Friday, June 29, 2012

Update- Kickstarter Coming July 13th!! Also Playtesting Stories

Hey guys, we've been hard at work on the Mage Tower kickstarter project.  We originally wanted it to start in June but there was so much to get done that we think it would be better to launch mid-July (July 13th).  Here's what we've been up to:

-We finished all of the card art and purchased a prototype set of cards with the actual art (before we were using TCG cards in sleeves with a card-sized paper proxies inserted).  It's pretty awesome and we wanted to be able to actually show you the game in the Kickstarter video.  Speaking of which...

-We shot a video for Kickstarter with me (Brett) talking about Mage Tower.  We also shot a video of some of the cards and a gameplay overview.  The Kickstarter is pretty much all set to go, we're just waiting to launch it mid-July and we're finishing up the rulebook and game box art.

-We're playtesting the game constantly.  It's taken *so much* playtesting to get Mage Tower where it is, and at this point most of the cards are pretty sound.  The main goal is to make sure every card is fun and balanced.  With over 170 different cards to test, it takes a while to test everything, but the more we test the more we have a keen eye for what works.


I'm going to talk about some recent playtests and some decisions that were made to change cards.  Since the official rulebook (and the game, for that matter) aren't out yet, I'll try to keep it simple.

Crusade Playtesting
-There's a pretty fun card called "Crusade" that lets you get up to three defenders out of your deck with cost 4 or less and put them right into play.  This card is fun to draft with, because it really gives you incentive to draft cheap defenders, and having a deck with a theme is always fun.  The problem was that if you lucked out and got exactly the kind of defenders you needed, it was extremely powerful.  On the other hand, if you didn't get the defenders you wanted, or if you didn't get any more cheap defenders besides the Knight in your starting deck, you might not even want to play it (it costs a lot of energy).

Crusade has always been fun and was never on the chopping block, but it was a bit too swingy.  I thought about it and decided a good solution was instead of getting three 4-cost defenders, you could get any number of defenders with total costs equal to 10 or less.  For one thing, this lets you get higher costed defenders, which makes it less swingy in the sense that you'll usually be able to draft cards you want for it. Secondly, since the cost is limited to 10 it can never get *too* ridiculous.  Since high-cost cards are generally weaker per energy than low cost cards, you're still better off getting cheap defenders, but getting bigger defenders works great too, and you're never going to get more than 10 energy worth of defenders.

After playtesting the card with this change it's even more fun than it used to be- it's fun having the goal when you're drafting to "Get at least 10 energy worth of defenders."

Doomsday Playtesting
This is a card that, in a super simplified explanation, slightly increases the general amount of monsters that come out of the opponents' monster decks to attack them each turn.  It was a cool idea, and the gameplay was cool, but it suffered from a glaring problem- the confusion and memory issues weren't worth the coolness.  If Mage Tower were a video game the computer could just remember that it has to bring out more monsters every turn, but the player having to remember it is just annoying.  Also it messes with a very basic rule of the game, so suddenly instead of remembering the rules you have to remember the rules and remember how this card changes the rules.

Another problem was that since the ability was such a powerful attack it had to not deal any damage to monsters on your own monster board.  This makes you feel bad because you're not killing monsters, and super powerful attacks make the enemy feel bad because I mean, that's what they do.  So it was a card that confused people and made *both* players feel bad.

I'm planning on differentiating cards on difficulty levels so that new players aren't overwhelmed- probably in Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced.  I always felt like this card was Advanced Plus, like I didn't really want anyone to see it until they'd played with every other card and then maybe they'd want to play with this weird card.  Don't get me wrong- Mage Tower is 100% all about weird cards, but this just was more trouble than it was worth.

That's all for today
Most of the other changes I've made recently are very small, tweaking values up or down or changing the wordings of cards.  We will definitely be testing it up to the end of the Kickstarter though to make sure the game is as fun and balanced as possible.  Remember, the Mage Tower kickstarter project will start July 13th!

-Brett Brimmer

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