Introducing: M.A.P. – Mission: Alien Planet

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Dear friends and fans of Indie Board & Card Games! Valued Readers!

It is my pleasure to announce and introduce you to another AP Games prototype! This time it is not your regular Wizard-Duelling, spell-casting and monster-summoning fantasy game as you all know I am capable of doing. ūüėÄ

Let me quote from the game box of the Mission: Alien Planet (or just “M.A.P.”) prototype:

“You are part of a crew of 4 scientists, so called “Xenologists”, who just landed on a recently discovererd, alien planet revolving around the nearby star Tau Ceti. The exotic, new planet you are about to explore is teeming with fantastic lifeforms and your mission is to collect data about as many of them as possible. As you explore the strange and hazardous terrain of the planet, peril and danger awaits your team. Will you be able to collect the required number of Victory Points by acquiring data on alien species before being wiped out?”

So M.A.P. is a game about exploration, about alien creature hunting and about survival, which utilizes a number of components such as decks of cards, a small game board, as well as dice amongst other things. The goal of the game, as stated above, is to collect a certain number of Victory Points (the exact number is not yet determined but it will be variable in the end – the higher the target VP total you choose at the outset of the game, the harder the game will be to beat) by acquiring data on as many different alien life forms as possible. There are different ways of collecting data and thus VP, but first, let me show you an image of the prototype game board:

MAP Game Board small

You can see there is a lot going on on the above game board. Let me explain the most important things:

You have a “Victory Points Meter” on the right edge of the board. Here you’d place a small D6 to keep track of your current VP count. Once again, it has still to be determined how many VP have to be collected in a standard (or easy/hard) game.¬† On¬† the bottom you’ll find the Distance Marker, which will help you keep track of how far you venture into the exotic wilds from your starting point, your Base, which you find in the central hex on the planet on the above board. This is a cooperative game, that can, for those who are inclined to do so, be played solo as well, and your team of Xenologists (you will always have 4 of them, even in a 2 or 3 player game – in which case (a) player(s) control(s) more than one Xenologist) will always start out on the central Base Hex.

Here is a picture of a Xenologist card (all 4 are identical except for their color and have 4 Base Stats which are kept track of by means of accordingly colored D6s):

A Xenologist

The base has 20 points worth of Resources (the number in the grey orb)¬† and 40 points of Power (as in Energy – the number in the blue orb). These are kept track of by means of a black D20 and two blue D20 respectively and you’ll be using your Resources to repair your Xenologist’s Armor etc and replenish their Power or the Power of the Items they use.

Speaking of Items: Before you venture out into the unknown Terrain of the alien planet, it would be wise to equip your Xenologists properly first. As you can see above, there are 4 “slots” for Items, which are small rectangular cards that can be “docked” onto your Xenologists. There is a huge variety of Items available, each doing something differenet, so you do not have to equip each of your Xenologist with the same set of Items, but rather “build” a team with all kinds of useful equipment, which will increase your odds of collecting alien creature data¬† – and surviving whilst doing so. Your Xenologists have 3 Shields (in green) and 3 Armor (in black/grey) on the most basic level. If both are depleted, attacks of hostile alien lifeforms will drain their Health (in red). Once the Health of a Xenologist drops to zero or below, they are out of the game. Besides these 3 stats, each Xenologist carries with them a supply of 6 Energy (in blue) by default. Energy is used for various purposes and can be recharged at the Base, where Shields and Armor can be replenished too (at the cost of Energy/Resources) and Health can be fully replenished (at no cost whatsoever).

Here’s what a fully equipped Xenologist may look like:

Equipped Xenologist

Now on to the different types of Terrain and how you explore the strange, new world orbiting far-off Tau Ceti.

Please take another look at the game board I showed you above: You will see that, surrounding the base, you have various types of terrain, represented by sliced-in-half hexes. Each kind of terrain (there are 8 different types of terrain) is represented by a smaller or larger deck of cards. The actual exploration works like this:

You move your meeple (representing your team of Xenologists) onto a “half-hex” adjacent to your base and advance the distance meter by 1. Then you draw (a) card(s) from the corresponding Terrain Deck. The Terrain Deck contains various alien species (Carnivores, which attack “on sight” and Herbivores, which ignore you unless disturbed in some way) as well as hazardous or sometimes even beneficial Terrain Events that may have certain environmental effects on your team or the game as a whole.

Each Terrain Deck contains an unique combination of various alien species indigenous to the terrain type as well as different, terrain-specific or also generic Events. Here sample Species from all Terrain Types:

Species in Different Environments

At this point I would like to extend a hearty thank you to my friend Tobi from Germany for kindly sharing the awesome creature artwork with me!!

The “hazard level” varies from terrain type to terrain type. This means when on a Prairie or a Forest you will face less environmental dangers than when exploring hazardous or volcanic wastelands. HOWEVER, the higher the risk the higher the reward, as the alien species you’ll find in more dangerous environments will be more valuable in terms of Victory Points.

For instance, let’s have a look at the cards the Tundra Deck contains (in the game there are duplicates mind you):

Tundra Deck

The card in the upper left hand corner is the card back of the Tundra Deck, whereas the other top row cards are the different Species you can and will encounter in the Tundra environment. The bottom cards are the different Tundra Events.

In this introductory article I will not go into great detail as to how the actual data collecting will be done. Only so much:

Each species has a VP-Value (the number in the gold-surrounded green orb in the top right corner of the card) as well as an Agility value (the one with the greenish glow) as well as a Health value (the number in the red square) as well as a text box. When you encounter an Alien Species it will attack you, or rather start acting, if it is a Carnivore and if it is a Herbivore, it will do nothing unless you attack it. In any case, you have 3 options when encountering a creature: You can either just PROBE it, which will grant you 1 VP if the species is the first of its kind you probed, OR you can try to KILL it, whereby you get half of their printed VP (rounded up) if it is the first of its kind you killed OR you can try to CATCH it (using a special kind of item) for which you get to add its entire VP-value to your total, if it is the first of its kind you captured. Large parts of fighting and catching alien species is handled through dice rolls.For instance, the behavioral pattern of any species is determined by dice rolls.

Take a look at this sample species:

Species Sample

As you can see, upon rolling a D6, Deinolupus will try to flee on a 1 – 2, will attack one of your crew members for 2 damage on a 3 – 5 or even for 4 damage upon rolling a 6.

As you move around the map of the alien planet you should return to the Base every now and then or when need be, to replenish health and energy, repair your armor and maybe to switch items. Also, any data acquired through probing, killing and/or catching will be added to your Victory Points total only when you return it to your Base.


And that is all I can tell you about M.A.P. as of now!

All I can say is that I am thrilled to get it tested, get some of the still more or less vague rules nailed down properly and think it has potential, combining co-op gameplay, clever team-building and resource management, the catching and collecting aspect which has made video games like Pokémon for instance popular, the survival aspect and the option to play solo even, as well as a healthy but not-too-dominant dose of luck.

I will keep you updated on the progress of the game – however, please keep in mind that this is only one of oh so many side-projects I tend to have all the times!

So thank you for your interest – I hope you had a good read! Please feel free to drop me some feedback down in the comments! Would love to hear your opinion on the new prototype!

Game on!

Yours,

Andi

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MTG: Andi’s Big Legacy Deck Round-Up!

Dear friends of the Magic, the Gathering CCG!

This one goes out especially to the Legacy Format aficionados among you and is supposed to be a deck article that has been long overdue! Within it I will present you with the four Legacy Format Decks I have been able to build over the course of maybe 10 years in the case of my oldest (and most beloved) Legacy Deck, whereas the three others have been assembled rather recently, with one being in the process of being completed as I write these lines (meaning all the missing cards are already ordered and I am just waiting for them to arrive in the mail!).

Before I get to the first and oldest of my four more or less competitive Legacy Format Decks, I must note that I was lucky enough to get a hold of a lot of the original, old dual lands at a time when they were still traded at the quite affordable price of around 20 Р25 Euros, whereas many of them are at 200 Euros or higher nowadays. There is one thing I am dead certain about: I will never let go of any of these anytime soon!

Back then I managed to acquire playsets (4 of each) of Volcanic Island, Tundra, Plateau and Underground Sea…

Dual Lands

…as well as two odd copies of Tropical Island…

and most recently I traded away 3 Mana Drains (the fourth, signed by my favorite artist Mark Tedin I kept for Commander purposes and sentimental reasons) for a full playset of 4 Scrublands…

…for a more recent Legacy Deck creation of mine about which we are going to talk soon. All in all I would say that a good selection of the original dual lands is the core for pretty much any good Legacy Deck (there are exceptions and I am going to show you one later as well!) and I consider myself happy and feel lucky to have had the chance to acquire playsets of the most expensive ones back then¬†when they were a LOT cheaper than they are now.

But on to the actual decks!

I shall begin with a deck that I have been tinkering with for years on end and it has seen many changes, even in its color composition, having started out as Blue, Red, White and gone to as far as Blue, Green, Black only to return back to its original color combination as it stands today! The deck I am talking about is a classic “Landstill” approach and I shall just share the full decklist with you right away:

UWR Landstill (Legacy Format):

Instants…21

4 x Stifle U

3 x Swords to Plowshares W

3 x Lightning Bolt R

1 x Enlightened Tutor W

4 x Counterspell UU

2 x Fire/Ice 1R/1U

4 x Force of Will 3UU

Enchantments…4

4 x Standstill 1U

Artifacts…5

2 x Engineered Explosives X

3 x Nevinyrral’s Disk 4

Planeswalkers….3

3 x Elspeth, Knight Errant 2WW

Lands…27

4 x Flooded Strand

2 x Scalding Tarn

2 x Arid Mesa

4 x Volcanic Island

4 x Tundra

4 x Plateau

4 x Mishra’s Factory

1 x Maze of Ith

1 x The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale

1 x Tolaria West

About the Deck:

Well, I have to admit that the deck is arguably built quite old-school, with the only newer addition of 3 Planeswalkers, namely Elspeth, Knight Errant, which greatly enhance the deck speed in terms of beatdown. I have never checked how Landstill is played nowadays and if it is still considered playable or competitive since I have a nostalgic connection to it and it performs reasonably well at the occasional local Legacy tournaments.

For those who don’t know what a Landstill Deck is and how it is supposed to win: The basis is its namesake…

which you’d combine with heavy control and boardsweepers as well as so called “Man-Lands”, which is lands that turn into Creatures for a turn – in the case of my list I run only 4 of these…

Which can be kinda risky but I always got Elspeth to fall back to as my secondary win condition! Elspeth is especially great with said manlands as she can turn one of them into a quite mighty 5/5 Flyer for one turn, which usually speeds up the opponent’s downfall tremendously! So yeah, the basic plan is to “establish” a Standstill while you keep playing nasty lands, forcing your opponent to “break” the Standstill sooner or later which will give you quite some card advantage – 3 cards at 1U is not too shabby!!

I will not go into further detail on the deck as you can check out the individual cards for yourself and read up on the Landstill deck “archetype” on the internet – provided it still exists. I’d prefer to move on to my next, quite recent Legacy Deck creation, which is a deck I wanted to build for myself for quite some time, but always was at lack of financial resources to do so – but yay! Now it is done and completed. I’d like you to introduce you to WB “Blight”!

WB Blight (Legacy Format):

Creatures…4

4 x Phyrexian Obliterator BBBB

Instants…7

4 x Dark Ritual B

3 x Swords to Plowshares W

Sorceries…24

4 x Thoughtseize B

4 x Cabal Therapy B

4 x Innocent Blood B

4 x Sinkhole BB

4 x Hymn to Tourach BB

4 x Vindicate 1BW

Planeswalkers…2

2 x Elspeth, Knight Errant 2WW

Lands…23

4 x Marsh Flats

4 x Scrubland

4 x Godless Shrine

4 x Wastelands

3 x Mishra’s Factory

4 x Swamp

About the Deck:

When it comes to general strategies in CCGs that have a resource system, resource destruction/denial has always been my favorite way to destroy the opponent, since, as all relies on resources (lands in the case of MtG), as you destroy said resources you can dismantle almost every opponent deck’s strategy. So I am mighty proud and pleased to have gotten myself a hand on THE cheapest land destruction Spell around, namely 4 copies of…

Pair that with some Dark Rituals and Vindicates on turn three and you are all ready and set to make your opponent got berserk over the loss of most of their precious lands early on!

Actually I am quite happy with how this deck turned out as it does a lot of denial on so many levels. Besides the land destruction part you got some top-notch discard going on with highest quality spells such as Thoughtseize, Cabal Therapy and Hymn to Tourach and you can deal with Creatures very early on with Innocent Blood and Swords to Plowshares and with pretty much any permanent through the aforementioned Vindicate.

The big, bad killer in the deck is none other than this abomination from the nether realms:

You can easily power him or IT out on turn¬†2 through the black magical powers of Dark Ritual and if all of these get annihilated somehow you can always fall back on your manlands (as discussed in the previous deck profile) and your two Elspeths. So far the deck has been performing really well in a casual context but I have yet to put it to the test in a “real” tournament setting. All I can say is that I really like the playstyle of it and how everything came together!

And now for something completely different…

As I have seen, people at the tourneys are playing lots and lots of dual lands and other non-basics. So I thought a radically different and radically CHEAPER approach would produce good results! So I built a deck with only basic lands (safe for 4 Fetchies, namely Scalding Tarns) featuring this dynamic duo:

Price of Progress & Back to Basics

Well, before I’ll share my current decklist, emphasis on “current”, I’d like you to keep in mind that this all¬†is HIGHLY experimental and a Work-in-Progress! I will likely be changing and tweaking the deck heavily (I shall provide a list of cards I MAY want to add in the below description!) and am even not sure at all if I’ll ever play it at an official tournament as I attend these quite rarely and would then much rather play either one of the previously discussed decks. But yeah since it wasn’t overly expensive to build, lacking high-cost dual lands and other cards, I just thought I’d give it a hurl. And so far it worked out pretty well – that I can say by now! But OK, on to my current decklist:

UR Nonbasic Land Hate (Legacy Format):

Creatures…4

2 x Morphling 3UU

2 x Prognostic Sphinx 3UU

Instants…16

4 x Lightning Bolt

4 x Price of Progress 1R

4 x Daze 1U

4 x Perilous Reasearch 1U

Sorceries…8

4 x Crack the Earth R

4 x Stone Rain 2R

Enchantments…8

4 x Hatching Plans 1U

4 x Back to Basics 2U

Artifacts…4

4 x Chromatic Star 1

Lands…20

4 x Scalding Tarn

8 x Island

8 x Mountain

About the Deck:

As I said above, this experimental, alternative approach to a Legacy Format Deck is based on “Nonbasic Land Hate” in the form of the two “main actors” Price of Progress and Back to Basics. As you can see in the above card pictures, the former deals 2 damage to each player for each nonbasic land they control, which will mean zero damage to me and potentially huge amounts of damage to your average Legacy deck player. The latter, Back to Basics, will lock said regular Legacy deck player down pretty good, as none of their nonbasic lands will untap as long as Back to Basics remains on the field.

As for the killers, and that could be a bit of a weak spot in the design of this deck, I have two times two Creatures, namely two of the classic Morphling (which used to be unaffordable in times of yore!) and two of¬†the newer, crap rare (you’ll get one for no more than 30 US Cents¬†on average right now!!)¬†Prognostic Sphinx. I really need to make a stance in favor of the Sphinx here. Come on: A 3/5 Flyer which can get hexproof as long as you got a card in hand to discard and which lets you Scry: 3¬†each time it attacks for 5 f’ing Mana! I would deem that quite a neat deal creature-wise!

I have some quality burn in the form of Lightning Bolts and only SOME countermagic in the form of Daze. You will wonder why I am not running ye olde mighty Force of Will: Well I own a playset but truth be told I hate swapping that costly, precious card between two decks all the time. That’s the reason, seriously – quite stupid I know… And no, I will not buy a second playset for like about 400 USD! ūüėÄ

This deck has some quite nasty/shifty tricks going on as well. Firstly, and that is not so much out of the ordinary, I am running 4 classic Stone Rains (at a cost of 2R), which will deal with occasional basic land popping up and not being affected by Back to Basics. Now comes the shifty things: I decided that this deck might, MIGHT mind you, maybe not a perfect but a good home for a highly potent (in my opinion) draw engine I wanted to run in some deck or another for a long time. Behold: Exhibit A:

Hatching Plans, a card that nobody plans, hence it ended up as a true crap rare at an average cost of less than 50 US cents per copy. Drawing 3 cards at the cost of 1U is awesome of course, and highly reminiscent of Standstill we have seen above. The problem is, you need to have some way(s) to destroy Hatching Plans, as it has no “in-built” destruction ability in and off itself. And here come Exhibits B & C:

Perilous Research & Crack the Earth

If you combine A and B, you’ll get 5 cards by spending¬†2 cards (Now that’s what I call card advantage!) at the mere price of 2UU. Combining A and C will still gain you 3 cards at the cost of 1RU and force your opponent to sac one of their cards. While A and B are awesome and are bound to stay in the deck, I am really really not sure about Crack the Earth. I will get my 3 cards from Hatching Plans, granted, but the opponent will most likely sacrifice one of their useless (under Back to Basics) nonbasic lands. So yeah, this one will be swapped for something more useful most likely.

This leads me to my list of “Maybe Cards”. I will list them in order of their likeliness to make the cut eventually:

  • Abjure: Abjure would be just kickass combined with Hatching Plans. Have a look for yourself:

A hardcounter for just 1 Mana. That could fix the “Force of Will” / Lack of Countermagic dilemma. And just imagine using it in conjunction with Hatching Plans. If you sac the Plans for Abjure you’ll basically get this for 1UU: Counter target Spell, then draw 3 cards. I mean who would say no to that?? I am seriously considering that this’d become the replacement for the suboptimal Crack the Earth. Only problem is that I am lacking further cheap blue permanents to sacrifice to Abjure. I must look into this further, as the cheapest (and arguably the best) sacrifice target would be Hatching Plans as noted above, but I’d need 3 Mana at first to pull that off. The next maybe card may solve or alleviate that situation. Also, alternatively I can use Abjure mid- to late-game by playing and sacrificing surplus Back to Basics.

  • Chrome Mox:

I might swap the 4 Chromatic Stars out and add 3 Chrome Moxes (plus 1 other card I am not sure of yet) chiefly to speed up the deck. With that I could drop a Hatching Plans turn 1 and a Stone Rain turn 2 and so on. The Chromatic Stars by the way are in the deck because they have a great synergy with Perilous Research, which would read like 2U: Draw 3 cards, which is not too shabby I guess, as well as to a lesser extent with Crack the Earth.

  • Noxious Revival:

I really really like the idea to “regrow” any card at the mere cost of paying 2 Life (and zero Mana), mostly for casting Price of Progress over and over again… Also it could recover some of my slain finishers or pretty much anything I might be needing at any point in the game… No clue what to take out in favor of 3 – 4 Noxious Revivals.

  • Frozen Aether:

Ahhh, the new and blue Kismet!! It will make Artifacts, Creatures and, most importantly, Creatures come into play tapped¬†– but only your opponent’s. Picture the frustration one might have playing against a deck that has both Back to Basics AND Frozen Aether out at the same time. If only it weren’t so expensive – mana-wise.¬†At 3U I am afraid I won’t be able to run it, but maybe I will find a way to squeeze in 2 of these nasty Enchantments. It has to be tested!

  • Foil:

I really like this card and think it is, in a deck with lots of basic Islands and a lot of card draw (just like this one), a decent and MUCH cheaper replacement for Force of Will. It costs 2UU to be hardcast, but alternatively you can exile an Island and any 1 other card from your hand in order to cast it and counter something for free. While I SO wanted to run 4 of these, I really don’t know what to swap out in favor of it…

  • Goblin Electromancer:

OK this one WOULD be cool as it reduces the cost of all your Instants and Sorceries by 1, costing down things like Price of Progress and Perilous Research down to 1 mana, plus it would be a little beater that could inflict some damage starting early on unless your opponent has removal, which they will have – hence I will probably forgo that one…

Alright, let’s get to the last of my 4 Legacy Deck Creations – The one that I don’t have the cards for yet (but yeah they are ordered, paid for and on their way to me). My main motivation for building this deck was to find a good, proper home for my 6 currently unused original dual lands: That would be my 4 Underground Seas and 2 Tropical Islands. So yeah, Blue-Green-Black it will be – and I could just have built Psychatog if someone gave me the 400 bucks for a playset of Berserks – yet again, a Standstill deck – however a totally different approach than the previously showcased deck of that kind. Let’s have a look at my current decklist:

UGB Landstill (Legacy Format):

Instants…12

4 x Daze 1U

4 x Counterspell UU

4 x Abrupt Decay GB

Sorceries…11

4 x Innocent Blood B

4 x Regrowth 1G

3 x Maelstrom Pulse 1GB

Enchantments…7

4 x Standstill 1U

3 x Pernicious Deed 1GB

Artifacts…8

4 x Lotus Petal 0

4 x Chromatic Star 1

Lands…22

4 x Underground Sea

2 x Tropical Island

2 x Overgrown Tomb / Bayou (???)

4 x Polluted Delta

2 x Verdant Catacombs

4 x Mishra’s Factory

4 x Treetop Village

About the Deck:

Well, the deck is pretty straightforward and follows the same approach (on a very different route, first and foremost color-combination-wise) as the Blue/Red/White Landstill discussed above. The deck features high quality removal, both pinpoint like the awesome Abrupt Decay (Good riddance Tarmogoyf, Liliana of the Veil and others) and Maelstrom Pulse as well as mass removal/board sweepers in the form of the amazing Pernicious Deed – which blows up pretty much anything! The Deck also features quality countermagic in the form of free-to-cast Daze and the classic hardcounter Counterspell. Force of Will I did not include because I think the percentage of blue cards in the deck is too low overall to consistently make good use of FoWs free casting option. In any case you control the board with highest quality pinpoint removal as well as mass-removal, whilst countering opponent threats when possible, and you do that over and over again powered by quadruple Regrowth (which lets you take any 1 card from your graveyard into your hand for just 1G) and you’ll play Standstill, as early as turn 1 with the aid of the magical Lotus Petals, in order to generate card advantage early on whilst making pressure with your manlands, which will survive your own mass destruction and will elude most of your opponent’s non-Insant removal effects. In the case of this deck, my favorite manland, the classic Mishra’s Factory, is joined by the mighty Treetop Village, which will turn into a 3/3 Trampling Ape for the activation cost of 1G! Just have a look at it:

Overall I think it is a bit lame to have two Landstill Decks at the same time, but as they widely differ in their color and card composition and as, matter of fact, I could not really think of a better option for a deck to be a good home for my Underground Seas and Tropical Islands, I think this will be a welcome alternative and addition to my now (almost) complete Legacy Deck collection! I said almost in parenthesis as one thing I am in quite painful need of: I will have to run 2 Overgrown Tomb (The Shockland Version of the original Black/Green Dual) instead of 4 Bayou as, at the moment, I do not have the financial resources nor the motivation to spend about 200 USD to acquire two of the original Black/Green Dual Lands. But we’ll see what the future will bring! Maybe some day I am stinking rich for some reason or another and then I will invest in the two Bayous to make the above deck 100% complete eventually!


And that, dear readers, was the QUITE extensive guide to Andi’s Legacy Format Deck Library! I hope you enjoyed the post and maybe found some of my ideas and approaches interesting. In any case, if you have come that far reading through all the above I thank you very much for your attention and interest! Feel free to post your suggestions, feedback or even constructive criticism in a comment or two below! I would be looking forward to hear from you what you think about my Legacy Decks as portrayed above. But please be easy on me, I do not consider myself a Legacy Format Pro or expert, simply cause I got all the good stuff lol (talking about the massive collection of original dual lands I happen to own etc).

So yeah, thanks again for being a reader and I wish you all a great Sunday and, as always,

HAPPY GAMING!!

Yours,

Andi