards each – the Troll Deck (which will be of the Earth Element) and the Goblin Deck (of the Fire Element) and is hence intended to be an intro-type product and can be considered as the ideal entry point for those who are new to Elemental Clash and/or have been curious to try the game for a while already, yet weren’t willing to commit to purchasing a full Master Set. So if you are new to Elemental Clash and curious about the game, the Duel Pack: Trolls vs Goblins is your chance to take a dive into the fantastic world of the Elemental Clash Customizable Card Game! 

For those who already own the Master Set and the Legendary Legacy Expansion, this Duel Pack may be less desirable, as all the cards save for 2 are taken out of the Elemental Clash Master Set as well as the big Legendary Legacy Expansion… unless you are a dyed in the wool Elemental Clash fan and want to get a copy of each of the two unique and powerful Promo Cards, which have been made for this pack especially and hence were never released before in any way. Here they are again: Azragruul, King of the Trolls and his archenemy Rak’Shazzar, King of the Goblins:

Promo Cards

The Troll King and Goblin King promotional card artworks as well as the awesome cover art seen on the box shot preview above have been made by incredibly talented artist and illustrator Evgeni Maloshenkov, from the Ukraine, who defined the style, look and feel of both the Trolls and Goblins races or “Tribes” through his many fantastic artistic contributions to the Elemental Clash: Legendary Legacy Expansion Set.

Here are a few cards samples from the Trolls Deck, all of which were illustrated by Evgeni Maloshenkov…

Some Troll Cards

…and here some card previews straight out of the Goblins Deck, also done by the same, hightly gifted illustrator.

Some Goblin Cards

Lastly, to close this article of amazing announcements, I will provide you with the full card list for the Trolls and Goblins Decks, just in case you want to know in detail what cards will be found in each deck. You will find all the cards in the following list at http://www.elementalclash.com under the “Cards” section, as all are either from the Master Set or the Legendary Legacy Expansion, with the exception of the promotional, exclusive Troll Kind and Goblin King cards shown above!

TvG Decklists

So yeah, dear readers and friends&fans of my Elemental Clash Customizable Card Game; if you are looking for a Christmas present for a friend or if you are new to but curious about Elemental Clash, do take a closer look at the Elemental Clash Duel Pack: Trolls vs Goblins. Actually, you can have a look and even order right now at the preview link over at The Game Crafter at

https://www.thegamecrafter.com/games/elemental-clash-duel-pack:-trolls-vs-goblins

I will publish the Duel Pack to the TGC Shop officially within about one week’s time from now and will keep you all updated on this, as well as on the exciting developments over in Brazil!!

So thank you for your time and attention and as always;

HAPPY GAMING!

Yours,

Andi