Play Test 1 Cards – Item Cards

Athame

The Athame Item Card was one of the more useful of the cards, as it worked well with the character card that it was equipped too and was instrumental in bringing down the Dragon Luthor card when the Warrior Character led the charge against it and took it out before it could become a major problem. I think that the Athame will be one of the few cards that will make it past the first play test because it is a useful item, it shall need tweaking a little bit though as I feel that it is a little weak at the moment, and will need to be improved if it is to find a place within the Warrior deck.

Cauldron

The Cauldron card is a good item card to have, and lets the player search for a Familiar, however, it proved to be a little too powerful in the instance when it was used to search for the Dragon Luthor card, and then the Dark Summoning Spell Card was used to summon him straight to the board, which was quite the power play within the game. The Cauldron card will have a little bit of a problem if it were to be placed within a deck, because I aren’t sure where it would settle for now, so it may be worth using this as a template card and then creating a series of items that work in a similar way for each themed deck.

Wand

The Wand was one of the least useful cards within the game as it didn’t really offer much in the way of strategic advantage, as the Spells were largely forgotten within the game due to issues with the way in which the cards were meant to be utilized. I think that it would find a home in the Elementalist Deck, as it will find more use there as there will be predominately Spell cards in there, but I aren’t sure yet and will need to design the decks so that I can find homes for the cards that I need to create, and I really need to spend more time researching the themes of the decks before I decide anything final.


Play Test 1 Cards – Familiars

Dire Wolf

The Dire Wolf Familiar card was one of the most used cards within the play test game, as it was the one that appeared the most often, and was one of the better cards in terms of abilities. With the maul ability being lent to the character the Dire Wolf was bonded with, they were able to attack up to two characters per turn, which is pretty important within the early form of the game as the characters take time to get into positions of strength. I think I can tweak the Dire Wolf a little, altering its Attack and Wounds numbers so that they are more impacting on the game, without becoming too much of a problem within the early part of the game. Within the themed deck idea, I believe that the Dire Wolf would find a home in the Warrior deck, as they tend to be hunters and fighters, and so would make good bonding mates to the Warrior characters.

Phoenix

The Phoenix Familiar card wasn’t used within the play test itself, due to the deck size limitations and the need to test the other three Familiar cards first. I do think that the Phoenix familiar has a place within one of the themed decks, most likely the Elementalist Mage deck, as it is a creature of fire and could be re-designed to represent the element of Fire as a Familiar card within the deck itself. I think that the Wounds need to be altered and there needs to be an Attack value added to the card, and the ability needs to be changed a little so that it has some survivability if it were to die within combat, so that the opponent can’t then just attack with another Familiar or Character and keep attacking it until the result is that the card dies.

Raven

The Raven Familiar card came in useful several times throughout the game as it helped to keep Character cards alive when they would have been killed and placed in the Necropolis. I feel that the Raven is a decent card, it just needs to be tweaked a little so that it can stand up to multiple attacks and can still perform its function as a sacrificial card for the Characters. I think that if it were to be used in a themed deck, then it will likely find its way into the Necromancy deck, as Ravens are seen as dark creatures that work within the realms of the damned, so it would be fitting to have them in a deck that is all up in the death and rebirth branch of magick.

Spider

The Spider Familiar, if it is to be used after this first play test, is to be tweaked quite a lot, but I get the feeling that it is going to be left to one side and used as a template for a better Familiar to replace it, the poison ability wasn’t that useful because normal damage just straight outraced it over the course of the game, and characters would die before they had the chance to receive any significant amount of Poison damage.


Play Test 1 Cards – Spell Cards

Dark Summoning

Dark Summoning was meant to be a finale card for a player that was in the position to summon a Dragon Familiar, or more specifically Dragon Luthor, the Unique Familiar card that I shall be discussing at some stage within these performance reviews. Dark Summoning turned out to be a lot more powerful than I first imagined it would be, when coupled with the Cauldron Item Card in an opening hand, the player was able to summon Dragon Luthor in the first turn, which was quite a big deal because then the other player was facing an empowered Familiar and Character before they could even mount a defense. Fortunately as it turned out, the player without Dragon Luthor didn’t have a problem with dealing with the Dragon and managed to kill it twice over the course of the game, with the Dragon player deciding to bring it back from the dead with a second Dark Summoning Spell, even though that was not the intention or the use of the card.

I feel that the card needs to be removed, and indeed it seems like I shall be replacing more or less all of these first Play Test cards with new ones, using them as a template against which new cards shall be designed. Dark Summoning has an interesting search ability that won’t be available on all of the cards, so “tutoring” for a Familiar or a Spell or an Item can be really useful at times to keep the game on a tilt that brings the balance of power back and forth between the two players.

Fireball

Fireball was a pretty useless card when it came to the play test as it rendered the Character that used it unable to attack, which is a little counter intuitive in terms of combat and game play. I think that as this was the first damage dealing spell of the game, it will serve as a good template when I go forward to create other spells of a similar nature, but they shall be different in their implementation and execution. I’m thinking of changing the way in which they work because they don’t really seem to make sense in the form of a card that sticks around on the board, even when they are part of the witches arsenal for defense/offense. Spells are likely going to be changed to reactionary cards that can be used to cut off an action, or resolve a situation in the favour of the player using the spell.

Remove Poison

Remove Poison turned out to be a useless Spell that wasn’t even used in the Play Test. It was designed with Poison in mind, due to the Spider Familiar, however, when I found that I had created too many cards for the decks, I needed to cut some out, and removing the Remove Poison card actually didn’t affect the way the game played at all, as the Spider Familiars were barely used, and the poison ability was next to non existent throughout the game.


FMP Play Test 1 – The Character Cards

Ok, so it’s been a while since I last posted on here, it’s been a little bit hectic and I’ve fallen behind on posting.

My FMP is going well, at this stage I have the initial game designed and have conducted my first play test to see what would need to be changed over the Christmas break, and it was a success, as play testing tends to be.

However, I’m going to get into the play testing with another blog post, this is to look at the cards as they stand at the moment, and how they shall be altered now that I’ve had an initial play test, the proper list of changes and notes shall be made in the next post. I just want to go over a basic breakdown of the cards and what they were initially meant to do.

At this stage of the design, I will be talking about some of the changes that need to be made to the cards, taking into account that these are place holder card designs and not the final product, so the layout and designs are liable to change several times within the coming weeks.

Elementalist Mage

So the first of the character cards is the Elementalist. The main idea behind these character cards was that they are in tune with the elements of magick, and as such, will be more of a distance damage dealer, instead of melee like the Warrior Mage would be. With this in mind, I’ve come to realize that this card does not really fulfill its role that well as the attack is at a base 1 Attack, meaning it can deal 1 wound, and then the abilities were meant to be more in place to replace the fact that the Elementalist wouldn’t be attacking, it would be flinging spells. The abilities are underwhelming and don’t really offer the player any advantage of using the spells over the melee attack, so I need to modify the card to make sure it can fulfill its role properly within the game.

Healer Mage

The Healer is meant to be a support character within the game, similar to those Healers within an RPG that lay down big, sweeping heals to their allies to keep them alive. This was not the case within the initial play test. The Healer was actually the one character that was largely forgotten in terms of using its abilities to keep characters and Familiars alive, which was a big disappointment, and then it made me realize that the Healer is just an underwhelming card that needs to be re-designed so that it can get those big heals in place and can really help to change the tide of a game for a player. I shall be altering the attack and the Wounds on all of the characters, but I feel that the Healer needs the changes the most, as it was one of the most targeted characters, even though it was one of the least useful within the game, so there was a conflict of interest within the game in regards to its role.

Warrior Mage

The Warrior Mage is possibly the card that shall have the biggest changes implemented to it, as it was utilized quite a lot by the players throughout the game, because of its attack and wounds, it was something that they could really work around and utilize to take down big threats. However, while this was meant to be the case, the abilities are in dire need of a change as they were neglected. I need to create a Warrior that can use abilities that make it stronger, so that it can deal the big damage and help to close out games relatively quickly so that they don’t drag, while at the same time I want to create them so that they aren’t very overpowered and can bring a game to a crashing finish within the first few turns if the player has the correct starting hand, so I’ll be working on the Warrior the most I think, as I want to get the balance right.

Moving Forward

Moving into the next wave of designing the Character cards, I’ve had one or two thoughts about how they could be changed, the biggest of which would be to split them up; instead of having a character deck, have a deck themed around each form of magic that the players can choose from. With that in mind, I’m planning to change the characters so that there are three of them per deck, and they are present on the Board from the start, with the players being able to see what they are up against and can start making a strategy from the get go. The decks will each be represented by these characters and the cards within shall be designed with that particular theme in mind.

I think that for now I shall be keeping to the themes of:

  • Elements
  • Warriors
  • Healers

These three themes will keep me within the wheelhouse of the game that I am designing, while giving me a more diverse set of cards to work with that I can use to create different strategies and play styles for the players to find and utilize within their games.

If I were to create any other decks somewhere down the line, I would likely create two or three more, to keep the number rounded out and to offer a decent amount of variety for the players within the product, I think the three other themes I would like to work around are:

  • Necromancy
  • Shamanism
  • Satanism

It seems strange to include these, especially Satanism, within a card game, however, since there are Satanic witches in the world, it would be fair to give them something that represents them within the card game, and would also maybe remove some of the stigma surrounding the practices of those across the world that actually practice such a thing.

Necromancy is a bit of a border choice for a themed deck, as within the realm of this card game project, I’m not entirely sure there would be room for a deck that brings back things from the dead, but I can always see how things turn out over the course of the second, third and maybe even fourth play tests. I would like to implement an element of Necromancy within the game, as it would offer more interesting ways for the players to interact with the board, and with each other, and would also change the way they go about completing their turns and conducting their attacks, because who wants to kill something and then stare in front of them as it comes back as a shambling corpse in the next turn? Fun stuff.

Shamanism is a bit of a mystery to me and shall offer me the chance to expand on my research, I believe that it’s pretty broad in its belief system and practices, which would offer a pretty open ended deck type that could be altered and shaped as it needs to be, with cards that can be used in multiple ways to offer different play styles within a single deck, without being too open that the player might as well be playing another deck. But as I say, it’s still a bit of a mystery to me as a form, and so I would have to dig into it a little before I considered turning this into a deck.

Another change I want to implement, since I shall be changing the way the decks are formed, is the way the characters are represented. I shall be creating Characters that have proper names, and each represent a different branch of the form of Magick that they shall be representing, which will offer the player multiple different abilities and character types to interact with and to bring into their strategies over the course of the game. I feel that having three characters per deck would be a good round number to stick with, because within three characters with three abilities, that’s a pretty broad number of abilities to work with within a game and as such I would be able to really shape the decks around the characters to utilize their strengths and negate any weaknesses they present within the play tests.


FMP Research, Symbols & Idea Generation

Since the idea for my FMP started to take shape and I started to get a structure in place for the framework of the game, I started looking into symbols and their meanings.

Symbols have always had a part to play within culture, advertising, art work, and many other forms of entertainment and sociological/cultural standing, and it is no different within video games and tabletop games. Symbols are used as representations within games with a meaning attached to them that players can remember easily and reference while they are playing, as a means of remembering rules and roles within games quickly.

With that in mind, I wanted to spend some time looking at symbols across different cultures, and within Paganism and Witchcraft too, so that I could have a wide range of symbols for influence on my designs for when it came to designing the cards and the way the game plays.

Elf Runes High Elf Runes are interesting designs. Each symbol is both a basic and intricate design that makes them look rather elegant. I wanted to look at these because the thick brush strokes really help them to stand out against whatever they are placed on, and the meanings on them are rather helpful and considerations when it comes to designing the card game within my project.

From these symbols, I have decided that for the back of the cards, if there isn’t going to be an implemented night/day cycle, in which case the cards won’t require two sides to have character details on them, then I shall implement the symbol called “Thanan” meaning “Hidden Power, Inner Strength” which is a really thematic symbol that adds an extra layer to the design of the cards, especially that of the cards within the Grimoire, as they are the hidden cards and they have different abilities that interact with the characters and the board in different ways with their effects. It is also a rather interesting symbol in an aesthetic way and within the sketches that I have done, I have found that if I am able to center the symbol properly onto the cards, then it could really add a dynamic look and feel to the Grimoire with the correct colour scheme in place.

Futhark Runes Elder Futhark Runes are the main inspiration behind the Rune Cards in my project game. While these runes have significant meaning, I feel that while I can draw influence from them and create my own form of Runes for the game. Futhark Runes are the most widely known form of runes within the world and have been used for hundreds of years.

Moon Glyph The moon glyphs are an interesting find. I was scanning through Pintrest boards when I found several that have plenty of images of different symbol sets across several different faiths (https://www.pinterest.com/lindalupos/magic-book/) I’ve not come across them before and decided that they would be a great addition to the research of symbols as they cover the different forms of the moon, and I think that this could be something worth noting as I’ve been considering the notion of there being a night and day cycle within my game project, in which the character cards could maybe flip over and gain different abilities based on their interactions that change between the day and night cycles.

With the contemplation of a night and day cycle within the game, I could create the mechanics so that the character cards have a set of abilities during the day, and then when the turn ends, there is a night time cycle and the characters “flip over” into another form of the same character, complete with a different set of abilities that they can use, and this same mechanic could then spread to the cards within the Grimoire, almost like the positive/inverse conditions that are tied to Tarot Cards during a reading, where if the card is face on to the person receiving the reading there is one meaning, while if it is facing away from the patron, then there is another meaning attached, and as such the cards could have different properties based on the cycle of night/day within the game.

Theban Theban, also known as the alphabet of the Witches. I thought to include this within the designs choices for the cards as I felt that it could be a valuable addition as it is the official language of the Witches. However, upon experimenting with the symbols of Theban, I found that I was unable to use them in any meaningful capacity, as while the symbols themselves are rather aesthetically pleasing, they aren’t the best symbols to use, and I feel that they are better left out of the designs for the cards, with me leaning more towards the aforementioned Elf Runes, or symbols of my own design.


FMP & More Designs!!

Card Types:

As the project is in the form of a card game, there shall be a series of card types within the game:

  1. Character Cards: The players shall have three representative character cards presented in front of them at the start of the game. These are the main way in which the players shall interact with one another throughout the games they play. Character cards shall have a series of abilities that can be used within the stages of the turn.
  2. Rune Cards: These are the first type of card that shall be present within the 30 card deck that each player will have in addition to their character cards. These cards are used to enhance their characters and make the game more difficult for their opponents.
  3. Spells: As the deck is called the “Grimoire”, I have decided to create a card type called “Spell” so that players are able to “fling” damage dealing spells at one another’s characters. These shall not be a prominent card within the deck, they will be few and far between, but they shall be a significant threat within the game.
  4. Familiars: Witches are known to have a familiar or two somewhere about their home or person, and as such I want to incorporate a Familiar type card within the game to represent the creatures/animals that witches typically have. Familiars will be base cards with stats and no abilities, a way to add another layer to the game, in which familiars can be used to fight other familiars.

For the moment I am keeping the types of card limited down to just the three within the Grimoire, as well as the Character Cards, as a means of creating a simple test deck that I can use within user testing for feedback purposes, and it is also within the realms of the theme and design choice too, it is likely that there will be changes to the card types, and the way in which they interact with the Character cards, but for the moment I am of the opinion that three card types works rather well for this style of game.

Board Layout:

The players are presented with three character cards at the start of the game. I’ve opted for a tarot style board layout with the cards as it ties in with the over arcing theme, witchcraft, and offers the chance to create some interesting and different board layouts as the game is expanded.

Below is an example of a potential board, and the version that I intend to use when it comes to the user testing stage of the first prototype of the game.

Each character card has three card slots, in which the players shall be able to place a Rune Card, Spell, and Familiar. These cards can be used throughout the game to combat the opponent’s character cards, familiars and spells.

Board Layout Example

Player Turn:

There shall be several phases throughout the players turn in which they are able to perform actions; these are likely to change once user testing has been performed:

  1. Start of Game: Players each place their character cards on their boards and then shuffle their Grimoire. They then place their Grimoire in the Grimoire space of the board and draw a hand of 6 cards.
  2. Mandatory Draw: The player draws a card at the start of their turn from their Grimoire and adds it to their hand.
  3. Placement Phase: Players can place one Rune, Spell or Familiar from their hand into the appropriate space on their board, for any of their characters. Players cannot place more than one card per turn
  4. Attack Action: The player can use their attack characters (Warrior/Elemental) to deal damage to an enemy character, or use one of their abilities. Each attack character gets one attack per turn.
  5. Defence/Heal Action: This action is reserved for the healer/support character, in which the player can use one ability of their healer/support.
  6. Spell Action: Within this action, players can use the spells that are in place on their characters.
  7. Familiar Action: Within this action, any familiars that are in play can use this action to deal damage to an enemy familiar. If there are no enemy familiars present, the familiars can target enemy characters within this action instead.
  8. End of Turn/Discard Step: Players end their turn. Players cannot hold more than 6 cards at a time. If they exceed 6 cards in their hand, they have to discard down to 6, placing discarded cards into the “Used Card” space.

FMP Character Cards & Abilities

Character Cards & Abilities:

The character cards are going to be the central part of the game, and as mentioned in the Card Types section, there will be three character cards present within the game, each having their own abilities and stats that each player can view and strategize with.

Warrior Mage – The warrior mage is a character type that wields magick to enhance their already considerable skills. Their abilities will reflect their ability to push themselves beyond the limits of human endurance, making them the most durable character within the game of the three. They will have the most wounds, and their ability to deal damage will not be within the abilities on their card, but instead in their stats, as they prefer to let their fists do the talking instead of spells.

Attack Strength: 3

Starting Number of Wounds: 9

For the Warrior Mage I shall be looking at creating abilities that buff up their attack stat, without affecting their wounds too much as they are the main fighter of the characters.

Ability 1: War Cry – The Warrior Mage gains +1 to their attack stat until the end of the turn.

Ability 2: Taunting Call – Choose an enemy character or familiar, that character or familiar can only attack the Warrior Mage in their next Offensive Action/Familiar Action if possible.

Ability 3 (Passive): Body Block – The Warrior erects a shield of energy around themselves. Negate the first wound that would be taken each turn.

These abilities are designed so that the Warrior Mage can double up as a tank type character, acting as a blocker for their other team members. The downside to use the defensive ability to save a team member means that they might become the target of more attacks if they take more wounds.


Elemental Mage – The Elemental Mage is the second character type. They are the weakest of the group and as such prefer to let their abilities do the damage while they hang back from the fight at a safe distance. Their abilities will be mostly about dealing damage to the enemy characters, therefore they will have an average wound count of either three or four wounds, but their stats will reflect that they are not adept at hand to hand combat, so a physical attack would be unsuited to their style.

Starting Number of Wounds: 3

Attack Strength: 0

Abilities:

Ability 1: Flame Roil – Deal 1 wound to target enemy Character.

Ability 2: Fire Wall – Deal 1 wound to all Characters.

Ability 3 (Passive): Wreath in Fire – Negate the first wound the Elemental Mage would take. Roll 1D6, if the result is even, the attack rebounds and deals 1 wound to the offending Character. If the result is odd, nothing happens.


 

Healer Mage – The Healer Mage is the support of the group and as such is the one that has trained in the ways of healing and safeguarding their allies. The abilities of the Healer will lean towards supporting the other two characters; including removing their wounds and making sure they can survive long enough within the game to secure victory. The Healer will have the second highest amount of wounds within the game, as I’m thinking that it will be strategic to take out the Healer first, thereby making it easier to remove the other two characters from the board once there is no heal factor within the team.

Starting Number of Wounds: 6

Attack Strength: 0

Abilities:

Ability 1: Make Whole – Target Character is encased in a protective shield. Negate the first wound they would take until your next turn.

Ability 2: The Mending – Heal 1 wound from all Characters you control. Once used, has three turn cool down.

Ability 3 (Passive): Healing Touch – Heal 1 wound on target Character you control at the start of your turn.

The Healer abilities are the ones that I am the least sure about. I feel that these are going to be alright for the initial user testing stage of the project, but I also feel like they are also going to be the ones that change the most, so that the games don’t get drawn out more than they will be due to these abilities. But balance issues are something to deal with once user testing has been undertaken and the flaws have become more apparent.

Abilities:

Due to the Power of Three being present within the design of the game, I’m going to go with an initial card design of three abilities present on each of the characters, with the player having the option to play one of them within the relevant action within their turn. Two of the abilities will be activated abilities, so the player will need to choose which of the abilities to use each turn and the other ability will be a passive that is always active, meaning the opposing player will need to work around this ability with their strategies.


The attack strength of the character is measured in terms of their ability to deal wounds. So 1 damage is equal to 1 wound. The Warrior Mage has the strength stat to deal 3 wounds to a character, which is why each character has an ability that blocks a wound, and the healer is able to heal so many characters in one go. I’m trying to keep it balanced, but at the same time being the first set of characters within the game, and without creating the Grimoire cards yet, I will need to see how this is all going to change once the user testing has been undertaken.


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