Written by Jesse Bergman

A Clear Vision

Hey everyone, welcome to my weekly update Designing the Battle.  I hope to approach our design process very openly and candidly.  In turn, I hope you get to see how we make decisions regarding design considerations for just about everything.  This week I want to discuss how we developed The Battle Begins battle kit, which features the Jotune and Synthien factions.

When I set out to design the The Battle Begins battle kit, I had a simple set of rules that I wanted to try and adhere to.

  • Each faction needed to have a clear vision of how they play the game, in so far as they needed to play differently from one another.
  • Each faction needed to have simple mechanics that are easy for a new player to learn
  • Each faction needed to have more in-depth learned interactions that rewarded players for multiple games with those cards.
  • They needed to have an equal chance of beating one another.
  • They must be fun for each player throughout the game.

The above design philosophy applies to any battle kit we are going to release to the public. Designing a card game can be tricky because variance can create lopsided games, and potentially skew the results.  The only solution for variance is to play a lot of games.  Our lead tester Frank Hruby and I sat down and began a very iterative process to developing the decks. We played nearly 100 games before we were satisfied with each faction’s list.

Throughout our testing process we came to the conclusion that card advantage, in any form, creates a very different experience. It can potentially give either player a victory, simply based on who gets more advantage quicker.  We consciously decided that for an introductory experience to Battle for Sularia, that we wanted both players to have the exact same amount of cards available to them throughout the game.  This conclusion automatically eliminated some of the really fun effects for both the factions and had me redesigning lists fairly consistently.

We also realized early on that any resource hate was also grossly overpowered without the full complement of cards we’ve designed up to this point.  Many of those cards got automatically shelved in order to keep the experience close and to allow each player to have things to do in the game.  It’s not that card advantage and resource hate can’t be fun to play with or against, but these strategies just don’t translate well for a new experience.

At this point in development we have a pool of 262 cards that have been fully tested against one another from all five factions.  We were able to find a Jotune and Synthien list with a splash of Mercenary cards that used up a total of 40 cards from that pool.

So were we able to hit on all the required design points? Definitely, for example, the Synthien has a total of 11 combatants in the deck.  The Jotune have 21 combatants at their disposal.  Synthien combatants create sularium ramping, while the Jotune combatants work together to create large joint strike forces.  The Synthien use tactics that can do damage directly to an opponent or to any of their site or combatant objects on the board.  The Jotune use flight to make attacks that cannot be defended to constantly pressure the Synthien player.  Both factions reward high level mechanical understandings of the game and expose great depth with more time spent with them.  The factions were 50/50 in our testing and in game demos they are currently 53% to 47% across the last two conventions.  We have had many games where it comes down to the last turn and either player has a shot to win.  While we’ve minimized the number of games that we call “crushing victories.”

These two lists are what will be released into our first battle kit and they are on display at any of our demos. I really hope you get a chance to play them soon if you haven’t already.  Next week I’ll discuss the joint strike force and how vital it is to winning games in Battle for Sularia.

As always we’d love to hear from you regarding your Battle for Sularia experiences or if you have suggestions for articles on our site please contact us and let us know!