This week’s progress was very productive as far as testing and design was concerned. Though I didn’t finish the logo border, I did finish the head of the logo, which took longer than I wanted, but I’m very happy with the results. I did also manage to get a play test session in and have learned quite a bit from it.
The playtest session was the most revealing of all the playtest sessions yet. The good news is that the Astracite race was very well balanced in a mirror match with the game only being won by the winner by a single turn – meaning the losing player would have won on his/her next turn. That was a very good thing as it seems the balance of strategies for players seems to be working itself out. The bad news is that the game was way too long with the changes to play a resource or draw a card mechanism. However, I don’t think I want to change that. It slowed the game enough so every single unique mechanism in the game was used and was important. There are some other mechanisms though that added to play time, and those are what I will change in the next iteration as I venture into the Crystalynn race.
What I learned:
1) Recovery stat can go away: Though I wanted to have a three-stat-game, it seems with the leveling mechanism and the damage wipe, it makes more sense to simplify and remove it from the game. This will encourage leveling up more, which I feel is more important, and it allows for a simpler power curve for me to figure out. Permanent damage can still be cleared from followers upon leveling up, and it can also be removed via the infirmary building. So there – one less thing to track.
2) Walls are overpowered: The number one reason the game lasted so long is the walls became the most impenetrable form of defense, which creating super turtling. It did have a nice rubber band effect for the losing player, but ultimately, both players started to do it, and it just became silly. So with that being said, walls will now have a limit of 3 instead of matching your building cap (which can go up to 7), and their health will be 1 and max at 2 instead of 2 and 3. That will make the wall strategy a little more manageable for a player on the receiving end.
3) Resource starvation: Players were never starved for Tribute, which pays the cost for buildings, spells, and followers, but they were starved on resource that allows for the upgrading of buildings. Because of the dual resource nature of the Principalities, it makes players pick a preference of Tribute-dedicated cards or Resource-dedicated cards. So instead of forcing the player to choose one or the other, I will give them a revamped principality card with more options.
4) Principality needs a revamp: Principalities can now remain unexhausted (unturned), and during the recovery phase of the player gain 1 storable resource or they can be exhausted (turned) 90° for a tribute until the end of turn, or they can be exhausted 180° and gain 2 non-storable resources that can be used towards a building leveling cost until the end of turn. Each principality will only recover 90° during their owner’s recovery phase. This will mean if a player exhausts a principality 180° to gain those building-dedicated resources, then the following turn that principality has not recovered enough to gain Tribute and may only once again be used for building-dedicated resource. This will create a deeper resource management system I feel with some principalities being dedicated to leveling buildings and others for followers, spells, etc., and I like the sound of that.
5) Stats will be consolidated: Now that recovery is gone (RIP) that frees up more space at the bottom for all the stats to be placed at the bottom of the card minus the power up stat, which is fine to leave separate. There will be four stat levels total and followers start at level 1 and not 0. They will have three levels in which they can actively level. They will gain power up tokens by killing another follower that is able to deal combat damage, paying the follower’s casting cost again, or gaining tokens via the Training Grounds building. Hopefully this will make things more streamlined on the follower card.
6) Buildings need a recall option: Buildings need to be able to be recalled, swapped out, or demolished to allow a player to change strategy mid-game. In the playtest, a player needed to change strategy and had hit their max building cap. They were relying on the opposing player to destroy their buildings to change their strategy, but it wasn’t happening. So I think there needs to be a way for players to demolish a building they own, redistribute the damage on the building they destroy (or only allow non-damaged buildings to be recalled), and bring out a different one. I think this should be more of a punishment option where if a player has to do this (partly poor planning on their part) they will award an opposing player a calamity token or they lose an expandability token themselves. This is something I will sit with. It could be a combination of both where they lose an expandability token or if they don’t have one, they would award a player a calamity token. I am just not sure in what instance a player would have buildings but no expandability tokens. Anyway, this would allow for a pseudo last-ditch effort with a rubber band effect. If an opponent starts trying to butcher a player’s hand once they have his building cap, a change in strategy would allow for the building of a Tower for example (card drawing building) to lessen the blows of a discard strategy from an opponent.
These changes will be the most involved and far-reaching changes in the game so far. These changes will probably not be done next week with the emphasis being placed on the logo completion. It will probably be at least two-three weeks for the blue cards to be completed with all the new changes and a playtest to follow. More to come.