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Design Diary 3: Weapons and Organised Play

Greetings Samurai!

This week I’m going to talk more about balance and decision making through restriction. Specifically in this case the weapon cards.


Every Samurai in Senjutsu can take a Core Weapon card when constructing their deck. They each come with one automatically (The Master for example comes with the Tachi) however there are additional weapons in the Core Box for you to choose from. While designing the weapons and some of the signature cards it became apparent that sometimes it just didn’t make sense. Take The Ronin’s Crimson Whirlwind card here as an example.

This is supposed to be a 360 degree sweep with a long reach. Which makes sense when he has the Naginata that he comes with as standard but much less sense if you were to give him a Tanto (a short sword with a 25cm blade). There were a couple of options on how to address this. One was to have each card tied to a weapon type. In the example above we could add “Requires: Naginata” to the Crimson Whirlwind. However this doesn’t really work for numerous reasons. We would have to go through every single card adding weapon requirements to all of them which suddenly shrinks the available card pool for each character by too much. It also adds additional text to every card that then needs to be translated, it takes up room on the card and overall is just to much to fix a small issue. Instead I opted to limit what core weapon cards each character has access to. There are now 3 distinct flavours of character/weapon combinations. We have “Reach” characters (Ronin, Bugeisha, Warrior, Monk, Ashigaru, Wakou) who are armed with traditionally longer weapons like the Naginata, or Kanabo. We have “Sword” characters (Student, Master, Musashi, Yojimbo, Yasuke) who are armed with blades like the Katana and Wakizashi and finally we have the “Other” characters (Kojiro, Sailor, Assassin, Ninja) who use a variety of weapons unavailable to the other characters. This provides the easiest “fix” with the most flavour without eliminating options. Since The Ronin can only use reach weapons, Crimson Whirlwind makes sense regardless of which weapon you choose for him.

But what does that look like I hear you ask?

As you can see above the character cards now have an additional line of information which tells you which weapons your Samurai can use. In order to provide choice and decisions I have made sure each character (with some exceptions that you will see later) has access to about 7 - 9 Core Weapon Cards. It also means we can create additional Core Weapon cards that use the same weapon. For example the Onna-Bugeisha who is also armed with a Naginata comes with the card Naginata Carve.

With the change to how weapons work you will notice that they no longer have character art on them and instead all share the same appearance. That’s not the only change though. Each card now states which weapon it belongs to, in this case the Naginata so you can check your character card and easily find a Core Weapon (or Core Defence card) to suit your play style (Yes I said Core Defence card). This of course, once again, only how we envision the game to be played to allow choices to factor into character selection and keep deckbuilding a vibrant and varied thing in Organised Play. If however you decide that you really do want to Crimson Whirlwind someone with a Tonfa then you are free to do so in your home games. Speaking of Organised Play… Organised Play

When Paul started designing the core concept of Senjutsu he envisioned a vibrant organised tournament scene to run alongside the casual home games people would be playing on their kitchen tables. One of the many hats I wear here at StoneSword HQ is Community and Organised Play Manager and I will soon be working on a robust set of guidelines to allow stores, clubs etc to run their own events complete with prizes! Before I embark on that project though I wanted to let you know what these events may look like. The idea (and this is subject to change) will be that these events will follow the same “levels” as the card ranks. Wood level events will be local level events run by Friendly Local Gaming Stores perhaps monthly.

Steel level events will be a larger regional events held maybe twice a year Gold level events would be National championships once a year Jade level would be the World Championships once a year. Depending on the demand for events this could very easily change but the above example is the “vision” as it were for where I would like to see organised events go. Prizes? In theory each event level will have a unique prize kit with hopefully alternate art cards, playmats, deck boxes, sleeves or other assorted cool goodies that we can come up with. Sticking with SSG’s stand that nothing should be exclusive, if you are not a competitive player the plan is to make sure that anything that comes in a prize kit (excluding non game related top prizes) will be available to purchase from our website a few months later. For example, if we did an event where the prizes were custom art card sleeves, you could try and win yourself some swag at an event or wait a few months and simply purchase them. And on that note… OUR FIRST EVENT! Starting on February 1st you will be able to sign up for our Tabletop Simulator online tournament. You will need Discord and TTS in order to take part as this will allow you to organise your games and more importantly communicate with other players. The event will be run over several weeks and you will only need to play once per week until we have an eventual winner. How many weeks will be determined by how many players we have and further details will be available closer to the time. You can find our discord here:

What can you win for taking part? There will be two prizes up for grabs. First: The Playtest team (and some surprise guests) are being actively encouraged to take part. Beat one of these players in any single game and our very own Raben will sign a character card of your choice featuring his wonderful art. Second: The overall winner will have the chance to design their own card that will go in the final version of the game and their name will appear on that card. Until next time,

Farewell Samurai

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