Saturday, September 21, 2013

Link To New Site!

Hey guys I realized that when I redirected the domain to the new site I never linked it from this blog.  Just in case anyone ends up here or didn't know, here is the new site!:

Saturday, May 25, 2013

What Is Mage Tower?

Pre-Orders Will Start Being Shipped June 15th
Try the Mage Tower PC Beta Application free here!:

Mage Tower is a competitive "Tower Defense Card Game" inspired by tower defense games like Plants vs. Zombies, Kingdom Rush, and many others.  The game is designed for 2-4 players, with each player using their own deck of cards to fight off monsters in defense of their Mage Tower.  There are solo and 5-6 player variants, as well as an entire "Co-Op Monster" deck that has super-powered monsters you can team up with your friends to fight against!

In Mage Tower each player "drafts" their own deck they will use to fight the hordes of monsters.  There are 166 different "Draft Deck" cards with wildly different abilities.  Before each game players get 8 of these cards for their deck, to combine with 5 basic cards.

Don't be intimidated- making a deck is easy!  You either just give each player 8 random cards (the game is balanced so this works great), or you lay out 8 cards at a time and take turns picking the cards you want.
Once the game starts you'll have to deal with the monsters!

Every player has their own set of monsters that attack them, so you've got to decide if you'll try to craft the perfect monster-killing strategy, try to mess with your opponents, or both!  You can also assemble cool combos or try to make a deck that gets more and more powerful over time.  
There are so many ways to play!

Tom Vasel of The Dice Tower Reviews Mage Tower

How To Pre-Order

Mage Tower can be pre-ordered today from Game Salute's web site.  Pre-orders will start being shipped June 13th.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

How To Pre-Order Mage Tower, The Dice Tower Review, And Upcoming Site Redesign

Pre-Order Mage Tower From Game Salute Today!

Hey guys so if you missed the Kickstarter to raise money for expansion artwork, you can still receive the game by pre-ordering it from Game Salute!:
We're expecting to ship pre-orders in May or early June.  By pre-ordering you can secure your copy and make sure you're one of the first to get it after we ship out the Kickstarter copies.

Tom Vasel From The Dice Tower Reviews Mage Tower!

You can check that out here!:

Site Redesign Coming Soon!

This Blogger page has worked pretty well, but it's time to move on!  We're planning on a new more professional site design with integrated forums.  The front page will greet you with a Mage Tower trailer and the latest Super Mega Games news, and the forums will be part of the web site so it's easy to log on and talk about Mage Tower.  Ideally we will get an HTML5 version of the Mage Tower App integrated as well (  This is being worked on and should be finished in the next month or two.

So Much News!

Well that's all, thanks for reading guys, have a good one!

-Brett Brimmer

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The "Mage Tower, A Tower Defense Card Game: Expansion Artwork!?!?!" Kickstarter!!

Hey guys just a quick post!  We're expecting to ship the game in April, and in the meantime we put up our new Kickstarter called Mage Tower, A Tower Defense Card Game: Art For Expansion!?!? so that we can get on track with developing the expansion.  Just click that link and check it out!  You can get the game a month before anyone else can buy it, vote on new card designs, and more!

-Brett Brimmer

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Card Update Stuff!

Hey guys, here's some info from a backer-only post on the Mage Tower Kickstarter:

Okay, so basically after all the time developing Mage Tower, I found a few things I generally want a card to do, and went through every card and checked if it does that.  These things were:

#1 Synergizes with one or two cards, so you're looking for a good card to pair it with with when drafting.
#2 Synergizes with many cards, so you can build your whole deck around interacting with it.
#3 Synergizes with opponent's cards, hopefully disrupting their strategy.  These cards also have the benefit of making the game longer or shorter, since you're spending resources to help or hurt the opponent.
#4 Provides short-term loss for long-term gain or vice versa.  (So you can form all-in or long-term strategies.)
#5 Provides meaningful decisions or interactions after drafting, during actual gameplay.
#6 Does something unique that you can't experience in other games.
Card valuation is a huge part of any drafting game so cards don't *have* to hit these notes, but when they do it adds more variables to the mix and makes drafting more fun.  SO, basically I removed 12 cards that didn't have these traits, and added 12 cards that hit one or more of them.  Most of the cards I removed were pretty bland strategy-wise and won't be missed.
Let's check out three of the new cards.  These cards are pretty crazy looking so bear with me:
YES, that's right, this card hurts you before the game even starts!  But after that, it's way better than the basic Archer card which only does 3 damage for the same cost.  Ideally if you draft this card and take the penalty, you want a deck that can play it as much as possible.  So any way to draw through your deck quickly, search up cards, or re-use cards is good.  So it points you towards a long-term strategy, interacts with the opponent, and does two things that don't have an analogue in most other games (the Gamestart ability and the Demonspawn thing.)  Cool!
Looking at both these cards today, they might look a little counter-intuitive.  A card that hurts yourself, and this one gives your opponent cards!  The thing is, giving your opponent cards is bad for them 99% of the time.  Whatever strategy they have, getting two random cards might probably isn't going to gel with it.  It makes it take longer to draw their prize cards.  Blifferspell a couple times and their deck is going to be a fat mess with random cards they didn't draft, with any kind of strategy they previously had completely obliterated.  Consider this card vs. Brotweird's Grimace- if you fill their deck with random cards then they'll be unlikely to draw Brotweird's Grimace enough to make up for the 4 life they lost.  Since every card is balanced by its energy cost, gaining cards has no inherent value like in Dominion or other deckbuilding games.
Finally we have Mouth of Madness.  First I'll note- initially I was worried about the Gamestart mechanic adding complexity, or of people forgetting to use it, so I limited it to only four cards.  However people love drafting them, and it turns out the more there are in the draft deck the easier it is to remember to use them every game.  Anyways Mouth of Madness provides interesting decisions and interactions during gameplay (dealing 2 damage --> and losing a life is almost always a good thing).  You may play differently so you can gain control of MoM.  You might draft discard abilities so your opponent is less likely to be able to take it back.  You might opt for lower-costed cards with Intellect prize cards so that you can play lots of cards every turn.  This is probably my favorite new card to play with.
Anyways those are three of the new cards, I hope I explained them well enough.  Trust me they're cool!  Anyways next update I should have some more info on the PC demo app I'm developing, and at some point I'll update you on all stuff I've been planning to promote Mage Tower before release.  See you then!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Card Design Story #3: Hell Axe

Okay so today's design story is about Hell Axe, the only "Equipment - Attack" card in the game!  Let's look at the original version of the card, which has the same concept as the current version but works much differently:

Okay, so first of all let me answer the obvious/not-obvious question "Why is Hell Axe the only Equipment - Attack card in the game??"  Well, to be perfectly honest there just isn't a lot that Equipment can do to make Attacks more interesting. The main thing an Equipment can do is make the attack repeatable by letting you do it every time the Defender attacks.  You could do a one-time effect when the Equipment enters play or when the Defender dies but that's really just tacking something on without using the Equipment card type to add anything.

BUT, there is room for an Equipment with a one-time effect that changes based on the Defender's stats.  Basing anything on another card's stats is sticky territory though, and that gets us into why I started with this design!  The reason Hell Axe set the Defender's attack value to 3 is because otherwise it could scale way too well with certain Defenders.  Put it on a Knight and you'll maybe get 6 damage out of it.  Put it on a Whispers of Legend and you could easily get 24 damage out of it for the same 3 energy cost!!!  AHHH!!!

This is a design lesson- having abilities that directly scale off an attribute from another unknown card can get messy fast.  You'll often have some card out there that is fairly costed but has that particular attribute hiked all the way up, and suddenly you have a deadly combo that randomly ruins games.  This is why Hell Axe had to set the Defender's attack value to 3.  Letting it get boosted by other Equipment generally produced predictable results since there are only 11 Equipment cards so it wasn't something I was worried about.

After Some Playtesting

Here are some notes I made after a playtest with this version:

Hell Axe - This card was pretty dang good, I think it dealt like 9 damage for 4 energy?  But that's a pretty conditional 9 damage.  Gonna put this one on the watch list but I'm not really confident in raising its cost just yet.  Spending 5 for almost no damage increase would hurt.  Also I've got to remember I used Heal to get extra mileage out of it sooo maybe it is fine...

So yeah, in a game I managed to deal 9 damage with this.  However it was bolstered by the fact I had a card called Heal that made Defenders live longer.  (I removed Heal from the game when I realized there were like 6 too-similar low cost cards that made Defenders live longer.)  So anyways this wasn't quite the "perfect storm" I thought it might be- on basically any big Defender or with any Defender-healing card it seemed Hell Axe could do 6 or 9 or 12 damage too easily.  Doing 6 damage for 4 energy is fine if you have to work for it, but when that 6 damage turns to 9 or 12 with a little more work things start to get bad.  It scaled too greatly when you enhanced it with other cards.

Segway time- obviously Hell Axe was RIDICULOUS with Giant Turtle which is a 1/10.  It made the turtle a 3/10 and since the Turtle lived forever, it was virtually guaranteed to be able to do 9+ damage.  I distinctly knew when I made Giant Turtle that it would close off some potential card designs.  For example, imagine a card that costs 4 energy that says "Discard a Defender to deal damage equal to its health to each opponent." Most of the time this would be mediocre or okay but with Giant Turtle, 4 energy for 10 damage is way too good.  BUT, I knew that this would close off some design space, but not a lot, so I was fine with it.  I haven't found any cards I've been super excited about that it inhibited, so I am 500% happy about creating Giant Turtle.

So How Did I Fix That

Okay here's the next (and final) version of Hell Axe:

WUT?  So now it costs one less energy, but always makes the Defender a little worse and always deals a flat 2 damage (whereas before it essentially dealt a flat 3 damage).  Why did I make these changes?

Okay, so first of all I said part of the problem with the original version was the scaling.  You had to work to deal 6 damage.  But if you could attack again, it went up to 9.  Then up to 12.  By lowering the damage per turn to 2 it scaled way slower obviously.  By the time you're attacking three times you've only dealt 6 damage instead of 9, then dealing 8 damage instead of 12 is still really awesome for three energy but not like ridiculously overpowered like 12 was.

So quick note- the whole "dealing damage equal to the attack value" and still getting enhanced by equipment was all a bunch of unneeded jargon for something that dealt a flat amount of damage 99% of the time.  That's why it just says "deal 2 damage to the opponent" now.

The -1/-0 was mostly a jab at Giant Turtle (and it helps it not to be overpowered with other cards like Medium which is a 1/6).  You can't have Hell Axe go on a Giant Turtle and deal 10 damage to the opponent while Giant Turtle keeps hitting your monsters.  This nerf sounds ridiculous, but it's actually a laser strike to the root of the issue.  The only cards that can have astronomical health are ones with 1 attack, because by making it 2 attack you've doubled their damage.  And if you can keep something alive forever with a Hell Axe on it, you can't have it dealing its full damage and have Hell Axe going off because it's too much scaling. So overall the -1/-0 does exactly what we need it to.

So How DO You Use Hell Axe (STRATEGY TIME)

First of all, recognize that Hell Axe is a tool that makes games end quickly by letting you invest resources into directly hurting the opponent.  If you're going for a long-game prize card or gold strategy then Hell Axe isn't going to help you very much, but if your opponent is you'll be able to make the game end faster.  Cards that help you in the short term like Lost at Sea, Murder, Black Blade of Death, Hire Mercenaries, and Brocky Noble Mercenary are all great.  If you stay ahead long enough to kill your opponent then it doesn't matter that you blew all your resources.

Furthermore, opponents that are investing for the long-term with cards like Infinite Sleep or Death Ray will probably be a little behind, and that's when you Hell Axe them.  If they're trying to fill your decks with Confusions you also probably want to Hell Axe them.

Okay, if you want to get full use out of Hell Axe you'll have to be CAREFUL.  Sure, it's called Hell Axe but that doesn't mean you just attack recklessly.  Your goal is to attack as many times as possible, and take the least amount of damage each time you attack.  Generally you're aiming to take 2 damage when you attack.  If you can attack a Hellhound which will rarely happen, that's even better.

If you just throw Hell Axe on a Knight, you'll likely get 4 damage out of it and lower the Knight's total damage output by 2.  Spending 3 energy and a 2 damage reduction for 4 damage to the opponent is not optimal, but in some games any kind of pressure on the opponent is deadly to them.

Recognize when a Hell Axe strategy is not the way to go, and use its Equipment special ability to pay 2 energy and discard it to draw a card.

COMBOS.  Hell Axe on a Giant Turtle can easily deal 10 damage to the opponent for a 6 energy investment on your part.  Look out for other high-health Defenders like Royal Guard or Medium.  Iron Armor (+0/+4) is a good boost and can often add an extra 4 damage to the opponent for a 1 energy investment.  Healing Flask (heals a Defender to full health at once or 1 damage/turn) can be aaaaweeesome with a high-health Defender.  Giant Turtle + Healing Flask + Hell Axe is pretty much a godly combo that your opponent probably won't let you draft, but would come close to doubling the damage Hell Axe deals.

SO, bottom line- Hell Axe is a tool and not a blunt object to toss on any Defender and throw around.  It lets you be the one to decide how long or short the game is, and that ability is deceptively powerful.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Card Design Story #2: Unicorn

Today I'm going to talk about the card Unicorn!  Let's get right down to it, here's the original version of the card:

Unicorn (Original Version)

In other games I've always loved cards and abilities that you can use over and over again, giving you a long term advantage from using the same resource multiple times.  It really makes the card matter in your deck instead of just being a one-shot like most cards.  Also it's fun building up your other resources while your re-usable card supports you.

I knew I wanted Unicorn to feel special and magical, so why not have it be an immortal Defender that's always by your side?  Sounds awesome right?  You'll always have a Defender to equip and you'll never be empty-handed.

So the first problem (of many) was that it was a 1/2.  If something is reusable, it has to be weaker than normal, otherwise it's just too good.  The problem was that this was horrible, even with equipment, spending 2 energy for a 1/2 was nearly always not what you want to be doing.  So the second rule of being reusable is that you have to want to reuse it!  So I made it a 2/2, making it not super powerful, but worth reusing as it could convert energy into damage over and over and over and over:

So I started testing it and here are my playtesting notes from that era:

Unicorn - Seems fine.  Fun card.  Needs more playtesting overall though.

At this point I have tested the new Unicorn but I don't get that warm fuzzy feeling that everything is alright, so I note that it needs more playtesting.  And it DOES.

Unicorn - This card might be a little OP.  It's like a Circus Bear that you don't need to work for.

In this round of playtesting I note that Unicorn feels a lot like Circus Bear (which at this point was a 3/3 for 2 energy that returned to your hand at end of turn if it lives).  Both are reusable Defenders, but Circus Bear was a little bigger and you needed to make sure it didn't die.  So since Unicorn dealt less damage than Circus Bear maybe it was fine?  I figured out the answer in a later playtest:

Hellfeast/Silver Axe/Unicorn/Circus Bear - Okay, turning energy to damage on a 1 to 1 ratio and getting to keep the card is just too good.  Theoretically dealing 7 damage a turn shouldn't be that great, but in reality it just makes sure you can always buy Summoning and never run out of cards and never have unused energy.

Here I have figured out that even though I noted that the reusable cards were not terribly efficient, the fact that they let you use all your energy and never worry about running out of cards made them too good. The problem runs a little deeper than that though...

Reusable Cards In Mage Tower Compared To Other Games

Okay so the thing about Mage Tower is that the ever-present consistent threat of monsters are always there, and you always have 7 energy to deal with them, and you always want to deal with them as efficiently as possible.  This puts reusable cards in an awkward place.  In other games, generally you are only threatened by what the opponent has, and you may have cards you can put into play that protect you for several turns, or efficiently deal with an opponent's threat (making you safe for a while).  In other games delaying the opponent and killing them (usually the goal) are two separate things.  So there may be cards that delay them which give you time to do other things.

In Mage Tower though, I can't make cards that delay the monster board, because that's the whole point of the game, so there's no room to make a card that's better at that than other cards (it would just be overpowered!)  With this ever-present threat, there's really no "breathing room" to use inefficient reusable cards over and over, because you want to be efficient!  So if the reusable cards are efficient they'd be overpowered, but if they're not efficient, you'd basically never want to play them (yes I've circled around to the same problem as earlier).

SO, the design space of "cards you can use inefficiently when you open up opportunities to" is basically not a thing in Mage Tower.  The best way to think of the reusable cards in Mage Tower is that they let you draw a card when you use them, but the card you draw is itself.  Overall this isn't as exciting as if the previous option was available.  Doing the same thing every turn when the same amount of monsters come out every turn is a boring boring boring way to play the game.  So the result is that I didn't want a lot of these cards so I cut Silver Axe, changed Hellfeast, kept Circus Bear (but raised the cost), and changed Unicorn completely.  This leads us to the final version...

The Last Unicorn

I hemmed and hawed trying to figure out something that felt really unique and special (as I felt the Unicorn should be because hey it's a frigging Unicorn).  I finally decided on this version, word for word.  Previously I knew that I wanted to make a card that you got to start the game with, and Unicorn seemed like the perfect card for this because it made it feel special.

The shuffle effect lets you keep getting your Unicorn back just a little more often.  Interesting note- I was originally going to have Unicorn have a different card back (with a large Unicorn picture on it)!  Since it starts in your hand and you get it back whenever you shuffle, it technically would never need to be inside the deck.  The reasons I didn't do this were... threefold: It made it stand out in the Draft Deck and while drafting, it made taking it out of your deck when shuffling mandatory but it was easy to forget, and there probably are or will be reasons it gets put inside the deck one way or another anyways.  Also it's a little confusing, and makes the print files a more awkward.  Thinking it over again though- it would have been cool!

So why is it 1 for a 2/3?  Since it's reusable, but you have to work to do so, I really want you to be rewarded for putting in the effort (and to be happy that it's in your starting hand!).  That's why it's an extremely efficient 1 energy for a 2/3.  The thing is that both its abilities don't increase its damage, and 1-cost (and zero cost) cards are allowed to be the most efficient in the game, so really it's not near being game-breakingly powerful.  It is cool that it has synergy with an unusual subset of cards- any shuffling card becomes a Free Unicorn card!

In the end Unicorn is a nifty, unique card.  It has synergy with Equipment and shuffling effects so it doesn't just exist in a vacuum, and it has cool mechanics that don't exist in many other games!  As for the other reusable Mage Tower cards, Hellfeast is now a limited use card that can give you a ton of Defenders if you're into that, and Circus Bear is a card I love because it's truly reusable but you have to be careful with it and hedge your bets on how long you want to use it to try to build up more cards.  It's important to recognize that not every mechanic from other games fits into your game, but that you can usually adapt something fun in one way or another.