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Dans Design Diary

Greetings Samurai!

I bring great news! Alpha testing is proceeding at a phenomenal pace with the Core Set's base Ability Cards and four starting characters (Student, Master, Ronin, Warrior) are available for open beta on Tabletop Simulator with the Ninja and the Assassin planned in to go live this Friday!

The time has come for my Design Diaries. You will no doubt see on TTS that some of the cards we showed you during the campaign have changed. Some ever so slightly, others by a significant amount.

The aim of these diaries will be to guide you through the design and testing thought process that has led to these changes (and others that are on the way).

Today I want to talk about Hobble and Crippling Poison.

If you look very closely at the images on the campaign page you can just about see these cards in their original forms. Here they are a bit clearer:

Originally Hobble worked just like a Stun but it did not count towards the Stun victory. Functional, but not very exciting. So we had to come up with a better, different effect. Since being hobbled can slow you down, we decided to move the effect of Crippling Poison to Hobble. We also felt that having it as a permanent -1 would be too harmful to a player, especially if they received more than one copy. To that end, Hobble became the first card that flipped over providing a “clock” to the effect.

Crippling poison now needed a new effect. Nothing shows a character being crippled and unable to act like losing the ability to play a card. So this became the Poison card you saw in the update for The Master. We wanted an effect that prevented the poisoned character from taking their turn, but we also wanted it to be at a random point in time as too much control over when it triggered would be too powerful.

Now we were on the right track. Hobble worked really well but Crippling Poison was a little underwhelming. What if you shuffled it all the way to the bottom of the enemy deck? It Wouldn’t see play at all. We wanted to make sure The Master (or any other poisoner) would reliably see it. We looked at making it the next turn but that was just too powerful. We looked at shuffling it into the top ten but that still seemed too long to wait if it was card ten. In the end we settled on the top 5. This creates a pile of 6 cards where any one of them could be a poison. It discourages card draw for a few turns and it turns up reliably in every game it is handed out. It is also still random enough that the poisoner needs to count the turns and play the statistics of when it may or may not turn up so that they can capitalise on the opening a skipped turn provides.

Further testing of Hobble however showed that it was little more than an inconvenience for a single turn. It flips the turn you get it and discards the turn after. Even if we had attacks that gave out 2 or 3 hobbles. It didn’t really feel like a threat and by extension didn’t feel like a viable strategy to go for when building a deck.

This led to one final change. We already had a clock mechanism for Hobble, what if we extended that clock? Multiple hobbles gained on different turns would suddenly become something to avoid. Now, rather than flipping, the card rotates each turn counting down until it is discarded. This provides three turns of hindrance and allows them to stack more easily.

Now there may be some of you that are concerned that the “Shadow Under Steel” addon provides an additional 3 Crippling Poison cards and you may be worried that adding multiple copies into the top of a deck would make for a very unfun game for your opponent. You would be right and we’ve already made some changes there which I will cover in the next diary, For now though I’ll leave you with a sneaky peak of what that looks like:

The next Design Diary will talk through the new poisons, new basic defence cards and the “card schools” system.

Until next week!



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